Botanical name: Monstera deliciosa
Common name: Fruit Salad Plant, Swiss cheese Plant
This large-leafed climber is the go-to plant for tricky positions where impact is needed. It adds a tropical touch to rooms, and can be grown on a totem, as a stand-alone plant, indoors and outside in a shady courtyard.
How to Grow Monstera
Light: shady gardens and undercrofts outdoors, inside it prefers well-lit areas but will also cope in darker spots.
Watering: allow it to dry out slightly between watering and ease off over winter.
Feeding: apply slow-release fertiliser in spring.
Tip: As the plant grows taller you may need to give it a totem for support.
Fruit salad plants develop a banana-like fruit that is toxic if eaten before it bursts into small pieces. Can be eaten once it has opened up naturally, tastes like fruit salad!
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Fruit Salad or Swiss Cheese Plant (Monstera spp.) is one of the most popular of all house plants, and it’s “never say die” attitude for survival is what has endeared it to everyone that has ever struggled growing a house plant! Popular on Instagram too, its handsome, divided foliage makes it a popular backdrop to many a posed pic. The fruit, which follows the flower, tastes like fruit salad, which has led to its common name. Eat only when ripe, however this happens slowly over about 2 weeks and the fruit can cause a burning sensation if it’s not at the ‘mashed banana’ stage.
The most common species is Monstera deliciosa. It looks demure when you first see it in a small pot, but don’t be fooled - it will grow to around 20m if given a suitable tree to hoist itself up on. Typically, indoors and in a pot it will stay about 1.5m, but don’t be afraid to trim it back to a more manageable size as required, but always wear gloves and glasses and avoid getting the sap on your skin or in your eyes where it can cause irritation. You can also root prune Monstera and then replant them back in their containers. This helps slow their growth down and keep them contained and is an opportunity to freshen their potting mix.
Different Types of Monstera
- ‘AlboVariegata’ and ‘Thai Constellation’ are variegated leaf forms that are the ultimate in hipster indoor plants and can command huge prices for large specimens in a similar manner to the tulip craze of the mid 1600’s! The variegation is made up of white markings, reminiscent of stars or paint splatters. Commercially the plants are propagated by tissue culture, but if you know someone who will give you a piece of their precious plant, they do strike easily.
Monsteraadansonii is known as Swiss Cheese Plant, and no wonder – its foliage is exactly like it! It is a much lacier version of the traditional species, and much less stocky. They also like a shady environment, and can grow outside, or indoors in a well-lit room. It prefers a balmier more tropical environment than M. deliciosa will cope with, so consider its placement away from heating and cold drafts so it doesn’t feel the blast of hot and cold.
Occasionally we stock a few even lesser known species, like Monsterasiltepecanaand Monstera standleyana. The former has grey marle like foliage and are not unlike a Devil’s Ivy, and the later comes in either white of creamy yellow variegations. Both do not have the divided leaves of the other species but do require a totem on which to climb.
Mini Monstera or Dragons Tail Plant (Rhapidora) Looks very much like a miniature version of Monstera, which has led to one of their common names. They grow on a totem and thrive in brightly lit positions with consistent moisture and humidity, so are a less resilient than their big cousin.
Yellowing leaves can be caused from a lack of nitrogen or from sitting on water. Be sure to let your Monstera drain freely and use potting mix that is enriched with slow release fertiliser that will nourish your pot plant for months. If it starts to yellow, check the watering regime and if in doubt, slow-release fertiliser applied in spring (and / or autumn) could add the nitrogen needed for green growth.
By: Meredith Kirton