Monstera epipremnoides, also commonly known as the Swiss Cheese Plant, has some of the flashiest leaves amongst houseplants.
As the common name suggests, the leaves are filled with holes that resemble the holes in Swiss cheese. The pattern of the perforation changes with age. The small holes on the juvenile leaves can eventually extend to the edge of the leaf.
|Botanical Name||Monstera epipremnoides|
|Common Name||Swiss Cheese Plant|
|Size||13 feet or more|
|Pet Friendly||No. Toxic|
Monstera Epipremnoides Origin
There is some debate amongst enthusiasts as to whether the houseplant known as Monstera epipremnoides is actually related to the wild plant. This is because the wild plants look quite different from the cultivated variety seen in homes. Due to this, you might sometimes see the name for the plant as Monstera NOID (unidentified) instead of Monstera epipremnoides.
In the wild, Monstera epipremnoides is native to Southeast Asia and grows in tropical and subtropical rainforests. However, it can also be found in forests at high elevations, which have cooler temperatures. Monstera epipremnoides is an epiphyte, so it uses trees as support structures to grow up. This is why many people use a moss pole or climbing structure for their Monstera epipremnoides.
How to Care for Monstera Epipremnoides
Monstera epipremnoides is considered a slow-grower. During the growing season, it typically produces one new leaf per month. Even slow-growers need appropriate care to maintain their health.
Light and Temperature
Monstera epipremnoides does best in medium, indirect light. This lighting is similar to the filtered lighting that wild plants would receive under the canopy of the forest. You should avoid direct sunlight, which can scorch the leaves, unless it is during the least intense morning hours.
A good temperature range for Monstera epipremnoides is 55-80 degrees Fahrenheit. For most Swiss Cheese Plants, warmer is better. However, many people have reported having success with their plant in cooler temperatures during the fall and winter. Use your best judgement, but warm up the plant’s environment if it starts to show signs of distress.
Water and Humidity
Just like Monstera epipremnoides can handle a wide range of temperatures, it can also survive in a range of humidity levels. You should never go below average humidity levels, but some plants need higher humidity to thrive.
If you live in a dry climate or think your Monstera epipremnoides would benefit from some additional moisture, there are a few options to increase the ambient humidity. Placing a group of houseplants near each other will slightly increase the humidity around them. If you need more moisture, consider misting the leaves, using a pebble tray, or adding a humidifier to the area.
Monstera epipremnoides roots like to have plenty of moisture, but they do not want to be submerged in wet soil. Before watering your Swiss Cheese Plant, you should always check the moisture level of the soil first. Only water when the top couple inches of soil are dry and before all of the soil dries out.
Soil and Container
You can house your Monstera epipremnoides in any container. However, some have expressed frustration with terra cotta pots that allow too much moisture to evaporate. This causes the plant to need water more frequently. Since Monstera epipremnoides is a climbing plant, it is best displayed when given a moss pole or climbing structure in its container.
The most important feature of any Monstera epipremnoides container is drainage holes. It is important that the soil in the container never remains soggy.
An aroid soil mix is perfect for Monstera epipremnoides. These mixtures usually contain pine park, perlite, and organic material. This blend creates plenty of aeration for the roots, but also holds moisture and nutrients. Pine bark should always be included in a potting mix for Monstera epipremnoides because the roots of these plants naturally grab onto bark in the wild.
Monstera epipremnoides can easily suffer from over-fertilization. The amount of some nutrients can reach toxic levels and lead to fertilizer burn. To avoid this, always use a new fertilizer at a diluted concentration and infrequently.
During the growing season (spring and summer), apply a houseplant fertilizer at half dilution. Begin by applying fertilizer once per month and move up to twice per month if the plant needs it.
Like all Monstera species, Monstera epipremnoides produces light green or white spadix flowers surrounded by a spathe. These are generally un-impressive flowers and many hobbyists remove the flower stalks so the plant can focus its energy on producing more foliage.
Pruning your Monstera epipremnoides is only necessary if there are dying leaves. You can remove sick leaves once they turn yellow, because at that point they will not recover. Also, you can remove any brown or dry portions of leaves. Just use a pair of sterilized scissors to trim off the unsightly spots on the leaves.
If you are pruning your plant to propagate, it is important to include at least one node (near where the leaf joins the stem) for root production.
Since Monstera epipremnoides is a slow-growing plant, you will only need to repot it every two to three years. Some signs that it is time to repot are slowed growth and roots growing out of the drainage holes.
To repot your Monstera epipremnoides, remove the plant from its old pot and remove as much soil as possible. This is a good time to inspect the roots of the plant and remove any decayed or dying roots (using sterilized scissors).
Choose a new pot that is only slightly larger than the last one and place the root ball into the pot. If you are using a climbing structure, you can add that before you fill the pot with soil. Use fresh aroid mix soil to fill in around the roots. Gently tap down the pot to help the soil settle, but do not push it down into place.
Once the Monstera epipremnoides is secure in its new pot, water thoroughly and let the soil completely drain. Move the plant back to its original location and resume the same care. Some plants suffer a transfer shock during repotting, but the plant should rebound within a couple of weeks.
Monstera epipremnoides can be infested by any of the usual houseplant pests, including spider mites, mealybugs, and fungus gnats. The greatest way to prevent pests is to keep an appropriate watering schedule and have the plant in a bright location.
While most pests prefer humid and wet conditions in houseplants, spider mites are actually attracted to dry conditions. They often show up after a period of neglect, when a plant does not receive adequate water.
The mites are so tiny that they are usually undetected at first. The sign most people notice is thin webbing on the plant and soil. The plant may also be looking unhealthy.
To treat spider mites, give your Monstera epipremnoides a gentle shower and then treat with an insecticidal oil or soap. Check the product to make sure that it treats spider mites, because not all insecticides are effective against them. You may need to repeat the treatment until all the mites are eradicated.
Due to their white, fluffy appearance, mealybugs can be easy to spot on your Monstera epipremnoides. Unfortunately, they multiple quickly and there is probably already a population taking hold once you spot them. These sap-sucking insects remove nutrients from the plant, causing the leaves to lose color and wither.
Adult mealybugs can be killed using rubbing alcohol, but this is an ineffective method for controlling the population. Eggs and juvenile mealybugs can be hard to spot or hide in crevices. Therefore, you should treat the plant with an insecticidal soap or oil. You should repeat this every couple days for two weeks to make sure that all the eggs have been killed.
Compared to other pests, fungus gnats are more annoying than destructive. The larvae live in the soil and can cause damage to roots, but it is usually not enough to affect the health of the plant.
The larvae live in the top couple inches of soil, so it is important to let the soil dry out between waterings. Also, you can bottom water your Monstera epipremnoides by placing the pot in a container with a couple inches of water. Since the soil will absorb water from the bottom, the top of soil will remain dry and inhospitable for fungus gnat larvae.
If changing your watering schedule does not help the problem, you can use sticky traps to catch adult fungus gnats. An insecticide can be applied to the soil to kill any larvae.
Root rot is the most common disease that affects Monstera epipremnoides. Root rot is caused when a fungus grows on the roots of the plant, killing them and eventually killing the entire plant. Fungus thrives in wet environments, so root rot is usually spurred on by over-watering.
In addition to dying roots, your plant might be soft and mushy at the base of the stem. Overall, the plant’s health could be declining.
Sometimes, root rot infections are too advanced to save the plant. However, if caught early enough there are a couple of things you can do. Check the roots of the plant and remove any dead or infected roots. Spray diluted hydrogen peroxide on the roots and the plant to disinfect the plant. Replant the remaining roots and plant in new soil and a new pot.
If the entire root system of your plant is compromised, but the rest of the plant is generally healthy, you can propagate a new plant. Use sterile scissors to take stem cuttings of the plant that include at least one leaf and one node. These cuttings can be propagated in water, sphagnum moss, or soil.
How to Propagate Monstera Epipremnoides
You will need a stem cutting to propagate Monstera epipremnoides. A stem cutting includes at least one leaf and at least one node. Most people prefer to propagate the stem cutting in water because you can see as the roots grow. To do this, place the node end of the cutting in clean water and keep the leaves out of the water. Within 2-4 weeks, you should have roots forming.
To propagate in sphagnum moss or soil, simply plant your stem cutting with the node in the soil or moss. Keep the substrate moist while roots are forming. Every so often, you can gently tug on the Monstera epipremnoides cutting. If there is resistance, that means that the roots are establishing themselves.
Frequently Asked Questions
How do you identify Monstera Epipremnoides?
Monstera epipremnoides has large leaves with multiple fenestrations. These holes are smaller on juvenile leaves and can extend to the edge of the leaf in older leaves. This is a climbing vine that will usually have air roots growing along the stem.
What is the difference between Monstera epipremnoides and M. adansonii?
Monstera adansonii is also commonly known as the Swiss Cheese Plant or the Miniature Swiss Cheese Plant. M. epipremnoides has thicker leaves that are lighter green and have a shine to the surface. Also, M. epipremnoides produces larger leaves starting at a younger age.
What is the difference between Monstera epipremnoides and M. Esqueleto?
Monstera esqueleto looks identical to the plants sold as “Monstera epipremnoides” in the houseplant industry. Since there is debate about the origins in the plant, many believe the houseplant known as Monstera epipremnoides is actually Monstera esqueleto, which is native to Costa Rica.
What is the difference between Monstera epipremnoides and M. obliqua?
Monstera obliqua is an extremely rare plant that is hard to find in the wild. Oftentimes, houseplants are incorrectly labeled as M. obliqua. The leaves of the M. obliqua are very thin and the fenestrations are round holes as opposed to longer oblong shapes.
Whether it is Monstera epipremnoides or Monstera esqueleto or an unknown species, the Swiss Cheese Plant is a beautiful and unique houseplant. With proper care, this climbing vine can fill your home with eye-catching foliage.
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