I’ve heard you all loud and clear. I have not nearly provided as many updates as I should! Especially when it comes to my group of Monstera deliciosa seedlings that I planted back in September 2017. As I write this now in October 2018, these one-year-old seedlings are larger and more vigorous than expected. I’ve given a couple away to friends, but I’ve largely guarded them for myself. Originally I grew them both for general curiosity and with the intention that I would eventually sell them. I kept telling myself, “just a bit larger and I can sell them,” “maybe when they get their first fenestration (split leaf).” And as they hit their various milestones, I become more and more attached. Maybe I’m just sentimental, but the price wouldn’t nearly cover all the time I’ve spent cultivating them. So, for now, they’ll remain with me (email me if you’ve got another aroid you’d like to trade!). Honestly, this is mostly an excuse to grow more from seed…
In this blog, I will cover everything that has occurred since my last update when they were 6 months old. This includes an update on their growth timeline, questions about finding Monstera seeds, plant staking, and my method for watering and fertilizing, and the First Annual Monstera Awards.
3 Weeks old
One month old
5 Months old
10 Months old – front view
13 Months old
Many of the questions I receive on Instagram or via email relate to sourcing or identifying Monstera deliciosa seeds. I hope to have inspired many others to try their hand at growing these beautiful plants from seeds. But please be aware: many online seed vendors are selling FAKE Monstera deliciosa seeds. I’ve seen cases where people are being sold grass seed and told they’ll grow into Monsteras. I originally bought my seeds from a vendor on Amazon, and I got lucky. Since then, I’ve gone to purchase more, and the vendor is no longer selling them. All good things must end!
In case you’ve bought some seeds from a vendor and would like to verify if you’ve got valid seeds, here is my description of the seeds.
The seeds are about the size of a kernel of corn. They often have a bit of their paper-like casing left on them. They are not small, relatively speaking, and are usually a beige to dark brown color. They also are about the size of a coffee bean.
Rest assured, I am working on sourcing Monstera deliciosa seeds so that readers of my blog can purchase them from me and be assured they’re purchasing valid seeds. I will make an announcement when I’ve secured them!
As you can see, I’ve had to stake all of the Monsteras. This is for a couple of reasons. First, so they do not flop around. I often worried about the structural integrity of the main stem as these large leaves flopped from side-to-side as I would move them for watering. Second, I do not have the space for them to grow horizontally. Third, they simply look better staked. They look more neat and tidy, and if you’re keeping aroids as house plants, it’s nice to have them display well. It is quite distressing to see big, beautiful foliage on it’s side, even if the plant itself is quite happy.
Upon the suggestions of others in the plant community, I started using these adjustable Velcro plant ties and they are AMAZING (you can see the ties in the photo above). They are exactly as they sound and they work great. They’re sturdy enough to hold a decently sized stem and you can always adjust the size of the plant tie as the stem gets larger. They also do not harm the plant tissue or cut into the stem. Well worth the few dollars it costs. The one I’ve linked to is also green, so it blends in well with the stems.
As I often say, there is no single right way to do anything when it comes to plants and horticulture. Reject any philosophy that claims to be the single way to do something. This is the method I’ve been using to water my 20+ Monsteras. It was necessitated by the quantity of plants, but it could be used in other situations. Here are the supplies I use to water. I hope you find them as useful as I have
This is a general purpose fertilizer, good for overall foliage growth. Avoid fertilizer with a high phosophorous number for indoor foliage plants (the middle number, which is good if you’re growing flowering plants).
To achieve a specific pH, you must use liquid pH conditioners. Use very little as these are concentrated.
Consider using a general purpose liquid seaweed (kelp) that provides nutrients, minerals, and helps the performance of stressed plants.
The analog pH testers are simply too difficult and unreliable. Cut the hassle and try this–it’s one of my favorite tools I use for gardening as it gives accurate and quick readings.
- I fill a large tub with tepid water, enough to nearly submerge an entire pot, but not quite.
- I add general purpose fertilizer (for vigorous foliage growth, find a fertilizer with an NPK that emphasizes nitrogen [the first number] and avoid high phosphorous).
- Add a liquid seaweed extract, also referenced as sea kelp. Seaweed extract provides a number of trace elements vital to plant health. It is also an organic fertilizer and seems to help alleviate plant stress, especially after replanting.
- With all your additives mixed in, check your pH with a digital monitor to make sure your water isn’t overly basic or acidic. There are test strips you can use, but they tend to be messy and inaccurate. Water in Austin is VERY alkaline, with a pH somewhere around 9.5. I bring that down to a neutral to slightly acidic range of 6.0-6.9. A more neutral pH helps the plant absorb the nutrients in the soil.
- Finally, I dunk the plants and leave them to soak for a good 15 minutes or until the soil is fully wet. This may take longer if your soil has become hydrophobic.
This is a cost effective method of providing nutrients to your plants, because before I would have to mix several batches of fertilized water. Now I just create one batch and nothing goes to waste. I will go through this process every 2–3 weeks (2 weeks in the summer, 3 weeks or more otherwise). After I water the Monsteras, I usually go around the house and grab any thirsty houseplants and give them the same treatment.
This method is not without any problems. I’ve noticed that I have some mildew/mold on the surface of the soil on a few Monsteras. These tend to be on the Monsteras that are not exhibiting as much growth and use less water. To combat this, I am working on spacing out watering a little more, at least on the affected plants, so the soil completely dries. I’ve also considered spraying some neem oil on the surface, which acts like a fungicide.
First Annual Monstera deliciosa Awards Ceremony
The All-Star Award
As you can see, this Monstera has grown incredibly well. It was either the first to have a leaf fenestration or soon after. The newest leaf is stunningly large with a strong stem supporting the leaf. I assume that this plant will continue to lead the way in growth. I think I will wait until next spring to replant.
The Runt Award
Because here at Baetanical, we are an equal opportunity grower. This is the smallest Monstera of the bunch. The leaves are smaller than its counterparts. It has less aerial roots, and overall just seems stunted. I’ve provided the same exact care as the All-Star, but now, because the other Monsteras are growing faster, I have to make sure the smaller plants have equal access to the window (some of the more aggressive Monsteras extend their leaves over the smaller ones).
Longest Aerial Root Award
I know many readers have plants with enormously long aerial roots, but this is the longest one that I have. You can trim them with no harm to the plant, but I quite like them.
Oddest Aerial Root Award
I love when plants do unexpected things. In this case, I noticed a small root sticking out of the bottom of the pot. I picked up the Monstera and was shocked to see this aerial root had grown out of the bottom of a drainage hole and grown along the groove of the pot. I won’t intervene, mostly because I want to know where this goes!
Anyway that’s it for now! I’ll try to provide another update sooner rather than later.