Monstera Borsigiana, otherwise known as the Swiss cheese plant, grows wildly in the jungles of southern Mexico and Panama. These leafy guys look great in any home and make a statement in almost any corner of a room.
The name “Swiss cheese plant” is down to the leaves. They have holes in them and are characteristically large. Some say this big surface area allows the plant to make the most of the little sunlight in the dense jungles.
So, we know you already love your Swiss cheese plant to the moon and back, so let’s look at how you can take expert care of it so you can enjoy your leafy friend for many, many years.
Best Location For Your Monstera Borsigiana
Monstera plants need a decent amount of both shade and filtered light. So, the best place in your home will be somewhere it can receive each of these, and on a plant stand!
In the wild, it spends the majority of its time in the shade since it climbs up the taller trees from the jungle floor. But, it does get some bright, indirect light that shines down from between the leaves of the canopy.
If you can, definitely try to recreate this environment as much as possible. Obviously, your house is not a jungle, but there are things you can do to keep your gorgeous Monstera Borgisiana happy and healthy.
For those of you with young plants, you can place them on the windowsill, but they need to be protected from direct light. Just put up a blind so the sunlight is filtered before it reaches your leafy pal.
As your plant becomes bigger, your window sill is probably not going to be a viable place to keep it. They are typically happy to be in the corner which is hit with sunlight at least once each day. Since it’s used to being on the jungle floor, you shouldn’t find it too hard to care for your plant.
Ideal Soil For Your Monstera Borsigiana
These gorgeous plants need well-draining soil that is rich in organic matter. You should mix 3 parts potting soil to 2 parts pumice, perlite, or gritty horticultural sand. If you don’t have this around, you could try mixing 2 parts perlite, 2 parts peat or coco fiber, and 1 part orchid bark.
However, it’s far more likely you have the first option in your potting shed!
Some of us overwater our plants — it’s just something that empathetic people tend to do! Nothing to be ashamed of, we promise. But if you know that you do this, just pop some more perlite into the soil to aid drainage.
Alongside this, ensure there is a stake in the pot for the aerial roots to cling on to as they would in their natural habitat. A moss-covered rod or a simple bamboo cane will do the trick. Just place it in the center of the pot for the most effective support system.
In terms of the actual pot, you should opt for one that is 1 to 2 gallons at first. Then, once a few months have passed, move your leafy-green friend into a bigger one. Always make sure it has drainage holes!
You’ll probably end up with a pot that is 10 gallons for the biggest, most mature Swiss cheese plants.
However, if you prune it back more, then it could be kept in a smaller one forever. It just depends on how you want it to grow.
Humidity For Monstera Borsigianas
As we’ve said a bunch of times already, their home in the wild is very tropical so it’s used to a load of moisture in the air. Ideally, you need to be able to give it an environment that has medium to high humidity levels for it to thrive.
If you live in a house or area that has normal humidity levels or dry air, then you need to counteract this. Don’t worry, there are a few options here.
Firstly, you can invest in a humidifier. It is the easiest way to introduce more moisture into the air for your Swiss cheese plant. You can set it to turn off and on with a timer so you don’t even have to think about it after you’ve set it up. However, it is far more expensive than the other options we’re about to talk about.
For a cheaper option, try using a wet pebble tray. To do this, fill a shallow tray with pebbles (shocker, right?), and place your plant on top of it. After that, just pop some water into the tray and hey presto, you’ve done it!
Make sure the water doesn’t actually touch the pot though, otherwise you’ll risk overwatering your baby and causing root rot. This is a fabulous option since the water will evaporate and the area around the plant will be extra humid. Perfect!
Finally, you could use misting spray. It is simple but wildly effective. All you need to do is purchase a spray bottle and fill it with water. Then, spritz your plant’s foliage every so often. The only downside to this method is that you have to remember to do it! But it works amazingly well — and it prevents dust build-up on those big, hole-filled leaves.
Oh, one last thing! Make sure you keep your plant far away from fans or heating vents. These take the moisture away and will damage your monstera!
Watering Your Monstera Borsigiana
These plants need to be moderately watered, ensuring that the top 3 or 4 inches of soil is left to dry out entirely before you have another watering session. These plants are susceptible to root rot so they should not be left to stand in water or live in drenched soil.
We suggest that you water it until the water is coming out of the drainage holes at the bottom of the pot. Leave it alone for five minutes, and then get rid of all the water that was drained. After that, you need to continuously check the soil before you even think about watering your leafy friend again.
As soon as you notice that the very top of the soil is dry when you touch it, press your finger down and try to gauge what you feel. If it is wet or damp still, then you should not water your plant yet. If it is dry, then you can give it another generous watering. Then, the cycle repeats!
Given the right environment, your plant will thrive for years. They aren’t needy whatsoever and are considerably easier to care for than a lot of other house plants. It doesn’t need watering very often at all (as you can tell). Plus, not enough water is better than too much.
If you are ever uncertain about your plant watering habits, then just be careful and mindful. Perhaps you should set yourself a schedule. You want to give your leafy buddy the best chance at happiness. Remember, underwatering is less of an issue than overwatering. Root rot is no joke — it’s difficult to recover from this!
Ideal Temperature For Your Monstera Borsigiana
The temperature of your home is probably already perfect for your Monstera Bosigiana. They generally prefer a range of 65 degrees Fahrenheit (18 degrees Celsius) to 80 degrees Fahrenheit (27 degrees Celsius). So, if you’re comfortable, it is likely that your plant is too.
With that being said, you don’t really have to worry too much if the temperature drops below 65 degrees Fahrenheit (18 degrees Celsius). Typically, your gorgeous guy or gal will remain healthy, it’ll just grow a tad slower.
If it goes lower than 50 degrees Fahrenheit (10 degrees Celsius), then it will stop growing entirely. While this is unlikely to happen inside your house, we have seen it on occasion.
In addition, try to keep your Swiss cheese plant away from entryways or back doors since it won’t take kindly to drafts!
You should ensure you place it somewhere that is used often in your house — i.e. not the guest bedroom. Why? Because it will truly find it hard to stay alive in a room that is barely heated throughout the winter.
Fertilizing Your Monstera Borsigiana
There are countless schools of thought on the fertilization of these plants. Wherever you look and whoever you talk to, you’ll be privy to different answers (none of them are wrong necessarily). So, we’ll just give you our recommendations and leave it at that!
Ideally, you need to fertilize your Monstera Borsigiana once a month during the early spring, all the way to the end of summer. We suggest you use one that is balanced but diluted.
Although, you can use a fertilizer that has a higher nitrogen content as this will encourage brand-new foliage to grow. Whichever one you decide to use, make sure it’s the liquid type!
You should dilute it to half the recommended strength to stop leaf burn. Proceed with caution here if you aren’t sure; giving too much will prove to be detrimental to your leafy friend’s health, but too little will be absolutely fine.
If you have managed to give your plant the right conditions, you will notice that it grows incredibly quickly. They can rapidly become unruly if just left to thrive, especially when they are around 3 years old.
Thankfully, they are wonderfully easy to prune!
Regardless of the time of year, you can cut your Monstera Borgisiana back. Yep, even if it is wintertime. If you notice your beautiful plant seems to be dominating the room, you need to give it a prune.
Repotting Monstera Borsigiana
Depending on your specific plant’s growth, you will need to repot it once every one to three years. Once matured, it will be happy in its pot for longer but we’re just giving you a baseline. You’ll get to know your own plant!
Repotting can be scary, especially when your Monstera Borgisiana is all grown up. But don’t worry, you just need to follow our handy step-by-step guide. Ready? Let’s go!
- Grab your new pot and place some fresh potting soil at the bottom of it.
- Carefully lift the plant out of its current pot.
- Use a trowel to help you work the old soil out from between the roots. This will ensure they are able to stretch out in their new, bigger pot.
- Use more fresh soil to fill around the root ball.
Make sure the root ball is at the same height as it was in the old pot.
- Water it generously once the soil is in place.
If your plant is young and small, you need to repot it to make sure that the roots have enough room to grow. It’s also important that the nutrients in the soil are replenished by fresh potting mix somewhat regularly when they are trying to mature.
As your Swiss cheese plant continues to grow, repotting is more about stability. If the pot is too small, it is likely to come crashing down.
Once it’s fully grown, they can be pretty top-heavy. You need to ensure that the pot is big enough and heavy enough to support that kind of weight.
You can propagate this plant in 2 ways. However, one is far easier than the other one. We’ll start with the simplest method and then move on to a more complicated way.
Propagation Via Leaf Bud Cuttings (The Easiest Method)
Get some all-purpose potting soil. You probably already have this in your shed. Then, grab a container that is able to hold a few cuttings (maximum of 4).
Sterilize a blade with rubbing alcohol. You can even use nail varnish remover if you have nothing else to hand.
After that, cut a healthy stem from your Swiss cheese plant. Make sure you slice a part that has multiple leaves.
Using the same blade, cut the stem into separate sections. You need to ensure that there is one leaf on each section.
They might have aerial roots attached but you don’t need to worry about that.
Using the pot that you prepared in step one, plant each of the stem segments inside. The result is a lovely, bushy look. New growth will appear from where the leaf is connected to the stem.
And that’s it! If you would rather propagate the stem sections in water before rushing into planting them, then you can do it that way instead.
Propagation Via Air Layering (The Complicated Method)
This works very well if you are trying to kickstart your Monstera Borgisiana growth, particularly if it has lost its lower leaves.
You will need a few things before you can get started:
- Sharp blade
- Long-fibered sphagnum moss
- Strong string
Clear plastic (sandwich bag, cling film, or something similar)
- Rooting hormone (this is optional, but it does help to speed up the process)
Once you have everything within reach, you can follow this step-by-step guide!
You need to take a look at the leggy stem to begin the process. You are looking for a spot that is suitable for the roots of the new plant to attach and thrive. Ideally, this should be six inches or more under the leaf growth.
Clean your sharp blade with rubbing alcohol. Then, make a diagonal cut (diagonally upwards) roughly ⅓ of the way through the stem at the spot you chose in step one. If you have never done this before, go slowly and take your time. Trust us, you’ll thank us later!
Place a toothpick into the cut you’ve just made to hold it open. Ensure it’s inserted sideways so you don’t poke through the entire stem and ruin your hard work and your plant.
If you have decided to use the root hormone, this is the time to apply it. You will need to make sure you wipe it onto the cut surface for it to work its magic. If not, just keep the toothpick there and move onto step four.
Grab a large handful of the long-fibered sphagnum moss and moisten it. Then, using the strong string, tie it around the cut in the stem you made earlier. This is the medium for the new roots to thrive in.
Tie the sandwich bag or cling film around the long-fibered sphagnum moss. While this might seem unnecessary, it makes sure all the moisture stays inside and doesn’t evaporate.
Continue to water and care for your Swiss cheese plant as you normally would. After a few months, new roots will start to grow in the moss.
As soon as you see these new roots, take the sandwich bag or cling film off the stem. Then, cut right through the stem underneath the new root growth.
With your cutting, plant it in a different pot with all-purpose potting soil inside. Make sure you leave the moss!
Once that’s done, you need to cut the original plant back quite a lot. New growth will then sprout under the cut you made!
As you can tell, this method is far more involved than the previous one but it is wonderfully rewarding. If you are a hardcore plant parent, it will be something you have to try at least once in your life.
Common Monstera Borsigiana Problems
There are 3 common problems that Monstera Borgisiana owners face. Don’t worry, there are things you can change to stop them from happening.
Generally, this is down to overwatering. However, if you are 100% sure that it has not been watered too much, then you might need to fertilize the soil.
Edges and Tips of Leaves Turning Brown
We’ve seen this a lot. It’s down to dry air. Try using the humidifier tips we talked about earlier to negate the issue.
Leaves Not Forming Holes or Slits
This is due to a lack of one or more of the following:
If your plant is quite tall, then have a look to see if the aerial roots are in the soil. If they aren’t, place them back in or attach them to a damp moss pole.
There’s quite a few questions that I’ve been asked by people new to growing these plants. Hopefully I’ve covered them below. If not, feel free to leave a comment below and I’ll be sure to get back to you.
Is My Monstera Borsigiana Toxic?
If you have pets, you might want to think twice about owning this one. With that being said, they are only toxic if your pet eats the stem or leaves. It causes vomiting, burning of the mouth, and ultimately, can lead to death.
However, we’ve had a Swiss cheese plant and multiple cats for years and nothing bad has ever happened. Yes, the cats are around our plant, but, they seem to know not to eat it.
Why Are The Leaves Dusty?
Just like anything in your house, the large-surfaced leaves of your Swiss cheese plant will get dusty in time. It happens to every plant parent but you do need to keep on top of it.
To clean them, use a damp cloth to gently wipe the leaves. That’s all there is to it!