Easy Houseplant—Swiss Cheese Plant or Monstera Deliciosa

Updated on May 3, 2019
Dolores Monet profile image

An avid gardener for over 40 years, Dolores has landscaped for private clients and maintained one client's small orchid collection.

Swiss cheese plant.
Swiss cheese plant. | Source

A Dramatic Houseplant

Swiss Cheese Plant, Monstera Deliciosa, or Cut Leaf Philodendron is a large showy houseplant with dramatic foliage. Mature leaves can be nearly three feet long with deep, uneven cuts along the edges. Holes appearing in the leaf give this easy to grow house plant its common nickname. The holes are charmingly irregular and add interest to the large leaved plant. The foliage is a deep, glossy green.

Though young Monstera deliciosa have heart shaped leaves that resemble a common heart-leaf philodendron, the Swiss Cheese Plant is not a philodendron.

Swiss Cheese Plant has been a popular indoor specimen for many years and adds a beautiful tropical touch that can brighten a corner in a large room or office. The vivid green leaves add a touch of color to a room decorated in neutral colors.

Though it flowers in the wild, it will usually not flower when kept indoors.

Native to Central American rain forests, Monstera deiciosa will not tolerate temperatures below 55 degrees Fahrenheit. Keep out of cool drafts.

Monstera Deliciosa
Monstera Deliciosa | Source

In Decorating

Monstera deliciosa is a hot decorating trend. Images of the leaves are popping up in advertising, promotional photographs, on wallpaper, textiles, and dishware. A single leaf placed in a glass vase (don't forget to add water) makes an attractive statement in a room, so it is a popular prop for interior design.

When a floral arrangement or bouquet may seem too fussy in today's minimalist culture, a single leaf fills the bill adding a natural element that has a clean line, but an interesting structure.

How to Grow a Swiss Cheese Plant

Swiss cheese plant does best in bright light, but not direct sunlight. Light from an East facing window is best. Avoid placing in south facing window as the intense heat may scorch the leaves.

Plant in a loose, rich soil. Add peat to enhance drainage. Make sure your pot has drainage holes at the bottom. (Water that can not drain out may cause root rot) Place pot on a large saucer or tray to collect drained water so as not to damage floors or furniture.

Allow soil to dry out between watering. Mist occasionally especially in dry conditions (such as winter when the heat is blowing or summer when air conditioning dries out the air).

Tropical swiss cheese plant appreciates humidity. The dry environment of a house in winter can be mitigated with an occasional misting. As the large leaves collect dust, an occasional wipe with a damp cloth is beneficial. Hold the leaf, supporting the underside so that it does not tear as you clean the leaves.

A temperature between 65-85 degrees F is best for Monstera deliciosa. Apply fertilizer once a month with a balanced (20-20-20) fertilizer. Use half the recommended dosage. Grown in a large pot, Swiss Cheese plant will sprawl and appear like a shrub. It can also be tied to a support and grown upwards for vertical interest.

If you see exposed roots, they are not a cause for concern. Swiss Cheese Plant which is a vine produces air roots that will attach themselves to a pole used for support. The roots will also invade the soil of nearby plants!

Swiss Cheese Plant - Problems

Swiss cheese plant, like many houseplants, is toxic. Do not allow dogs, cats, or children to touch or chew on leaves. If chewed, poisons in the foliage can cause irritation of the mouth, blisters, and vomiting. The plant can also cause skin irritation in sensitive people. Wash hands well after touching or wear gloves when handling.

Yellow leaves are usually a sign of overwatering

Yellow leaves can also be a sign that the plant needs nitrogen, a common ingredient in fertilizer. Some older leaves at the base of the plant may turn yellow with age and is not a cause for concern. In any case, remove yellowed leaves as they will not revive.

Brown Leaves can be caused by sun scorch if plant is set in a southern exposure. Move plant and remove brown leaves. Brown leaves may also be cause by over fertilizing. Cut back on fertilizer and remove brown leaves.

Lanky plants, or plants with very long stems and small leaves probably need more light.

When Monstera Grows too Large

A Swiss cheese plant can overgrow a container and take over a room. Outdoor plants can grow very large and out of hand. You can prune a Monstera to keep its size in check.

Use a clean, sharp pair of sturdy clippers. Regular household scissors will not be make a clean cut. Cut into the vine just below a node (the beginning of an aerial root) in spring. New shoots will emerge. This plant can cause skin irritation so use gloves when handling.

An open cut on any plant can be an invitation to fungus or bacteria. Use a fungicide on the cut. I use a paste made of cinnamon and water to deter trouble.

If you want yet another plant you can encourage the cut pieces to grow. Place a section of the cutting in water for decoration or to encourage new growth. Change the water every few days. In a month or so you should see changes. the best piece of the plant to try to propagate will have some of the aerial root attached.

After you see new growth, plant in potting soil and keep moist.

The video below may be a bit long but it gives you a good clear look at a node and the right place to cut the Monstera.

How to Take a Cutting

To solve some confusion

Monstera Deliciosa is sometimes confused with a Tree Philodendron. In fact, both plants are occasionally called Split Leaf Philodendron. In the video below, you can see the difference.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

Questions & Answers

  • During the summer months I put my Monstera deliciosa on the patio. What can I use to keep bugs from eating it and leaving holes ?

    The leaves of Monstera deliciosa often show naturally occurring holes. Google image the plant to see the natural holes to understand what it is that you are seeing - you may not have an insect problem at all!

    There are several types of pests that can eat holes in the leaves of plants. If you see slimy trails on the leaves the problem is probably snails or slugs. Sprinkle some diatomaceous earth on the soil and dust near the holes to deter (or kill) these pests. Diatomaceous earth is a powdery sand that can also harm humans. If inhaled, it can cause sneezing, runny nose, or shortness of breath. It can also be an eye irritant. Wear a mask if you use this stuff. Wash hands after use.

    Some pests can be fought with neem oil. Available in many forms (I use a concentrate mixed with water in a spray bottle), neem oil repels Japanese beetles and several other pests. It can be an eye irritant. Avoid getting mist on face. Wash hands after use.

    If the holes you see on the plant are caused by outdoor pests, the easiest solution would be to leave the plant indoors year round.

  • What kind of fertilizer should I use for my Monstera?

    Use any all-purpose or organic fertilizer for your swiss cheese plant. You will notice numbers on the package. The first refers to nitrogen, the second to phosphorus, the third is potassium. A balanced fertilizer would show equal numbers like 20-20-20. Use one half of the amount of fertilizer that the product recommends. You can feed it more frequently if you dilute to one quarter - some people like the phrase fertilize weakly weekly. Twice a month works well for the half dilution. Fertilize a bit less in the winter if you live in a colder area.

  • For an indoor plant, which grows taller, the Swiss Cheese or the tree Philodendron?

    Both of these plants can grow very tall. Notice the telltale names, "Monstera" for the one, "tree" for the other.

    If you are concerned with a choice that depends on eventual size, don't worry about that. Choose the plant that you like the best. Either one can be pruned to restrict its height.

    Pinch back top shoots in Spring. This will encourage side shoots that cause the plant to widen rather than growing very tall.


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment
    • Dolores Monet profile imageAUTHOR

      Dolores Monet 

      14 months ago from East Coast, United States

      Hi Virginia - well I haven't seen any growing in people's yards but I am sure that I read you can cut them back. Maybe your neighbor needs to look into pruning the monster.

    • Virginia Allain profile image

      Virginia Allain 

      14 months ago from Central Florida

      My neighbor in Florida has one of these plants in their backyard. It is indeed a monster and I love how lush and tropical it looks and the privacy that it provides between neighbors.

      He doesn't like it, as it has grown so big that they can't use their screen room door to go out into the yard.

    • Gail Meyers profile image

      Gail Meyers 

      6 years ago from Kansas City - United States

      This is one I don't think I've ever tried. Thanks for the informative and interesting hub. Voted up, useful and shared.

    • Dolores Monet profile imageAUTHOR

      Dolores Monet 

      6 years ago from East Coast, United States

      Maren Morgan - actually, a lot of houseplants are toxic. I used to buy poinsettias for Christmas, and even got one to rebloom beautifully, but now with a cat, I must be so careful. Well, you can't have everything!

      Jamie Brock - Swiss Cheese plants were popular in the 1970s, a big time for houseplants. They used to grow Monstera deliciosa on these big hunks of bark. But the leaves were not so huge. When you see plants in malls and public places, that usually means they are easy to grow and maintain! Thanks!

      DDE - thanks!

    • DDE profile image

      Devika Primić 

      6 years ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

      Most interesting, I had no idea of such a unique plant, thanks for the well researched hub.

    • Jamie Brock profile image

      Jamie Brock 

      6 years ago from Texas

      Thank you for this informative hub about the Swiss Cheese Plant. I see these plants in large planters in malls and inside other places and I think they are just gorgeous! As pretty as they are and as big as they get, I figured they would be a tough one to grow but they seem fairly easy to take care of from what you have written. I may have to get one or even a couple. What a wonderful, informative hub, thanks for sharing!

    • Maren Morgan M-T profile image

      Maren Elizabeth Morgan 

      6 years ago from Pennsylvania

      Rats!! I was already to start looking for one until you mentioned "toxic to cats." Still a great article!


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, dengarden.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://dengarden.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
    ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)