Monstera Adansonii: The Magnificent Monkey Mask Plant

Monstera adansonii, also known as the Swiss cheese plant, is a unique flowering plant with beautiful heart-shaped leaves. Because of the oval-shaped holes or fenestrations dappled throughout the leaf, it’s sometimes called Monstera adansonii Swiss cheese, or simply swiss cheese plant. This lovely monstera has glossy, green leaf surfaces and is incredibly easy to grow.

The following is an in-depth exploration of Adanson’s monstera. We’ll provide insight into the best methods of care to have a lovely, vibrant tropical plant year-round!

Good Products For Growing Monkey Mask Plant:

Quick Care Guide

Monstera adansonii
Sometimes called monkey mask plant, Monstera adansonii is a beautiful tropical. Source: spurekar
Common Name(s): Swiss cheese plant, Adanson’s monstera, five holes plant
Scientific NameMonstera adansonii
Family:Araceae
Zone:10-11
Height & Spread:3-5’ tall as a houseplant, up to 13’ as a vine
LightIndirect bright lighting
SoilPeat-based chunky potting mix with good drainage
Water:When upper 1″ of soil dries completely
Pests & Diseases:Scale insects, spider mites, leaf spot

All About Monstera Adansonii

Native to Central and South America, parts of southern Mexico, and the West Indies, Monstera adansonii is part of the Araceae plant family. These jungle plants look similar to their cousin, Monstera deliciosa — but they don’t grow anywhere near as large. In addition, instead of the huge indents in their leaves, they develop large oval holes as they mature, giving them the appearance of swiss cheese.

Heart or oval-shaped, the leaf is designed to capture sunlight efficiently despite all those holes. They typically dwell deep in the tropical rainforests and really need only indirect bright lighting to thrive. As the plant matures, its leaves gradually develop more and more of their distinctive holes.

These holes serve another purpose beyond filtering the sunlight down to the plant. Five holes plant can resist high winds by simply letting the breeze pass on through! And unlike its relative M. deliciosa, M. adansonii always keeps the full edges of its leaf, so the holes remain holes instead of deep indentations.

In the spring months, they develop a cream-colored flower with hints of purple. It does not always appear for home growers, but in the wild, it’s a common sight.

A popular cultivar of this plant is Monstera adansonii ‘Archipelago’. This gorgeous specimen has variegated leaf coloring, making it even more visually appealing.

The plant’s growth habit is as a climber. It produces aerial roots from the stem which can grasp onto the bark of trees or other foliage. However, it also makes a beautiful cascading plant in a hanging basket. Swiss cheese vine is notoriously quick and easy to grow, no matter which way you do it.

Monstera Adansonii Care

Immature Monstera adansonii Schott leaf
An immature leaf of Monstera adansonii Schott. Notice the lack of holes in the young leaf. Source: Alex Popovkin

Five holes plant is a houseplant stunner. Let’s go over all the tips you’ll need to provide your jungle beauty the best of care!

Light & Temperature

In its natural habitat, Monstera adansonii grows in rainforests and jungle-like areas. Subsequently, it performs best in lighting that mimics that environment. Indirect bright light or partial sun is optimal. It can grow in shade but tends to be slowed in its growth.

Avoid full sun conditions. Too much light will cause sunburn to the beautiful leaves. Stick with indirect light to avoid damage.

Temperatures should be warm as a general rule. This plant will grow best between 65-85 degrees Fahrenheit but can be in temperatures as low as the 50’s with minimal impact. Once the cold drops consistently into the 40’s, it’s best to bring your plant indoors to provide it with more warmth.

This plant is not frost or freeze hardy at all. Temperatures that low will cause severe damage and potential plant death. 

Water & Humidity

The “soak and dry” method is a good option for adansonii swiss cheese plants. Wait until the soil appears to be dry, and test the upper inch. If it feels dry to the touch, dampen the soil briefly, then wait a few minutes before watering until excess comes out the drainage holes on the pot’s base. Wait until the soil dries out before watering again.

Humidity levels should be above 50% for this plant whenever possible. While it’ll tolerate humidity levels as low as 40%, it’s accustomed to damp forested conditions. Placing a humidifier nearby is a great way to increase ambient air moisture. If you don’t have a humidifier, place a tray of pebbles or rocks underneath the plant. Add enough water to bring the level halfway up the rocks. As it evaporates, it will increase the humidity directly around your plant.

Soil

A well-draining soil is important for your Monstera adansonii swiss cheese plant. But as the plant does require some moisture retention, opting for a high-peat potting mix is a good choice. The peat moss will absorb its own weight in water and release it slowly to the plants but will allow the excess to freely drain away. Orchid bark or other chunky material like perlite is a good addition for drainage.

Soil pH levels can be from slightly acidic to slightly alkaline. However, your plant performs best with a pH range between 5.5 and 7.0. 

Fertilizer

Swiss cheese plant flower
M. adansonii’s flower isn’t much to look at, and it doesn’t fruit like M. deliciosa does. Source: Alex Popovkin

Monstera plants as a species are low to moderate feeders, but their requirements really depend on their size. A swiss cheese vine that’s immature and which receives lower light conditions won’t grow as quickly nor need as much fertilizer. Larger plants with higher light conditions may need considerably more.

A good rule of thumb is to provide a balanced, water-soluble fertilizer diluted to half strength on a biweekly basis. Replace one of your normal watering sessions with this feeding, and your monstera should be perfectly happy. In the late fall or winter months, only feed once a month as your plants won’t be actively growing during that time.

If your potting mix included fertilizer initially, wait for a few months before beginning a fertilizer regimen. This gives the monstera time to absorb the food that was already in its soil.

Repotting

Typically, monstera adansonii likes to be very slightly cramped in its pot. You’ll want to make sure that it doesn’t have an oversized pot, as that can be an environment in which root rot can set in.

If the roots are beginning to become visible out of the bottom of the pot, you know it’s time. A very tall and thick one may also need to be repotted to provide it enough space to continue to grow. If you are increasing the pot size, go just barely larger at most. Ensure your pot has good drainage out of its base.

Use a fresh batch of potting mix when replanting, as the roots will appreciate it. Take this time to inspect the roots as well. Use sterile clippers or a sharp, sterilized knife to remove any portions which show visible signs of rot.

Replant at the same depth it was at previously, pressing lightly on the soil to firm it up around the roots and stems.

Propagation

Easy to propagate via cuttings, Monstera adansonii is most commonly produced that way. Each of the stems develops aerial roots at nodes. If you remove a cutting just below some visible aerial roots, you can plant it roots and all.

If no aerial roots are evident, select a cutting that has at least 2-3 nodes along the stem. Remove all but a few leaves at the tip of the cutting, and place it in damp soil with at least 1 node beneath the soil’s surface. Keep the cutting humid and its soil moist until it begins to develop new growth.  We’ve got more tips for caring for your cuttings if you need them!

Pruning & Training

As it grows quickly, pruning your monstera is necessary. Clip off any damaged, brown, or dead leaves. You can snip tips off of the stems if they are too long, and that will encourage bushier growth habits. 

To train your swiss cheese vine to climb, make sure you have a sturdy trellis or support. Using scraps of fabric or pieces of wide, but soft plastic, tie sections of the stem loosely to your support. Leave room around the stem so it can move.

Over time, the monstera will develop aerial roots from its stems and will latch onto its support on its own. At that point, you can remove any securing ties, allowing it to bear its own weight.

Troubleshooting Monkey Mask Plant

Mature Monstera adansonii leaf
Mature M. adansonii leaf. As the leaves mature, they develop their distinctive holes. Source: abbynormy

The monkey mask has limited issues it’ll face, but that doesn’t mean it’s problem-free. Let’s go over what might happen and how to remedy it if it occurs!

Growing Problems

Overwatering can cause leaf yellowing. But discoloration can be caused by more than one source. Too much sunlight can also cause leaf yellowing or browning.

If you’re discovering a lot of yellowed leaf surfaces, be sure your plant isn’t in direct sunlight – indirect light is best. If it’s not, reduce your watering frequency to what we described earlier. Let the soil dry out between waterings.

Plants that are in the path of an air conditioner or heater vent may experience lowered air moisture. Remember, humidity is preferred by these plants! Move them to a location where they’re not in a direct air current.

Pests

Two sucking pests are common for monstera adansonii – spider mites and scale insects. Small populations of scale insects can be removed using a cotton swab dipped in rubbing alcohol. For spider mites or larger populations of scale, neem oil is recommended. Coat all leaf surfaces and stems with a fine misting of neem oil.

If conditions don’t improve, consider using a pyrethrin-based organic pesticide to eliminate these annoying little bugs.

Diseases

A number of leaf spot diseases may appear on your monstera. This can cause yellow or brown spotting, sometimes spreading slowly to cover much of the leaf’s surface. Typically these are caused by a fungi that has colonized your leaves. Both alternaria leaf spot and septoria leaf spot are possible variations.

A copper-based fungicidal spray is a good organic solution for eliminating most varieties of leaf spot. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: How fast does monstera adansonii grow?

A: From spring into the early fall, monstera adansonii grows quite quickly. You may find yourself pruning it regularly to keep it in check. If you’re training it to grow upward, it’ll just keep going until it runs out of space to climb. But once the cooler late fall and winter weather sets in, it goes dormant. You’ll get many feet of growth over the warm season, but almost none in the cool months.

Q: What is the difference between Monstera obliqua and Monstera adansonii?

A: M. obliqua is exceedingly rare, and has such big holes that there’s more hole than leaf. A Monstera obliqua leaf looks almost more like lace than like a leaf! By contrast, Monstera adansonii has many holes, but it’s roughly half-hole, half-leaf across its leaves.


The Green Thumbs Behind This Article:

Lorin Nielsen
Lifetime Gardener

Clarisa Teodoro
Researcher

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