Beautifying your home is easy with the Swiss Cheese Plant. The tropical houseplant becomes the visually stunning focal point of any room. Want to know how to grow the healthiest and most beautiful examples? Here is everything you need to know about this gorgeous showpiece with a complete guide for its care and propagation.
Origins, description, and climate best for the Swiss Cheese Plant
Monstera delisiosa and Monstera adansonii are two species of Swiss Cheese Plant most prevalent. The latter hails from Central and South American countries with the first growing native in tropical forests from the southern part of Mexico through Panama. They love tropical climates with high humidity and warm temperatures. The plants grow wild in regions with moist and warm to hot temperatures. The Spruce explains that the leaves are large in the shape of a heart with holes developing as the plant matures.
The process is called fenestration, hence the name Swiss Cheese. It’s more common as a houseplant in non-tropical climates, but if you live in a tropical area you can grow them in your garden or throughout the landscape. Their hardiness zones in the United States are 10 through 12. The foliage is deep green, and the plants grow outdoors to a height of 10 to 13 feet with an indoor growth rate between 3 to 8 feet in height and 1-3 feet wide at maturity.
Varieties and the differences between them
- Monstera adansonii is in the Araceae family. It’s a perennial that is come back each year under optimal climate and care conditions. It blooms outdoors each spring. When grown indoors, the plant does not bloom, however, the foliage is lovely and uniquely textured with a rougher surface and holes that take up half the leaf.
- Monstera deliciosa goes by the same common name, but it is a cousin to the Monstera adansonii. The growth rate is rapid and it forms vines quickly. In the hothouse, it is cultivated to grow its fruit, Mexican Breadfruit. The fruit is edible, but the leaves of the plant are not.
- Monstera Plant Resource shares that Monstera Borsigniana is a deliciosa variety that features a different stem as it ages, but it grows faster to maturity with smaller adult width, but all the height, and holes that develop two neatly ordered rows versus the scattered holes that form in the deliciosa.
- Monstera Variegata is the variegated variety that grows with a color variation that has the appearance of being painted with white paint. The patterns range from shades of green to cream or white. It’s the more expensive version because of its rarity.
- Monstera Pinnatipartita is distinguished by its large glossy leaves. The holes are so small that they resemble slits that form on the edges of the leaf. The stems are emerald green, stiff, and thick.
- Monstera Dubia has small heart-shaped leaves with light and dark green shades with short-stemmed vines. They’re more difficult to find commercially.
- Monstera Siltepecana has large leaves shaped like teardrops. The holes form near the central vein of the leaf, which is lightly colored with hues of light and dark green.
- Monstera Obliqua has the largest holes than any other variety with “more holes than the leaf.” The leaves are paper thin, and it’s an extremely rare variety that is hard to find. If you do it’s going to be expensive.
Soil and potting
Swiss Cheese plants thrive in moist soil that is well-drained with a neutral to acidic pH balance. Gardening Know How advises that the roots are aerial and grow downwards from the stem. Since it’s a fast-growing viny plant, it needs annual repotting into a larger pot until it reaches the maximum height and width. The roots will continue to grow, so repot the plant as needed, when overcrowding of the roots in the pot becomes evident. This plant does best in soil that is light and loamy to allow the roots to expand. Soil that is rich with compost and peat promotes the best drainage and aeration.
Before repotting the plant, cut back the leaves slightly with a light pruning. There are no special requirements for pruning. It’s a hardy plant that can tolerate light pruning when the vines get out of control. Loosen the roots after you remove them from the old pot, add soil to the bottom, then place the Swiss Cheese Plant with its roots slightly spread out in the new pot, and fill to within an inch of the top of the new pot with soil. Press down lightly and water thoroughly. The pot must contain holes for drainage to prevent root rot. This plant should not sit in soggy soil for long periods. Add a pole for the vines to climb, and loosely tie the vines to the pole with string.
Indirect lighting is ideal
The lovely Swiss Cheese Plant prefers indirect sunlight. House Beautiful shares the background of the plant’s native conditions. Plants are found growing wild under the canopy of large trees in their natural surroundings. Sunlight filtering through a sheer curtain is ideal. You can also set the plant in a location near a window that allows sunshine to move after a few hours, giving it small doses of direct light. Some exposure to sunlight is necessary, but too much will result in scorched leaves. If the plant is deprived of sunlight, the characteristic holes in the leaves will not develop. These are the reasons why you need to achieve the ideal amount of indirect sunlight each day.
How to water
It’s vital to not overwater the Swiss Cheese Plant. Add enough to the plant to moisten the soil. The frequency depends on the size of the plant and the humidity level in the home. Check the plant by sticking your finger two inches into the soil when the top feels dry. If it’s dry to that depth, it’s time to water again. Monstera deliciosa prefers slightly dry soil. Get in the habit of spraying clear water on the leaves when you water the plant, to moisten them and remove any dust that collects.
You may fertilize this plant with a formulation made for tropical plants during the summer months, but only when it’s actively growing. Stop fertilization in the fall.
Can you stimulate flowering and fruit growth?
As a houseplant, the Swiss Cheese Plant rarely flowers or bears fruit. It’s not easy to stimulate the plant to bloom and bear fruit, but it can be done. You need to simulate greenhouse conditions with bright filtered light and a humid and warm environment with climate control. Bright light in the summer and direct sun in the winter can also stimulate blooming, but it can also scorch the leaves. When the blooms appear on the Spadix or spikes, the process has begun. Fruit forms when the blossoms fade, and they slowly mature over 12 to 14 months. Patience is required to enjoy the tasty fruit.
Avoid temperature extremes
Monstera deliciosa may be set outdoors in the summer months if the climate is warm into the evening. It must be placed in an area with filtered shade. The plant cannot tolerate temperatures that drop below 40 degrees Fahrenheit. The ideal temperature for healthy growth is 60 to 85 degrees F.
Can you propagate a Swiss Cheese Plant at home?
Gardener’s Path explains that the Swiss Cheese Plant is easy to propagate. The two most common methods for growing new plants are from seed, or through cuttings. I’m including a description of the steps involved for each.
Grow new plants from seed
Growing Swiss Cheese Plants from seed is easy if you can find a fresh and reliable source to buy the seeds. Look for vendors with high consumer satisfaction ratings. The best seeds come in a shipping container of moist moss, and they’re cooled. You can also obtain them from fresh breadfruit that has matured. Seeds should be stored in a refrigerator until you’re ready to plant them.
Sow the seeds in a large container with seed-starting potting soil. Place one seed 1/2 inch into peat or compost-rich starting soil and cover. Moisten the soil and keep it slightly moist, placing it in a spot where it receives bright indirect sunlight. The seed should sprout within 2 to 3 weeks. When the plant emerges, continue to keep it moist until it’s well-established, then transplant it into its permanent pot.
Propagation from cuttings
Cut a stalk of the plant at a node that has several leaves coming from one location. Cut the stalk 2-inches beneath the node, then place the cutting in a jar of water. Put the cutting in a place where it receives bright but indirect sunlight until it sprouts roots. When a solid root system appears, transfer it into a pot with soil, and water. You may also place cuttings in moist potting soil, following the same procedure. Be patient as it can take several weeks for new leaves to begin to grow on propagations.
Is the Swiss Cheese Plant toxic?
Yes. Monstera delicioso and all other Monstera varieties are toxic plants. These plants produce a substance called calcium oxalate crystals. The crystals are toxic to dogs, cats, and humans. If you’re a pet owner it’s vital to keep this plant out of the reach of pets and small children. The toxins can irritate the tongue, mouth, and lips. In more severe cases, symptoms include drooling, vomiting, and trouble swallowing from the irritants. Some websites list the plant as non-toxic to pets.
While it’s not likely to cause death or permanent disability in household pets, it can make them sick and uncomfortable. Any substance that irritates poses a risk to the health and well-being of animals and people. The breadfruit produced is perfectly safe to eat, but no other parts of the plant are edible.
What are the most common problems of the Swiss Cheese plant?
Houseplants Expert points out the things that most commonly go wrong with growing Monstera varieties. Healthy plants are eye candy, but a sick or unhealthy Monstera can be an eyesore. The signs that your plant is unhealthy include leaves that turn colors or scorch, lack of slits and holes forming in the leaves, and failure to thrive and put on growth. Here is a detailed explanation of the causes of these problems and what you can do to correct them.
If the leaves of your plant begin to yellow and wilt, it’s a sure sign that the plant is receiving too much water. If you can confirm that overwatering is not the case, it’s time to give the plant fertilizer. Lack of nutrition can cause leaves to turn yellow. Apply a balanced solution for tropical plants, and follow the manufacturer’s instructions on the label.
Brown edges and tips on the leaves
When the tips and edges of the leaves begin to turn brown, the air is likely to dry. Your plant needs a higher humidity. A humidifier can be the best solution, but you can also use a water bottle to mist the plant frequently. The second most common cause of these symptoms is when the plant becomes root bound. When the roots run out of space, it’s time to repot to a larger container.
Holes and slits do not form
Young plants do not form holes and slits until it matures. If you have a mature plant with holes in the leaves yet new leaves are solid, likely, that the plant is not receiving enough indirect light or water, or it may need fertilizer. Another potential cause is compacted roots. Use premium quality compost or peat-based potting soil to correct the problem.