Monstera Dubia or ‘Shingles Plant’ is a truly remarkable vining plant that is relatively easy to grow although rarely seen as a house plant.
Similar to some other vines in the Aroid family, the foliage of this plant changes dramatically as it ages.
Native to the tropical rain forests of Central and South America it begins life on the ground as a germinated seedling. It quickly develops shoots that latch onto a neighboring host tree.
Position Bright natural light but no direct sunlight
Watering Water infrequently and mist leaves regularly
Size 3 – 10 ft. tall (indoors)
Climate Not cold hardy. Zone 9b to 11 (Minimum 60° F | 15° C)
Propagate Stem cuttings
Seasonality Evergreen, winter dormant
Toxicity Toxic to cats and dogs
Flowers Only in the wild
Once the seeds of a Monstera Dubia have germinated new shoots quickly begin to develop and weave their way up through the dense jungle foliage until they reach the solid structure of a tree trunk. Then they begin their ascent skywards towards the canopy of the rainforest.
The leaves of a juvenile plant lay flat against the bark of the host tree, and it is this leaf formation that gives this plant its nickname of ‘Shingle Plant’. The leaves are 2 -3 inches long, variegated, and heart-shaped with distinct silver markings that become more vivid when exposed to bright light.
Monstera Dubia is a slow-growing plant that continues to gradually creep and climb towards the canopy of the rain forest.
Upon reaching maturity, the foliage becomes totally transformed into huge fenestrated leaves that are not dissimilar to the perforated foliage of Monstera Adansonii.
The mature plant’s leaves are huge in comparison to those of a young plant, measuring up to 3 feet in length. They become pure green and all signs of the silvery variegation have gone.
Monstera dubia Care
Monstera Dubia does well in natural light but away from direct sunlight as this replicates the plants’ native Central and South American rainforest environment. Here, they are accustomed to intense humidity and the canopy of the jungle above them where their leaves are protected from any direct rays of the sun.
Monstera plants in general need humidity and the Monstera Dubia variety is no different, preferring humidity levels above 50%. A greenhouse or warm conservatory is ideal or a naturally lit room such as a kitchen or bathroom would suffice.
There are ways that you can increase the humidity levels in your home to accommodate the needs of a Monstera Dubia plant. The most expensive option but worth the investment if you are serious about tropical house plants and don’t live in the tropics is to buy a humidifier.
Alternatively, misting the leaves of your plant regularly will help to replicate the largely damp environment of the rain forest as does positioning your plant next to other humidity-loving plants is a good idea too. You could also place stones or pebbles in the tray that collects water below the pot in which your plant sits.
Height and Spread
A Monstera Dubia plant will grow modestly as a house plant and typically will only reach between 3 to 6 feet in height. They do of course, need decent levels of humidity, good quality well-draining soil and a pot with good sized drainage holes in order to thrive.
Keep your Monstera Dubia moist by misting the leaves regularly in order to replicate the conditions of a rain forest environment. Water your plant thoroughly, but then allow for the soil to become just slightly damp before watering again.
Be guided by the moisture levels in the soil rather than by a regular watering schedule to accommodate the many variables that contribute to the watering needs of your plant. Changes in the weather, light, and the time of year will all affect how much water you plant will need. For example, you’ll notice over winter when your plant is in its dormancy, that the soil may remain damp for longer.
Rather than having your watering can at the ready for a regular time slot each week, it is much better to check the moisture level in the soil of your plant to tell you when your plant needs watering. You can do this by purchasing a soil moisture meter or by placing your finger 2 inches below the level of the soil. If the soil is dry on the surface and slightly damp when your finger is fully immersed in the soil, then it is time to water your plant. If the soil is damp or bordering on soggy below the surface, wait a few days before checking the moisture levels again.
To give a Monstera Dubia the best opportunity to thrive it will need a specific potting mix and one that is rich in nutrients. A peat-based and coconut coir mix combined with perlite and bark (pine or orchid) works best. This will ensure that excess moisture is kept at bay and give the roots every opportunity to absorb the oxygen they need to encourage healthy growth and to avoid root rot.
Monstera plants do well in a slightly acidic pH level soil. Use a pH meter for soil to find a range between 5.5 to 6.5, which is ideal to promote healthy growth throughout the growing season.
Buy a good quality potting mix from any decent garden supply retailer or online. There are plenty of options to choose from. You may wish to add more grit or perlite to encourage drainage further.
If you prefer, you can make your own well-draining potting mix at home. It’s cheap and easy and often there is some leftover for more Monstera potting and repotting projects. Simply, mix one-third of organic matter such as peat-based soil and coconut coir with one-third of minerals such as grit or perlite and four parts pine or orchid bark.
In the wild Monstera Dubia are known to produce pink with orange-toned flowers. Blooms rarely appear when grown indoors as a house plant unless humidity levels are adequate.
I like to use slow-release fertilizer sticks with most of my houseplants to provide a balanced feed throughout the growing season. You can find them on Amazon.com here.
If your plant looks unhealthy or in need of a quick boost then use a half-strength liquid fertilizer. Feed a 10-10-10 ratio every 6-8 weeks from Spring until the end of the growing season in Autumn. Your plant won’t need feeding during the winter dormant period.
As your Monstera Dubia slowly creeps and climbs it may need a little pruning from time to time once mature. This is a slow grower and may need little or no pruning as a juvenile plant.
You may find that you only need to trim away any damaged, yellow or dead foliage sporadically. Always, use a sterile and sharp knife or pair of scissors and cut as close to the main stem as possible.
Since Monstera Dubia is a slow-growing plant it should not need repotting very often. Once every 2-3 years will be sufficient and certainly if you notice any roots growing out of drainage holes.
Monstera plants are notoriously caused by stress and suffer from damaged roots when repotted so try to keep the whole process to a minimum and be as gentle as possible if needs must.
It’s best to repot in Summer during the growing season as this is when your plant will be actively growing and will stand the best chances of recovering from any stress.
Water your Monstera two days before repotting it. The damp roots will be softened and this will help them ease away from the edges of the pot and cause them less damage.
Tip the pot on its side and loosen the soil around the edges of the pot with your finger rather than pulling the plant by the stem. This will make it easier to slide the plant from the pot or container.
Brush away as much soil as possible from the roots with a soft brush or with your finger tips. Be careful not to damage the roots.
As you expose the roots, take time to thoroughly inspect them, looking for any signs of damage or disease. You’re looking for roots that are firm to the touch and cream or white in color.
When you repot your Monstera choose a pot or container that is slighter larger than the last and one that has good-sized drainage holes. Clay or terracotta are great at helping to draw moisture away from the soil and will help further with drainage.
Be careful to bury the roots and just enough of the stem for the plant to be stable enough to stand upright. Press the soil around the stem gently but avoid covering it too much.
Use fresh well-draining potting soil and do not fertilize your Monstera for at least 4 months once you have re-planted it. Fresh soil will already contain a healthy dose of nutrients and any more may be too much for your plant to absorb.
Your Monstera may take a few weeks to settle and will need time to adapt to a new, slightly larger environment. The stress of being disrupted will subside and your plant should bounce back before too long when new growth should begin again.
How to Propagate Monstera dubia
The most effective way to propagate Monstera Dubia is from a stem cutting and you can choose to do this either in water using a propagation station or jar or by propagating in soil. When propagating in the soil you’ll want to use some good quality rooting hormone.
Both methods work well but there is a definite sense of achievement in watching root growth in water rather than guessing what is happening below the soil.
To begin with, you’ll need to select a healthy-looking stem that has 2 or 3 nodes and at least one leaf attached to it. Take the stem cutting between your thumb and forefinger and gently hold it away from the main stem. Now using a sterile and sharp knife or pair of scissors, remove the cutting making sure you get as close to the stem as possible to avoid.
Monstera dubia Propagation in Soil
Once you have your healthy cutting allow it to callous off for a few days by laying it on kitchen paper in a warm spot but out of any direct sunlight.
Once your cutting has healed or calloused off place it in a small pot with drainage holes and fill it with well-draining potting soil. You may need a small length of bamboo or a wooden stake that you can gently tie your cutting to if it needs support.
Position in a bright spot but not in direct sunlight and keep the soil slightly damp. Keep your cutting warm by covering it with a plastic bag to seal in moisture but remember to remove the bag for a few hours every few days to allow air to circulate.
You’ll then need to be patient and wait for the first signs of new growth to appear above the soil. This should take 4-6 weeks. Once new growth has appeared, you can remove the plastic bag and begin watering as you would for a Monstera dubia plant.
Propagating Monstera dubia in Water
Take your healthy stem cutting and place it in a propagation station or in a jar with clean water that covers the nodes. Place your cutting in a bright position but not in direct sunlight and change the water every 3-5 days.
Be patient while you wait for new roots to appear. This can take 4-6 weeks and often longer. Your cutting will be ready to pot in well-draining soil once a network of new roots begin to appear.
It can take longer than you might imagine for new cuttings to root but keeping them moist and warm and being patient will all help.
Common problems with Monstera dubia
Root Rot is a big cause for concern for any Monstera plant and Monstera Dubia is no exception. Using well-draining soil, a container or pot with good-sized drainage holes and only watering your plant when the soil is almost completely dry are all good prevention methods.
If you do suspect root rot, perhaps because the leaves above the base of the soil are yellow then the only way to treat the problem is carefully remove the plant from its pot or planter to check the roots.
You should remove your plant from the pot two days after you last watered it. This will ensure that the roots are softened slightly so that as you lift the plant and soil from the pot it is likely to minimize any root damage.
Tip the pot on its side and loosen the soil around the edges of the pot with your finger. This will make it easier to slide the plant from the pot or container. Do this as carefully as possible to avoid stress as much as possible.
Remove as much soil as possible from the roots by carefully brushing it away. Roots that appear brown or black and are soft and mushy will need to be trimmed away using a sterile and sharp knife or pair of scissors.
After repotting using fresh soil, allow you plant a few weeks to recover before resuming a less frequent watering schedule.
Insect Infestation on Monstera Plants
Monstera plants can be prone to an infestation of a number of common pests including whitefly, mealybugs, spider mites, and scale. These are all inconvenient and unsightly visitors but will not be detrimental to the health of your plant provided they are spotted and dealt with quickly.
The best way to deal with any infestation is to use a damp cloth, cotton tip or cotton pad to gently dab away as much of the infestation as possible.
Use soapy water, diluted detergent, or for something more potent a household insect spray or neem oil to clear the remainder of the infestation away. This process will need to be repeated regularly until all signs of the infestation have subsided.
Make sure you move your infested plant away from all other plants to avoid further infestation.