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Potted plants: Monstera, Philodendron, Monstera acuminata, Monstera deliciosa, Philodendron pertusum, Monstera pertusa, Monstera pittieri

Potted plants: Monstera, Philodendron, Monstera acuminata, Monstera deliciosa, Philodendron pertusum, Monstera pertusa, Monstera pittieri


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Classification, origin and description

Common name: Monstera, Philodendron.
Kind: Monstera.

Family: Araceae.

Etymology: it seems to derive from the Latin "monstrum", a strange prodigious thing, referring to the size of the leaves of some species belonging to the genus.
Origin: tropical regions of America.

Genre description: includes about 50 species of climbing plants, evergreens, with stems equipped with knots, from which aerial roots originate which attach themselves to the support on which they develop, thus also integrating the supply of nutrients. The leaves, presenting the phenomenon of heterophyllia, at the juvenile stage, have lamina and entire margins; while at the adult stage they can have different shapes and sizes depending on the species: lobed, laciniate, pennatifid leaves, with full or discontinuous margins, with the lamina perforated in a regular or irregular way. The borderline case is represented by M. obliqua expilata which has the leaf blade reduced to little more than a thin segment at the level of the ribs with a very small margin, which often breaks at the holes. The flowers appear very difficult, especially in the apartment. The best known species of the genus is M. deliciosa, which is then what is commonly called "philodendron".

Monstera deliciosa or Philodendron pertusum (photo website)

Species and varieties

Monstera acuminata: this species, originally from Guatemala, belongs to the species with leaves with a full margin and perforated lamina. There are many species that present this characteristic and, at the juvenile stage, are difficult to distinguish, given that the leaves all have oblong-oblique lamina, with sharp apex and whole margins, assuming the perforations of the lamina characteristic of the species only as adults. Probably those found on the market are not even real species, but only hybrids obtained in order to search for endurance qualities.

Monstera deliciosa or Philodendron pertusum: in Mexico, the country from which it comes, it can reach a height of 6 m. and the leaves measure up to one meter in length and 60 cm. wide. In our climates the dimensions are considerably reduced. The phenomenon of heterophyllia, in this species, is so pronounced that at the beginning it was classified as belonging to the genus Philodendron and is still commonly called philodendron. At the juvenile stage, in fact, the leaves are heart-shaped, with a sharp apex and lamina and entire margins (similar to those of many Philodendron species). At the adult stage, however, they take on the characteristic aspect of the species with strongly carved margins and oblong holes on the lamina both along the central rib and in the segments. At the level of the nodes it emits adventitious roots with nourishing and supporting function. In summer it can produce white-greenish inflorescences (although very rarely occurs in the apartment), which appear isolated or in small groups, consisting of a spadix, protected by a 10-15 cm long spathe. cream color. The fruit following the conical flower has a banana and pineapple aroma and a sweetish flavor that always resembles pineapple. Contains "crystals" that can sting the mouth. On the market there are several varieties among which we remember: "Borsigiana", which has smaller dimensions than those of the type species and "Variegata", which has variegated leaves of yellow or cream-white, which then tend to become completely green .

Monstera pertusa: native to Panama and Guyana, this climbing species has a very thick foliage characterized, in the adult specimens, by whole margins and perforated lamina.

Monstera pittieri: native to Costa Rica, this climbing species has thin leaves, with a sharp apex and a silvery-green color.

Monstera deliciosa or Philodendron pertusum (photo website)

Environmental requirements, substrate, fertilizations and special precautions

Temperature: the minimum winter temperature should not drop below 13 ° C. In this period, at high temperatures, such as those that can be found in heated apartments, there must be an adequate increase in atmospheric humidity.
Light: good and diffused, sheltered from the sun's rays. In low light the internodes will tend to lengthen and the leaves will become smaller, also losing the characteristic perforations, almost regressing to the juvenile stage.
Watering and environmental humidity: water abundantly in spring-summer; reduce doses in autumn-winter. In any case, attention must be paid to stagnation, which is lethal to the fleshy roots. Plants of this genus require high environmental humidity (especially at high temperatures) which can be increased by placing the pots on terrines containing gravel always kept wet. Spraying and washing of the foliage will also be very useful. It is important to try to guide climbing plants on moss-coated braces which, always kept humid, will contribute to raising the environmental humidity and will favor the absorption of nutrients by the adventitious roots. The basal aerial roots can be gently folded downwards so that they "fish" in the wet gravel or in the soil, making sure that they are never in direct contact with the water.
Substrate: potting soil consisting of equal parts of leaves and peat soil, with the addition of sand or perlite.
Special fertilizations and tricks: from March to September administer liquid fertilizer every 3-4 weeks. The pots must not be particularly large, given that the root system of these plants is particularly little expanded. In February-March, it will be useful to replace the surface layer of the substrate with fresh soil. When plants exceed 30 cm. tall it is good to prepare a moss-coated brace, around which to grow them. The leaves should be regularly cleaned of dust with a damp cloth.

Multiplication

They multiply by placing, in a pot with peat and sand, at a temperature of 24-25 ° C, a cutting obtained by cutting the apical part of the plant with a leaf just under a knot. The substrate should be kept just moist to avoid rot. They can multiply practically at any time of the year, although perhaps better results can be obtained in late spring. To obtain cuttings, lateral shoots can also be used, when present and provided they have reached a length of at least 15 cm. and portions of stem. The method is always the same. The difference between the top and stem cuttings lies in the fact that from the first ones, plants with already characterized adult leaves will be obtained; while from the latter, plants with juvenile-shaped leaves will arise which will require optimal time and conditions to assume the definitive form. Plants that are particularly bare in the basal part can be multiplied by air layering.

Diseases, pests and adversities

- Leaves with brown spots, especially on the margins: exposure to too low temperatures.

- Leaves that turn yellow, especially in winter: excessive watering.

- Cotton mealy bugs: can attack plants, especially in hot and dry climates. You have to remove them, treat the plant with an anticoccidic product and raise the humidity level (the spraying and the washing of the leaves allow to eliminate the cochineals in the larval state). As an alternative to the chemical, the affected parts can be rubbed with a cotton swab wet with water and alcohol.

- Red spider mite: mite that develops easily in hot and dry environments. It can be prevented from appearing by spraying the leaves and keeping the ambient humidity high (for example by placing the plant on a bowl filled with pebbles always kept wet, making sure that the water never reaches the bottom of the pot). It is fought with acaricidal products.


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