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Monstera deliciosa - House Plant Journal

Monstera deliciosa - House Plant Journal

In the true spirit of 'House Plant Journal', here is a complete account of my relationship with my Monstera deliciosa:

September 17, 2014 - I responded to a classified ad for someone wanting to sell off this Monstera deliciosa because it was becoming too unruly for their small space.  Asking price: $10

September 17, 2014 - I responded to a classified ad for someone wanting to sell off this Monstera deliciosa because it was becoming too unruly for their small space.  Asking price: $10

November 27, 2014 - here's the monstera enjoying some bright indirect light (sun filtered through white blinds).  As these winter days become shorter, there's less photosynthesis going on - therefore, less frequent waterings.

November 27, 2014 - here's the monstera enjoying some bright indirect light (sun filtered through white blinds).  As these winter days become shorter, there's less photosynthesis going on - therefore, less frequent waterings.

January 30, 2015 - each individual monstera leaf has a predestined pattern, meaning that it does NOT develop more cuts/holes as it ages.  Instead, it is the NEXT leaf that may have a more complex pattern if the overall plant is happy.  How do you know if the plant is happy?  It starts with light: if the plant can see the sky and not necessarily the sun, then it is getting so-called "bright indirect light" - the ideal light for just about all tropical foliage plants.

January 30, 2015 - each individual monstera leaf has a predestined pattern, meaning that it does NOT develop more cuts/holes as it ages.  Instead, it is the NEXT leaf that may have a more complex pattern if the overall plant is happy.  How do you know if the plant is happy?  It starts with light: if the plant can see the sky and not necessarily the sun, then it is getting so-called "bright indirect light" - the ideal light for just about all tropical foliage plants.

May 12, 2015 - using a small bamboo trellis from the dollar store, I tied up the vines to give the overall plant a more compact look.  This is just how monstera grows - they are vines that want to grow along some surface.  So in a container, it will always become "unruly" as the vines grow past the edge of the pot.

May 12, 2015 - using a small bamboo trellis from the dollar store, I tied up the vines to give the overall plant a more compact look.  This is just how monstera grows - they are vines that want to grow along some surface.  So in a container, it will always become "unruly" as the vines grow past the edge of the pot.

It's not necessary for the aerial roots to actually attach themselves to something like a moss pole or tree trunk.  I'm just holding them against the trellis with soft rubber ties.  Just google "soft rubber ties" and you'll find them - they are super useful and you can cut them to the required length.

It's not necessary for the aerial roots to actually attach themselves to something like a moss pole or tree trunk.  I'm just holding them against the trellis with soft rubber ties.  Just google "soft rubber ties" and you'll find them - they are super useful and you can cut them to the required length.

June 13, 2015 - it's a bittersweet day as I decided to move monstera to my church where she could have a room all to herself.  With the front seat all the way up, my monstera fits just right in my Honda Civic (bought it just a month before).  An important care routine change should be noted: I'm only at my church once a week (and it's far from where I live), which means that I would be forced to water at fixed intervals.  But since the light she will be getting is even brighter than in my home, I know that she will be thirsty within a week. PLANT WISDOM: problems of overwatering typically occur when there is NOT ENOUGH LIGHT for the plant to make use of all the soil moisture.  So instead of watering less (okay solution), increase the light (best solution).

June 13, 2015 - it's a bittersweet day as I decided to move monstera to my church where she could have a room all to herself.  With the front seat all the way up, my monstera fits just right in my Honda Civic (bought it just a month before).  An important care routine change should be noted: I'm only at my church once a week (and it's far from where I live), which means that I would be forced to water at fixed intervals.  But since the light she will be getting is even brighter than in my home, I know that she will be thirsty within a week. PLANT WISDOM: problems of overwatering typically occur when there is NOT ENOUGH LIGHT for the plant to make use of all the soil moisture.  So instead of watering less (okay solution), increase the light (best solution).

Don't worry, monstera!  I'll be seeing you every week - this place has more space for you to grow and better light.  LEFT: a west-facing windowed door.  BACK RIGHT: a large north-facing window.

Don't worry, monstera!  I'll be seeing you every week - this place has more space for you to grow and better light.  LEFT: a west-facing windowed door.  BACK RIGHT: a large north-facing window.

October 11, 2015 - just like kids outgrow their clothing, monstera has outgrown her first trellis.  I'm glad I decided to pick up one of these sturdy vegetable trellises before the winter since the big box stores close up their gardening centers - would have had to wait until spring!  This was at Rona Home & Garden.

October 11, 2015 - just like kids outgrow their clothing, monstera has outgrown her first trellis.  I'm glad I decided to pick up one of these sturdy vegetable trellises before the winter since the big box stores close up their gardening centers - would have had to wait until spring!  This was at Rona Home & Garden.

Again, I'm just tying the vines against the trellis with rubber ties.  As aerial roots reach down, I gently direct them into the pot so they can enjoy some soil moisture.  I'm honestly not sure if that does anything for the vine but I would imagine that those roots would contribute to water/nutrient uptake.

Again, I'm just tying the vines against the trellis with rubber ties.  As aerial roots reach down, I gently direct them into the pot so they can enjoy some soil moisture.  I'm honestly not sure if that does anything for the vine but I would imagine that those roots would contribute to water/nutrient uptake.

January 6, 2016 - wow, this is the first leaf with a full set of cuts and a couple of holes along the midrib!

January 6, 2016 - wow, this is the first leaf with a full set of cuts and a couple of holes along the midrib!

May 23, 2016 - and here's a newer leaf with a full set of holes along the midrib

May 23, 2016 - and here's a newer leaf with a full set of holes along the midrib

September 26, 2016 - at this rate of growth, I may need an even taller trellis next year.

September 26, 2016 - at this rate of growth, I may need an even taller trellis next year.

December 25, 2016 - correct light is the first step to house plant success.  Second is watering.  Third is soil structure (aerating occasionally).  Fourth is fertilizing.  Fifth is getting rid of dead foliage and not crying about it.  Remember, BOTH light and water are fundamental requirements for plant growth.  Don't focus on watering while ignoring the light!

December 25, 2016 - correct light is the first step to house plant success.  Second is watering.  Third is soil structure (aerating occasionally).  Fourth is fertilizing.  Fifth is getting rid of dead foliage and not crying about it.  Remember, BOTH light and water are fundamental requirements for plant growth.  Don't focus on watering while ignoring the light!

And now, here's the typical "plant care" rundown with not-so-typical-but-more-helpful instructions:

Light: monstera is a big plant so make sure you can provide enough light.  Use your eyes: can you see at least a bit of the blue sky on a clear day from where your monstera lives?  If yes, then read "Growth Strategy".  If no, then skip ahead to "Survival Strategy".


Growth Strategy: with bright indirect light, your monstera will happily use up water so you can give the soil a good soaking whenever it becomes dry to a depth of 2 to 4 inches.  If you see several new leaves growing, then you can safely apply some fertilizer for the next few weeks (I've used 10-20-10 at the recommended strength) but it's not absolutely necessary for growth.  Soil structure is usually pretty good (nice and loose) so I just aerate the soil occasionally - maybe every third or fourth watering.

Long Term Relationship: although I have not yet reached this point, I know the soil will eventually be depleted of nutrients but since I sense that my pot is large enough, I will opt for a "top dressing" instead of a complete repotting.  Top dressing is when you remove some of the old soil from the surface (maybe 2-3 inches down) and add new soil WITH SIMILAR DRAINAGE PROPERTIES as the current soil.  Gently mix in the new with the old - it doesn't have to be perfectly mixed like you're baking cake.


Survival Strategy: I can only speculate how one might care for a barely growing plant as I would never knowingly place a plant in a dark corner.  IT JUST DOESN'T LOOK RIGHT!  Still, it's possible to starve it gracefully and not kill it because you followed instructions for a growing plant.  Definitely keep the soil on the dry side and once a week or so, you should loosen it with a chopstick so the roots don't suffocate.  When the leaves look really floppy and thin (because they are finally dehydrated), loosen the compacted soil and pour in just enough water to cover the entire surface to a depth of about 2 inches (I'm assuming the pot is at least 8 inches in diameter) - if the plant is thirsty enough, you shouldn't get any water running down to the bottom of the pot where it may linger for weeks.  Be prepared to cut off older leaves as they yellow - this is the plant abandoning them as the food reserves are depleted without being replenished.  New growth will be small, weak and if the soil happened to be too moist at the time, it may have dark brown tips.  Weak plants are also more susceptible to illness.  Overall, if monstera is living in a dark corner, I'd say it has several months to a year to a long drawn out death with lots of disappointments (leaf loss) along the way.  I hope you understand that I'm writing in this morbid fashion so at least some of you plant newbies will decide to hold yourselves to a higher standard of plant parenthood...

Vintage Snake Plant - House Plant Journal

Vintage Snake Plant - House Plant Journal

"How often should I water this plant?"

"How often should I water this plant?"