Caring for a Monstera Borsigiana

Introduction

If you have a Monstera borsigiana, you might be wondering how to care for it and what sort of environment it needs. These striking plants are also known as Swiss cheese plants due to the characteristic holes in their leaves, and they may be the most familiar member of this family, in part due to these highly recognizable leaves.

Monstera borsigiana plants need humidity, good soil, and a suitable support to grow up. This support should be covered in sphagnum moss or something similar so that they have material to root in and gather moisture from.

Indoor vs Outdoor Growing

These plants are at home in the jungles of Panama and southern Mexico, so they like a good, warm environment. They aren’t suitable for growing outdoors unless you live in tropical regions, and even if you do, you’ll need to provide a good amount of shade in order for this plant to do well.

Monstera borsigiana plants are climbers and tend to grow in the shadows of trees as they scramble up their trunks. That means they don’t like being in full sun, and their leaves burn easily. If you choose to grow your Monstera borsigiana outdoors, you need to bear this in mind and protect it from direct sun.

Indoors, you may find this a little easier, because all you need to do is keep it away from the windows. Indoor growing will also mean you don’t need to try and shield it from harsh temperatures, so it’s a good option if you don’t live in tropical regions. Your Monstera borsigiana won’t survive outside if it gets cold.

It’s worth noting that Monstera borsigiana plants that are grown outdoors do tend to get taller than ones grown inside. If you want your Monstera borsigiana plant to reach two meters or more, you should grow it outside if you can – but many people simply don’t have the conditions for this.

An indoor plant will still get large, but it probably won’t hit the two meter mark.

Best Location For Your Monstera Borsigiana

You can put your Monstera borsigiana anywhere that gets bright but indirect light – so choose a room with enough light, but little sun. North-facing rooms tend to be best for this.

If you don’t have a suitable space, consider putting up a net curtain or some other thin fabric to block some of the strength of the sun’s rays. Make sure you don’t block the light entirely, however.

Young plants can be grown on windowsills provided you protect them from the sun, but this won’t work once the plant gets bigger. Since Monstera borsigiana can get to nearly two meters even growing inside, it will soon outgrow this space.

Make sure you have enough room for this plant as it reaches its maximum size. While Monstera borsigiana plants will happily grow in a corner, they are a pretty big plant to have around, so you need to think about where yours will go, especially if you have a small home.

You should also think about vertical height and make sure you have enough space to provide it with a bit of a support to climb up. This does not need to be anything special, but it will help to give the plant structure and make sure it has something to wind around as it gets bigger.

Soil For A Monstera Borsigiana

Monstera plants tend to be hungry, and the Monstera borsigiana is no exception to that rule. They like to be planted in rich soil and fertilized frequently – which we’ll cover in more detail later.

They also like well-draining soil, and when mixing compost for your Monstera borsigiana, you need to think about this. These plants don’t like having wet roots, so you don’t want to plant them in heavy, water-retaining soil, or they will get sick fast.

You can help to prevent problems by mixing gravel or perlite or even coarse sand with potting soil. Use more soil than grit, and fill the pot up with it. You can also include orchid bark for both drainage and nutrients, but be aware that this will break down over time, so you shouldn’t completely depend on it for drainage.

Sometimes, adding a layer of gravel before you add your soil mix is a good idea, really maximizing the drainage.

Make sure you choose a reasonably large pot with good drainage holes. The Monstera borsigiana doesn’t like to have its roots too crowded, and prefers a deep container to a shallow one.

Once you have your plant in a pot, you should add a stake in the center for it to climb up. You can use pretty much anything for this. A stake of wood or even just a bamboo cane will suffice. The plant can climb up this and support its long vines.

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Just make sure your stake isn’t so short that the plant will outgrow it within a month, and cover it with a growing medium like moss so your plant can root against it.

Putting the stake in the center will maximize the support it offers, and also encourage your plant to grow into a nice shape.

Watering Your Monstera Borsigiana

As mentioned, the Monstera borsigiana does not like to be too wet for too long, so you need to be careful about watering it. Only moderate, infrequent watering is needed to keep this plant happy, and over-watering exposes it to dangers such as root rot.

You may wish to buy a water meter, especially if you commonly over-water your plants. This will let you know when the soil is getting too dry for your Monstera borsigiana, and will keep you from watering it too early.

If you would rather not buy a water meter, you can also check your Monstera’s soil simply by pressing your finger down into the surface. You should push up to about your first knuckle. If you find that the soil is moist, the plant doesn’t need watering again yet.

Don’t water the plant until the soil is dry to about two inches deep – or even more, especially in a big pot. Keep an eye on the moisture levels on the water meter or by checking manually.

When the time does come to water your Monstera borsigiana again, give it a deep watering. This means waiting until the water runs out of the holes in the bottom before you stop adding water to the pot. Let some more drain out and then empty the container under the pot so the Monstera borsigiana is not sitting in water.

This is how you should water your plant each time. In between, let it dry out thoroughly.

In winter, you may find that your Monstera borsigiana needs very little water. It won’t be drinking much, and not much will evaporate when the air is cold, so you can reduce your watering routine even further.

Too little water is better for this plant than too much, so water sparingly, and if you find it helps you, keep a schedule so you can work out how often the plant needs a drink. However, always check, rather than depending too heavily on this, as conditions will vary and your plant will need more to drink at some times than at others.

Humidity For Your Monster Borsigiana

It won’t surprise you to learn that Monstera borsigiana plants like high humidity levels – after all, they are tropical plants that come from rainforests, which are wet most of the time. They may not like too much water around their roots, but they do appreciate moisture on their leaves.

The standard home is much too dry for a Monstera borsigiana to grow happily, although most will manage even in substandard conditions. However, if you really want to make your Monstera borsigiana happy, you need to provide extra moisture to it.

You may wish to purchase a hygrometer so that you can measure the humidity levels and detect if they’re getting too low for your plant. This isn’t necessary, but it can make it much easier to keep an eye on things.

You can humidify your plant in a number of ways. One option is to move your plant to the bathroom when you are having a shower. The steam will moisturize the leaves and keep the plant happy – but this may not be a very practical option most of the time.

An easier alternative is to buy a humidifier. This can be plugged in beside your plant and set on a timer, which will switch it on in the morning and off around midday. This is the best way to keep your plant happy; you don’t want your Monstera borsigiana to have wet leaves overnight, as this can leave it vulnerable to pests and mold.

If you would rather not buy a humidifier, you don’t have to. If you have a shallow tray with no holes in it, you can make one instead. All you need to do is fill the bottom of the tray with stones, and then pour in some water.

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Make sure that the water does not cover the stones, but stops below their surface. Next, stand your Monstera borsigiana plant on the stones. It won’t soak up the water because the water isn’t touching the pot, so you shouldn’t have any “wet feet” issues.

As the water evaporates from the tray, it will lightly mist the plant’s leaves and provide a good humidity boost. You can leave your plant on this tray during the morning and take it off in the afternoon.

Make sure you top the tray up when it gets low or runs dry.

If that doesn’t appeal either, manually misting your plant is a third option. For this, you’ll just need a spray bottle, some water, and a bit of time. You can either mist the plant’s leaves directly, or mist the soil in its pot and wait for the water to evaporate.

If your plant is large, you may find misting the leaves is more effective. This has the added bonus of keeping them clean, but it does risk them staying wet overnight if you do it late in the day.

Manual misting like this has the added advantage of getting you to spend a few minutes every few days interacting with your plant. Many people enjoy this time, and it also has a practical aspect; it encourages you to look at your plant’s health and check its leaves over for insects.

This can be done very quickly, and regular checks are a great way to make sure you catch problems early.

Misting is an important part of caring for your Monstera borsigiana, so make sure you include this in your plant care routine!

Fertilizing Your Monstera Borsigiana

As mentioned earlier, these plants are quite hungry, and need a good amount of fertilizing if they are to grow well. They only need fertilizing during the growing season (spring and summer), although some people prefer to fertilize all year round – and that’s fine too. There’s quite a bit of debate about how to properly fertilize Monstera plants.

You should use a liquid fertilizer, and dilute it to about half strength. A general all purpose fertilizer should be fine, or you can use one with a high nitrogen content. This will encourage the plant to produce lots of those beautiful leaves.

Aim to fertilize once a month while your plant is in its growth season. Keep the fertilizer off the leaves and away from the main stem, watering it into the soil about six inches away from the plant if possible. You may wish to water the plant first, moistening the soil before you add the fertilizer.

If your plant seems to be suffering from root burn, you may wish to reduce your fertilizing routine a bit. It’s easy to over-feed a plant, and this is worse for them than too little food. If in doubt, dilute your fertilizer more heavily before you use it.

You may notice white crystals building up in the soil after a while. These are not a major problem, but you should flush the soil thoroughly using rainwater. The white crystals are salt from the fertilizer, and may indicate that minerals are building up in the soil. Left for too long, this could cause root burn, and might eventually kill the plant.

Toxicity

Monstera plants are all considered quite toxic, to both people and animals. You should not grow a Monstera borsigiana if you have young children who are tempted to eat plants, or if you’ve got pets that can’t easily be kept away from the foliage.

Even the sap from a Monstera borsigiana can be an irritant, and you should wear gloves when handling or pruning the plant if there’s any chance of getting the sap on you.

Monstera plants contain oxalate crystals that can cause major irritation in the mouth. Swelling, vomiting, nausea, stomach aches, and drooling are all symptoms that can occur after eating Monstera borsigiana leaves.

It is important to note that these plants rarely do serious harm unless they are consumed in quantity, but you should still seek medical advice immediately if you know your child or pet has eaten some of the leaves. Call your doctor or vet, and watch your child/pet closely so you can describe symptoms as they develop.

It is a good idea to put your Monstera borsigiana out of reach of small, curious mouths if you possibly can. Transfer it to a room that isn’t used as often, and train your pets to keep away from it if you have to. Alternatively, put a barrier between your plant and the rest of the room.

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Propagation

You may wish to take cuttings of your Monstera borsigiana plant, and luckily, like others in its family, it is easy to propagate. You will probably find most of your cuttings are successful.

Start by sterilizing some sharp scissors or secateurs to ensure you aren’t going to infect your plant with any bacteria when you cut its stems. Next, prepare a small container with drainage holes, ready for your new plant.

You should fill this with a rich, well-draining potting mix, similar to what you would use in the main plant’s container. Choose a healthy stem of the plant with lots of leaves, cut it off, and plant it in the new container.

Water lightly and transfer to a warm spot with bright but dappled sun. New roots should start to appear after three to six weeks, and when your plant is big enough, you can transfer it to a new pot.

You can also propagate cuttings using water. Simply remove any leaves that would be submerged in the water, and then put the cutting in and change the water every few days. Once roots have established themselves, transfer the new plant to suitable soil.

Repotting

You don’t need to repot your Monstera borsigiana too regularly, and doing so may upset it. These plants will happily stay in the same pot until they start to get root bound, at which point they need a larger container.

If you see roots coming through the drainage holes at the bottom of the container, it’s time to go up a size. Choose a nice, deep pot, and fill it with fresh growing medium and plenty of gravel. Gently lift your plant out of its current pot and situate it in the new one.

Add more soil on top and pat it down, and then water lightly to help settle in the roots. Next, transfer its support pole (unless you have already done so when transferring the plant) or give it a new, taller support to grow up.

You may then wish to put the plant somewhere cool, away from direct light, so it can get over the shock without further stress from bright lights.

In a few days, it should have settled into its new home. You are unlikely to need to repot it again for a year or two, possibly more if it is slow growing or has a deep enough pot!

F.A.Q.

Here are a couple of the common questions that people ask about their Monstera borsigiana plants.

Why Are My Monstera Borsigiana’s Leaves Yellow?

Yellow leaves are usually a sign of two issues: over-watering and under-fertilizing. You need to work out which is more likely. Start by pushing your finger into the soil to see how wet it is. If it feels wet and you haven’t recently watered, your plant is getting too much to drink. This is not good and it could kill your plant.

You may need to repot your Monstera in fresh compost and remove any rotten roots. Rotten roots will be mushy and often dark in color. Use sharp scissors to cut them away, leaving only healthy roots behind.

In some cases, your plant won’t be salvageable if it has been heavily over-watered, so take action quickly if you notice yellow leaves. The less the roots have rotted, the greater chance you have of managing to save the plant.

A less serious option is under-fertilizing, in which case you just need to give your plant a good feed to make sure it’s getting all the nutrients it needs to grow well.

In either case, you may wish to adjust your normal routines a bit to make sure your plant doesn’t get excessive water or too little fertilizer in the future.

Why Haven’t My Plant’s Leaves Got Slits?

The holes in this plant’s leaves are its most iconic feature, so if yours doesn’t have them, you might be puzzled. It’s possible that a lack of leaf holes could be due to under-watering, too little fertilizer, or too little light.

You should try and increase the amount of light available to your plant, give it a drink (after checking whether it needs one), and feed it. It will take a while for these things to take effect, but they should help.

You should also check if the plant’s aerial roots are attaching to the growing post properly. If they aren’t, bury them in the sphagnum moss and water lightly.