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Tropical Climbers: Monstera and Philodendron

Updated on September 19, 2010


Tropical climbers are favorites as indoor houseplants. They are suitable to grow indoors, but they will seldom flower or fruit, except in greenhouse conditions.  Nonethe less, they are attractive indoor plants that can add interest to any room, with their large, shiny or variegated leaves. Tropical climbers are fairly easy to grow, when provided with the proper growing conditions.



Types of Tropical Climbers


The most common types of tropical climbers are in monstera and philodendrons. Monstera plants have large, perforated and deeply cut, adult leaves. (p.174) Philodendron have heart shaped leaves in a variety of colors and patterns. Climbing varieties of philodendron include: P.ilsemannii; P.oxycardium (Sweetheart Plant); P. erubescens (Blushing Philodendron); P. angustistictum; P. Red Emerald; P. panduriforme (Fiddleleaf Philodendron or Panda Plant); P. melanochrysum (Black Gold Philodendron); P. hastatum (Elephant’s Ear Philodendron); and P. Burgundy. (p.189)


Monstera Growing Conditions


Monstera require ample winter brightness, but should not be placed in direct sunlight.  Inadaquate light results in small leaves and spindly growth and growth will totally stop if placed in deep shade. Mist occasionally in heated rooms and wash and polish mature leaves. Monstera plants require sturdy support, as they can reach up to 20 feet in height. (p.174)


Philodendron Growing Conditions


Climbing varieties of philodendron require good support, moist air and warm surroundings, and do not tolerate direct sunlight. The best location will have mild shade to moderate, indirect light. Surround pots with damp peat moss or mist frequently to provide adequate humidity. (p.189)


Aerial Roots


One trait that these tropical climbers have in common is the production of aerial roots, extending from the main stem, which bring moisture to the upper leaves. Aerial roots must receive proper care for tropical climbers to thrive. Push them into the compost or moss stick to provide ample moisture.




Moss sticks provide the sturdy support that tropical climbers need, as well as moisture for aerial roots. Make a moss stick by creating a tube out of ¼ inch mesh plastic netting and filling it with damp sphagnum of peat moss. Place a small into the top of the tube and fill it frequently with water to keep the moss below moist. Place the moss stick in the center of your pot, with dowels inserted through the bottom for support, and then fill pot with growing medium to hold in place. (p.223) 




“The Houseplant Expert”. Hessayon, Dr. D.G. 1993.


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    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 7 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Years ago we had a beautiful and tall Philodendron in our home. When we moved across the country we gave it to someone who could then care for it and love it as we had. This brought back some good memories. Had not thought of this in years! Thanks!