Sow There! Waiting list for a monster of a plant, Sept. 27, 2019

You can’t miss the Monstera deliciosa in the window. Look for the broad, glossy green, notched leaves. (Heather Hacking — contributed)
September 27, 2019 

Yes, I have an amazing Monstera deliciosa plant, and if you on the verge of asking me for a cutting, there is a waiting list.

When I set up my first classroom last year, I brought in three vases filled with overly large, deep-green leaves. Sometimes the leaves have interesting holes in them, as if a child began to make a paper snowflake with scissors.

At my home, I like to put the plants on a high shelf, with a lamp below. In the evenings, interesting shadow patterns are cast on the ceiling.

I said three vases, but another teacher quickly asked if I had more to spare. She has a lovely heart and was instrumental in my decision to teach at the charter school. I decided I could live with just two eye-catching Monstera plants in my partially shaded classroom window.

Fairly soon, another teacher became enamored by the plant, and kindly asked if I had additional cast-offs.

I said I would put her on “the list.”

I understand the admiration. It’s a stellar specimen.

The plant sat mostly disregarded for many years. It lived in a 10-gallon, black plastic pot along the west-facing side of the house, in the shade of the loquat tree. I knew it was fussy because at least twice it melted to a stub during a hard freeze.

The plant was among those from the Handsome Woodsman’s house in Paradise. When he moved to Chico about six years ago, he added it to our shared potted plant collection. After he died, everything he had once touched became vital, and I brought the plant indoors on cold nights.

A close-up of a Monstera deliciosa near the window. (Heather Hacking — contributed)

With the pent-up demand for the plant, I took a few more sprouts and began letting the plant grow roots in water, then transplanted to soil. In water, the roots are robust, and twirl around the bottom of the glass containers. However, in containers, they will die inside my house.

Now that all of the trees have been chopped down on my property, maybe there is enough light indoors for Monstera to multiply with increased indoor sunlight.

My “mother Monstera” is currently on the picnic table, under the outdoor canopy.

When school started this year, there were more requests for “spare plants.” I shared two more, but I needed to think about self-plant preservation. This week, I received news that my job was among those to get the axe due to budget cuts. (Huge bummer at a time when teaching positions have already been filled). Yet, I know myself. If I master the ability to make Monstera babies, I’ll visit my former coworkers and share the wealth.

More on Monstera

With all the hub-bub about this plant, I wanted to learn more.

The Apartment Therapy website, https://bit.ly/2nZtb8k, notes that the plant likes the shade because it is native to the rain forests of southern Mexico and Central America. Monstera is a pretty cool name to begin with, but it is also known as the Swiss cheese plant, Mexican breadfruit or hurricane plant (also very cool names). For simplicity, we can just call it a split-leaf philodendron.

In the wild, it flowers, and produces fruit that tastes like “fruit salad,” the above-mentioned website mentions. The remainder of the plant is poisonous if eaten by people or pets.

The plant is a lot like me, and prefers temperatures between 68 and 86. Too much sun? Also, bad news for the plant.

When these ideal conditions are met, the plant will grow so large it needs a trellis. In a rain forest, the roots will reach out and climb trees.

When I visited the Butterfly Garden in Victoria, British Colombia, this summer, there were Monstera plants that reached to the top of the butterfly habitat. The leaves reminded me of taro plants, only more remarkable because of the notches in the leaves.

Chico certainly isn’t the rain forest, and my backyard isn’t balmy. I might start misting the leaves and placing empty pots near my 10-gallon container. For now, I occasionally yank a new shoot and pull gently so I get a nice chunk of roots, which is about the width of a thick twine.

My research also tells me I should consider transferring my beauty to a larger container.

In the meantime, I’ll hoard the plants and consider trading plants for lunch dates with the nice gals at school.

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