monkey face plant on white background

Monkey Face Plant: Growing & Care Guide

Scientific name:  Monstera adansonii     | Common name: Monkey Face Plant

Likes: Moist soil; humidity 👍 | Dislikes: Overwatering 👎

Have you ever heard of the Monstera adansonii, otherwise known as the monkey face plant? It is a very common house plant and can bring new properties when added to your home. If you are interested in growing this peculiar plant, then this grow and care guide will go through everything you need to know in order to get the most efficient results from it.

We will cover the following:

Learning about Monkey Face Plants

Monkey face plants have been used for houseplants for many years, and new species are continuously being added to their varieties all the time. The most distinct features of the monkey face plant are its heart-shaped leaves, which are a distinct Monstera feature, and its natural, leaf-shaped holes help them to stand out more as a very intriguing plant.

It belongs to the family of Swiss Cheese Plants, and a myth about the plant is that a monkey hid behind the leaves from a botanist. The monkey’s face behind the leaves depicted that of a mask, hence the reason for its peculiar name.

Fortunately, Monstera adansonii are relatively easy to care for, and if you are new to adding houseplants to your home, then the monkey face plant is a perfect place to start. It is also known to bear Mexican breadfruit.

Identifying a Monkey Face Plant

A monkey face plant can be recognised through the following features:

  • Leaves: Their leaves are heart-shaped with deep notches, or cuts, that follow the edges, which gives them a ‘swiss-cheese’ like appearance. The colour of the leaves is dark green, and lighter veins follow through them. Monkey face leaves can grow up to 12 inches long, with 6 inches in width, which makes them a perfect candidate for a houseplant.
  • Formation: Monkey face plants are formed from seeds which will grow into a vine-like shape. During its growth, dangling roots will be produced from the vines, which enables the plant to anchor itself to absorb nutrients in the air.
  • Height: It can grow up to 8 inches which, although small, is perfect if you are looking for a small, easy-to-care-for, houseplant.
  • Spread: 3-5 inches tall, up to 14 inches as a vine.
  • Flowers: Monkey face plants will produce a vertical spadix which will appear white, hood-shaped, and will last a few weeks. Whilst they are not amazing or awe-inspiring, they are very noticeable as the most unique feature of the plant aside from its leaves.
  • Identifying features: Its most popular identifying feature is undoubtedly its leaves, which is the reason why it bears the name ‘monkey-face.’

Be sure to purchase a monkey orchid after you have learnt everything you need to know from this article.

Where to Plant a Monkey Face Plant

Monkey face plants are grown and ready to purchase from most garden centres and, although pricey, will be a worthy addition to the rest of your home. You can plant them anywhere that has plenty of indirect sunlight and humid temperatures. If growing them in your home, a standard room temperature of 21-24°C will be enough to keep them warm, and allowing them a bit of shade will not hurt either. When adding the plant to your home, make sure that there are no other plants around that could leave it prone to disease, and vice versa. Keep your monkey face plant in a pot for a year or two.

If planting it outdoors, be aware of its growing conditions. Houseplants prefer being grown indoors, and the best option for a Monstera adansoniis is to add it to a greenhouse if you do not want it to be near your house pets. Do not plant outdoors if weather temperatures are below 10°C.

Check out what the best evergreen shrubs for potting are.

Propagating Monkey Face Plant

Propagating monkey face plants should not present much of a problem. Simply take cuttings of the stem with a sharp knife or pair of shears. Be wary of the size of the plant when using these tools; thicker stems can be cut using a knife. Using appropriate, clean tools will also help prevent the spread of diseases. Cutting a healthier stem will also provoke growth for a longer-lasting, healthier plant.

Once you have cut 4 to 6 inches of the stem at an angle by the node, remove any leaves that may be growing from the base before you plant it in new water and soil. Filtered water is preferable. Replace it with fresh water every couple of days when the roots have grown up to 2 inches long. Alternatively, you can place the cutting in a small pot with soilless potting added. Check that the potting medium is damp or well-drained before you add the cutting.

Moisten the potting mixture, and place it in an area with indirect sunlight. Transplant your potting or container once new leaves have grown at the bottom of the stem.

Pruning Monkey Face Plant

Whilst monkey face plants do not need continuous pruning, it can be done to allow denser growth. Simply remove some of the extra shoots from the plant, and follow the propagation process above. Ensure that you do not cut off any aerial roots.

Growing & Care Tips

As low maintenance as monkey face plants are, there are still some factors that you need to take into account when growing and caring for one. You should take note of the following tips.

  • Watering: Monsteras love moist soil. Because they are grown in tropical habitats, moist soil provides the right amount of nutrients for them, but soggy soil can cause the root and stem to rot.
  • Fertilizing: Fertilize your monkey face plant every 2 to 3 weeks using a well-balanced, water-soluble fertilizer. The plant will go dormant during the winter, so you do not need to fertilize it during this stage.
  • Lighting: Monkey face plants prefer bright, indirect light. They do well in east-facing windows, where they can receive morning sunlight but are protected from the intense afternoon sun.
  • Temperature: Monkey face plants prefer cooler temperatures, between 60 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit. They do well in average room temperatures, but it is important to protect them from drafts and sudden temperature changes.
  • Humidity: Monkey face plants thrive in high humidity environments, between 70 and 80 percent. You can increase humidity by placing the plant on a tray of pebbles filled with water or by using a humidifier.
  • Soil: Monkey face plants like to have well-drained soil which will also help to retain moisture. Mixing in peat moss, perlite, and vermiculite will also give the plant the right amount of nutrients to help with growth.
  • Pests: Be aware that this plant is vulnerable to pests, including spider mites and aphids, whilst it might suffer from diseases that affect the scale and roots. A sign of spider mites is webbing around the plant, but since monkey face plants like humidity, spider mites don’t. If they still appear, rinse off the webbing, and use insecticidal soap on the plant. Scale[i], however, sucks the sap and will nestle itself on the stems, and a sign of their presence is causing the leaves to turn yellow.
  • Infection: If your leaves turn yellow, this is not a sign of infection, but rather overwatering. Other times it can be a sign of age and that the leaves will eventually fall off. If, however, they turn black, this is a sign of sunburn, so remove them from locations that have too much sunlight. Alternatively, use sheer curtains to block out the light.

Go Ape with Monkey Face Plants

If you are interested in brightening up your home and having a plant that becomes a focal point due to its unique leaves, then a monkey face plant is the right choice for you. So long as you handle and treat them well in the right conditions, they will not give you too much trouble. The main thing to remember is to treat them delicately, and give them plentiful amounts of water and indirect sunshine, and they will thrive in your home for a long time.

FAQs

What is a monkey face plant?

A monkey face plant, also known as a monkey orchid, is a type of orchid that is named for its flowers which have a shape that resembles the face of a monkey.

Where do monkey face plants grow?

Monkey face plants are native to the cloud forests of Ecuador, Peru, and Colombia. They can also be grown as houseplants in other parts of the world.

How do I care for a monkey face plant?

Monkey face plants require moderate to high levels of humidity and prefer to be kept in a well-draining soil mix. They should be watered when the top layer of soil feels dry, and should be fertilized regularly during the growing season.

How often does a monkey face plant bloom?

Monkey face plants bloom once a year, typically in the spring or summer. The flowers can last for several weeks.

Are monkey face plants difficult to grow?

Monkey face plants can be challenging to grow. They have specific requirements for humidity and soil moisture. With proper care, they can thrive and produce beautiful flowers.

Sources


[i] Love the Garden (n, b) [Accessed 15/03/23] Available at: https://www.lovethegarden.com/uk-en/garden-problem/scale-insects


Amazon. (n.d.). Monkey Orchid. Retrieved 10th May, 2023, from https://www.amazon.co.uk/monkey-orchid/s?k=monkey+orchid

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