AKA: Swiss Cheese Plant, Mexican Breadfruit, Split Leaf Philodendron
Lighting: Can tolerate a range of lighting, but grows best with medium to bright light.
Water: Water regularly to keep the soil moist. The larger the plant, and / or the more light it receives, the more you may need to water. Somewhat drought tolerant so it can withstand drying out a bit.
Substrate: Well draining soil. As this is a climbing plant, it will also appreciate a trellis or mossy pole to climb.
Humidity: Moderate to high humidity
Native to: The tropical forests of South America.
Toxicity: The ASPCA has listed Monstera Deliciosa as toxic to humans and animals due to it containing calcium oxalates. Ingestion can cause mild to severe irritation and swelling of the mouth, throat, and stomach. May cause vomiting, excessive drooling, and difficulty swallowing.
Monstera is the plant to have right now. Its popularity as a house plant is soaring, and it has solidified its place as the #1 plant on social media. For good reason, as it is a magnificent house plant that will surely make a statement.
The Monstera Deliciosa is often mislabeled as a “Split Leaf Philodendron.” The plant is related to Philodendrons, as they are both in the Araceae family, but are in separate Genus and are separate species. It goes by many other names, including simply “Monstera.”
The plant is easily identified by its huge, characteristically paned leaves. Its relatively fast growing when given optimal lighting, water, and space. The plant in my chameleon enclosure has doubled in size in the past month! A young plant will have dark green leaves without any slits or panes, but as the plant matures, and if conditions are right, it will start to produce larger, more detailed leaves. Mature leaves can reach up to 2′ in width!
Monstera Deliciosa is technically an epiphyte – a plant that most often grows on the branches and bases of other plants. It loves to climb and will produce aerial roots that attach itself to branches, bark, or a trellis. Indoor plants are often seen climbing a mossy pole, which helps to maintain moisture and humidity for the plant, as well as provides a stable climbing surface. It can also be grown on its own in a pot, however, as the plant matures, its large, heavy leaves will eventually sag or snap without support.
This plant can obviously get quite large, growing as tall and wide as space and conditions allow. If using this plant in a vivarium, it is best saved for a larger enclosure. I’m currently using this plant in a 45″ wide x 60″ tall chameleon enclosure, and even with pruning, I anticipate that it will spread to take up at least half of the enclosure as it grows. That is actually the goal for my enclosure, as I’ll slowly remove other plants on that half of the enclosure to allow the Monstera to create a sort of airy, yet dense tree canopy. The plant will eventually outgrow my enclosure, which means I’ll need to shed a tear and prune some of the largest, and likely most beautiful leaves from the top of the plant. As painful as it is to think of trimming such a magnificent plant, the good news is that Monstera Deliciosa is easily propagated, and just as easily sold due to its surging popularity!