Swiss Cheese Plants Buying & Growing Guide
It’s not hard to figure out how the Monstera deliciosa got its nickname, Swiss cheese plant. Just look at the holes, called fenestrations, that grow in the plant’s oval-shaped leaves as it ages. A perennial native to Central and South America, this houseplant is popular everywhere, thanks to its unique appearance. Other characteristics include:
- A preference for indirect sunlight
- Ideal for trellises and hanging baskets
- Low maintenance care regimen
Swiss Cheese Plants for Sale
- Fast Growing Trees – Starting at $29.95
- Brighter Blooms – Starting at $49.99
- Garden Goods Direct – Starting at $24.95
- Plant Vine – Starting at $30.00
- Pistils Nursery – Starting at $28.00
Swiss Cheese Plant Overview
|Origin||South American rainforests|
|Scientific Name||Monstera Deliciosa|
|Type||Evergreen climbing shrub|
|Common Names||Cheese Plant, Swiss Cheese Plant, Hurricane Plant, Cutleaf Philodendron, Mexican Breadfruit|
|Ideal Temperature||65-80° F|
|Toxicity||Toxic to people and pets|
|Light||Partial shade to bright, indirect light|
|Watering||Allow soil to dry between waterings|
Planting and Care
Because of its origin in the tropical rainforests of Central and South America, the Swiss cheese plant is best suited to indoor growth in North America, as it cannot withstand temperatures below 55 degrees Fahrenheit. When planting a Monstera, select a deep pot with good drainage, and a peaty potting soil. Fill the bottom third of the pot with soil, and establish a stake in the pot as these plants are climbers. Cover the roots with soil and use plant ties to secure the stem to the stake. Place in a location that receives bright, indirect sunlight.
Watering and nutrients
Monsteras do best with moderate watering about once a week during the growing season, and less frequently during the fall and winter. You can typically wait until the top inch or two of soil is dry before watering again. These plants do thrive in high humidity. Regularly misting the leaves with demineralized water or rainwater will keep the foliage lush and green. It’s not imperative that you fertilize your Monstera, but if you want to encourage growth you can feed it with a liquid fertilizer once a month during the spring and summer.
Pruning is an important part of Monstera care because they are fast-growing plants that can grow quite large. Depending on how much space you have, regular pruning may be necessary to keep your Swiss cheese plant in check. Start by cutting away any old or diseased leaves at the stem with a sharp, clean knife or pruning shears. It’s also important to wear gloves when pruning a Monstera, as the plant’s sap is toxic and can irritate your skin.
Pests and diseases
For indoor Swiss cheese plants, the two most common pests are scale insects and spider mites. Browning or curled leaves are a sign of a spider mite infestation, while white and yellowish spots on the leaves indicate a scale infestation. You can address both of these infestations with insecticidal soap or neem oil. Swiss cheese plants are typically resistant to most diseases, but they can fall victim to root rot, caused by overwatering, and leaf spot, which is a fungal infection caused by too much humidity. That’s why it’s important to plant your Swiss cheese plant in a right-sized container with good drainage holes.
If you are comfortable in your home, then your Swiss Cheese Plant will be too. For optimum health, the plant should be in a temperature range of 65º F to 80º F, which is typically where most homes sit. If your Swiss Cheese Plant is subjected to temperatures lowers than 65º F, it will remain in good health but will grow at a slower rate. In temperatures any lower than 50º F, the plant will stop growing completely. For this reason, to maintain a thriving Swiss Cheese Plant, try to keep your home temperature comfortable as much as possible.
Don’t sit the plant in areas that may experience cold drafts, such as in an entryway or by a back door, and keep it in a well-used part of the home. Some people keep their houseplants in guest bedrooms which are rarely used, forgetting that these rooms will not get heated throughout the winter, and the plants become too cold and struggle to survive. You will also need to keep the plant clear of air conditioning units or heating systems, as these are bad for the plants overall health (University of Oxford).
The Swiss Cheese Plant enjoys a combination of bright, indirect light and shade. In its natural habitat, it climbs up trees and therefore spends a lot of time sheltered from direct sunlight by the overhead canopy of the trees’ foliage. However, it also benefits from some indirect bright light shining through the leaves above, so it’s a good idea to try to recreate this environment as much as is possible within a home by placing the plant in a position where it will get a good amount of both filtered light and shade.
Young Swiss Cheese Plants look great on windowsills but will need to be protected from direct light by a sheer fabric blind. As they mature and become more sizeable the windowsill is not usually an option for this plant. They will happily live in the corner of a room which gets natural bright light at some point during the day. The plant is fairly easy going and is known to grow well even in full shade or artificial light, but it may grow slower in these conditions.
The Swiss Cheese Plant needs mid to high humidity to truly thrive. Its native home in tropical climates would be very humid, so it is accustomed to a good level of moisture in the air. If your home has regular humidity levels, or particularly dry air, then you will need to take action to counter this.
One option is to run an electric humidifier. This is the most costly option, but also the easiest. You can set your humidifier on a timer and almost forget about it, letting it do all of the work for you. There are too much more inexpensive methods, one of which is using a wet pebble tray. To do this, you would need to place your potted plant on a tray filled with pebbles and tip water on the pebbles to create a pebble bath. As the water evaporates, the humidity around the plant will be increased. This is a low maintenance option as you would simply need to top up the water level every now and again when it gets low. To make sure the water in the tray doesn’t get absorbed up into the soil and roots of the plant, you need to keep the water level lower than the pebbles; otherwise; if it comes into contact with the plant pots drainage holes, then it could negatively affect plant health by making soil too moist and causing root rot.
The other option for creating humidity is with the use of a misting spray. This is a simple but effective method in which you spritz the plant’s foliage with a misting spray bottle containing water. It takes just a few seconds and is a good method to use as long as you can remember to do it. It has the added benefit of giving your plant’s foliage a light clean, helping to prevent dust build-up on the leaves.
As a humidity-loving plant, the Swiss Cheese Plant should always be kept away from anything that could dry it out, such as fans or heating vents.
To gain the tall upright look that Swiss Cheese Plants usually have once mature, you’ll need to supply them with some support. In the wild, they grow up the side of trees, using their aerial roots to support themselves as they climb upwards. You can imitate this support with a moss stick when the plant is grown outside of its natural environment.
You can create your own moss stick very simply. You will need a stake which is around the same height as your Swiss Cheese Plant, planted directly into the soil alongside the plant. Then, take a fine mesh wire and wrap it around the stake, securing it in place with clips, ties, or staples. Then, soak some sphagnum moss with water and push it into the gaps between the stake and the mesh wire, covering as much of the stake as you can. The Swiss Cheese Plant will use this to climb upward, supporting its weight on the moss pole the same as it would use other plants or trees as support in the wild. If you don’t have the time or inclination to make your own moss pole, you can buy them from garden centers or online (Gardeners World).
Without support, the Swiss Cheese Plant stems will start to bend under the weight of its large and heavy leaves. The arching stems will eventually reach the floor, looking messy and unkempt. The weight placed on the stems can also cause them stress, even snapping if the plant grows large, causing irreparable damage. As soon as your plant becomes a few feet tall, it is time to offer it the support of a moss pole.
The plant will need to be trained initially, to grow in an upright manner. To do this, strap some of the stems to the moss pole, encouraging the plant to grow upwards. You should only need to do this very occasionally, a few times a year at most. The only maintenance that the pole itself will need is to be sprayed occasionally with a water mist. Keeping the sphagnum moss moist will encourage the plant’s aerial roots to take hold of the pool, resulting in a more upright plant.
Swiss Cheese Plant propagation can be done from seed, but it is most commonly achieved with stem cuttings as they tend to root quite quickly and easily. Simply take a stem cutting from your mature plant, just after a node, so that a node is still intact at the bottom of your stem. Remove any lower leaves from the stem and then, if you wish, dip the cut end of the stem in rooting hormone. This step is not essential, but it will likely increase the chances of your stem taking root.
At this point, you can then decide whether to propagate your stem in water or directly into the soil. To propagate in water, simply place your stem cutting in a glass or jar half filled with water and place it in a warm environment without direct light. Change the water every day to keep it fresh and prevent rot or mold, and wait for roots to appear. This process typically takes two or three weeks. Once you have a few roots growing, you can transplant the new Swiss Cheese Plant into a small pot of soil and continue usual care. Make sure you don’t leave the cutting growing roots in the water for too long, as established root systems will be harder to transplant successfully into soil.
To propagate directly into soil, simply dip a pencil into some moist potting soil to create a small hole and bury the cut end of your stem into it, pushing the soil up against the stem to support it. Keep it warm, ideally with heat from the bottom, and wait for it to root. The time taken to root will be similar to water propagation at two to three weeks. You will know when the plant has grown roots because it will also start to grow new leaves. You can also check if roots have formed by lightly tugging on the stem. If there is a little resistance, then it means roots have grown. If the stem slips right out of the soil when you pull on it, you need to give it some more time. When roots have formed, you can move the new plant to a more permanent home in a slightly larger pot, and continue care as usual.
This plant will need to be repotted roughly every three years, depending on its growth. To repot the plant, gently lift it out of its current pot and place it in a new pot which is one size bigger with fresh potting soil placed at the bottom. Gently working the old soil out of the roots will help the roots to spread out in the new pot and continue growing successfully. Fill around the root ball in the new pot with fresh soil, making sure the top of the root ball reaches the same height within the new pot as it did in the old pot.
Water it well to encourage the plant to settle in its new home. When the plant is relatively small, repotting is done to ensure the roots have enough space to grow and to refresh the soil and supply the plant with new nutrients. As the plant grows taller, repotting becomes even more important, as if the plant is in a pot of an inadequate size it can topple over. A full-grown Swiss Cheese Plant can be quite a weight, and it will likely be top heavy. The pot it is in must be quite large and heavy in order to support the weight of the plant.
Frequently Asked Questions
Are Swiss cheese plants toxic?
Yes, Swiss cheese plants are toxic to humans and common household pets like cats and dogs. The plant’s sap contains calcium oxalate, which is toxic if ingested. Signs of poisoning include mouth burning, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. The plant’s sap can also irritate skin, so it’s important to wear gloves when pruning Monsteras. When grown outdoors, Monsteras may produce fruit, which is edible, but only when ripened.
How large do Swiss cheese plants grow?
The Swiss cheese plant gets its scientific name, Monstera, in part because of how large it can grow. In their natural jungle habitat, these plants can grow to be 10 feet tall, with leaves that spread two feet wide. This is generally too large for most homes, butSwiss cheese plants respond well to regular pruning, which can help keep them to a manageable size.
How do you propagate a Swiss cheese plant?
You can propagate a Swiss cheese plant through cuttings or air layering. To propagate from a cutting, take a stem cutting from just above a leaf node, and place it in water for two to three weeks, moving it into potting soil once rooting has adequately begun. For air layering, make a small slit halfway through a branch with a sharp knife. Wrap damp moss around the cut, spray with water, and cover it in plastic. Once roots develop, cut the rooted branch from the parent and pot the new plant.
How much light do Swiss cheese plants need?
These plants do best in settings with bright, indirect sunlight. In their natural habitat, Swiss cheese plants grow on the floor of the rainforest, so they only receive sunlight that filters through the foliage of all the other trees and plants. Too much direct sunlight can actually harm the plants by burning their leaves. These plants also prefer humid environments, with consistent temperatures between 65-75 degrees Fahrenheit.
Are there multiple varieties of Swiss cheese plants?
Yes, there are many varieties of Monstera plants known as Swiss cheese plants. The variety discussed in this article, Monstera deliciosa, is the most popular. Another common variety found in households is the Monstera adansonii, which has heart-shaped leaves that also feature fenestration. Other popular varieties include Monstera borsigiana, Monstera variegata, and Rhaphidophora tetrasperma.