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Monstera Dubia Plant Care Guide

Discover how to properly care for the rare, stunning monstera dubia houseplant, including meeting its specific light, humidity, soil and water needs to avoid common issues.

The monstera dubia, also known as the shingle plant or ceriman, is a stunning tropical plant that is gaining popularity among indoor gardeners. With its enormous, glossy leaves and natural leaf holes and splits, it makes a dramatic statement in any space. However, caring for this rare aroid requires meeting its very specific environmental needs. This guide will cover everything you need to know to keep your monstera dubia healthy and thriving.

What is a Monstera Dubia?

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The monstera dubia is a species of flowering plant native to southern Mexico and parts of Central America. It’s part of the aroid family (Araceae) along with other popular houseplants like philodendrons and pothos vines.

As part of the same genus as the iconic Swiss cheese plant (monstera deliciosa), the dubia shares that variety’s famous naturally perforated leaves. However, the dubia tends to have longer, more narrow leaves that are oval or spear-shaped rather than round.

Mature dubia leaves can reach up to 4 feet long and 2 feet wide! The thick, leathery blades are a deep green hue with pale green veining and a distinctly grooved, shingle-like texture up close. The holes and splits become more elongated and oblong as the leaves age.

In their natural habitat, monstera dubias are robust climbing vines attached to tree trunks by thick, aerial roots. Indoors, they maintain a more manageable 3-6 foot height from the soil line to the highest leaves.

While an impressive ornamental plant, caring for the finicky dubia requires replicating its native tropical rainforest conditions as closely as possible. Let’s take a look at the specific care requirements.

Light Needs

Monstera dubias need very bright, filtered light to actively grow and produce their signature foliage. In their native Mexican forests, they receive dappled sunlight and shade from the upper canopy.

Indoors, position your dubia within 3-6 feet of an unobstructed east or west-facing window. Make sure the intense midday sun is filtered through a sheer curtain or shaded.

Signs of too much direct sun include pale, washed out colored leaves or brown, crispy patches from leaf scorch. However, dubias also cannot tolerate low light conditions or they’ll become leggy with smaller leaves.

Aim for at least 6 hours of bright, indirect light each day. During winter when sunlight is lower, consider supplementing with a grow light.

Temperature and Humidity

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Warm, humid conditions are absolutely crucial for monstera dubias to thrive. These tropical plants need temperatures consistently between 65-80°F year round.

Cooler temps below 50°F can cause the dubia to go dormant and drop its leaves. Never expose it to frost or freezing conditions as it will quickly perish.

High humidity levels above 60%, ideally 70-80%, must also be maintained around your plant. Low humidity leads to leaf browning, crisping around the edges, and potential leaf loss.

Use a cool mist humidifier, humidity tray, or group your dubia with other humidity-loving plants. Frequent misting can also help raise moisture levels.

Never place a monstera dubia near drafts, heat vents, or air conditioners as the blasts of dry air are very damaging to the leaves.

Soil Requirements

Like many aroids, the monstera dubia is an epiphyte in its native habitat, which means it anchors itself to trees and other surfaces rather than growing in traditional soil. As an epiphyte, it requires a very chunky, well-draining, yet moisture-retentive soil mix.

An ideal dubia potting mix contains one part peat-based potting mix, one part orchid bark or coir fiber, and one part perlite. You can also add 5-10% horticultural charcoal to help aerate the mix and prevent odors.

The potting medium needs to have excellent drainage yet still retain enough moisture for the plant’s moisture-loving roots. Any sign of soggy, overly saturated soil leads to root rot issues quickly.

Only pot your dubia in containers with multiple large drainage holes, never ones without adequate drainage. Terra cotta or breathable fabric pots work well for these plants.

Watering

Watering Monstera Dubia Plant Care Guide

Proper watering technique is critical and one of the trickier aspects of monstera dubia care. The goal is to maintain consistent moisture without overly saturating the potting mix.

Use the “knuckle test” and water thoroughly once the top 2-3 inches of soil begin to dry out slightly. Then, allow any excess to drain completely from the bottom of the pot before replacing your plant.

Signs of overwatering include yellowing lower leaves, soft rotting stems, fungus gnat presence, and consistently wet, dense soil. Underwatering shows up as wilting, drooping, or severely dried potting mix.

During the active growing season of spring through fall, dubias may need watering every 5-7 days depending on conditions. Cut back the watering frequency slightly in winter as growth slows.

Fertilizing

Feed your monstera dubia every 6-8 weeks during the warmer months using a balanced liquid fertilizer diluted to 1/2 strength. Look for fertilizers formulated for bromeliads, epiphytes or aroids that contain key micronutrients.

You can also use a slow-release granular fertilizer applied according to label directions if you prefer less frequent feeding. However, be very careful never to over-fertilize!

Signs of overfertilization include build up of fertilizer salts on the soil surface, scorched or burnt leaf tips, and wilting from root damage. Excess nitrogen specifically leads to lush foliage growth but inhibits flowering and weak stems.

During winter dormancy, avoid fertilizing altogether to allow your dubia to rest. Proper fertilization is key for maintaining lush, robust growth.

Pruning and Maintenance

While dubias are relatively slow growing houseplants, some light pruning is required to maintain their shape and appearance. Use clean, sharp pruners or scissors to remove any severely yellowed, dead, or damaged leaves as needed.

Cut off any unsightly aerial roots growing above the soil line if desired for aesthetic reasons. Trim off old faded flower spathes once they deteriorate, though houseplants rarely flower.

Be careful never to prune too heavily into the main trunk as this could damage or even kill the plant. Simply remove untidy growth, leaving as many green leaves as possible intact.

Periodically wipe dust and debris from the large leaves using a damp cloth or soft brush. Dust buildup inhibits photosynthesis and detracts from the monstera’s beautiful leaf texture.

Repotting

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Plan to repot your monstera dubia every 2-3 years by stepping up to a container 2 inches wider than the previous pot. Refresh the soil mix completely using the chunky, well-draining potting medium described earlier.

Some root trimming is acceptable to help fit the plant into its new home, but avoid overly aggressive root pruning. The best time to repot is in late winter or early spring right before the growing season kicks off.

Potential Problems

With their very specific environmental needs and care requirements, monstera dubias are unfortunately prone to a number of potential problems if conditions aren’t just right. Common issues to watch for include:

  • Yellowing leaves – Too much moisture in the soil, overwatering
  • Browning leaf tips/edges – Low humidity, underwatering
  • Leaf spots – Various fungal or bacterial diseases due to wet leaves
  • Wilting/drooping – Lack of water, low humidity, or overly wet soil
  • Small leaves/leggy growth – Inadequate lighting or temperatures
  • Insect infestations – Spider mites, mealybugs, thrips or scale

Pests like spider mites are especially common if the humidity is too low. Always isolate new plants before introducing them to your collection to avoid spreading pests or disease.

Use insecticidal soaps, neem oil or other houseplant-safe pest controls at the first sign of any bug issues. Adjust other care factors like soil moisture, humidity, light and temperature to resolve other problems.

Design Tips

With their massive, tropical foliage and climbing habit, mature monstera dubias can make quite the design statement as houseplants. Here are some tips for showcasing these gorgeous plants:

Floor Plants: One popular option is to grow a single large dubia plant as a bold, structural floor specimen. Display it in a decorative planter or cachepot placed in a bright corner of the room.

Be sure to provide a rolling plant caddy or dolly to easily relocate the heavy plant as needed. Situate your dubia within 6 feet of a bright, filtered light source out of harsh direct sun rays.

Mixed Containers: You can also incorporate your monstera dubia into showstopping mixed planter arrangements. The large, textured leaves combine beautifully with other tropical foliage plants of varying heights and textures.

Consider pairing yours with an upright dracaena, trailing pothos or philodendron, and shorter plants like fittonia, peperomia or calathea varieties. Just be sure to match their environmental needs.

Climbing Plants: If you’re fortunate to have a very bright solarium or pool room, you can allow your monstera dubia to express its natural climbing, vining growth habit. Provide a sturdy moss pole, trellis or section of tree trunk for the aerial roots to latch onto.

As the plant matures, it will begin climbing upwards toward the light source, producing that iconic tropical vine look. Install your support system in the pot during repotting.

Terrariums: The chunky, epiphytic nature of dubia potting mixes also makes these plants candidates for terrarium or cloche growing. However, make sure the enclosure is large enough to accommodate their eventual size.

Be sure to use a chunky mix with excellent drainage to prevent moisture buildup inside the terrarium. Monitor closely for any fungal issues and provide supplemental lighting and humidity as needed.

No matter which way you decide to showcase your monstera dubia, providing its very specific tropical needs is essential for keeping it looking its lush, vibrantly-colored best. While challenging, the rewards are well worth the effort when you can enjoy this rare plant’s incredible natural beauty.

With bright, filtered light, warmth, high humidity, consistent moisture, and well-drained soil, the dubia is sure to make an unforgettable statement in your home or indoor garden.

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