Plant Portrait: Monstera Deliciosa

Monstera Deliciosa

One of the best parts of the IG plant community? #Monsteramonday, featuring the lush and exotic Monstera Deliciosa.

Monstera Deliciosa Plant

Out of all the social media platforms, Instagram is the best for plant lovers. Once Leaf & Paw was born I was excited to create its own account. 

First off, every Monday is #monsteramonday. IGers present luxurious photos of these giant Jurassic Park plants that I had never seen before. Maybe it’s just NY, but Monstera Deliciosa, also called the Swiss Cheese Plant, was not a common one. After seeing photo upon photo of green deliciousness (get it? like “deliciosa”), I had to have one of these. Since they were scarce in NY, I was shocked, SHOCKED that weeks later I saw one, ONE in Wegmans for $15. It was fate since I have never seen one there again. I know the garden faeries left it just for me. Now I have one of these monsters (get it? like “monstera”) it has ultimately become my favorite plant child. I named him Monty.

monstera deliciosa

Once Leaf & Paw (and Monty) became active in #monsteramondays and I was surprised to receive a message asking why I own a toxic houseplant in a house of cats, despite my blog being safe plants for pets. Makes sense, so I’ll clear the air.

Hanging Philodendron

Toxic Plants and Pets

Monsteras are philodendrons – which is a vast plant group. It includes different types of monsteras, the heart shaped philodendron (above), and the elephant ear plant (below), as the most common. Part of the Araceae family, they are considered toxic, but less than its siblings, the Calla Lily and Dieffenbachia. These two plants are more poisonous in general on the toxic scale, so I recommend avoiding them. Monsteras are only toxic in excess, causing stinging around the mouth and stomach upset if consumed consistently.

Giant Philodendron

In my Ficus Elastica post, I came across this similar situation – I have quite a few plants that are toxic to animals and I’ll explain why I do. The main reason is leaf size. My cats, and it seems cats in general, fancy stringy, grass-like leaves that are easily chewable – like palms and spider plants. I have never had a problem with cats or dogs chewing, or even showing interest in large leaf plants, since they seem more like furniture than a salad. The Monstera Deliciosa is no exception with its plasticky leaves’ average size being 10″ in diameter. Honestly, leaf size is the key. So, to those wondering if it is ok to get one of these beauties, I say yes, as long as your pets aren’t destructive-consuming-plant-vacuums. In the end, you are the only one who knows your pet.

Monstera Deliciosa :: Leaf and Paw

Basic Care

Monsteras are super easy to take care of. Plant them in well draining, high quality soil, with plenty of perlite and rocks. The soil mix should stay relatively moist in all seasons, and you should only water when the top 1/2 of the soil is dry.

As far as light – Monsteras aren’t too picky, but, like all plants, they enjoy a decent amount of filtered light and humidity. Monty is still in the plastic pot he came in and he seems just peachy. The photo below is when I first got him (plastic brontosaurus for scale), and the first picture in this post is his size now. Sniff, I’m so proud.

Monstera Deliciosa

Want to learn more? Well, a year later (now February 2018), I’ve propagated more Montys! Interested in how to do it yourself? Read my new post now.

Monstera Cutting : Leafandpaw.com

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  1. I got my monstera about a week ago. He is called Corazon. The problem is that my cat keeps nibbling. I don’t suspect shes really EATING him, but there are new teeth marks every day. I’m really curious if shes just super cat and immune to the toxicity or pain or whatever or if shes just REALLY DUMB. She isnt showing any signs of pain, no drooling, no lethargy (other than normal “holy heck it is July and the ac is broken please just let me stretch out by the fan”) and no change in appetite. I realize you’re not a doctor to offer advice but like … how concerned do I need to be? I really don’t have anywhere else in my apartment right now that gets as much light as the bedroom and I’d feel like a monster if I locked my cat out of the bedroom for 11 hours while I’m at work. And I really love Corazon and dont want to get rid of him OR him to murder Discordia whom I also love, and have loved for much longer.

  2. Thank you for this article, I’ve always wanted two thing in my new home – a monstera and a dog, so I was heartbroken when I read that these two should not be kept together. As the breed I’ve chosen is very likely to munch on things they’re not supposed to, I’ll definitely try to keep the plant out of reach, but it’s good to know it’s not nearly as deadly as some other plants.

  3. Hi!

    Great article – makes me feel better about accidentally buying a monstera for a friend who owns a cat!

    Question – Their cat doesn’t bother with plants at all (lucky!). However, in having this plant in my bathroom for a couple days while I wait to see my friend (my cat will certainly try eating it), I’ve noticed it dripping water. I read that this is normal, but is that water toxic to cats? I’m positive any cat that sees a drop of water will try to lick it.

    Thank you!

    1. Hi Dania! The water droplets are transpiration which is totally normal and kind of like people sweating. It shouldn’t happen too much in Monsteras and is usually a sign of overwatering since it needs to release that excess moisture. I wouldn’t say this water is totally safe, especially from a philodendron/monstera, so I would relocate said plant until you no longer see droplets. I hope that helps!

  4. Thank you for this post
    I have been wanting to plant a tropical style garden in my yard but have been hesitant due to my dogs we have many other plants in our yard that were already established and they havent been bothered by but whenever i have looked up a plant i would like to add and it just comes up as toxic to pets i have completely avoided it.
    Other than grazing a little on the grass or eating mandarins that have dropped from a tree they have only found interest in our palm tree after an old branch has dropped they find it entertaining to run around the yard with it chasing each other but they dont actually nibble on any of the leaves or bushes in the yard so this article puts my mind at ease. Thank you

  5. Hi!
    Do you know if the water dripping from the leaves (guttation..(?)) is poisonous to cats? My monstera is dripping every morning and is messing upp my floor a bit, but I’m more concerned for my cats and if they lick the water.. I have googled but not found anything about it. Is it just plain water or does the plant release something toxic in it? Hope you can help!

    1. Hi Ebba, I would think it’s not toxic, as it’s just a form of condensation but I’m not 100% sure. Depending on the size of your monstera, I would put a tray or those plastic things that go under pots to collect the water, and place it on a plant stand. That should help the cat and water destroying floor situation. I hope that helps!

  6. Great post!! I have a cat and numerous plants, some being toxic. the only plant she has ever showed interest in is my parlour palm. She sniffs my calatheas from time to time but no nibbling as she is mostly just attracted to things that resemble grass. This put my mind at ease. My monsteras are off-ground for now but one is getting quite heavy so I was contemplating putting it on the floor. I was concerned that if she did nibble it (which would be so out of character as she has never gone for any plant other than a palm) that it would be an immediate, intense poisoning effect so I am glad to have learned that it needs to be consistent! I am so lucky she is just not that interested in anything other than the palm, which I moved because I didnt want to it to look destroyed. Thanks for sharing

  7. Thank you for this reassurance! I had 2 as a child Charlie and George lol they where massive my cat used to sleep in the pots never got sick both lived together for 15 years. Iv just recently got a cheese plant he is called Claude we are getting kittens next month had been told to ditch Claude as he is toxic!! Not going to happen I will just watch for chewing thank you 😊 🌱🐈😍

    1. Claude is the best name! Yes, just monitor your cats and watch for chewing – kittens are notorious for getting into and eating everything. It may help to put Claude on a tall plant stand until your kitties get a bit older too. I’ve found that helps with kittens.

  8. Yes my experience confirms what you say. I tried chewing some of my mature tough Monstera deliciosa leaves to see if they have that “pins and needles” effect in the mouth like I’ve experienced with raw taro and other relatives ( I carefully spat it out and rinsed my mouth after a few minutes)… little or no detectable effect on inside of mouth ( it’s possible young tender leaves are higher in toxins to deter browsing but I didn’t have any available to test).
    I was thinking of planting this as part of a hedgerow against goats since they are not stupid and don’t eat the related Arum Lily (Zantedeschia aethiopica) which is wild around here. On the basis of this trial I doubt this would be very goat proof despite many reports on the net & in books they contain calcium oxalate crystals.

  9. I love this post! I too have some toxic plants, but my cats don’t really show much interest. I have been keeping my monstera up high, but eventually it will get heavy and need to be on the ground. Your posts are lovely!

  10. Thank you for the info. I’ve always wanted a monstera but my cat is a nibbler and I’ve always been worried about this plant. And when you said your cats are more inclined to do the “grasses” … I realized my girl is the same. So I shall get on the hunt for a monstera and once I find one, I’ll keep a close eye on her to see how everything goes. 🐾💜

  11. Thanks for that clarification ,I’m the new owner of this plant and am confident my pugs would prefer treats than this plant 😉

  12. Funny thing about monsteras and many other plants of their ilk — they’re considered “toxic” because of insoluble calcium oxalate crystals. These crystals are not poisonous, which is what I think most people picture when they hear the word “toxic,” though they *are* extremely irritating (the crystals are tiny and very poky). An animal that tries to ingest one is not likely to eat much of it, and probably won’t make the same mistake twice! Like you said, it’s mostly a thing of excess.
    I can’t fault people for exercising an abundance of caution, though. It’s hard to see a pet in distress.

    1. Exactly, Jecca. I luckily do not need to worry about my cats eating monsteras, or really any of my dubbed “poisonous” plants. They keep their distance. Yes, caution is good, which is why I felt it was somewhat necessary to do a post about just that. 🙂