Monstera lechleriana is a tropical, evergreen vine that takes its name from its “monstrous” leaves. The enormous, pointed heart-shaped leaves of Monstera are famous for their slatted ventilation holes, seemingly cut out at random like a child’s shadow toy.
These distinctive holes are an adaptation to where sunlight hits the plant. In their native rainforest, this habit allows Monstera lechleriana to spread over large areas to access more sunlight while using less energy.
A moss pole will provide support for its weak stem in your home while also contributing the essential humidity to which this plant is accustomed in its native Mexico and Panama.
A curious feature of lechleriana is that the plant roots in soil but also has aerial roots, which hook over branches of other rainforest trees. Indoors, you need to place these roots either back into the soil or the moss pole, to provide the damp moisture this plant loves.
Lechleriana rarely flowers indoors but occasionally in summer greenhouses, you may be surprised by a beautiful, spiky, white flower followed by a bunch of white berries. If your plant is in a warm conservatory, you may be lucky!
Remember that Monstera lechleriana is toxic although its relation, the Monstera deliciosa does produce edible fruit.
Featured images by JaciPlants from Etsy.
- Light: Bright indirect sunlight
- Water: Only water when the top inch of the soil is dry
- Soil: Rich soil, with organic matter
- Fertilizer: Once every two months, only during the growing season
- Size: In the wild, can grow up to 7 m (22 ft) tall; as a houseplant, usually up to 1 m
- Size: Leaves grow up to 10” (25 cm) long
- Temperature: Between 55 and 80°F (12.7 and 26.7°C)
- Humidity: 40-50% minimum humidity but raise to 60% if possible
- Cold hardy: Not frost hardy
- Propagation: By stem cuttings
- Toxicity: Mildly toxic to humans and animals
General Care for Monstera lechleriana
Monstera lechleriana has a dormant period from November to March when you can water your plant less frequently. Keep the soil moist but never waterlogged. Allow to dry out between watering.
In the active growing season from April to October, soak the root ball completely when you water. Then allow the soil to dry out before watering the plant again. Make sure to drain away any excess water to avoid root rot.
The general rule for watering this plant is that you only want to water it when the top inch of the soil is dry.
Do not place your Monstera lechleriana in direct sunlight because the leaves may burn. The plant tolerates light shade to moderate brightness but prefers a window with diffused, indirect light.
You can also provide artificial lighting if you do not have a sunny window.
You can place a cloth over a south-facing window and position your plant quite close but protected from direct sun.
Lechleriana needs moist but well-drained soil. It benefits from some organic matter too. Think about that tropical rainforest, where is a lot of leaf fall for plants to feed on.
Some growers swear by adding root bark to the soil as a slow-release fertilizer while others disagree saying it deters growth. Another possible soil addition is activated charcoal added to the base of the pot, which helps to keep root rot at bay.
Ensure that there is good drainage, whether you use charcoal or not.
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Monstera lechleriana needs a strong pot because not only does it grow rapidly, it also needs support indoors. Remember that in the rainforest, this plant is a climber, winding its way around other trees, as a climbing vine.
This plant tends to grow top-heavy and overbalance so ensure the plant is firmly attached to a moss pole for support. It is important to check the roots frequently, as they quickly outgrow pots.
When you spot new root growth at the end of the pot, it is time to give your Monstera new soil and a bigger pot. You should replace the pot with a bigger size and soil at least every 2 years.
Lechleriana will benefit greatly from feeding and it will reward you with leafy dark green foliage with slatted patterned holes. Give it 3 feeds annually but only in the growing period in summer, never in winter.
Unfertilized, the leaves lose some luster but when fertilized, the large leaves will appear dark and glossy, adding glamour to your indoor space.
If you are lucky enough to spot a flower spike, then fertilize the Monstera quickly and you may be lucky enough to see the white spiked bloom.
Monstera lechleriana will tolerate 40-50% minimum humidity but if you can, raise the humidity to 60%, because this plant adores moisture. You can also use a humidifier for really healthy, green leaves.
Some growers like to place their Monstera lechleriana in a pot on a saucer with pebbles, to increase humidity.
You can help by wiping the leaves down regularly with a clean, damp cloth, keeping an eye out for any pests at the same time.
Using a moss pole will increase humidity and you can re-plant the aerial roots into the moss. They can then extract water from the damp moss and this will help to recreate the plant’s natural environment of moist, tropical forest.
If you place your plant in a moist room in your home e.g. the kitchen or bathroom, your Monstera plant will benefit from the warm, damp air and will reward you with shiny, large leaves.
It is important to keep your lechleriana plant between 60 and 80°F (15 – 26°C). Keep a close eye on your plant, because if the atmosphere is drafty or excessively cold, the leaves may not develop the holes for which they are well-known.
The same is true if the air is too dry; these plants love tropical moisture as well as heat. Regulate the temperature as this plant is unforgiving and the holes will not show in the leaves of an unhappy Monstera.
Particularly in winter, when the heating is off at night time, the minimum temperature the plant will tolerate is 55°F but ideally, switch the thermometer a bit higher!
This plant grows super quickly with the correct soil, light, and water and you can reduce its size by pruning the growing tip regularly.
You can use these pruned shoots to propagate new plants. If your Monstera lechleriana develops yellow leaves, cut these off the plant to improve its appearance visually. See possible causes for yellowing of leaves below.
Red spider mites adore the leaves of Monstera lechleriana and a sure sign that your plant is infected with the pest is that leaves turn yellow with brown spots.
Wipe all the leaves down with a damp cloth soaked in soap, at the first sign of these pests. Red spider mites cannot survive the damp, because they favor dry conditions.
Scale insects also fancy the gorgeous leaves of Monstera. Using a damp cloth and scrubbing at the insects is hard work but it needs to be done to keep your Monstera lechleriana happy. Ensure that you remove them all or they will continue to feed on your plant.
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Root rot can occur in Monstera if the plant is pot-bound or over-watered. Good drainage is the best way to avoid root rot.
Check the roots frequently – if they are trying to exit the pot, it is time for a new one! Give it more space when you transplant and fill it with new soil.
The roots should look white or creamy white. If roots have brown or black parts, smell bad, or look rotten, carefully cut away these brown or black parts of the roots with a clean, sharp pair of pruning shears. Clean the blade after each cut to avoid spreading the disease.
Discard these discolored roots. Allow the plant to dry for a few hours before placing it back in the new pot in new soil.
Stem rot disease is caused by too much moisture and too little heat. It looks like a dark brown section on the stem and sometimes smells bad.
Remove the diseased parts of the roots with sterilized scissors or pruning shears and discard the brown stem parts. It is wise to also take cuttings of the growing tip at the same time, in case the plant is in trouble!
Re-pot your Monstera lechleriana in dry, clean soil, and keep the compost dry and warm until it recovers.
How to Propagate Monstera lechleriana (stem cuttings)
Choose a healthy growing tip and cut just below an aerial root with sharp scissors or a pair of pruning shears.
Choose a stem with 2-3 leaves at least. Plant this cutting in a small pot with new soil.
Wait for about 8-10 days and keep watering generously, but do not waterlog the pot. Once you notice new foliage growing, you know the cutting is successful.
Check carefully for root growth after 3-4 weeks. It can take about 3-4 weeks for your plant to start growing roots.
Why are the leaves of my Monstera lechleriana turning yellow?
Yellow leaves are often caused by overwatering. If this is the case, dry the plant out for a while!
If only lower leaves are yellow and they also have brown spots, this is caused by underwatering. Give your Monstera a thorough soaking, drain away any excess and then establish a regular watering regime.
If the leaves are straw-colored yellow, the cause maybe too much direct sunlight. Check the location and move the plant if needs be.
Old leaves turn yellow as they age and drop. This is a perfectly normal part of growth so don’t worry! Check for disease as a possible cause too – see stem rot, root rot, or pests.
Is Monstera lechleriana rare?
Famous for its elongated split leaves and its aerial roots, Monstera lechleriana is valued in every plant collector’s house. There are over 45 varieties of Monstera worldwide so it is not very rare but every house should have one of these elegant plants.
The rare Variegated Monstera Adansonii version sells at extremely high prices. This is a member of the Monstera family which is related to our plant. Although it is very similar to Monstera lechleriana they are not the same.
What is the average price of Monstera Lechleriana?
On average, a 4” pot with a tiny cutting of Monstera Lechleriana can sell from $15 to $60 (excluding postage). For bigger plants supplied with a moss pole, the price can jump to $220.
Other factors affecting the price include the plant’s age and its overall size. Some variegated versions of the monstera plant sell for much higher than this (over $1000). These are rare offers, which have been propagated by individual growers.
Monstera lechleriana vs Monstera epipremnoides (differences and similarities).
These plants resemble each other. Some differences include:
Color of the leaves: The leaves of epipremnoides are a much lighter green color than lechleriana.
The texture of the leaves of epipremnoides feels like leather; they certainly have a more solid feel than the leaves of lechleriana.
The shape of the holes: Finally, the holes in epipremnoides leaves have a distinctive look, almost teardrop-shaped, which often appear close to the edge of the leaf. The leaves of lechleriana have longer, thinner holes close to the vein and extending to the edges of the plant.
Is Monstera lechleriana toxic?
Yes. The leaves are mildly toxic if nibbled but if consumed in large quantities symptoms can include nausea, diarrhea, and burning sensation in the mouth and throat. As a general rule, keep this plant well away from crawling toddlers and curious pets, which tend to nibble things. If eaten, seek medical advice!
Why do the leaves of my Monstera lechleriana not have holes?
The new leaves of lechleriana never have holes! They develop slowly in mature leaves, provided that the air is moist, warm, and not in a draft. So keep your plant out of cold temperatures and ensure the humidity level is correct to enjoy the distinctive holes in your Monstera lechleriana plant.
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