Monstera adansonii (Swiss cheese plant) care guide

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Written By Martin Cole

Plantsman, gardener, plant-obsessive

Monstera adonsonii

Monstera adansonii is a tropical perennial climbing plant.

It can grow huge in the wild, but when grown as in indoor plant, with the restricted root space in a pot, it will stay at a manageable size.

Monstera adonsonii, like the better know Monstera – Monstera deliciosa – is widely known as the Swiss cheese plant. Both plants get this name because of the holes they develop in their leaves as they grow. The idea being that they resemble a Swiss cheese, like Gruyere.

Although the plants are similar, adonsonii leaves tend to be smaller, with rather more area taken up by holes than deliciosa.

Monstera adansonii quick care guide

  • Light: Direct or indirect light
  • Water: Water frequently and do not let soil dry out. Do not overwater
  • Humidity: Likes humidity. Mist often
  • Temperature range: Minimum 65°F/18°C, maximum 80°F/27°C
    • Minimum: 54°F (12°C)
  • Soil: Well-draining potting mix
  • Fertiliser: Balanced houseplant fertiliser in growing season
  • Propagation: Take stem cuttings with a node or air layering
  • Repotting: Every 2-3 years in spring, size up 1-2″ pot each time
  • Pruning: Prune to control size and shape, cut back drooping stems

All about Monsetra adansonii

  • Common Names: Swiss cheese plant, Swiss cheese vine, Mexican breadfruit plant, five hole plant, Adanson’s monstera, monkey leaf plant
  • Native to: Central and South America and the West Indies
  • Growth Height: Up to 20m (65ft) outdoors; 1-1.5m (3-5ft) indoors
  • Flowers: Rarely flowers indoors; purple and cream flowers bloom in spring in the wild
  • ‘Archipelago’ is a variegated cultivar
  • Leaves are mildly toxic to pets and humans due to calcium oxalate crystals

How to grow Monstera adonsonii: key details

The Monstera adansonii can be a prolific grower in the right conditions.

It needs a bit of looking after. In particular, it especially needs moisture, in the soil and the atmosphere around it, in the growing season.

As it matures, the plant will develop a climbing habit. You will therefore need to support it by tying it in to bamboo canes or, preferably a moss pole. Take care of the aerial roots, through misting and foliar feeds, plunging them into the soil when they reach down far enough.

For more on caring for all house plants, take a look at our comprehensive house plant care guide.

Light Conditions

Too much or too little light can cause serious damage to you house plants. Monstera species are rainforest plants so they do not naturally grow in an environment of full sun.

But equally, as climbers, they do not only grow low down in the darkness of the forest floor. Their leaves are used to being exposed to the brighter light conditions higher up in the rainforest canopy.

Therefore, when grown as a house plant, Monstera adansonii requires bright light, but not direct sunlight.

It is especially important to ensure that the plants get enough light in winter, when, in most places, the hours of daylight are reduced substantially.

Monstera adansonii: common problems

As you can see from the summary below, Monstera adansonii suffers most when the humidity levels, watering and light levels are not right.

Once again, it is worth remembering what the plant’s natural habitat is like, because that guides us as to the kind of conditions the plant needs to thrive.

Think about the atmosphere in the rainforest: warm and humid, with damp soils and the shade of the tall rainforest trees. We need to try to mimic these conditions indoors, which is what the guidance above will help you to do.

If you follow the guidance, you can usually keep the plant pretty trouble-free.

But remember to cut back on the watering and feeding in the winter season.

Monstera adansonii troubleshooting quick guide

Leaves and shoots

  • Brown leaf tips – Low humidity, underwatering
  • Yellow leaves – Overwatering, poor drainage
  • Drooping leaves – Underwatering, too much sun
  • Sparse foliage – Low light, may need more fertiliser

Roots

  • Root rot if overwatered for prolonged periods

Pests

  • Check for spider mites, mealybugs, scale.

Toxicity

The leaves of Monstera species contain insoluble calcium oxalate crystals that can cause irritation and upset if ingested.

Pets or humans that chew or eat the leaves may experience:

  • Oral irritation, pain, swelling
  • Numbness or tingling of the mouth
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Excessive drooling
  • Vomiting, nausea, diarrhea
  • The sap can also cause skin irritation.

Keep plants out of reach of pets and small children. Seek medical advice if plant parts are ingested.

All parts of the plant are considered toxic, especially the leaves. Even small nibbles can cause irritation.

Toxicity is mild to moderate for most pets. Severe poisoning is rare but possible in large quantities.

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