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The Best Soil To Use For Monstera Plants

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The “Swiss Cheese Plant” or Monstera Deliciosa is quickly becoming a very popular tropical houseplant. The plant with the naturally occurring holes and slits in the leaves is an easy plant to care for…as long as you know what it needs.

They need plenty of indirect light, high humidity, warm temperatures, and of course a great soil. When you go to the local nursery or home improvement store you are faced with tons of sacks of soil.

Which should you choose for your tropical Monstera plant? Will an all purpose potting mix work? Do you need a tropical potting mix, or something else altogether?

We’re here to help take out any confusion and help you to make the best decision for what soil your Monstera plant will thrive in. We’ll offer several options you can use straight out of the bag, and a few recipes for making your own Monstera mix.

Natural Soil Habitat Of Monstera Deliciosa

These plants come from tropical regions and grow in rich, natural, nutrient dense soil. In the wild rainforests where they come from the forest floor is continually covered with leaf litter, animal droppings, and is aerated by worms and other insects.

The best soil will replicate these conditions as closely as possible. You’ll need something rich, well draining, and aerated. You can get soil mixes that have added fertilizer, or you can add your own.

Proper Aeration Is Essential

The last things we want in our houseplants are insects or bugs, so how do you aerate the soil without adding creepy crawlies to your plant’s soil?

There are plenty of options for aeration out there. Perlite, vermiculite, pumice, and coconut coir all help to lighten the soil and allow for oxygen to flow freely through the dirt. We’ll discuss all of these ingredients in detail later.

Also, make sure any pot you use for your Monstera has plenty of drainage holes. You need excess water to be able to run out because if the roots stay soggy, root rot will quickly set in.

Monstera Plants Need Some Level Of Moisture Retention

The roots on these plants need to have some level of oxygen, but they also need enough moisture in the soil so they can absorb as much water as they need to remain healthy.

Moisture retention is just as important as aeration. The best type of moisture retention for these plants stays light and airy and doesn’t compact down like loam and clay. Peat moss, perlite, and coconut coir do these jobs excellently.

Watch Out For Fungal Growth

Fungal growth is a sure sign that your soil is getting way too much water. Monstera plants do need plenty of water, but they can handle periods of drought better than can handle consistently soggy roots.

If you see fungal growth, cut back on watering, or add something to help aerate the soil more, like perlite.

Outdoor plants usually don’t have to worry about fungal growth. It’s usually dryer outdoors and the natural breezes help to keep fungus from setting in on houseplant soil.

Won’t Any Regular Potting Mix Work?

When I first started getting into houseplants a lifetime ago, I thought dirt was dirt. I would purchase the cheapest bag I could find, and if I was really in a pinch, dirt from outside in my yard seemed a good substitute.

Yeah, I can hear a lot of you cringing now. I learned my lesson with plenty of starved, weak looking, and dying plants. Since then I have learned that there are as many different types of soil as there are plants.

While some premixed soils can work for most plants, for the best results, you really do need to find a specialized mix for certain varieties. Monstera deliciosa and other aroids are no different.

For these plants, you need a rich mixture that has plenty of organic material, is well draining, but also retains moisture. Wait, don’t those three attributes tend to cancel each other out? If it’s well draining, it can’t hold moisture, right?

And if the soil allows for quick draining, how will it be able to hold nutrients? Sure, there are orchid mixes and cactus soils that allow for quick draining, but they don’t hold much as far as nutrients, and they dry out quickly.

At the same time, a soil mix that retains moisture will have a lot of nutrients, but if the soil compacts, won’t the roots have a hard time breathing? Which will lead to root rot, fungal problems, and possible insects such as fungus gnats.

To overcome these problems, there are specific soils made just for Monstera plants and other aroids. Some other mixes will work fine for these plants if the watering schedule is adjusted accordingly.

First, though, let’s go over signs your Monstera may be telling you they don’t like the soil they’re in, and the best ingredients to look for in a Monstera soil mix.

How To Tell Your Monstera Isn’t Happy In The Pot

I don’t know how many houseplants I killed by repotting them in whatever kind of dirt I had laying around. When they started wilting, turning yellow, and dying I would mistakenly add more water or fertilizer in an effort to “make them healthy” again.

Little did I know, everything I was doing was just helping to finish them off. Root rot was a big problem that I didn’t know existed. After all, they’re tropical plants and are used to getting a ton of rainfall all year long. I was so misinformed.

Monstera plants are relatively vigorous and hardy, but they will tell you when something is off. If you see yellowing leaves that droop and turn brown, chances are it’s getting too much water.

If you check the roots and see grey, mushy roots mixed in the soil, then they have root rot and have been sitting in water for too long.

When the leaves start turning yellow but are not accompanied by drooping, or the whole plant starts to look unhealthy, that’s a sign it needs more nutrients in the soil.

If the plant is green but droopy, it’s thirsty and needs some water. If you’re watering it regularly, but it still droops, the soil might be too loose and needs something to retain moisture longer so it has time to absorb the water before it rushes out of the drain holes.

Best Soil pH For Your Monstera

Monstera plants like soil that’s slightly acidic. This helps them with nutrient uptake and also allows beneficial bacteria to grow in the dirt. The best pH numbers are between 5.5 to 7.0, which is neutral.

While the plant can tolerate and still survive pH’s beyond these numbers, it won’t thrive as it could. To know what the pH your soil is, you can use a simple pH testing kit.

If the soil is too acidic, add some lime to bring it back in line. If the scale is too high (basic) you can add sulfur to the soil to increase the acidity.

Most potting mixes include ingredients such as sphagnum peat moss, organic plant matter such as ground bark, compost, or pine needles, coconut coir, and materials that aid in aeration such as perlite or vermiculite.

Some brands even add in sand, wetting agents, fertilizers, earthworm castings, charcoal, or pumice depending on what type of mix they are creating.

Let’s go over these ingredients to see how they work for your Monstera plants.

  • Sphagnum Peat Moss: Present in most types of potting mixes and sold by itself, this material helps to retain moisture and prevent the dirt from compacting too much.

Peat moss is harvested from bogs and wetlands and has recently come under fire for being bad for the environment. Though technically this is a renewable resource, it’s considered non-renewable because it takes so long to create more.

Peat moss can take up to 50 years to renew itself, and the harvesting way outpaces how much is being created. Also, peat absorbs a lot of carbon from the environment, but when it’s harvested and dried, all of that carbon is released making this doubly harmful to the environment.

  • Organic Plant Matter: Ground up bark, pine needles, leaves, and processed compost help to provide most plants with the majority of nutrients they need for proper growth.
  • Coconut Coir: This material is a great alternative to peat moss. It’s the ground outer, hairy covering of a coconut. It provides potting mixes with great moisture retention without compacting.

Coconut coir is also naturally antifungal and antibacterial.

  • Perlite: This is the styrofoam looking white particles in most potting mixes. It’s basically volcanic materials that are superheated which causes it to become very porous and lightweight.

Perlite is used to help make potting mixes lighter and aids in aeration. It can also retain moisture, so it’s a great dual purpose ingredient.

  • Vermiculite: This material is more expensive than perlite but it also helps to keep potting mixes aerated and fights soil compaction. Vermiculite is mined from silica deposits.
  • Pumice: Another volcanic rock that is very porous and extremely lightweight. Pumice is used to aerate the soil and prevent water logging.

Pumice pieces are added to orchid mixes and are often used in bonsai mixes.

  • Earthworm Castings: These can be purchased on their own to help add nutrients to the garden or soil mixes. Some premium potting mixes add these to increase the nutrients organically.

Earthworm castings are a polite way to say worm poop. Worms eat leaves and other organic plant material as they tunnel through the ground and leave these compact pellets that are full of vitamins and minerals that plants love.

  • Wetting Agents: If you have ever tried to water dry soil, especially seed starting mixes you’ve no doubt noticed how some soils can be very hydrophobic. Meaning the water beads up on top or runs right out the side and bottom without soaking in.

Some manufacturers add wetting agents that break this surface tension and help the dirt retain more water and get wet easier. Powdered kelp is one of the most popular surfactants or wetting agents.

6 Best Monstera Potting Mixes And Two DIY Mixes

Depending on how often you want to water your Monstera and what materials you prefer, there are plenty of mixes to choose from. Each of these has its own pros and cons and will work great for your Monstera Deliciosa.

For those of you who embrace the DIY challenges and love the versatility and satisfaction of making your own, there is also a “recipe” for great Monstera plant soil. These are not placed in the list in any order, so the first in the list isn’t the “best,” and the last mention isn’t the “worst of the best.”

1. Tropical Climber Soil Blend

Oh Happy Plants Tropical climber blend
Oh Happy Plants Tropical climber blend

Everything about this soil and the company, Oh Happy Plants tries to be as sustainable as possible. This mix starts off with coconut coir instead of peat moss and even the bag is compostable.

This mix doesn’t use perlite because some have concerns about fluoride that can come from it. They also don’t use any ecologically detrimental nitrogen based fertilizers in their mixes.

Instead Oh Happy Plants adds ingredients such as alfalfa meal, flax seed, and rock dust to feed your plants.

This potting mix provides plenty of large chunks for drainage but also helps to retain enough moisture so your plants get plenty of water to the roots.

The one con with this mix is it’s fairly pricey, but with all the ecological practices and premium quality, the cost is well worth it.

2. Gardenera Aroid Potting Mix

Premium Aroid Potting Mix - Soil Free Blend for Aroids - Growing Medium for House Plants by Gardenera - (2 Quart Bag)

Hand mixed in small batches, this aroid specific potting mix includes orchid bark, coco coir, perlite, horticultural charcoal, and earthworm castings. This provides the aeration, moisture retention, and nutrients your Monstera needs to grow big and healthy.

Not only is this a great mix for Monsteras, but it will work wonderfully for Pothos, Pothos, Philodendron, Alocasia, and more similar plants. This potting mix closely resembles the natural soil these plants come from.

The only con with this mix, like the previous entry, is the price. It’s expensive, but considering your Monstera could live for decades if it’s taken care of, it’s worth the higher tag.

3. Miracle-Gro Tropical Potting Mix

Miracle-Gro Tropical Potting Mix, 6 qt. - Growing Media for Tropical Plants Living in Indoor and Outdoor Containers

If you’re looking for a more budget friendly type of mix that will suit your Monstera, reach for Miracle-Gro’s Tropical Potting mix.

This beginner friendly mix has Miracle-Gro’s fertilizer and states it will feed your plants for at least 6 months. With added lava rocks for aeration, this mix is great in a pinch or if you’re looking for something simple and easy to use.

The materials used in this mix help to combat and prevent fungus gnats while also providing plenty of moisture for your plants.

There is one con to be aware of, but it can be worked around. This mix may hold too much moisture for your Monstera plants. To avoid root rot, water your Monstera less frequently and with less water.

You can also add perlite or something else to add better aeration if the soil just stays too damp.

4. Monstera Imperial Houseplant Potting Soil Mix by rePotme

Monstera Imperial Houseplant Potting Soil Mix by rePotme - Standard Bag (8 Quarts)

This resealable bag contains a unique mixture of coco coir, vermiculite, perlite, and stalite. Stalite is another porous, soil aerating material that helps to both lighten potting mixes and retain moisture at the same time.

One great thing about stalite is it’s pH neutral. While peat and coco coir are both slightly acidic, the stalite won’t contribute to acidifying the soil.

This Monstera soil blend is crafted in small, newly crafted batches so you won’t have to worry about getting an old, moldy bag of soil.

The one con is the price. This is another pricey mix, but again it’s a premium, small batch mix that your plants will love.

5. Burpee Premium Organic Potting Natural Soil Mix

Burpee, 9 Quarts | Premium Organic Potting Natural Soil Mix Food Ideal for Container Garden-Vegetable, Flower & Herb Use for Indoor Outdoor Plant

Burpee is a national, well known brand and this mix is processed without any chemicals. It’s a completely organic mix with coco coir, compost, perlite, and a feather meal and poultry manure fertilizer.

The pH on this mix is 6.8 so it’s got the perfect balance for your slightly acidic loving Monstera plants. There can be a few large chunks in the bag, but these won’t harm your plants.

These oversized chunks are just added aeration. If there was a con to this mix it would be the water retention. You’ll have to pay attention to how much water to give to your plants for the first month or so to make sure you don’t accidentally overwater them.

6. Gardenera Premium Monstera Potting Soil

Gardenera Premium Monstera Potting Soil - Quick Drain Potting Soil for Growing and Repotting Monstera Deliciosa/Swiss Cheese Plant - 1 Quart Bag

This mix is both sterile and non toxic so you don’t have to worry about introducing fungal or bacterial infections to your plants.

When it comes to plant nutrition, this mix contains earthworm castings and biochar. The worm castings break down and provide nutrients while biochar is great at retaining potassium, phosphorus, and nitrogen.

This mix contains large pieces of perlite and bark for aeration, and it has coco coir for moisture retention. You’ll have to water your plants a little more often with this mix, but you’ll barely have to worry about root rot because of the increased aeration.

Mix Your Own Monstera Soil

The first mix is a simple 3 ingredient Monstera potting mix that’s easy and economical. All you need is a good quality indoor potting mix such as Miracle-Gro, Espoma, or whichever brand you like to use, orchid bark, and coarse perlite.

Mix equal parts of each ingredient and you have a simple, easy to use Monstera mix. If you can’t find coarse perlite, regular perlite will work. The coarser particles only help to aid in moisture retention and aeration.

A More Involved Monstera Mix

Maybe you want something that is just a little better and adds more natural sources of plant food. If that’s the case, try out this mixture here: In a wheelbarrow, bucket, or large bowl mix 4 parts each of orchid bark and perlite, 3 parts moistened coco coir, and 1 part both activated charcoal and earthworm castings.

This mix provides everything your Monster plants need. Aeration is provided by the orchid bark and perlite, while moisture retention comes by the coconut coir, and perlite, the charcoal (biochar) aids in moisture and nutrient retention. The worm castings help to feed your plants.

If you’re not a fan of perlite or vermiculite, you can use pumice. Horticultural Pumice Soil Amendment is a lightweight, natural substitute for perlite. Normally used for cactus, succulents, and bonsai trees, this pumice will provide plenty of drainage for Monstera plants.

Simply add one part of this volcanic stone to 2 or 3 parts potting mix. Adjust as needed if you need more or less drainage.

How Often Should I Water Monstera Plants Using These Mixes?

When to water your Monstera plant depends on a lot of environmental factors, so it’s hard to say whether you should water them once every so often. Plants outside will need to be watered more often because of the wind and added heat.

A potting mix that drains very well will need to be watered more than a mix that holds water longer. Bigger or root bound plants will also need more water than newly planted, or smaller plants. Water needs will even fluctuate depending on the time of year.

It’s better to underwater your Monstera Deliciosa than it is to over water it. A drooping plant is easier to care for than one that has root rot.

What you can do is visually inspect the soil, or even dig your finger into the pot to the first bend (knuckle). If you feel moisture this far down, skip watering for a day or two. If it’s dry an inch or so down, consider giving your plant a drink.


Can I use an orchid mix for Monstera plants?

The answer here is no, and yes. Don’t use an orchid mix if that’s all you plan on using. The coarse bark won’t retain enough moisture for your Monstera plant to thrive. If you plan on adding some supplements to the orchid mix, then yes you can use it.

You’ll have to add potting mix, coco coir, peat moss, or compost to the plain orchid mix. Adding some of these materials will give the roots some more moisture and help to keep your Monstera healthy.

Is Cactus potting mix suitable for Monsteras?

Cactus mix is designed to replicate the desert, but Monstera plants come from tropical climes. You can use cactus mix if you absolutely need to, but it will dry out quickly and you’ll need to water the plant more often.

To make cactus mix work for Monstera plants, you’ll need to add some peat moss, coco coir, and probably some perlite or orchid bark for drainage. Better yet, mix up your own Monstera mix or purchase one of the products in this list.

When should I repot my Monstera plant?

Ideally, your Monstera should be repotted once every year or two. They are relatively fast growing plants that will need extra space for their roots over a time.

If the soil no longer holds water for as long as it used to, or if the roots are sticking out the bottom, it’s definitely time to put it in a bigger pot.

Why is my Monstera drooping after I repotted it?

If the roots were damaged during the repotting, or it got too much water, the Monstera could droop for a time right after potting it. This process is stressful to the plant and it could be nothing more than transplant shock. It should perk up again after a few days or a week.

The Verdict

Monstera Deliciosa is a popular tropical plant that needs a certain type of soil to grow best. Here we have provided plenty of options that replicate their natural habitat as best as possible.

You can also mix your own soil if you’re so inclined. The main things, when it comes to potting mix, for these plants include proper drainage to prevent root rot, and enough moisture retention so the plant can get water and nutrients.

Peat moss, coconut coir, and compost are ingredients that can provide moisture retention. Perlite, pumice, vermiculite, and orchid bark all add much needed drainage to the potting mix, and compost and earthworm castings provide natural nutrients for Monstera plants.

More Monstera guides