Monstera Siltepecana, also known as Silver Monstera or Swiss Cheese Plant (though the latter refers to any number of Monsteras), is a lesser-known variety of Monstera than the ubiquitous Deliciosa.
Care-wise, your Monstera Siltepecana needs up to 3 hours of direct sunlight + plenty of indirect light; 60-90% humidity; and monthly fertilizing during the growing season.
Read on for details!
What is the Monstera Siltepecana?
The Monstera Siltepecana, or Silver Monstera makes a compact houseplant in its juvenile form, with a silver-white variegated pattern on its leaves. Incredibly, it transforms into a completely different-looking plant as it matures.
Its small, ovate leaves enlarge up to 10 inches long (25cm) and perforate as it matures. Its foliage loses its variegation and becomes more glossy, taking on a dark green hue. In this state, it looks much more like the Monstera Deliciosa.
At maturity, it can reach up to 8 feet tall (2.4meters) and 3 feet (0.9meters) wide.
Monstera Siltepecana in Nature
In its native habitat, your Monstera Siltepecana is an epiphytic creeper native to the tropical rainforests throughout Central and South America.
It starts its life at the very base of a tree, hugging it closely as it trains up its trunk. It also forms aerial roots, latching on to trees for stability as it reaches for more sunlight in the upper canopy. Finally, fenestrations (“windows” in Latin) form.
Caring for your Monstera Siltepecana
Accustomed to living under a canopy of trees, your Silver Monstera thrives in bright but indirect sunlight. However, getting 2-3 hours of direct sunlight a day will help foliage grow rapidly and vibrantly. Any more than that, and your Monstera Siltepecana is susceptible to scorch or burn.
Placing your plant right next to North or East-facing windows is your best bet. Your plant will get that few hours of direct sunlight, ample indirect light, and avoid the harsher afternoon sun.
Can they tolerate shade?
Like most other Monsteras, your Silver Monstera can tolerate partial shade. But it will grow much more slowly and develop small and leggy foliage. In this case, your plant will also most definitely remain in its juvenile form.
Water your Monstera Siltepecana in the morning, when the top one inch of soil is dry. This usually works out to be around once a week during spring and summer, but depends on your climate and evaporation rates. In any case, check the top inch of soil before watering.
Like many tropical houseplants, your Monstera Siltepecana is susceptible to root rot. Root rot is a common cause of death due to overwatering, where roots are suffocated or come under attack by a moisture-loving fungus. All this to say, be careful to let the top inch of soil dry out between waterings!
Your hardy plant tolerates low humidity, but give it >50% and ideally 60-90% humidity to thrive. For this reason, it can do well in a tropical terrarium setup!
Alternatively, use a humidifier or place plants together to increase ambient humidity levels. Another way is to place houseplants in naturally more humid environments, like in the bathroom.
The Monstera Siltepecana can tolerate a wide range of temperatures, from as low as 50 degrees F (10 degrees C) to as high as 95 degrees F (35 degrees C). However, it’s best to keep the temperature for your Silver Monstera between 65 – 85 degrees F (18 – 30 degrees C). Also, keep it away from hot air vents and drafts.
Your Silver Monstera can be grown outdoors in zones 10-12 and as long as temperatures are above 50 degrees F.
Soil or Growing Medium
When choosing a growing medium, the most crucial characteristic is high levels of aeration and drainage. Monsteras are known for their aerial roots and, in nature, are never sitting in a pool of water (otherwise known as “wet feet”!).
An optimal growing medium is 2/3 potting soil mixed with 1/3 perlite with added worm castings. Perlite enhances the soil’s breathability and drainage while the potting soil and worms provide a rich, organic medium.
Monstera Siltepecana can do with any liquid houseplant fertilizer diluted to half-strength, but our personal favorite is this one. We’ve seen how using this on our tropical houseplants has really allowed them to flourish.
Fertilize once a month during spring and summer, and only once every 6-8 weeks in winter and autumn.
Many Monsteras are rapid growers with extensive root systems. So, repotting your Silver Monstera is likely to be an annual affair! When you see roots emerging from the bottom of the drainage hole, this is your cue to repot.
As always, remember to use a pot that is 2 inches (5cm) larger. Repotting during the growing season (spring and summer months) is optimal, as the optimal growth conditions allows roots to re-establish in their new home.
Monstera Siltepecana, like most Monsteras, is toxic when ingested in large quantities. This is due to oxalate crystals in stems and leaves, resulting in intense burning of the mouth and tongue, nausea, and vomiting.
If accidentally ingested, quickly wash affected areas with running water, and seek medical attention.
As the Monstera Siltepecana grows, you can easily use clean garden shears to maintain its shape or a bushy look. Always use shears, not scissors, for a clean cut.
Cut just above the node (let the node remain on the plant). Cutting above the node prevents die-back and reduces the risk of infection. New growth will then emerge from this node.
The best way to propagate your Monstera Siltepecana is through stem-cuttings. You can use the same steps for most vining plants.
- Identify a stem with a couple of leaves.
- Using clean garden shears, make a clean cut just below the node such that your stem cutting is 4 inches long. Nodes are the stub on the stem, from which new growth will emerge. Without the node, there will be no propagation! (So, stem cutting should INCLUDE the node).
- Remove leaves from the lower 2/3 of the cutting.
- Place in a jar of room temperature water. Ensure no leaves are submerged, but that the node is under the water.
- Keep in humid conditions under direct sunlight.
- Change the water every few days, using room temperature water.
- Wait for new growth to emerge.
- Once roots grow out 2-3 inches, plant in your chosen (long-term) growing medium.
Instead of using water as a propagation medium, you can also place your Silver Monstera directly in potting mix. Simply follow the steps above, but switch out the water jar for your preferred medium.
We like getting stackable moss poles that can be elongated as your plant grows.
Alternatively, you can opt for a trellis or leave it in a hanging basket. Note that opting for the latter will often mean it stays in its juvenile form. It will require climbing support to mature!
Pests and Diseases
Your Silver Monstera can be vulnerable to the usual gambit of tropical houseplant pests: spider mites, scale bugs, thrips and fungus gnats. Because most of these bugs thrive in moist, humid environments, they are naturally attracted to tropical houseplants. And plants are especially prone to infestations if overwatered!
Scale Bugs: These insects suck on plant sap, robbing your Silver Monstera of essential nutrients. While there are more than 7,000 types of scale, these are usually referred to as either soft or armoured scale. This describes their outer layer – either a waxy substance (soft) or a harder shell (armoured). Once mature, these scale bugs have fully developed their outer layers and are usually so attached to their host plant that extermination is difficult, especially for armoured scales.
Spider Mites: Like scale bugs, spider mites feed on plant sap. These mites use sharp mouthparts to pierce leaves to draw out plant sap, causing injury to plant tissue and cell walls. For a comprehensive guide on spider mites and getting rid of them, read this.
Thrips: Thrips are tiny (1/25 of an inch) flying insects that can be resistant to extermination. They pierce and suck by feeding on plant juices.
Fungus Gnats: These are small, dark insects attracted to moist soil. Adult fungus gnats are not harmful to plants but can be annoying when buzzing around. Their larvae are more troublesome: they live in your plant’s soil and eat its roots for nutrients.
There are several ways to combat each pest and several household solutions to deter them. But our aversion to bugs and the threat of their quick reproduction (most have life cycles of 1-3 weeks and lay hundreds of eggs at a time) means we opt to act decisively. We really like this Insecticidal soap spray for its effectiveness!
It also has the benefit of combating all these bugs in one spray. Just have a trusty bottle on hand, in case.
Why are my Silver Monstera’s leaves turning yellow?
- There are a few reasons for yellow leaves, but the most common cause is overwatering. Check if the soil is damp using your finger. Also, check that your Monstera is planted in well-draining soil (use 1/3 perlite!). Even if you are watering your plant correctly, there is a possibility that your growing medium itself is retaining too much moisture, causing “wet feet”.
- Another reason for yellowing leaves is a lack of nutrients, so check that you’re fertilising your plant properly (see Fertiliser section). Repot in a fresh, well-draining mix (see Soil section for details).
Why are the leaves turning brown and crispy?
- Underwatering is the most common reason for brown and crispy leaves. Ensure you only let the top one inch of soil dry before watering your plant. This should work out to be around once every week, but always use your finger to check.
- A lack of humidity can also cause browning – use a humidifier to increase moisture levels.
Why are the leaves droopy?
Soft, droopy stems and leaves usually mean your plant either needs more water or more light.
- Check if the soil is damp using a your finger. You might need to increase your plant’s watering frequency, checking that only the top one inch of soil is tried before re-watering.
- Otherwise, reposition your plant nearer the window or to a sunnier spot.
Why are my Monstera Siltepecana’s leaves turning pale?
Pale leaves are usually a sign of malnourishment. Ensure you use a houseplant fertilizer once a month during spring and summer and once every 6-8 weeks in winter and autumn. While any houseplant fertilizer will do, we are partial to this one!
Why are the leaves not splitting?
Three things to remember:
- Your plant takes up to 3 years to mature, so be patient. It may be doing well, but it just takes time to develop fenestrations.
- If you’ve waited for this long (!), then the main reason why Monstera Siltepacana’s leaves are not splitting is due to insufficient light. Move your plant closer to the window, and let it bask direct sunlight for 2-3 hours. Opt for an East-facing window in this instance.
- Make sure your Silver Monstera has climbing support. Use either a moss pole or a trellis to ensure your plant has room to grow vertically, like in its native habitat!
These 3 things address the vast majority of problems associated with leaves not splitting.
Frequently Asked Questions
How fast do Monstera Siltepecana grow?
Monstera Siltepecana are rapid growers. When cared for properly, it’s not uncommon for your Silver Monstera to grow up to 1-2 feet (30-60cm) per year!
However, it usually takes 2-3 years to transform into its mature state, and will only do so in optimal care conditions.
Is the Monstera Siltepecana expensive?
Not really. A potted 4-inch plant will set you back ~US$20. So, a pretty average houseplant price. You can buy them on Etsy.
Are Silver Monsteras rare?
Monstera Siltepecanas are far less common than the Monstera Deliciosa and Monstera Adansonii. However, they are readily available online at ~US$20 for a small pot (try Etsy), so we would not consider them rare.
Does a Monstera Siltepeca flower?
Your plant develops a long, white spathe that many commonly refer to as the “petals”. But this white spathe is not technically a flower; it is a modified leaf. The spadix, the spike at its centre, houses the reproductive organs, the flowers.
Can my Silver Monstera Survive Outdoors?
Of course, under the right conditions.
- Your plant needs to get plenty of indirect light, as a window will not diffuse the light it receives. You may choose to plant your Monstera next to other, taller plants that partially shield its light.
- The temperature cannot drop below 50 degrees F (10 degrees C). However, it is still best to bring your plant in during winter.
- You must be in hardy zones 10-12.
Varieties and Similar Plants
There are over 50 Monstera species in the Monstera Genus. Here are some favorites:
Monstera Peru: a rare, rapid grower, this plant has textured, veiny oval-shaped leaves. Unlike most Monsteras, it does not have fenestrations!
Monstera Albo: these are a subspecies of Monstera Deliciosa, featuring white variegations on its waxy green leaves. The white parts are due to the lack of chlorophyll, making this plant harder to take care of. These delicate parts are more vulnerable to sunburn.
Monstera Obliqua: this is the rarest and arguably most prized Monstera. Obliquas have extremely large fenestrations in delicate, thin foliage. They also cost a pretty penny and are slow-growing. But how unique and pretty they are!
Monstera Deliciosa: the houseplant favorite, the Deliciosa delights with large waxy deep green foliage. They proliferate trained up a moss pole and are easy to care for.
Monstera Adansonii: Often misidentified as the Obliqua, the Adansonii also has large fenestrations, but they are still smaller than that of the Obliqua’s. Its foliage also has more texture and sturdiness and is more commonly and cheaply found at garden centres.
Monstera Dubia: These are easy-to-grow shingle plants that enlarge and develop fenestrations as they mature. Mature and juvenile forms look totally different, like the Siltepecana!
Rhaphidophora Tetrasperma: these look-alikes are in the same Araceae family, but they are not Monsteras, despite being nicknamed mini-monstera. These adorable vining plants are easy-going and generally need similar care to Deliciosas.
Love all types of Monsteras? Check out our Round up of Unique Monstera Types (w/Photos!)
Deborah is a plant enthusiast and founder of Gardening Collective.