Shelley’s Plant Stories: Meet Sonny – My Monstera Adansonii!

The Monstera Adansonii, sometimes known as the Monstera Monkey Mask, is one of the more popular houseplants. Its distinctive leaves, full of fenestrations give it quite an interesting look. I particularly love how it grows all over the place too! Gives a real tropical, jungle feel. That being said, you can also stake this plant up though, if you prefer a bit more of a controlled growth pattern. I bought mine in December 2019 – and named it “Sonny” – kind of a play on words on ‘Adansonii’. He was TINY. He arrived in the mail with more than half his leaves dead, with just 3 tiny ones hanging in there.

Monstera Adansonii,

December 2019

Little Sonny when I received him in the mail and cleaned him up – only 3 leaves survived!

Lighting: Bright, indirect light is the best for Monstera Adansonii. However, in my experience, this plant is quite forgiving if placed in moderate light. Best to keep in mind, however, in moderate-lower light, monstera adansonii will produce new growth much slower, with the new leaves being slightly smaller. This plant won’t tolerate long periods of hot, direct sun. In those conditions, the leaves will burn!

Watering: I let Sonny dry out completely between waterings. Monsteras in general usually have thick roots, which are able to store water, so they don’t need to be watered too often. I watered him about every two weeks, in the cooler months, and about every week in the hotter months. Good to keep in mind that the soil of a smaller plant will dry out much quicker than the soil of a plant that’s in a bigger pot. There is no one general rule as to when you should water your plants, so when in doubt, wait an extra few days. Plants will generally bounce back from underwatering, but not so much from overwatering.

Monstera Adansonii.

March 2020

Over the winter period, I kept Sonny in a windowsill, and finally, as Winter approached its end, Sonny started producing new growth. By March, he doubled in size.

Monstera Adansonii,

July 2020

Spring was extremely kind to Sonny. He was pretty much almost unrecognizable by July. And look at those healthy roots!

Monstera Adansonii

End of July 2020

Look at Sonny, sunbathing in the evening sun, as I watered him. Too cute!

The above photo was one of the last ones I took of Sonny before horror ensued. Sonny was just such an independent plant, doing his thing. I left him on a high shelf, growing, watering him every couple of weeks…I didn’t pay too much attention to him. And that was a big mistake.

Monstera Adansonii

November 2020

It still hurts to look at this photo. 🙁 I don’t know how it happened so quickly, but one fine day, I got Sonny down from his shelf to water him and noticed his leaves looking very sickly.

PESTS: Sonny was riddled with some sort of leaf miner. They are these tiny black dots that leave a trail in the leaf where they would have eaten from, as they moved around. I have no idea where they came from, and by some miracle, none of my other plants were infested. As I was doing some research, I found out that Monstera Adansonii is VERY susceptible to pests. Spider mites, leaf miners, aphids, thrips, mosaic virus…you name it, this monstera is susceptible to it. So check the foliage often!! And if you find pests – make sure to quickly quarantine that plant, check the plants around it for pests, and quarantine any others, so the spread stops.

Sonny was so far gone, and I was so worried that the soil was contaminated, that I decided to just chop him up. I cleaned the leaves thoroughly, using a neem oil mixture, but I could never really manage to remove all the pests.

So as a last resort…

Propagating Monstera Adansonii

November 2020

I removed all the infested leaves, chopped him down to nodes. I stuck him in moist sphagnum moss, put him in an enclosed container, and left him on a windowsill. And I waited and prayed.

Propagating Monstera Adansonii

December 2020

I didn’t have to wait too long. Sonny is one heck of a resilient plant! In a month, all the nodes started producing
new roots and leaves – happily pest-free! Look at those tiny fenestrations!

Monstera Adansonii,

January 2021

Sonny’s leaves were growing so much that the container was actually getting a little too small for him – they were pushing against the lid! I was happy with the roots that formed – they were about 2 inches in length, so I decided it’s time to transfer him back to his old pot, in a fresh batch of soil.

Soil mixture: I use a very well-draining mixture consisting of approximately equal amounts of universal compost, perlite, coco coir, and orchid bark. When transferring moss propagations to the soil, ideally you make sure the roots are about 2 inches long, to be able to sustain the plant. Make sure to put them in a soil mixture that’s well-draining, as above, so that the soil doesn’t retain too much moisture. Otherwise, the roots will practically suffocate in the muddy soil, rot, and eventually the plant will die.

Monstera Adansonii,

February 2021

This brings us to the now: Sonny is clearly well settling in soil, as there are new leaves forming!

I very much feel like Sonny is practically being reborn, rising from the ashes like a phoenix, and starting from exactly the same place he was a year ago! Let’s hope this Spring is as kind to him as last spring was. And I definitely won’t be forgetting to check the foliage for pests every few days – this was a hard lesson – but one which looks like will lead to a good ending!

Some extra information:

Humidity – I find that most indoor plants will definitely appreciate not being in rooms where there’s AC or heaters – therefore the air becomes too dry. However, when it comes to low humidity levels, I find monsteras are quite forgiving and won’t mind too much if humidity is lower than 50%.

Pests – I personally never found neem oil to be particularly effective. Whenever I found pests on my plants, I make sure to quarantine and wipe down the leaves a few times per day. I found the insecticide “Resolva” to be particularly effective, and have saved a lot of my plants from thrips using it. However, do not use such insecticides outside, as they can be harmful to bees!

Did you find this article useful? Let me know in the comments!

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