Published on November 25, 2019

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Photography by Katarzyna Bialasiewicz/Getty Images

Au revoir, birds-of-paradise, fiddle-leaf figs, and Boston ferns: There’s a new trending plant in town. Native to Central America, the tropical monstera is famous for its holes, which is how it got the nickname Swiss Cheese. It features a bushy and wild shape, but it comes in apartment-friendly sizes. The only issue is having enough light—this bright green species cannot survive without tons of it.

“It’s hard to go wrong with a monstera,” says Erin Marino, communications director at The Sill. “It lends any space instant jungle vibes and comes in many sizes and variegations, which helps it blend into its surroundings.” Despite the fact that the name monstera is derived from the Latin, meaning “abnormal,” it only looks hard to care for. Marino and The Sill’s resident plant expert, Christopher Satch, break down everything you need to know.  

Find a Spot With Moderate, Indirect Light 

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Photo by Brina Blum

The key to extending your plant’s life span is to make sure it sits in a spot with access to both sun and shade. “Unfortunately, apartments can be lacking in natural sunlight, so if your space is pretty dim, this is a houseplant that you’ll want to pass on,” says Satch. Avoiding direct sunlight is one of the best things you can do for your monstera. If the leaves begin to yellow, it is telling you that it’s getting too much sun.

Use Well-Draining Soil

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PHOTO BY BART ZIMMY

To encourage growth, repot your monstera every year (you can continue to move up in size until you reach the largest container you want). As long as your vessel has good drainage, you can’t go too wrong with the soil. A peat moss–based potting mix is a healthy place to start, says Satch. 

Water Once a Weekend 

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Photography by Katarzyna Bialasiewicz/Getty Images

Your watering schedule should vary from season to season: In the summer, give it a drink as soon as the soil dries out. In the winter, hydrating your plant once every one to two weeks will do the trick (you can check this by sticking a finger two inches down; if it comes out dry, it’s time for some H2O). Make sure that the soil dries out completely in between waterings. Monsteras can survive if the soil is a bit soggy, but it’s not ideal.

Surround It With Similar Greenery  

“Grouping houseplants together packs a visual punch, but it also helps to maintain slightly higher humidity levels than normal, which most tropical plants benefit from,” shares Marino. Given their large, round leaves, monsteras tend to look great next to philodendrons and pothos, which have similarly shaped silhouettes and require the same level of care. 

But Give It Room to Breathe 

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Photo by Chris Lee

“Monsteras release chemicals from their roots that suppress the growth of other greenery, so whatever you do, don’t pot other greenery in the same planter,” says Satch. It’s important to protect your monstera from any extreme changes in the environment, such as an air conditioner or heater blowing hot air directly on its leaves. They prefer a stable environment with regular to high humidity, so during the dry winter, consider investing in a humidifier. Monsteras tend to flourish when you give them plenty of room to spread out or even climb up a nearby pole or small trellis.

See more plant guides:
Everything You Need to Know About the Fiddle-Leaf Fig
The Plant That’ll Make It Feel Like Summer in Your Home All Year Long
How to Care for Succulents (and Other Low-Key Plants)

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