Plants in the genus Monstera are from Central America and are able to grow outdoors in the proper climates. However, this plant is most commonly found growing indoors as a popular house plant.
An essential part of keeping any plant healthy is providing the proper conditions for it to grow, and at the core of this is the soil you grow it in. By looking closer at this species’ natural growing conditions, we can determine the best soil to grow Monstera in.
The best soil for growing Monsteras indoors is a custom blend of soil and soil amendments. This will often contain varying ratios of potting soil and additions such as coco peat, orchid bark, peat moss, coco chips, perlite, and/or pumice.
By providing your plant with a special mix of soil, you can improve the aeration, drainage, and pH, and even increase the nutrients available to your plant.
When you use a specially formulated soil mix for your Monstera, you can know you are providing it with what it needs to thrive.
You’ll also likely encounter fewer issues and health problems with your plant. We’ll cover why a standard potting mix isn’t suitable for your Monstera, and what to use instead, below.
Can I use indoor potting mix for Monstera?
Although it is possible for your Monstera to grow in a regular indoor potting mix, there are a few reasons why you shouldn’t use one.
Even though Monstera plants are native to humid, tropical regions of Central America, their roots are sensitive to overwatering and can develop root rot if they sit in wet conditions for extended periods of time.
This means that a well-draining soil is essential to your plant’s happiness, which a standard indoor potting mix won’t provide.
Indoor potting mixes are also prone to compaction, which starves the roots of the oxygen they need to survive. In combination with moist soils and poor drainage, this further increases the chance of your plant developing root rot.
That being said, if you decide to buy or make your own special mix for your Monstera, about 30% of the mix will be indoor potting soil! It’s the additional ingredients and soil amendments in the other 60% of the mix that help keep your plant healthy and happy. We cover some examples of suitable mixes later on in this article.
Do Monsteras like bigger pots?
Although Monsteras tend to grow quite large above ground (or tall, if you train them to climb a post as a vine), they actually prefer their roots to be a little cramped.
Monsteras will continue to grow even if their pot is small relative to their size, so repotting your plant into a larger pot may not have the desired effect.
If you re-pot your plant into too large a pot, you may actually stall its growth. A larger pot means more room for roots, and your plant will likely put above-soil growth on hold while it focuses on growing more roots.
It also means more soil to hold water, but fewer roots to absorb it. This could cause your plant to develop issues like root rot due to sitting in moist soil, or you might overwater your plant because the pot is so big.
To keep your plant healthy, happy, and growing, repot it every 2-3 years (or less) into a pot no bigger than 1-2 inches (2.5 – 5 cm) larger than the pot it is currently in.
In addition to using the proper soil, using an appropriately sized pot with adequate drainage holes can help keep your plant healthy.
Can I use all-purpose soil for Monstera?
An all-purpose soil, depending on the brand, is likely similar to a standard indoor potting mix. All-purpose soils can contain additions of peat moss or compost, but do not have the chunky organic matter (like bark or coco chips) needed to add proper draining and aeration for your Monstera.
An all-purpose soil may be a suitable component of a homemade Monstera soil mix, but shouldn’t be the only thing used. Read on to learn more about additions you can add to your soil to make it more suitable for your Monstera plants!
Can I use cactus soil for my Monstera?
Like Monsteras, cacti and succulents can be sensitive to overwatering or soils that hold too much water. Because of this, a cactus soil mix might be suitable for your plant if another well-draining or Monstera-specific soil mix is not readily available.
A cactus soil mix shouldn’t be the only thing you use to plant your Monstera in, however. It can be used as part of a soil mix for your plant but needs to be added to other soil to hold enough moisture to support your plant.
Cacti mix is most often used in place of vermiculite or perlite in a Monstera potting mix. The cacti soil improves the drainage in the pot and prevents the soil from becoming oversaturated.
Can I use an orchid potting mix for Monstera?
Orchid potting mix is designed to drain quickly, which is preferred by orchid plants. Although Monstera potting mixes should also be well-draining, they also need to retain moisture.
This might seem contradictory, but the ability to retain moisture actually refers to the absorption and then slow release of water from the soil as the roots need it.
Drainage is needed to avoid over-saturation that will rot roots, but the soil should absorb and slowly release enough water to provide ongoing hydration to the root system.
If you only use an orchid potting mix for your Monstera, you will find that the soil dries too fast and needs to be watered frequently.
This can make it tricky to gauge how much watering your plant needs and you run the risk of allowing roots to dry out and die. For these reasons, an orchid potting mix is not recommended as the sole planting medium for your Monstera.
Instead, use it similar to the cactus mix above, as an addition to the soil in your custom Monstera potting mix.
Can I use compost soil for Monstera?
Although compost-heavy soils will provide a lot of the necessary nutrients for your plant, they are too dense to be used as the only soil in your Monstera pot.
Dense soils like this run the risk of getting compacted and starving your plant’s roots, as well as holding too much moisture. Compost soil will likely remain moist for a long time, especially if in a pot with inadequate drainage holes, and could rot your plant’s roots.
If you are concerned about poor nutrient availability for your plant, add a percentage of compost or fertilizer to a custom Monstera soil mix instead.
What is the best pH for Monstera soil?
The pH, or how acidic or basic a soil is, is another important component to the health of your plant. The value of pH is measured by the concentration of Hydrogen ions present within the soil.
The scale of pH ranges from 0 (acidic) to 14.0 (alkaline/basic) with 7.0 representing “neutral”. Most house plants, including Monsteras, prefer slightly acidic soil. This means the pH should be around 5.5 and 7.0 for your plant to be happy.
The pH of your soil is important because if the pH is either too high or too low for your plant’s preferences, it can lead to nutrient deficiencies.
Proper soil pH ensures that your plant’s roots are able to absorb the nutrients it needs from the soil. If the soil is too acidic (pH lower than 5.5) this can cause your plant to suffer from a variety of issues, such as toxicity from Manganese, Aluminum, Magnesium, and Calcium, as well as a deficiency of Phosphorus.
On the other side of the scale, soil that is too alkaline or basic (pH over 7.0) will often cause an excess of Sodium in the soil as well as prevent the uptake of Copper, Zinc, Manganese, and Boron, causing deficiencies.
So, how do you manage the soil pH for your potted plants? Luckily this can be pretty easy to do if you know what additives will adjust the pH of your soil.
Adding compost, manure, peat moss or other organic soil amendments to your soil will help it become more acidic by adding nitrogen, which is often preferred by Monstera plants. You can even use fresh coffee grounds!
If you suspect your soil is too acidic for your Monstera (less than 5.5 pH), you can try adding baking soda (dissolved in water first), limestone, or wood ashes.
Be sure to look up exactly how much of each of these things you should add based on your plant size, otherwise you risk adjusting the pH too much!
How do you make Monstera potting soil?
If you look online for Monstera potting soil, you’ll find a lot of options. You can purchase pre-made Monstera soil for your plant, but be sure to check the ingredients!
A good soil mix should contain regular soil as well as a combination of other amendments in varying sizes and absorbancies to help improve the drainage, aeration, and moisture retention of the soil. Make sure you aren’t just buying regular potting mix in a fancy bag!
Alternatively, you can easily make your own Monstera potting mix with just a few ingredients. This option is nice if you have a lot of Monstera plants to pot since you can buy each ingredient in bulk and likely save some money.
You can easily customize your mix to match the humidity and temperature of your local climate, as well as make use of ingredients that you may already have (like standard indoor potting soil).
In general, a Monstera potting mix may contain a combination of:
- Indoor potting soil or all-purpose soil
- Peat Moss
- Coco Peat
- Coco Chips
- Shredded, Pine, or Orchid Bark
- Horticultural Charcoal
If all these ingredients seem overwhelming to you, you can keep it very simple! Your Monstera soil will ideally have a 1:1:1 ratio with:
- One part soil such as indoor potting mix or all-purpose soil – you can add some compost to this if you want your plant to have extra nutrients
- One part rough organic matter – coco chips, pine bark, orchid bark, or shredded bark all work well for this
- One part moisture retainer – this might be perlite, vermiculite, pumice, coco peat or peat moss, or a combination of these. To keep it simple, stick with one or two.
- Optional: add a handful of horticultural charcoal into the mix to improve the drainage and aeration of your soil even more
Remember, this is a general guideline! You can play around with more or less of each ingredient to see how it works for you and your plants.
If your house is more humid than average, you may need fewer moisture-retaining components. If you tend to forget to water your plants, adding more perlite might benefit you by retaining and slowly releasing water over a longer period of time.
The important thing is to make a lightweight, well-draining soil that can support your Monsteras health in the long term.
Once you decide which ingredients you’ll be using, it’s time to start assembling your soil. To avoid making a mess, mix your soil outside or put down a tarp or sheet inside to keep the soil in one place and make cleaning up easier.
Use a bigger bucket than the total amount of soil you would like to make (e.g. if you want to make 1 litre of soil use a 1.5 or 2-litre bucket), to allow room for mixing in components.
Add everything you want into the bucket, and combine it well so each ingredient is evenly dispersed.
Once mixed, you can keep your new soil in an airtight bag or container and use it whenever you need to re-pot your Monstera plants.
Keep an eye on how your plants do with the switch and pay attention to the moisture levels in the soil. With changes to how the soil drains and retains moisture, you may have to adjust your watering schedule to accommodate the new conditions.