How to Plant, Grow, and Care For Monstera Adansonii

Are you interested in adding a Monstera adansonii to your houseplant collection? This interesting member of the Monstera genus has many holes in its leaves, making for a unique feature. Follow this guide to find out everything you need to know to plant, care for and propagate this popular plant.

Monstera Adansonii

Members of the Monstera genus are incredibly popular houseplants. While Monstera deliciousa still takes the top spot, with one in almost every houseplant lover’s home, new species are joining the ranks. One of those is the unique Monstera adansonii

Known more commonly as the Swiss Cheese Plant,or the Monkey Mask Plant, Monstera adansonii is the perfect leafy houseplant, deserving of a spot in every indoor plant collection. Its heart-shaped leaves are a classic Monstera feature, but it’s the holes they develop that make this classic plant stand out. It’s one of the most popular monstera varieties.

The Monstera adansonii is also easy to care for. It’s low maintenance needs often have it compared to the philodendron, or the pothos. It’s often considered one of the perfect first indoor plants for newbie collectors and seasoned houseplant parents alike. 

Monstera Adansonii Plant Overview

Close Up of Leaves of Swiss Cheese Plant
Plant Type Houseplant
Family Araceae
Genus Monstera
Species Monstera adansonii
Native Area Central America
Exposure Bright Indirect Light
Height 8 inches
Watering Requirements Moderate
Pests and Diseases Spider Mites, Aphids, Scale, Root
Maintenance Low
Soil Type Airy Well-draining
Hardiness Zone 10-11

What Is Monstera Adansonii? 

Person Showcasing Fenestrations in Monkey Leaf Plant
This popular houseplant is best known for its unique fenestrations, or holes in the leaves.

​​Monstera adansonii is often confused with Split Leaf Philodendrons. They are both given the nickname Swiss Cheese Plant, despite them coming from completely different genera.  

The Swiss Cheese Plant nickname is also given to another member of the monstera family, Monstera deliciosa, thanks to the similar holes in the leaves. The main difference between these two monstera cousins is their size. Monstera adansonii generally has much smaller leaves compared to the Monstera deliciosa

As confusing as it is to have the same nickname for several different plants, it’s always best to go by scientific names when hunting for the right plant. 

This plant gets its common nickname from the holes in its heart-shaped leaves. These perforations occur during a process called fenestration. No one knows exactly why Monstera plants do this as they age, but there are several theories.  

Some believe it’s to protect from adverse weather conditions of their native region. Others state it’s to accommodate for the poor lighting of jungle floors. What is certain, however, is the plant’s leaves become holier the older it gets. 

History and Origins 

Monkey Leaf Plant Growing Outdoors
Like most Monstera plants, these beauties are from tropical regions.

This history of Monstera plants is somewhat vague. Not much is known about when they made their way across the world, but many speculate that it could have been anywhere between the 16th and 19th centuries. 

While most know Monstera adansonii as one of the many Swiss Cheese Plants, it has another unique nickname – Monkey Mask or Monkey Leaf. According to legend, a monkey hid behind the heart-shaped leaves of this plant after being spotted by a botanist. The botanist noted how this hideout created a mask, hence it’s strange, seemingly unrelated nickname. 

Monstera plants weren’t always a popular houseplant, sought after for their striking leaves that fill any space. Across the world, they were cultivated for their unique and delicious fruits known as Mexican breadfruit. 

Its uses go beyond décor and scrumptious fruit too. In its native areas, Monsteras are grown for their multitude of medicinal uses. Monstera plants have anti-inflammatory properties that help soothe pain and symptoms of arthritis. Crushed leaves and stems also make great topical treatments for boils and snake bites, respectively. 

While these plants have several uses and grow delicious fruits when grown outdoors, Monstera adansonii and other members of the Monstera family are toxic to both humans and pets when ingested. So it’s best to keep your pets away from this plant. 

Native Area 

Swiss Cheese Plant Growing Outdoors
The Central American countries of Mexico and Panama are home to this unique plant.

Monstera adansonii, like the rest of the Monstera family, is native to tropical rainforests across Central America. They’re most common in Mexico and Panama, but throughout the years they’ve spread across the world. This plant is also found in several other tropical islands, namely Hawaii and Puerto Rico. 

In these tropical paradises, Monstera adansonii flourishes, vining across the jungle floors and up trees. While typically considered small compared to other Monsteras, the Monkey Leaf can grow to about 13 feet tall and about 3 feet wide. Indoors and in containers, however, they’ll only reach about eight feet. 

Characteristics 

Close View of Fenestrations of Monkey Leaf Plant
The most defining characteristic of this plant is the Swiss Cheese-like holes in the leaves.

The large tropical leaves of Monstera plants are what make them so popular. While the highly sought-after Monstera deliciosa has large, monstrous leaves, the Monstera adansonii is much smaller. Its quaintness makes this the perfect jungle-like plant for tight spaces. 

The Monstera adansonii leaves might be small, but they are just as impactful as other indoor plant favorites. Their leaves are heart-shaped and littered with ovate fenestrations – giving it its cheesy nickname. 

Monstera adansonii has a vining and climbing nature like other members of its family. It looks right at home on the edges of tabletops or shelves, where its striking leaves can cascade down. Alternatively, you can prop a trellis behind your plant and allow it to climb, creating another striking feature. 

While this Swiss Cheese Plant is small, it can just as easily flourish outdoors or in larger spaces. Its climbing nature allows it to reach large heights when given space. In the great outdoors, Monstera adansonii leaves can also reach about two feet long. 

Where To Buy 

Monkey Leaf Plant Seedlings in a Nursery
There are a large number of nurseries and online stores that sell this plant.

Luckily, this is a common plant, unlike other houseplants littered across social media feeds lately. They should be readily available in most garden centers and nurseries. However, they can be pricey. Because of its price tag, always check the health of the plant before carting home. 

You could also opt to purchase this plant online, where they’re often more affordable. While smaller, younger plants may be appealing and slightly cheaper, you might want to opt for larger, established plants. It can cost you more, but they have a better chance of survival after shipping

They are also easy plants to propagate. If you’re struggling to find one at your local nursery or aren’t willing to wait for online delivery, ask a friend for a cutting. This is also a great way to learn how to propagate plants, for free. 

Planting 

Monkey Leaf Plant Seedling Planted in Soil
Monstera adansonii is most commonly grown indoors.

This gorgeous plant is most often grown as a houseplant, mainly due to its love of tropical conditions. It also makes a great outdoor plant, depending on the region and climate. 

Whether you’re growing it indoors or outdoors, it’s always best to start with a healthy plant. When you’re buying from your local garden center or nursery, always double-check for any health or growth problems.  

This plant is prone to rot and attract several pests that can damage the plant. You need to avoid bringing home plants with any signs of disease or pests, as they can easily spread to other plants. 

It’s also always a good idea to make sure you’ve actually bought a Monstera adansonii. As mentioned, its nickname, Swiss Cheese Plant, is used for two other plants, the Monstera deliciosa, and the Split Leaf Philodendron. These plants not only look different, but they also have different needs. 

When grown indoors, Monstera adansoniis are usually happy in the pot they came in, at least for a year or two. If you’d like to have them in a more decorative pot, just follow the repotting instructions below. 

If you’re wanting to grow this plant outdoors, it’s best to opt for a plant that’s acclimatized to those conditions. Indoor plants are acclimatized to greenhouse conditions and can struggle when planted outdoors. 

The best spot for an outdoor Swiss Cheese Plant is under a tree or a shaded spot that receives plenty of dappled sunlight. They are hardy in zones 10-12 and shouldn’t be planted outside if winter temperatures drop below 50F. 

How to Grow 

The Monstera adansonii is an exceptionally easy plant to care for. They thrive in most indoor conditions, so well in fact, that your main focus will be pruning its extra growth. They don’t have any specific needs, with most of its care and conditions lining up with other houseplants. 

Light 

Monkey Leaf Plant in Sunlight
As with most other tropical plants, these monsteras prefer to grow in bright, indirect sunlight.

Given the origins of this tropical plant, it should come as no surprise that it’s a fan of bright, indirect light. When they receive too little light, their growth tends to slow, and they produce even smaller leaves. While the plant won’t die, it won’t look as good. If you notice your Monstera adansonii looking sparse or spindly, it may need more light. 

On the other hand, too much direct sunlight can quickly burn the gorgeous, delicate leaves. The best spot for this plant is near a sunny window, where it can receive at least eight hours of indirect sunlight a day.  

If your windows are South or West facing and receive plenty of direct light, you can cover them with sheer curtains. This helps filter the light, without darkening your space too much. 

Water 

Water Droplets on Swiss Cheese Plant
It is best to water your Swiss Cheese Plant when the top layer of soil has dried out.

Monsteras are fans of moist soil, thanks to their tropical origins, and the Monstera adansonii is no different. However, they don’t like soggy or waterlogged soil, which encourages root and stem rot. Finding the right balance can be tricky, but it’s not impossible. 

When this plant is overwatered, its leaves typically become yellow. Too little water usually causes the leaves to brown and curl. 

You should only water this plant when the top layers of soil dry out. You can easily tell by simply pressing your finger into the soil. If it’s still damp, don’t water. If it’s bone dry, it’s time for a good watering. 

Monstera adansoniis aren’t only worried about the amount of water they receive. How you water this plant is just as important. Watering slowly and deeply allows the water to soak throughout the soil without waterlogging it. Once the water begins running out of the drainage holes, you can stop. 

Always water at its base, avoiding the leaves. Excessively wet leaves can quickly lead to leaf rot. A water bottle with holes in the lid is a great alternative to a watering can. You can water deeply while avoiding the delicate leaves. 

Soil 

Close Up of Swiss Cheese Plant Planted in Soil
As with most houseplants, a potted Monstera adansonii requires just the right soil to truly thrive.  

Garden soil typically doesn’t have the right aeration and can be riddled with pests and diseases that spread to your indoor plants. A specialized houseplant soil mix is much better for your Monstera adansonii. These mixtures contain materials that allow them to drain sufficiently while retaining plenty of moisture. 

While these pre-mixed soils are easy and readily available online and at your local nursery, if you have a lot of houseplants, it’s much cheaper to buy the necessary materials and make them yourself. Making your own soil also allows you to personalize your soil to your plant’s specific needs. 

The best soil mix is an organic-rich potting mix combined with perlite and peat moss or coconut husk. The latter is a great natural alternative to peat moss. 

The best ratio for your homemade houseplant soil mix 2:1:1 – two parts potting soil combined with one part perlite and one part coconut husk or peat moss. You can alter this depending on your plant’s needs and your indoor conditions. 

Temperature and Humidity 

Swiss Cheese Plant Growing Indoors
These tropical-native plants thrive in warm humid climates.

The Monstera adansonii is native to tropical, central American jungles, so it’s no wonder they thrive in similar conditions. They love warm and humid environments that replicate their natural habitats. 

Typical indoor temperatures, which range between 65F and 80F, are normally perfect for your Monstera adansonii. With that said, this gorgeous plant can tolerate temperatures as high as 90F, and as low as 60F. 

These tropical beauties are not cold-hardy by any means. Cold temperatures stunt growth and if they persist, this plant could begin to wilt and die. 

Humidity levels are just as important as temperature for the Monstera adansonii, especially due to their jungle background. In rainforests, humidity levels are typically around 75%. During the rainy seasons, however, humidity levels can reach as high as 90%. They are generally happy with about 60% humidity but will grow best in areas with more humidity. 

Its love of humidity makes this the perfect bathroom plant. If you’re wanting to have your Monstera adansonii front and center though, there are several ways to increase the humidity in your home. 

Misting your plant frequently is one way, but it can be time-consuming, and its results won’t last longer than a few minutes. The extra water and moisture around your plant can also lead to the development of mold and several other diseases. Another go-to suggestion is placing your pot in a tray of pebbles, but this only helps a little. 

The best way to increase humidity levels in your home is with a humidifier. You can also group several houseplants together. Remember not to place them too close though, as it can create a prime environment for pests and diseases. 

Fertilizing 

Swiss Cheese Plant Growing In Fertilized Soil
Using a balanced fertilizer during growing months can help boost the growth of your plant.

While the Monstera adansonii grows quickly, especially in the right conditions, it doesn’t need a lot of extra food. But, after repotting and once it’s established, you may need to add some fertilizer to keep your plant fed and happy. 

Monsteras typically thrive on a balanced fertilizer, with equal parts nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. It’s always best to give them extra nutrients during their peak growing season – spring and summer. How often you feed your little monstera is dependent on what type do fertilizer you use. 

These plants thrive on either liquid fertilizer or slow-release fertilizer. Liquid fertilizer gets absorbed quickly by the plant’s roots. However, it is easily washed away when watering, meaning you’ll have to fertilize more often. 

Slow-release fertilizers, on the other hand, break down over time, allowing your plant to take up nutrients slowly. While it won’t wash away, slow-release fertilizers give you little control over the release of these nutrients. 

Whatever fertilizer you opt for, it’s important to apply them correctly. Slow-release fertilizers typically come in pellets or sticks that are buried under the top layer of soil. Always use the amount recommended by the fertilizers packages as overfertilizing can burn the roots and leaves of your Monstera adansonii. You’ll only need to add your slow-release fertilizer once a year. 

Fertilizer burn is more common when using liquid fertilizer, so you should apply only a half-strength amount once a month. Reducing the strength of the fertilizer also limits the chances of it washing away when watered. 

Maintenance 

Gardener Caring For Monkey Leaf Plant
These houseplants need a little love to grow to their full potential.

Monstera adansonii is not a needy plant. However, there are a few things you can do to keep this little plant happy and looking its best. 

While the leaves are smaller than other members of the monstera family, they still collect dust and debris. Unfortunately, as there is no natural rain to wash this away. It settles on the leaves, hindering photosynthesis and ultimately slowing down growth. To keep your the leaves shining, gently wipe them down with a damp cloth every month or two. 

The simple maintenance doesn’t stop there, however. This plant is a climber and as it ages it will need some training to either climb or trail in the way you want it to. Adding support will help it grow faster and look better. Moss poles are ideal as they improve moisture availability and replicate this tropical plant’s natural habitat. 

The fast-growing, climbing nature of the Monstera adansonii also means it might need to be pruned every so often. If your little monstera begins to outgrow its allotted space, feel free to cut some of the stems shorter. Always use clean, sterile sheers and cut no more than a quarter of the stem. You should also cut just before the leaf node. 

If your plant is beginning to look leggy or stretched, you can also snip away any underperforming leaves and stems. 

Propagation 

Monstera plants are amongst the easiest plants to propagate and the Monstera adansonii is no exception. The best way to propagate this stunning plant is by taking stem cuttings. If you’re wanting to try a more technical method, give air layering ago. 

Stem Cuttings 

Monkey Leaf Plant Cutting
Stem cuttings are the best and most efficient way to propagate this plant.

Before you begin cutting your Monstera adansonii, always start with clean tools. You can either use a sharp knife or a pair of shears, depending on the size of your Monstera adansonii. Larger, older plants with thick stems usually call for a knife. Clean tools limit the spread of diseases. 

You should also always pick a healthy stem to cut as they are more likely to produce a healthier, stronger plant. 

Cut about four to six inches of the stem just before a node. This node is the point where roots emerge. Cut the stem at an angle to increase the surface area and to prevent it from sitting against the glass if rooting in water. 

Remove any small leaves growing from the base of the stem before placing them in water or soil. If you’re rooting in water, use distilled or filtered water for the best growth. Replenish the water every few days and after a few weeks when roots are about one to two inches long, transplant your cutting into a pot with soil mix. 

You can also place this cutting into a small pot with a soilless potting medium. Still cut the stem at an angle and add a touch of rooting hormone to the cut end. Make sure the potting medium is damp before planting the cutting.  

Keep the potting mix moist, but not soaking, and place the container in a spot that receives plenty of indirect sunlight a day. Once roots have developed or new leaves begin to grow at the base of the stem, transplant it into your desired pot or container. 

Air Layering 

Swiss Cheese Plant Cutting for Propagation
Though as effective as stem cuttings, this propagation method requires a little more skill.

This method is a little more technical than taking stem cuttings, but it’s just as reliable. Air layering also reduces stress to your plant, saving the parent and the cutting at the same time. 

Air layering is only successful when using an older, established Monstera adansonii with thick stems. 

Start by picking a healthy stem. Using a sharp, clean knife, make a small, vertical cut along the stem. This cut should only be about one or two inches long. Place a toothpick in the cut to keep it open. 

Wrap the stem in moistened peat moss or coconut coir to help keep it moist and promote root growth. Seal the moss or coconut coir by wrapping the stem in some plastic wrap. Keep the coconut coir or peat moss moist by unwrapping the plastic wrap and spritzing it with some water. 

After a few weeks, roots should emerge from the peat moss. When this happens, it’s time to transplant. Using a sharp, clean knife, remove the cutting below the root growth and plant it in a pot with fresh potting soil. Water the new cutting to encourage even more root growth and anchor it in place.   

Repotting 

Swiss Cheese Plant Being Repotted
It is important to the health of your plant to upgrade its home once it outgrows its pot.

The Monstera adansonii is a fast-growing plant and will quickly outgrow its pot. You should repot it every one to two years. Luckily, this little plant is easy to repot and, if handled with care, will continue to thrive in its new home. When it comes time to repotting, it will also need new, replenished soil. 

Choose a pot that’s about one or two sizes bigger than the current one. Avoid choosing an extremely large pot as it can hold onto unnecessary moisture, leading to root rot. Make sure your new pot is clean, especially if it had another plant in it. 

Remove your Monstera adansonii from its existing pot and shake off the soil. Gently untangle the roots and check for any signs of root rot or damage. If there are any problematic roots, trim them and rinse the roots to wash away any diseased and degraded soil. 

Fill your pot with enough soil that the crown of the plant sits at the same level as before. Gently gather the roots and place them in the pot and fill them with soil. Don’t fill to the top as this can cause soil to spill out when you water. 

Firm down the soil around the base of the plant and water immediately. Pop your repotted Monstera adansonii back in its original spot and watch it continue to thrive. 

Common Problems 

As easy-going as the Monstera adansonii is, it can still face several problems. Luckily, these problems are easy to fix with the right care and maintenance. 

Yellowing Leaves 

Swiss Cheese Plant with Yellowing Leaf
Proper watering amounts and techniques can help keep leaves green and yellow-free.

Yellowing leaves are a common issue faced by houseplant parents. There are several reasons why your plant’s leaves are yellowing, but the main culprit is overwatering. Never let your Monstera adansonii sit in constantly wet or soggy soil. 

Older leaves tend to yellow as they age and they eventually fall off the plant. This isn’t something to worry about, it’s just part of the plant’s natural process. 

Black Leaves 

Sunburnt Swiss Cheese Plant
Too much or direct sunlight can cause the leaves of houseplants to turn black or dark brown.

As mentioned, Monstera adansonii needs plenty of indirect light to thrive. If you notice black markings on your leaves, it could be a sign of sunburn. Keep your plant away from windows that receive harsh light, or add sheer curtains to them to help filter the rays.   

Stunted Growth 

Swiss Cheese Plant With Stunted Growth
If the plant’s home is too small, it will not grow, so it is important to repot as the plant grows.

This little monstera is notorious for its speedy growth. So, when you notice a lack of new growth or general legginess, it can be concerning.  

There are several reasons why your Monstera adansonii is struggling to grow, but the main reason could be that its pot is too small. Stunted growth is usually the first sign that your plant needs to be repotted. 

Slow growth is also a sign of general health issues, like too little or too much water, temperature fluctuations, a nutrient deficiency, or too little light. If you follow the tips on how to properly care for your Monstera adansonii, it should be back to growing quickly in no time. 

Pests 

Spider Crawling on Swiss Cheese Plant
As with most plants, expect this houseplant to attract several pests, including aphids, spider mites, and scale. 

Seasoned plant parents know all about aphids. These little soft-bodied pests seem to love all plants, including Monstera adansonii. Luckily, they’re easy to manage, especially when caught in time. You can pick them off by hand, but large aphid colonies may need something a little stronger, like neem oil. Spray your plant with a neem oil mixture for a week or two or until there are no more aphids left. 

Spider mites are another common pest that makes several plants their home. Red spider mites are common on indoor plants, especially Monstera adansonii. Luckily, they’re easy to get rid of and prevent.  

If you spot webbing, you’ll know you’ve got spider mites. These pests aren’t fans of moisture or humidity – two things that this plant loves. If you increase the humidity around your plants, spider mites will move and stay away. You can also rinse the webbing off and spray your plant with insecticidal soap. 

Scale is a sap-sucking insect that nestles on the stems and leaves of indoor plants. Scale infestations can lead to stunted growth and the yellowing of leaves. 

Isolate your Monstera adansonii and wipe the infested leaves and stems with cotton swabs dipped in alcohol. Continue to do this until the infestation is wiped out. A bigger infestation calls for the pruning of infected foliage and stems and spraying your plant with insecticidal soap. 

Frequently Asked Questions 

Is Monstera adansonii easy to care for? 

This little Monstera plant is notoriously easy to care for. As long as it receives plenty of indirect light and its soil remains moist, not soggy, your plant will flourish.

Is the Monstera adansonii rare? 

The Monstera adansonii is not a rare plant like some newer cultivars of houseplants. It’s readily available at most garden centers and nurseries. You’ll also be able to find this gorgeous plant online.

Should I mist my Monstera adansonii? 

Misting plants is one of the many tips for increasing humidity around your plants. But, this trick only works for a short time and the added moisture can lead to mold. They may benefit from an occasional misting and wipe down, but should not be misted regularly.

Final Thoughts 

This little plant, with its unique fenestration that gives it its Swiss Cheese look, makes it a striking addition to your indoor plant collection. Its quaintness and easy-going nature make the Monstera adansonii perfect for new and seasoned houseplant parents alike. 

SHARE THIS POST
Philodendron Rio

Houseplants

How to Plant, Grow, and Care For Philodendron Rio

Philodendron Rio is another variety of the popular philodendron plant. This variety has become quite popular with indoor plant enthusiasts for their beautiful leaves and lower care requirements. In this article, gardening expert Madison Moulton guides you through all the steps you'll need to follow in order to successfully plant, grow, and care for Philodendron Rio.

Do Pothos Plants Flower

Houseplants

Do Pothos Plants Actually Flower or Bloom?

The pothos plant has become a fixture for many beginning gardeners and seasoned gardeners alike. They are popular indoors, and in urban gardens. But do these popular houseplants actually bloom? Organic gardening expert Logan Hailey examines what you can expect when it comes to pothos plants and if they actually flower.

Houseplants

Can You Grow Pothos Plants Outdoors? Will They Survive?

Pothos plants are an indoor plant favorite amongst many amateur gardeners. But what about growing them outside? Is that a good or bad idea and will they actually live outside in your climate or hardiness zone? Organic gardening expert Logan Hailey explores what you can expect if you attempt to grow these popular plants outside.

Silver Pothos

Houseplants

How to Plant, Grow, and Care For Silver Pothos (Satin Pothos)

The Silver Pothos (also known as the Satin Pothos, or Scindapsus pictus) is a very popular houseplant. This evergreen climbing plant is well liked for it's paler green leaves, beautiful marbling, and hardy nature. In this article, organic gardening expert Logan Hailey examines how to plant, grow, and care for Silver Pothos plants.

How to Care for African Violets

Houseplants

How to Plant, Grow, and Care For African Violets

If you recently planted some African Violets in your garden, in some pots, or around your home, you may be wondering about the best way to care for them to ensure their survival and growth. In this article, we take a deeper look at each step you should take when caring for these plants, no matter where you've planted them around your home.