Growing the beautiful Monstera borsigiana plant at home is a dream for many gardeners. While they’re not always the most beginner-friendly plant, they’re not too difficult to grow either. The trick is to understand them.
In this guide, our gardening pros will reveal their top tips and tricks for growing a healthy, happy Monstera borsigiana.
What is Monstera borsigiana?
Monstera borsigiana, also known as the Swiss Cheese Plant, is one of the most popular and instantly recognizable houseplants worldwide. Native to the tropical forests of Central America, it is a vining plant that uses aerial roots to climb up trees. It produces large, fenestrated leaves growing to a staggering height of over 50 feet (15 meters).
The dark green, fenestrated leaves of the Monstera borsigiana are one of the main reasons it is such a popular houseplant. They are an absolute showstopper in their own right. Yet, in recent years, variegation has also become a very coveted leaf trait among plant lovers.
Here are some varieties to keep an eye out for:
- Monstera borsigiana Aurea: dark green leaves with lashes of yellow or golden variegation;
- Monstera borsigiana Variegata: dark green leaves with spots, stripes, or large splashes of vivid, lime green;
- Monstera borsigiana Albo Variegata: the show’s crown jewel, it is also one of the rarest and most expensive houseplants you will come across. The leaves have white stripes of variegation, and in some cases, they can even be completely white.
Why are Monstera leaves fenestrated? There are a few theories for this, but most are open for debate. One theory is that the leaves’ holes allow the plants to withstand strong winds during tropical storms in their native habitat.
Another theory is that the holes will enable the light to trickle down to the leaves growing at the bottom. We know for sure that the fenestrations are one of the main reasons Monstera has earned a spot in the houseplant hall of fame.
– Monstera borsigiana vs Monstera deliciosa – What’s the difference?
Monstera borsigiana is a subspecies of Monstera deliciosa. At first glance, the two plants can look almost identical, especially when they’re small, and the leaves are not yet fenestrated.
Here are a few tips to tell them apart:
- Growth habit: Monstera deliciosa tends to sprawl, often trailing horizontally. Meanwhile, Monstera borsigiana prefers vining and climbing.
- Size: When grown indoors, Monstera deliciosa can reach a whooping height of almost 10 feet (3 meters), with leaves as wide as 2 feet (60 cm). In comparison, Monstera borsigiana comes across as a dwarf variety: it rarely grows taller than 7 feet (2.1 meters), and the leaves are also smaller and more compact. It is sometimes called dwarf Monstera borsigiana.
- Geniculum: Check the base of the plant leaf, where it attaches to the stem. In Monstera deliciosa, this joint (the geniculum) should be noticeably wavy or crinkled. In the case of Monstera borsigiana, it is smooth.
- Monstera borsigiana growth rate: A faster grower than deliciosa.
- Price: Monstera deliciosa is often more expensive than borsigiana.
It’s also good to know that growers will often label Monstera borsigiana as Monstera deliciosa. As a result, it’s best to know the differences between the two before you plant shopping.
How to grow Monstera borsigiana
Growing Monstera borsigiana in your home may seem a bit daunting at first. But once you get to know these unique plants, you’ll realize that they’re not as high maintenance as you may think.
Let’s start with the basics.
– Light, temperature and location
Like nearly all tropical plants, Monstera borsigiana grows best in bright, indirect light. Too much light can burn the leaves, yet too little light will result in none of those iconic leaf fenestrations. In general, your Monstera plant will need at least 6 hours of sunlight each day. During winter, using grow lights is highly recommended.
The ideal temperature range for Monstera borsigiana is between 60 °F and 80 °F (15 °C to 27 °C). If temperatures drop below 50 °F (10 °C), the plant will stop growing and start struggling. Monstera plants are not frost tolerant. If exposed to freezing temperatures, the leaves will wilt, and the plant may be impossible to save.
Place your Monstera borsigiana in a room that’s not drafty or where there are sudden temperature changes. Avoid placing it under an air conditioner, next to a radiator, or drafty windows and doors, which can spell death for this tropical plant. Monstera borsigiana can be pretty forgiving for air humidity, but it won’t say no to having a humidifier nearby.
– Can you grow Monstera borsigiana outdoors?
Yes! Suppose you live in a tropical or subtropical climate (or in US hardiness zones 10 and 11). In that case, you can grow Monstera borsigiana outdoors. You can even plant it directly into your garden soil.
Make sure you provide it with plenty of vertical support. Once planted outside, your Monstera borsigiana will soon grow taller than its usual 7 feet (2.1 meters).
– Best soil
Monstera borsigiana thrives in loamy, nutrient-rich, well-draining soils that are also slightly acidic (aim for a pH range of 5.5 to 6.5).
To make the best soil mix for this plant, we recommend using:
- Compost or universal potting mix: it’s cheap, nutrient-rich, and works best as the base for your soil mix;
- Perlite: a must-have addition in all soil mixes used for tropical plants, it’s ideal because it helps with drainage and soil moisture without having an impact on soil acidity or nutrient levels;
- Sphagnum peat moss: perfect for keeping the soil aerated and well-draining, as well as retaining moisture;
- Coco coir: can be used as an alternative to sphagnum moss, although it tends to become compacted over time;
- Pine bark: a good addition if you want to increase the soil acidity, improve drainage, and create air pockets in the soil that keep their shape longer.
An easy way to create a good soil mix for your Monstera borsigiana is by combining one part compost, one part cactus soil, and one part orchid soil. This will provide a nice balance of minerals and nutrients, soil acidity, moisture retention, and drainage.
– Water and fertilizers
Monstera borsigiana prefers moist soil, but it is deathly sensitive to overwatering. Too much water will result in yellowing leaves, root rot, and other fungal problems. When and how much to water this plant depends on its age and the size of the container.
As a rule of thumb (and we mean that literally), check the soil with your finger. If the top 1 or 2 inches (2.5 to 5 cm) feel dry to the touch, it’s time to give it a good watering.
Throughout spring, summer and autumn, give your Monstera borsigiana a monthly dose of liquid fertilizer. Aim for a nutrient ratio of 20-20-20, or use a universal fertilizer that’s rich in nitrogen. This will stimulate abundant leaf growth.
Care and maintenance
Apart from providing your Monstera borsigiana with the right growing conditions, there are a few maintenance tasks you’ll need to do now and then. They are, namely, pruning and repotting.
Let’s take a closer look at each.
This plant has ‘monster’ in the name for a reason: it can grow tall, really fast! Therefore, regular pruning is a must unless you want your Monstera borsigiana to take over the room literally. Not only that, but removing old or damaged leaves will also encourage the plant to spend more energy on growing new ones, giving it a healthier, fuller shape.
– How to prune
To prune your Monstera borsigiana, you will need a sharp knife or shears and a pair of gardening gloves. This plant’s sap is mildly toxic to humans and can cause irritations if it comes in direct contact with the skin.
– When to prune Monstera borsigiana
The best time to prune your Monstera borsigiana is in early spring and throughout summer, when the plants are going through growth spurts. Locate the node (the section of the stem from which one or more leaves are growing). Make a clean cut one inch below the node or the main branch as close as possible. Avoid using a sawing motion, as this can damage the stem of the main plant.
– Pruning aerial routes
Monstera borsigiana also produces very long aerial roots. In the wild, these roots are used to support the plant as it climbs and give it access to more nutrients. When grown in containers, the roots can look a bit unruly and even unsightly, which is why they are sometimes cut off during pruning.
Whether you keep or cut the aerial roots on your Monstera is entirely up to you. Also, don’t worry: removing them won’t damage the plant.
The best part about regular pruning is that you can use the cuttings to grow new Monstera borsigiana plants! Have a look at our propagation guide a bit further down to see what you’ll need.
Monstera borsigiana doesn’t like being rootbound. Ideally, it would help if you repotted it at least once every two years to ensure that the plant stays healthy.
The best time to report your Monstera borsigiana is in early spring when the plant is entering the annual growth stage. If you haven’t done it already, reporting is also a significant change to set up a plant’s support system.
Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to repot your Monstera borsigiana:
- Pick a container that’s 1 or 2 sizes bigger than the one your Monstera is currently in. The container must have drainage holes at the bottom.
- Give the pot a bit of a squeeze to loosen the soil inside, then ‘wiggle’ the plant out, holding it from the bottom stalks.
- Once the root ball is out, give it a quick look over to ensure that the roots are healthy, without any signs of root rot. The roots should feel firm to the touch, with a pale, cream color. Gently loosen the roots apart, especially if your plant is rootbound and they’re compacted together.
- Pour some of the soil mix into the container, place the plant on top, then manually add more soil around the roots until they are covered and the pot is filled.
- If your Monstera has very long aerial roots, you can tuck them into the soil so that the plant can get more nutrients from it.
- Give the repotted plant good watering.
- Voila! Enjoy your repotted Monstera.
– Staking vs moss pole – Which is best?
Monstera borsigiana is a vining plant that loves to climb. Unless you want a sad Monstera sprawled across the floor, you will need to provide it with a support system. Staking will work when the plant is small.
But once it reaches 3 feet (90 cm) in height, it’s best to start thinking about securing it to a moss pole. Moss poles are not only sturdier and can support more weight, but they also have a texture that’s more similar to what Monstera plants are used to in the wild.
One of the best things about having a Monstera borsigiana is that you can propagate it to make more, and more, and more. Like all aroid plants, Monstera is very easy to propagate. The simplest way to do so is by growing cuttings in water.
When you’re propagating your Monstera through cuttings, you are creating a clone of the main plant. If the mother plant is healthy and has lush foliage, the cutting will also thrive. But if your main Monstera plant is suffering from viral diseases (such as mosaic virus, for which there is no cure), the new plants will carry on that illness.
– How to propagate Monstera borsigiana
Each stem cutting should be at least 2 inches (5 cm) long, with at least one leaf and one node. Leaves or aerial roots without stems, or pieces of stem without nodes and leaves, will not propagate.
Let’s get started:
- Use a sharp, clean knife and a pair of gardening gloves.
- Pick a stem that has at least one node and one leaf. Cut as close to the main stem as possible. If you’re pruning larger stems, cut them into smaller pieces, each with its growth node and leaves.
- Place each cutting in a glass or a jar filled with water. Tap water is fine, but if you have hard water in your area, we recommend using rain or distilled water instead.
- Keep your glass or jar with the cuttings in a warm room, and make sure that it receives at least 8 hours of bright, indirect light each day. Make sure to change the water every week.
- Your Monstera cuttings will start growing roots anywhere between 2 and 5 weeks. Cuttings taken in spring will grow roots much faster than those taken at the beginning of winter, for example.
- You can use rooting hormones to speed up the process; however, the cuttings should produce roots without any chemical aid.
- Once the cutting has at least one main root at least 3 inches (7.5 cm) long, with a few smaller roots on the side, it is ready to plant into the soil. Depending on the plant, it can take between 1 and 2 months from the moment the cutting has started rooting until it’s finally ready to be potted.
– Propagating in soil vs water
Monstera cuttings can be propagated in either soil or water. The growing medium can spark quite a bit of debate among plant lovers, but it all comes down to preference for many. For instance, by propagating in the soil directly, you don’t need to worry about potting the young plant or potential transplant shock dangers.
Honestly, we prefer propagating our Monsteras in water because it gives us more control over the process. As an example, it makes it easier to spot any problems with the cuttings, such as rot developing at the stem’s base. Also, being able to see the roots grow little by little each day is infinitely more exciting!
– Can you grow Monstera borsigiana from seeds?
Yes! Start by soaking the seeds in lukewarm water for 24 hours. Then, place the seeds in a container filled with a light potting mix. Keep the soil moist but not soggy. Place the container in a warm room, where it receives at least 8 hours of bright indirect light each day. You should start seeing the seedlings after 2 or 3 weeks.
The trickiest part about growing Monstera borsigiana from seeds is finding the actual seeds, as well as making sure that they’re still viable. Monstera seeds are bean-shaped, smaller than a pea, with a papery texture and greenish-brown color. Anything that doesn’t look like this is most likely not a Monstera seed. They also have a short shelf life, and once they fully dry out, germinating them will be impossible.
A word of caution: although they are very rare, variegated Monstera seeds do exist.
Genetically speaking, however, there’s a slight chance that the plant grown from those seeds will turn out to be variegated. So if you do find variegated Monstera borsigiana seeds for sale online, we don’t recommend buying them (more often than not, they’re a scam).
The best way to propagate variegated Monstera is to keep its unique leaf patterns through cuttings.
Pests, diseases and other problems
A healthy, properly cared for plant is a happy plant.
Here are a few signs that your Monstera borsigiana might be struggling and some pests to watch out for:
– Yellowing leaves
Usually, this is a telltale sign that your Monstera is overwatered. Cut down on your watering schedule, and make sure to check the soil moisture levels before each watering. Yellowing leaves can also be a sign of insufficient light, as well as too little water.
However, one or two yellow leaves at the bottom of the plant are expected. As your Monstera grows, it will ‘shed’ some of its older leaves as it uses more energy to develop new ones. Leave those leaves on the plant to continue to absorb the nutrients it needs from them.
– Brown and ‘crispy’ leaf edges
This is a sign that the air around your Monstera borsigiana is too dry. You can try placing the pot on a pebble tray to increase humidity. However, for larger plants, a humidifier will be the best solution.
– Leaves turning brown, black or spotty
This typically is a symptom of a fungal infection. Take the plant out of the pot and check the roots for any sign of rot. Also, avoid misting the leaves, as this encourages the spread of pathogens.
– Fungus gnats
These tiny bugs look a lot like fruit flies. The adults are pretty harmless, but the larvae living in the soil can deal damage to the roots. You can get rid of them using a Neem oil or hydrogen peroxide and water solution, sprayed on top of the soil.
– Spider mites
Closely related to spiders, they live under the leaves, hiding under a web-like layer. They can deal a lot of damage if left unchecked, but luckily, they can be easy to get rid of. A water and isopropyl alcohol solution sprayed on the leaves for at least three weeks should do the trick.
– Why don’t my Monstera leaves have holes?
Leaf fenestration is one of the most appreciated traits of the Monstera borsigiana.
If the leaves on your plant aren’t splitting, there are usually two reasons for that:
- Your Monstera is too young: on average, the plant won’t start developing fenestrations until it reaches three years old. Just give it a bit more time.
- Not enough light: make sure that your Monstera receives 6 to 8 hours of indirect sunlight each day. Don’t hesitate to use grow lights if needed, especially in winter.
Monstera borsigiana is a firm favorite for us, and many avid gardeners agree. The vivid, showy leaves add a tropical vibe to any home. While they can be a little tricky to manage at first, with this care guide, yours is sure to thrive for many years!
Let’s go over the essentials:
- Be sure to provide your Monstera borsigiana with at least 6 hours of indirect sunlight each day, and use grow lights in winter if needed;
- You can grow Monstera borsigiana outdoors as well as inside, but you’ll need a tropical or subtropical climate;
- Regular maintenance is essential to healthy growth, with careful pruning and repotting schedules;
- Propagating Monstera borsigiana is easy! You can use soil or water, but either way, it’s a great way to start several new plants.
So if you haven’t gotten around to adding a Monstera borsigiana to your home or garden, follow our guide!
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