Whether on cushions or wallpaper, swiss cheese plant leaves are definitely trending right now. The monstera monkey leaf’s unique leaves add character to any room or conservatory.
One particularly beautiful monstera variety is the ‘Monkey Leaf’. The monkey leaf monstera grows much smaller than other varieties, which makes it perfect for apartments. Below you will find out how to care for the monkey leaf monstera and even propagate it yourself.
Monstera Monkey Leaf: origin and properties
The swiss cheese plant variety ‘Monkey Leaf’ (Monstera adansonii) is native to the rainforests and riverbanks of Central and South America where the climate is humid, and the soils are acidic with a thick layer of humus.
Legend has it that a monkey hid behind a Monstera leaf after spotting a botanist. This botanist saw the monkey with the leaf in front of its face and so named the plant monkey mask or simply monkey leaf monstera.
As with most swiss cheese plant varieties, the monkey leaf monstera leaves are full of holes. However, unlike the other species, the monkey leaf monstera’s holes are closed up by the leaf edge. They are also much smaller than other monsteras, with a maximum leaf diameter of 30 cm. The Monstera Monkey Leaf has a liana-like growth, meaning that it grows with a long-stemmed, woody vine. Under optimal care, monsteras grow vigorously and will even bloom white flowers, which are enclosed in a large leaf sheath. But the monkey leaf is a real beauty even without flowers.
Tip: All parts of the monstera ‘Monkey Leaf’ are poisonous, so be sure to keep the plant well out of reach of children or pets. When pruning and caring for monkey leaf plants, avoid contact with the plant’s sap, as it can cause adverse skin reactions.
Planting and repotting Monstera Monkey Leaf plants
Monkey leaf monsteras need a location that is as bright as possible, however it does not tolerate direct sunlight. The plant can also survive in a darker corner but will not thrive. Make sure to keep your monstera monkey leaf plant in a place that is between 18 and 29°C all year round.
As a vine growing plant, swiss cheese plants require climbing support for upright growth. Without support though, the monkey leaf has a trailing growth which is ideal for a hanging basket.
Monsteras grow best in loose soil that is enriched with expanded clay. We recommend using a compost-based soil, like our Plantura Organic All Purpose Compost, that has a slightly acidic pH value to mimic the rich humus layer of the monkey leaf’s natural environment.
As soon as the first monstera roots stick out from the bottom of its pot, the plant’s growth is inhibited, and the soil’s water absorption hindered. At this point, remove the root ball from the planter and if you can see a very dense network of white roots, re-pot your monstera. This is usually necessary every three years. We recommend transplanting in spring into a pot that is about 5 inches larger in diameter. Use a compost-based soil and add a 3 cm layer of expanded clay to the bottom of the planter to ensure good drainage. After repotting, simply give the plant a good watering and return it to its previous location to avoid further stress. Do not fertilise the plant for about two months.
Tip: If you want to stimulate vigorous growth in your plant, choose a larger pot. On the other hand, if you want to limit growth, use the smallest possible pot.
Monstera adansonii care
Monkey leaf monstera is a low-maintenance houseplant and does not need much to thrive. For healthy growth, watering is very important: Monsteras do not tolerate waterlogging or drought. To avoid waterlogging, wait until up to 80% of the root ball dries. At this point, water thoroughly until water pour out through the drainage holes.
Monstera can be planted outside in the summer, but be careful: As mentioned before, the monkey leaf monstera does not tolerate direct sun or temperatures below 10°C.
If given the right location, your monkey leaf plant will grow vigorously. In this case, the plant’s nutrient requirements will also be high. Use a specially adapted fertiliser for houseplants to provide a continuous supply of all the essential nutrients. Our Plantura Liquid Houseplant Food contains the perfect ratio of nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium for monsteras. Generally, fertilise your monstera once a week according to the dosage instructions. In winter, fertilising once a month is sufficient.
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Monkey leaf monsteras do not need regular pruning, but it can be done to achieve a denser growth. If you are bothered by one or two extra shoots on your Monkey Leaf Monstera, you can easily remove them or cut them back and even use them to propagate new plants. However, do not cut off aerial roots. If they have reached the ground, you can instead bury the aerial roots in the planter.
Especially in winter, dry air can cause monstera to develop brown tips on the leaves. Spraying your monkey leaf plant with water at least once a week can prevent this. You can also increase humidity by placing the plant on a saucer with stones and filling it with water so that the pot does not come in contact with the water. Afterward, simply refill the saucer regularly.
Tip: Bathrooms or kitchens usually have higher humidity. With enough light, these rooms make the perfect location for monstera plants.
Monstera Adansonii propagation
Monkey leaf plants are very easy to propagate from cuttings. As their leaves can form roots at the leaf nodes, cut off shoots about 15 to 20 cm long that contain at least one leaf node. Stick the fresh cuttings into moist soil – a mixture of a little sand and a potting soil, such as our Plantura Organic Herb & Seedling Compost. Make sure to cover the entire shoot, including the leaf node, with soil. Only the leaf should stick out above the surface of the soil. Alternatively, you can also place the cuttings in a glass with some water, changing the water twice a week. Once you see the plant start to grow above the surface of the soil, wait another three weeks and then transplant the cutting into suitable soil.
Propagating plants yourself is not only fun, but also provides a great opportunity to trade with friends. Here are our top tips on growing houseplants from cuttings.