Swiss Cheese Monstera, Narrow Leaf Monstera (Monstera Adansonii)
Most houseplants create bonus appeal by splashing their leaves with unusual colors and variegations. But like sculptors in a painting class, Monstera Adansonii plants stick with their natural base color—a gorgeous deep, rich green—and instead carve their leaves themselves into works of art. The plant’s common name, Swiss Cheese Vine, is a fair description of the general look, but it just doesn’t do these elegant tropical beauties justice.
It’s entirely understandable if your first reaction to seeing a Swiss Cheese Vine for the first time is something along the lines of “What HAPPENED to this plant?!?!” After all, if you haven’t seen a Monstera before (or a Rhaphidophora Tetrasperma, one of the very few plants on Earth that resemble it), it’s a virtual guarantee that you’ve never seen anything like it. The leaves of Monstera Adansonii are broad, long, vivid emerald green … and full of holes—actual holes—that increase in size and number as the leaf grows and the plant matures.
While Swiss Cheese Monsteras can grow to truly monstrous size in the wild, domesticated specimens stay smaller and are easily pruned to whatever size you desire, from a few feet to 10’ or more. They look their best when allowed to grow longer and either trail or climb, and can provide an elegant, eye-catching complement to most any visual setting. They’re thrilled with bright or medium indirect light, don’t mind waiting a bit between waterings, and have few pest or disease concerns to get in the way of that lovely, unique foliage. Ultimately, their scientific name may sound like “monster”, but this beast is all beauty.
Characteristics and traits of a Swiss Cheese Monstera, Narrow Leaf Monstera (Monstera Adansonii)
- Scientific Name: Monstera Adansonii
- Genus: Monstera
- Family: Araceae
- Common Name: Swiss Cheese Monstera, Swiss Cheese Vine, Narrow Leaf Monstera, Swiss Cheese Plant (shared with Monstera Deliciosa), Monkey Mask Plant, Adanson’s Monstera, Five Holes Plant, Monstera friedrichsthalii
- Indoor: Year-round at temperatures above 50F
- Outdoor Zones: 10-12
- Type: Perennial; propagated via cuttings
- Mature Height: 3’-5’ (indoors)
- Mature Width: 2’-3’ (indoors)
- Plant Height when Shipped: XXXXXX
- Growth Rate: Fast in Spring/Summer, dormant in Fall/Winter
- Flower: Rare - single off-white spathe similar to that of a peace lily
- Foliage: Large, glossy, green, ovaline leaves split by many irregularly sized holes that widen as the leaf grows and the plant matures.
Plant Care and Advice for Swiss Cheese Vine, Narrow Leaf Monstera (Monstera Adansonii)
- Grown In: Inside: all zones year round, Outside: zones 10-12
- Light Requirements: Bright to medium indirect light, no direct sun.
- Water Requirements: Soak and dry. Water amply, drain, then allow top 1-2 inches of soil to dry before watering again. Likes moist roots, but will succumb to root rot in waterlogged soil.
- Drought Tolerance: Good
- Temperature: Likes indoor room temp. 65-85F. Outdoors can handle brief dips to cooler temps (down to 50F), but bring indoors when temps fall into the 40s.
- Air Purification: Good
- Toxicity: Can be toxic to pets
- Fertilizer: General liquid feed at half strength every two weeks in spring/summer, reduce to every 4-8 weeks in fall/winter
- Container Friendly: Yes, if given good drainage
- Planting: Monstera Adansonii doesn’t mind snug pants, so don't worry about repotting it until the roots begin to peek through the pot’s drainage holes. When that happens, choose a new pot that’s a bit—but not too much—larger and prepare new soil that’s peat-based for moisture retention, then adds perlite or orchid bark for drainage. Repot the plant as you normally would, replacing as much of the old soil with new, fresh soil as you can without damaging or overly exposing the roots.
- Plant Care: Like most tropicals native to dense jungles and rainforests, Swiss Cheese Monstera Vine does best when given light that is bright, but indirect, just as it would be on the jungle floor with a canopy of trees overhead. It can handle shade/medium light, but will grow more slowly. Full sun will burn the leaves. Swiss Cheese Monstera likes moist roots, but not soggy roots, and does well when given the “soak and dry” method. Water generously, allow to drain (this is vital), and refrain from watering further until the top 1-2” of soil is dry. This will reduce the chances of the plant contracting root rot from overly saturated soil. While Swiss Cheese Monstera is comfortable at any indoor temperature that humans enjoy (65-85F) and can survive dips down into the 50s, it is badly damaged by frost or freezing temperatures. Don’t let it stay outside once temps regularly drop into the 40s. Not surprisingly considering it calls the rainforest home, Swiss Cheese Monstera is a big fan of high humidity. To keep it at its best, give it frequent light misting and/or a “pebble tray”—a drainage tray slightly wider than its pot, filled with a thick layer of pebbles and a thinner layer of water, so the water is constantly under the pot and evaporating (thereby increasing humidity), but not touching the pot itself. You could also place the plant near a home humidifier, if you use one. Conversely, try to locate them away from A/C or heating vents, which can literally blow away humidity and dry the plant out. Despite being a fast grower, Monsteras aren’t particularly heavy feeders. General houseplant fertilizer offered at half strength every two weeks is a good guideline during the warmer months, and can be cut back to once every 4-8 weeks during fall and winter. Speaking of cutting, Monstera Adansonii can easily be pruned to the desired form, but looks its most natural when allowed to either hang and trail or climb a trellis, moss pole, or other structure. While you might have to tie it to the support early on, it will eventually develop anchor roots and hold itself up on its own.
- Expert Advice: Yellow leaves on Monstera Adansonii are usually a sign of overwatering, but could also indicate that the plant is receiving too much direct sunlight. A quick examination of the plant’s location and soil should help you pinpoint the culprit. On the other hand, if the leaves stop forming holes or the plant gets “leggy” with long stems between leaves, it wants more light (but still not direct sun). Fungal infections such as alternaria leaf spot or septoria leaf spot can cause yellow or brown spotting on the leaves, and can be treated with copper-based fungicidal spray. While largely resistant to pests and disease, Monstera Adansonii can contract spider mites or scale insects, which can be treated with neem oil or insecticidal soap. Mild infestations may even be treatable with isopropyl wiped on with a cotton swab. Monstera Adansonii is almost comically easy to propagate via stem cuttings. Simply examine the stem until you find a node that is growing aerial roots (which the plant uses for gas exchange), cut right below those roots, and plant the cutting roots-down into the soil. If you can’t find a node growing aerial roots, the process is only slightly more complicated. Snip off a cutting with at least 3 nodes, let a few leaves remain at the tip but remove the others, and place the cutting 1-2 nodes deep in moist soil. Roots should develop within a few weeks. Although it’s a rare occurrence when kept indoors, Monstera Adansonii can and occasionally does flower. The blooms consist of a single spathe (petal, basically) and spadix. This gives them an appearance very similar to that of the more well-known Spathiphyllum, or Peace Lily, but chunkier and off-white, with barely-there purple blush on the spathe edge.