THE GREEN GIANT
“Moderation is a fatal thing. Nothing succeeds like excess” Oscar Wilde
Swiss cheese plant, Monstera deliciosa
This well-known houseplant comes from the tropical rainforests of Central America, where it climbs up trees and produces aerial roots. It has long been prized as a houseplant for its gigantic bottle-green leaves, which develop holes as the plant matures, in a process known as fenestration. ‘Variegata’ has mottled green and white leaves: an unusual colouring that makes this variety highly sought-after and expensive. Monstera needs lots of space and has a tendency to sprawl, but it can be trained up a mossy pole or pruned to keep under control. This plant is toxic to humans and pets. Height 6½ft (2m); spread 8ft (2.5m).
Conditions: Above 18°C. It should be positioned away from cold draughts and prefers bright light, but it will take a bit of shade. It should be misted regularly, and the leaves wiped to keep them dust-free, so that they can absorb more light. Watering: The compost should be allowed to dry out in between each watering.
Feeding: A monthly application of liquid houseplant fertiliser is recommended from April to September.
Propagation: A stem is removed from the parent plant just below a leaf node, ideally with a couple of leaves. Aerial roots are also helpful, but not essential. The cutting is placed in a clean jar of water, so that the node and any aerial roots are submerged. The jar is then placed somewhere warm and bright, but out of direct sun. The water should be refreshed every two to three days. Once roots have developed and are approximately 3-4in (8-10cm) long, the cutting can be potted up using houseplant compost.