How to care for a monkey mask plant (Monstera adansonii)

Monstera adansonii (mini Swiss cheese plant). Getty Images

Monstera andansonii is officially known as the Mexican breadfruit plant although it’s more commonly known as the monkey mask plant. There are a few theories as to where this name comes from – that the shape of the leaf and its hole resembles a monkey’s face, or that monkeys use the leaf to hide behind, like a mask, peering through the holes. It’s a tropical perennial that makes a bold and beautiful house plant in the UK. Monstera adansonii is less vigorous than its relation Monstera deliciosa, and a good choice if you love architectural foliage plants but are limited on space.

The large leaves of Monstera adansonii develop holes in a process called fenestration. It’s likely they evolved to do this in their natural habitat to allow light to filter down to the lower leaves. These tall plants grow on the jungle floor in Central and Southern America, reaching up to 3m tall. Indoors, they are more likely to reach 90cm-2m. Monstera adansonii can be encouraged to climb by tying its stems to a moss support, or it can be placed on a shelf and left to trail.

This plant is toxic to humans and pets, so keep out of reach.

How to grow a monkey mask plant

Place Monstera adansonii in a room that gets bright, indirect light with a humid atmosphere, such as a bathroom or kitchen. They need a temperature of 18-24ºC, although will tolerate temperatures down to 12ºC.


Where to grow monkey mask plant

Monstera adansonii in a hanging pot. Getty Images
Monstera adansonii in a hanging pot. Getty Images

Monstera adansonii thrives in humidity and grows best in a warm spot, so a bright bathroom or kitchen is the best place for this plant. This plant can tolerate light shade but will grow best in a room with plenty of bright, indirect light. This house plant could go outside in summer, but bear in mind it won’t survive in temperatures below 10ºC, so will need to be brought indoors when night time temperatures begin to drop.


How to plant monkey mask plant

Monstera adansonii will need to be repotted once the white roots are coming out of the nursery pot. Pot into a slightly bigger pot using house plant or peat-free multi-purpose compost.


How to care for a monkey mask plant

Watering Monstera adansonii. Getty Images
Watering Monstera adansonii. Getty Images

Water in summer, when the top few inches of compost have completely dried out. Monstera adansonii will not thrive in a dry room, so mist regularly if humidity is low. If the plant develops brown tips at the ends of its leaves, this could indicate that the air is too dry or that the leaves have been scorched by the sun. Wipe dust off the plant’s leaves to help it absorb light.

Feed with a liquid fertiliser during the growing season.

Pruning – cut back in spring if necessary, just above a leaf node.


How to propagate monkey mask plant

The easiest way to propagate monkey mask plant is by taking stem cuttings. Each cutting should be around 10-20cm long. Cut just below a leaf joint and remove any of the lower leaves. Place the cutting into a glass of water until it has developed a good set of roots. Then plant it into a small pot of peat-free house plant compost.


Pests and diseases

The monkey mask plant is generally disease free. Monstera adansonii can be prone to scale and red spider mite. Sap sucking scale insects are often found around stems and leaves. Try picking them off with your nail. If this doesn’t work, you could try an insecticidal soap spray. For red spider mite, the first thing to do is increase humidity as it thrives in dry conditions. Alternatively, for large infestations try a biological control.

Advice on buying monkey mask plant

  • Monstera adansonii can be more difficult to find in garden centres and nurseries than its relative Monstera deliciosa, but is available online 
  • Always check plants for signs of damage or disease before planting. If buying in a garden centre inspect the leaves and avoid any with brown patches or discolouration. 

Where to buy Monstera adansonii

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