The Swiss cheese plant displays the most interesting looking leaves and needs a grower to be prepared to provide some extra space within a home (it grows fairly tall when it matures).
This climbing shrub is an ideal plant for a conservatory or large rooms, including a hotel or restaurant foyer.
While this epiphyte plant – which is native to the rainforests in south America is a flowering plant, it’s primarily grown indoors for its attractive foliage and the height it grows up to. It’s a plant that becomes a room’s focal point once it matures.
The holes and cuts within the leaves are to form, so the plant survives well within its natural rainforest habitat when strong winds and heavy downpours (I mean very heavy) appear. Leaves without these cuts and holes will break easily because of their size and the force of the weather conditions.
The Swiss cheese plant is fairly easy to care for and maintain; however, if the right conditions and instructions are not followed, the plant leaves can look very unattractive (see plant problems below).
Aerial roots: This species has aerial roots to support the growing plant. These roots, which hang from a stem, have to push into the compost, and they can be placed on a moss stick (plastic tube with netting filled with peat), if you wish the plant to grow very tall.
How it looks: The monstera deliciosa is primarily grown indoors for the lush green and glossy leaves. Each heart-shaped leaf that appears starts off as a full leaf and then begins to form it’s slits. These leaves will grow whilst the plant is very young and only a matter of a few inches tall, although they do not produce the slits until it matures more. This species looks similar to a palm tree.
Flowering and fruit: The cheese plant does flower in its natural habitat or somewhere that mimics it’s natural habit very well. It’s very rare to see them flower indoors. These flowers are a whitish-colored spathe type with a spadix in the center.
The fruit, which looks similar to a sweetcorn cone (in shape) is produced after the flowers have fully bloomed. There is a specific way of knowing these are ready to be eaten, and if they’re eaten before they become ripe enough, it has been said they can cause mouth irritation. The name deliciosa comes from the fruit being known as tasting delicious.
Displaying and growing: These look fantastic in large rooms, hallways, within offices, and anywhere else that can cater to their size and caring needs. They will have to be trained to grow them tall, which is fairly easy when using a moss stick. If you don’t have the time or materials to make a moss pole, you can purchase them online or in garden stores which is probably a cheaper method. In the wild, this plant grows by climbing (climbing shrub) trees (epiphyte), so it gains its support and moisture from them – which a moss pole is used to imitate.
|Origin:||South Mexico to Columbia.|
|Names:||Swiss cheese or just cheese plant (common). — Monstera Deliciosa (botanical/scientific).|
|Max Growth (approx):||Height over 10 ft tall.|
|Poisonous for pets:||Non-toxic to cats and dogs.|
Cheese Plant Care
|Temperature:||Temperatures between 65-80ºF (18-27ºC) are ideal. Lower than 65ºF (18Cº) will slow down this plant’s growth, and below 50ºF (10ºC) will stop growth.|
|Light:||A fairly bright room or a bright one with plenty of shade is best. Direct sunlight will damage the leaves, and insufficient light can slow growth.|
|Watering:||Between watering times, the soil becomes dry to the touch within the top couple of inches or so of soil.|
|Soil:||A peat-based potting soil mixed with perlite or sand is ideal. Soil that drains well is needed.|
|Re-Potting:||Re-pot once every two years approximately during spring.|
|Fertilizer:||There is other advice from various sources about feeding (none wrong), but I would suggest fertilizing once a month with a diluted solution.|
|Humidity:||Average to high room humidity is needed, so you will need to increase the humidity of a normal room. Misting the leaves is helpful.|
|Propagation:||Propagate from mature stem tip cuttings below an aerial root at the node during summer. Place the stem cutting about 1 or 2 inches deep in moist potting soil and water moderately. It should begin rooting within the first couple of weeks or so.|
|Pruning:||This plant can easily get out of hand once it has been growing for over 3 years or so and will need cutting back. The ideal method is to cut as many stems as needed away (these can be replanted) at the nodes during spring.|
It’s quite easy for a cheese plant to start looking very untidy once it matures in size and age. Here are some potential problems and their possible causes, so you can apply a solution to the problem.
- Leaves yellowing: If your plant has quite a few leaves yellowing and they’re wilting, you may be over-watering it. If you know the plant has not been over-watered, it could mean the plant soil needs fertilizer.
- Leaf tips and edges turning brown: Low humidity and dry air is the most common fault here, although a pot-bound plant can have the same effect on a plant.
- Leaves not forming slits or holes: This is usually due to lack of something which will be light, not enough water, or not enough fertilizer. If the plant is tall, you may want to check to see if the aerial roots are in compost and if they’re not, then place the roots in soil or on a moist moss pole.
Frequently Asked Questions
A slow-release, diluted fertilizer is perfect. Fertilize once a month after waiting about five months following repotting.
Leaving it in a humid spot like a warm bathroom is a good option, but if you want to keep it elsewhere, using a humidifier and regularly misting the plant is a good alternative.
If your plant is yellowing or wilting in numerous places, it could be a sign of over-watering. If this isn’t the case, try fertilizing it.
Do I need to be aware of pests and diseases?
Mealybugs, scale, whitefly, and spider mites are all possible visitors, but they’re easy to manage if caught early. A non-toxic insecticide, gentle rubbing alcohol, or neem oil can all be used on the leaves to kill off any unwanted pests.
Root rot is a common disease to be aware of and is usually a result of overwatering.
How do I know if my Swiss Cheese plant is healthy?
A healthy-looking Swiss Cheese plant will be lusciously green, and waxy and have no texture alterations or discolorations.
This plant is given its name through the holes that form on its leaves over time. The Swiss Cheese is a common houseplant and is fairly easy to care for; just watch out for its tendency to climb!
The plant has strong roots, which in the wild would help them to grow towards nearby trees or branches. You may notice your plant attempt to do this, it might reach out wide and take up more space. This is not a health issue; in fact, it’s totally normal, but you need to bear this in mind when choosing a place for your plant. Make sure they have plenty of space to stretch around!
If you’d rather have a more controlled-looking houseplant, you can try to tame its wild side by inserting a wood stake in its pot. This should encourage the plant to grow around the stake in the center instead of reaching out to find something else to grow around. The choice is yours!
Make sure not to soak your Swiss Cheese plant but ensure it is consistently and thoroughly watered. If you’re unsure, stick your finger about an inch inside the soil. If it’s feeling dry, you should water your plant, if not, you can get away with leaving it a little longer.
Native to Mexico and Columbia, this plant loves the humidity and is grateful for regular watering. A humidity level above 50% is great but quite high. A good place for a Swiss Cheese plant is a warm bathroom. The moisture created from showers or baths can help mimic this plant’s native environment. Either way, make sure your plant stays in place above 40°F and doesn’t expose it to drafts.
If you are interested in planting house plants, you can check our articles, Poison Primrose, Zebra Howorthia, Jelly Beans, Mexican Fortune or Braided Money Tree, and Flaming Sword Bromeliad.
Mary is our ultimate indoor gardening oracle. After many years of watching her very own indoor expo bloom, Mary has found us and today she is actively sharing her experience with our readers on a daily basis. Mary is a Political Science graduate, but one who has found a beautiful way of merging her full-time job with a drop of relaxation: indoor gardening. If you have any questions for Mary about house plants, indoor gardening, or caring techniques, drop her a line in the comments sections!
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