Variations of Monstera adansonii, or Swiss Cheese Plant, are highly coveted by tropical houseplant fans and collectors. Their deep green leaves and interesting fenestrations make them beautiful and decorative plants for home or office.
They are all native to the Oaxaca region of Mexico, Central America, tropical South America, and the West Indies. One of these variations is laniata, which you will see written in several ways:
- Monstera laniata
- Monstera adansonii var. laniata,
- Monstera adansonii ‘Laniata’
- Monstera adansonii laniata
- Monstera adansonii subsp. laniata
Which one is right?
The Catalogue of Life and Plants of the World Online (Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew) both list Monstera adansonii subsp. laniata as the accepted name, with M. adansonii var. laniata as its synonym. But whatever its name, this plant is beautiful, rare, and worthy of a second look.
Monstera Laniata Vs Adansonii: Key Characteristics & Differences
Subspecies laniata is very similar to the straight species, Monstera adansonii, with only a few differences of note that can be used for identification.
Laniata’s leaves are generally rounded and wider than adansonii’s. They are 1.5 to 2 times long as wide, while adansonii’s are more elongated, at 3 to 4 times long as wide.
As they mature, laniata’s leaves grow to 24” in length, which is slightly bigger than adansonii’s, which can grow to 20” long. Allowing it to climb up a moss pole will encourage the plant to outgrow its small, juvenile leaves and grow bigger ones.
Both plants have dark green leaves, but laniata’s leaves are glossier on both the top and bottom. Adansonii’s leaves are not quite as glossy, and their undersides have a matte finish.
Leaf fenestrations are thought to have developed to allow wind to blow through the leaves without tearing them and allow rain to flow through the leaves to reach the roots.
These fenestrations are the key difference between the two plants. Laniata has more fenestrations per leaf, and they’re symmetrical and located right next to the midrib. Adansonii has fewer holes and they’re randomly located around the leaf.
Length Of Vine
As a houseplant, laniata grows to 8’ and adansonii will grow 3’ to 5’.
Laniata has a faster growth rate than adansonii.
Monstera Adansonii Subsp. Var Laniata Care
Monstera adansonii and its subspecies both need the same care. They are native to humid tropical and semitropical jungles where they creep along the ground and climb up trees with their aerial roots.
If you can closely duplicate these conditions, you will grow your beautiful plant successfully.
Adansonii and laniata live in their native habitats with sun flecks or small beams of light filtering through the canopy of trees above. As houseplants, their light needs are 6 to 8 hours of bright indirect light a day, such as in an east-facing window.
If you bring your plant outdoors in the summer, set it in a bright spot in partial shade, out of the direct sunlight that will burn its leaves. A covered porch, patio, or under a tree is a perfect place for your laniata.
Normal to warm household temperatures are just right for your plant. They will thrive in 65 to 85 degrees F. Anything higher than that will begin to wilt and damage the plant, and any temperature lower than 50 degrees will do the same.
Give your Swiss Cheese plant enough air circulation around its foliage, but keep it away from cold drafts or heating vents.
Outside, during a heat wave, make sure that your plant is cool enough. When temperatures rise to 90 degrees and higher, it’s time to move your plant to a cooler location. And then towards fall, bring your plant in when temperatures begin to drop.
Average household humidity levels are around 30% to 40%. Monstera adansonii subsp. laniata grows in high humidity in its rainforest environment (90% to 100%), but that’s impractical to achieve in a home.
If you can keep the humidity to 60% humidity or higher around the plant, it should be healthy and vigorous.
You can boost the humidity by setting it on a pebble tray with water, or using a humidifier if you have one, especially in the winter when the heat is on. Misting it is a good idea, or keeping it in a high-humidity area of the house, such as in the bathroom or kitchen.
The best soil for your plant is a good indoor tropical plant medium amended with perlite, cocoa coir, orchid bark, peat moss, or horticultural charcoal. It needs to be very well-draining, with plenty of air spaces in the soil to allow the roots to breathe and prevent a buildup of water that will suffocate the roots and cause root rot.
Make sure that the pot you choose for your Monstera laniata has at least one drainage hole so that the water will not build up in the bottom of the pot. Repot every two years in a pot one size up from the previous one.
Water your Swiss Cheese Plant when the soil is dry 2” to 3” down from the top. Allow the water to run slowly through the soil and out the drainage hole. After it has completely drained, empty the water from the dish or tray under the pot.
Neither overwatering nor underwatering is good for your plant. Watering too much will keep the soil mix wet and won’t allow the roots to breathe, resulting in root rot and damage or death of the plant.
Underwatering, which is watering too infrequently or not watering deeply enough can cause problems, too. The roots can dry out, causing the plant to wilt and the leaves to turn yellow and drop.
Always allow the water to run through the soil when you water so that the whole root ball gets wet. If you’re unsure about when to water, a moisture meter will help you to determine when the soil is dry enough.
NOTE: Plants are often sensitive to chemicals in tap water, like chlorine and fluorine. Either let your water sit out overnight so that the chlorine can evaporate, or use distilled or rainwater for your plants.
Fertilize your plant with a complete houseplant fertilizer, or one with a slightly higher nitrogen (N) content than the phosphorus (P) and potassium (K) to stimulate foliar growth.
Use a dilute, or half-strength liquid fertilizer every two or three weeks in the spring and summer growing season to give it a boost of nutrients, and don’t fertilize at all in the fall or winter when the plant is not actively growing.
Since Monsteras are vines, they will spill over the side of a hanging basket or climb up a moss pole from a standing pot. To keep them looking good and stimulate growth, it’s a good idea to prune them once a year.
Snip off a section of the stem in between the nodes (where the leaves join the stem) with clean scissors or shears and you’ll have ready-made cuttings for propagation.
You can propagate your Swiss Cheese plant with the stem cuttings in either water or soil in the spring when the plant is actively growing.
Take a 6” to 12” long cutting with at least 2 to 3 nodes and put it into a clean jar with clean water. Remove all the leaves and aerial roots that will be below the water line and set it in a warm area of the house with bright light and plenty of humidity.
Change the water every few days to prevent bacterial and fungal growth.
It should start to produce roots in 2 to 4 weeks, and you can transfer it to soil once they grow to about 3 inches long.
Use a very light, well-draining, damp potting mix with perlite to root your laniata. Insert a section of the stem with at least one node (leaves removed, aerial roots removed or not) into the soil.
Water it and set it in warmth, with bright light and humidity.
As an option, you can dip the end of the cutting in rooting hormone to encourage growth before putting it into the soil.
Monsteras of all types are susceptible to mealybugs, spider mites, thrips, fungus gnats, and scale, the most common of which are spider mites and scale. If you suspect that your plant has been infested, isolate it at once from your other plants to keep them safe from infestations.
Wash your plant under running water to get as many mealybugs, thrips, and spider mites off as possible. Then use a spray of insecticidal soap and/or Neem oil per instructions to kill them.
Fungus gnats have to be treated in a different way. They are small, flying insects that lay their eggs in very damp soil. The larvae hatch in the top layer and feed on organic matter and plant roots.
When they mature to flying adults, they emerge from the soil, fly around, and lay eggs back in the soil. The control of fungus gnats has to be twofold:
1. Make sure the soil dries out on top between waterings. Use a solution of 1 part hydrogen peroxide to 4 parts water to water your plant. It will kill the larvae and bring oxygen to the plant’s roots.
2. Use yellow sticky traps that you can stand up in the soil to catch the adults and keep them from laying eggs back in the soil.
Scale are hard-shelled little pests that suck the plant’s sap and are impervious to insecticidal soap and Neem oil. Knock as many of them off as you can, and then wipe the rest off with rubbing alcohol.
The most prevalent disease of Monsteras is root rot which is a fungal disease that comes from heavy soil that holds too much water, and overwatering that doesn’t allow the roots to breathe. It can cause the leaves to droop, turn yellow and drop, and the plant to ultimately die.
If you suspect that your plant has root rot, gently take the root ball out of the pot, shake off the soil, and wash the roots. Healthy roots are white and firm, but rotted roots will be black and smell bad.
Cut away any black roots with clean scissors, treat the roots with a fungicide like Neem oil, and plant your Swiss Cheese back in fresh soil in a clean pot.
Your best defense against root rot is to use a well-draining, loose potting mix in a pot with a drainage hole, and only water when the top 2 or 3 inches of soil are dry.
Monsteras, like all plants in the Arum¹ family, are toxic to humans and pets. Keep your little ones and your fur babies safe by setting your Monstera adansonii subsp. laniata in an inaccessible place, like on a shelf or in a hanging basket.
1: Arum. (n.d.). ASPCA. https://www.aspca.org/pet-care/animal-poison-control/toxic-and-non-toxic-plants/arum
Nancy has been a plant person from an early age. That interest blossomed into a bachelor’s in biology from Elmira College and a master’s degree in horticulture and communications from the University of Kentucky. Nancy worked in plant taxonomy at the University of Florida and the L. H. Bailey Hortorium at Cornell University, and wrote and edited gardening books at Rodale Press in Emmaus, PA. Her interests are plant identification, gardening, hiking, and reading.