Monsteras are tropical vining or climbing plants native to the rainforests in southern Mexico and Central America. These exotic-looking plants are prized for their delicate splits and holes in the foliage leading them to the common name of the Swiss Cheese Plant.
However, to ensure they’re looking their best in all their split glory, making sure you’re using the best soil for your Monstera is key.
In particular, although Monsteras are accustomed to frequent rainfall and high humidity levels, they do not like soggy soil which can lead to root rot when they are grown in the home.
Instead, the Monstera soil mix you use should consist of rich, well-drained soil that dries out somewhat between waterings. Proper drainage in the plant pot is important, but providing them with soil that retains moisture and drains well is vital.
There are several commercial soil mixes suitable for Monsteras, but you can also make your own. So keep reading to learn how to choose (or make) the best soil for your Monstera plant to promote healthy growth.
What is the best soil mix for Monstera?
The best soil mix for Monstera plants is nutrient-rich, retains moisture, provides good aeration, and is slightly acidic. Many prefer to use an aroid soil mix for their Monsteras. While you can buy both Monstera soil mix and aroid soil mix, you can also make your own Monstera potting mix with a few simple ingredients.
But spoiler alert: here’s my personal pick for the best soil for your Monstera:
Best soil for Monsteras
Specially designed soil for your Monstera. Light and well-draining, making it perfect for avoiding root rot, while being packed with just the right nutrients to keep your plant happy.
Keep reading to see just what you should be looking out for when it comes to the best soil for Monsteras, including when making your own.
Characteristics of the best soil for Monstera plants?
Although there are many recipes for Monstera or aroid soil available online, the mixture is not an exact science and some ingredients are interchangeable. The following are suitable ingredients for making Monstera soil.
- All-purpose Potting Soil
- Peat Moss
- Pine Bark or Shredded Bark
- Horticultural Charcoal
As a rule, potting mix for Monsteras needs one part humus-rich soil, like commercial all-purpose potting soil or compost, one part coarse organic matter, like peat moss, pine bark, or shredded bark, and one part either perlite or vermiculite. A handful of horticultural charcoal can be added to the mix to improve aeration and drainage.
According to Cornell Farm, a good aroid mix (typically recommended for Monsteras) contains 30 percent all-purpose potting soil, 40 percent shredded bark, 20 percent peat moss, 10 percent perlite, and a scant amount of horticultural charcoal.
The goal is to create a lightweight potting mix that drains well and provides plenty of aeration for the roots of your Monstera plant. By following the formula of roughly one part soil, one part coarse organic matter, and one part perlite or vermiculite you can make your own special blend.
Mix the ingredients in a large bucket or bowl and moisten it slightly. Store unused potting mix in an airtight container for future use.
What’s the best commercial soil for Monstera?
There are many commercial potting soil mixes suitable for Monstera plants, particularly those that contain soil or compost, coarse organic matter, and perlite or vermiculite (or a similar substance) that your Monstera soil needs to drain well and supply plenty of oxygen for the roots.
I’ve tried a bunch of different ones and these potting mixes are my picks for being the best store bought soils for Monstera:
- Premium Monstera Potting Soil by Monstera Plant Resource Center (my personal favorite and the one I use)
- Plant Trail Mix by Southside Plants
- Foxfarm Ocean Forest Potting Soil Mix
Avoid dense soil mixes (like all-purpose potting soil) that can compact with repeated watering or that remain moist for too long.
Those labeled as containing moisture control ingredients are best avoided as they contain beads or particles that absorb and retain moisture. They may keep the soil in your Monstera plant wet for too long and lead to issues with root rot or other diseases.
If you choose to use a moisture control potting mix, monitor the soil moisture levels carefully as your Monstera plant will suffer if the soil remains too wet.
Options for your Monstera plant soil mix
Monstera plants need soil that drains well, is high in nutrients, retains moisture, is slightly acidic and provides plenty of aeration for the roots. This means that all-purpose potting soil isn’t likely to do the trick. But, there are many options available, including mixing your own soil for your Monstera plants.
Whether you use commercial potting mixes or make your own potting mix doesn’t really matter as long as the soil drains well and provides aeration for your plant’s roots. If you use commercial soil mixes, look for one labeled for Monsteras or aroids. Otherwise, mix your own Monstera soil mix with equal parts soil or compost, peat moss, and perlite or vermiculite.
Did you know… that one great alternative to using potting mix with your Monstera is that you can actually grow your Monstera in water?
Can I use cactus soil for Monstera?
You shouldn’t use cactus soil alone for your Monstera as it’s designed for cacti and other succulents that prefer dry soil. It thus does not retain enough moisture for your Monstera plants. You can, however, use cactus soil as part of the blend for making your Monstera soil in place of vermiculite or perlite.
Mix equal parts cactus soil, all-purpose potting soil, and peat moss to make a potting mixture for your Monstera plants.
Can I use compost soil for Monstera?
You should not use compost soil for a Monstera alone as it is too dense and doesn’t provide the aeration and drainage your Monstera plants need to thrive. Compost does, however, make a great addition to Monstera soil to give your plant a boost of needed nutrients.
In addition, on its own, compost really isn’t the best soil for Monstera as it is too nutrient-rich and slightly acidic. However, if you end up adding compost to the formula for your Monstera soil, you can do so with one part compost, one part all-purpose potting soil, one part peat moss, and one part perlite or vermiculite, with this formula working well for Monsteras.
Is orchid potting mix good for Monstera?
Most Monstera lovers avoid using orchid soil for Monstera plants because it drains quickly, making watering and plant care time-consuming. Instead, you should use orchid potting mix for your Monstera by combining one part orchid potting soil mix, one part all-purpose potting soil, and one part peat moss or coco coir.
If you use it alone, you may run the risk of your Monstera’s soil drying out too quickly if you use orchid potting soil mix alone in the container. That said, many houseplant enthusiasts use orchid potting mix for their Monstera plants as, broadly speaking, orchids and Monsteras have the same basic soil needs. If you do that, make sure you keep an eye on your plant’s moisture levels to avoid accidentally underwatering your Monstera.
Want another alternative to potting mix? One option is that you can grow your Monstera in LECA, which has seen great results for this plant. And if you don’t know what that is, take a look at our article to find out!
Is charcoal good for Monsteras?
Adding horticultural charcoal to your Monstera potting soil mix is a good way to improve your Monstera plant’s health and to promote good aeration and drainage. You can do this by mixing one part of horticultural charcoal with 10 parts of soil mix when making a soil mix for your Monstera plants.
In practical terms, that is equivalent to one cup of charcoal to every 10 cups of pre-mixed potting soil mix.
The reason for adding this is because horticultural charcoal boosts plant growth and improves the health of plants in several ways. It helps plant roots absorb nutrients, raises the level of oxygen in the soil, absorbs moisture, filters toxins from the soil, and promotes good aeration.
Is vermiculite good for Monstera?
Adding vermiculite to your Monstera potting soil mix can boost the growth and health of your Monstera plants. You can use vermiculite in place of perlite in your homemade Monstera potting soil recipes, or replace half of the amount of perlite with vermiculite and use them both in the same Monstera potting soil mix formula.
The reason for why vermiculite can be a good idea is because it’s a mineral soil amendment that is mined and then processed into granules. It works to improve both aeration and drainage in a potting soil mix. It also helps your plant’s roots absorb nutrients from the soil.
Another good tip: You can also use vermiculite when propagating your Monstera plants by rooting cuttings directly in moist vermiculite.
Is perlite good for Swiss Cheese plants?
Perlite is good for Swiss Cheese plants as it helps soil retain moisture while promoting aeration. It works by absorbing water then slowly releasing it as your Monstera’s soil dries out, meaning the roots don’t get overwatered while, at the same time, continuing to get enough moisture over time to thrive.
An extra advantage of perlite is due to its form. That is, perlite looks like small Styrofoam beads and because of this, it allows space to form in your Monstera plant’s soil mix. This, in turn, leads to any excess water draining through the soil, so it helps to ensure the soil isn’t holding on to too much water and not turning into an overwatered Monstera, which definitely be a common source of problems with this plant.
Are vermiculite and perlite the same thing?
Vermiculite and perlite are both non-organic soil additives used in potting soil mixes to promote good drainage and improve aeration, but are different products.Vermiculite is a naturally occurring mineral (magnesium-aluminum-iron silicates) that is mined and heated to expand it. Perlite, however, is actually expanded volcanic glass that has been heated to a high temperature.
Through the process of heating vermiculite, this forms a lightweight material that can be used as a soil amendment. Vermiculite looks like brown or silvery granules (or flakes) and comes in fine, medium, and large grains. You can buy vermiculite at plant supply centers and hardware stores.
Perlite, on the other hand, looks like tiny, white pellets of Styrofoam. It can improve the structure of the soil and promotes good drainage and aeration. Perlite is readily available at home improvement centers, hardware stores and plant centers.
Ultimately, vermiculite and perlite are not the same things, but they serve the same function in Monstera soil mixes.
Does Monstera like coffee grounds?
Many plant lovers claim that Monsteras like coffee grounds as it boosts the growth of their Monstera plants, but there is no scientific evidence to support the claims. Some also use coffee grounds in the soil of Monstera plants to increase the acidity of the soil.
On the surface, this seems logical as coffee grounds are acidic and Monsteras like slightly acidic soil. The problem with this theory is that coffee grounds have a pH of 6.8 which barely falls within the acidic range. Based on this, it is unlikely that adding coffee grounds to your Monstera’s soil will lower the pH.
Not only is there no evidence of the growth-boosting or pH lowering benefits of coffee grounds to your Monstera’s soil, there are also some potential negative effects from adding coffee grounds to the soil. This includes:
- Coffee grounds can increase fungal growth as they decay.
- Fungal growth can attract fungal gnats.
- Newly hatched fungal gnats feed on the roots of Monstera plants.
- Too many coffee grounds in (or on the top of) the soil can lead to too much moisture retention, which can lead to soggy soil and ultimately to issues with root rot in Monsteras.
It might not hurt to add a few coffee grounds to your Monstera soil, but use caution with adding too many as it can lead to more harm than good. A better way to use those old coffee grounds is adding them to the compost bin and then using the finished compost to your Monstera soil.
Do Monsteras like acidic soil?
Monstera plants like slightly acidic soil with a pH between 5.5 and 7.0. Most potting soil mixes have a pH close to 7.0 or slightly below as most houseplants prefer neutral (7.0) or slightly acidic soil to thrive. Monstera plants will, however, grow in average or neutral soil, although generally at a slower rate.
You can purchase inexpensive kits to measure the pH of your potting soil at hardware stores and plant centers and see whether you’ve got the best soil for your Monstera in terms of acidity. If your Monstera’s soil is too alkaline (a pH above 7.0), you can lower the pH by adding more peat moss to the mixture. If it’s time to repot your Monstera, that can be a good time to also check the soil pH and adjust it accordingly.
What is soil pH?
Generally speaking, soil pH refers to the acidity or alkalinity of the soil. The pH value is measured by the concentration of hydrogen ions in the soil and is recorded on a scale from 0 (acid) to 14 (alkaline).
A pH reading of 7.0 indicates the soil is neutral. But, don’t be fooled into thinking a number or two on the scale isn’t important. An increase or decrease of 1 point represents 10 times the value. In other words, soil with a pH of 4.5 is 10 times more acidic than soil with a pH of 5.5
The soil pH determines which nutrients and essential elements in the soil are readily available to plants. Matching the soil pH to a plant’s preferences ensures the plant gets the nutrients it needs from the soil, alongside your regular Monstera fertilizing schedule.
What soil pH is best for Monstera plants?
Like many houseplants, Monstera plants grow best in slightly acidic soil. Monsteras prefer a soil pH between 5.5 and 7.0. Nutrients your Monstera plants need are readily available when the soil pH remains between 5.5 and 7.0. Either soil that is too acidic or too alkaline can cause issues with nutrient uptake in your Monstera plants.
It’s for this reason that, when looking for the best soil for your Monstera, the acidity of your Monstera plant soil mix will be key to whether or not your plant thrives in this.
In addition to making sure you’ve got the right soil pH, it’s also a good idea to check you’re using the best pot for your Monstera.
What happens if the pH isn’t right for your plants?
Either low or high pH levels in the soil can lead to growth and health issues, such as nutrient deficiencies because the plant’s roots are unable to absorb the nutrients from the soil. Adjusting the pH of the soil to the preferred level for the plant ensures that the nutrients the plant needs are readily available.
Extremely acidic soil can lead to both nutrient deficiencies and toxicity in your plants. The most common are:
- Manganese toxicity
- Aluminum toxicity
- Magnesium deficiency
- Calcium deficiency
- Low levels of phosphorus
Alkaline soils can also lead to nutrient deficiencies or high levels of sodium in the soil.
- Copper deficiency
- Zinc deficiency
- Manganese deficiency
- Boron deficiency
- High levels of sodium
Does Monstera like moist soil?
Monstera plants need well-drained soil that dries out between waterings and will suffer from soggy soil. Soggy soil leads to root rot and other fungal diseases that can kill your Monstera plant. Monitoring the moisture level in your Monstera plant’s soil is important.
When it comes to how often to water your Monstera, it’s important to check the moisture level in the soil before watering your Monstera plant. Check the soil 1 to 2 inches below the surface with your finger. If the soil feels dry to the touch it is time to water your Monstera plant. Water the plant until water runs freely through the bottom of the pot and then allow the soil to dry again before watering it.
Always empty the saucer or catch basin after watering your Monstera plants. Allowing water to sit in the saucer can cause the soil to remain soggy.
Is Miracle Gro potting mix good for Monstera?
Miracle Gro potting mix is good for Monstera as it’s a light, well-draining medium with a pH level range of 5.5 to 6.2, which is the right acidity for growing Monstera It also comes with plenty of nutrients to encourage growth, not to mention that it’s very reasonably priced.
That said, make sure you look for the Miracle Gro Indoor Potting Mix specifically. This type of mix is lighter weight than some of Miracle Gro’s other products, especially those that are intended more for outdoor plants which often require denser soil.
It’s also considered as being less susceptible to gnats. This is a common complaint of many potting mixes and can be a particular problem for houseplants given that the last thing you want is to accidentally bring a bug family into your house. As such, anything they can do to lessen the chances of that is definitely a good thing.
Just remember that the best soil for Monstera is one that provides sufficient aeration. Based on this, you might want to look at some of the tips I mentioned earlier about how to mix your own Monstera soil mix. That includes adding certain ingredients that can lighten the mix even further to really make sure your Swiss Cheese plant can thrive.