Monstera plants are great to have around the home. However, if you’re going to keep them alive for a long time, you need to know all you can about their fertilizer requirements. Read on to discover:
- Why monstera plants need fertilizer
- Signs your monsters plant needs fertilizer
- The kinds of fertilizer – organic and inorganic
- How and when to fertilizer your Monstera plants
Use a balanced fertilizer to feed a Monstera (also known as the Swiss Cheese plant). You can easily buy a good quality liquid fertilizer from the market.
Wet the soil a little the day before applying fertilizer to mitigate the chances of root burn. Dilute a few drops in the watering can and pour the water on the soil. Then drain off any excess water from the plant tray.
Read on for more details on why, when, and how to fertilize your Monstera.
Why Does Monstera Need Fertilizer?
Plants get water and nutrients from the soil and convert them into energy through photosynthesis.
However, the soil doesn’t always have enough nutrients to help them grow well and remain healthy.
They need fertilizer to get additional nutrients and grow well. This is the same as humans taking supplements to cover up the nutrient deficiencies in their bodies.
Now, let’s talk specifically about Monsteras.
Monstera Plants Grow to Be Quite Big
Like other plants, Monstera requires the following nutrients to flourish.
- Hydrogen, carbon, and oxygen that they get from water and air
- Macronutrients that are usually needed in larger quantities, like nitrogen, potassium, phosphorus,
- Secondary nutrients that are less important than macronutrients but still essential for healthy growth, like magnesium, sulfur, and calcium
- Micronutrients that are usually needed in trace amounts like boron, manganese, copper, nickel, chlorine, iron, and zinc
The soil might initially have most of these nutrients in good quantities, but they deplete over time. In fact, huge plants like Monstera can deplete the soil of these nutrients more quickly.
Most Monstera species grow huge, both indoors and outdoors. For example, an indoor Monstera Deliciosa can reach 6 to 10 feet under favorable conditions.
A Monstera plant growing in the wild easily gets additional nutrients from rainwater and the decomposition of leaves and branches. But what about indoor plants? You need a fertilizer to fulfill their nutrient requirements.
A fertilizer replenishes the nutrients in the potting soil mix, allowing Monstera plants to grow bigger and healthier.
These nutrients help Monsteras grow lush green, properly-fenestrated leaves and stand strong against pests and diseases.
Signs Your Monstera Needs Fertilizer
Plants display clear signs when they are underfed or overfed with fertilizer. This can help you understand when your plant has had enough and what you need to do to take care of it.
Keeping track of the changes in their appearance enables you to take appropriate measures to improve your plant’s growth and health.
These signs include less or no fenestrations on leaves, brown spots on the foliage, browning tips and edges, scorched and twisted leaves, etc.
The two major signs are as follows:
Slow or Stunted Growth
The active growing season for Monstera plants lasts from early spring to late fall. If your Monstera doesn’t grow much during this duration, it probably lacks the essential nutrients to support its development.
An important point to remember here is that Monstera’s growth naturally slows down during fall and winter. You don’t need to worry about the stunted growth of these plants when it’s cold.
Monstera leaves start turning yellow if they don’t have access to enough nutrients. Yellow spots on the plant’s leaves are called chlorosis.
However, lack of nutrients isn’t the only reason Monstera leaves turn yellow. Yellowing leaves may also result from overwatering, inadequate light, pest attacks, low humidity, etc.
In fact, it may just happen due to the natural progression of your plant’s life cycle. So, observe the root cause of yellow leaves before overburdening them with more fertilizer.
Different Types of Fertilizers for Monstera
Fertilizers for Monstera plants can be divided into two broad categories: organic and inorganic. Both types of fertilizers have different pros and cons.
Organic fertilizers are materials from plants and animals that decompose naturally.
These fertilizers improve the soil’s structure and ability to retain nutrients and water. They don’t have any chemicals, so they are unlikely to damage the roots like synthetic fertilizers.
Plus, they release nutrients slowly but at a sustainable rate, which reduces the chances of over-fertilization.
However, organic fertilizers are less potent than synthetic ones. They release nutrients only when there are enough microorganisms to break them down. Their breakdown may also take some time, prolonging the fertilization process.
Plus, an organic fertilizer is usually expensive and inconsistent in terms of nutrient composition.
This is the most inexpensive fertilizer readily available in every home. You can take fruit peels, vegetable waste, or leftovers and mash them in a grinder, home recycler, or composter.
For instance, you can make your own fertilizer with banana peels because they are rich in potassium, magnesium, phosphorus, and calcium. You can also mix in other food waste materials, like egg shells and citrus pulp.
Food scrap compost is a very safe fertilizer for your Monstera. It also keeps food waste out of landfills. Plus, compost doesn’t need dilution; you can just layer it on top of the potting soil or mix it inside.
Coffee grounds are also a great source of nitrogen phosphorous and potassium. But too many coffee grounds may overburden the soil because they are very rich in nutrients. They can also turn the soil acidic, making it difficult for the plant to absorb the nutrients.
A teaspoon of coffee grounds sprinkled on the soil every four to six weeks is enough. You can buy them from a shop or ask nearby cafes to see if they can provide you with some on a regular basis. The price of coffee grounds depends on the source you buy them from.
You can also mix coffee grounds in a compost pile or soak them in water for around two weeks and use the drink to water your Monstera.
Remember that coffee grounds lack other essential ingredients; you may need supplements to balance the total nutrient intake of your Monstera plant.
Worms like red wigglers, white worms, and other earthworms play a huge role in decomposing organic matter.
They throw up a convoluted mass of sand, mud, or soil known as vermicompost, worm castings, or invertebrate manure.
Whatever you call it, this is a material passed through a worm’s digestive tract. Besides crucial nutrients, it adds an extra boost of enzymes and bacteria to the soil.
There are two common ways of using worm castings. First, you can simply add them to the top or inside of the soil. Second, you can steep them in water overnight and use them the next day without further dilution.
Inorganic fertilizers refer to the chemical or synthetic fertilizers manufactured to provide different nutrients in exact doses.
The best part about these fertilizers is their easy availability and reasonable prices. They also work faster because their nutrients are ready to absorb into the soil.
Moreover, you know what they contain exactly because they are manufactured in precise doses.
However, synthetic fertilizers don’t strengthen the soil structure like organic ones. The fast release of nutrients by these fertilizers also increases the chances of over-fertilizing.
Plus, they can cause a build-up of harmful chemicals in the soil, altering its pH level over time.
Granular fertilizer is a synthetic fertilizer available in powder form. The powder is mixed with water to feed plants. Granules are easy to measure, so you can track the exact amount of nutrients your Monstera receives.
However, granular fertilizers are a little risky because they contain high concentrations of macronutrients. This increases the chances of over-fertilization and root burn.
Plus, granular fertilizers don’t contain enough micronutrients. You will have to use an organic fertilizer in combination to compensate for the missing nutrients.
Fertilizers Available in both Organic and Inorganic Versions
Slow-release monstera fertilizer is those covered with plastic resin or sulfur-based polymers that break down and release a small, balanced amount of nutrients over time. They come in different forms, like small synthetic grains or an organic dissolvable stick.
Slow-release fertilizers are an excellent option if you usually forget to feed your plants. But don’t use them near fall or winter; they might release too many nutrients in the soil when the plant doesn’t need any. Plus, they are usually more expensive than other options and hold the risk of over-application.
Liquid fertilizers are a common, easy-to-use medium to feed Monsteras plants. You just need to add a few drops of the concentrated liquid to your watering can and carry on with your regular watering session.
Note: Never apply the fertilizer without proper dilution in water. You can also get a pre-diluted version to save yourself time and effort.
These fertilizers are also available in both organic and inorganic versions. A synthetic liquid fertilizer is readily available and inexpensive but not eco-friendly because its chemicals can leach into the soil and kill its beneficial microorganisms.
On the other hand, organic liquid fertilizers are eco-friendly because they don’t harm the soil in any way.
What’s the Best Fertilizer for Monstera Plants?
Generally, a balanced fertilizer is the best fertilizer for Monstera plants. These ensure that there’s a good balance of the nutrients that Monstera plants need to stay active and healthy.
You will see the ratio of the three main ingredients on most fertilizer containers listed as N-P-K. This represents the amount of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium in the fertilizer.
For example, an N-P-K ratio of 10-12-14 means there is 10% of nitrogen, 12% phosphorus, and 14% potassium in the fertilizer. The rest consists of different micronutrients in small quantities.
More specifically, Monstera plants will stay in optimal health with a 20-20-20 liquid fertilizer diluted in water. It’s even better if the fertilizer is organic.
How to Fertilize Monstera
The fertilization method depends on the type of fertilizer you use.
Note: Most Monstera plants are not very heavy feeders. They can grow well on less than what’s written in the directions on the fertilizer’s container, regardless of the type of fertilizer you use.
How to Use Liquid Fertilizer on Monstera Deliciosa
Step 1: Wet the soil a little the day before you apply the fertilizer. Applying fertilizer to dry soil may lead to root damage.
Step 2: Dilute the fertilizer to a quarter or half of the recommended strength for houseplants. Use less in cooler months.
Step 3: Slowly apply the diluted fertilizer to the soil with a watering can. Be careful not to soak the plant’s leaves.
Step 4: Get rid of any excess water in the plant tray.
How to Use Granular Fertilizer on Monstera Deliciosa
Step 1: Sprinkle the granules over the soil or mix them into the top few inches of the soil. Use a quarter or half of what’s recommended for houseplants.
Step 2: Clear the saucer or tray under your plant.
Step 3: Carry on with your regular watering routine. The granules will gradually dissolve in the soil with each watering session, providing your Monstera plant with the nutrients it needs.
Step 4: Remember that you might not need to use granular fertilizers as frequently as liquid fertilizers because they are stronger.
When to Fertilize Your Monstera Plant
Monsteras require the support of fertilizers the most in their active growing phase. The duration of this phase depends on the region you live in. In tropical and sub-tropical areas, these plants actively grow all year round. They grow the most between early spring and late summer.
Don’t use fertilizer from late fall to winter because the plant remains dormant during these seasons. New growth stops or slows down due to low sunlight and warm temperatures.
This means your Monstera won’t need fertilizer support until a burst of new growth appears again in the next growing season.
You can fertilize Monstera in winter only if you use grow lights. A full-spectrum grow light can give your plant the warm temperature and light it needs to grow.
Moreover, you should avoid feeding Monstera immediately after transplantation or repotting. Moving the whole plant to a new place can weaken the root system temporarily. It might not be able to absorb any nutrients for a while. Exposing the roots to nutrients in such conditions may cause them to rot.
How Often to Fertilize Monsteras
The frequency of fertilizing Monstera plants depends on the following factors:
- The type of fertilizer you use
- The type of potting mix your plant lives in
- Change in seasons
- The type of Monstera plant you have
Frequency Based on Growing Seasons
Spring marks the beginning of the growing phase of a Monstera plant.
You will start seeing the signs of new growth somewhere around early spring. Since the plant has just returned from dormancy, it doesn’t need too strong or too much fertilizer yet. A quarter or half of your fertilizer’s recommended strength once a month might be enough for most Monstera plants.
Monstera plants love summers because of the high temperatures and bright light. They grow the fastest during this season.
Use a fertilizer at half to full strength every two to four weeks until the summer ends. Avoid too frequent or excess fertilizer application, or you will burn the roots. You can even use a small amount daily for very fast-growing species.
If you want to use a slow-release fertilizer, apply it at the start of the summer. It will release nutrients into the soil over the next three to four months, so you don’t have to worry about fertilizing your Monstera plant regularly.
Monstera’s growth naturally slows down when the temperatures start dropping. The plant is close to entering its dormancy period in the fall, and it doesn’t need much fertilizer at this point.
- Use the same frequency and strength of fertilizer in the early fall as you did in the early spring.
- If the weather in your region turns cold in the late fall, stop fertilizing to avoid damaging the roots.
Don’t fertilize your Monstera plant during winter. It stops growing in that season and doesn’t need any extra nutrients. You might burn its roots if you add fertilizer to the soil at this point.
However, you don’t need to stop fertilizing if you live in a region where it’s warm in winters (tropical and sub-tropical areas) or if you use grow lights. Even then, don’t apply too much or too frequently.
Frequency Based on the Type of Fertilizer
- Mild fertilizers like worm castings and liquid fertilizers can be used over every watering session.
- Stronger fertilizers like granules are best to use once every two weeks.
- Soil additive fertilizers like slow-release sticks can be used once every few months.
My name is Daniel Elrod, and I have been houseplant love ever since I was 17. I love how much joy they bring to any room in the home. I’ve always been amazed at how a few pots of flowing leaves can turn a drab and sterile office into an inviting place where people love to work at.