Propagating Swiss Cheese Vine

by Patricia H. Reed

The playful, tasty-sounding common and scientific names of the Swiss cheese vine (Monstera deliciosa) make it sound like a natural for children, but use caution when working with this plant. All parts of the Swiss cheese vine contain high levels of oxalic acid, which can cause skin to blister and the delicate tissues of the mouth and throat to swell on contact. With the scary warnings out of the way, propagating Swiss cheese vine, also called split-leaf philodendron -- which grows outdoors in humid areas of U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 10 to 12 and as a houseplant elsewhere -- is done through leaf-bud cuttings.

1 Put on gloves. Cut a length from the tip of the Swiss cheese plant with a sharp, clean knife. Ensure it has several leaves with eye-buds at the joint with the stem.

2 Cut the stem into 1-inch-long sections, each with one leaf and a short stem.

3 Fill a 4-inch pot with damp, sterile potting soil for each cutting.

4 Place the cuttings into the potting soil, sinking the stem up to the base of the leaf. Firm the soil around the cuttings with your fingers.

5 Place bamboo skewers directly across from each other just inside the pot rim. Place a plastic bag loosely over the pot, supporting it on the skewers, making any necessary adjustments so the leaves don't touch the bag, which can cause rot.

6 Place the pots in a warm area -- no less than 59 degrees Fahrenheit -- in bright, indirect light.

7 Keep the soil moist, but not wet, watering when you don't see condensation on the bag.

8 The plant is rooted when you start to see a new shoot sprout from the bud at the base of the leaf and the cutting resists a gentle tug. Swiss cheese vine roots in four to eight weeks from cuttings.

Items you will need

  • Knife
  • Household antiseptic cleaner
  • Paper towel
  • Potting soil
  • 4-inch pots
  • Clear plastic bags
  • Bamboo skewers

Tips

  • Place several cuttings in a shallow pot 6 to 8 inches in diameter for a full houseplant in just a month or two that you don't even have to transplant.
  • Outdoors, Swiss cheese vine can grow 70 feet long without pruning and roots where it touches the ground. Propagate new outdoor plants by cutting the vine to separate rooted clumps.

Warning

  • Place Swiss cheese plant where it isn't easy for curious kids or pets to access.