Monstera Dubia, also called the Shingles Plant, is a great vining plant native to the tropical rainforests of Central and South America. 🙂
Caring for a Monstera Dubia is straightforward, but it may not reach maturity indoors if it is not given proper care. It needs 8-10 hours a day of bright, indirect light; high humidity >50%; deep watering every 7-10 days or when the topsoil is dry. Use a moss pole or wooden stake to support its climbing habit, and slow-release fertilizer sticks for added nutrition.
Here’s what you need to know to ensure your Shingles plant grows healthy!
What is the Monstera Dubia, and how does it transform as it grows?
This lesser-known variety of Monstera is known for its small heart-shaped leaves that lay flat against its climbing surface (see photo above). But.. its leaves TRANSFORM as it grows.
Mature leaves enlarge, lose their variegation and break open into slits and fenestrations…. like this photo below!
In the rainforests of Central and South America, the Monstera Dubia grows from a germinated seedling on the forest floor to a vining plant reaching towering heights. It has aerial roots which help it latch onto neighboring trees and structures, growing up to 10 feet (3 meters). This allows the plant to climb above the canopy to enjoy direct sunlight.
How to care for your plant
Monstera Dubia thrives in ample amounts (8 – 10 hours a day) of bright but indirect light, as this replicates the plant’s natural habitat. For best results, place your plant next to an east-facing window.
If you only have access to south-facing windows, utilize a shade cloth or sheer curtains to prevent direct sunlight from scorching your plant.
- As a general rule, water your Monstera Dubia every 7 to 10 days. However, allow some flexibility to this watering schedule, as changes in temperature and evaporation rates impact how often your Shingles plant needs watering.
- Check if your plant needs water by poking your finger into the soil. If the top 2 inches (5 cm) are dry, you can give your Monstera a drink. Another quick check can be by lifting the plant — if it’s heavy, there’s probably enough water content that hasn’t yet been absorbed. If you want to be precise, purchase a soil moisture meter to check the moisture content.
- However, your Monstera Dubia can withstand dry soil for a few days, so don’t fret if you’ve forgotten to water it!
- When you do water your Monstera Dubia, be sure to water it such that excess water escapes from the drainage hole. This ensures that your plant’s roots deep into the pot are moistened.
Over and Under watering symptoms
Over-watering your plant can result in root rot. When the soil is consistently soggy, the roots rot and eventually lose their ability to function effectively. Yellow leaves and mushy, brown roots indicate root rot.
On the other hand, too little water can result in dehydration, with limp, brown and crispy leaves.
Monstera Dubia thrives in 50% humidity or higher. For Monsteras, the higher the humidity, the better. Here are a handful of ways to increase moisture levels in the environment:
- Use a humidifier. Choose one that allows for precise %humidity settings.
- Place your Monstera near a group of other humidity-loving plants.
- Place your plant on a pebble tray (a tray filled with pebbles and water).
Air is particularly dry in winter, so use these methods to increase the humidity around your plant.
Monstera Dubias do well in temperatures between 65°F (18°C) and 85 °F (29°C) — they love to stay warm! It is essential to keep the temperatures over 60°F (15°C) to prevent the plant from becoming dormant.
Also, ensure your plant is placed away from cold drafts and air vents.
What makes your Shingles plant unique is its three stages of growth.
The first stage involves small, oval leaves that are green and silver. These are approximately 2 inches (5 cm) wide and have a variegated pattern. These leaves then grow into the second stage, featuring small holes. The final foliage stage is fenestrated green leaves can grow up to 15 inches (38 cm) in width.
At its tallest, the Monstera Dubia can grow up to 3 -10 feet (0.9 – 3 meters) high. However, Monsteras are slow growers and grow approximately 1 – 2 feet (30 – 60 cm) annually. This means you’ll have to wait a while before it reaches maturity!
To support your vining plant, you can use a range of structures, including a moss pole, bamboo stake, trellis, and totem. If you’re growing it outdoors, a nearby wall or fence shall do the trick.
Read more about how to use a moss pole here.
A well-draining, rich peaty soil that is loose and moist goes well for Monstera Dubia. Lots of organic matter also helps with the plant’s growth. Furthermore, the pH should be slightly acidic, somewhere between 5 and 7.5.
You can purchase a good-quality potting mix from gardening centers near you and add perlite, sand, or grit to enhance drainage. Alternatively, you can form your mix using one part peat moss, one part orchid bark, and one part perlite. You can also use coco coir in place of peat moss.
Feed your Monstera Dubia a slow-release houseplant fertilizer. You can use fertilizer sticks for this purpose, sticking them approximately 2 inches (5 cm) into the soil at equal distances from one another. This ensures your plant gets the nutrients it needs.
If your plant needs a boost during the growing season (spring and summer), use a balanced liquid fertilizer diluted to half its strength every 6 weeks.
Monstera Dubia is a slow-growing plant and therefore requires repotting only once every 2 to 3 years. The best way to tell if your plant needs repotting is by checking its roots. If they protrude out of the pot’s drainage holes, it is definitely time to repot.
However, it’s important to be careful when repotting, as your plant is easily stressed. For this reason, repotting is best done in summer, when your plant is better equipped to handle the change. Here’s how to repot:
- Choose a pot that is slightly deeper and wider (about 2 inches, 5cm) than the previous one and has drainage holes.
- Add a few inches of a suitable potting mix to the new pot, ensuring it doesn’t fill it.
- Lightly water your Monstera Dubia, as this will make it easier to take it out.
- Hold your plant by its stem and gently work it out of its previous pot, using your fingers to gently loosen the soil and untangle the roots.
- Prune the rootball and remove any damaged roots.
- Place the Monstera Dubia in the new pot and add more soil to stabilize it, ensuring the roots are completely covered.
- Even out the soil and water your Monstera.
Monstera Dubia is toxic to both humans and pets when ingested. This is because your Shingles plant contains a harmful substance called calcium oxalate within its sap.
The plant is not deadly if consumed in small quantities, but ingesting too much can result in reactions. Symptoms include mouth swelling, drooling, nausea, and vomiting.
If you suspect one of your family members has consumed the plant, rinse their mouth with milk and seek medical assistance immediately.
There are multiple ways to propagate Monstera Dubia, with two of the best being stem cuttings and root division.
Propagation through Stem cuttings
Here’s how you can propagate the plant using stem cuttings:
- Select a healthy stem with at least three nodes and one leaf.
- Cut off 6 inches (15 cm) of stem, snipping right below a node.
- Let the cutting sit for a few days until a callous develops. This helps with root formation.
- Plant the cutting into a pot, ensuring the callous is buried under the soil.
- Tie a wooden stake to the stem if it needs support.
- Place in a bright spot away from direct light. You should notice new growth within 6 weeks.
Propagation through Root division
Alternatively, you can use the separation method.
This just entails separating your adult Monstera into two by dividing its roots. Repot the separated plant in its own pot.
The advantage of the separation method over stem cuttings is that it allows you to start from an adult plant without waiting a few weeks for it to grow.
Monstera Dubia is resistant to most pests, but if your plant is suffering, it is most likely due to either spider mites or scale.
Spider mites suck the sap of your plant, depriving it of much-needed nutrients. The tell-tale sign of these pests is fine webbing on the underside of leaves.
Thankfully neem oil is quite effective in ridding your plant of these pests. Here’s how to use neem oil.
Scale pierce healthy plant tissue, and suck on sap the same way spider mites do. They can also be eradicated using neem oil.
Why are the leaves turning yellow?
Monstera Dubia’s leaves commonly turn yellow due to overwatering or under-fertilizing. Check the soil’s moisture to confirm.
Feed your plant a houseplant liquid fertilizer at half-strength, every 6 weeks during the spring and summer months.
Why are the leaves of my Monstera Dubia turning brown and crispy?
Your plant’s leaves can turn brown and crispy if they receive too much direct sunlight. Be sure to filter the sunlight you are providing to your plant. This can be done using shade cloth or sheer curtains.
Brown and crispy leaves may also signal too little water, or too dry air.
Why are the leaves droopy?
Monstera Dubia’s leaves become droopy mainly due to underwatering. Other causes can be low light and nutrient deficiencies. Check the soil for moisture levels, and give the plant a good drink if the soil is dry.
How can I encourage fenestrations in my Monstera Dubia?
You can encourage fenestrations in your Monstera Dubia by ensuring your plant receives plenty of bright, indirect light (8 – 10 hours a day is best!).
Frequently Asked Questions
Is the Monstera Dubia expensive?
Yes, Monstera Dubia is a relatively expensive plant. A 4-inch plant can cost ~US$70-80.
One reason why Monstera Dubias are expensive is that they are slow growers, resulting in slower propagation and a limited supply of new plants. This, alongside its increased popularity (thanks to social media and the fact that it is so unique), means that demand for Shingle plants outpaces supply, driving prices up!
Why do the leaves lay flat?
The leaves of Monstera Dubia lie flat on the support they are growing against. This may be a tree or wall in the wild and a trellis or moss pole indoors. As the Monstera climbs the support, its leaves position themselves parallel to it, looking like a shingle on a house. This is also where it gets its nickname, the Shingles plant.
What’s the difference between Monstera Dubia and Scindapsus?
Monstera Dubia belongs to the genus Monstera, while Scindapsus is from the genus Scindapsus Schott. Appearance-wise, the Monstera Scidapsus has spotted shades of dark and lighter green. On the other hand, the Monstera Dubia has splashes of silvery-grey on its light green leaves.
How about the Silver Philodendron (Scindapsus Pictus)?
Another look-alike is the Scindapsus Pictus (nicknamed Silver Philodendron). Like the Monstera Dubia, the Silver Philodendron has silvery variegation. But there are different types of Scindapsus Pictus, as shown below.
Despite its nickname, the Silver Philodendron is not a Philodendron, but rather from the Scindapsus genus. Scindapsus is “skindapsos,” in Greek, meaning “upon tree trunks”. This references its climbing nature.
Appearance-wise, the Scindapsus Pictus ‘Exotica’ most closely resembles the Monstera Dubia, but the Dubia has less of a spotted appearance. Instead, its silvery variegation tends to outline its veins, like below:
How quickly does Monstera Dubia grow?
Monstera Dubia grows relatively slowly, approximately 1 or 2 feet (0.9 – 3meters) annually. Depending on the conditions you provide them, they will reach up to 3 and 10 feet (30 – 60cm) at maturity.
Its slow growth is due to its variegated leaves which contains less chlorophyll. Since chlorophyll manufactures food for growth, less chlorophyll means slower growth.
How do I prune Monstera Dubia?
You need a pair of clean pruning shears (dip in rubbing alcohol to sterilize) for pruning. Cut off yellow and damanged leaves. This will help ensure the plant’s resources are focused on new growth.
You can also trim healthy leaves to control the plant’s size and shape.
Should I use a Moss Pole for my Monstera Dubia?
Yes, a moss pole is an excellent choice for supporting your Monstera Dubia. Cultivating your plant’s natural climbing habit has many benefits, including larger leaves and quicker growth. Read more about using a moss pole here.
Varieties and Similar plants
Monstera Deliciosa, also called the Swiss Cheese Plant, features dark green leaves with a leathery texture. The foliage also has stunning lobing and fenestrations. This variety is easy to care for.
Monstera Siltepecana is a tropical species known by the name Silver Monstera. It has dark green leaves that develop fenestrations when it matures and can grow up to 8 feet (2.4m) tall and 3 feet (0.9m) wide.
Monstera Obliqua is a rare variety featuring papery-thin leaves. The Obliqua Peru is known for its large holes, however, other Obliqua varieties do not have similarly large holes. Some don’t even have fenestrations!
The Obliqua is known for being an expensive, but rare and unique unicorn plant. Here are some buying and growing tips if you are up for the challenge of being a Monstera Obliqua owner!
Monstera Adansonii has large, heart-shaped leaves. These develop slits and holes as the plant matures, giving the plant a striking appearance. It is also often called the ‘Five Holes plant’.
Other Monsteras we Love
- Monstera Pinnatipartita – a plant that transforms from oval, bubbled leaves into a palm-like frond!
- Monstera Peru – a rare, vining plant Monstera with textured leaves. It doesn’t have fenestrations.
- Monstera Lechleriana – large leaves with fenestrations near the midribs.
- Monstera Subpinnata – beautifully lobed leaves that give off a tropical feel. 🙂
- Monstera Esqueleto – the skeleton Monstera, with double fenestrations!
Next, check out our Round up of Unique Monstera Types (w/Photos!)
Deborah is a plant enthusiast and founder of Gardening Collective.