By Ruby Howells

Since the age of thirteen, I have had an obsession with plants. It started with cacti, then gradually expanded to typical succulents, and in more recent times to larger and leafier varieties of plants. Back at home, I have about 15 assorted cacti and succulents, but my parents would never let me cultivate anything larger than the size of your average soup bowl.   Moving to London has given me the perfect opportunity to start a new collection of plants –  this time through my own drawings. Each entry in my “Plant Diaries” series will include a plant doodle and some tips on how to care for the plant, along with  some fun facts woven in too. Many of the species featured will be suitable for new plant parents, so there will be plenty of inspiration for anybody keen on beginning their own green-fingered journey! 

Plant Diary #1 – Monstera Deliciosa

The ‘Monstera Deliciosa’ is more commonly known as a Swiss cheese plant, or simply by ‘Monstera’. These lovely, leafy specimens are known for the holes or ‘fenestrations’ in their leaves. Monsteras are a low-maintenance plant, and are not that picky about where they are put in your house – they can grow in low light environments as well as in the sun, but like any plant that photosynthesises, their preference will always be in a well-lit spot. Just don’t put them in strong, direct sunlight as their leaves can burn! Monsteras appreciate being watered once the top 50% of soil is dry. You should water the plant until the water has flowed through the soil and there is excess in the dish beneath the plant (on that note – always keep some sort of vessel beneath the plant to collect excess water  –  I’ve found pasta dishes to be the best. Nobody likes root rot, which can be caused by over-watering). For a treat, give your Monstera a mist once a week, ideally in the morning, as that way the water has time to evaporate. If you notice the leaves beginning to yellow, it is most likely due to over-watering. Monsteras are not particularly hungry plants, and only need feeding once a month; just a small amount of fertiliser makes a huge difference to its health. During the winter months, give your Monstera a break from fertiliser – it will appreciate it a lot! Like any plant with large leaves, Monsteras have a habit of collecting dust, so be sure to use a damp cloth to keep the leaves healthy and free of dirt. And to any of you who have pets, make sure you keep your Monstera away from your furry friends as they are mildly toxic.

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