Men Talk About House Plants

Swiss Cheese Plant

For dramatic effect and simplicity of of care, or as a source of continuous pleasure, there are few house plants that can compare with the split-leaf philodendron or, more properly, the Monstera deliciosa.

It is hard for me to believe, now, that it is only three years ago that I was completely disinterested in plants, and occasionally even needled my wife about wasting her time and money on them. Then the “bug” infected me, and during these past three years I have been investing much of my spare time and money in an avocation which I once considered valueless.

Monstera the Favorite

During this period as a confirmed house plant addict, I have experimented with perhaps 200 species and varieties of house plants, most of which have been varieties of the old stand-bys obtained, I must confess, by begging slips from, or exchanging slips with, understanding fellow enthusiasts. At the present time we have about 100 house plants in our relatively small five room “jungle.” In the place of honor, domineering our living-room, is the Monstera deliciosa.

monstera friedrichsthalii

A Tree-Climbing Plant

This delightful plant, sometimes called the Mexican breadfruit plant, or the Swiss cheese plant, because of the holes or slashes which naturally form in its large leaves, is one of a group of aroids (such as scindapsus or nephthytis) which in their natural habitat climb on trees by means of aerial roots.

When first purchased two years ago, our monstera was less than two feet high, and had five eight-inch leaves, the bottom two of which were yellowing and dropped off shortly. At the present time, after having been successfully propagated three times, it is over five feet tall, and has 10 leaves (none has been lost since the first two died). Some of the leaves are over a foot long. Planted in the same 10-inch pot are three philodendron vines, Philodendron cordalum, which veil the full length of the otherwise somewhat ungainly stock of the monstera. (The aerial roots have all been cut off at the stock with apparently no ill effects.) The combination thus achieved is most striking, and seldom fails to evoke the wonderment and praise of guests.

Propagation by Air Layerage

The three slips that have been taken from this plant are all growing vigorously, and all but the most recent ones are larger and healthier than the original monstera was when purchased. The method which we have found most successful for propagating this plant has been by air-layering. The mechanics of this method are completely described in most garden or house plant books, and are probably familiar enough to the readers of this article so that they need not be discussed here.

Little Light Needed

The cultural requirements of both the monstera and the philodendron are substantially the same, and consequently, though I generally advise separating most plants that are potted together, the combination of the two has been very successful.

Generally speaking, these requirements are modest: relatively rich soil, moderate watering and gooddrainage; an occasional spraying or wiping the leaves with a damp cloth; and little or no ;sunlight, though they do better with perhaps a few hours of either morning or afternoon sun daily.

J Johnson Watertown, Mass.

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