The window leaf, also known by its botanical name Monstera deliciosa, can be found in many homes today. We give you helpful care tips and a short profile about tropical plants.
Today the Monstera feels at home not only in the office but also in numerous living rooms. With the right background knowledge, they can usually be maintained without any problems. In this article, you will learn everything about the correct care, planting, and propagation of the extraordinary ornamental leaf plant.
Monstera Deliciosa: flower, leaves, and origin
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The Monstera is best known to us under the name of the window leaf. It belongs to the Araceae family and originally comes from the Neotropics – the tropical regions of South and Central America. So far, over 50 species of Monstera deliciosa are known. Some species of the climbing evergreen plant are also native to the Caribbean. Feral forms of the window leaf can be found nowadays in Florida, Asia, and Australia, as well as in the western Mediterranean area – such as Portugal or Morocco.
The perennial, herbaceous Monstera can be between 0.5 and 3 meters long and grow both creeping above the ground and lithophytically between crevices or on the rock. The most widespread is their sessile growth as a climbing plant along with other plants. Naturally, the seeds of the Monstera germinate on the ground. The seedlings crawl to other plants, such as trees, to climb them.
Later the lower part of the plant dies, so that the monster becomes a pure climbing plant, which then forms a short adhesive and long aerial roots. In addition to the Monstera, some orchids also form aerial roots and grow along with other plants. The Monstera aerial roots grow until they meet humus that has formed, for example, in the forks of large jungle trees. In humus, they eventually become real roots and absorb nutrients.
The distinguishing features of the Monstera are their alternately arranged, up to 50 cm long leaves. The shape of the leaves differs in some species depending on the age of the plant, whereby the young leaves usually grow along the climbing tree and the older leaves can protrude far. The Monstera leaf stalks are noticeably bent down to serve as hooks – another important distinguishing feature of the genus. In some species, the green, sometimes patterned, leaves are noticeably large with holes, which earned them the common name “window leaf”. The Monstera blooms very rarely here, but in its tropical homeland the flowers of bracts, cobs, and pedicels, typical of the arum family, appear annually. The bract has a subtle, white-yellowish to pink color.
The Monstera forms white or orange collective fruits, each filled with one to three seeds. The seeds of the Monstera deliciosa are considered a delicacy in some countries. You can read about the other special species and how they are characterized in our article about the most beautiful monstera species.
Location and soil for Monstera
The Monstera is a fairly undemanding plant in terms of location and soil. Because of its spreading growth, it is important to provide enough space for it. A light, shady to partially shaded location is ideal. Direct sunlight should be avoided, especially at lunchtime, as this can cause sunburn on the leaves. For strong, healthy growth, it is advantageous if light reaches all parts of the plant. The ideal temperature for the Monstera is around 21 ° C. A high level of humidity, such as that found in their tropical home, is also important. In summer – between mid-May and August – the Monstera can easily stand outside as long as there are no periods of frost and the temperature does not drop below 12 ° C.
A humus-rich potting soil is suitable as a substrate, which can hold moisture well, but does not tend to form backwater. Lime is largely tolerated by the Monstera, with a slightly acidic to neutral soil pH value being preferred. A high-quality soil offers the ideal basis for healthy and vigorous plant growth. It provides the plant with sustainable nutrients thanks to its pH value between 6.1 and 6.9 and a high proportion of compost.
Due to a balanced proportion of coconut pulp, it is also able to store enough water for the Monstera and at the same time to aerate the soil well. To keep the soil slightly acidic at all times, acidic primary rock flour (made of granite or basalt) can be mixed with the earth, or a layer of pine bark can be applied.
As an alternative to traditional cultivation in soil, the Monstera deliciosa is also suitable for hydroponics. To do this, the plant can be planted in expanded clay. The use of a special hydroponic pot with a water level indicator is an advantage. This makes it easier to determine the right time for watering and the window leaf plant is not exposed to the risk of waterlogging.
Monstera deliciosa care: the most important measures
The Monstera is considered to be an easy-care plant. In addition to the usual care measures, your large leaves need to wipe them off now and then with a damp cloth to remove dust. This maintains its photosynthetic activity and the Monstera stays healthy.
The Monstera should be watered regularly during the growing season between April and September. However, too much water in the soil worsens ventilation, and root rot can occur. The plant tolerates drought better than too much water, which is why more frequent but less watering is more suitable. Rainwater or mineral water is more suitable for the Monstera than calcareous tap water, despite their calcium tolerance. If the humidity is low, the Monstera should also be sprayed with water from time to time. Stale or distilled water is suitable for this.
Fertilize window leaves
Because of its rapid growth, it is important to fertilize the window leaf every 14 days during the vegetation period between May and August so that there is no lack of nutrients. A fertilizer in liquid form, which is added to the irrigation water, is suitable for this. In this way, the nutrients can be well distributed in the soil solution and reach all parts of the plant.
This promotes the external absorption of phosphorus from the substrate and thus strengthens root growth. In addition, we trust in a purely ecological and therefore resource-saving production that completely dispenses with animal components. For hydroponics, regular fertilization is also necessary, but in a lower concentration so as not to damage the plant.
Cut back the monstera
A maintenance cut is not necessary for the Monstera. However, if the plant becomes too big for the location because of its vigorous growth, it can be cut back without hesitation. It sprouts again from the leaf axes and continues to grow from there. For a more radical pruning of the Monstera, the best time is always at the same time as repotting. Thanks to the fresh nutrients and the sufficiently large root system, the plant can then regenerate better.
Tip: The aerial roots of the Monstera deliciosa should not be cut off under any circumstances, as this is very damaging to the plant. Care should also be taken not to damage the roots during care, such as cleaning the leaves.
Pests and diseases in the window leaf
The window leaf is a very robust plant that is rarely attacked by pests. When a pest infestation occurs, it is usually spider mites ( Tetranychidae ) or scale insects (Coccoidea ) that can become problematic.
Monstera deliciosa gets yellow/brown leaves: what can be done?
Sometimes the monstera can get yellow leaves, this can be for different reasons:
- Too cool location: The absorption of nutrients is only possible to a limited extent, the Monstera should be moved to a warmer location.
- Too wet soil: The substrate is saturated with water so that no more air can get to the roots. Root rot can occur. Watering should be completely stopped for 1 to 2 weeks.
- Nutrient Deficiency: If there are not enough nutrients, the plant cannot grow ideally. The Monstera should be fertilized again. Another indication of a lack of nutrients is the failure to divide the leaves.
- Humidity too low: Brown tips of the leaves indicate that the humidity is too low. Spraying the plant more often will help.
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Monstera leaves curl up: what can be done?
In addition to yellowing or browning of the leaves, they can also curl up. This can also have several causes:
- Too dry soil: Too little water causes the water pressure in the plant cells to drop and the leaves to curl up or become limp. It should be poured quickly.
- Pest infestation: pests occasionally cause plant leaves to curl. The Monstera should be carefully examined for pests and treated accordingly.
- Over-fertilization: If the plant is fertilized too much or too often, the soil becomes salinized. The Monstera should be repotted and fertilized less often.
Repot Monstera Deliciosa
The Monstera should best be repotted in a much larger pot immediately after purchase, as it grows vigorously and is usually sold in very narrow containers. Younger plants should then be repotted annually. For older plants, it is enough to change the top five centimeters of the soil once a year. The best time is before the start of vegetation in spring between March and April. The Monstera can be removed from the old pot and excess soil removed. Then it is placed in the new pot, fresh earth is added, lightly pressed, and finally poured on well. High-quality potting soil is also suitable as a substrate for the Monstera.
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Propagate Monstera via offshoots
The Monstera deliciosa can easily be propagated using offshoots. Parts of the trunk or the plant head can be used for this. It is sufficient to place the approx. 20 cm long cuttings in a glass with water for some time until fine roots have formed by themselves. The ideal temperature for root formation is between 20 and 25 ° C. The rooted cuttings can then be placed in high-quality potting soil and watered. As soon as the Monstera young plants have grown a little, they should be repotted in a larger pot.
Another way to multiply the Monstera is to remove moss. To do this, individual aerial roots are wrapped in moist moss sprinkled with earth while they are still on the plant and then wrapped tightly in cling film. The film prevents drying out and ensures good growing conditions. As soon as individual fine roots can be seen through the foil after a while, the roots can be cut off the plant with a sharp knife. The film can then be removed and the rooted moss ball planted in the ground. After a short time, the monster begins to grow.
Hibernate the window leaf
The Monstera deliciosa is not hardy and very sensitive to frost. Therefore, during the cold season – between September and May – it should definitely be overwintered in a warm place. A little heated living space, a winter garden, or a bright stairwell are particularly suitable for this if the temperature is between 16 and 18 ° C. During the hibernation, the window leaf should only be watered to a reduced extent; the finger test helps to determine the right time. Fertilization should be avoided completely.
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Are Monsteras Poisonous?
The berries of the Monstera deliciosa species are considered a delicacy in some countries. Other parts of the plant are indigestible or can be slightly toxic. The sap can irritate the skin and mucous membranes of humans as well as dogs or cats, which is why gloves should always be worn when cutting or propagating cuttings. Symptoms of poisoning such as nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea can occur. In animals, an unsteady gait or unusual salivation can also be an indication of poisoning.