Swiss Cheese Plant
Named after the naturally occurring holes in its leaves, the tropical “Swiss Cheese Vine” is native to Central and South America. This indoor staple has green vining foliage that can climb up a moss pole or trail down as a lush curtain. In the wild, the vines are known to grow up to 20 feet long!
Despite the size that Monstera adansonii can amass to, this houseplant can thrive in terrarium life. As an added bonus, if it starts to overgrow and crowd the space, you can take trim back the growth and propagate the cuttings to multiply your Monstera! Overall, this plant addition is a great fit for beginners and a wonderful addition to add leaf contrast into your terrarium.
At a Glance
Where to Buy Swiss Cheese Plant
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Terrarium Plant Guide
Monstera adansonii Care & Growth
This Monstera adansonii requires medium indirect light. Too little light leads to yellow leaves or “leggy” foliage stretching to reach the sun. Too much light will cause the leaves to burn. It can be tricky to find this plant’s desired sweet spot for lighting. Luckily, in all other regards, this is overall an easy plant to care for.
Despite being a tropical plant, this variety only needs to be watered when the soil is dry. Rather than allotting a small amount of water every now and then, use the “feast-or-famine” method to fully and thoroughly water this plant only when the soil feels dry. The amount of water this plant needs is proportional to light and temperature level. Wintertime calls for less watering, and vice versa for summer.
Overwatering also poses a threat to the foliage, so it is important to add a drainage layer to the bottom of the terrarium, such as rocks or charcoal. If the top of the soil feels moist to the touch, it is not yet time to water. For these reasons, the Swiss Cheese Plant is a perfect companion for other terrarium plants that enjoy dry soil, less frequent watering, and high humidity.
These Monsteras will thrive in a well-draining mixture of coco coir, perlite, bark, and charcoal. For such a vigorous grower, I’d recommend supplementing with some extra worm castings to provide the necessary bionutrients.
Temperature & Humidity
As a plant with true tropical origins, Monstera adansonii is not clearly not cold hardy. The ideal temperature range is between 55-85°F (13-27°C). As a rule of thumb, the absolute minimum temperature a tropical plant can tolerate is 50°F (10°C). These jungle-originating plants require at least 50% humidity to thrive, so avoid placing near drafty windows or drying heat vents. A warm and humid terrarium will make the perfect home!
As a vining plant, the tendency for this plant is to grow relatively quick and with long sprawling foliage. Trimming back this plant can not only control the size, but allow the leaves and stems to grow stronger. They also tend not to mind being cramped and cozied in, so don’t worry if you think your terrarium might be too small!
This Swiss Cheese Vine is a propagation champion! To propagate, take cuttings with at least one node and at least one leaf, then place in water or soil to grow roots. For water propagation, change the water frequently and monitor roots to avoid root rot. For soil propagation, keep the soil moist but not waterlogged until evidence of roots emerges.
Varieties & Similar Plants
There are many plants in the Monstera family that are suited for terrarium life. The most expensive relative is the rare but similar looking Monstera obliqua. More affordable and feasible alternatives include the Monstera siltepecana, another vining plant that has occasional holes in the leaves, and the Rhapidophora tetraspemera, also called Monstera minima, which is a well-loved houseplant that can live in larger terrariums.
The most popular of the various types of Monstera in the family is by far the Monstera deliciosa, a large tropical houseplant with mature split leaves, a tendency to trail and vine despite its large size, and its overall spa-like feel it brings to a space. Unfortunately, Monstera deliciosa is much too large for a terrarium, but still remains the “posterchild” of the Monstera family due to its popularity among tropical houseplants.
Besides the possibility of spider mites or mealybugs, the Monstera adansonii can be difficult to read. For example, the leaves can turn yellow when the plant is overwatered, but can also mean the plant is lacking nutrients or light. If the plant is receiving too much light, leaves can also turn yellow and crispy brown. If they are not satisfied with the proper growing conditions, they can be a bit fussy. However, don’t let this scare you away, as the Swiss Cheese Vine is mostly low maintenance plant that adds a positive presence to your terrarium!