Swiss Cheese Plant (Monstera deliciosa)
Split-leaf philodendron (Monstera deliciosa), also known as Swiss cheese plant or window leaf, is a tropical plant native to Central American rainforests from southern Mexico to Panama and is widely grown as a foliage houseplant. It’s the only ornamental aroid that also bears fruit. Despite its common name, it is not a member of the genus Philodendron (though it was previously classified as such), although it does belong to the same family (Araceae).
Monstera deliciosa (monstera) is a climber that can be cultivated on a stake or pole in its natural state. Many garden centres sell it as a popular houseplant that is grown as a cluster of numerous vines to give a full shrub-like look. Monstera grows up to 36″ broad and has dark green leathery foliage with deep lobing. Fenestrations (natural holes) form near the midrib of the leaf and radiate outward, increasing in size as the leaf becomes larger, giving the plant a swiss cheese appearance. Variegata, albo variegata, and Thai constellation are some of the most popular varieties. Seedlings in the natural develop towards darker places, indicating the base of a larger tree that the plant will eventually climb.
1. This plant is an evergreen liana, a trailing or ascending epiphytic vine that climbs high into the rainforest canopy in nature. It can reach a height of 70 feet or more and only seldom branches. The rough stems are hefty and cylindrical, with leaf scars.
2. As it climbs upward, it creates multiple long tentacle-like aerial roots that cling to adjacent branches and tree trunks.
3. The young plants have a completely different appearance. Seedlings develop upwards from the darkest place until they come across a tree.
4. The leaves are tiny and without lobes or holes, and in a stage known as “shingle plants,” they grow closely overlapping each other up the tree trunk. As they become older, they develop the mature plant’s foliage. The fenestrations (holes in the leaves) are designed to allow severe winds to pass through without destroying the huge leaves.
5. The flowers are an 8-12″ long, creamy-white Jack-in-the-pulpit kind, which is rarely found on houseplants. The boat-shaped spathe surrounds the fleshy upright spike (spadix) with tiny flowers.
6. The fruit matures in a little over a year, growing into a cone-like structure that resembles a green cob of corn with hexagonal kernels.
7. They are used to flavour drinks and ice cream, and they can also be eaten raw. From the bottom to the top, the fruit ripens.
8. There are normally no seeds, although some segments may have pale-green, firm seeds the size of big peas.
9. The plant contains oxalic acid, all portions of it, except the ripe fruits, are poisonous. Young fruit with the covering still intact has enough glass-like calcium oxalate crystals to irritate the throat quickly and painfully.
10. Split-leaf philodendron thrives in bright light in the summer and direct sun in the winter as a houseplant. It can be grown under fluorescent light, however, the leaf perforations will not form if the light is insufficient.
11. It prefers a moderate indoor temperature with medium to high humidity, but once acclimated, it can tolerate a wide range of circumstances. Plants, on the other hand, do not grow below 50 degrees Fahrenheit and are killed by frost.
12. To encourage bigger leaf growth, cultivate split-leaf philodendron in a rich soil mix with plenty of root room. They can be fast-growing plants that require assistance to avoid breaking the stems. For the aerial roots to connect to, bury a tree bark or sturdy, moss-covered support in the container.
13. Wrapping sphagnum moss around a wooden slat and securing it with a monofilament fishing line or nylon thread will do the trick. Wet thoroughly and let the soil dry somewhat between waterings, making careful to water the moss-covered support as well so the aerial roots have access to water and nutrients.
14. If the growing media gets excessively wet, the leaves will “sweat.” Reduce your watering to avoid root rot if this happens. The growth of plants that are kept dry will be slower. During the winter, water is used less. From spring to fall, fertilise as needed. If humidity is too low, the leaf edges will become brown. Clean the leaves of dust regularly.
15. Aphids, mealybugs, scale insects, and spider mites can all be found on this plant inside.
1. Soil: A high-organic-matter potting mix that drains effectively.
2. Watering: Between waterings, let the top 2-3″ of soil dry off. Root infections are a problem for Monstera, especially in the winter. This risk can be mitigated by using well-draining soil and maintaining consistent watering methods.
3. Light: Monstera grows best in partial shade with 3-6 hours of direct sunlight per day. When acclimating this plant to new light levels, be cautious because its big leaves are prone to burning.
4. Temperature: During the summer months in New England, the plants can be placed outside in a semi-sheltered area as long as the temperature does not go below 45 degrees Fahrenheit. Cold damage occurs when people are exposed to colder temperatures for long periods.
5. Fertilizing: While high soil salts can burn Monstera, they can tolerate frequent fertilising during vigorous growth times (May-Sept in New England).
6. Staking: When vines reach a certain length, they are commonly staked with garden stakes or mounted to a moss pole. Monsteras climb porous, natural surfaces in nature, and moss poles are frequently used to replicate this. Leaf size often increases dramatically once vines have successfully connected.
Humans are poisoned until the fruit is fully ripe, which takes about a year. The edible flesh of the ripe fruit has a flavour characterised as a cross between jackfruit (Artocarpus heterophyllus) and pineapple (Ananas comosus).
Monstera can be grown by stem cuttings, layering, and cane cutting, among other methods. Aim for a stem cutting that is 3-5″ below a node and has as many aerial roots as feasible. Seed propagation is possible but uncommon since seedlings grow slowly at first and require warm, humid conditions that are difficult to recreate on a wide scale. Any time of year, propagate using stem cuttings from mature plants, air layering, or simple layering. Pot the cutting after cutting the tip of the stem right below an aerial root. Cut the vine into 1-foot sections, press the sections halfway into a bed of rooting material (such as a mixture of leafmold and sand), and transplant when roots have grown. Plants can be grown from seed, but seedlings need to be kept warm and develop slowly.
Insect pests that are commonly found
1. Mealybugs- Mealybugs are a common indoor plant pest with white waxy bodies that taper to a tail at the end. Cottony white masses, frequently observed in plant crevices, are where eggs are laid. Mealybugs feed by draining plant sap, causing yellowing, stunted development, and even plant death in severe situations. While feeding, honeydew is produced, which can cause sooty mould to form. Isolate or dispose of infected plants as a management strategy. An insecticidal soap approved for use on houseplants can be used to treat mealybug. Crushing and removing insects by hand or wiping them away with a Q-tip are both options.
2. Spider mites- Without a magnifying loupe or a hand lens, these tiny arachnids might be difficult to notice. Webbing, which the mites utilise to bridge gaps between plant parts, is one of the earliest indicators of a spider mite infection. It’s crucial to remember that not all spider mite species produce webbing. Spider mites drain chlorophyll from leaves using a piercing-sucking mouth portion, resulting in fine white patches on the leaves known as stippling.’ Mites can be cleaned away using soap or water. When dealing with spider mites, pay special attention to the undersides of leaves.
3. Soft scale species, such as brown soft scale and hemispherical scale, are prevalent on house plants. The colour of these insects varies, but they often appear as little brown bumps on leaves and stems and are brown to beige in hue. Stunted growth, yellowing, and honeydew, which can lead to sooty mould, are some of the symptoms. Plants that are badly infested should be quarantined or thrown away. Scale can be removed with horticultural oil or a houseplant-safe spray. Crush and remove insects by hand, or use a Q-tip and alcohol to clean them away.
4. Aphids are pear-shaped insects with long legs and antennae that are short (less than 1/8″ in length). White, yellow, green, red, brown, and black are some of the available colours. Cornicles, which look like two tailpipes on the back of the abdomen, are exclusively found in aphids. They only eat plant sap and have piercing/sucking mouthparts. They reproduce quickly, especially on fresh growth, to create colonies. Because the thick, waxy cuticle of older leaves is less conducive to aphid damage, fresh growth on Monstera is the most vulnerable. Aphids create a lot of honeydew, which causes a lot of sooty mould on the leaves. Water, insecticidal soap, or a houseplant insecticide can be used to wash aphids off plants.
Common Diseases & Disorders
1. Bacterial Leaf Spot—Dark brown dots with a yellow border on leaves. Spots are usually the same size and have a sticky oozing. Because germs move through water, dry environments serve to reduce disease transmission, but they can also cause areas to turn reddish-brown. Reduce humidity by avoiding low temperatures, overcrowding plants, and increasing ventilation. Chemicals are not advised for the treatment of bacterial leaf spots.
2. Anthracnose (Colletotrichum spp.)- Anthracnose is a fungal disease that causes chlorosis (yellowing) along leaf edges, and then dark brown. These symptoms can develop into the leaves, killing the entire plant. Cankers, which are huge lesions on the stems, may also emerge. Misting and injuring leaves accelerates the pathogen’s spread, thus avoid doing so for management purposes.
3. Root and Stem Rot– Leaves and stems may wilt and flag, indicating the presence of root and stem rot. At the soil level, decaying tissue might girdle the stems. Affected roots are brown or black and have a fragile, mushy feel that pulls away from the plant readily. To maintain a healthy root system, you must follow proper watering techniques. Drought stress can damage root tissue, making it susceptible to disease, while with houseplants, overwatering is more likely to cause similar problems. Use a well-draining potting medium and keep plants out of standing water for better control. Follow a watering plan that is consistent. Plants should only be repotted after their roots have reached the pot’s bottom and sides, and the pot size should be increased gradually.
Question: What is the scientific name of the Swiss Cheese Plant?
ANS: Monstera deliciosa
Question: Does the Swiss Cheese Plant grow Indoors?
ANS: Many garden centres sell it as a popular houseplant that is grown as a cluster of numerous vines to give a full shrub-like look. It is widely grown as a foliage houseplant.
Question: Which family does the Swiss Cheese Plant belong to?