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Sunday, November 3, 2019

Monstera species - Best Indoor Plants (Updated 2020)

I would like to introduce a New Series on Indoor Plants
and hope to come up with 10 Best Indoor Plants for Beginners.

I'm guessing that if you had already had hands on other hardy plants and you are ready for a new challenge - these fall in more to a expert level plant to grow and maintenance.
Many gardeners had shared their woe and sorrow as these had died in their care.
Regardless, Monstera sp are considered the cherry on of the cream type of plant.
Truly a pride and joy for the accomplishment in caring and growing them.

Let me introduce these plants: Monstera borsiagiana,
Monstera speciosa &
Monstera "Thai Constellation"

Anyway, I'm just making it simple and enough with complication and just going with the flow. That is: If I see what I like and if it is fitting to my garden needs and I'm just going with that thinking cap.

I had been growing this one for few years but had not found it's size not getting bigger from the medium leaf shape. However this plant is a slow grower and the growth is more based as longer vine growth than bigger leaf size.

I'm suspecting that if this grows on a tree trunk or an the climbing medium surface it might morph to its huge wild size. Just my thoughts.

I believe when you talk about Monstera, this is the plant that you should have.
Sort of like the mother of all - Monstera captives the hearts of many
- this one had truly had become a legend.

This is a highly prized popular plant and it's so iconic that you can basically find these leaves printed everywhere from billboards, clothing apparels, on dishes and teacups.

Even on arts to home decor.
It's so embedded that you may have to look carefully to truly recognize it.

It is strange that I had often thought this is a wild plant yet I had truly had not encountered any of these growing wild around here. Most people had mistaken this for a Dragon Tail Plant. (Epipremnum pinnatum) These are native here around South East Asia Region.

Let me introduce these plants: Monstera borsiagiana

Most types appears differently at it's each growth stages. The very young plant do not have split or hollow leaf features. The juvenile has splits and the adult matured ones eventually show evidence of it emerging small holes towards the center of the leaf.

But Monstera borsiagiana may prove otherwise by remaining in that foliage structure where it only will have leaf splits without the center holes when it ages or mature.

This means - you may be thinking that you had actually bought a juvenile  Monstera speciosa but it is actually an adult mature formation of Monstera borsiagiana

Rhaphidophora tetrasperma also have similar features but is foliage structure is different where the spilts are more spaced out and the leaf formation do not have circulatory heart shape formation.

This particular species appears differently at it's each growth stages. The very young plant do not have split or hollow leaf features. The juvenile has splits and the adult matured ones has holes towards the center of the leaf.

I believe this is slowly making itself available in the market. 
It was exclusive and very much highly sought after causing the cost of the plant sky rocketing.
Now, its is more affordable price ranging from a medium size to large about
(RM35 to RM100)

But again - don't be fooled by the cheaper prices thinking that you got a Monstera speciosa. Do check carefully all the features to make sure you actually had identified the correct specimen.

It is good to purchase a well established plant rather than cuttings as these take months and sometimes years to grow. They are quite sensitive on their roots and so a well stable plant is much safer and stable compared to a cutting.

Monstera speciosa

The new leaves appears to be very tender and fragile and requires extra care as they can suffer burns, bruise or damage if not handle carefully.

This means that they are not hardy plants.

I had not owned this Monstera yet due to it's huge size and my limited garden space.
It is indeed an acquired taste too - having huge leaves structures need open space for them to grow unhindered. I had noticed that they do very beautifully in white pots and wall backgrounds.

Monstera "Thai Constellation"

I had found a variegated version displayed in one of the local nursery and it's not for sale. Currently these variegated types are now a highly sought after with their prices ranging to hundreds.

How to Care for a Monstera Plant:

The Main Key Element:
Bright Indirect Light, Fast Draining Medium & Well Balanced Watering Regime.
This dictates the success of growth & maintenance of this particular genus.

Similar to a Philodendron species care,
these require bright indirect light with good humidity.
It's a tropical plant and therefore adequate watering is necessary.
The best way is to observe how it behaves in your living space and handle care as what is required.

After sometime (in few months) the plant will adjust to the surrounding and acclimatize. Just make sure the optimum ideal watering regime and good lighting is available for this plant. This one requires good bright indirect light - too dark and it would succumb to root-rot or crown rot.

Too bright (as exposed too much to sun) may cause foliage burns.
The plant can face shock and may shed off it leaves.

How to Propagate a Monstera Plant Cutting:

Unlike most plants, this one rarely form seeds.
The best practical way to propagate them is through stem cuttings. The only setback is that this one is considered more sensitive and so more care is required as the cutting do not succumb to stem rot.

1) Always (I mean the Emphasis) Sterile the Tools before using them.
You can either wash them first soap and soak the cutting tool (scissors or knife) with alcohol or heat up on fire.
Again, do not immediately use a hot burning scissors, wait for it to cool down.
 (I almost forgot and was about to cut a plant - almost cooked it in the process)

2) Rooting in Water.
To change the water often on daily basis if you are rooting the cutting in water. This will keep the water fresh from harboring bacteria that might cause further damage in stem or root rot.

3) Gentle on the New Roots
Keep the medium ready, Put in the plant first and pour in the medium and compress gently. I had seen people roughly force the cutting into a hardened potted medium and the stem snaps in that process.

I'm pretty sure its had been updated, reclassified and some new cultivar and species been discovered.
The one thing that make a difference is to chose and have a collection based on what pleases you and the availability of space and plant management on your side.


Do carefully check if the roots are long, firm and healthy. If there are more than 2 visible roots and the roots had spread out with more branching smaller roots than it's ideal to plant it in a medium.
Usually the most ideal Medium used is coco chunk bits
IF you do not have the coco chunks, alternatively you use a balance mixture of perlite, cocopeat, cactus/succulent mix - these should feel coarse and must be fast draining yet able to retain moisture.
Too dry the plant will look withered and you may have to balanced it out with cocopeat.
Too wet and the root rot might set in - and it will cause the leaves to turn yellow and fall out and kill the plant.
This actually require for you to check on the watering regime - to check & balance what is the best ideal condition in your garden / indoor location.


This is quite difficult and tricky but not impossible.
The NO:1 enemy is root rot - These plants succumb to root-rot easily compared to other genes.
And so, great care need to be observed as not to get them rotting.

a) Wash the plant with a gentle disinfectant, the best will be fungicide.

b) Important - Root the Monstera in water First before planting a cutting in a medium without roots.
This will ensure the cut stump doesn't start to rot (if planted in a medium where bacteria and fungus exist - the course of nature takes place you are not able to see if there is a rot until it's too late)

c) Action can be taken immediately when you can notice the plant rotting in water.
You can immediately trim off the infected part & treat it before the infection gets bad.
Also do not use chlorinated tap water - the best is rainwater.
If you can't get it at least use filtered or mineral water.

d) Change the Water often

e) Rooting Hormone
I had seen some gardeners had tried using rooting hormone diluted in the water and their success rate very high - do experiment this on other cuttings first as getting the right on this experiment takes few trial factor. Sometimes the rooting hormone can speed up the rotting process faster if in checked on them daily - so do handle this on a caution note.

Monstera deliciosa vs Monstera borsigiana vs Thaumatophyllum bipinnatifidum (Video)

Basically I just want to highlight the difference between some of the philodendron species together with Monstera sp.

What I would recommend is to buy a perfect specimen where you can note the fully formed adult plant of Monstera deliciosa as the juvenile can be tricky to be identified as it may be a different form of phillodendron or tetrasperma which all may have similar looking foliage shape when their are a seedling.

 It also may be slightly more expensive than a seedling but it is still worthed it considering the years you may have to wait to see the foliage formation taking place. Knowing another factor of being a seedling - they are still sensitive and may die easily in comparison to a fully matured stable plant. 

Also in this video:
Monstera borsigiana, Thaumatophyllum bipinnatifidum, Hope Philodendron, Philodendron Rojo Congo & Monstera seedling.


Brede said...

Hi James, I am binge reading your blog since coming across it (discovered your post on the amaryllis) and really want to thank you for the info you share. I am pretty new to gardening and have murdered many a plant along the way. I got some monstera deliciosa cuttings and planted them in a pot with a coconut husk support pole thing (i don't even know if that is the correct name). I found that the portions of the cutting planted under the soil started to rot, whereas the portions just above the soil seemed to be fine. i trimmed away the rotten portions and sort of plopped the rest horizontally on the surface of the soil. Is that the correct way to plant these? Or is there a problem with watering? (The original plant i got the cutting from is growing against a tree, like a vine.) (DT, Sarawak, Msia)

James David said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
James David said...

Hi Brede, so glad to know that you love my blog and I'm really feeling honored that you are following up with my post.

Concerning Monstera, if you had found rot. I would suggest not to replant it as the rot may continue to infect more further. Instead remove it and place it indoor and put it in jar of water for the roots to grow and stabilize.
IF you have any fungicide, do use it, even you can use any of the self-made kitchen ones will do to stop the rot and let the plant focus on the root development.
AS I mentioned, cuttings are very tricky and it will take months for it to establish.
So, do be patient..
And the coconut husk pole thing is called Totem.
Thank you so much

Brede said...

Thanks for the tips James, will treat all the cuttings with a fungicide. might have been from a recent bout of fungus on my dendrobiums. (DT, Sarawak)

James David said...

Hi Brede,
When you mentioned that you have fungus attack on other plants
- it shows that you have a high humidity but low /no air movement in your garden.
The fungicide will do a lot of help in the long run.

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Tropical Garden, Batu Caves, Malaysia
My Malaysian Tropical Garden mainly focused on unique and colorful plants ranging from rare to common plants all around the tropical belt across the world. Ideal for inspiration for challenging areas in the garden space - indoor gardening, balcony gardening and small green spaces especially for ariods, bromeliads, begonias, edibles, cascading & vertical garden plants, succulents & cacti, orchids, together with both shade and sun loving plants.

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