Move over bird of paradise, fiddle leaf figs, and Boston ferns; there’s a new plant in town. Native to Central America, the tropical monstera is famous for its holes, which is how its nickname “the Swiss cheese” plant came about. The plant features a bushy and wild shape, but you can find them 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. The plant really gives any space instant jungle vibes and come in many sizes and variegations, which help them blend into their surroundings,” says Erin Marino, NYC houseplant shop The Sill’s communications director. “I love to display this plant in a white ceramic planter for the green and white contrast.”
To get every tip and trick on how to care for your monstera, The Sill’s Marino and resident plant expert Christopher Satch offer these suggestions for keeping it alive and well.
Why We Love It
“We love the monstera because it only looks hard to care for! Give it moderate natural light, water once a week, and a stable environment, and it’ll thrive.”
“It’s hard to put an exact life span on a plant, but a monstera can definitely outlive its owner if given the proper care. We’ve had customers tell us about houseplants that they’ve had for decades and are still going strong.”
“Monsteras require bright to moderate, indirect sunlight. Avoid direct sun. 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.”
“Monsteras will tolerate many soils, but do best in well-drained potting soil.”
“In the summer, water frequently, as soon as soil dries out, to encourage new growth. In the winter, water less friendly, about once every one to two weeks. Make sure that the soil dries out completely in-between waterings. Monsteras can survive if soil is a bit soggy, but it’s not ideal.”
Mixing it Up
“When mixing plants together, always choose plants that require similar care. Grouping houseplants together is great because not only is it aesthetically pleasing and really packs a visual punch, but it also helps to maintain slightly higher humidity levels than normal, which most tropical plants benefit from.”
“Monsteras, with their rounded leaves, look great next to philodendrons and pothos, which have similar shaped leaves and require similar care (although they can get away with less natural sunlight). However, if you’re looking to offset the shape of the monstera’s broad leaves with something different, try some bird’s nest ferns.”
“Whatever you do, don’t pot other plants in the same planter as your monstera. Monsteras secrete chemicals from their roots that suppress the growth of other plants, and sometimes even kill them. And keep your Monstera away from anything that would cause an extreme changes in environment. For example, a heater blowing hot air or an air conditioning unit causing a draft. Monsteras prefer a stable environment with regular to high humidity. During the dry winter, invest in a humidifier to help keep your houseplants happy. Like with any houseplant, our number one suggestion is to learn about your plant’s natural environment and try your best to recreate it.”
A 6-inch monstera in a grow pot should run you about $25 retail. It’s always best to purchase your houseplant from a reputable source, especially for plant newbies, so you can ensure it’s healthy. Check out tropical plant offerings at TheSill.com.