A Guide to Propagating Monstera deliciosa

Monstera deliciosa, also known as Swiss cheese plant, Mexican breadfruit, and hurricane plant, is a beautiful and popular houseplant with large, tropical foliage. Native to Central America, this plant has become a staple in tropical houseplant collections around the world. In this guide, we will explore the characteristics of Monstera deliciosa and learn how to propagate it successfully.

Plant Characteristics

In its natural habitat, Monstera deliciosa is a climber that attaches to trees and trunks with its aerial roots. It can grow up to 50 feet long and is considered invasive in its native Central America. The plant has glossy green, heart-shaped leaves that are perforated and deeply lobed. Younger plants lack the perforations and deep lobes, making them distinct from mature plants. To differentiate Monstera deliciosa from similar plants like Thaumatophyllum bipinnatifidum, commonly known as “split-leaf philodendron,” just remember the nickname of Monstera deliciosa – the Swiss cheese plant. The mature leaves of Monstera deliciosa have small holes, similar to Swiss cheese, while Thaumatophyllum bipinnatifidum only has deep cuts.

Like other plants in the Araceae family, such as peace lilies and jack-in-the-pulpits, Monstera deliciosa produces flowers and fruits. The flower consists of a white spike (spadix) and a sheath (spathe). As the sheath dies back, the spike transforms into a fruit. However, it’s important to note that Monstera deliciosa does not typically flower or fruit when grown as a houseplant due to the lack of adequate humidity in indoor environments.

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Monstera deliciosa can be propagated through stem cuttings, air layering, or division. When taking stem cuttings, it’s crucial to ensure that each cutting includes a node, which is the point where a leaf develops on a stem. Cuttings without nodes and axillary buds will not produce new growth.

To propagate Monstera deliciosa from stem cuttings, follow these steps:

  1. Find a node with an axillary bud on the stem.
  2. Cut 1 to 2 inches below the node along the internode, rubbing auxin on the cutting’s node if desired.
  3. Moisten the rooting medium.
  4. Make a hole in the medium and insert the cutting.
  5. Keep the cuttings moist.
  6. Check for root development by gently lifting the cutting. If roots have developed, transplant the cutting into a new container filled with moist potting soil. Leave about 2 inches of space between the cutting and the container.

Monstera deliciosa can be propagated in various media, such as perlite, potting soil, lightweight expanded clay aggregate (LECA), or water. These media support root development and provide adequate moisture and drainage for the cuttings.

When propagating Monstera deliciosa, you may consider using rooting hormone to promote faster and denser root growth. Apply rooting hormone powder to the node before placing the cutting in the rooting medium.

Choosing the right container is also essential for successful propagation. Select a container that provides support, drainage, and enough space for the cutting to grow.

Caring for Your Cuttings

During the first 1 to 2 weeks after propagation, keep the potting medium continually moist. Afterward, allow the top of the soil to dry out between waterings. Place your cuttings in a bright, warm location away from direct sunlight.

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Roots should form within 2 to 4 weeks. To check for root development, gently lift the cutting and inspect the roots. They should be creamy white and firm. If they are brown and soft, it indicates overwatering or poor drainage.

Once healthy roots have formed, new stems and leaves will emerge every few weeks. If propagating in late fall or early winter, consider providing supplemental lighting for 2 to 3 hours each day.

When to Transplant Your Rooted Cutting

Transplant your Monstera deliciosa into a larger pot when healthy roots have formed, and the plant shows active growth. Repotting should be done in late winter or early spring every one to two years. Signs that your plant needs repotting include roots growing out of the bottom of the pot, excessively fast-drying soil, the plant tipping over easily, the ability to lift the whole root ball out of the container, or a dull appearance with no growth.

Choose a container that is two inches wider and 1 to 2 inches taller than the current one. Ensure it provides good drainage and support for the plant.

About Variegated Monstera

There are several variegated varieties of Monstera deliciosa, such as ‘Thai Constellation,’ ‘Albo Borsigiana,’ and ‘Aurea’ (or ‘Marmorata’). These plants exhibit unique white and yellow coloration caused by mutations during growth. The mutations alter the amount of chlorophyll in different sections of the foliage, resulting in distinct patterns. However, these mutations can be rare and take a long time to propagate. It’s important to purchase healthy plants and cuttings from reputable sources.

In conclusion, propagating Monstera deliciosa is an exciting and rewarding process. By following the proper techniques and providing the right care, you can successfully grow new plants from stem cuttings. Whether you choose the classic green variety or venture into the world of variegated Monstera, these stunning plants will add beauty to your indoor garden.

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Monstera deliciosa
Monstera propagation map
Monstera deliciosa 'Thai Constellation'

For more information, visit Ames Farm Center.