Monstera Obliqua (Swiss Cheese Vine) Plant Care Guide

Monstera Obliqua

The monstera obliqua is one of those very sought after plants because of its looks. More importantly, it is its rarity that makes it something collectors dream of having.

A Real Monstera Obliqua is Rare and Very Expensive

Unfortunately, unless you’re very well connected or have friends who have amazing plant collections, it is very difficult to get your hands on the monstera obliqua.

In most cases, you’ll be able to procure one from a collector. There are likewise one or two shops that sell the true monstera obliqua.

If you do find one, be prepared to shell out quite a bit of cash. You’ll likely need to spend at least $2,500 for someone to part ways with their plant.

If you do find something less expensive, in many cases much cheaper, it likely isn’t a monstera obliqua. Instead, it is likely mislabeled. The monstera adansonii is often taken for the monstera obliqua because they look similar. But, it costs much cheaper.

So, always be wary of low prices.

 

Appearance

As with other monstera plants, the obliqua is a foliage plant. And, a very pretty one at that.

It is important to note that there are a few variations of it. And, each will have a different look to it depending on which country in Central or South America it comes from.

The most popular of these is the monstera obliqua from Peru. It is known for its naturally large holes in its leaves such that majority of the leaves are holes with less flesh.

Its look is so unique making it highly sought after. And, because it is the monstera obliqua often seen, many people describe the plant as having leaves with mostly holes.

But, that’s not the case.

In fact, most monstera obliqua (about 80%) don’t have holes in their leaves, which are called fenestrations. One example is the one from Bolivia.

In addition to ‘Peru’ and ‘Bolivia’, there are also ‘Suriname’ and ‘Panama’.

The plant is known for its beautiful leaves. These all look different but very attractive nevertheless.

More interestingly, the plant grows very differently in its natural habitat able to get a 5 to 10 feet tall with ease. Such is not the case as a houseplant.

Instead, it grows very slowly, which is one of the reasons why there aren’t a lot of them around.

 

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Difference Between Monstera Obliqua and  Monstera Adansonii

If you’re In the market for a monstera obliqua, the one plant you want to keep an eye for is the monstera adansonii.

The reason is that it looks very similar. As such, it can be an alternative to the monstera obliqua if you want a plant that has that look.

Similarly, if you’re looking to buy a monstera obliqua, you do not want to end up paying lots of money for a monstera adansonii since you can pick one up at your local garden center at regular prices.

Because they look alike, the monstera adansonii is sometimes mislabeled as a monstera obliqua.

As such, it can either have a cheap price tag, which should be an instant red flag. Or, it could be sold as a monstera obliqua by mistake.

Either way, you want to be aware of this.

The good news is, when it comes to differentiating between the two,, there are a few tell-tale signs.

  • Leaves. By looking at the thickness of the leaves, you can quickly tell the difference. The monstera obliqua ahs very thin leaves much like paper. And, much thinner than the monstera adansonii.
  • Holes in leaves. Since the Peruvian monstera adansonii is usually the most sought after, do consider analyzing the holes in the leaves. The monstera adansonii has smaller and narrower leaves. Thus, there’s more green leaf portion to blank space. In contrast, monstera obliqua’s leaves are mostly composted or somewhat circular holes with much less green areas.
  • Size of the leaves. The monstera obliqua’s leaf edges are wavy while the adansonii has straighter edges.
  • Growth rate. This is very obvious. You’ll barely see a lot of growth with the obliqua in a month’s time, whereas the adansonii will grow like other houseplants do.
  • This is the easiest way to tell. Because of its rarity, no collector will give you their monstera obliqua for less than a few hundred dollars at the very least. In all likelihood, the price will go to 4 digits.

In addition, they have different flowers.

 

Monstera Obliqua Plant Care

Monstera Obliqua Light

 

Monstera obliqua

source: wikimedia commons

Monstera obliqua is fairly specific with lighting conditions. It likes partial shade or filtered light. It also does well in artificial lighting. Although it will need between 16 to 20 hours of grow light exposure daily to stay healthy.

That’s because artificial lights only contain a subset of the sun’s color spectrum. As such, longer hours are needed to compensate for this.

Similarly, make sure you keep grow at the right distance. Too near and they will place too much heat on the plant. Too far and the light gets dispersed so the plant absorbs much less.

Because the plant is very expensive and rare, you want to take extra care. Another reason for this is that once the leaves turn yellow or partially yellow, they won’t recover back to their original state. And, eventually will fall off.

As such, don’t allow it to sit under direct sunlight. Most owners will keep it indoors as well because of its rarity and value. You’ll also see some in vivarium so you can easily control their living conditions.

 

Monstera Obliqua  Temperature & Humidity

Your monstera obliqua likes room temperature which makes it easy to care for it indoors. As long as temperatures stay between 60 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit, it will be happy.

If you live in USDA zones 9 to 11, it can likewise stay outdoors all year round. In colder areas, you want to bring it inside when the mercury drops under 60 degrees.

Since the plant’s natural habitat is that of tropical forests, it also enjoys high humidity. As such, it’s ideal range is 80% or higher. In many cases, it does best when humidity is 90% or more.

Because of this, terrariums and vivarium make a lot of sense. Alternatively, you can use a humidifier as well.

While there are natural ways to increase humidity, reaching 80%+ is very difficult with these. And because of how hard it is to procure the plant, you don’t want to use something that cannot provide as stable and precise conditions as a humidifier.

 

Monstera Obliqua Watering

When it comes to watering, you want to allow the soil to almost dry between waterings. Then, water the plant thoroughly.

This means pouring water on the soil until it starts dripping form under the holes of the pot, then stop.

Once this happens, allow excess moisture to drain completely. Only then will you place it back in its original spot.

This last step is very important as it ensures that no excess liquid is in the pot or soil. Thus, eliminating the risk of overwatering and root rot.

Allowing this to happen also lets you gauge how well your soil drains. If it doesn’t drain well when you soak the pot, it means soil is heavy. As such, you want to replace it with lighter, more airy soil. Or, amend the soil with perlite or pumice to increase drainage.

I’ll talk more about this in the section below.

 

Soil

Monstera obliqua likes moist but well draining soil. As such, you want to use potting soil that is light and loose so that water and oxygen can easily pass through.

In contrast, heavy soil retains too much water. This will cause your plant to sit in water for long periods of time. In doing so, it increases the risk of root rot.

For best growth, your monstera obliqua’s ideal soil pH is between 5.0 to 7.5. Thus, you want acidic to neutral soil.

A combination of peat or coco coir to help with water retention and perlite or pumice to allow excess moisture to drain quickly works well for this plant.

 

Fertilizing

Feed your monstera obliqua with regular houseplant fertilizer once a month. It takes rest from growing during the winter. So, you don’t have to fertilize from fall and winter.

The plant isn’t a heavy feeder. So, it is essential that you don’t try to feed it more in order to grow faster. This can be tempting given that that plant is slow growing.

Doing so will only increase the risk of root burn since too much fertilizer will cause salt residue buildup in the soil.

 

Monstera Obliqua Pruning

 

monstera obliqua

source: wikimedia commons

Because the monstera obliqua grows very slowly indoors, you don’t have a to worry about pruning it.

You do want to remove dead, yellow and damaged leaves. Similarly, any leggy growth should be trimmed.

But other than that, there isn’t a lot to do here.

 

Propagation

One of the main reasons why the monstera obliqua is very rare is because it is very difficult to propagate. And, while there are a few methods out there to do so, success rates aren’t amazing.

Thus, propagating them in large numbers hasn’t been achieved. And so, there’s the shortage.

How to Propagate Monstera Obliqua

One way I’ve seen the plant propagated is via stem cutting. A gardener friend of mine who’s got over 40 years of experience has done this. Although, he admitted that it takes quite a few tries to get one.

In any case, if you want to grow more of these plants at home, this is worth trying.

  • Cut off a 4 to 6 inch healthy stem from the plant. You want to pick one with at least 2 or 3 leaves on it.
  • Snip the stem just below the node, which is the junction where the leaf attaches to it.
  • You can place it in water or plant directly onto soil to allow the plant to root.
  • If you place it in water, it should start rooting in about 3 weeks or so. Then, wait a little more till the roots grow a bit more. Then move the plant to a pot with soil.
  • Water the soil and keep it moist.
  • Leave the plant in a very humid place.
  • After a while, you’ll slowly see shoots start growing.

 

Monstera Obliqua Transplanting & Repotting

Like pruning, repotting isn’t much of an issue because of its slow growth. This means you’ll likely only need to move it to a bigger container in 3 or more years.

Once you see roots start peeking out of the drainage holes, it is a sign that it has outgrown its pot. And, you should repot.

 

Toxicity

The monstera obliqua is toxic for both people and animals. While not deadly, it causes irritation and allergy type reactions to the mouth, throat and digestive tract.

As such, keep it out of reach from young kids, dogs and cats.

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