Most people know about Monstera deliciosa, the most common monstera houseplant, but Monstera obliqua is for true enthusiasts. You won’t walk into your local gardening center and find a real one potted up and ready to take home – they’re quite rare in comparison to their Swiss cheese plant cousins. If you’re interested in trying your hand with one, you’ll likely have to seek out a fellow collector or private grower.
Their rarity isn’t their only difference. Monstera obliqua is a finicky, difficult plant best suited for those willing to invest energy and money into it. However, if you’re willing to put in the work to keep this plant happy, you’ll be richly rewarded with one of the most interesting and intricate monstera varieties out there!
|Common Name||Window-leaf Monstera|
|Botanical Name||Monstera obliqua|
|Native Areas||Central and South America|
|Sun/Light Requirements||Bright, indirect light (highly intolerant of direct light)|
|Watering||Moderately, when the top of the soil is dry|
|Soil||Slightly acidic, well-aerated, and well-draining|
|Hardiness Zones||USDA zones 10 to 12|
Perforate or fenestrate leaves are the hallmark trait of monsteras – it’s just a question of degrees. If you happen to spot a Monstera obliqua in a gardening center, look closely at the leaves and you’ll likely discover that you’re seeing a Monstera adansonii instead. A true Monstera obliqua has such a high degree of perforation that it’s more hole than leaf, making it notably different from other monstera varieties.
Think of the Monstera obliqua leaf as a piece of lace that has been stretched apart. There’s so much open space in the leaf that it’s rendered delicate and fragile. At its most extreme, Monstera obliqua is around 90% hole, which doesn’t leave much of the ‘leaf’ part around. Still, that remaining 10% sports the same vivid, healthy green color of most monstera varieties.
They’re not quite as tall as many other monstera types, either. Given how large monsteras grow, though, that doesn’t exactly mean it’s stunted. Monstera obliqua still grows to around four feet tall as a houseplant and over six feet high in its natural habitat. In other words, don’t expect to tuck this one onto a window sill.
If you’re serious about getting your own Monstera obliqua, buckle in for this section. There are a lot of plants out there labeled as difficult to care for, and this one firmly belongs in that category. Still, true plant lovers and collectors can be gluttons for punishment, especially when the reward is as high as a well-cared-for Monstera obliqua and its fascinating leaves.
The Monstera obliqua is unsurprisingly delicate, given how little of the plant is actually leaf at all. It’s incredibly sensitive to direct light and its leaves are easily burned and damaged. With that said, it does prefer bright, indirect light, and it needs a lot of it!
Because there’s so little surface area on its leaves, there isn’t as much chlorophyll and the plant has to work hard to get the energy it needs. Ensure it’s placed somewhere with several hours of bright, indirect light each day but receives no direct light. Its tolerance for it is incredibly low. A south-side facing window is ideal, but make sure your plant isn’t right in front of it. If you choose to use grow lights, Monster obliqua can be burned by those, too, so carefully monitor their use.
Failure to meet its light requirements (as in, not giving it enough indirect light) results in wilting, yellowing leaves, and stunted growth. If you had any dreams of propagating your monstera, consider them dashed if it’s kept in inadequate lighting.
These are tropical plants and they’re accustomed to a lot of heavy rainfall in their natural habitats, which means their watering requirements are quite high. Still, like everything with the Monstera obliqua, proceed with caution and careful monitoring.
The best way to know when it’s time to water is by performing the finger test. If the top of the soil is dry on top but slightly damp a couple of inches lower, it’s time to water. If the soil is moist throughout, hold off for a bit longer. Overwatering can quickly cause root rot to set in, and this delicate plant won’t hold up against that for long.
If you see yellowing at the base of the plant, near where the soil sits, you’re probably overwatering. Give the soil a chance to dry out before adding more!
Well-draining soil is crucial for the Monstera obliqua. You’ll want a mixture that is well-aerated and provides the kind of nutrients your plant needs. Given how fragile this particular plant is, it’s best to make your own mixture rather than going with something store-bought. You’ll know precisely what’s going into it and can make adjustments as needed. If you can’t make your mix, there are commercial monstera blends available that are suitable for Monstera obliqua.
Peat moss, shredded bark, perlite, charcoal, and compost or potting soil are all fantastic options when making monstera soil. This plant prefers slightly acidic soil, though not too acidic. Keep the pH around 5.5 to 6.5 for the best results.
Take care to ensure your mix isn’t too dense and hard-packed – it will leave Monstera obliqua’s roots struggling.
In keeping with its tropical origins, Monstera obliqua thrives in homes between 65-85℉ but will do better with things on the warmer side of that scale. Most household temperatures will be fine, however, as long as it doesn’t come into contact with cold drafts. Tropical plants in general shouldn’t be exposed to temperatures too far below 60℉.
Maintaining proper humidity levels is one of the most critical aspects of owning a Monstera obliqua. These jungle-dwellers need around 85% humidity, which means you’re going to have to put in some work. Daily misting with room-temperature water or setting up a humidifier nearby will help maintain the right levels. If you have other plants in your collection that require (or at least tolerate) similar humidity levels, situate them near the Monstera obliqua to retain humidity.
A lack of humidity, or humidity that’s too low, will destroy this plant. You’ll see its leaves begin to curl and dry out in a fairly short period of time. Neglecting humidity levels long enough can even kill the plant. If you’re serious about keeping a Monstera obliqua in your home (or really any tropical plants), it’s time to invest in a hygrometer to measure humidity levels. They take out the guesswork and, in this case, can save your very rare plant.
You won’t need a lot of fertilizer for this plant. Slow-release formulas are your best bet or use a standard formula diluted to half strength and administered just once a month. There are monstera fertilizers on the market which are viable options, too. It’s better to under-fertilize than over-fertilize for Monstera obliqua, as it gets plenty of nutrients from its rich soil mixture.
Because Monstera obliqua is a slow grower, they don’t require a lot of pruning. If there’s leggy growth or dead and decaying leaves, you can remove them with a pair of clean pruning sheers. Given how difficult this plant is to care for, there’s no reason to remove its hard-earned leaves.
Monstera obliqua is expensive and rare, so if you’re fortunate enough to own one and keep it alive, you’ll want to propagate it at some point. The easiest method is to take and root a stem cutting.
To do so, remove a sizable piece of stem containing at least three nodes. Place it cut-side down into peat-based soil, sprinkle it with water, and keep it in a moist, humid environment. You can even cover it with a glass container to create a sort of terrarium. That isn’t necessary, but the humidity is.
In five to six weeks, your cutting will start to take root and begin the slow process of becoming a mature Monstera obliqua.
Pests and Disease
Since this plant has such delicate leaves, it cannot stand up well to pests. Spider mites, scale bugs, and whiteflies are common foes, and Monstera obliqua is susceptible to the handful of diseases below.
- Mosaic virus
- Root rot
- Leaf scorch
It’s no surprise that the care instructions in this guide were extensive. After all, anyone who knows the Monstera obliqua is aware that it needs a great deal of attention. Most plants need some form of TLC, but this beauty takes it a step further. It requires pampering.
Still, successfully keeping this plant alive and thriving is a reward in and of itself. Monstera enthusiasts and plant collectors continue to try their hand at it for the sake of having this stunning, unique plant in their homes. If you’re up to the task – give it a try! Just don’t forget to brag when you succeed.