Monsteras are known for their striking leaves with beautiful fenestrations and their ability to give any room a tropical, relaxed feeling. Mature plants are sought after, though they can be costly to purchase at such a large size and can take years to grow to be the sizable, picturesque plants everyone desires. Properly caring for these plants will lead to a robust plant, though this often has to start at the ground level: What soil is best for Monstera plants?
Generally speaking, Monsteras prefer a mix of well-draining soil with peat moss to aid with moisture retention. Monstera thrives in soil that is low in compost and bark, but also slightly acidic. A nutrient rich soil with a 3-1-2 or 5-2-3 NPK ratio works best for Monstera plants.
Continue reading to learn more about soil types, parameters, and conditions that will lead you to grow a gorgeous, thriving monstera plant.
“Soil” refers to the top layer of earth, which usually consists of various types of organic matter. This can be clay, sand, or any other material in which plants can grow. However, not all soil types are created equal, and many plants need specific soil types to thrive.
Native to South America, monsteras thrive in soils well-draining enough to where a heavy downpour won’t rot out the roots, though with enough moisture-retaining properties to withstand a short drought.
The ideal monstera soil mix will be well-aerated with pieces of bark or other organic matter alongside relatively equal parts of coco coir or peat moss to keep some moisture in the soil.
You don’t want heavy soils such as clay or anything too dense that can cause compaction around the roots over time. This will ultimately lead to root tissue damage, and once that happens, your plant will need some serious rehabilitation to survive.
Soil pH and Fertilizer
Soil pH and fertilizer go somewhat hand-in-hand, as the pH of the soil often determines how well your plant can absorb the nutrients within.
Monsteras thrive in more acidic soils, ranging from 5.5 to 6.5. Any higher and your plant can have trouble taking up necessary macronutrients such as potassium, which help in water transport and growth. Lacking this essential nutrient can cause your plant to dry out and stunt its growth.
For plants that are mainly foliage-based, you will want a fertilizer higher in nitrogen. This is the first number in the “NPK” set of numbers seen on fertilizers.
The second number reflects the concentration of phosphorus, which is mainly more important in flowering and fruiting plants, though your monstera will still need some amount of this nutrient. The last is potassium, which is essential for physiological functions to keep the plant alive and well.
Below is a chart of suggested NPK ratios for Monstera plants:
|NPK Ratio For Montsera Plants||Effects Of Fertilizers on Monstera Plants|
|3-2-1||Great for all-around growth|
|9-3-6||Intended for Monstera plants struggling to develop foliage|
|5-2-3||Higher nitrogen levels lead to stronger foliage for indoor and outdoor conditions|
The best pre-mixed liquid fertilizers should have the first number as the highest, the second the lowest, and the third slightly lower than the highest number. For example, any 3-1-2 or 9-3-6 NPK fertilizer will have the nutrient profile needed by your plant. 5-2-3 is also suggested if you want your monstera to have better foliage indoors and outdoors.
Dilute the fertilizer as required to not burn your plant’s foliage.
Other fertilizing methods, such as compost, bonemeal, or blood meal, can be used. These all contain the three essential macronutrients and micronutrients that will help your plant function at its best.
Temperature and Humidity
In addition to the soil parameters, it is crucial to consider the temperature your monstera is exposed to. These plants typically thrive in 65-85ºF weather and love humidity. Imagine your plant in the wild: growing densely on the forest floor and up trees, thriving beneath the canopy. You will want to replicate these conditions if you want your monstera to succeed.
Part of ensuring your plant is getting the most out of its life is making the environment for it just right. Keep your monstera away from drafts if located indoors, and provide bright but indirect or dappled light. Humidifiers can provide a steady, reliable source of humidity needed to keep your plant’s leaves healthy and lush.
DIY Soil Mixes
Since all plants have their own personal soil cocktail they prefer, you might find it helpful to buy individual soil components so you can mix your own. For monsteras, here are the ingredients needed and their ratios: 5 parts bark to 1 part peat moss or coir to 1 part perlite.
When potting up your mix, you can use a scoop to measure your “parts” so everything is roughly on the same scale. Once mixed, the texture of the soil should feel loose and aerated.
Bark that has been ground or cut into small pieces aid in keeping the soil well aerated, which is a significant part of the soil composition for tropical plants such as the monstera. This is key to keeping your soil well-draining and will be the bulk of your plant’s potting medium. Orchid bark can work in this application, as well as pine bark.
Peat Moss or Coco Coir
Peat moss is a fibrous yet spongy moss material from sphagnum moss, often harvested from swamps or bogs. Once hydrated, peat moss can retain water and nutrition that can be slowly dispersed throughout your plant’s soil.
Additionally, peat moss is acidic, which can help lower the soil pH to a more monstera-appropriate level. The downside of peat moss is that it will have decomposed by about a year or so, meaning you might need to amend your soil with more peat moss or opt for coco coir instead.
Coco coir is derived from the fibers on coconut husks and is used in the same applications as peat moss, though it is a bit more susceptible to compaction over time, whereas peat moss retains its texture in the soil for a bit longer. Either one will do the trick to keep your monstera’s soil from drying out too quickly.
Perlite is small, white pebbles that do not absorb water or nutrients and are there as an added measure of drainage and keep the soil from getting compact over time.
Worm Castings can be used in the same amount as perlite or coco coir in your soil. The benefit of using worm castings in your soil is that it gives your plant a head start in developing a relationship with good microbes that can increase your plant’s health and vigor in the long run. It also acts as an organic fertilizer for your plant.
Activated Charcoal can also be used as a decontaminant for soil, preventing root-rot bacteria and fungi from wreaking havoc on your plant. This can also be added in the same amount that you’d add perlite or the worm castings. These two are optional amendments that will help your monstera but are not required for the basic soil recipe.
Pre-mixed Soil Recommendations
If you’re not one for storing soil, or if you only have a few houseplants with similar needs, then there’s no reason not to get a pre-mixed soil. You can even add amendments without diving deep into making your own mixture. Here are a couple of pre-mixed formulas that should have most, if not all, requirements to grow your monstera.
Miracle-Gro Tropical Potting Mix
This soil is Miracle-Gro’s typical potting mix with lava rock added for drainage and aeration. While the composition of the soil might not have all the bells and whistles that one could add when preparing their own mix, the lava rock should also help keep the pH down to allow your plant to absorb the most nutrients possible.
Foxfarm Ocean Forest Garden Potting Soil
Foxfarm’s Ocean Forest Garden Potting Soil boasts many organic amendments such as worm castings, crab meal, and bat guano to provide your monstera with a built-in fertilizer. Additionally, this mix is well-aerated with sand and peat moss to aid drainage.
The downside is this mix is on the higher side of the pH scale than your monstera would prefer, coming in around 6.2-6.8. Despite the intention of being a well-draining soil, all the excess organic material (crab meal, guano) can lead to soils that stay moist for longer than preferred.
You can always pick up a bag of perlite or coco coir brick to add to the soil mixtures. This isn’t as intense as making your own, but you also don’t have to compromise with using strictly pre-made mixes.
Monsteras are only as lovely as the soil they are planted in; this is the basis for their growth. Care should be taken when choosing or mixing your own soil for these tropical plants to include well-draining and moisture-retaining components.
Checking your soil’s acidity before planting can also be a handy tool that will save you a headache in the long run when trying to figure out why your monstera isn’t performing as well as you’d hope. Soil pH meters can be purchased inexpensively online or in-store and are useful throughout the garden.
With all of these components in check, your plant will have exactly what it needs to be the monstera of your dreams.
Hi there, my name is Allie and welcome to my blog; GareningWithAllie!
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