Whether purely decorative or more a family member, houseplants are integral to many people's lives. They're more than just a passing hobby; the care and dedication we provide our houseplants create an unspoken bond. Monstera obliqua, the Swiss cheese plant, is no exception. Like other monstera plants, this variety is native to the tropical Americas, primarily Central and South America.
The cascading green foliage is speckled with oblong splits, lending to the plant's common name. Like its close relatives in the genus Monstera, Monstera deliciosa, and Monstera adansonii, this monstera provides greenery, texture, and an unmistakable presence in the home aesthetic. Obliqua monstera plants are among the smallest Monstera species houseplants.
Monstera obliqua is incredibly rare, so much so that cuttings may have a four-figure price tag! A true Monstera obliqua plant is an extremely rare plant, so much that mislabeling is common. In many cases, Monstera adansonii is mislabeled as a Monstera obliqua plant. If you can find Monstera obliqua, consider yourself lucky. Finding an adult Monstera obliqua for sale is even rarer.
What does Monstera Obliqua Look Like?
Monstera obliqua's appearance is similar to other Monstera genus houseplants. Beautiful green leaves grow from upright stems with large "holes," splitting the leaves' appearance and creating a textural masterpiece. Obliqua is much smaller than its counterparts, rarely reaching 4-feet tall in a home environment.
How do you know if you have a true Monstera obliqua or a Monstera adansonii? While they are very similar in appearance, key characteristics identify each species. In addition, Monstera obliqua has several cultivars. Cultivars of this rare plant include Peru, Amazonas, Panama, and Suriname. Each cultivar has a different appearance, creating even more difficulty in identification.
The growth rate is one of the most determinate factors when identifying which species you have, although this won't help you at the nursery or when you're purchasing your plant.
In the wild, Monstera obliqua grows so slowly that it takes several years to grow only a couple of feet. Adansonii, on the other hand, may develop a couple of feet in a month with proper care!
Both Monstera obliqua and adansonii have the characteristic "Swiss cheese" leaves. Oblong holes decorate the leaves, creating a striking appearance and incredible texture.
Obliqua is a much smaller plant than adansonii, and its leaves are relative. Obliqua leaves may only be several inches long, while mature adansonii leaves may reach staggering lengths a couple of feet long!
Obliqua leaves are smaller, but the holes are also much more prominent. Some growers and plant enthusiasts even state that obliques have more holes than leaf space! The leaves of Monstera obliqua are also paper-thin compared to the somewhat sturdier leaves of adansonii.
However, some rarer cultivars have varying hole shapes and some, surprisingly, have no holes! Distinct characteristics vary between the different cultivars.
How to Care for Monstera Obliqua
Plant care is vital for all houseplants, particularly delicate ones such as Monstera obliqua. Monstera obliqua's rarity may partly be due to its increased care requirements over more traditional Monstera plants. This delicate houseplant is miniature compared to its relatives and grows much more slowly. In its native region, this plant is only a few meters tall.
Like many other houseplants, mimicking the plant's native environment aids in providing proper care. This includes watering, lighting, and temperature. This particular plant's delicate nature requires specific regimens of care. While some houseplants are particularly hardy and adaptable, Monstera obliqua is a little fussier.
Best Potting Mix
Properly draining soil is a must-have for your Monstera obliqua. This plant doesn't thrive in sandy soils but prefers loamy, absorbent soils with a significant percentage of peat or coconut coir.
A peat- or coir-based potting mix is ideal for this green climbing plant. Peat-based soil and coconut coir allow for proper water absorption by the plant. Mix some loam into this potting mix for additional drainage and space for the roots to spread as the plant grows properly.
Like many other tropical plants, Monstera obliqua doesn't require as much water as you may think. Allow the soil to dry completely between waterings. Water once or twice per week with tepid water during the spring and summer months, then reduce waterings to bi-weekly during the darker, cooler months.
Pay attention to your plant's characteristics to ensure you're watering at proper intervals. This flowering monstera will tell you if your watering schedule is off. Dry, brownish-yellow leaves are a sign of dehydration. Yellow leaves with weak stems are a sign of overwatering. Overwatering or having improper potting soil may result in root rot.
Temperature and Humidity
Mist your Monstera obliqua a few times a week to imitate the humid environment it is native to. Ideally, the room you keep your delicate plant in will have substantial humidity -- 85% humidity is ideal for this tropical plant. Maintain a warm environment between 70- and 85-degrees Fahrenheit.
If you live in a warmer, humid environment, Monstera obliqua will thrive outdoors during the summer months. It makes an intriguing addition to a covered porch or patio.
Air conditioning and heating can be detrimental to your Swiss cheese plant if you don't counteract the dryness with a humidifier. Avoid putting your plant directly near air vents. Another option: consider a bright bathroom or placing this small monstera in the kitchen! The additional humidity from your everyday plumbing fixtures will help keep your plant healthy and thriving.
Genus Monstera plants prefer bright, indirect light. In its native habitat, this plant grows underneath the canopy, where the taller trees protect it from direct sunlight. Bright natural light is a must for proper growth.
Placing your plant in the corner of a window-filled room is often ideal, as long as the sun doesn't directly shine onto the delicate leaves. Because of its lighting requirements, moving this plant when the seasons change is often required. Outside, a covered porch or patio that stays bright through most of the day is a great home!
This small monstera requires less fertilizer than some of its faster-growing counterparts. Limit your fertilizing schedule to only during the growing period for your plant. A houseplant fertilizer once per month during spring and summer will encourage healthy growth.
Because obliqua plants have a slow growth rate, you may think your plant is underfed or experiencing something negative that's stunting its growth. Be patient with your obliqua -- it will grow with proper care!
You can use a mild liquid fertilizer or spikes such as Jobe's fertilizer spikes. A standard fertilizer is acceptable if you use a liquid houseplant fertilizer, although you may need to dilute it slightly. Overfertilizing your Monstera obliqua can lead to nutrient burn on the roots or systemic issues that affect its health and appearance.
Using compost in your plant's potting mix and as a natural fertilizer is an exceptional way to feed your plant without overfertilizing. You can create Monstera food from your food scraps if you have an indoor compost bin such as the Lomi. That's a win-win for you and this rare tropical beauty! Bye-bye food waste, hello plant food!
Compost is so valuable due to its nutrient content and ability to become a soil amendment. For many people, composting is as an act of love as caring for their plants. Carefully mix the compost into the potting medium. In addition to providing nutrients, compost also serves as a loamy material to allow for drainage and root growth.
This slow grower prefers a slightly acidic to essential fertilizer. Keep the soil pH above five and under 7.5 for ideal growth; this range is common for many houseplants.
Most potting soil mixes have a fairly basic pH. Your water and fertilizer, however, can change the pH over time. Purchase soil-testing kits to check the pH periodically.
Incorrect pH can affect your plant's health. You may see signs of nutrient deficiency, as soil pH may affect your plant's ability to absorb nutrients properly. You can easily adjust the soil pH: to lower pH (make it more acidic), add a small amount of soil sulfur; add a small amount of horticultural lime to raise the pH (make it more alkaline).
Repotting Monstera Obliqua
Because of its slow growth rate, Monstera obliqua doesn't require frequent repotting. Once every two or three years is often more than sufficient.
Wait to repot your obliqua until you see signs of it becoming root bound in the pot. When repotting your plant, choose a new pot that is a couple of inches wider than the previous pot. Ensure at least one proper drainage hole in the new pot and create a new potting mix using peat moss and loam.
Propagating Monstera Obliqua
Because obliquas are slow growers, propagation allows you to grow your collection of this rare houseplant while keeping your maturing obliqua healthy. The rarity of obliqua plants also creates an exciting opportunity to share the plant with others through propagation! You can propagate Monstera obliqua in two simple ways.
Like other Monstera plants, you can propagate Monstera obliqua via stem cuttings. Take cuttings during the active growing season between spring and summer. Ensure each cutting has a leaf and a node.
Place the cutting in a peat-and-loam compost mix and water thoroughly. Within a few weeks, the roots of your cutting will begin to develop, growing into a small, healthy plant for your plant collection.
In addition to cuttings, you can also propagate through stolon propagation. Stolon propagation is a straightforward method requiring sphagnum moss. Lay a runner of your obliqua against the soil surface of damp sphagnum moss and attach with U-staples to hold the nodes against the moss.
Roots begin to develop at approximately one month. Once you have growing roots, you can cut the runner from the mother plant and begin the growth cycle of your new Monstera obliqua.
Pests and Disease
Monstera obliqua doesn't have many pests, but you may notice signs of pest infestation. Common pests include spider mites, aphids, whiteflies, and others who may find your precious plant to be the perfect home and food source.
Check for pest activity before purchasing your obliqua plant. Signs to look for include webbing, sticky sap along the stems or leaf veins, or small holes or spots on the leaves from insect feeding activity.
Regularly misting your plant allows you to get up close and personal with the leaves of your Monstera obliqua. When misting, carefully turn over the leaves and inspect for signs of insects.
Insect pests of Monstera obliqua are easy to remove. Most can be wiped off with a damp cloth or cotton swab. A gentle insecticidal soap may also help control pest populations on your prized plant.
Diseases include various viruses, molds, and root rot. To control disease in your Monstera obliqua plant, cut off the affected areas to prevent it from spreading to the rest of your plant. Plant diseases often spread from plant to plant. If you have other houseplants near your obliqua, diligently check each plant and quarantine during suspected disease infestation.
Monstera Obliqua: A Rare Addition to Your Plant Collection
Yes, the Monstera obliqua is hard to find, with certain cultivars even rarer. This prized plant's rarity makes it a favorite of collectors and growers and the holy grail of houseplants for plant enthusiasts. Finding one of these spectacular plants is a bucket-list item for many! One enthusiast sold one of his Monstera plants for over $20,000!
Once you've found your prized obliqua, the journey is only beginning. This demanding plant is not only rare; it's exceptionally delicate and beautiful. Caring for the obliqua is time-intensive and not for the novice, but proper care pays off with a show-stopping adult plant that will make you the envy of other plant enthusiasts.
With proper care and moderately intense dedication, your Monstera obliqua will grow into a healthy, vibrant houseplant that offers years of enjoyment and, let's face it, bragging rights! Is the Monstera obliqua or one of its many cultivars right for you? If you answered yes, what are you waiting for? Just make sure you don't accidentally pick up a Monstera adansonii!