Monstera adansonii: Swiss Cheese Plant Guide

The Swiss Cheese plant is known for its show-stopping foliage. Your guests will definitely notice its beauty right away.

The Swiss Cheese plant, known for its eye-catching foliage, is a lovely addition to any houseplant collection. Its heart-shaped leaves are adorned with naturally developed holes resembling swiss cheese.

Monstera adansonii, also known as Adanson’s monstera, monkey mask plant, or swiss cheese vine, is an easy-to-grow plant that stays on the smaller side compared to other plants in the same family.

Swiss cheese plants thrive as houseplants. They thrive in indirect light, can grow as a trailing or climbing vine, and are easily propagated. They require frequent watering and fertilization but do not require consistent pruning and have few problems with insects, pests, or illnesses compared to other plants.

Monstera Plants

Monstera is a genus of forty-five jungle plants in the Araceae family notable for their huge, heart-shaped leaves with distinctive holes. Depending on the species, Monstera leaves can grow up to three feet long and wide and are dotted with naturally occurring holes. These pores form during the maturation of the leaves, a process called fenestration.

This physical characteristic is said to have evolved to allow powerful winds to travel through the huge leaves of the jungle rather than shredding the foliage and allowing moisture to reach the soil. Leaf fenestration also permits the huge leaves to spread across a larger area, catching more sunlight for photosynthesis beneath the jungle canopy.

The large monstera leaves on a jungle.

Is the Swiss Cheese Plant Unique?

Yes, it is more distinctive and grows less frequently than other, larger Monstera species. Its smaller stature (it is one of the smallest monster species) and trailing growth habit distinguish it from other sorts, making it more difficult to find and purchase. The leaves are also more perforated and fragile than those of the more well-known Monstera deliciosa.

Monstera adansonii’ variegata’ is the most expensive of the Monstera adansonii subspecies, with a single leaf cutting fetching hundreds of dollars on Etsy or other plant-related retail sites.

A variegated leaves of a monstera plant.

Monstera adansonii Growth Forms

The Swiss Cheese plant has two different growth forms based on the leaves’ growth: the round and narrow forms. Leaves on round form plants have broader, more rounded leaves with the traditional heart shape. Narrow-form plants have more elongated foliage, with the leaf tips often pointing slightly to one side.

Caring For Your Swiss Cheese Plant

Like many other plants that thrive as houseplants, the Swiss Cheese plant is native to tropical areas. It is found most often in Central and South America growing in the forest understory but can be found up into Mexico. This tropical origin means it loves indirect light, warm temperatures, and high humidity levels.

Light Requirements

Plants tolerate low light conditions, but they do best when they receive moderate to bright indirect sunlight. Too much direct sunlight scorches the foliage; too little light results in leggy plants. The best location is a spot a few feet away from a window with southern, western, or eastern exposure. 

A monstera plant placed indoors beside the window.

If your home doesn’t have a good spot with indirect light, or your plant seems to be getting leggy in the winter when there is less sun, it is beneficial to purchase a grow light. Supplementing the natural sunlight keeps your plant from getting spindly and the leaves from losing their rich green color.

Watering Frequency

Monstera plants need a little more water than the easy-natured pothos or philodendrons. They prefer consistently moist potting soil, but they do not want it to be soggy or waterlogged. Opt for a well-draining soil, so excess water drains freely and water when the top of it starts to dry out. 

Air Temperature 

Swiss Cheese plants are comfortable growing in temperatures between 65 and 80°F, similar to their native jungle atmosphere. They prefer when temperatures don’t fluctuate wildly and never expose them to temperatures below 40°F to avoid cold stress and leaf damage. To prevent this, keep them away from drafty windows, exterior doors, and furnace or air conditioning vents.

Relative Humidity

The optimum humidity level for these tropical plants is between fifty and sixty percent relative humidity when grown indoors. Honestly, this is typically more humid than the air inside most homes, especially during the winter. Plants do well in the bathroom if there is enough light, or you can raise the humidity by running a humidifier close to your plants.

Variety of indoor plants placed inside the bathroom near the window.


Since plants grow so quickly and develop large leaves, feed your Swiss Cheese plant a half dose of fertilizer every two weeks, or a full dose once a month during the spring and summer. A balanced (e.g., 20-20-20) liquid fertilizer is best. There isn’t a need to fertilizer plants during the fall and winter when growth slows down.

Pest Problems

Typical insect problems when grown as a houseplant include infestations of whitefly, mealybugs, fungus gnats, spider mites, and scale. These pests are easily treated by spraying the entire plant with insecticidal soap or neem oil. To reduce or prevent bug problems, increase air circulation through the foliage and avoid overwatering your plant.

Disease Concerns

Two disease problems occur in Swiss Cheese plants: root rot and mosaic virus. Root rot happens when overwatering creates low oxygen conditions around the roots, and soil fungi flourish. The mosaic virus spreads from plant to plant, usually via insects and appears as mottled leaf discoloration and wrinkly, deformed growth that looks like blisters. 

A closeup of a leaf with holes and discoloration.

Unfortunately, if your plant shows signs of either problem, there isn’t any treatment to reverse the disease. You can try to repot plants with root rot into sterilized containers with fresh potting soil, but once symptoms show in the foliage, the infection may have progressed too far to save the plant. Plants infected with the mosaic virus need to be discarded.

Propagating Monstera adansonii

The steps for propagating Swiss Cheese plants via stem cuttings are almost identical to philodendrons and photos, and plants propagate just as easily. Cuttings root well in both water and potting soil, allowing you to inexpensively expand your houseplant collection or clone identical plants to give to your friends, family, or neighbors.

Supplies Needed

  • Monstera adansonii plant
  • Sterilized scissors
  • Tap water
  • Glass jar or mug
  • Planting container with drainage holes
  • Potting soil or coconut coir

Prepping Stem Cuttings

  1. Choose a vine on your plant with a couple of leaf nodes and a few healthy, well-fenestrated leaves. 
  2. Using your fingernails or a pair of scissors, remove the end of the vine from the plant just below a swollen node.
  3. Remove the leaves from the piece of vine, except for one or two at the very top. Ideally, you should have at least two or three nodes on the stem cutting.
Cutting plant stems using a plant scissors.

Rooting Stem Cuttings

After prepping your stem cutting, you can put it in a container of water to root or plant it immediately into a container of potting soil or coconut coir. Both ways work well, and new roots start growing in a couple of weeks. Some people prefer putting the cuttings in water to watch the roots grow, then plant the starts.

Rooting in Growing Media

  1. Fill the container with damp potting soil or coco coir.
  2. Using your finger, create a hole in the center of the growing medium.
  3. Gently bury the stem, so some of the nodes are covered.
  4. Put the pot close to a window where it gets bright, indirect light.
  5. Keep the potting mix or coco coir slightly damp at all times without it being soggy.
A group of  baby swiss cheese plants in a small pot.

Rooting in Water

  1. Fill the clean jar or mug with water.
  2. Place the stem’s cut end into the water, ensuring the nodes and any aerial roots are submerged. 
  3. Set it where it gets bright, indirect light. 
  4. Add water as needed to keep it above the nodes.
  5. Change out the water every few days or once a week.
  6. Plant the start into a container with potting soil when the new roots are an inch long.
Growing a monstera plant on water.

Pruning Your Swiss Cheese Plant

If left to its own devices, your plant will take over any space it has available. To manage its size and keep the plant full and healthy, you should prune it periodically. Always use sterilized scissors, cutting unwanted growth or dead leaves back to the parent stem. You can propagate any healthy leaves you remove to grow new starts.

Monstera Toxicity

Monstera plants are listed by the ASPCA as toxic to small pets, but truthfully, ingestion is rarely fatal. The plant parts contain insoluble calcium oxalates; when these crystals are eaten, they irritate the mouth and throat. The irritation may also trigger excessive drooling, diarrhea, and vomiting. It is best to put plants where they aren’t easily accessible to young children and pets.

Growing Tips

  • Yellow leaves typically mean your plant is overwatered. You want the potting soil to be damp but never soggy or saturated.
A dried and dead leaf of a monstera.
  • Dry, brown leaf tips and margins are due to low humidity. Increase the relative humidity around your plant to prevent further browning.
  • Swiss cheese plants grow vines that are easy to train to grow up moss poles or a trellis. Use fabric ties to hold the plant until its aerial roots attach to the support.
  • If your plant is getting scorched, move it close to a curtained window where it gets filtered or diffused sunlight.
  • Every one to two years, repot a Swiss Cheese plant a slightly bigger container to prevent it from getting rootbound.
A monstera plant with exposed roots to be repotted.

Design Ideas

  • Plant numerous cuttings into a single container to create a full, bushy plant when propagating new starts.
Carley Miller
Carley Miller is a horticultural expert at Bustling Nest. She previously owned a landscaping business for 25 years and worked at a local garden center for 10 years.
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