While Monstera deliciosa isn’t a new plant on the scene, its presence has grown in popularity in the last year. It’s a beautiful plant that climbs and grows tall. Because of its popularity and beauty, many indoor gardeners are learning how to propagate Monstera. And when it comes to plant propagation, Monstera deliciosa is one of the most accessible options for beginners and gardening experts alike.
This article will briefly discuss what a Monstera deliciosa is, how to care for one, and some common reasons for propagation. We’ll then dive into the three most common ways to propagate Monstera deliciosa (stem cuttings, air cuttings, and soil propagation) and give you tips for general plant care.
A beautiful Monstera is a great option for gardeners of any skill level, and with these tips, you’ll know the ideal conditions and have a propagation method that helps you grow as many swiss cheese plants as you want!
What Is Monstera Deliciosa?
Monstera deliciosa, often called the swiss-cheese plant, is a genus of the tropical vine from the Araceae family. It is originally from Central America but can grow outdoors in zones 10 and 11. That said, in recent years, they have become a popular indoor plant and can thrive inside most homes.
This popular houseplant is known for its large leaves and natural leaf holes, which are called fenestrations. The purpose of these fenestrations is not precisely known, but the common thought is that they increase the area for the Monstera to capture natural sunlight. As a tropical plant trying to get as much light as possible, this strategy can be an excellent way to obtain light while minimizing the number of cells that need to be maintained by the plant.
Are Monsteras Good For Beginners?
Absolutely. Monstera deliciosa is a large plant that’s easy to grow and easy to propagate. The main pain point for growers of these beautiful houseplants is root rot. And to keep that at bay, you just need to water your plant less – once a week should do it in a fairly humid environment.
Split Leaf Philodendron Vs. Monstera Deliciosa
We should point out here that a Monstera deliciosa is different than a split-leaf philodendron. That doesn’t stop nurseries all over the world from swapping out the names of these two plants.
In short, Monstera deliciosa is native to Mexico and Costa Rica, and some parts of South America. Monstera deliciosa is the Latin name for the fruit that the plant produces. Their leaves grow to be enormous, and their leaf patterns are stunning, with almost white variegation.
On the other hand, Split leaf philodendron is a genus of vining houseplants related to the pothos. Many varieties exist, including the Philodendron Birkin and Philodendron Gloriosoum. Philodendron is a Latin word that means “love tree.” They don’t reach the same heights or sizes as Monstera deliciosa. Instead, they develop similarly to pothos. To understand the differences between these plants, start with our article on Split-Leaf Philodendron Vs. Monstera.
Honorable Mention: Monstera Adansonii
Also called the cheese plant, the Monstera adansonii is similar to Monstera deliciosa in leaf shape and the fact that it is a climbing cultivar. The primary difference between Adansonii and Deliciosa is the shape of the holes or notches in the plants’ leaves. Both plants can be propagated using stem cuttings in water or soil or propagated from the main plant using air layering.
Did you know that Monstera deliciosa is mildly toxic to humans and pets if the leaves are ingested? Most symptoms include stomach or mouth irritation – sometimes followed by vomiting. If you’re concerned that a person or pet has consumed the leaves of a Monstera, start by calling poison control or a veterinarian, respectively.
How To Care For Monstera Deliciosa
Briefly, here are the needs of a monstera deliciosa:
It thrives in bright to medium indirect light. As it grows in a tropical environment below the canopy, it doesn’t do well in much direct sunlight – but it can usually survive if you give it time to acclimate. In most instances, indirect sunlight is recommended. If your home doesn’t have great indoor lighting, we recommend using a small grow light instead.
Best Soil For Monstera
Use a high-quality, peat-based potting mix that drains properly. The plants flourish well in deep, nutrient-rich soil but not in the bark or compost-based potting soils. Plant your Monstera in a container with drainage holes to avoid root rot and remove excess water.
How Often To Water Monstera?
Monstera deliciosa prefers slightly moist soil, but they’ll want to dry out between waterings. Start by evenly watering your Monstera once a week and see how it does. You want to make sure the top 50% of the soil is dry between waterings. If you check back in a week and it’s not yet dry, expand your watering window by a few days.
With Monstera deliciosa, it’s vital that you have enough water but not too much.
Important: you must have good drainage on a monstera. Healthy roots cannot be constantly submerged in water!
North Carolina Extension does a good job of pointing out some key characteristics of Monstera Deliciosa. Read them here.
Feed your plant once a month during the spring and summer with a balanced liquid fertilizer for best results. Read the directions, specifically those around water dilution. A small amount of food will go a long way toward promoting root health and growth. During the winter, no fertilizer is required.
Here are some fertilizers we recommend for monstera plant feedings:
Do Monsteras Like Humidity?
While Monsteras are from the tropics and like humidity, they can survive and even thrive in the humidity of most homes (around 40%). If you see brown edges on your monstera leaves, though, it could be a sign that you need to increase the humidity, either with a spray bottle, a mister, or a humidifier.
Most room temperatures – 60-80 degrees Fahrenheit – are ideal for a Monstera deliciosa. Anything lower or higher than that – or rapid temperature changes – can damage or even kill this beautiful houseplant.
Should You Use A Moss Pole?
Monstera deliciosa is a climbing plant and – in the wild – usually attaches to trees to support growth. In the home, many growers place a moss pole alongside the Monstera to help it grow upward. Without this, Monsteras are known to fan outward, which doesn’t look as nice and can take up space. You can purchase a moss pole here.
Swiss cheese plant, monstera, split-leaf philodendron (misnomer)
What Doesn’t My Monstera Deliciosa Have Holes?
The fenestrations or holes are the signature look of a Monstera deliciosa. That said, a young plant might not have many (or any) fenestrations at first. It can take over two years for your Monstera to develop this feature entirely.
Why Should You Propagate Your Swiss Cheese Plant?
There are several reasons you’d want to propagate your favorite plants. Monstera deliciosa propagation is affordable, which means it’s a much better option than buying a plant from a nursery. Seriously, buying a full-grown Monstera can easily set you back $50-100. And if your mature plants are dying, propagation can be a way to save a healthy part and restart it in a new pot.
But most commonly, growers want to propagate a plant when it’s getting too big for their space. Take a piece of the existing plant, create a new root system, and give it to a friend. You’ll have a more manageable Monstera, and your friend will have a beautiful houseplant!
The best part is that monstera propagation is easy. So whatever your reason is for propagation, you can make it happen.
How To Propagate Monstera: Three Ways
When propagating Monstera, the first thing you need to do is plan out your propagation method. There are typically three ways to propagate this houseplant: stem cuttings in water, stem cuttings in soil, and damp sphagnum moss air layering. Below we describe all three methods and include videos of gardeners doing all three. The “best way” to propagate is really up to the gardener. That said, stem cutting in fresh water is probably the easiest way to stimulate root growth and new growth.
Where To Find Monstera Deliciosa Cuttings?
If you don’t have a mother plant Monstera, you can easily find cuttings online. Etsy has several options for Monstera deliciosa cuttings that are incredibly affordable.
Know Your Nodes
The nodes of a stem are the sites from which buds, leaves, and branching twigs emerge. They are critical areas on the plant where vital healing, structural support, and biological processes occur. They are also the most important area for Monstera propagation.
When To Propagate Monstera Deliciosa?
The best time to propagate a Monstera deliciosa is in the spring and summer. This is when it’s actively growing roots, so it’s a natural time for you to develop a cutting.
Monstera Propagation: Stem Cuttings
Preparing Your Tools
To properly harvest a monstera cutting, the first step is to prepare your tools. Start by making sure you have a sharp knife, shears, or clean scissors, as well as a clean surface to avoid contaminating the mother plant or the cuttings. Before using any tools, clean them well with soap and water or apply rubbing alcohol.
Harvesting Your Stem Cutting
To harvest a cutting, you should cut just below a leaf node. A node looks like the swollen section of the stem where aerial roots grow. Typically, you want there to be at least two nodes per cutting. From the node, your Monstera stem cutting will develop little roots. This is the most important part of the propagation process.
To make your cutting, go about an ¼-½” below the node and make your cut at a 45-degree angle.
Above the node, there should be at least two healthy leaves to support necessary photosynthesis and root development.
When using stem cuttings, you have two different options. You can propagate the monstera stem in either soil or water. Depending on who you talk to, you’ll get various suggestions on which method works best.
That said, the majority of anecdotal evidence suggests that water propagation works better than soil propagation.
How To Propagate Your Monstera Cutting In Soil
Soil propagation with stem cuttings is a simple form of propagation. When doing this, you’ll typically want to use a 6″ pot that’s at least 2″ deep with drainage holes.
What Growing Medium Do I Need For Soil Cutting Propagation?
The optimum starting mix for plant cuttings is a soilless media. The mixture should be loose for newly growing roots, drain well, and have enough oxygen circulation. You can start cuttings in perlite, LECA, vermiculite, sand, or a mixture of peat moss and any of the above.
Before placing your cutting in the growing medium, add water and make sure everything is moist.
Do I Need A Rooting Hormone?
Monstera deliciosa is typically considered an easy plant to propagate, so you won’t need a rooting hormone in most cases. If you still want to use one, it shouldn’t cause any issues for you, but it’s not typically considered necessary for this specific cultivar.
How To Place Your Stem Cutting In Soil
It’s very easy to add your stem cutting to your growing medium. Gently press the cutting into the growing medium with the nodes (cut end down) in the soil. Typically, you want to have the cutting at least 1.5 inches into pre-moistened soil.
Covering Your Cutting
When propagating some plants in soil, it’s common to cover them with a plastic baggy to create a humid environment. Because propagating monstera is typically pretty simple – and because the cuttings are often too big for most baggies, it’s unnecessary to do this step.
Should You Water Your Cutting?
If you properly moisten your growing medium, you shouldn’t need to water your cutting while the roots are developing. Adding too much water can cause the nodes to rot instead of produce new roots. When you pre-moisten your growing medium, you’re giving your cutting the water they need to draw from during the propagation process.
How Long Does It Take For Roots To Develop?
You can expect to see new roots within three weeks of planting your cutting, as well as a new leaf or two!
Light For Stem Cutting In Soil
Place your stem cutting in an area that receives indirect light.
How To Propagate Your Monstera Cutting In Water
Propagating a cutting in water is likely the most straightforward option for growers. Like soil propagation, you start by cutting from the original plant using a sanitized cutting shear or clean scissors. Remember to find a healthy part of the plant for the cutting and to cut below the nodes.
How Far Beneath The Nodes Should You Cut?
You don’t want to cut too close below the nodes. In most cases, cut about a quarter to a half-inch beneath the node.
After making your cuttings, let the fresh cut dry for about ten minutes before submerging it in water.
What Container Do I Need For Water Propagation?
While there’s not a single container that works best for water propagation (a glass of water is fine), you want one with the following traits:
- It should be clean to protect your Monstera cutting from pathogens.
- It should be tall enough to support the edges of the plant so that it doesn’t fall out of the water.
- The container’s mouth needs to be wide enough to remove the cutting when the root system develops.
- It should be a clear container so you can see the progress and know when to transplant the new plant to soil.
What Kind Of Water Should You Use For Propagation?
Most plants, including the Monstera deliciosa, grow well in simple tap water. If you want to be extra careful (or if you have abnormal tap water), you can use filtered water. While filtered water is usually recommended for most sensitive plants during propagation, Monsteras typically don’t need anything too fancy.
How High Should You Fill The Water?
The water level in your container should be about an inch above the nodes. This triggers the nodes to start producing a new root system.
How Often Should You Change Your Water?
You typically want to change your water at least every two weeks. If your plant is sitting in a slightly sunnier location, it may start to grow algae. If you see this, you should change out the water as well.
Similarly, if you notice the water level dropping below the nodes, you should add water as needed.
When To Transplant Your Monstera Cutting
Before transplanting your cutting to soil, wait until the new roots are at least two to four inches long. It won’t cause any harm if they are longer, but they should be at least two inches.
In many cases, new leaves will also develop on your cutting, which is a bonus!
What Size Of Pot Do You Need?
For your potting container, the most important factors are size and drainage holes. You don’t want a pot that’s too big, but the circumference should be at least 2-3″ wider than the root system.
Monstera is incredibly susceptible to root rot, so drainage holes are essential. See this article from Illinois Extension on the importance of proper drainage in your plants.
What Soil Do You Need?
A premium potting soil with a peat base is a good option for Monstera deliciosa transplanting. You want something that supports good drainage and aeration.
Monstera Propagation: Air Layering Technique
The third option for Monstera deliciosa propagation is called air layering. Air layering is another technique used to propagating trees, shrubs, and houseplants. The process of air layering involves wrapping a stem with damp moss, encouraging new roots to develop. It’s typically considered a lower-risk option than soil or water cuttings. That said, it has a few more steps upfront.
Here are the steps of air layering propagation.
Identify Your Cutting
Find the part of the plant that you want to use for your cutting. Like water or soil cuttings, this should be a healthy part of the plant with at least two leaves. Travel down the stem until you find the node you want to use for the cutting.
Assuming you have multiple nodes close together, try to use two of them. This will increase your chances for successful propagation.
Remove Aerial Roots
While not as important in other forms of propagation, you will need to cut off any aerial roots with this propagation process. The main reason for this is that you’re wrapping the cutting in a clear plastic bag, and the aerial roots can cause space issues. So it’s easier to remove them with shears.
The beauty of air layering is that you are making a cutting – without actually doing any cutting. It’s a safer way to produce new roots if you’re concerned about killing your parent plant.
Prepare Your Bag And Sphagnum Moss
Using a simple plastic baggy or plastic wrap, fill it about halfway full with sphagnum moss and add tap water inside until it’s slightly damp.
You’ll then make vertical cuts on the edges of the bag so that it can entirely go around your nodes of choice. This is the messiest part of the air layering technique. The key is to make it so that the sphagnum moss is the only thing touching the nodes.
Securing Your Bag And Moss
To keep your baggy and moss in place, use simple twist ties. Ensure the ties are secure but not to the point that they are squeezing the nodes or the vine, disrupting the new roots. The most crucial part is that your moss is pressed up against the nodes.
Watering Your Cutting
Ideally, you want a small opening on the top of the bag so that you can add water to keep the moss and the cutting from drying out. The key here is to keep your cutting from getting too wet or too dry. If you’re noticing the moss drying out, add a few drops of water to the sphagnum moss. If you see a great deal of excess moisture, you can poke small holes in the bag to increase airflow.
When To Remove Your Cutting
Between three and five weeks, you should start to see roots growing up against the edges of the plastic bag. At this point, you can safely begin to remove the cutting.
Removing The Bag
Remove any twist ties and use shears to cut the bag away from the moss, the roots, and the parent plant. Begin to carefully clear away the sphagnum moss until only the roots remain.
Removing Diseased Roots
If you see dark or rotting roots at any time, remove them with shears so that they don’t affect the healthy white/tan roots.
Separating The Monstera Deliciosa From The Mother Plant
Using sterile shears, you can cut below the rooting nodes to separate your cutting from the main stem. Your cutting is now ready for its new home!
Transplanting Your Cutting
Similar to the water cutting method, you should transplant your Monstera to a peat-based moss that’s good.
Dangers To Look Out For When Propagating Monstera Deliciosa
When using any of these three methods to propagate Monsteras, you typically need to only lookout for a few potential problems, including root rot, and cold temperatures, or drastic light changes. The only other potential pitfall is if you transplant a cutting before it’s ready. Before putting your new plant in soil for the first time, you should make sure you have at least 2-4″ of new root growth.
Can You Propagate With Seeds?
You technically can grow Monstera through seeds, but why would you? Monstera deliciosa seedlings are slow to develop, difficult to find, and have a short shelf life.
If you’re new to the world of propagation, consider starting with Monstera deliciosa. Not only is a Monstera leaf beautiful, but it’s also an easy plant to propagate. So whether you want to work with air, water, or earth, these three propagation methods are all great options for indoor gardeners.
Have you recently propagated a Monstera deliciosa? We want to see it! Send us a picture to firstname.lastname@example.org, and we may include it in an article.
Good luck to you on your monstera-propagating ventures!