The Swiss cheese plant, with lush perforated leaves makes a dramatic addition to indoor plant collections. Easy to grow and drought tolerant it’s a popular houseplant.
The Swiss cheese plant is an evergreen tropical plant indigenous to the Suriname region of northern South America. Its botanical name is Monstera deliciosa but it is more commonly known as Swiss cheese plant, Fruit Salad plant, Window leaf plant and Split leaf philodendron plant.
The Swiss cheese plant is most widely recognized by its large leaves with natural holes reminiscent of cut Swiss cheese. It is a vine and requires a moss-pole for support. Its shiny leaves can measure up to 1m across and its ornamental appearance makes this plant a worldwide favorite.
Growing a Swiss cheese Plant
Monstera deliciosa plants grow freely outdoors in the tropics but it is most often grown as a house plant. It is also popular in hotel lobbies and atriums where it can reach up to 20m if left undisturbed. It is an easy plant to grow but to give it a proper chance to excel a few guidelines is always helpful.
- Grow in filtered shade with plenty of light. Although it can grow in direct sunlight in the outdoors it will not appreciate the same conditions indoors. A west facing window is fine.
- Grow in an all-purpose potting compost.
- Keep the humidity as high as possible. Weekly misting is necessary.
- Water regularly by giving a good drenching and then allow it to dry out considerably.
- Keep the temperature between 18 and 25 degrees centigrade.
- Fertilize once per month during the growing season.
- Clean the leaves with Neem oil for shine and fungal protection.
- Be very careful with any new growth. For the first few weeks new growth can bruise easily and even fall off.
- Propagating a Swiss Cheese Plant
The main method of propagating is by stem cuttings and is best done by working with mature plants. A stem cutting must include a portion of the trunk with at least three leaves attached.
Remove the lowest leaf. Moisten the severed trunk tip and dip it into rooting powder then insert it into perlite (found in most garden centers).
Another method of propagating is by air-layering. This is done by cutting through the stem and wrapping the cut end in a plastic bag filled with wet moss.
Within a few weeks new roots will appear. At this time sever the stem just below the plastic and plant the new root ball in fresh compost.
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Swiss Cheese Plant Pests and Problems
Plants grown in warm, humid indoor conditions make ideal homes for pests like red spider mites and aphids both of which have a liking for the succulent Swiss cheese plant.
Another pest to watch for is thrips. These are tiny, slender winged insects which feed on both the plant and the spider mites and are sometimes brought into the home in the soil of some other plant. Always check new plants for pests and spray with a pesticide if necessary. Neem oil also helps with controlling aphids.
A common problem with Swiss cheese plants is the lack of holes. If this plant does not get enough light, not direct sunlight, it will not develop its trade mark holes.
Yellowing leaves is a water problem, either too much or too little.
Swiss cheese plants are toxic and if the leaves are chewed by humans or animals the poison can cause sick stomachs, burning throat pain and numbness.
Swiss cheese plants with their distinctive architectural leaves are always eye-catching standing alone or complimenting Dieffenbachia, Rubber and Dracaena plants. They all enjoy the same growing conditions making them ideal companions.