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Plant of the week: Monstera adansonii, aka the Swiss cheese plant

There is a time in every plant lover’s journey where they want to take the leap and invest in a plant that might not be beginner level but isn’t going to break the bank if it dies on your first attempt. The monstera adansonii is an ideal plant to test your growing abilities without putting too much money on the line. While they’re often more expensive than pothos or ZZ plants, they are affordable plants with an exotic look. So let’s dive into how to care for these lovely plants, so you don’t end up with a crispy mess.

monstera adansonii
Image used with permission by copyright holder

What is a monstera adansonii?

The monstera adansonii is native to tropical forests and is also known as the Swiss cheese plant. This is because of its holey leaves that look like Swiss cheese. Its cousin, the monstera deliciosa, often gets the limelight in Instagram posts. However, we think it’s time the adansonii had its time in the spotlight. It’s a much smaller and more delicate plant than the deliciosa and can fit in smaller spaces. It can grow up to five feet tall as a houseplant but can reach 13 feet or higher in its natural environment.

person holding monstera adansonii
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Care tips for monstera adansonii

Since you’ll be investing more in this plant than you might have in your other houseplants, you’ll want to be sure you’ve got the care instructions down.

Water

Watering can sometimes be a tricky part of caring for the adansonii. They like to live in soil that is moist but not soggy. Keeping this balance can be challenging and is the number one reason growers kill their plants. To ensure this doesn’t happen to you, invest in a water meter and check the soil’s moisture levels once a week. When the soil begins to lean more towards the dry end of the moist meter, it’s time to water. Give it a good soak until the water runs out the drainage hole, and be sure it drains thoroughly before putting it back on its tray. Since you’re trying to keep the soil moist, root rot will probably be your biggest concern. Ensuring it drains thoroughly and isn’t sitting in water will reduce that risk considerably.

Light

Monstera is part of a plant family called aroids. These plants live in the forest’s understory and get the filtered or dappled sunlight that streams through the more enormous trees. The Swiss cheese plant will want bright but indirect light. Too much light and the soil will dry too quickly, and the leaves could burn.

Food

This fast grower will need plenty of food to maintain its leaves, so be sure to provide it with a balanced fertilizer throughout the growing season. You could also use a slow-release fertilizer to ensure the plant is getting a constant supply of food. If you’re noticing yellowing leaves on your monstera adansonii, you’re probably due for a feeding.

Humidity

The humidity needs of the Swiss cheese plant are higher than your average houseplant. Ideally, this plant wants almost 90 percent humidity, but that’s not exactly healthy for your home’s paint job or any books and furniture you might have. So we suggest trying to keep it somewhere between 65 and 70 percent humidity in the area that you’ll be growing your adansonii. Some growers will group high humidity plants in a corner with a humidifier. This creates a mini-ecosystem where the plants can share and thrive in the high humidity together. Grouping them like this helps keep the humidity in the area and reduces the risk of your home’s furnishings being ruined by too much moisture.

Temperature

To encourage your monstera adansonii to grow as best it can; it’s necessary to keep the temperatures around 70 or 75 degrees. Anything lower than this, and the plant’s growth will come to a standstill. If you reach temperatures as low as 65, you’ll risk the plant wilting and dying from the cold. So avoid vents and drafts and maybe consider putting this plant in the warmest room of your home, and keep a careful eye on your thermostat over the winter.

Toxicity

Although they’re cute, the Swiss cheese plant is toxic to the animals in your home. If the leaves are ingested, they can irritate the mouth and stomach, causing mouth swelling, excessive drooling, vomiting, and difficulty swallowing. So be sure this plant is in a safe location and out of reach of pets and kids.

Additional tips

Like its monstera deliciosa cousin, the adansonii can be grown as a vining plant or trained to grow up a moss pole. This makes it a diverse and easy-to-style plant. It will look beautiful in a hanging plant while its delicate leaves drape down the wall, or even in a pot on the floor with its vines spinning around a lovely moss pole. Either way, this plant is a statement piece that you’ll want to show off to all your house guests.

Although we love the monstera deliciosa, we hope you consider trying out its smaller cousin, the monstera adansonii. The stunning green delicate leaves will bring such a lovely look to your home. Be sure to keep its soil moist and train its vines to grow where you want them to, or else you might end up with a Jumanji situation on your hands!

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Rebecca Wolken
Former Digital Trends Contributor
Rebecca's has written for Bob Villa and a Cincinnati based remodeling company. When she's not writing about home remodeling…
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