Practical guide for a professional production of monstera, ornamental plant that belongs to the araceaeous family.
1. Taxonomy and Origin
It is a tropical plant (Antilles and Central America) that belongs to the family Araceae. It has a close relationship with philodendron. In some places it is known as mexican bread plant due to its pod which contains an edible pulp surrounding the seeds. Monstera genus includes more than 60 species of flowering plants. The best known that represents this genus is Monstera deliciosa.
- It is a perennial plant with horizontal growth habit. If a vertical development is desired, placing a stake is necessary. The monstera is one of the easiest indoor plants to grow, but have the inconvenience of requiring much space. They can easily but slowly reach 230cm long (1-2leaves/year).
- Root system: develops numerous aerial roots that allow it to be anchored to the floor or to the stake.
- Stems: Thick.
- Leaves: It has entrance and deep holes to allow passage of air in regions with strong wind current. In this way, it cannot be damaged.
Monstera Growing. Photo: Ewen Roberts
[click to enlarge image]
- Flowers: Large with a considerable creamy colored spathe where the fruit develops.
- Fruit: Cone shaped fruit. Initially it is toxic but as it matures, it becomes edible.
3. EDAPHOCLIMATIC REQUIREMENTS
- Temperature: Given its tropical origin, it does not require nor stand cold temperature. It grows best at high temperatures. It can support up to 40ºC if the humidity is 90%. Low temperatures cause the appearance of dark spots on the leaves.
- Light: Do not expose to direct sunlight because it could result in burns.
- Humidity: As a tropical plant, it needs a high relative humidity.
- Watering: watering once a week in summer and every two weeks in winter is enough. Waterlogging can damage it and excessive watering can cause chlorosis on lower leaves.
- Soil: It can be grown in any type of substrate.
The propagation is carried out in summer and is performed by:
- Apical stem cuttings are placed directly into the final pot. A temperature of 25°C must be maintained with proper mist in order for the rooting to occur within 4-6 weeks.
- Node cuttings with or without leaf. The inconvenience of this technique is slow growth. But it is a comfortable practice and does not require much space.
- Propagation in vitro allows developing compact and good sized plants.
- Propagation by seeds to obtain stocks or mother plants can only take place in tropical climates, where the maintenance cost is low. Pollination has to be manual due to the short fertile life of flowers. The fruits need 8 to10 months to ripen. Salable plants can be obtained after 12 months.
5. PESTS, ILLNESSES AND PHYSIOPATHOLOGY
- Mealy bugs, mites and thrips.
- Aphids in spring and fall can cause the loss of market value due to insect bites in undeployed leaves.
- Leaf spots caused by the following fungi:
Phytophthora sp. causes irregular brown lesions.
Dactylaria sp. produces small spots.
Cercospora sp. cause the appearance of small yellow lesions.
- Root rot caused by Pythium sp., Rhizoctonia sp., Botrytis sp. and Sclerotium sp.
Erwinia sp. produces concentric spots on leaves and can kill plants.
Pseudomonas sp. causes circular pits on the leaves.
Xanthomonas sp. causes the appearance of red edges.
- Yellowing of the lower leaves which turn to brown afterwards: Usually occurs in winter by over-watering. It is advisable to let it dry until its recovery and then reduce the frequency of watering.
- Drip on the edges of the leaf lamina: The substrate is too moist. It should be drained and dried and the interval between irrigations must be increased.
- Appearance of black spots on the leaves: excessive low temperatures.
- Appearance of pale leaves with rounded burns and holes: Excessive direct sunlight.
- Appearance of pale leaves: This is usually due to nutritional deficiencies. It is recommended to fertilize every week during the growing season.
- Development of leaves without holes: It is normal in young leaves. In mature leaves the common causes are cold air and lack of light, water supply and fertilization. In tall plants, it is generally because water and nutrients cannot reach the upper leaves. The aerial roots should be covered by substrate or let them grow in a moist medium.
- Appearance of leaves with dry ends: It is due to potassium deficiency.
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