Monstera Swiss Cheese Plant; 10°C/50°F; Mexico

Monstera deliciosa possesses all the qualities that are required of a good houseplant subject. Leaves are a rich green in colour and have a natural gloss to them which is heightened when plants are cleaned with a proprietary leaf cleaner. White oil used at a strength of approximately one tablespoon to 3 litres/5 pints of water will improve the look of most plants with glossy leaves, but soft new leaves should never be cleaned. It will also help to keep pests under control. In ideal conditions the monstera will produce quite enormous leaves that, as well as being deeply serrated along their margins, will also become naturally perforated. Monstera plants will do better if the aerial roots that grow from the main stem can be directed into a container of water from which supplies will be drawn for the plant, thus reducing the need for too frequent watering of the mixture in the pot in which the roots of the plant are growing. Many questions are asked about whether or not these aerial roots should be removed from the plant, and the answer is that they should be directed into the mixture, or a container of water if such an arrangement does not present too many difficulties. However, it would not be too harmful to a large plant for some aerial roots to be taken off with a sharp knife. For best results monsteras should enjoy conditions that are fairly moist, shaded from the sun and reasonably warm.

When potting plants on into larger pots, a mix comprised of equal parts loam-based mixture and sphagnum peat or clean leafmould should be used. Mature plants produce exquisite creamy-white infioresences, the spathe part of which remains colourful for only a few days while the spadix in the centre develops into a rich-tasting fruit, which should be left until it is almost mushy ripe before it is eaten. New plants are raised by removing the growing tip with one mature leaf and inserting them in a peaty mix.

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