The Swiss Cheese plant belongs to the Monstera group of plants famous and well-loved for their unique foliage. As the name implies, the Swiss Cheese plant leaves have holes or fenestrations that can be acquired only when the plant gets adequate care, including meeting its light requirement.
A Swiss Cheese plant can grow in low to moderate light conditions. This plant is sensitive to bright, direct light, which can cause the leaves to dry up. However, with too little light, a Swiss Cheese plant will most likely fail to exhibit its characteristic fenestrations.
It’s crucial to provide a plant’s basic needs to ensure it grows to its full potential. In the rest of the article, I will discuss the Swiss Cheese plant’s light requirements and what happens when it receives too much or too little light. I will also share some tips about how to make adjustments when there are issues regarding light intensity.
The Light Requirements of a Swiss Cheese Plant
To better understand the light requirements of a Swiss Cheese plant, it helps to learn about its origins and the natural growing conditions in its native habitat.
Two Monstera species are often called Swiss Cheese plants: Monstera deliciosa and Monstera epipremnoides. Both plants originated from the tropical rainforests of Central America and share similar growth requirements.
Mature M. epipremnoides and M. deliciosa have almost identical leaves with fenestrations extending toward the edges, looking like slices. However, younger M. epipremnoides resembles Swiss cheese more closely because of the more distinct holes instead of splits on the leaves.
Regardless of their subtle differences in appearance, both Monstera species require the same light requirements. Naturally growing in humid rainforests with tall tree canopies, Swiss Cheese plants receive filtered light through the gaps between the tree leaves.
This low to moderate light condition enables Swiss Cheese plants to thrive in the wild. Therefore, replicating similar conditions when growing them as houseplants is crucial for them to grow as beautifully.
Growing your Swiss Cheese plant indoors is relatively challenging because, in addition to light, the room also needs adequate humidity. Needless to say, high humidity and moderate light are the keys to successfully growing Swiss Cheese plants.
The intensity of light and heat can affect the humidity indoors because of how quickly moisture evaporates. If you have a digital hygrometer, you can conveniently measure the humidity levels at home and make necessary adjustments to keep them at optimum.
Keeping the relative humidity level above 60% and providing your Swiss Cheese plant with 4-6 hours of indirect or filtered light every day should help you keep the plant’s exquisite foliage healthy.
However, humidity levels above 60% can be uncomfortable. It can also be costly to maintain during the cold and dry seasons. The only advantage during the cold season is the decreased light intensity and shorter daylight hours.
The bottom line is that you must find a balance between light intensity and humidity indoors at all times to keep your Swiss Cheese plant healthy. Your plant will reward you with its striking foliage.
Too Much Light
Excessive sunlight produces too much heat that dries up the soil more quickly and holds more moisture in the air, leaving less for the Swiss Cheese plant’s leaves and aerial roots to absorb. As a result, the leaves can develop brittle brown edges and eventually dry up.
Monstera leaves are sensitive to direct light and extreme heat, so it’s essential to shield the plants with light curtains and keep the room temperature between 65 and 85°F (18.3 and 29.4°C).
Too Little Light
Although Swiss Cheese plants can tolerate low-light conditions, too little light can limit their metabolic activities. All plants need varying levels of light to perform their photosynthetic functions, which are vital for their continuous growth.
Fewer hours of light exposure in winter can result in slower growth. In the summer, your Swiss Cheese plant should grow more actively. However, when kept in an area at home with too little light, your plant won’t grow as quickly as it should.
Moreover, their characteristic fenestrations will be less likely to appear if they don’t get enough sunlight.
Care Tips for Swiss Cheese Plants at Different Light Levels
As discussed, adequate light is necessary for Swiss Cheese plants to grow optimally. However, the ideal light levels are not always available, considering the varying climates in different regions in the US.
Therefore, you must make necessary adjustments to make the conditions in your area more conducive for your Swiss Cheese plant.
Here are some tips you might find helpful:
Grow Your Plant Near an East or North-Facing Window
A north-facing window receives the least sunlight throughout the day in the northern hemisphere. If there are no obstructions outside your north-facing window, your Swiss Cheese plant will thrive comfortably.
However, if winters in your area have too few daylight hours for Monstera plants, you can move your pot next to an east-facing window during the cold, dark months. That way, your plant can get enough sunlight regardless of the season.
Pro tip: Place your Swiss Cheese plant pot on a wheeled pot stand to make it easier to move around.
Avoid placing your plant next to a south or west-facing window. The south window receives too much light throughout the day, while the west-facing window takes in the intense afternoon sun. These two conditions are too much for your Swiss Cheese plant and will prove destructive to its foliage.
Place a Light Curtain Against the Door or Window
Swiss Cheese plants are excellent climbers in their natural habitat. Even when grown indoors, they exhibit such a tendency to climb, especially if there are structures on your wall that support their movement.
Suppose your Monstera has climbed and clung to some structures on your wall, making it impossible to move them to a different part of your house. In that case, you can make adjustments by hanging a light white curtain against the door or window next to your plant during hot, sunny days.
Alternatively, if your plant climbed against your northern wall, you can install grow lights for around 6 hours a day to encourage your plant to continue growing.
Switch on a Humidifier During Hot or Dry Days
You can switch on the humidifier when the air feels dry to keep your Swiss Cheese plant hydrated. Placing curtains against glass doors and windows can filter the light. Still, it won’t do much to reduce the temperature and the subsequent effect on the humidity.
Set up the humidifier close to your plants to maximize its benefits. It also helps to place various plants with similar humidity and light requirements in the same area of the house to make it easier to manage them.
Mist Your Swiss Cheese Plant’s Leaves
Since using a humidifier can be a costly solution to issues with humidity in your home, you can use a cheaper alternative. Place distilled water in a spray bottle and mist your Swiss Cheese plant once a day or twice during hot and dry days.
Clean the leaves and aerial roots regularly to ensure that they can absorb the added moisture more readily.
Keep the Soil or Growing Substrate Moist
During relatively hot and sunny days in the summer, you may need to water your Swiss Cheese plant more frequently because the soil will be more likely to dry up, especially if your pot is next to a bright door or window.
If you can keep the humidity over 60%, it’s okay to let the soil dry a bit between watering. However, adjust the frequency of your watering schedule accordingly based on how quickly the moisture evaporates from the soil.
Swiss Cheese plants can grow in low-light conditions, but they prefer moderate or filtered light around 4-6 hours a day to produce healthy foliage. Too much or too little light can negatively affect their growth and development and the quality of the leaves.
Provide your plant with adequate sunlight while also paying attention to its humidity and moisture needs throughout different seasons.