Monstera Experts, a little help for an amatuer, please?!

faerybutterflye(7B OK)April 16, 2013

I've had my Monstera Deliciosa for about 2 1/2 years, since my brother-in-law propagated his mature plant. He gave me a single leaf with some roots & up until now, this plant has done very well for me. In the last 2 years, it has put out 6 new leaves. I lost one as it was opening to a curious toddler, had to cut it off at the base of the leaf & now there's a new little growth. I guess I'll see what happens with it. But my problem is this: my original leaf is looking terrible! It has yellowed with some brown edges & is just looking pitiful. My monstera is very unruly, I didn't realize until recently that I should definitely stake this plant.

We moved a couple months ago & all my plants have had an adjustment period, but my monstera seems to be having the roughest time of it. At our old place, it was right up on a western window & close to a northern window. I put it in an eastern window at our new place, which has dark wood paneled walls that don't reflect light. I'm considering moving it to my bedroom, which has white walls with a western & northern window. I don't think it's getting enough light, because none of my leaves have developed their signature splits. I have a nifty moisture meter (for my orchids, but also used on my houseplants) that I use to figure out when to water. I water when the monstera gives me a reading of medium dry, usually once a week or every 2 weeks. I use regular 10-15-10 plant food, as directed. It's possible that it may have caught a draft from the central heat vent, as it's neighbor (my dracaena) who is closer to the vent, did get a few scorched leaves. But the leaves don't seem scorched?

Also, there are these little brownish things on the bottom of the original leaf & a few on some of my newer leaves. I thought scales, but there is no "honeydew" or mold. And it doesn't really look like pictures I've been able to Google of scale. Is this normal? Or should I be concerned?

I'm trying to figure out how to post multiple pictures in this thread via Picasa, but having a little trouble. I could really use some expert advice about this plant. I love it & don't want it to die on me! I've found some old threads & hoping that these same knowledgeable people will help me out!

This post was edited by faerybutterflye on Tue, Apr 16, 13 at 11:33

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faerybutterflye(7B OK)

This is an image of my whole plant.

    Bookmark   April 16, 2013 at 11:12AM
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I love my Monstera. One of my favorites plants. I am certainly not an expert but from my experience the bottom leaves do seem to slowly give way and shed themselves. It's okay. I just 'crack' the leave off where its attached when it gets too shabby looking. You don't have to do this though. You could just wait till it falls off by itself eventually.

    Bookmark   April 17, 2013 at 3:15PM
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Tiffany, purpleinopp GardenWeb, Z8b Opp, AL(8B AL)

I am not an expert on this plant either, but know that, as a baby plant, it's not yet mature enough to make split leaves. It does look like it could use more light.

Agree, it's perfectly normal for older leaves to be discarded (on any plant.) As long as it is growing new ones as fast or faster than it's losing the old, that's fine. If you let it get a bit more dry between waterings, that may be what it needs, especially if the soil is very dense. Roots need air as well as moisture, so a soil of all very small, fine particles is not usually the best thing, for any potted plant.

    Bookmark   April 18, 2013 at 10:30AM
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faerybutterflye(7B OK)

Bedtime & Purple, thanks for the advice. It's potted in a mix of large wood chunks & organic potting soil, which has always drained well & seems to suit the plant. Like I said, I haven't had problems with this plant EVER, until now. I think maybe the stress of the move is what's bothering it.

I haven't repotted it in a few years, maybe I should dare to repot it this spring. In another month or 2, when our crazy Oklahoma weather quits going from 85 degrees on one day to 32 degrees the next night, I'm probably going to move most of my bigger houseplants outside on my covered eastern front porch or my southern carport, out of the direct sun. I used to do this with my houseplants every spring/summer & they did really well, but for the last 2 years, I haven't had a covered porch suitable for it. Glad we moved to a new house with 2 options!

I think I will maybe just prune the mature leaf off, it gets more pitiful looking by the day, as you can see in the pic. Maybe that will help the plant have more energy to devote to growing new leaves, instead of trying to save this old one. Thanks for the advice, always nice to know I'm not in this alone!

    Bookmark   April 18, 2013 at 11:05AM
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Tiffany, purpleinopp GardenWeb, Z8b Opp, AL(8B AL)

If it's been a few years, especially if the plant has been outside at times, those large wood chunks probably don't exist anymore. I don't know exactly what you mean, measurement-wise, but even large chunks of bark can decompose within a pot inside of 1 year. I know because I use bark/mulch/other wood in pots, and have for many years. I'd say there's a 99% chance the pot is mostly full of mud at this point.

That leaf doesn't meet my "it's too ugly" criteria yet, but that's purely a matter of opinion, your call, the plant can do without it if looking at it doesn't please you. That's the whole point of the plant, right? You see ugly, snip snip, by all means.

There are great arguments on both sides, but I lean pretty hard to the side that says a plant knows best when it's time for an old leaf to go, and therefore would make no effort to save it, only accept whatever it can offer until it is no longer green. Mature vines often have no leaves except in the canopy of a tree.

This is not Monstera, but these "things" coming down out of this Magnolia tree are vine trunks. Surely there were leaves on them when it was a baby vine, starting its' climb up from the ground.

    Bookmark   April 18, 2013 at 12:42PM
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Tiffany, purpleinopp GardenWeb, Z8b Opp, AL(8B AL)

Pothos are similar in that they make juvenile/mature leaves, as you can see on this tree in New Orleans.

    Bookmark   April 18, 2013 at 12:45PM
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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

Hello, Natasha! thanks for the message :-)
As the others mentioned, the older leaves naturally yellow, brown, and then fall off, which can make for an untidy plant at times. This plant does surprisingly well with limited light, but it will do much better if you can increase the light - certainly it will produce more leaves. After a couple years in the same potting mix, the plant is most likely ready for a change. Re-potting once the weather stabilizes is a good plan.

My own Monstera became so ungainly that I pruned it back hard. Over the Winter, I was able to fit it into an area with more light, and lots of new growth has resulted. When these plants are healthy, don't hesitate to prune them for shape and support...otherwise, they very quickly get out of hand!


    Bookmark   April 18, 2013 at 12:47PM
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Tiffany, purpleinopp GardenWeb, Z8b Opp, AL(8B AL)

Syngonium do this also, the juvenile/mature thing. So I would agree with your idea to give it a support to climb. Some vines that have no support to climb may never make mature leaves, but I don't know if that's true of Monstera. Have fun!

    Bookmark   April 18, 2013 at 12:48PM
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faerybutterflye(7B OK)

Purple, thanks for all the amazing pics & advice! I have a syngonium, also. It looks great, but I didn't know they climb! I guess I will let the monstera leaf decide it's own fate, I held off on pruning it until I got a bit more feedback. It's the year of repotting for my houseplants, I didn't do it last year, so I'm sure they all need something new. Hoping I can find a blend they all like & thrive in. I'm currently trying to figure out how to give a few of my plants more support for their needs when I repot soon.

Josh, thanks for responding to the message so quickly! I'm in awe of your plant collection. I love your posts on Pachira, also. I have one of those in my collection, as well. Getting ready to repot them all & migrate them outside :) Any suggestions on a good potting blend that would suit my collection?

I have a syngonium, a dieffenbachia, a monstera, a dracaena fragrans, & a pachira. And a phal orchid, but I already repotted that one.

Also, in the very first pic of the bottom of the leaf, that brown stuff that's on the bottom of the stem where it connects, any ideas of what that may be? Thanks, again. Ya'll are amazing!

    Bookmark   April 18, 2013 at 2:17PM
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Tiffany, purpleinopp GardenWeb, Z8b Opp, AL(8B AL)

One of these BBS stores has a commercial with an idea on which I think we can improve, for epiphytic vines. Form a cylinder of wire/mesh that fits in the pot, all the way to the bottom, sticking up as tall as you decide. Fill the pot and cylinder with "potting mix." In the commercial they planted annuals, but I already have plans to make these for several of my vines, with other stuff leaning/dangling around the bottom edges, like Tradescantias, Thanksgiving cactus, maybe stick some rhizomatous Begonias or other short, likes-to-be-dry plant on top. One could pack quite a few plants and a LOT of vine mass in a small space with this kind of vertical setup.

IME, it doesn't really matter what is in the pot (assuming there's not issues like bad PH,) as the texture of it. As long as the water drains immediately, the plant should be relatively happy.

If you use organic ingredients, they will decompose and change the texture, but may provide more nutrients. This can be confusing since it can cause the pot to take longer and longer to dry out as the tiny air pockets are filled. Letting the soil get more dry is the best way to combat the turned-to-mud thing until you repot, IME.

If you use inorganics, the texture will have much more longevity, but fertilizing would likely be much more necessary.

The house plant and container forums contain many discussions about container soil mixes. Everything from specific recipes to generalizations like "add 50% perlite to bagged potting soil." The time, money, materials available, kind of plants you have, all come into play in these decisions. I would strongly urge you to avoid any kind of moisture crystals or bags of "stuff" with these in there.

In the case of the planting tower I described above, I anticipate I'll fill mine with smallish bark chips, with some potting mix added. Seems appropriate for an epiphytic vine, and will probably need to be "topped off" occasionally.

You might enjoy this discussion about vines in house plant forum and this one in this forum.

I caught the "grow vines up instead of down" bug last spring, and here's a 5-gallon bucket I put together last June, pic taken last week. BIG heart-leaf Philodendron cuttings with 2 oak branches and a metal thing that used to be part of a little storage cart. The welds were weak but this piece is sturdy.

    Bookmark   April 18, 2013 at 3:25PM
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Tiffany, purpleinopp GardenWeb, Z8b Opp, AL(8B AL)

Forgot to add, about the planting towers, they will give aerial roots something to do/somewhere to go well before they travel all the way to the "main soil surface."

    Bookmark   April 18, 2013 at 3:28PM
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faerybutterflye(7B OK)

Purple, I enjoyed those links a lot! Very informative & beautiful pictures to inspire. I found a totem pole made of moss, that's extendable apparently, by 12" sections that snap together. I figure I'd start with a 24" or 30" section, that seems like it would suit my monstera okay right now. And then clip on sections as needed. I'll definitely have to train it with some garden twine. I let this plant get a little out of control on me & it's growing out instead of up. Hopefully that will change with something for it to aerial root on, it already has a huge one that goes back down into the soil & little nubs like it wants to grow a lot more, if it could. If it got too top heavy, I could always just tie it up to a tall stake so it won't lean.

I know exactly what commercial you're talking about! Just saw it on TV, & that seems like a bit out of my budget at the moment. But most definitely a brilliant idea, please keep me posted on how it goes.

I think I'll probably use regular potting soil, mixed with some small chunks of wood, & some perlite. Hopefully that will be within my budget.

Here is a link that might be useful: Mosser Totem Pole

    Bookmark   April 18, 2013 at 4:11PM
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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

Hello, all! I was in a rush earlier, and didn't properly greet the Thread :-) Great pictures throughout!

Thanks, Natasha! My Pachira is back up to six feet tall, and I still haven't gotten it to branch! This Summer, I'm going to take the risk of chopping the trunk well below the lowest leaves...then we'll see what happens. I rooted the top-piece that I chopped last year, so I have a back-up if the motherplant fails.

I don't know much about Syngonium, but the other plants will all do well in bark or grit-based fast-draining mixes. I favor a mix of screened bark (no wood), lava rock, perlite...but turface, pumice, and other durable materials make excellent ingredients.


    Bookmark   April 18, 2013 at 8:15PM
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Tiffany, purpleinopp GardenWeb, Z8b Opp, AL(8B AL)

Faery, just realized I forgot you asked about the brown stuff on the leaf petioles. Could you show another pic? Can't really see that well in the existing pics.

    Bookmark   April 19, 2013 at 7:58AM
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faerybutterflye(7B OK)

Josh, glad to hear about your Pachira. I adore mine & am going to buy her a bigger stake to support her outdoor adventures this summer. It gets pretty windy here in southern OK & I don't want it to snap the stem. I wiped what I think may have been a very few spider mites off the bottoms of her leaves yesterday, hopefully this trip outside will help get rid of those. Never had a problem with them before, & the pachira was the only one that seemed to have them. Living in the middle of a wildlife refuge area has some benefits, like lots of helpful predatory insects. :)

Syngoniums come from the same territory as monsteras, from what I've gathered through Google. So I imagine it would do well in the same type of mix. Thanks for all the help! If I decide to prune my pachira back hard, I may be asking you for one of your thread links to root the existing top-piece I cut. It'd be a big one, just too pretty & large to throw out & waste :)

Purple, here is a different pic of it. I'm just mystified by the brown stuff. It does scratch off with a fingernail, no honeydewish residue or anything like that. I'm wondering if it's just something the plant does itself or if it's some type of scales that Google didn't pop up for me. Thanks again for all your help, also! :)

    Bookmark   April 19, 2013 at 9:50AM
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faerybutterflye(7B OK)

Purple, if you look really hard in the background at the newer leaf stem, you can see it starting to do the same. It's just the most brown on the mature leaf. Hope we can solve this mystery!

    Bookmark   April 19, 2013 at 9:52AM
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Tiffany, purpleinopp GardenWeb, Z8b Opp, AL(8B AL)

I have seen your pic, and if I saw that on my plant, I'd be showing the same pic asking the experts if it's scale. You may want to put that last pic on "garden clinic" forum to elicit more immediate responses, although there are certainly knowlegeable people visiting this forum, just maybe not as regularly.

    Bookmark   April 19, 2013 at 11:36AM
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faerybutterflye(7B OK)

Purple, I took your advice & cross-posted to the garden clinic forum. Only one person answered but said that's normal growth on a monstera. Maybe I shouldn't have scratched it off with my fingernail :-/ Ah, hindsight is always 20/20. I repotted all my houseplants & the monstera took some damage from being out in the crazy Oklahoma wind. I lost a leaf that snapped off in the wind, but I did put together my own homemade sphagnum moss pole for it. Although it doesn't look very pretty, I'm hoping it will work. I took an old heavy-duty stake & one of those cotton mesh laundry bags for delicates, stretched the bag over the stake & filled it with moss, then tied it shut & wet it down. My theory is that the cotton in the bag will be easy enough to break through for the aerial roots. I hope, anyway. I guess I'll just have to wait & see!

I never complimented you on that gorgeous pic of your heart-leaf philo climbing those oak branches! I showed it to my mom, who grows pothos, & we both agreed that's a lovely set-up. Great inspiration!

Thanks for all the advice & help! You're awesome! :)

    Bookmark   April 25, 2013 at 10:33AM
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Tiffany, purpleinopp GardenWeb, Z8b Opp, AL(8B AL)

I saw that, was glad to read that also! Don't remember offhand who answered you, but remember thinking the giver of the advice was someone I'd trust.

We have awful winds here too, sympathy! At least it doesn't come whipping down the plain. Thanks for the compliment, I'll pass it along to the vine. I might encourage your Mom (or you) to try heart-leaf Philo. They're so much less temperamental than Pothos.

Good luck with your new climbing setup!

    Bookmark   April 26, 2013 at 8:31AM
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faerybutterflye(7B OK)

LOL, it really is true that line from the musical "Oklahoma" about the winds coming sweeping down the plains. I'd have to say they really more scream down the plains, IME. You can hear the wind approaching through the trees blocks away, it's kinda cool, but kinda annoying at the same time. It makes a challenge for gardening, that's for sure. And don't even get me started about the severe storms with damaging wind. We get a lot of tree damage around here from those storm winds.

I'll keep my eye out for a heart-leaf philo. They are really beautiful plants & I think I'd enjoy having one.

    Bookmark   April 26, 2013 at 12:30PM
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dellis326 (Danny)

That brown part on the petiole is the geniculum. It is normal so you can leave it alone.

Those mosser poles won't be strong enough to hold a monstera once it grows a bit, they can get big and heavy.

Below is a link to's page on monstera, it's worth a few minutes to look it over.

Here is a link that might be useful: Exotic Rainforest Monstera deliciosa

    Bookmark   April 29, 2013 at 11:58PM
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faerybutterflye(7B OK)

Dellis326, thanks for the tip! I don't know what else to use to support this monster(a), I wasn't supporting it at all the first couple years b/c I didn't realize it was a climber. I fashioned a make-shift moss pole out of a heavy duty tomato stake & a mesh laundry bag stuffed with sphagnum moss that I had left over from repotting my orchid. It is definitely not pretty to look at, but I figured it's better support than nothing. I'm waiting on ordering the Mosser's pole b/c I've been broke lately (& I usually get houseplant gifts for Mother's Day, no telling if I'll need another). I figured that once the monstera gets too heavy for it, I'd just reinforce the totem pole with a heavy duty tomato stake. Do you have a monstera? What do you use to support it?

My monstera is only about 3 years old, still in it's juvenile stage, except for the one leaf that was a part of my brother-in-law's mature plant that he propagated for me. That's the only one with splits in its leaf. Thanks for the link, that's very interesting. And kind of funny b/c I was just thinking how much I like Rhaphidophora tetrasperma, even though it is not a real monstera. I saw one on Ebay for cheap & was considering adding it to my collection.

    Bookmark   May 6, 2013 at 10:08AM
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faerybutterflye(7B OK)

Sorry for another follow-up so quickly, I was just researching how to support monsteras & came across your name in some old threads, Dellis. I obviously answered my own question of whether you own a monstera, LOL. Lovely collection you have there, by the way.

I'm curious, do you think that I'd be better off using something like Purple suggested in her previous threads, such as real branches from a tree, perhaps hand-wrapped in some moss lashed on with fishing string? I have a sweet gum tree in my yard that has been dropping dead branches like crazy...there is also some oak & pecan branches available to me in neighboring yards. Would those be more sturdy than a Mosser pole? I'm open to suggestions & willing to try to create something from scratch.

As you can see in my pic way up top, my monstera is not very large & completely untrained. I'm trying to figure a support for her before I move my plants outside for summer vacation b/c the Oklahoma winds warrant some support. I lost one of her leaves when repotting, guess I could of picked a better day that was a smidgen less windy. Live & learn, though! I appreciate any advice in advance!

    Bookmark   May 6, 2013 at 10:29AM
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Tiffany, purpleinopp GardenWeb, Z8b Opp, AL(8B AL)

Something organic in a pot will rot. How long that takes is a scientific issue too complicated to predict with such variables as the size of wood you are talking about, the makeup of the soil you have in the pot, ambient temps and humidity, watering frequency, plant growth rate, whether or not any cleanup critters get involved, like ants, pill bugs, worms, slugs... Aaaanyway, I would choose metal for a plant who's form I wanted to permanently preserve.

I'm glad you asked because I didn't make that clear in the original context mentioning the branches. It's been almost a year, I'm actually surprised those thin branches, even though they are oak, are not yet rotted. It's the one plant still inside, I've invested almost a year waiting to see what it can "do now" if anything I've not yet seen it do. Putting it outside would speed the decomposition of those branches.

Do aerial Monstera roots need moss? Philo aerial roots don't, they'll just elongate until they reach soil. If they are like Philo roots, the support is just that, support.

    Bookmark   May 6, 2013 at 11:01AM
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faerybutterflye(7B OK)

Purple, I'm glad you came back in on this. I have no experience using natural branches & am just curious. I know that my make-shift support is not going to work permanently. Well, I take that back, it may work at least semi-permanently if I can get my hubby to help me take that bag off & actually soak the moss so I can shape it around the stake in there & then lash it on with some fishing line. (He was out fishing when I made the last one, so I had to wing it without extra hands to help me lash the moss on).

I have no idea if Monstera aerial roots need moss. Mine has 2 large ones that are reaching back down into the soil & several other small ones trying to form further up the stem. I really liked the idea of the Mosser's pole because it's extendable later on. And I know they lean, I just figured that I could reinforce as I got on down the line. I really don't think that I will need to for a while, unless my monstera just explodes this summer outside. Which it very well may, this will be the first year it's gotten to take a summer vacation outside.

    Bookmark   May 6, 2013 at 12:03PM
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Tiffany, purpleinopp GardenWeb, Z8b Opp, AL(8B AL)

Oh I'm there, always there.... you snore, you know!

Found this cool stuff at the hardware store with the mysterious name plastic coated steel wire. It's my new-and-improved fishing line, for some planty things.

That pole sounds cool, know nothing to babble about that...!

My ideas would be more like the steel support posts from chain link fence, and possibly an actual piece of fence, maybe painted green. Something more industrial for the strength, but it's certainly a what you like/have/want-to-spend/look-at thing. The various ideas fascinate me, even if I wouldn't do a particular one for whatever reason.

The amount of time it takes the branches I've used in that 5-gallon bucket/pot will determine if I use oak branches for potted vines again... guess that means I (DH, I can't pick that thing UP!) should put it back outside, Doh!

    Bookmark   May 6, 2013 at 12:42PM
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faerybutterflye(7B OK)

Purple, how did you know my allergies are making me a snoring machine lately? LOL. I guess you really are always there ;-)

I'm broke right now, so my issue is definitely more 'what do I have to work with here.' I still haven't gotten around to redoing that pole I made. Busy day yesterday. I think I may have the time (& extra hands) to do so today. My hubby has been laughing at me for carrying my plants in & out, in & out. I may have to bring them in again, depending on how the forecast pans out.

So far, we've got a 10 day forecast with overnight lows above 50 (FINALLY! for the first time this spring!) but they keep dropping the forecast a degree or 2 at a time, so the lower nights, I'm just going to have to keep a close eye on it. I typically stay up later, anyway, so by 11 pm, I usually have a good idea if it's going to drop low or not. My home thermometer usually ends up with several degrees lower a reading than our Mesonet station (which is 10 miles north & up on a ridge, while we're down in a valley).

I just really hope that my plants do well outside this year, it's made me sad to not have a place for them to put them out for the last couple years. I'm very glad they get to go out this year! :)

    Bookmark   May 8, 2013 at 10:49AM
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Tiffany, purpleinopp GardenWeb, Z8b Opp, AL(8B AL)

Oh yeah! When I lived in an apartment for a year, it was hard, watching the plants struggle. Some years I have more $$ than others, but besides the actual plants, I try not to spend much on gardening. You might like the frugal forum. Kind of static 'cuz about everything's been said, but the discussions still have very valid and useful stuff.

Our little town has no national weather station either, it's a bit of a guessing game. Fun, huh? At least we're all in good company, the whole country is having weird weather lately, one way or another.

    Bookmark   May 9, 2013 at 7:21AM
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dellis326 (Danny)

Hi faery,
Sorry, I haven't checked the board for a few days.

I can't find any recent photos of my Monstera but it is climbing a tripod of bamboo poles. There's no moss on them and the roots are trained down to the soil. My Rhaphidophora is also climbing a single large piece of bamboo. The Rhaph's been growing on the same pole for years and there wasn't any rot on it when I repotted it last year.

I can't comment on sweet gum or pecan but oak has tannins in the wood so it helps to keep it from rotting for a longer period of time, it is also a relatively strong wood to hold the weight as your plant gets bigger.

Don't use Walnut or anything related to them, they might kill your plants.

Just wait until your weather has warmed up. It doesn't make sense to move your plants in and out based on the daily forecast.

    Bookmark   May 9, 2013 at 11:29PM
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Tiffany, purpleinopp GardenWeb, Z8b Opp, AL(8B AL)

That's a good point, Dellis. Any wood from that family (which would include pecan and hickory) could cause problems for some plants. I doubt anybody's studied juglone tolerance for tropical ornamentals.

Anxiously awaiting a pic of your plant!

This discussion is making me curious, isn't there a point when the trunk has become stiff and woody and able to hold itself up? Some Philos can do that...

    Bookmark   May 13, 2013 at 9:37AM
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dellis326 (Danny)

Monsteras won't hold themselves up more then a few nodes. Most philos won't either just the terrestrial or Meconostigma types.
I know Butternut and Chestnut are closely related to Walnut but I didn't know Pecans and Hickorys were.

Here's mine, I lost a foot or two off the top a while back because it pushed itself off of the window. The big leaf on the leaf is about 24" long, the leaves above are the same or bigger. It is just tied to the bamboo, it won't attach itself to it, I think because it is too dry.

    Bookmark   May 13, 2013 at 11:22PM
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My largest Monstera comes off the ground at an angle and is supported by the roots going straight down into the ground. The stem is in the air, it's not climbing anything.

    Bookmark   May 14, 2013 at 8:51PM
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I can't seem to move my plant much without "branches" or leaves breaking off because its so rigid... I've broken a couple of big leaves trying to keep it up... Should I just let it hang...

    Bookmark   July 21, 2013 at 10:07PM
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