Don’t worry, it’s not a monster under your bed! The Monstera Deliciosa (as known as Swiss Cheese Plant) is a well-loved indoor plant that’s far from monstrous. If the image above looks familiar, it may be because you’ve seen them printed on notebook covers or throw pillows. Their big, punctured leaves are unique and oddly enough – beautiful. Read on to learn more about this strange, yet eye-catching plant. We cover everything from its origin, symbolism, right down to care tips.
The Origin of Monstera Deliciosa
The Monstera Deliciosa can be found growing in the tropics and is native to southern Mexico and Panama. Speaking of growing, these plants can shoot up to about 4.6 metres in height – that’s only 1 metre shy of reaching the height of the world’s tallest giraffe (5.7 metres)!
Monsteras growing in the wild are able to reach such towering heights because of their aerial roots. This means that instead of anchoring them below the ground, their roots anchor the plants to trees or walls, enabling them to climb.
Because its leaves are holey like some Swiss-type cheeses, the Monstera Deliciosa was also nicknamed the ‘Swiss Cheese Plant’. ‘Monstera’ is derived from the Latin word ‘monstrum’, which means monster or abnormal – in reference to how tall these plants can grow. ‘Deliciosa’, meaning delicious, refers to the edible fruit (Mexican breadfruit) it bears. The flavour is said to be similar to a mix of banana and pineapple.
Kindly note that unripe fruits are unsuitable for consumption and may cause irritation to the mouth, throat, and even inflammation of the tissues. Some individuals have even claimed to develop such symptoms after consuming the ripe fruits from a Monstera plant. If you’re unsure whether you might experience similar results, kindly avoid eating it.
It’s also best not to consume any ripened fruit found at the florists, nurseries, or plant and garden centers as they have likely been treated with pesticides!
The Symbolisms of Monstera Deliciosa
In Western culture, the Monstera Deliciosa signifies suffocation because of how fast their vines and roots grow; they attach leaves onto whatever supports them (like a pole or tree) until it’s eventually engulfed in greenery. In contrast, Chinese culture suggests that these plants symbolise longevity, along with honour for elders and respected people.
If you’re looking to gift someone with a Monstera plant, follow whichever meaning best suits you. Wish your grandparents a long healthy life, or send love to your overly-attached bestie with a Monstera!
Meaning aside, Monsteras are ultimately great gifts for anyone who enjoys a minimalistic or trendy look for their home.
There are currently 45 recognised species of Monstera, however, only a few can be found in nurseries and retail stores. Let’s take a look at some of the more common and rare ones:
Considered the Godfather of all Monstera plants, they are the most popular variation. Flaunting its huge, perforated heart-shaped leaves, this beauty would make for a great statement piece in your living room.
The Variegated Monstera plant is a rare find, and what beauties they are! Due to a mutation in the plant’s chlorophyll structure, the leaves feature a white or cream-coloured marbling effect. If you’re lucky enough to come across them, don’t be taken aback by the price tags! Depending on the variegation patterns or size, they can go up all the way to a few hundreds or thousands of dollars.
The Monstera Obliqua is an extremely rare gem that can cost up to four figures! What sets it apart from the rest of the Monstera family are its holes which can take up to 90% of the paper-thin leaves – making them all the more delicate and in need of greater care and attention.
A smaller variation than the Monstera Deliciosa, the Monstera Adansonii still has pretty large holes – taking up nearly 50% of the leaf! Often confused and mislabelled as Monstera Obliqua (which are exceptionally rare), the Monstera Adansonii have thicker, rougher leaves.
Monstera Fun Facts
Now for some fun facts!
- Did you know that the holes in Monstera leaves are not just for show? They make the plant resistant to heavy rain and wind simply by letting the elements go through the holes!
- The year was 1693 when Monsteras were first discovered.
- The most expensive Monstera was a Variegated Adansonii which sold for US$38,000!
- The aerial roots of Monstera plants can be used to make mimbre (similar to rattan) furniture.
- Monstera plants have ‘muscles’ called the geniculum that guide the plant towards the sun! You can find it in between the leaf blade and stalk.
- Monstera leaves can’t develop new holes. However, mature and healthier Monstera plants do bear leaves with more holes – this explains why you might think new ones are formed on existing leaves. The older leaves with fewer holes will eventually shrivel up.
Monstera Care 101
Freshly cut Monstera leaves can last up to 1-3 weeks if given the proper care. Here are some tips to prolong the freshness of your Swiss Cheese stalks:
- Ensure your vase is squeaky clean, and fill your vase with clean, room-temperature water! A good gauge is filling your flower vase around ½ to ¾ full. The most important thing is ensuring you fill up the vase enough such that only the stem openings are submerged in water, not the leaves.
- A tropical being by nature, Monsteras thrive in warm and humid areas – making them ideal indoor plants! Pop your Monstera Deliciosa leaves in a vase and place them somewhere bright, with an abundance of indirect sunlight. Avoid exposing them to direct sun as it might burn the leaves.
- Ideally, we would recommend you change the water once you see the water turn slightly murky. Be sure to give your vase a good rinse and scrub each time you replace the water to minimise bacterial growth.
Just received a bunch of flowers with Monstera leaves? Visit our Flower Care Guide for additional flower care tips!
Important note: If you have any furry friends at home, this plant may not be the best fit for you as they are toxic to cats and dogs.
A (Swiss) Cheesy Conclusion
And there you have it! A simple and quick guide on the beautiful Monstera Deliciosa. Now you’re aware of its origins, symbolisms, variations, fun facts and care tips for these babies! Will this hip-looking plant be a new addition to you or your loved one’s household, or in your next flower bunch?
If you enjoyed this read, you can check out our Flower Dictionary for more flower fun facts!