Monstera Deliciosa is one of the more peculiar yet popular house plants around. This plant's distinctive characteristic is its holes and splits on the leaves. It's also called the Swiss cheese of the plant world. It can grow to a large proportion, and as its growth progresses and the vine thickens, the more perforated the leaves become.
The development of the holes is called fenestration. Although it's not known for sure why the holes form, there is some theory behind it. It is thought that the concept with the holes comes from the plant's need to climb higher to receive more light; as it climbs, the leaves split to cover a greater surface area.
Plant Origin and Variety
The origins of the Deliciosa are southern Mexico and several countries in South America. It is a tropical plant; therefore, its most natural habitat is a rainforest-type atmosphere. Despite this, you can find it in the southeastern portion of the United States also. This plant is what's known as an epiphyte.
In other words, it grows on larger plants but not in a parasitic manner but as a companion. It in itself does have roots within a soil, but roots are also formed along the stem. These roots take hold of a tree and climb their way up in search of nutrients and light.
Overview of Plant Care Requirements
In taking care of the Monstera Deliciosa, it is clear that you must maintain a tropical environment; otherwise, the plant will not thrive. Therefore, it's best to replicate the tropical setting with warmer temperatures and a lot of humidity.
In its natural habitat, the Deliciosa is often found under large trees, so to maintain this same environment, it will need indirect sunlight for proper growth. To create the right setting, you can place the plant near a window or in some well-lit, shaded area in the home. Never put the plant into direct sunlight because it will burn the leaves. If you live in a cold part of the country, you should place the plant indoors at all times. Keep the temperature within the room in the range of 65 to 85 degrees Fahrenheit for ideal conditions. Should the temperature fall below 60°F, the plant will cease to grow and ultimately die.
If the climate you live in is warm, you can put the Deliciosa outside if you prefer, but the same type of environment is required in terms of sunlight. It would be best if you placed it under a tree or in a shaded area away from the glare of the sun.
The Deliciosa requires a moderate amount of water to sustain it.
This plant prefers high humidity. To keep it humid, mist it weekly. It would be good if you also wiped off the leaves periodically to get rid of dust and particles that could harm the plant. Just a moist towel to wipe the leaves is all you need.
Plant Soil Requirements
Plant your Monstera deliciosa quality potting soil that is not too soggy but has holes in the pot for good drainage. Use perlite to help with the draining. The perlite keeps the soil from clumping together. You can use standard potting soil with peat moss; the peat moss is needed to help the soil remain fertile and nutrient-rich. This plant can also grow in slightly-sandy soil, but again it needs rich, well-draining soil.
Plant Feeding/fertilizing Requirements
To fertilize your Deliciosa plants, you can use a liquid fertilizer. Add about half a teaspoon of the liquid fertilizer to a half-gallon of water. Drench the soil thoroughly. Be certain to get rid of any excess water from the plant's reservoir.
You can choose a slow-release granular fertilizer that will also work as well. It would help if you balanced it with nitrogen, phosphorus, and magnesium. Try to use organic fertilizer as it's better for the plants.
Some pruning is to improve appearance, but most of it is for managing growth. Decaying leaves can be removed by clipping. This process keeps the entire plant flourishing. Aerial roots can be easily controlled by lightly snipped with clean shears.
To deal with roots close to the surface, you can tuck them instead of severing them. Unwanted growth can occur; remove those. Use a bit of caution not to damage the central stalk, and try not to remove more than one leaf at a time.
If you want healthy growth and larger leaves, you should transplant the Deliciosa every couple of years. If it's expanding faster than expected, transplant it once it's outgrown its current container. Choose a pot that has a lot of space in it. Make sure your pot is large enough to sustain a stake or trellis and has plenty of holes in the bottom. The trellis will allow the plant to climb because it's an instinctual climber.
The Deliciosa can be propagated in a variety of ways. Propagating by seed is one of the more complex ways to grow this plant because the seeds are hard to come by. Therefore, if you obtain the seeds, it is essential to plant them quickly to germinate. From seeds, it does take a very long time for them to grow into large plants.
Air-layering is the most successful way of propagating the Deliciosa. While it's a more complicated process than propagation for other plants, it might be good enough to warrant the effort if you want more of these lovely plants.
When propagating through the process of air-laying, find a short aerial root near a stem. Next, you should cut away a small notch just below the root. Take the notch and wrap Sphagnum moss around it, the aerial root, and the node where the leaf meets the stem. Wrap the moss in plastic after adding moisture. You will need to check on the root's growth periodically, cover it with plastic and secure it with a tie string. Keep the moss moist until roots form, then cut the stem and plant it in soil.
Cutting is another way to propagate the Deliciosa. When cutting, use a clean set of pruning shears. Be sure it has the aerial roots attached, then cut below a leaf node. You can place your cutting in either water or soil. It is not essential to use rooting hormone as this is a plant though quickly grows roots. You can put your cutting in either water or soil. It is not necessary to use rooting hormone as this is a plant that quickly grows roots.
You can also propagate through division. Take the plant and remove one or two of the suckers, then gently place them in soil, and before long, with a bit of water and care, your plant will grow.
Issues with Growth
Even with a green thumb, plants could still develop problems if we are not careful. Let's look at some possible problems and their potential solutions.
Take, for example, your plant has yellow leaves; the discoloration is usually a symptom of too much direct sun. The large leaves do need sunlight, but if the sun's rays are beaming hot light directly to the plant, its leave will turn brown, and the plant will die.
The opposite can also present itself to be a problem. Not enough light or too much shade can be just as devastating to the plant. Without the proper lighting, the leaves will not become significant, and the signature holes will not form.
Equally important is if the plant doesn't get enough water, the leaves will dry out, and the plant will die. If the leaves are wilting between watering, then increase watering frequency. The discoloration of the leaves' edges tends to be a sign of not enough humidity. Misting your plant can alleviate this problem.
Diseases and Pests
The Deliciosa is extraordinarily impervious to many kinds of diseases. If properly taken care of, pathogens will not create a problem.
The roots can develop root rot if you are not cautious about watering. It is a standard practice to cut damaged roots back when you repot the plant. Prevent stagnant waterlogging of your pots to avoid this problem.
There are a few pests that should be of concern for those with the Deliciosa plant. If you see tiny, yellow specks on your plant, that may result from spider mites infestation. The aphids suck out the leaves of the plant's reservoir of moisture. You can combat them by applying neem oil to all of the leaves. The azadirachtin will gradually poison both young and adult eggs.
Mealybugs can also become a problem for your plants. Because they adhere to the leaves and stems, they slowly suck the energy out of your plant. These products, such as Safer's soap, have a good effect on these pests. Neem oil is excellent as a whole, but it is most effective in preventing these pests.
Sadly, no type of animal should come into contact with the Monstera deliciosa. The plant's leaves and stems are toxic to pets like cats and dogs, so it's best to choose a safer plant option if you have pets around.
If you already have the plant and have cats or dogs who like to munch, keep the plant in a place where they cannot have ready access. If they ingest the Deliciosa, it will irritate their stomachs, lips, and tongues, causing slobbering, puking, and trouble swallowing.
The Monstera Deliciosa is one of those unique plants with enormous leaves that can add beauty to any home. With proper lighting, a good watering regiment, misting, and some tender love, this large plant with its Swiss cheese signature holes will bring life to your indoor space.