Monstera Plant Growth Stages | Life Cycle

Monstera is a genus of about 50 tropical species, many of which double as extremely popular houseplants. A few examples I think you might be familiar with include Monstera deliciosa, or the Swiss Cheese Plant, and Monstera adansonii, or Adanson’s Monstera.

Regardless of species, Monstera is pretty much exclusively grown for its attractive foliage, and unique varieties are frequently propagated and traded among collectors. 

In this article, I’ll tell you about the various Monstera growth stages you’re likely to encounter when keeping these houseplants (and a couple you might not!).

Conditions for Growing Monstera

Most Monstera has an upright, vining growth habit. In the wild, these plants climb up large trees to access as much sunlight as possible coming through the forest canopy. 

Some believe that the fenestrations, or holes, seen in many Monstera leaves are an adaptation that allows additional light to pass through to the foliage below. 

According to research from the Monteverde Institute, however, it’s also theorized that fenestration increases water uptake.

While Monstera is almost exclusively grown as houseplants in captivity, they are hardy in USDA zones 10 to 12 and similar climates. 

In cooler climates, it’s recommended that you relocate potted Monstera outdoors during the summertime for optimal growth but I’ve personally never done this with my plants. 

Monstera typically goes to flower during the peak of summer. However, flowering is incredibly rare in potted Monstera.

As undergrowth natives, Monstera thrive in partial or even full shade outdoors. Provide bright, indirect light when growing these plants indoors for the best results. Remember that light coming through a window is much weaker than sunlight experienced outdoors.

Maintain temperatures between 65 and 75°F and moderate to high humidity whenever possible. These conditions will replicate the tropical forests that Monstera comes from.

I generally recommend using a rich, well-draining potting soil that contains a high amount of organic matter for Monstera. 

Fertilize throughout the active growing season with a balanced, liquid fertilizer — such as a 10-10-10 formula — that has been diluted with water. 

Growth Stages Of Monstera

On average, Monstera plants reach maturity after 2 to 3 years of growth. With proper care, however, they will continue increasing in size throughout most of their life span.

The natural Monstera life cycle involves sprouting from seed. In practice, though, a large number of cultivated Monstera are grown from vegetative cuttings. Such plants never experience the germination or seedling stages of growth.

With close to 50 different species of Monstera, there are a lot of similarities between these plants, but there are also some differences. In some cases, those differences include things like growth rate, flower development, and fruiting. 

Throughout the rest of this article, I’ll be focusing primarily on the most popular member of this genus: Monstera deliciosa. So just keep in mind that there may be slight variations between the growth stages I describe below and those displayed by a different species of Monstera.

1. Seed Germination 

Monstera seeds are round and pea-sized, with a wrinkled texture. In terms of color, they tend to be brown with a hint of green or yellow. 

Moisture and a temperature of 70 to 85°F are needed to activate the seed germination process. Without these factors, Monstera seeds will just lie dormant within the soil until they dry out completely.

Germination should occur within 30 to 60 months. In perfect circumstances, you might see growth in as little as 14 days.

After the seed has ‘woken up’, the first visible change will be the emergence of a rudimentary root. This root is called the radicle. During germination, the radicle will grow several centimeters long to anchor the seed and begin taking in moisture and nutrients from the soil.

A primary shoot (plumule) and first leaf (cotyledon) follow shortly thereafter. Unlike the radicle, however, these parts of the seed instinctively know to grow toward the soil’s surface. Once they pierce the surface, the seed has officially become a seedling.

2. Seedlings

Monstera belongs to a category of plants known as monocots (short for monocotyledons). This means that they have only a single cotyledon. A cotyledon is a simple leaf that develops in the seed embryo before emerging as the seedling’s first foliage. 

When inside the seed, cotyledons act as a food source for the growing plant. Most cotyledons are also capable of photosynthesis but this process is quickly taken over by the plant’s ‘true’ leaves.

It can take several weeks for a Monstera’s so-called ‘true’ foliage to start growing. Even then, these leaves won’t look anything like the deeply lobed, fenestrated foliage most of us associate with Monstera plants.

3. Juvenile Growth

Young Monstera leaves are small, oval, and typically bright green. The exact shape, size, and coloring will vary between species and, in some cases, different varieties within a single species.

Of course, leaves are not the only type of growth a Monstera must focus on at this stage. Below the soil, the root system will be hard at work expanding and growing stronger. 

You might also see aerial roots forming along the stem. Aerial roots are roots that grow above the ground. They allow climbing plants like Monstera to grab onto surfaces and take in moisture from the air.

All new leaves stem, and aerial roots emerge from enlarged sections of the stem and these are called nodes or growth points

According to the University of Wisconsin, young Monstera is often drawn to darkness in the search for a tree trunk or similar structure to climb. Depending on the variety, your Monstera may benefit from a moss pole during this stage.

4. Mature Growth

After 2 to 3 years, a Monstera will enter its mature growth stage. At this point, the foliage of a Monstera deliciosa will darken, grow larger, and develop deep lobes. 

It’s also at this stage that flowering becomes possible. However, as I touched on earlier, it’s very rare for Monstera houseplants to flower at all. This later growth stage is normally only seen in outdoor and/or wild Monstera.

Juvenile Growth

5. Leaf Fenestration

Either at the same time that your Monstera reaches maturity or shortly after, leaf fenestration should begin to occur. Fenestration is the natural presence of holes or perforations in a leaf. Many types of Monstera feature this trait, and it’s often highly sought-after by collectors.

Fenestration may be determined by a plant’s genetics, health, growing environment, and a little bit of luck.

Leaf Fenestration
Leaf fenestration should occur when the leaf matures with the correct light levels

Not all leaves are guaranteed to have fenestration. It’s also completely normal for the degree of fenestration to vary greatly from leaf to leaf (even on the same plant).

I also want to point out that Monstera leaves develop with their fenestration already in place. So new or bigger holes won’t appear after the leaf has unfurled.

6. Flowering

The Monstera flowering structure consists of a spadix and a spathe. For context, this is the same type of flower produced by a peace lily.

The spadix is a thick spike that holds dozens of small, unimpressive flowers. The spathe is a white, specialized leaf that encircles the spadix like a large flower petal. In the case of Monstera deliciosa, the entire structure typically measures 8 to 12 inches tall.

7. Pollination

Monstera is self-fertile, so only one plant is needed for viable pollination. While the male and female flowers tend to stagger themselves to reduce the chance of self-pollination — after all, the plant’s goal is to increase genetic diversity as much as possible — it still happens quite often.

In nature, Monstera flowers are normally pollinated by insects, birds, and other creatures. However, hand pollination is also quite common in cultivated settings.

8. Fruit Development

The fruit of a Monstera plant is considered a delicacy by some! I haven’t had the chance to try it myself but I’ve heard it compared to the taste of a mild pineapple.

Throughout the ripening process, the fruit has the same size and shape as the original spadix. Monstera fruit is green and looks a bit like an ear of corn or a long pinecone. Each flower along the length (if pollinated) produces a single seed.

After successful fertilization, it takes a Monstera flower up to a year to develop into ripe fruit. Then, the fruit is simply broken off from the plant at the stem.

Fruit Development - Monstera Plant Growth Stages
The unusual-looking Monstera fruit

FAQ Monstera Plant Growth Stages

Citations

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Ben's horticultural interest grew when graduating from Hertfordshire University in 1997. Having contributed to numerous publications including Better Homes & Gardens, Garden Design Magazine, and The English Garden. He is also the author of Propagating Houseplants Made Easy.