The Monstera Deliciosa, or Swiss Cheese Plant, is more than just a trendy houseplant—it comes from a world far removed from your living room. In fact, its true home is far more tropical than what your summers live up to.
Monstera deliciosa is native to the tropical rainforests of Central and South America. The plant thrives in humid, warm environments and is well-adapted to low-light conditions. It is famous for its large, glossy leaves with natural holes, resembling Swiss cheese.
Below, I elaborate more on a Monstera Deliciosa’s origins, plant features, and its basic care:
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Where do Monstera Deliciosa grow? (Country of Origin & Biome)
Swiss Cheese Plant naturally grows in lower regions of America like southern Mexico, Panama, and Guatemala. You’d be surprised to know that Monstera Deliciosa in the wild lives in a whole different environment. It thrives in the understory below tree canopies, growing on the floors and up trees where it can get indirect sunlight.
Monstera Deliciosa Natural Habitat
As mentioned, Swiss Cheese Plant can be found primarily in lowland tropical rainforests. These environments are characterized by high humidity, consistent rainfall, and moderate to warm temperatures year-round. This is why the plant grows best in conditions that resemble a humid, tropical climate.
In its natural setting, Monstera Deliciosa often grows on shady, damp rocks and also attaches itself to larger trees as a hemiepiphyte. This means the plant starts its life as an epiphyte, aka a climbing plant growing on other plants, but later extends its roots into the soil to absorb nutrients.
Monstera Deliciosa reproduces through both seed dispersal and vegetative propagation. In the wild, its seeds are often dispersed by animals. But as cultivated plants, it is often propagated through cuttings.
While it is not considered endangered in its native habitat, it is found to be invasive in regions where it has been introduced, just like in certain parts of Florida. But if it’s managed properly, the plant can be maintained at a controlled rate.
Monstera Deliciosa Characteristics
What does Monstera Deliciosa look like?
Monstera Deliciosas have large, glossy green leaves with unique perforations or “holes,” resembling Swiss cheese. The leaves can grow up to 3 feet in length and are often split at the edges. But what most people don’t know about the plant is that it can also bear fruit!
Here’s a more detailed description of each of its plants parts:
The leaves of Monstera deliciosa are heart-shaped and display a pattern of holes and slits. These perforations are believed to help the plant withstand strong winds in its natural habitat. In its juvenile or young form, the plant looks very similar to Philodendrons with whole leaves. But as the plant matures, the leaves become increasingly perforated and eventually split at the edges.
New leaves on Monstera deliciosa typically grow/emerge from the nodes. These are the segments between the stem and the petiole (the stalk that attaches the leaf to the stem). The new leaves unfurl from these nodes and grow upwards, following a pattern of alternate leaf arrangement.
While a Swiss Cheese plant’s leaves are usually shiny green, there are variegated varieties of the plant with white, cream, and yellow streaks. You can find out more about them in this Monstera Deliciosa Varieties article.
Monstera deliciosa is also a monocot, meaning it has a single embryonic leaf (cotyledon) during germination. This is evident in the parallel vein patterns along its leaves. But it’s worth noting that this type of categorization is considered outdated when referring to most modern plants.
Monstera Deliciosa have 2 types of roots:
- Fibrous, soil roots. These branch off from the bottom of the plant’s stem and directly into the soil to take up nutrients and water. With that said, the plant doesn’t have rhizomes, i.e., a thick stem that grows horizontally, and grows roots.
- Aerial roots. These long roots also come from the plant’s stem. But it is primarily used to help the plant climb or attach themselves to surfaces, aiding the plant in its upward growth. It also helps absorb moisture and nutrients in the air.
Monstera Deliciosa Flower
The Swiss Cheese plant produces a unique inflorescence known as a “spadix,” surrounded by a white or cream-colored spathe (a modified leaf). The spadix is a spike-like structure that contains the tiny flowers of the plant, and the spathe acts like a protective sheath around it. If you’ve ever seen those bumpy stalks in a Peace Lily, that’s basically what it looks like.
Monstera Deliciosa commonly flowers in spring and summer when the plant has matured, typically 3 years after it has been planted. However, it never or rarely happens if the plant is growing indoors. Despite that, some have reported that the flowers smell slightly fruity, especially at night. This strong fragrance is supposedly said to attract pollinators.
Monstera Deliciosa Fruit
Since the Monstera Deliciosa flowers are self-pollinating, this allows the plant to produce an edible fruit that resembles an ear of corn. However, it’s important to wait for the fruit to ripen, which can take more than a year to happen. It’s not advisable to eat the green, unripe fruit. If you accidentally do, a stinging or irritating sensation in the mouth occurs due to the calcium oxalate content.
The Monstera Deliciosa fruit ripens from the bottom to the top, the green scales falling off to reveal the creamy, white flesh of the fruit. As it does, it gives off a strong fruity smell. But once it is fully ripened, the smell dissipates, signaling that it is ready for eating. Its taste profile is said to be a combination of banana and pineapple.
Unlike other plants, Monstera Deliciosa doesn’t produce offshoots or pups to propagate. So it’s best to get stem cuttings from the plant to grow more of them. You can also grow the plant from seeds collected from its fruits, but this will take a longer time. Not only that, not all parts of its fleshy segments may contain seeds at all.
The primary dangers of Monstera Deliciosa are the toxic calcium oxalate crystals contained in all parts of the plant except its ripened fruit. Ingesting any of them can cause symptoms like oral irritation, vomiting, and difficulty swallowing. Therefore, it’s advisable to keep the plant out of reach of pets and small children. For those with sensitive allergies, contact with the sap may also cause skin irritation.
If you’d like to know more about this, you can read this Monstera Deliciosa Benefits, Uses & Toxicity article!
Monstera Deliciosa Care
Here is a quick care profile of a Monstera Deliciosa:
- Light: 6+ hours of bright, indirect light. Despite it being able to handle growing in low-light conditions, this may lead to reduced growth and fewer fenestrations (the characteristic holes in the leaves).
- Soil: A moderately moist, well-draining potting mix.
- Water: Once every 1-2 weeks, after the top 1-2 inches of soil has dried out.
- Fertilizer: An all-purpose houseplant fertilizer applied once a month in spring and summer.
- Support: Add a stake in the pot to help support the plant’s large, heavy leaves and encourage vertical growth. Use a sturdy wooden or bamboo stake and gently tie the plant to it using soft twine or cloth strips. Alternatively, use a trellis or a moss pole.
- Repot: Once every 1-3 years in early spring, when the plant has outgrown its current pot or the soil has become too compacted.
- Propagation: Cut a 4-6 inch section of stem just below a node (the area where a leaf attaches to the stem). Place the cutting in water or soil and wait for roots to develop before transplanting.
Where to put Monstera Deliciosa?
An East-facing window with constant bright, indirect light is the best location to place a Monstera Deliciosa. It’s best to avoid direct sunlight, which can scorch the leaves. If you’d like to know more about the different types of lights and placements for a plant, check out our 5 Types of Light for Plants article here!
Is Monstera Deliciosa a good indoor plant?
Monstera Deliciosa is a pretty great indoor plant due to its striking appearance and relatively easy care requirements. Its ability to adapt to various light conditions makes it a versatile choice for indoor spaces. But if you own the variegated version, you’ll need to provide the correct light environment to maintain its variegations.
Can Swiss Cheese plants grow outside?
Swiss Cheese plants can be grown outside in USDA hardiness zones 10-12. However, it should be protected from direct sunlight and extreme temperatures. Remember, it’s a tropical plant that grows in understories.
What is a Monstera Deliciosa Hardiness & Koppen Climate Classification?
Monstera Deliciosa is hardy in USDA zones 10-12 and prefers a tropical or subtropical climate. This aligns with the Koppen Climate Classification of Af (Tropical Rainforest) and Am (Tropical Monsoon).
Frequently Asked Questions:
Where to buy Monstera Deliciosa?
You can buy Monstera Deliciosa plants from a variety of sources:
- Local nurseries. Check with local plant nurseries or garden centers in your area. They often carry a wide range of houseplants, including Monstera Deliciosa.
- Online retailers like Amazon, Etsy, and specialized online plant shops. They offer a convenient way to purchase and have the plant delivered to your doorstep.
- Home improvement stores like Home Depot and Lowe’s. They often carry houseplants, including Monstera Deliciosa.
- Social media marketplaces like Facebook Marketplace. These often have individuals selling plants, sometimes at a lower cost.
Always check for the health of the plant, its soil condition, and whether it has any pests before making a purchase. But forewarned that the mature plant can be quite pricey, but younger plants are relatively more affordable.
Where can I buy a healthy Monstera Deliciosa, and what should I look for when purchasing one?
You can buy a healthy Monstera Deliciosa from various sources such as local nurseries, garden centers, and online retailers like Etsy, Amazon, or specialized plant shops. Some people also sell healthy cuttings on social media platforms.
When purchasing, look for the following signs:
- Healthy leaves. No yellow or brown spots or burnt marks, which could indicate disease or poor care.
- Healthy root system. If possible, check for strong, white roots; if it’s brown, it’s probably from the soil. Avoid plants with mushy or black roots.
- No signs of pests & diseases. Inspect the leaves and stems for signs of pests like spider mites or aphids. You can check this Pest & Disease article for more symptoms!
- Good soil. Should be well-draining, and not waterlogged.
Always inquire about the plant’s care history and any special requirements it may have.
Why is Monstera Deliciosa so expensive?
The Monstera Deliciosa plant is often expensive for several reasons:
- Part of the popular and trendy plant circle. Because of its unique, split leaves and aesthetic appeal, there’s a large demand for it, causing a rise in prices.
- Large size leading to expensive shipping. Mature plants can be quite big, requiring more resources, effort and longer time to grow. This then translates to costly transport to ensure it doesn’t get damaged throughout the journey.
- Rare variegated varieties. Due to the difficulty in maintaining and growing a variegated plant, it fetches an even more pricier label that’ll make you cry.
How can I find a healthy Monstera Deliciosa at a reasonable price (e.g., at Costco)
To find a healthy Monstera Deliciosa at a reasonable price, consider the following steps:
- Check availability. Look into Costco or similar bulk retailers that carry Monstera Deliciosa plants. You can do this by visiting their website or calling customer service.
- Visit the store. If available, go to the store to personally inspect the plants. Look for a Monstera with vibrant green leaves, no yellow or brown spots, and a sturdy stem.
- Examine the roots. If possible, gently lift the plant to check the roots. Healthy roots are white or light tan and not mushy.
- Pest inspection. Check for signs of pests like spider mites or aphids. A healthy plant will be pest-free.
- Price comparison. Compare the price at Costco with other retailers. Bulk stores often offer competitive pricing, but it’s good to know the market rate.
- Ask for discounts. Sometimes, plants that are slightly imperfect but still healthy may be discounted. Don’t hesitate to ask.
- Check the return policy. Make sure there’s a good return or exchange policy in case the plant doesn’t acclimate well to its new home.
By following these steps, you can find a healthy Monstera Deliciosa at a reasonable price.
Can a Monstera Deliciosa fruit kill you?
A ripened Monstera Deliciosa fruit won’t kill you when eaten. However, the unripened fruit contains calcium oxalate crystals, which can cause irritation to the mouth, throat, and digestive system if consumed. It’s crucial to wait for the fruit to fully ripen, which can take several months to more than a year, before eating it.
Are Monstera Deliciosa roots edible?
Monstera Deliciosa roots are inedible and should not be consumed. Every part of the plant except the ripened fruit can cause problems to your digestive system and mouth.. Always exercise caution and keep yourself and other curious friends away from nibbling on the plant.
Why is it called Monstera Deliciosa?
There are two reasons why it is called as such:
- “Monstera” refers to the plant’s large, “monstrous” leaves. It can grow to be quite substantial in size with a fascinating, perforated appearance.
- “Deliciosa” refers to the edible fruit that the plant produces. It is said to taste like a combination of banana and pineapple, hence “delicious.”
Why is Monstera Deliciosa so popular?
The Monstera Deliciosa enjoys immense popularity for several reasons:
- Aesthetic appeal. Its unique, split leaves make it a visually striking addition to any space, fitting well with various interior design styles.
- Easy to care for. It’s relatively low-maintenance, requiring moderate light and water, making it accessible for both novice and experienced plant owners.
- Great adaptability. It can thrive in a range of conditions, from low light to bright indirect light, and can be easily propagated.
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- Knutson, C. (2022, November 29). Dakota gardener: Monstera maintenance. North Dakota State University Extension. Retrieved August 29, 2023, from https://www.ag.ndsu.edu/news/columns/dakota-gardener/dakota-gardener-monstera-maintenance
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- North Carolina State University Extension. (n.d.). Monstera deliciosa: Split-leaf philodendron. Retrieved August 29, 2023, from https://plants.ces.ncsu.edu/plants/monstera-deliciosa/