With a dramatic look and often variegated leaves that grow upward, the Philodendron Cobra or Monstera Standleyana originates from Central America to north-western Colombia.
It’s a popular indoor plant precisely because of its relatively small leaves that feature creamy-yellow variegations.
It’s definitely an architectural plant that will often feature as a design element in a variety of living spaces or offices.
As for its care requirements, the Monstera standleyana doesn’t present a challenge to those familiar with tropical plant care. Those new to these plants will find my plant care recommendations on this plant useful.
Size & Growth
I mentioned how the Cobra philo has an upward growth pattern. To better support it, make sure you stake your philodendron to better encourage its upward climb.
In terms of size, you can expect it to be influenced a lot by its environment. The minimum size it can reach is around 1 feet tall and 1 feet wide.
But the plant is a prolific climber and if given the opportunity and the right climate, it can reach a maximum of 19 feet in height and 6 feet in width.
Of course, indoors it will stay smaller or if faced with excess growth, it will probably be cut back to a manageable size.
The plant usually reaches its maturity after 5 years, when will also reach its maximum height and spread.
The Monstera Standleyana is fond of partial shade. Growing in rainforests it only ever receives dappled, diffused light, so direct light exposure should be avoidable to prevent any damage or discoloration to the leaves.
Placing it in a dark room won’t do it either, the plant needs a bit of indirect light for healthy development and growth.
Aim for moderate light exposure, where the plant can receive indirect light or light that’s not directly shining down on the plant.
Despite being a tropical light, the watering needs of this plant are light. That means it’s prone to root rotting and other fungal issues if overwatered.
The way to water this plant is to allow the soil to nearly completely dry out between watering sessions. When watering, water deeply until you see water coming out of drain holes. Then remove any excess water that’s pooling in the saucer.
The plant does well even with watering from below, allowing it to soak up water as needed. Therefore, make sure the soil is almost dry when watering either from the top or the bottom.
Since its watering requirements are light, you need to pick a potting medium that’s very well draining. You don’t want the soil to retain too much moisture, nor become compacted.
I recommend cactus potting mixes that will work great for the Philodendron Cobra, but also mixes that contain sphagnum peat moss or soilless mixes.
If you do use regular potting soil, make sure to mix it well with sand, so it allows water to percolate fast.
Temperature & Humidity
Indoor temperature is just fine for the philo cobra considering that its preferred range is between 60 F and 75 F.
Temperatures outside this range can interfere with the growth of the plant, usually causing it to slow down.
AC vents, heating systems vents, cold drafts, extreme temperatures should be avoided.
Moderate to high humidity is preferable for this philo. If low humidity is an issue in your home, you need to increase humidity levels around the plant.
One way to increase humidity is with the help of a humidifier, another way is to place the plant on a tray of pebbles and pour some water over the pebbles but without allowing the plant to sit in the water.
Monstera standleyana will benefit from a bit of fertilizing during the growing season. Adding a diluted fertilizer once a month from spring to fall will help sustain its growth and provide luscious green foliage.
You can even use a slow-release fertilizer that you only need to apply once or twice per growing season.
You want to be careful with the fertilizer, make sure to dilute it correctly otherwise you risk causing more harm than good by burning the plant’s roots.
Potting & Repotting
As with any potted houseplant, let alone a tropical one, drain holes are a must. Repotting should be carried out in spring or summer at the latest when the plant is in active growth.
Usually, repotting isn’t needed sooner than every 18 to 24 months or if the plant is visibly outgrowing its pot, or if roots are poking out of the pot, whichever comes sooner.
When repotting, you can trim away damaged, dead or diseased roots, and even overly long roots or soft roots.
Use a pot that’s only 2 or 4 inches bigger than the current one, you don’t want to drown the roots by using an oversized pot.
How to Propagate Philodendron Cobra?
Two common propagation methods work for the Monstera Standleyana — stem cutting and air layering.
Stem cutting involves harvesting a cutting with at least 2 or 3 leaves and propagating it in water or soil. For faster or higher rooting success, you can dab the cut end in rooting hormone as well.
Place in a warm location with indirect light and keep the soil moist to encourage rooting.
Air layering involves making an incision into the stem just under a node and using a bit of moistened sphagnum moss to wrap around the incision, then wrapping a plastic around it and keeping the moss moist to promote rooting.
Once the roots come in, you can cut the plantlet off the mother plant and plant it in its own pot.
Philodendron cobra is a straight-growing plant which explains the “Cobra” reference in its name. Stakes are required to guide the plant’s growth and help it support itself.
Besides temperature, humidity, good soil and light exposure, watering this plant correctly is crucial to prevent damage to the roots caused by excess water.
Once you have these things down to a t, your Monstera Standleyana will thrive in any indoor living space.