Monstera adansonii is a popular houseplant that is also commonly known as the “Swiss-cheese plant.” A beautiful and easy-to-grow plant with distinctive, heart-shaped leaves, Monstera adansonii can grow as a vine from hanging baskets, climb walls or trellises, and can thrive in various conditions. But, with the popularity of growing plants in water, many Monstera adansonii owners wonder how well their plants can survive if grown in only water.
Can you grow a Monstera adansonii in water? While you can propagate your plant in water, it won’t thrive in water permanently. That doesn’t mean you can’t keep a Monstera adansonii in water if you follow some plant care guidelines, but your Monstera won’t grow to its full potential in a watery home.
Just because it may not be the best option for your Monstera adansonii, doesn’t mean that you can’t do it. And though it won’t grow to its maximum potential, it is still possible to have a healthy Monstera adansonii in water alone. Keep reading for some tips and best practices for growing this plant in water.
The Short Answer: Can Monstera Adansonii Live in Water?
Can a Monstera Adansnoii live its entire life in water? The short answer is yes. But, how well your Monstera will live in water depends on a few considerations.
A tropical plant native to the forests in Mexico and Panama, Monstera adansonii is a hardy and easy-to-grow plant that has grown in popularity in recent years. Known for its heart-shaped leaves, filled with lacy holes, Swiss cheese plants can easily climb to heights of 10 feet.
Because they grow so effectively as vines, it is common for Monstera adansonii owners to want to grow their plants in water – and this approach to plant growth can be a clean and simple strategy for those cultivating Swiss cheese plants in small apartments and offices.
Furthermore, some vining plants, such as philodendrons, can survive for long periods of time when grown only in water. However, this is not the case for Monstera adansonii. While Monstera plants can be propagated very effectively in water and can be allowed to root in water for several months before replanting, leaving Swiss cheese plants in water long-term can result in smaller and less resilient plants.
This does not mean that hope is lost or that there aren’t good reasons for trying the water growth method, but you will have to keep your plant clean and well-nourished in order to keep it looking its best.
Will a Monstera Continue to Grow in Water?
Monstera adansonii are known for their rapid growth. These plants can grow several feet in a single growing season and can quickly overtake a corner, bookshelf, or trellis. Since this growth is part of what so many plant lovers enjoy about the Swiss cheese plant, it is natural to wonder if you will see these results if the plant is grown entirely in water.
The height that is common among climbing Swiss cheese plants requires the stability of a root base planted in soil, as well as a support, such as a wall or stake. It would be difficult for a Monstera adansonii grown only in water to achieve that much growth due to the lack of a solid foundation.
Additionally, the length of the vining Monstera adansonii, which can be around thirteen feet, is usually achieved only with the best lighting, moisture, and nutrition conditions. Since maintaining root health and nutrition is harder for most plants grown in water, vining Swiss cheese plants will likely not reach maximum length in water alone.
However, there are other considerations besides growth that Monstera owners may want to consider when deciding whether to grow their plants in water.
Pros & Cons of Planting in Water
There are several important things to consider before deciding whether to grow your Monstera in water or soil. Below are some pros and cons of these different strategies and what they might mean for the health of your plant.
Pro: Less Mess
Most plant owners can testify to the fact that plants can be messy. Soil can easily get spilled or displaced – especially if you have small children or pets.
The dirt that plants produce can be especially noticeable in small apartments and carpeted areas and can be a hassle for plant lovers who want to maintain a tidy space.
However, growing your plant in water eliminates the need for potting soil altogether, which can provide a cleaner, more modern alternative to pots of dirt in your home.
Con: More Hassle
If you’re thinking that growing your Monstera adansonii in water to make your plant care routine easier, you may be mistaken. While growing plants in soil can create some mess, most mature plants can stay in their containers for at least a year, especially with proper fertilization.
But exposed water can be a magnet for dust and bacteria, growing stagnant quickly. Not only is murky water very unhealthy for your plant, but it’s also unhealthy to have in your home. If you choose to grow your Swiss cheese plant in water, you will need to change the water regularly, rinse the container, and gently rinse the roots of your plant, as well, to prevent root rot and bacteria growth.
Pro: Fewer Bugs
Dirt does attract bugs, especially if your plant is located near a door or window. Gnats, ants, and other creepy crawlies may be attracted to the plant’s leaves or the damp soil.
If leaves or other organic matter starts to collect in the planter, this can increase the likelihood of bugs making their home in the pot. Growing your Swiss cheese plant in water can help reduce the likelihood of attracting bugs. But, if the water becomes murky or leaves fall into the water and rot, you will likely see gnats around the plant, so the reduction in insects only holds true with proper plant hygiene.
If the water in your plant’s vase or container starts becoming stagnant, algae will form. Algae is a living organism that can vary in color and shares some similarities with fungus. It is also sometimes known by the name “pond scum.”
While not all forms of algae are toxic, water that has grown murky, slimy, or smelly is hazardous to humans and animals. This water contains decaying vegetation and must be changed right away. Since plants growing in water are continually shedding cells, algae can grow in the unchanged water of any plant, even if your home itself is spotless.
Pro: Easier Repotting
Repotting a plant that is growing in soil can be a big project. You will need to gently remove the plant from its original planter, check the roots for rot, fill a new container with fresh potting soil, gently replant your Monstera adansonii, dispose of the old soil, and clean your space. Considering that a mature Swiss cheese plant can be 10 feet tall, this can quickly become a two-person project.
While a plant that is thriving in water will eventually fill its container, as well, water grown plants do not typically grow as large. Furthermore, you would simply be switching your plant to a larger container of clean water, as opposed to uprooting, and reburying, the plant.
Con: Slimy Roots
As previously mentioned, the combination of organic matter and water will generate algae and bacteria buildup. The resulting “slime” will gather on the surface of the water but can also be found on the stem and roots of your plant.
This is harmful because this buildup will rot the roots of your plant and make it harder for the plant to absorb nutrients. Since the roots are the digestive system of your Monstera adansonii, when they start to become unhealthy, the whole plant can suffer.
However, by carefully rinsing your plant’s roots under clean water every time you refresh the water in its container, you can help prevent the buildup that can make your plant sick.
Pro: You Can Watch the Growth
One neat aspect of growing your plant in water is that you can watch the plant’s roots develop. Since it is rare to be able to watch the development of new roots, this can be a fun way to check in on the health of your plant, especially if you are propagating a Monstera adansonii.
Watching the growth of your plant can also be an educational family activity, allowing you to educate little ones on how plants develop and encouraging them to take responsibility for a personal plant collection.
Con: Growth is Slower
Very few non-aquatic plants grow faster in water than in soil. This is because soil contains the best combination of nutrients, oxygen, and stability for a plant to achieve its maximum height. As a plant grows taller and produces more healthy leaves, it can absorb even more nutrients and energy, leading to faster, fuller growth.
Water provides less diverse nutrient content, risk of root rot, and decreased structural support, so it is unlikely that your Monstera adansonii will grow several feet per year, as it might in potting soil. However, with care and attention, your Swiss cheese plant can successfully grow in water and can still make a beautiful, healthy addition to your indoor garden.
What Water is Best for Monstera Adansonii?
You don’t need to use fancy water for your Monstera adansonii to thrive. In fact, standard tap water can be sufficient for your plant. That said, if you know you have undesirable chemicals in your water – or wouldn’t feel comfortable drinking it yourself – you can also use filtered water, such as water from a Brita pitcher.
For those who feel a bit more comfortable with their plant care routine, rainwater can be an excellent source of water for plants – and it’s easier to use than you think. Most garden centers or online garden retailers sell rain barrels. And while some of these rain barrels may be much larger than you need, there are models on the market that hold just a few gallons.
Furthermore, some rain barrels can be very attractive, including stone and wicker varieties, that will look nice on even a tiny porch.
But how does rainwater help? Studies have shown that plants tend to absorb nutrients better in water that is slightly acidic. However, most tap water is slightly alkaline. While there are chemicals that you can add to water to help increase its acidity, that can get a bit complicated for the novice gardener.
Instead, using rainwater for your plants can be a way to increase the nutrient absorption of your Monstera adansonii without having to become a scientist. Find out more about the benefits of watering your plants with rainwater here.
Adding Nutrients to The Water
As we’ve already mentioned, soil provides plants with a variety of complex nutrients that water doesn’t provide. But, thanks to the experts, there are fertilizers, or “plant foods” that you can add to the water to help your plant grow. Many fertilizers are formulated to be used in soil, so look for a fertilizer made for a hydroponic or water-based system.
Regular fertilizer may not be sufficient for plants growing in water since they are also missing nutrients that would have been in the soil. That’s why I recommend using a fertilizer designed for hydroponics like this one. Be sure to follow directions carefully to avoid an overdose, which can damage your plant.
Note that I don’t use fertilizer when I am rooting Monstera cuttings to be planted in soil later because it is unnecessary. Hydroponic fertilizer is only suggested for Monsteras that will be kept in water permanently.
Rooting Monstera Adansonii In Water
Keep in mind that you can use water to root your Monstera adansonii without leaving your plant in water long-term. Water propagation is easy to achieve and involves selecting healthy cuttings from a larger, healthy Swiss-cheese plant.
Chose cuttings with at least one node – the little bumps where the smaller leaf stems connect to the main stem – and one leaf. Using clean, sanitized scissors, cut slightly below the node, and insert the cutting into a vase or bottle of clean water. Place the cutting in a warm, bright location, away from direct sun, and change the water once a week.
Within a few weeks, you should see new roots beginning to develop. Once they are roughly an inch in length, they should be strong enough to be repotted into soil.
Be gentle, though! Roots that have grown in water can be a bit delicate, so treat them carefully as you plant them. And in no time, you will see your Monstera adansonii start to fill your home or office with beautiful, lacy leaves.
Putting It All Together
Although this article has been dedicated to growing Monstera adansonii in water, your plant will also need proper light, warmth, and care to be its best. Whether you choose water or soil, your Swiss cheese plant will grow healthier if it is protected from excessively dry air, so avoid drafty windows and consider a humidifier in the winter.
Monstera adansonii do not grow well in direct sunlight, which can burn their leaves, and 65 – 75 degrees Fahrenheit is the preferred temperature range for this plant.
Lastly, don’t forget to prune away any yellowing leaves. While there should never be many of those leaves, it is common to see some in the winter months. Removing this dying foliage will help keep your plant strong and will allow it to focus energy on new growth.
By following these tips and showing a little patience, you will soon have a thriving Monstera adansonii to call your very own!