Monstera Adansonii: Discover the Enchanting Monkey Mask Plant

Monstera adansonii, known as the Swiss cheese plant, is a captivating flowering plant distinguished by its charming heart-shaped leaves. Its foliage, adorned with unique oval-shaped holes or fenestrations, has earned it the moniker “Monstera adansonii Swiss cheese” or simply the swiss cheese plant. This magnificent monstera boasts glossy green leaves and is incredibly easy to cultivate.

Delving into Monstera Adansonii

Originating from Central and South America, parts of southern Mexico, and the West Indies, Monstera adansonii belongs to the Araceae plant family. While resembling its cousin, Monstera deliciosa, it remains significantly smaller. As it matures, the holes in its leaves transform into large oval gaps, resembling the appearance of swiss cheese.

Designed to efficiently capture sunlight, the heart or oval-shaped leaves thrive in the depths of tropical rainforests, requiring only indirect bright light. As the plant grows, the leaves gradually develop more of their distinctive holes, serving not only to filter sunlight but also to resist high winds by allowing the breeze to pass through. Unlike its relative, M. deliciosa, M. adansonii retains the full edges of its leaves, maintaining the holes as perforations rather than indentations.

In spring, Monstera adansonii may produce cream-colored flowers tinged with hints of purple, although this occurrence is infrequent for home growers. However, in the wild, these flowers are a common sight. A popular cultivar of this plant is the Monstera adansonii ‘Archipelago,’ which features variegated leaf coloring, enhancing its visual appeal.

Monstera adansonii possesses a climbing growth habit, with aerial roots that naturally cling to trees or other foliage. However, it also thrives as an elegant cascading plant in a hanging basket. Whether climbing or cascading, the swiss cheese vine is renowned for its rapid and straightforward growth.

Caring for Monstera Adansonii

Monstera adansonii
Sometimes called monkey mask plant, Monstera adansonii is a beautiful tropical. (Source: spurekar)

Monstera adansonii is a striking houseplant that requires specific care to ensure its flourishing. Here are some essential tips for providing your jungle beauty with the best care:

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Light and Temperature

In its natural habitat, Monstera adansonii thrives in rainforests and jungles, making it best suited for lighting conditions that mimic this environment. Indirect bright light or partial sun is optimal, although it can tolerate shade, albeit with slower growth.

Avoid exposing the plant to direct sunlight, as it can cause sunburn and damage the leaves. Stick with indirect light to maintain its health.

Monstera adansonii prefers warm temperatures, ideally between 65-85 degrees Fahrenheit (18-29 degrees Celsius). It can withstand temperatures as low as the 50s (around 10 degrees C) with minimal impact. However, once temperatures consistently drop into the 40s (around 4 degrees C), it’s advisable to bring your plant indoors for warmth.

It’s important to note that Monstera adansonii cannot withstand frost or freezing temperatures. Exposure to such extreme cold can lead to severe damage or even plant death.

Water and Humidity

Adopting the “soak and dry” method is recommended for watering your adansonii swiss cheese plant. Allow the soil to dry before watering, and when it feels dry to the touch, dampen it briefly. Ensure any excess water drains from the pot’s base before watering again.

Maintaining humidity levels above 50% is ideal for Monstera adansonii, as it thrives in damp forested conditions. If you don’t have a humidifier, a tray of pebbles or rocks placed beneath the plant with water filled halfway up the rocks can increase the humidity around your plant as it evaporates.

Soil

Monstera adansonii thrives in well-draining soil that provides some moisture retention. Using a high-peat potting mix is recommended, as peat moss absorbs and slowly releases water while allowing excess moisture to drain. Adding orchid bark or perlite to the mix enhances drainage.

The plant performs best within a slightly acidic to slightly alkaline soil pH range of 5.5 to 7.0.

Fertilizer

Monstera adansonii is a low to moderate feeder, with fertilizer requirements varying based on the plant’s size and light conditions. Immature plants in lower light require less fertilizer, while larger plants in higher light may need more.

Providing a balanced, water-soluble fertilizer diluted to half strength every two weeks is a general guideline. Replace one regular watering session with this feeding routine. During late fall and winter, when the plant’s growth slows, fertilize only once a month.

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If your potting mix already contained fertilizer initially, wait a few months before starting a fertilizer regimen, allowing the plant to absorb the existing nutrients.

Repotting

Monstera adansonii prefers slightly cramped conditions in its pot. Avoid using an oversized pot, as it can create an environment conducive to root rot. If the roots become visible from the pot’s bottom, or if the plant’s height and thickness demand more space, it’s time to repot. Increase the pot size conservatively to provide adequate room for growth, ensuring the pot has proper drainage.

When replanting, use fresh potting mix and inspect the roots for any signs of rot. Trim any affected parts using sterile clippers or a sharp, sterilized knife. Replant the Monstera adansonii at the same depth it was previously planted, gently firming the soil around the roots and stems.

Propagation

Immature Monstera adansonii Schott leaf
An immature leaf of Monstera adansonii Schott. Notice the lack of holes in the young leaf. (Source: Alex Popovkin)

Monstera adansonii is easily propagated through cuttings, making it a common method for producing new plants. Each stem develops aerial roots at nodes, and if you take a cutting just below these roots, you can plant it with the roots intact.

Alternatively, if no aerial roots are present, select a cutting with 2-3 nodes along the stem, remove all but a few leaves at the tip, and plant it in damp soil with at least one node beneath the soil’s surface. Keep the cutting humid and the soil moist until it starts developing new growth.

Pruning and Training

As Monstera adansonii grows rapidly, regular pruning is essential. Trim any damaged, brown, or dead leaves. Snipping the tips of stems encourages bushier growth. To train the swiss cheese vine to climb, provide a sturdy trellis or support and loosely tie sections of the stem to the support using fabric scraps or soft plastic. As the plant develops aerial roots, it will naturally latch onto the support, allowing you to remove the securing ties.

Troubleshooting the Monkey Mask Plant

Mature Monstera adansonii leaf
Mature M. adansonii leaf. As the leaves mature, they develop their distinctive holes. (Source: abbynormy)

While the monkey mask plant encounters minimal issues, a few problems may arise. Let’s explore potential difficulties and their remedies:

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Growing Problems

Yellowing leaves can result from overwatering or excessive sunlight exposure. Ensure your plant is not in direct sunlight and reduce the watering frequency, allowing the soil to dry out between waterings.

Air conditioner or heater vents may lower air moisture levels, affecting humidity. Relocate the plant to an area without direct air currents. Remember that Monstera adansonii prefers higher humidity levels.

Pests

Two common pests that affect Monstera adansonii are spider mites and scale insects. For small populations of scale insects, use a cotton swab dipped in rubbing alcohol to remove them. Neem oil is recommended for treating larger populations of scale insects or spider mites. Apply a fine mist of neem oil to all leaf surfaces and stems.

If pest issues persist, consider using a pyrethrin spray or pyrethrin-based organic pesticide to eradicate them.

Diseases

Several leaf spot diseases may appear on Monstera adansonii, causing yellow or brown spotting that may spread across the leaf’s surface. Most of these leaf spot varieties can be eliminated by using a copper-based fungicide spray.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q: How fast does Monstera adansonii grow?
A: Monstera adansonii experiences rapid growth from spring to early fall, often requiring regular pruning to maintain its size. If trained to grow vertically, it will continue climbing until it reaches its limits. However, during colder late fall and winter weather, growth slows significantly. Expect significant growth during the warm season and minimal growth during cooler months.

Q: What is the difference between Monstera obliqua and Monstera adansonii?
A: Monstera obliqua is an exceedingly rare plant with larger and more numerous holes, resulting in leaves that resemble lace rather than traditional foliage. In contrast, Monstera adansonii has leaves that consist of approximately equal parts hole and leaf surface.

For more information and to purchase Monstera adansonii plants, visit the Ames Farm Center.

By following these care guidelines, you can successfully cultivate and enjoy the enchanting beauty of Monstera adansonii, the magnificent monkey mask plant.