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The Swiss cheese plant is a popular houseplant because it’s relatively easy to care for. This plant is native to tropical forests in Mexico, but it makes an excellent indoor plant in climates with temperate weather. You, too, can add this gorgeous plant to your indoor garden with just a little research and care know-how.
Fast Facts on Swiss Cheese Plants
|Common name||Swiss cheese plant, Monstera plant, split-leaf philodendron|
Tropical rainforests in Central and South America
Bright, indirect light
Average mature height (indoor)
3 to 5 feet
Moist, porous, sandy
Frequency of watering
When the top inch of the soil is dry to the touch; once or twice a month
Dangerous to pets
Ideal humidity level
Above 50%, high humidity
Types of Swiss Cheese Plants
Four dozen varieties of plants in the Monstera genus fall under the umbrella of the Swiss cheese plant. The following are the two most popular Monstera plants that you’ll find in the indoor houseplant scene.
The Monstera delicosa is the main outdoor ornamental that we call the Swiss cheese plant. It has deep green leaves patterned with holes along the edges. Leaves can be 6 to 10 inches wide when grown indoors.
This Swiss cheese plant variety is also called the five holes plant. Its fenestration occurs within the borders of its leaves rather than along the edges like the Monstera deliciosa. It has heart-shaped leaves and grows to about 3 to 5 feet tall, several feet shorter than Monstera deliciosa.
How to Care for Your Swiss Cheese Plant
Growing a swiss cheese plant is simple and rewarding. Under the right conditions, these plants can thrive for years and grow up to 5 feet tall.
Native to South and Central America, Swiss cheese plants thrive in nutrient-rich soil but don’t do well in potting soils with bark or compost. Use a good quality potting soil with peat moss that drains easily. Make sure your container has drainage holes because roots in standing water can rot.
Monsteras love bright light, but it needs to be filtered through a curtain so they receive indirect sunlight. The direct sun could cause their broad leaves to burn. As rainforest natives, Monsteras thrive on partial shade and partial bright sun. Remember that if Monstera plants are kept in prolonged low light, leaf fenestration will not occur.
You can grow your Monsteras outdoors if you live in a tropical or subtropical climate, such as Florida. However, some places in the United States have weather patterns and temperature changes that could harm or kill your Swiss cheese plant. Monstera plants do best in temperatures between the mid-60s and mid-80s Farenheit and thrive indoors in most parts of the country.
Cheese plants enjoy moist soil. When the crust of the soil looks dry, insert your finger an inch into it to see if the interior soil of the plant is also dry. If it is, it’s time to water the plant thoroughly. Make sure its pot has drainage holes and that the plant is allowed to dry completely before you place it back in its location.
How to Propagate a Swiss Cheese Plant
Whether you’re a beginner plant parent or an experienced grower, propagating a Swiss cheese plant is simple. The best time for propagation is in the spring.
- The easiest way to propagate this plant is to use stem cuttings. Make sure the stem is about 4 to 6 inches long, and cut it off with pruning shears or scissors right above the leaf node.
- Once you’ve removed the stem cutting, place a rooting hormone on the tip.
- Put the cutting in a small pot of potting mix without soil. Acidic, neutral potting mix (such as sand and perlite) is a good choice. You can also add peat moss for drainage. Make sure the mix is moist.
- After a few months of indirect sunlight and moist soil, your new plant should have roots and be ready to move to a larger pot.
How to Pot and Repot a Swiss Cheese Plant
Repotting a Swiss cheese plant is simple for beginners and experienced growers alike. Replant your Monstera annually to replenish its soil nutrients and give its roots room to grow. The best time to repot is in the spring before new leaves emerge.
- Monstera plants must drain fully after each watering, so choose a pot with drainage holes. You can use hanging baskets for your Monstera plants, as long as they receive indirect light and can drain well.
- Carefully remove the plant from its current pot, keeping the root ball intact. Choose a new pot that’s only a few inches larger in diameter than the root ball.
- Use a soilless potting mix. Fill the pot half-full of the potting mixture, replace the plant, and cover the root ball.
- The key to successful potting is ensuring your soil remains moist but not wet. For improved drainage, use a layering technique with peat moss at the bottom and sand and perlite layered throughout.
How to Prune a Swiss Cheese Plant
You can prune your Swiss cheese plants throughout the year, but you will need to prune unhealthy stems and leaves closer to the growing season, which begins in the spring.
Pruning will dictate how your Monstera grows. If you’d like to promote healthier growth and a fuller, wider Monstera, prune stems above the leaf nodes. These are the small knots along the stems from which new leaves grow. Performing this cut above the leaf node will stimulate the plant so that it grows a new leaf there.
How to Grow Swiss Cheese Plants from Seeds
- Purchase Monstera seeds when you’re ready to plant them, as they do not have a long shelf life.
- At this stage in the growth cycle, it doesn’t matter what type of soil you use, as long as it is well-draining. Soak the seeds in room temperature water for 12 hours.
- After you’ve soaked them and they’ve expanded, it’s time to plant. Plant a single seed in a small container. Use a new container for each plant you’re growing.
- After about two weeks, a young plant will emerge as a tiny green stem.
- In nature, Monstera is a climbing plant that weaves its way up trees. To help your seedling gain height as it grows, provide a moss pole in its pot for it to climb up.
- Be mindful that Monstera plants have aerial roots, so seeds don’t need to be planted deeply. The roots will reach above the surface of the soil.
Common Issues with Swiss Cheese Plants
Although Swiss cheese plants are easy to care for in general, they are not immune to problems. You might encounter the following issues when caring for your plants.
Sometimes, you may see yellowing leaves on your Monstera plant. This could be a sign of overwatering. If the leaves are curling and turning brown, they are most likely drying out and getting too much sunlight. Monstera leaves can even turn black, so keep your plant out of direct sunlight if you notice browning.
Root rot occurs in potted plants whose pots do not drain well. As the roots sit in excess water, fungal infections begin to grow within the root system, which can even kill the houseplant if left untreated.
Whiteflies and spider mites are common houseplant pests. They love to feast on plant sap and sometimes even roots. To kill these pests, you can spray a solution of neem oil and water on your Monstera and add neem oil to its sandy soil. If any of these or other pests, such as mealybugs or fungus gnats, get out of control, it’s best to call a pest control company.
The cheese plant is popular as a decorative plant with its heart-shaped, fenestrated leaves. Beginners and experts appreciate the tropical plant’s easy care and low maintenance.
Remember to keep your plant out of direct sunlight, such as near a window in your bedroom; it needs bright, filtered light. If you’d like to provide more moisture for your humidity-loving Monstera, mist it regularly or place a small humidifier nearby. Keep its soil moist, but do not overwater the sandy mixture.
Swiss Cheese Plant FAQ
How do you know if your Monstera is happy?
The leaves on a happy Monstera are bright green and waxy. Although young plants do not yet have fenestrated leaves, adult plants should have characteristic holes in their leaves. You should see no discoloration or pests on your Monstera.
How much light does a Swiss cheese plant need?
Consistent indirect light is necessary for these plants. Even if you keep your cheese plant in a bathroom with a translucent window, this should be adequate if you live in a sunny area.
How often should I water a Swiss cheese plant?
Because they need to be moist but not wet, you should only water your Swiss cheese plant every two weeks or even once per month, depending on soil dryness and the season.