The Adanson’s Monstera (Monstera adansonii), or Monstera Monkey Mask, has both the elegant, draping quality of a pothos vine and the charming split-leaf quality of the popular Monstera deliciosa. I’ve had mine for three years now, and it’s consumed the mantle in my bedroom and made an excellent propagation gift for friends. I often see people stop outside my apartment and point up at it, mouthing “oh, cool!” and it feels like a cheat code because it’s been so easy to care for. Like most plants in the monstera family, the Monkey Mask is extremely hardy, and is a plant I would recommend to anyone – beginner or expert.
Here are six things I’ve learned about growing a thriving Monkey Mask over the last three years:
1. The more light the better, as long as it’s indirect.
My Monkey Mask is about 3’ from a large, north-facing window and has grown explosively in the time I’ve had it. When I bought it, it was about 2” tall. Now, its longest vine is about 15’ long. If you’re located in the northern hemisphere, setting your Monkey Mask 1-2’ away from an east- or west-facing window is a great way to ensure it’s getting the light it needs without burning its thin, delicate leaves.
2. Watch those roots.
They will destroy your wall. At first, when I noticed my Monkey Mask climbing my bedroom wall, I thought, sweet! I’d always dreamt of having a room covered in greenery. One day though, as I was misting its leaves, I noticed that the climbing vines had adhered like glue to the wall of my rented apartment. It is, after all, a climbing vine from the tropics. As the Monkey Mask grows, it starts to grow aerial roots off its various stems. These aerial roots have strong adhesive pads that enable the Monkey Mask to attach to and ascend nearby trees in its natural environment. So yes, the climbing is cool, but only when you’re expecting it to happen. To avoid needing to surgically remove leftover aerial roots from your wall, either insert a moss pole in your Monkey Mask’s pot for it to climb, or move the vines so they’re draping off whatever surface your Monkey Mask is on. Which brings me to my next point…
3. Put it somewhere high.
If you have a pet, this serves two purposes: keeping your furry pal safe (it’s toxic) and fully enjoying the effect of the Monkey Mask’s draping vines. Mine is currently draped off a fireplace mantle and over a clock, on its way to eventually being wrapped around a curtain rod.
4. It’s perfect for DIY gifting.
My Monkey Mask has been extremely, extremely easy to propagate. When you’re ready, you can simply cut one of its vines a few inches above a leaf. Then, place the base of the vine (the end that you cut) in a shallow glass of water and place it on a windowsill with indirect light. North-facing windows are great for this if you’re in the northern hemisphere. Change the water in the glass every couple days. After a couple weeks, you’ll notice small roots growing at the base of the vine. When they’re about an inch long, you can plant that cutting in well-draining soil, water it all the way through, then enjoy your baby Monkey Mask, or gift it to a friend who enjoys a touch of jungle in their home.
5. It benefits from a haircut every now and then. As my Monkey Mask grew, new leaves toward the end of its vines got progressively smaller, until it was essentially just growing feet of leafless vines. This isn’t quite the aesthetic I was going for, so I trimmed back the long vines. Within a few weeks, my Monkey Mask started sprouting new shoots from the base of the plant that grew large, healthy, deep green leaves. Every part of a plant requires some energy to maintain, so by cutting back the older, leafless vines, I was freeing up energy for it to grow in other ways, like becoming more lush near its base.
6. Let the topsoil dry out between waterings.
When I first got my Monkey Mask, I watered it too often and its leaves got yellow and limp. I hadn’t considered the fact that it was in my bedroom, which is a spacious room with large windows that tends to stay pretty cool. So, rather than trying to keep it constantly moist, I started waiting for the top 1-2” of soil to dry out completely between waterings. A simple way to check if the topsoil is dry is to stick your finger in the soil and see if it sticks to your skin. If it flakes off easily, your Monkey Mask is ready to water.
While the big Monstera deliciosa has been in the spotlight these past few years, my controversial opinion is that its cousin, the Monstera adansonii (Monkey Mask), is more beautiful and equally easy to care for. For anyone looking for a splash of deep green that requires very little fuss, the Monkey Mask is the perfect plant for you.