COLUMNISTS

Dakota Gardener: Monstera maintenance

Carrie Knutson
NDSU Extension
Carrie Knutson, NDSU Extension agent, Grand Forks County

I received an early Christmas present this year. I was recently gifted a monstera plant. Now that I own a monstera, I thought I had better do some research to make sure it stays happy in my office and doesn’t end up in the compost pile.

Monstera plants are also known as the “Swiss-cheese plant.” The plant is native to Central America and can be found outdoors in warmer climates. In our area, they are treated as houseplants.

If you are thinking about getting a monstera, you might need to invest in some additional plant equipment. Monsteras are a vining plant that will need support. A trellis or moss-covered stakes are common support methods. Plants will need to be trained to grow up the supports.

With the right care, a monstera plant can be a fun indoor addition for houseplant enthusiasts.

Monstera plants can become a massive plant. In their native environment, they can grow 50 feet long and may be considered somewhat invasive. Indoors, they can grow up to 16 feet or more if cared for properly. Therefore, heavier pots are often used with monstera plants to prevent the pot from tipping over.

The main attraction of this plant is the perforated leaves. However, young monstera leaves are heart-shaped and do not have perforations. As the leaves mature, they become deeply lobed and perforated and look more like Swiss-cheese. This design helps the plants withstand heavy rainfall and high winds in their native environment.

Monstera leaves can grow to several feet in width. Because of the large leaf surface, the leaves will need to be cleaned to remove any dust buildup. Use a clean cloth to gently remove dust from the leaves.

Monsteras prefer bright indirect light, warm temperatures (70 degrees F) and high humidity. The plant prefers moist soil, so water thoroughly, but let the top portion of the soil dry out in-between watering.

Monstera plants can be a financial investment depending on the size and type. Some variegated varieties can be harder to root and will be more expensive.

Monstera plants are in the same family as the peace lily which contains oxalic acid. So, all parts of the plant are poisonous except the fruit. There are specific instructions to follow in order to eat the fruit safely. The fully ripened fruit is usually eaten fresh or used in desserts. Indoor plants will rarely flower and produce fruit.

If you have a gardener or houseplant fanatic who seems to have it all, check to see if they have a monstera plant. If not, you know what to shop for. Or better yet, plan a tropical vacation to see the plant in its native habitat! Happy gardening!