How to create a Monstera
Words by Ben Earl
Illustrations by Camilla Perkins
Latin Name: Monstera Deliciosa
Nickname: Swiss Cheese Plant, Hurricane Plant or Mexican Fruit bread
Native to: Southern Mexico
Spotted in: Henri Matisse’s studio
Life Cycle: Perennial
Soil: Acid, Alkaline or Neutral, chalk/clay/sand/loam
Special Feature: Intricate holes in leaves
Inspiring generations of artistic output
Its holey leaves have many evolutionary purposes, but the irregular shapes and sizes of the Monstera leaf have also inspired generations of artistic output. Muse to Henri Matisse, the beauty of its irregularity inspired much of his cut-out series. Principally, it is thought that the M.Deliciosa evolved in this way to resist damage to its leaves in heavy rainfall. The plant looks great anywhere and it is robust enough to survive in many different environments.
Expect a tasty reward
If you’re able to grow your M.Deliciosa outdoors in the right tropical climate, then expect a tasty reward. The fruit, which looks like a corn on the cob, can take a year to ripen and is said to taste like fruit salad. For those of us who do not live in an exotic climate, your plant will still look great all year round. Just keep an eye on it during the winter months – it won’t be feeling as lively in temperatures below 18°C.
Just like the sheltered jungle floor, this plant needs a good amount of indirect sunlight but nothing too strong. It would be best placed near a window that doesn’t catch too much sun. If the leaves are turning yellow at random, move it to a patch of shade so it can cool off.
Don't let it dry up
During the summer months, you’ll need to be watering your plant a few times a week. As a general rule, add more water when the top 5cm of soil is dry. Your plant should be in a pot with a hole in the bottom to allow the water to drain away. You’ll notice aerial roots begin to reach out for things to grab onto, this is totally natural and not a sign your plant is coming to life. The roots don’t necessarily need moisture but can be plugged back into the soil if you don’t want to leave them hanging.
Bring out the monster in your Monstera
One small – or perhaps quite large – thing to keep in mind is how big this plant is likely to grow. In the right conditions, M.Deliciosa can grow up to 20 metres tall. To control this growth you can craft a small trellis for the stems to grow against. Alternatively, you can cut any runaway leaves at the stems. You can use these cuttings to grow your own baby Monsteras, too.