Monstera Dubia Plant Care – Growing the Shingle Plant

Monstera Dubia

The monstera dubia is also called the shingles plant because its heart-shaped leaves rest vertically in alternating fashion. Compared to other monstera varieties, it has noticeably smaller leaves (5 inches).

But, this doesn’t take anything away from its beauty. Instead, it makes it unique. Its foliage likewise features a green background with lovely variegations.

This vining plant can grow up to 10 feet. And it will need a pole or some kind of vertical structure to go up against to look its best.

Once it matures, it will be able to flower. However, these take a backseat to its leaves.

Transformation: Small to Large Leaves

More interestingly, the plant undergoes a huge transformation at this stage. Its small heart-shaped leaves suddenly start growing. Some will reach 12 to 15 inches long.

Additionally, they will begin to develop large fenestrations (holes) in their leaves making them look more like monstera deliciosa.

Although, this takes years to happen which is why you’ll see more of the small leafed monstera dubia around.

That said, it is this very unique look is why many growers keep this plant.

 

Monstera Dubia Plant Care

Monstera Dubia Light

The monstera dubia needs bright, indirect light to prosper. But, you don’t want to leave it under direct sunlight. This means keeping its leaves away from any of the sun’s rays. If it does, move the plant farther.

Similarly, if your plant casts a shadow at any time of the day, it means it is getting direct sunlight. Again, move it.

Long periods under the direct path of the sun will scorch is leaves leaving them discolored.

However, you want to make sure that the plant stays in a bright location. That’s because too little light or complete shade will prevent it from efficiently going through photosynthesis, which is the process by which plants turn light into energy.

Inefficient photosynthesis means slower growth, smaller leaves, lack in color among other things.

As such, if you keep the plant outside, shade is key to protect it from direct sunlight. But, you want that location to still be bright.

Indoors, east or north facing windows are ideal. If you live in a cooler part of the country (or during fall and winter) you want to observe how much light the north gets. If its gets too low, you’ll need to move the plant.

The west and south facing windows are less idea. But, they work provided that you filter the light. You can do so with sheer curtains or translucent glass.

You also want to rotate the plant every so often. This gives each side enough sun for even growth and color.

If you live in an apartment or home where windows don’t get a ton of light, you can use artificial lighting instead as a supplement or on their own. Do keep the grow lights far enough because they emit heat.

Since you’ll keep them on for 14 hours or more, the heat accumulates which will eventually burn the plant’s leaves if too close.

 

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Monstera Dubia Temperature & Humidity

Monstera dubia will be happy as long as the temperature stays between 60 and 85 degrees Fahrenheit. This makes the plant a good fit for most homes which have conditions within this range.

This means if you live in USDA zones 9b to 11, you can grow the plant outdoors all year round. This gives you the option to grow it in the ground in the garden. Or, in a pot in the patio or porch.

Keep in mind that the plant is not frost hardy. As such, if you live below zone 9b, you’ll want to bring it indoors around fall before the weather drops under 60 degrees. Otherwise, it won’t get past the winter outdoors.

When it comes to humidity, you want to keep the level above 50%. The plant is used to humid conditions so will do better as the moisture in the air goes up. But, since most homes average around 40% to 50%, you’ll want to at least maintain the minimum.

In case your homes humidity doesn’t get to 50%, the simplest thing your can do to keep your monstera dubia happy is to mist it. However, this takes diligence as you need to do it at least a few times a week, every week for the entire year. Any missed sessions affects it growth.

Thus, grouping it with other plants or keeping it on top of pebbles in a water tray are two other more “hands-off” methods that work.

You can likewise you a humidifier if you wish.

 

Watering Monstera Dubia

When watering your monstera dubia, allow the top 1 to 2 inches of soil to dry out before watering again. On average, this often takes between 7 to 10 days.

But, be aware that you’ll be watering more frequently in the summer and much less so in the winter. One factor is weather. Hotter conditions cause water to evaporate faster. Cold does the opposite.

Similarly, the plat goes through its growing phase during spring and summer. During this time it will need more water and fertilizer. On the other hand, it goes dormant in the winter. Thus, much less water and no fertilizer is needed.

Thus, the best way to water your monstera dubia is to test it before watering. Here, I’ve found 3 methods that work very well.

  • Moisture meter. This is the easiest and most accurate. Stick the device into the soil and check the digital reading. Because it gives you exact numbers, after a while you know which level works and doesn’t. So, all you need to do is target that optimum level and water when the moisture meter hits that level. This is the best method for beginners.
  • Use your finger. Sticking your finger into the soil up to about 2 inches deep. If it is dry, it is time to water. If it is still moist, wait a day or two more. This takes experience and trial and error. But, once you get the hang of it, it becomes easier.
  • Lift the plant. Wet soil is heavy. Dry soil is light. Again, this takes some getting used to. But, after a while, you can tell when the soil is still moist or when it is dry enough.

All said, never let the soil completely dry before watering. However, overwatering is more dangerous.

Both ultimately lead to your plant getting dehydrated and dying.

Lack of water will cause your plant to wilt and its leaf tips to turn brown. After a while, it becomes hydrated if kept dry long enough. Over time, it will slowly die. However, this takes a long time. And, once you water it perks up by the next day.

Overwatering is worse because sitting water causes root rot. This damages, then destroys the plant’s roots. When this happens, plant cannot absorb water, nutrients from the soil or fertilizer. As such, it will starve and get dehydrated. End result is death also.

However, once there is root rot, it is harder to for the plant to recover. And, the more extensive the rotting, of the root system, the less likely it will be able to come back.

 

Soil

From the previous section, you can already guess that the plant needs well-draining soil. This is to avoid overwatering. Heavy soil will retain way too much moisture causing its roots to sit in water.

So, even if you don’t overwater, its retention capability will keep the soil waterlogged. Thus, increasing the risk of root rot.

That said, you also want to avoid sandy soil or any type of soil that drains way too quickly. This will not give the plant enough time to absorb water and nutrients.

To create this combination, you have a few options.

  • Use a high quality commercial potting mix from the store. Then add perlite to improve drainage.
  • Make your own mix. You can use peat moss (for retention), perlite (for drainage) and add some orchid back for good measure (drainage as well).

In addition to water retention and drainage, your monstera dubia also likes fertile soil. As such, if you use standard potting soil, do check to see if it comes with fertilizer. if so, then you don’t need to feed the plant till the dose runs out.

Otherwise, if there is no fertilizer or you use the substrates above (which have no nutrients), you need to make sure to feed your plant, which I discuss in depth in the next section).

Soil with pH of between 5 to 7.5 works best as well.

 

Fertilizing

Use liquid houseplant fertilizer diluted to half strength when feeding the plant. Your monstera dubia is a light feeder so you don’t have to give it a lot. In fact, it only needs to be fed thrice a year.

As such, be careful not to overfeed it. Without fertilizer, the plant will grow very slowly.

It is also worth noting that since the plant isn’t a fast grower, it can be tempting to add more fertilizer to help it along. However, this is not a good idea since the added salt buildup will increase the risk of root burn.

 

Monstera Dubia Pruning

You don’t need to do a lot of pruning on your monstera dubia.

Remove any damaged or dead leaves as they will rob the plant of its resources. Trimming these will likewise encourage fresh growth.

Similarly you can prune it to control its shape and size.

 

Propagation

If you want to grow more monstera dubia, all you need to do is propagate it. Here, you have a few options. The easiest of which is stem cutting.

The best time to do this is during spring. This allows the plant to quickly recover and start growing again. You also don’t want to do it when the climate is too hot or too cold. Winter is the worst time to do so since the plant is at rest.

monstera dubia

source: wikimedia commons

How to Propagate Monstera Dubia from Stem Cuttings

  • Before you begin, have a few things prepared. This includes sterilized pruning shears, a jar of water if you want to root it in water, fresh potting mix, a small pot to plant the cutting.
  • To get started, choose a stem to cut. You want an healthy stem that’s about 4 to 6 inches long with at least 2 or 3 leaves on it.
  • If you’re staring in water, remove the bottom leaves that will be submerged into the water. Then insert the stem cutting into the jar. Change the water as it begins to get murky.
  • After 3 to so weeks you’ll see roots develop from the stem end.
  • Wait till they get to about an inch long or a little more. Then, transfer to a small container with fresh potting soil.
  • If you want to go straight to soil, skip the watering part.
  • Dip the stem end into rooting hormone.
  • Then, plant the stem cutting into fresh potting soil.
  • use a skewer and stake it into the soil to provide the cutting with support to stand upright.
  • After a while, it will start rooting. Then, you’ll start seeing it grow.
  • Water the soil and keep the plant in a warm, humid place with bright indirect, light.

 

Monstera Dubia Transplanting & Repotting

You only need to repot your monstera dubia once it outgrows its containers. The sure sign of this is when the roots start coming out of the pot’s holes.

You don’t want to keep pot bound for too long because this affects growth. Similarly, being kept in a tight space will cause the plant stress. And, this will make it more susceptible to pests and diseases.

Also, the more room you give the plant’s roots to grow, the taller it will get. However, you want to be careful with too much space. More soil means more water when wet. As such, too large a container will increase the risk of it sitting in water. It likewise stresses the plant.

Another thing worth mentioning since the plant is a climber, it is a good idea to have a pole or some kind of vertical structure to allow to it go up.

 

Toxicity

As with many monstera plants, the dubia is toxic. It is a good idea to keep it away from young children, dogs and cats. Ingesting the plant can cause irritation and swelling. Although, it is not deadly.

 

Pests and Diseases

The monstera dubia is fairly stress free when it comes to pests and diseases. This isn’t always the case with all houseplants.

However, you do want to keep an eye out for scale and spider mites who happen to like attacking the plant. Regular inspection, especially under the leaves will allow you to spot them or their damage early.

Once you see them treat with insecticidal soap or neem oil.

When it comes to diseases, root rot is the main issue. But, it can be completely prevented by proper watering and using well-draining soil.

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