Whether you’re a seasoned plant parent or just starting, you’ll find picking the best fertilizer for your Monstera a complicated matter. It’s also by no means trivial.
If you want your Monstera to look its best, you can’t afford mistakes. Incorrect fertilizer and improper application can be a recipe for disaster.
Which one should you choose among the multitudes of fertilizers out in the market? In this guide, we aim to decipher that for you.
Monstera plant, also known as the Swiss cheese plant or Split-leaf philodendron, can achieve towering heights of up to 30 feet outdoors. It’s resilient and can turn epiphytic to seek the light and nutrients it needs.
When planted indoors, though, this size goes down by half. There are many reasons for this, and one of them is the lack of nutrition.
When you plant Monstera, or any plant, in isolated soil, they’ll grow until they deplete the soil of nutrients. Due to this, fertilizers are utilized.
Listed below are three signs that help you identify if your Monstera plants need fertilizer.
If you notice your Monstera’s leaves having odd coloration, there’s a high chance that your plant is starving.
Additionally, macronutrients potassium and phosphorus cause brown spots on the foliage. On the other hand, iron, magnesium, and calcium cause younger leaves to look paler.
Without nutrients like potassium, the water’s cycle from roots to leaves will be affected.
Monsteras are tropical plants and love growing whenever they get enough sunlight. In tropical areas where they get light year-round, they grow nonstop.
For your indoor plants, this means they ought to grow from spring to fall. If your plant is not getting any larger, your plant might be having nutritional problems.
Aside from that, if your plant is trying to grow new buds but ends up with a fragile, brown meristem, it’s a sign of boron deficiency.
To answer briefly, slow-release all-purpose fertilizer is the best for indoor Monstera plants.
In essence, slow-release fertilizers with a 1-1-1 (like a triple-14) to 2-1-2 ratio can ensure that Monsteras receive sufficient nutrients to grow. Anything with higher concentration will most likely not be utilized by Monsteras with limited sunlight.
Additionally, because they’re concentrated and slow-release, these fertilizers ensure the plants get a constant supply of nutrients that they can utilize without being nutrient-burned.
If you want to understand how to pick your fertilizer better, we will explain it below.
When looking for fertilizer for your plant, there are factors you should look for. These are ease of application, price, concentration, environmental impact, and how fast your fertilizer acts.
These factors are observably different between two types of fertilizers, organic and inorganic. We will break them down below to help you decide what to pick.
Organic fertilizers are easy to make but are tedious to apply.
Inorganic fertilizers, on the other hand, are effortless to apply via broadcasting or spraying but are more expensive.
As mentioned above, inorganic fertilizers are generally more expensive. But as you go higher in concentration, the difference in price between the two types of fertilizers becomes less and less.
The reason for this is that inorganic fertilizers can be specialized to have higher concentrations. They can then be diluted with water and sprayed over a large area.
This is not the case for organic ones. You’d have to buy more bags of them to cover the same area, increasing both cost and labor.
Apart from that, inorganic fertilizers also let you know exactly what you’re getting. You can guarantee that what’s written in the specifications is true.
Organic fertilizers are essentially made up from scratch and have a lower carbon footprint. Since inorganic fertilizers are manufactured from materials mined from the earth, they emit more carbon.
Moreover, because inorganic fertilizers are high in water-soluble nutrients, they can pollute water sources via leaching. This is not a problem for the organic alternative, which has low, inconsistent nutrient content.
Inorganic fertilizers can both be quick-release and slow-release. This means you can use them to rescue severely malnourished plants.
In comparison, organics are slow-release and reliant on temperatures for microbial growth.
Higher concentration means more nutrients. Meaning there’s more for the plants. Therefore better, right? Not necessarily.
When choosing the concentration of your fertilizer, be mindful of your soil’s nutrient content. If your soil isn’t excessively degraded, then there’s no reason for you to get expensive specialized fertilizers.
Another factor to consider is the increase in the soil pH that the fertilizer may cause.
The Monstera plant loves slightly acidic soil. The most optimal pH for it’s in the 5-7.5 range.
Continuous usage of fertilizer can increase this to undesirable levels.
Moreover, how nutrients are released in the soil is also vital. If a high concentration is released quickly, it will burn the leaves and roots.
These nutrient burns can kill your Monstera.
Furthermore, water-soluble nutrients in the soil can wash out as you water it. In contrast, a slow-release option will last longer, nourishing the soil for extended periods.
These reasons highlight that testing your soil first is paramount. Check your soil’s specification label or get it tested with nutrient and pH testing kits.
Once you choose your fertilizer, it’s time to feed the Monstera. Before applying anything to your plant, read the product instructions.
Most fertilizers have two sets of instructions, one for outdoor use and another for container use. The amount of fertilizer specified for container use varies depending on your container size.
If you’re using liquid fertilizer, ensure it’s diluted and mixed sufficiently. Then, with a watering can or a sprayer, wet the entirety of the plant.
If you’re using granular fertilizer, avoid putting it in contact with the stem and roots. Just spread it evenly on the surface, where it will get wet when you water the Monstera.
As mentioned above, over-fertilizing your Monstera can cause ill effects. While it’s best to prevent it by following the fertilizer instructions, accidents can happen, and when they do, it pays to recognize them.
Here are the tell-tale signs of an over-fertilized Monstera:
- Presence of mineral salts: You’ll notice a gradual build-up of minerals in the soil when the Monstera can’t absorb them.
- Wilting of leaves: The mineral build-up in the soil disrupts the absorption process in the roots, making the leaves wilt.
- Scorched leaves: If you notice the tip of the leaves of your Monstera turning brown, it could be due to over-fertilizing.
- Burned roots: Once roots can’t absorb water due to mineral build-up brown and die.
- Stunted growth and defoliation: After all the damages set in, your Monstera stops growing and will shed its leaves.
Some of these symptoms may occur if the plant is overwatered or underwatered. If you’re sure it’s neither drowning nor dehydrated, it’s most likely over-fertilized.
If those symptoms occur, you should act fast because your Monstera may die. Take the steps below to increase the survivability of the plant.
- Remove the dead foliage using shears or scissors.
- If a mineral build-up is present, remove the top layer of the soil.
- Be careful not to expose the rootstock of the Monstera.
- Flush the soil with multiple watering and draining cycles.
- If you’re capable, try replanting your Monstera.
Only do the last step if you notice the symptoms early and the soil is beyond rescue. Otherwise, you might damage the rootstock and your Monstera may die.
Picking out the best fertilizer for your Monstera can be confusing. But you can do it with adequate research.
Though our pick is the slow-release all-purpose fertilizer, your soil needs may be different. Consider the advantages and drawbacks of several types of fertilizer to make sure you buy the perfect one for your needs.
After you get your pick, make sure to grow your Monsteras larger and let them live up to their names!
Growing up with a mom who filled her home (inside and out) with all sorts of plants, Lisa got her start in gardening at a young age. Living now on her own with a home and yard full of plants (including an indoor greenhouse), she shares all the gardening tips she’s gained over the years.