Monstera plants hold a high position among American plant enthusiasts for their easy care and large, fenestrated foliage. Fertilizer For Monstera is also a big topic, but we will get to that momentarily.
With over 7 billion people worldwide, it’s easy to call any houseplant “popular.” In fact, the fenestrations have earned monstera plants the curious nickname of “Swiss cheese plant.”
But there are a few things you don’t want to skimp on when caring for these plants, and one of the most important is fertilization.
Fertilizer For Monstera
All houseplants need fertilizer to some degree, and monstera plants don’t need much to thrive. Here’s everything you need to know to provide your Monstera with the best possible fertilizer.
Why Is Fertilizer So Important?
Mother Nature is an avid fan of recycling.
When a plant loses leaves, an insect dies, or an earthworm poops, these bits of waste are absorbed and broken down into the soil.
This replenishes the nutrients plants use, which helps ensure the ecosystem remains stable.
Some heavy feeders, such as maize, can pull more nutrients than can be restored, while peanuts actually give more nutrients than they take.
But when growing plants in a container, the rules change.
There’s no stable ecosystem in a potted plant’s environment, so what nutrients leave the soil has no natural way of being replaced.
This can result in the plant’s slower, stunted growth and a much higher risk of contracting diseases.
Repotting helps to some degree because you’re completely replacing the spent potting medium.
However, fertilizer closely mimics how nature works, ensuring your plant always has what it needs as it needs it.
The Golden NPK Ratio
When purchasing fertilizer, three key macronutrients are always listed.
The NPK ratio is essential, and the percentages given represent what percent of that fertilizer is that particular nutrient.
Nitrogen (N) is essential for healthy foliage growth, but too much can become toxic.
Phosphorus (P) promotes healthy blooms but also assists in foliage growth, although too much can leech away potassium.
Potassium (K) promotes strong stems and boosts the plant’s immune system.
The golden ratio for monsteras is 3-1-2, meaning 3% percent nitrogen, 1% percent phosphorus, and 2% percent potassium.
However, multiples of this ratio also work, such as 9-3-6 or even 18-6-12.
Just be warned that the higher the concentration of NPK, the more you’ll need to dilute it.
Liquid or Slow-Release?
Since we’re talking about dilution, it’s a perfect time to discuss the debate between liquid-soluble and slow-release fertilizers.
Slow-release can come in granules or spikes and are designed to break down over time.
The advantage to these (and so many gardeners swear by them) is that you might only need to apply them once or twice in a growing season.
Unfortunately, the nutrients all break down at different rates, meaning your plant will get a burst of one nutrient and next to nothing of another.
As a result, we really don’t recommend using slow-release fertilizers when you have a choice.
Liquid-soluble fertilizers are another matter entirely.
These fertilizers can be diluted easily, and the nutrients absorb directly into the soil for immediate, balanced benefits.
While you’ll have to apply them far more often, liquid fertilizers are given when it’s time to water the plant, so you really won’t even notice the extra work involved.
Macronutrients and Micronutrients
So far, we’ve discussed the three main macronutrients, but plants need a lot more than those to remain healthy.
In fact, every plant needs a total of 17 different nutrients, although many of these (such as oxygen and carbon) can be easily gained from the plant’s environment.
The macronutrients your plant consumes are:
The vital micronutrients (i.e., you only need to provide trace amounts) your monstera will need are:
Remember that tap water is still unhealthy for your plants due to the mineral salts and excess chlorine (and fluoride) present.
Always follow the instructions on any packaging and dilute if you have a high concentration. Higher concentrations may also mean less frequent feedings.
Slow-release fertilizers can vary greatly, but a 3-1-2 liquid fertilizer will need to be added monthly during the growing season.
Keep in mind that if you have a bigger concentration, you’ll need to dilute, so a 9-3-6 will need to be diluted by ½ while 18-6-12 needs to be diluted to ¼ strength.
In some cases, you may need to add some additional micronutrients.
Some common sources of extra macronutrients are Epsom salts (magnesium), eggshell tea (calcium), and dirty aquarium water (multiple nutrients, but make sure there are no chemicals in the water).
Understanding when your plant is running low on a particular micronutrient can take a little practice and how much to give, but the results often speak for themselves.
Signs Of Improper Fertilizing
Finally, let’s take a moment to look at your plant’s signs when it needs more or less fertilizer.
Every plant is unique, so there may be times when you find one monstera needs more and another needs less.
Signs Of Under-Fertilizing
The most obvious sign of under-fertilizing is a condition called chlorosis, where the plant begins to develop yellow spotting due to a problem with producing chlorophyll.
Remember that several conditions can lead to yellow spotting, so rule out disease or infestations before upping the fertilizer dosage.
Signs of Over-Fertilizing
Too much fertilizer can produce several symptoms, and there are three possible solutions:
- Skip a fertilizing session (mild symptoms)
- Flush the soil (moderate symptoms)
- Full soil replacement and root rinse (severe symptoms)
The most obvious symptom is a white crust forming on the soil surface, caused by excess mineral salts.
If caught early enough, this can be fixed through flushing but often needs a full soil change if allowed to accumulate.
Another potential sign is if your monstera’s leaves turn yellow at the tips or margins, followed by browning.
While there are other potential causes, this most often happens from chemical burns to the roots caused by too much fertilizer.
Signs That Can Mean Either
Wilting is one of those signs that can mean just about anything, and it may be a side effect of both too much and too little fertilizer.
If you see wilting, try first to rule out other potential causes, then look for additional symptoms that will tell you if you need more or less fertilizer.
Likewise, slow or stunted growth can be caused by a lack of fertilizer or by excess fertilizer, causing damage to the roots.
This sign can be tough to spot unless you like taking pictures of the plant because monsteras are such slow growers.