How to grow and care for Monkey Plant Indoors

Houseplant, Monkey Plant

Botanical name: Ruellia makoyana
Family: Acanthaceae

Monkey Plant also called Trailing Velvet Plant bears velvety oval-shaped leaves tinged with purple and veined in silver. The flowers are 2 in. long flared trumpets. The stems, about 2ft long droop gracefully making it ideal for a hanging basket. It needs warm and moist conditions. Monkey Plant is an evergreen perennial plant whose decorative leaves qualifies it for a permanent houseplant. The plant is native to Brazil.

How to Grow Monkey Plant

Light

Monkey Plant grows best in bright light away from direct sunshine. Exposure of the plant to direct sunlight will result in sunscorched leaves. Learn more on how to ensure your plant receives the correct light in this guide on understanding light for houseplants.

Water

Water Monkey Plant thoroughly during the growing season to maintain the soil moist through out. Reduce watering during the cold season to maintain the soil slightly moist. Do not allow the soil to dry out as it can lead to wilting and leaf drop. Avoid waterlogging as it can lead to root-rot. Learn more on how to water houseplants.

Temperature

Average room temperature with a minimum of 120C is ideal for Monkey Plant. Protect it from cold draughts to prevent leaf fall. Find out more on temperature for houseplants.

Humidity

Monkey Plant grows best in humid conditions. Employ these techniques to raise humidity for the plant. Clean the leaves by damp-wiping with a soft cloth to get rid of dust.

Feeding

Feed Monkey Plant monthly with a balanced water-soluble fertilizer during the growing season. Withhold feeding during the growth season as growth is minimal. Learn more on how to feed houseplants.

Pruning

Prune Monkey Plant by removing dead blooms and leaves to maintain the plant neat and tidy. Pinch off the growing tips to encourage bushy growth and to keep the plant compact.

Repotting

Repot the Monkey Plant at the beginning of the growing season in a pot one size larger than the previous one only when the plant becomes pot-bound. Ensure the pot has a drainage hole and the soil is free-draining soil to avoid waterlogging as it can lead to root-rot.

How to Propagate Monkey Plant

Monkey Plant can be propagated at the beginning of the growing season from stem cuttings. Take stem cuttings of about 4-6 in. Ensure each cutting has at least 2 nodes. Dip the lower cut end in a rooting hormone to hasten rooting. Insert the cutting in moist free-draining soil. Cover the set up with clear polythene to create a greenhouse effect in order to promote rooting. Place the set up in a warm brightly lit spot. Rooting should occur in about 6 weeks. Allow the plants to be well established before transplanting.

Common Problems in Growing Monkey Plant

  • Flower buds drop
  • Underwatering is the cause of wilted leaves in Monkey Plant; water the plant moderately and maintain the soil moderately moist during the growing season.

  • Wilted, droopy leaves
  • Underwatering is the cause of wilted leaves in Monkey Plant; water the plant thoroughly and maintain the soil consistently moist during the growing season.

  • Brown soft spots
  • Overwatering Monkey Plant will cause brown soft spots on the leaves. Reduce watering in the cold months to maintain the soil slightly moist.

  • Brown leaf spots
  • Exposing Monkey Plant to direct sunlight will cause brown leaf spots. Protect the plant or keep it away from direct sunlight.

  • Brown leaf tips and or brown leaf edges
  • Too low humidity will cause brown leaf tips and edges in Monkey Plant. Employ these techniques to raise humidity for the plant.

  • Leaves curl and fall
  • The cause of leaf curl and leaf fall in Monkey Plant is too cold temperatures. Protect the plant from cold draughts and maintain warm temperature above 120C.

  • No blooms
  • Several reasons can lead to no blooms in Monkey Plant. These are too little light, feeding with a nitrogen-rich fertilizer and underwatering.

  • Pests
  • Common pests in Monkey Plant are Spider Mite, Scale Insects and Aphids.

Toxicity

Monkey Plant (Ruellia makoyana) is non-toxic to both humans and pets. It is safe to grow in the home. However, the plant can be invasive if not properly controlled.

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