Monstera is a beautiful, large, evergreen vine that comes from the tropical regions of the world.
Its unique leaves and verdant green color make it a sight to behold and something that every gardener wants to have in their garden or, at the very least, wants to admire at some point in their lives.
Caring for this plant takes time and effort, especially as it can live for up to 40 years, but one thing that many people don’t really consider when buying the plant is that it needs to have a certain kind of soil mix to sustain itself.
This soil isn’t particularly hard to come by or difficult to make, it is just a plant that can be particular in its wants and needs.
As such, we have decided to create an article that shows you what the best soil mix is for monstera and how you yourself can create this mix with minimal effort.
The Preference Of Monstera
Monstera is an evergreen vine that grows in the tropical rainforest regions of Central and South America, a place known for having daily rain cycles.
As such, the preferred soil of monstera is one that suits this environment, which is to say aerated and well-draining soils.
Soils that have good aeration allow for the diffusion of air with them, which not only allows for the roots to absorb CO2 and oxygen through their roots, but helps moisture travel through the soil more easily.
Since monstera grows continually throughout its life, then it will need a continual supply of these molecules in order to fuel that.
Good drainage is also important, as it helps water and moisture to travel through and soak the soil, while letting it also drain out in a continual process.
Monstera comes from an environment where water does not stay in one place, but flows continually over the forest floor in daily rainstorms.
This means that monstera like to absorb water constantly, but cannot deal with it when it puddles.
However, if the soil drains the water too quickly, monstera can’t absorb the water it needs to survive, and if it drains too slowly, then monstera may begin to suffer from root-rot and the root system may begin to die.
Making Your Own Soil: The pros
Potting mix is generally very easy to get or to buy, especially when it has been pre-made by someone else.
However, this does not mean it is the best for your plant or worth getting in the long run.
You really don’t know what exactly is put in the potting mix, and most of the time it can just be chemicals instead of what your plant wants or needs.
These chemicals can be pretty harsh and can sometimes lead to the death of your plant instead of its continued growth.
If you make your own mix, you know exactly what goes into the potting mix and exactly what it needs.
If something goes wrong with the mix, you can pinpoint the possible cause instead of fumbling in the dark.
Lower Cost For Better Quality
Potting mixes can be pretty expensive. They charge you not only for the ingredients, but for the perceived labor made in mixing those ingredients.
However, you can get the full range of those ingredients for a very cheap cost and mix yourself within 20 to 30 minutes.
Your own potting mix won’t be as cheap as the cheapest potting mix available, but it will be better and will still be far cheaper than the best potting mix available.
Not only that, but pre-made bags of potting mix are always very small, whereas the ingredients you buy will always have a large amount in each purchase, making them more cost-effective and able to last ages.
If you buy all the ingredients, you can make the potting mix as you like it. It is the difference between buying a ready meal curry and buying all the spices to make the biryani yourself.
While the ready meal is easy, the homemade biryani has far more flavor, and you can actually notice the different flavors instead of it all being mashed together.
If you feel like your potting mix is missing something you can add it and see what it does, which you can’t really do with a pre-made potting mix, because you are unsure of the ingredients in the first place.
Your plant will also notice the difference, which makes it all the better, as they will flourish under your guidance.
Best Ingredients In A Monstera Soil Mix
As with every plant, there is always a preferred soil mix. For most, it is tied heavily to what their native land is like and for others it is simply a soil with any nutrients that they can get their hands on.
However, for monstera, there are a couple of ingredients that it definitely prefers:
- Perlite: This is a volcanic glass that appears like pebbles like stones. These rocks are incredibly porous – meaning they have minute holes or gaps within them, allowing liquids or air to very slowly pass through. They help the soil become less compact – keeping the soil aerated – and help it be well-draining – keeping the moisture and water in the soil pooling.
- Orchid Bark chips: This is bark that has been shredded or chipped from a plant or tree (in this case, orchids). The chips are sturdy and coarse, which helps break up the soil and keep it aerated and well-draining. They also break down over time and provide nutrients to the soil itself, which is then absorbed by the plant.
- Coconut Coir: Coir is a substance that is taken from the outer husk of the coconut. It is incredibly good at water retention, being able to absorb 10 times its own weight in water, and so keeps the soil moist while not pooling the water in one area.
- Activated Charcoal: Charcoal is highly porous and is carbonized wood. It is in fact used by survivalists to purify water and can do this in your soil. It can get rid of the soil’s impurities, absorb excess moisture, repel insects and other pests, and stop the formation of mold.
- Worm casting: Worm castings are basically worm excrement, which may sound nasty, but it is one of the primary reasons that soil is fertilized around the world. The castings are normally just soil purified by the worm’s digestive trait and are full of nutrients, which the plant needs to grow and reproduce.
The alternative you can buy if you can’t get hold of these ingredients is just a normal potting mix, but even getting a normal soil with one or two of these ingredients is going to be so much better for your plant than this option.
Percentage Of Each Ingredient
For your potting mix, you are going to want to include some ingredients more than others.
There is a fine balance that you walk with each one, as even though they are all great, too much of a good thing can harm instead of help.
Here is the ratio:
- Perlite = 25%
- Orchid bark chips = 20%
- Coconut coir = 20%
- Charcoal = 10%
- Worm Casting = 10%
- Soil = 15%
All you have to do after you have measured each one is to mix them in a big bowl or a bucket, before using it on your monstera.
Most soil will end up in either the bottom or the middle of the pot, surrounding your plant on all sides.
But there is also a type of material that goes on the very top of your pot, and this is dressing or top dressing.
People use different things depending on where they live and their environment, for example, some people may place pebbles on top of the pot so that it is harder for moisture to evaporate and when it does, it creates a misting effect to humidify the plant’s surroundings.
Dressing can also keep away pests and fungi, which are attracted to the moisture of the soil and feeding resources of the plant, leading them to lay eggs in the soil, which will lead to an infestation that could doom your plant.
You can use many objects for this, and it really depends on what effects you want to happen.
Sphagnum moss is laid on top often to help retain moisture, but it attracts pests, so if you live in a dry arid place with few insects then it is great.
Orchid bark does the same thing, but is harder for pests to breach, as are pebbles, but is much less effective than the moss.
Basically, take a look at the climate and environment around you and see what your plant will need to protect itself.
Preparing Your Soil Mix For Your Environment
As we stated in the previous section, the environment is important to determining what you are going to need for your monstera. This includes the soil mix.
While we determined that the soil mix above is the perfect ratio of ingredients for our homes and environment, it may not be the same for you and your home.
As such, there are a few things to take into account:
If your region is affected by different temperatures than the monstera is used to, then you need to take this into account.
A hotter, drier climate will make water evaporate quicker, as such you need to think about changing the ratio of ingredients to account for this.
In this example, you might want to use more coconut coir and put sphagnum moss as the dressing in order to combat this moisture loss.
Whereas in a colder, more humid climate, you will need to create warmer, drier conditions, which can be done with more perlite for drainage and pebbles as the dressing.
Your soil mix needs to take into account your watering habits and schedules.
If you are a person who tends to overwater your plants, then you need to make sure that your monstera’s soil mix allows for plenty of drainage, maybe by putting more perlite in the soil, and that it has more nutrients readily available, so they aren’t constantly washed away, maybe by adding more worm castings.
Alternatively, if you underwater your plants regularly, you need to do the opposite of this and make sure moisture is constantly available for the plant without making it constantly wet.
This can be achieved with coconut coir, for the moisture, and activated charcoal, to keep the moisture at a reasonable level, and maybe some sphagnum moss as a dressing, so the water is retained for longer.
Make sure you keep an eye on your watering, as without monitoring, your plant may begin to wilt, the monstera’s leaves may begin to curl, and the plant may even begin to develop root-rot, which can take some effect to not only control but to stop from entirely decimating the plant.
A monstera pot mix may seem difficult to procure or make, but quite honestly it is not that hard and once you have the recipe done, it can be done easily over and over again.
After a while, you may begin to wonder why you ever bothered to buy pot mix in the first place.