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Monstera is the genus name for 22 species of plants that are found in the rain forests of Central America, South America, and the tropical climates of North America, such as Mexico. It is a member of the family Araceae, one of the most varied families of plants in the Americas. Although most species of plants in the genus Monstera are easy to grow in tropical areas or in warm greenhouses, the Monstera deliciosa species, also called the Mexican breadfruit, is among the most well-known of the group.
The leaves of the plants in the genus Monstera may vary widely. In fact, the leaves of a single species may alter their form as they become more mature. Generally, the leaves are green in color. They may be egg-shaped and toothless, or they may be deeply lobed, giving them a finger-like appearance. The adult plants also may form petal-less flowers. Typically, a single flower will grow from the axils of the leaf.
If the temperature will not drop below 59°F (about 15°C), plants in the genus Monstera may be grown outdoors. They tend to climb, so they prefer to grow on archways or up and around palm trees. They require partial shade as well. In addition, this genus is prone to spider mites, soft rot, fungal spots, and scale insects. As a result, fungicides and pesticides may need to be applied to treat these pests and diseases.
If they are grown indoors, the plants in the genus Monstera must be in a greenhouse that has high humidity and areas of indirect sunlight. They need plenty of water during the growing season, but may be watered sparingly otherwise. If fertilizer is used, it only needs to be used monthly. Some pruning may be necessary for this genus of plant to grow well indoors as well.
One of the most popular species of Monstera is Monstera deliciosa. It is commonly known as the Mexican breadfruit or the Swiss cheese plant. It is a vigorous climber, growing to 70 feet (about 21.3 m), and has green, egg-shaped leaves. The leaves can grow to 36 inches (roughly 91.4 cm )long. The flowers are white and grow during the spring and summer months. Occasionally, the plant also may produce a cone-shaped fruit that is edible. The edible fruit tastes similar to pineapple, but other sections of the plant may cause nausea or skin irritations.