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Monstera adansonii: Info, Care and Problem Guide

The Monstera adansonii Houseplant

Monstera adansonii, "Swiss Cheese Vine", the "Monkey Mask Plant" or sometimes simply known as "Five Holes Plant", is a reasonably modern and popular houseplant that does well indoors.

By the end of this guide, you'll know how to grow Monstera adansonii, provide the right care for yours and how to deal with the problems that you'll likely to come across.

monstera adansonii houseplant on a white stool

Although Monstera adansonii is a tropical plant, it doesn't need high humidity to thrive indoors. Photo by Carolina Grabowska

A close relative to the more well known Monstera deliciosa (Swiss Cheese Plant), sharing the interesting, unique leaf holes or fenestrations although it has a much smaller growth habit and the leaves are thinner.

Like its cousin, I've found Monstera adansonii to be easy going and tolerant of some mistreatment. They do need good light levels and some support, or they can look straggly over time and are prone to leaf issues if overwatered.

How do you pronounce Monstera adansonii correctly? Say:
Mon-STAIR-uh Adan-so-knee-eye

It's a vining plant and has evolved to "climb" up something like a moss pole or coconut coir totem support. The aerial roots will grow into these supports and hold it in place as it grows upwards.

Did you know?
Monstera adansonii is named after Michel Adanson, A French botanist. This is why you occasionally see this plant labeled "Adanson's Monstera".

If these poles aren't for you, the good news is that they also do well in a typical planter if allowed to trail and hang down, as the plant in the above photo shows.

It's pretty pest-resistant, but Thrips are a problem for some people. I had a minor issue with these, but I don't think the leaves can support large colonies, so they were quickly removed, and, touch wood, they've not returned. No other pests have caused issues for me.

Buying and Monstera Adansonii Varieties

This is an easy plant to propagate and grows at a moderate to fast speed with the correct care. This means the all green variety is easy to come by and shouldn't cost the earth. Expect to pay quite a bit more if the plant is large or growing up a totem support.

swiss cheese vine plant on a moss pole

Monstera plants can grow in hanging baskets or trained up a Moss pole like this. Photo by KENPEI

The all green version comes in three main types. A Narrow Form that has leaves that are narrower and more elongated. The Wide Form has wider and slightly more oval leaves. These are the two most common plants you'll come across in stores.

The third type is Monstera adansonii "Laniata". It's not overly common but is sought after because the leaves are longer and the fenestrations are quite long, narrow and in a more symmetrical pattern. This is in comparison to the Narrow and Wide form where the holes are much more random and have a little more of an oval shapes.

You can also expect to pay a lot more if you're after one of the rarer variegated varieties. All the variegated types are less commonly found and as such, they'll have a high asking price.

Monstera obliqua
Although they look similar, Monstera obliqua is not a variety of Monstera adansonii. Obliqua has much larger holes and very little leaf in comparison.

It's also insanely rare (at the moment). Some sellers will say they have an obliqua when it's your run of the mill adansonii. Take care and do serious research before parting with your money. This YouTube video shows you the differences.

Monstera adansonii "variegata" is I'd say, the more common and slightly cheaper type. It has the familiar green leaves but will have a mottled green or creamy green splashed through sections of the leaf. It's sometimes described as marbled variegation because it splashes rather than having large solid areas of color.

Be careful and double check before buying this one as some plants with Mosaic Virus are passed off as rare when really they're just sick.

Monstera adansonii "aurea" and Monstera adansonii "albo" have the half moon variegation look. Meaning large sections of the leaf, sometimes half of it (hence the description) will be either pure white or a creamy green yellow. The "Aurea" has the creamy yellow and the "Albo" comes in milky white.

Whenever we mention rare houseplants, readers will get in touch to ask where they can buy them. Local houseplant experts or stores are our first choice, as you can see what you'll get before buying.

My second choice would be eBay or Etsy (affiliate links) because they offer some good quality sellers and have a reasonable returns process if something goes wrong.

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Monstera adansonii Photos

Care and Growing Guide

Light

Bright indirect light is the best for good health and fast growth. Medium light levels will be accepted too, but expect the growing speed to slow down. They can sit right next to a North facing window but in all other aspects, they'll do better set back from the window.

I've heard some funny advice about what these plants want when it comes to light. They will certainly put up with low light conditions better than many other houseplants and even some direct sun can be tolerated if they're gradually accustomed to increasing light levels.

However, both of these light levels are extreme and cause problems. The low light results in small leaves, and intense sun causes leaf damage.

Watering

Yellowing Leaves
This is the most common issue owners will face. There are several causes, including watering problems. They are not harming your plant though and don't need to be removed until the leaf has gone completely yellow.

It's a funny and confusing plant really. All that foliage can give the impression it will be a thirsty plant, but because of all those holes and fenestrations in the leaves, the actual surface area of each leaf is surprisingly small.

What does that mean? Essentially it means they don't need as much water as you might think and it's easy to overdo it.

I have several of these plants and they're all fine with completely drying out before watering again.

If the potting medium does dry out fully, they have a slight wilting look. Don't leave them too long like this and give them a good drink as soon as you spot it.

The best approach is to water, and then when the top inch of soil or so has dried out, water again. Depending on your conditions, you probably won't need to water your plant more than once a week. Possibly a little more in scorching hot weather, and certainly less when temperatures are colder over Winter or if positioned in lower light.

They absolutely hate soggy soil, so a well draining potting mix is essential, I really can't stress this enough.

Young Monstera Adansonii plant in a cream planter

Young plants have small leaves, but in time they will get larger. Photo by CHAM203

Humidity

In its native habitat, you can find this plant growing in tropical rainforests, so you might think high humidity is required. However it's relatively widespread across South America and Central America and some of the places it grows has only average humidity levels.

What does this mean for plants growing indoors?

It's good news. Most homes will have a perfectly good humidity level already. Anything above 40% should keep the leaves in tip top condition. If it goes lower than this or it's positioned in an overly dry spot you might get brown tips or leaf edges.

Feeding

You can apply a slow-release fertilizer when repotting or just sprinkle a little on the soil surface in Spring. You could also use a water soluble feed and apply it once every few months.

Like most other care requirements it's easy going, so less feed isn't going to be a problem. Although, it can be a reason for small leaf growth in the longer term.

Temperature

Adansonii plants prefer average to warmer temperatures. They dislike the cold and the leaves can become tatty looking or damaged if left in cold rooms, unheated hallways or porches. 17°C (62°F) is the minimum needed for good levels of growth. Nothing colder than 10°C (50°F).

Repotting

Another bonus is that the root system isn't overly rigorous, so frequent repotting isn't needed. Established plants can be pretty happy with a repot once every two or three years or whenever the growing medium breaks down and stops holding water.

Did You know?
The purpose of the cheese like holes in the leaves are thought to have several useful purposes.

Firstly they allow light through to the leaves lower down on the vines.

Secondly, wind (not so much a problem indoors of course) can damage or rip the leaves. The holes allow the wind to pass through and not cause damage to the leaves.

The way you grow it will also be a big factor. If you're training it up a moss stick or totem made of a substrate that the aerial roots can grow into, then this support doubles up as an extension to the planter itself. This means you can grow plants in fairly small pots compared to the amount of leaf and stem you can see.

Plants with no supports and just trailing out and down the sides of a container will need slightly bigger planters. If the roots are too confined, it will stop growing.

You can repot at any point during the year, but when your plant is in active growth (usually late Spring and Summer) is often recommended.

What kind of potting soil should I use?

Earlier I explained that soggy soil and too much water around the roots could lead to problems like yellow leaves and root rot. This translates into me recommending a free draining potting mix of some sort and a decent amount of drainage holes in your container pick.

Avoid anything too heavy that will hold large volumes of water. Coconut coir is a decent choice here and will last for years before breaking down. A finely shredded peat-free mix would also work well.

Propagation

You can quickly propagate new or replacement adansonii through vine / stem cuttings. You don't need much plant "material" either, so creating multiple plants in one go is easy.

diagram of a leaf node and internode parts

Mature Swiss Cheese Vine plants will have very long vines and many nodes. You can create lots of plants from just one vine.

Each vine will have a small raised bump, or "node" every few inches, and it's these nodes where new roots and leaves can form. The inch or so space between each leaf node is called a "Internode". To create cuttings all you need is the node and a small amount of the internode on either side.

Usually, each node will naturally have a leaf, which really increases your chances of the cutting "taking". However it's theoretically possible to also grow an entire plant from just a node and internode.

Three stem cuttings ready to root

They root quite well by themselves, but a Rooting Hormone can boost your chances and speed things up.

The photo above shows what cuttings should ideally should look like. The top three have a leaf attached, increasing the chances of it working. Sometimes you'll end up with spare material that only has a node and internode. There is no harm in trying to root these parts too.

All you need to do is put the node and internode section into a vase of water. Change it every week until you see roots starting to grow. Make sure you keep things upright and the leaf itself needs to be out of the water.

water propagation with cuttings in a glass of water

Water Propagation is very easy and has a good rate of success. You could skip the water stage and just plant the cuttings into a suitable potting medium too.

If things go well and you see roots. Wait a month or so until they're a decent size and then you can plant them up into a suitable growing mix. It's more effective to plant several cuttings into one pot, which results in a bushy and more striking looking plant.

I've put together a quick YouTube Short if you want to see how it's done in a video.


Click to play our short YouTube video to watch how to do it.

Speed of Growth

I'd class the rate of growth as steady. Warm temperatures, good light and proper watering will give you a new leaf every few weeks in the growing season. Growth will slow down if these care needs aren't quite right, although this might not always be bad if you want to keep your plant compact and neat for as long as possible.

How big can it get?

Top Tip
Totems and Moss Sticks aren't for everyone. We get it. The good news is that the Monstera adansonii will grow fairly long vines that hang down. You can let it trail over a table or down from a shelf. You can also grow them as a hanging plant from the ceiling.

Plants without any vertical support will never be able to reach tall heights because as soon as the stems produce enough leaves, the foliage becomes too heavy for the stem and it "flops" over the sides of the planter.

That said, the long vine can grow down quite a way so it will take up space in that sense.

The leaves can become considerably bigger over time, but only if the plant's climbing upwards. As it clambers up the pole, each new leaf should be bigger than the last.

Mature leaf in front of a hand for size comparison

Mature leaves will grow to be as large as an adult hand.

Without this support, plants will not produce larger leaves; in some cases, they will make smaller ones. When grown like this, the plant can also get leggy over time.

Flowers

Most plants in the Araceae family have similar blooms and the Monkey Mask is no different. It has a vertical spadix enclosed in a white, hood-shaped spathe and will last several weeks.

They're not anything too remarkable and not particularly common on plants grown indoors, but if you see it emerging, at least you'll now know what it is.

Monkey mask flower

Monkey mask plant flower. Photo by Jacob Rehage

Is Monstera adansonii safe around pets?

Strictly speaking, it's not "safe" to have around pets that are known to eat your houseplants. All parts of the plant contain insoluble calcium oxalates, which act like microscopic needles to deter animals (or people) from eating them.

A little nibble and that should be enough to stop your pet from eating anymore. But if you have a mad cat or dog, then large quantities can lead to problems and a poorly animal.

Dealing with a Leggy Plant

Lower leaves will eventually yellow up and fall, leaving bare stems. Plants growing without adequate support to climb will become "top heavy" and gradually have a leggy look. Here are a few ideas to combat this.

  • Create more plants and grow them around the base.
    It's easy to propagate a new Swiss Cheese Vine plant and once cuttings are established, you could plant them around the base of the existing plant, eventually filling in the gaps lower down.
  • Cut back almost empty or bare stems.
    If you cut back the stems to a node, new growth should sprout from this point.
  • Transfer to a moss pole.
    Consider providing climbing support structures and tie any floppy vines to this. As soon as your plant senses the support, it will produce aerial roots to help hold it in place and before long it will be flying upwards.
  • Grow it over a wall.
    Did you know you can train it over a spare wall? It will eventually produce a fascinating piece of living wall art. You just need little hooks to hold the vines in place and put up new ones occasionally as the stems grow longer.


How to Grow Monstera adansonii Recap

  1. Medium light levels

    Indirect bright light is best for your monstera plant. If you're growing it in a low light area or in an awkward spot (perhaps because you're training it up a wall), then you can use a grow light to supplement its light needs.
  2. Medium to Lower levels of Watering.

    When grown as an indoor plant, they need more water than a Cactus and most succulents but less than many other foliage houseplants. Wait until the top few inches of soil has dried out before watering again.
  3. Warm Temperatures.

    Anything above 17°C (62°F) will help trigger growth.
  4. Monthly or Bi-Monthly Feeding.

    Provide an all purpose fertilizer once a month. Your plant won't hate you if you reduce this to bi-monthly feeding (or less).
  5. Overwatering is a common mistake with these plants.

    They'd rather be underwatered than overwatered. Monstera adansonii needs less water than you think.
  6. Avoid cold temperatures and direct sunlight.

    Warm temperatures but keep it out of full sun, please.

Common Problems and Issues

Yellow Leaves

Monstera adansonii care is easy, but I'd go all out and say confidentially that the majority of owners will still get yellow leaves to deal with at some point.

First things first, one odd leaf going yellow is likely to be normal aging. Each leaf will have a limited lifespan and after a couple of years they stop functioning as well. Once the entire leaf has gone yellow, like in the photo below, you can just cut or pull it off.

If you have lots of leaves going yellow at one time, it's almost certainly down to overwatering. Give it longer to dry out and if this doesn't help, it might be worth repotting into a potting mix that's more free draining and doesn't hold as much water in the substrate.

Yellow leaf on Monstera Adansonii

When leaves start to go yellow, the plant pulls out valuable nutrients and moves them to other areas. So only remove leaves when they go completely yellow like this.

Water Dripping from Leaves

This is officially known as Guttation. It's not harmful, but it's an early warning sign that your plant is being over-watered. The water dripping from the leaves is your plant's way of trying to get rid of excessive amounts of water. If you get this reasonably often then cut back on the water you're giving it, or wait longer between soakings.

Brown Leaf Edges

Brown leaf tips and edges are usually caused by very low humidity or sunburn damage from too much intense sun.

Crispy brown leaf edge on a Swiss Cheese Vine

Most of this plant is growing in indirect bright light in my staircase, but this adventurous leaf grew into a toasty full sun position and the edge has gone brown and crispy.

Cut the brown bits off and fix the underlying cause (move out of full sun or raise the humidity levels) to prevent more brown edges from appearing.

Leaves grow into one another.

At some point this happens to most plants. The unfurling leaves will grow through an existing leaf's fenestration and start to open, causing it to become trapped. You just need to gently pull it back out the way it went in and all will be fine.

Fenestrated leaves growing through one another

This is fairly common on congested plants. It's not really a problem and more a general hazard of having a full and lush looking plant.

Mosaic Virus

Some foliage plants are prone to viruses and unfortunately, the Swiss Cheese Vine is quite susceptible to Mosaic Virus. It shows up by causing yellow mottling, stunted growth or distorted leaves.

The good news is that it would be very rare (and unlucky) for your Monstera to randomly "catch" the Mosaic Virus after you've had it at home for a while. It's easily spread within intimate spaces and if there are lots of these plants, so it's more likely to be a problem with commercial growers and sellers.

Like many houseplant viruses, there is no official cure. If your adansonii plant looks generally healthy, it's not too badly affected and you have the space, you can keep it as a standalone specimen.

Regardless, it's important to isolate it away from other indoor plants as it can spread. If you have a large collection of houseplants it might not be worth the risk to keep it, just in case.

Small Leaves

This isn't always a problem, but if you want bigger leaves, this needs fixing. If you notice new leaves are becoming smaller and smaller, then it's caused by one of the following.

  • Not enough Light.
    Low light positions aren't ideal for your plant's long-term health and appearance. In time the leaves will just get smaller. Move it to a brighter location.
  • Growing it without vertical support.
    Your Monstera Adansonii wants to grow upwards. That's what it was designed to do in order to escape the dank shady areas on the forest floor in it's native habitat. You need to replicate that by providing a frame or support to allow it to grow up.
  • Lack of feed.
    This is less likely than the previous two causes, but all houseplants will eventually need a supply of nutrients to keep performing. Have you fed your plant lately? If not, then this could be worth looking at.

Pests

I don't get too many pests. In fact I've had very limited experience with them on my Adansonii's. I did have a mild problem with Thrips, but a straightforward treatment with Neem Oil and they were gone. Check this guide if you want to learn how to make your own powerful spray.

Theoretically, Aphids, and Spider Mites could come for a visit too, but in the main, Monstera Adansonii seems moderately resistant and with proper care (in my experience at least), healthy indoor houseplants seem better at deterring them.

I'll update this section if that changes, but if you're having an issue with creepy crawlies, head over to our Pest Guide for more help.


About the Author

Tom Knight

Tom Knight

Over the last 20 years, Tom has successfully owned hundreds of houseplants and is always happy to share knowledge and lend his horticulture skills to those in need. He is the main content writer for the .

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