The swiss cheese plant has become a popular household decorative piece. Its interesting foliage and waxy green leaves have made it a highly sought-after houseplant.
If you’re looking to grow your own plant or are in need of some effective care advice then this guide is perfect. We’ll explore the key characteristics of this houseplant, how to care for one, grow your own plant, and finally how to revive it.
The swiss cheese plant’s botanical name is monstera deliciosa and as you may have guessed, this houseplant belongs to the Monstera genus. It goes by a few other common names too, such as split-leaf philodendron, windowleaf, ceriman, and hurricane plant.
The swiss cheese plant may be referred to as the split-leaf philodendron and it belongs to the same family as a philodendron; the Araceae family. It is, however, not a philodendron.
This evergreen climber has woody vines and lush, heart-shaped, green foliage that are covered in leaf holes. They give the leaves an appearance similar to that of swiss cheese hence its common name.
The holes allow the leaves to capture more sunshine while also minimizing the mass of cells needed to support. As the monstera deliciosa is native to rainforests in North and South America it has to deal with downpours and these holes allow rainwater to pass through without damaging the leaf.
Fun fact: The leaf holes found on the foliage are formally called fenestrations.
It typically reaches a mature size of around 2 to 3 feet (60.9 – 91.4cm) tall and grows a spread of 2 to 3 feet (60.9 – 91.4cm).
The size of your houseplant may vary depending on the amount of sunshine it receives and how well it’s cared for.
How Fast Does It Grow?
A monstera deliciosa is a fast grower and sprouts an average of 1 to 2 feet (30.5 – 60.9cm) a year. In optimal conditions you can expect a fairly significant amount of growth, however, when placed in shady regions then its growth may become stunted.
The swiss cheese plant can live in your home for several decades, and when treated well it should survive for up to 40 years.
Just like the begonia, the swiss cheese plant contains insoluble calcium oxalates which have a needle-like formation. Its sap can cause micro-trauma when ingested, and coming into contact with it may also cause one to experience skin dermatitis.
We’ll list the symptoms to look out for should either you or your pet come into contact with its sap.
Is It Toxic to Cats and Dogs?
The swiss cheese plant is toxic to both cats and dogs. If one of your fury friends eats any part of the plant they may experience one of the following side effects listed below.
- Swelling of the lips, mouth, and tongue
- Excessive drooling
Even merely touching this toxic sap can cause a red, itchy rash to cover their skin. So, it’s important to place this houseplant out of your cat and dog’s reach.
If any of these symptoms persist then it’s best to seek out advice from your local vet.
Is It Poisonous to Humans?
Its sap is also toxic should either you or a child ingest or touch it. We’ll jot down the potential symptoms below.
- Swelling of the lips, mouth, and tongue
- Difficulty swallowing
We recommend that you wear a pair of gardening gloves when handling the plant as coming into contact with it will cause skin dermatitis.
The symptoms tend to persist for a short period of time, however, you should always reach out to your doctor if you’re concerned.
Monstera Deliciosa Care
In this section, we will be delving into the precise care that the swiss cheese plant requires. We’ll guide you through watering and maintaining it, as well as the optimal environmental requirements.
How Often to Water It
The monstera deliciosa prefers to be grown in a slightly moist environment and is especially thirsty during the warmer spring and summer months. The number of times you water it will greatly depend on the climate.
Typically, you should water it once a week during the spring and summertime whereas it only needs to be watered once every 2 or 3 weeks in winter and autumn. The warmer it is the more water it needs and the cooler the environment the less moisture it requires.
You should feel whether the soil is dry or moist to determine whether your plant needs to be watered. Additionally, you should make sure that the soil is evenly moist and avoid getting the leaves too wet.
It’s best to water it until the excess water drips through the drainage holes. Always remember to empty the drainage tray to avoid soggy conditions and root rot.
An efficient drainage system is important for this houseplant as it’s sensitive to saturated soil. The roots may become rotten and may even die if it’s overwatered.
You should opt for a container with a few drainage holes at the bottom. This will ensure that any extra water flows out instead of drowning the roots.
Drainage can also be improved by planting it in quick-draining soil such as a potting mix with perlite. It’s also a good idea to form a layer of gravel at the bottom of the pot too.
When and How to Prune It
A monstera deliciosa does well when pruned regularly during early spring. This will give it enough time to sprout new growth during its active growing seasons.
Ideally, you should only prune it when the foliage is unhealthy or you want to promote new growth.
Follow the steps listed here:
- First, you must sterilize a pair of pruners or shears.
- Snip off the older leaves and stems at the base of the plant.
- If you want to promote bushier growth then cut off the foliage just below the leaf node.
- Water the plant well and put it back in its sunny home.
Top tip: If you’ve noticed its aerial roots, you may be tempted to snip them off. It’s best to leave them as they provide your plant with the necessary support.
It should be transplanted once every two years during the springtime. You’ll know when it needs to be repotted as its growth will slow down and the roots will begin to protrude through the drainage holes.
We’ve listed the process below:
- Water the plant deeply the day before repotting it. You should do this to reduce any shock the roots may experience.
- Loosen the soil by knocking the sides of the container and then gently slide the plant out.
- If there is a lot of soil surrounding the rootball then brush this off.
- Take out a new pot and fill it with fresh soil. Now, you can plant it at the same depth that it was in its previous pot.
- It’s a good idea to water it again as this will help the roots settle.
- Simply position it back in its original location and care for it as you normally would.
Top tip: You can plant a moss pole near the plant so that it can climb up the pole. This is a great way to support the stems.
The swiss cheese plant prefers being placed under bright and indirect sunshine. It should receive at least 6 to 8 hours of bright sunlight each day.
It can cope with some direct morning sunlight but the harsh afternoon sun will scorch its foliage.
You should also ensure that it isn’t left in a shady area. A lack of sunlight may lead to stunted or leggy growth.
A lightweight and peaty-based soil mixture is ideal when it comes to this plant. The potting mix should also have a pH level between 5.5 and 6.5.
To ensure that it drains well, you can mix together 3 parts soil and 2 parts perlite. Another great combination is 1 part perlite and 4 parts pine bark.
A monstera deliciosa should be fed once every two weeks during the spring and summertime. It isn’t necessary to fertilize it in winter or autumn as it isn’t actively growing.
You should use a liquid fertilizer with a ratio of 20-20-20. To avoid over-feeding it, the fertilizer must be diluted to half its strength.
Pot Size and Type
A swiss cheese plant will grow comfortably in a container that is 1 to 2 inches (2.5 – 5cm) wider than its rootball.
The optimal pot is one made of terracotta or clay as this promotes airflow and prevents the soil from becoming too moist. You may have to water the houseplant more often if you choose one of these.
The monstera deliciosa thrives in temperatures between 60 to 80°F (15.5 – 26.6°C). It prefers warmer regions and if temperatures dip below 50°F (10°C) then you’ll need to find a new position for it.
Additionally, it is sensitive to sudden changes in temperature so make sure to avoid placing it near any cool drafts or warm air from a heater.
As it’s native to tropical rainforests, this houseplant loves a humid home. Ideally, the humidity levels surrounding it should be between 60 to 80 percent. Humidity dipping below 50 percent may be detrimental to your houseplant.
If you’re concerned that your home’s air is too dry then place a bowl of lukewarm water next to the plant or mist its foliage several times a week.
Outdoors vs. Indoors
It can do well when planted outdoors, however, it is difficult to control the environment. Ideally, it should only be left outside in USDA hardiness zones of 10 to 12.
The plant needs to be misted more often and it may even require more water when grown in your garden. This is especially true during the summertime.
Another factor to consider is the amount of light it receives because it’s sensitive to direct sunshine. You should place it in partial shade.
Once temperatures become cooler you will need to relocate the plant back indoors. This is important as the plant isn’t frost tolerant.
The swiss cheese plant is unlikely to bloom when grown indoors, however, outdoors it typically blooms in mid-summer.
It sprouts a creamy spathe with a spadix in the center. These flowers will survive for a few weeks before being replaced by small fruits.
You can encourage your plant to bloom by watering it well, placing it under optimal light, and feeding it properly.
Fun fact: The monstera deliciosa gets its name from the fruits it produces. These delicious Mexican breadfruits should only be consumed when ripened.
How to Grow It
If you’re eager to grow your monstera deliciosa collection then you have a few options available. You can propagate it in both soil and water, or you can plant its seeds.
Typically, each method should be carried out during the springtime as the plant is actively growing and the days are longer so it’ll receive that much-needed sunlight.
We’ll provide a list of steps to guide you through each process below.
Monstera Deliciosa Propagation
Propagation is a brilliant way to grow a new houseplant and it’s relatively simple too. You can choose to either propagate it in soil or water.
Propagation in Soil
When propagating this houseplant in soil, you can use its stem cuttings, divide its rootball, or air layer it. Each one of these processes is successful and straightforward to carry out.
To enhance the chances of success, you should make use of a nutrient-rich and quick-draining potting mixture.
How to Grow It from Stem Cuttings
This is one of the easiest and most popular ways to grow a new plant. You will need to gather your pruners, a small pot, rooting hormone, and some fresh potting soil.
Follow the next guide:
- Take out a pair of scissors and snip off a stem with aerial roots and two or three leaves attached to it.
- Cover the cut area in rooting hormone and plant it in a small pot with soil.
- Position it under indirect light and water the cutting well to encourage its roots to settle.
- In 4 to 6 weeks the cutting will root and you can care for it normally.
Propagation by Division
Dividing the houseplant’s rootball is a great way to maintain the plant’s size, and is an alternative to repotting the entire plant in a larger container.
Take a look at these steps:
- Give the plant a deep watering the day before you divide it. This will lessen any shock experienced by the roots.
- Loosen the soil and gently remove it from the container. You may need to brush away the soil stuck to the roots.
- Slice the rootball in half and plant each division in a new pot with fresh soil.
- Water each plant well and place them by a bright windowsill.
It grows aerial roots which can produce new growth before even snipping off the entire stem. To successfully air layer it, you will need a sharp knife, a toothpick, some sphagnum moss, a plastic wrap, and some ties or tape.
Follow the guidelines set out below:
- You will use a knife to make a small incision right below the leaf node. Be careful as you don’t want to slice the entire stem off.
- Place a toothpick in between the incision to keep the cut area open.
- Cover this area with rooting hormone and wrap some sphagnum moss around it. You will need to secure the moss with clear plastic and some tape or ties.
- New aerial roots will begin to grow after 4 or 6 weeks. As soon as this happens you can clear the moss away and cut the stem off just below the roots.
- The cutting can then be planted in its own pot and cared for as you did its mother plant.
Propagating in Water
The best way to grow a new houseplant in water is by propagating a stem cutting. All you’ll need to do is snip off a healthy-looking stem and place it in some distilled water. After its roots have grown you will need to repot it in soil.
We’ve explained the process in detail below:
- Find a glass jar and fill it with filtered water.
- Sterilize your pair of scissors and cut off a stem. Make sure that the cutting has an aerial root and a few leaves still attached to it.
- Place the stem in the glass jar and replace the water every few days or when it’s murky.
- Leave the cutting under bright light and check for new growth in a few weeks.
- In about a month the cutting should produce new root growth. Once the roots are long enough, you will need to plant it in soil.
How to Grow It from Seed
Its seeds can be found in the fruits produced after the blooms drop off. They can be planted in moistened soil, and if cared for well you will see small seedlings emerge.
We’ve compiled a simple list of steps below:
- Fill a bowl with lukewarm water and soak the seeds overnight.
- Take out a shallow tray and place some moistened peat moss inside of it.
- Now, you can sprinkle the seeds across the soil’s surface before covering the tray with a plastic bag.
- Position the seeds under bright light and keep the soil moist.
- After 1 to 3 weeks you will know that the seeds have successfully germinated as new growth will emerge.
- Once the seedlings have sprouted, you can remove the plastic bag.
- When the seedlings become large enough, you may need to transplant them in their own pots.
How to Revive It
The monstera deliciosa may be a low-maintenance houseplant, however, improper care can be detrimental to its health. We’ll explain the most common issues faced by this plant and what you can do to revive it.
The leaves may begin to turn yellow when the soil is either too dry or too moist. This means you will need to tweak your watering schedule.
If the soil is dry then water the plant deeply and ensure that you water it more frequently going forward. When the soil is soggy then you will need to allow the soil to dry out before watering it again.
Brown spots are caused by a fungal infection known as leaf spot disease. The infection typically occurs when the plant is overwatered.
It is super simple to rectify and can be done by repoting the plant in fresh soil and watering it less often in the future.
This houseplant is susceptible to root rot just like many other plants such as the hosta. The roots become rot when the plant is overwatered and left in saturated conditions.
You will need to repot it immediately and cut off any blackened roots or damaged foliage. Additionally, you should ensure that the soil is well-draining and it’s vital that the container has at least one drainage hole.
The leaves become limp and curly when the plant is watered improperly or placed in a shady location.
You are either watering it far too much or not enough. The best way to determine the exact problem is by feeling whether the soil is dry or wet. If the soil is too dry then deeply water the plant immediately, however, if it’s too damp then refrain from watering it until the soil has dried out.
This houseplant thrives when placed under bright light, so you should find a sunny windowsill where it’ll soak in plenty of sun.
The swiss cheese plant’s interesting foliage makes it a great addition to your home. It’s the perfect houseplant for a newbie as it’s low maintenance, fuss-free, and easy to care for. Once you’ve created the optimal environment for the plant, you’ll watch it sprout new and healthy growth.