A guide to the plant everyone is talking about: Monstera Deliciosa aka Swiss Cheese Plant
| Morag Hill
The first thing we have to say about the Monstera Deliciosa, is that if it’s nickname is related to cheese, then we want to know more! The Monstera is also known as a Swiss Cheese Plant, thanks to the holes and splits in its leaves. This makes it easy to recognise. It’s a fabulous statement plant and in our opinion in Team TLB, it’s the must-have plant of the year.
It is such a popular plant in the plant lovers world, we wanted to do it justice with an “All you need to know” blog post. Below we have covered; some of the history, facts behind the name and ideas for styling this stunning plant.
A little history
The Monstera originates from Central and South America, and there are over 22 species in the Monstera family. Apparently, the first recorded date of Monstera being mentioned in western literature was 1693, but this was under a different name. The name Monstera appeared in 1763, and after this date, the name started being used more frequently. The given Latin name for the species we love and sell is Monstera Deliciosa. This was discovered around 1840 in Mexico and Guatemala.
After the Monstera Deliciosa was brought to Europe, it became a big hit. Uptake of its cultivation was rapid and it sparked a hunt for new species. So if you are wondering when it became so popular, it was actually the mid 19th-century trendsetters who spotted its potential.
The Monstera is more than just a pretty plant to look at. It can grow up to 20m in the right conditions, with incredible tendril-like roots. These have been used to make ropes or baskets in countries like Mexico and Peru.
More about that name
We love it’s name! It sounds like it could be a Harry Potter spell or a new superhero. The first part of the name comes from the Latin word ‘monstrum’; you don’t have to be a classical linguist to recognise that means monster and this probably relates to the size of its leaves. The second part of the name, deliciosa, refers to the delicious fruit that the plant can produce. It apparently tastes like a cross between a banana and pineapple.
Before you get any ideas about filling your fruit bowl after buying this plant, there are a couple of important points to make. Firstly, it is very difficult to grow fruit from one of these plants grown indoors and we don’t quite have the tropical weather outside that would be required. Secondly, the fruit has to be absolutely perfectly ripe to eat. If it is unripe, then you are in for a shock. This is because it has needle-like structures that would make swallowing it rather painful!
Why do the leaves have holes?
We get asked this a lot by all our plant loving followers. Scientists have looked at the different types of Monstera to examine why exactly they have holes or splits. Some early botanists actually thought the holes represented a weakness in the plant or it had simply failed to develop. However, apparently it is to do with sunflecks and the need for plants to optimise these for their photosynthesis. In an area of rainforest where the canopy is thick, it is important to make the most of the sunlight that does get through. The holes can apparently be more efficient and reliable for utilising these sunflecks for photosynthesis compared to leaves without them.
Here’s another good fact that shows how clever this plant is: the leaves sort of fan and spread out, rather than uncurling directly above each other. It is thought that this helps to avoid the lower leaves being put into the shade by the upper ones!
What is the growth rate of the Monstera Deliciosa?
Our one word answer: Quick. If you limit the space it has to grow, you can restrict this. However, if you want a bit of an epic Monstera, give it six-nine months and you can re-pot him into a bigger pot to help him grow bigger! When a new leaf arrives, this will come through in a lighter green colour. It will start all curled up, but will soon enough unveil itself and its holey cheese pattern will evolve in no time!
How much light and warmth does the plant need?
The Monstera Deliciosa will tolerate shade and low humidity. It doesn’t like it to be too hot so avoid any spots that have direct sunshine! Pop him in your living room or kitchen. He likes to be in a light spot and will tolerate most temperatures. He is super easy to look after, this makes them such a popular houseplant. Bear in mind, if you have a bit of a chillier house or are just a bit more cold-blooded, then bear in mind low temperatures can reduce growth.
What care does a Monstera Deliciosa need?
You’ll be pleased to hear that this isn’t a high maintenance plant. For a novice indoor plant lover, these really are a great choice. Water them just once a week and water from the base. It is best to pop them in a sink with water and let them soak for 30 minutes. If the soil looks damp, let it dry out a little before adding more water. To keep the leaves lovely and green, we’d also recommend feeding him with plant feed every couple of months. This shouldn’t be needed for the first 3-6 months.
The leaves are a beautiful glossy dark green heart shape – keep them shiny with a quick wipe of a damp cloth once a month.
How do they get on with pets?
Sadly the leaves of Monstera Deliciosa are toxic to cats and dogs, so it is best to put them in a place where furry paws can’t reach them. Take a look at our post on what houseplants are safe for animals as there are plenty of other options out there.
What is the best way to style them?
Monstera Deliciosa have been used by a huge range of brands incorporated into their design, or simply used to style their products. In fact, if you go on a bit of a shopping spree, you will soon realise just how widespread and popular this fabulous plant really is.
Luckily for you lot, we have made it easy. You don’t need to find a ceramic pot to fit your plant. All the plants from The Little Botanical come with the ceramic pots. This means that as well as getting your Monstera in the post, you will also get a separate box containing our grey concrete ceramic pot. Simply drop the plant into its stylish pot in your home and voila, you’re done. We love mixing and matching our plants so if you are looking to create a bit of a green corner, then we have some suggestions. Try pairing it with either a smaller succulent for a size contrast, such as the Miranda, or our large spiky Sansevieria with a totally different structure.
If you would like any more tips, take a look at our Instagram @thelittlebotanical. Alternatively, check out the whopping 739k people who have posted with the tag #monstera, or 217k photos tagged for the #monsteradeliciosa.
Don’t forget if you’re posting a pic of your new green friend then please tag us so we can see our plants in their forever homes!