We bought our house Memorial Day weekend, 2017. I remember it clearly because the day after we closed, I was on a flight to Colorado to meet up with my dad for a 50 mile bike race up a mountain - The Iron Horse Classic. You actually race a steam train. Very cool.
When we bought the house, the backyard was completely overgrown. I mean completely. The weeds were coming out of every nook and cranny, anything else was completely overgrown or unmaintained.
This is looking into the backyard. The future Monstera hedge will be on the left at the base of the cement block wall.
With the help of a landscaper that owed my father-in-law a favor, we cleared out ALL of the vegetation. It did hurt my soul a little to see all those plants ripped up and taken away but in reality, many of them truly were invasive weeds.
So it was for the better.
We kept a couple natives (Simpson Stopper) and some monster dracenas.
This is a pano shot and Mel and her brother Danny moved slightly during the exposure, hence their funny looking proportions. The Monstera hedge will be on the right at the base of the cement brick wall. You can see our first garden bed (that came with the house) on the left.
Shortly after, we went to the nurseries to buy some landscaping plants. This is our first house, so while we had an affinity for houseplants, we really didn't know what we were looking for.
We ended up buying a bunch of different plants such as variegated scheffleras, Ti sisters, various dracenas, palms, ferns and anything else that struck our fancy to play mix and match when we got back to the house.
Here are some of the plants that we bought. Hurricane Irma came before we were able to plant them all so we had to bring them inside for protection.
Flash forward two years and we realized we probably should have thought through what our ideas were for landscaping the backyard. The front yard we actually took our time - that is a story for another post.
This is what it looked like - we just didn't quite like it, especially the green and yellow scheffleras.
So as of 2019, we knew we wanted to do something else on the south side of our backyard specifically. The green and yellow scheffleras were too large and they clashed with the Ti sisters. Both are classic South Florida landscaping plants, but they just didn't go with our space.
2020 - Launch of Silver Garden Co and Quarantine
As we started to make the deliveries for Silver Garden Co, we noticed people’s plants a lot more.
I mean A LOT more.
We can’t drive around Miami now without observing what everyone has growing in front of their house. One thing we saw that we really loved was a Monstera hedge.
A Monstera hedge needs to be in the right place. While they are tropical plants, they need to be protected from harsh, direct sunlight.
When we were outside one day, probably enjoying our inflatable pool, I looked over at the south wall and said to Mel - “what do you think about ripping out the schefflera and planting a Monstera hedge along that wall?”
I believe she said “I think that can work’' but the fact that she did not oppose the idea was a win in my book. Shortly thereafter we both knew the Monstera hedge was the right option there.
Monstera Hedge - Location
As I said above, Monsteras need a spot that does not receive direct sunlight. Bright shade works really well. The south side of the back yard has a 6 foot tall concrete wall, a nice sized mango tree and palms on the neighbors side and some hefty coconut trees and alexander palms we planted on our side.
Therefore, the space is almost perfect for Monsteras. It is out of direct sunlight, but receives enough filtered shade to support these tropical vining plants.
I wish there was a little more filtered sunlight, but the area is bright shade and summer sun will be filtered nicely by the palm fronds above them.
Now we just needed the Monsteras!
We knew for a fact that we wanted to plant a monstera hedge in that location. But we didn't have the Monsteras yet! Everytime we went to the nurseries, we would keep our eye out for a good collection of Monsteras for our landscape.
Too often they were either overpriced (in our opinion) or they were too small. Normally I am cheap and like to buy the smaller and cheaper plant because I know it will grow, when you are landscaping it is good to think about how long you want to wait until you get the finished product. It might take a plant 2-3 years to fill out to the size you want. In that case, it might be worth upgrading to the larger plant when you buy them. An extra $40 might save you 2 years of waiting.
After what seemed like months of looking, Mel finally stumbled upon an INSANE delivery of monsteras at one of our go-to nurseries. YAY!
We quickly bought 4 for you all, and then went back the next day to buy 7 for us.
Of all the 3 gallon monsteras that we have seen at nurseries, this was by far the BEST collection we have ever seen. They were starting to vine, they had large classic swiss-cheese leaves and looked healthy.
Before we went back to the nursery the second time to purchase the Monsteras for us, we walked the area where they were going to identify how many we would need. We decided that 5 or 6 would do, but we could always add 1 or 2 more if there were great specimens at the nursery.
I highly recommend that you walk the space you are looking to plant before you purchase plants for that space. It is important to know how many you need. It is also important to know how large they will grow.
Depending on the look you want, you do not need to plant most plants right next to each other. Many can be planted about 3-5 feet apart and they will grow into their space.
When we got back to the house with our new load of Mega-monsteras, we placed them (still in the pots) in the spots we were going to put them. This allowed us to visualize the space more and make sure we were good to start digging the next morning.
That afternoon I removed the few plants that were growing in that space that we did not like. Smokey helped.
Smokey tried to help remove a schefflera while hiding in the one Monstera we had already in that spot.
Visualizing our space. Put the plants (still in their pots) where you think they should go. You can always move them around, but only BEFORE you plant them in the ground.
Sunday morning I started digging. If you are unfamiliar with the soil we have in Miami-Dade, it might come as a surprise that after a few inches of top soil you can run into a very rocky limestone mix.
Trying to dig a hole and run into a big chunk of compact limestone is what I always fear when I dig holes. Luckily I didn’t run into too many large stone deposits so I was able to have 7 holes dug over about 3 hours. Only 1 blister to boot as well.
If you run into a tree root, it is no big deal if you cut through it. Trees have lots of roots to supply them with nutrients.
If you are digging around existing trees (palms or deciduous trees) you will certainly run into a root or two. It is ok to cut one or two.
As you dig your holes, I put as much of the good soil as possible into a wheelbarrow. I will then add a few bags of compost and mix it up for when I add the soil back in the hole with the plants. This will allow them to have access to yummy nutrients as they start to grow.
I shoveled most of the soil into a large wheelbarrow. I added 3 bags of compost and mixed it up to add nutrients back to the soil.
When you are digging holes in your yard to plant landscaping plants, it is important to make the hole quite a bit bigger than the pot.
How big do you need to dig your hole for landscaping plants?
Ideally your hole is twice as wide at the top as your pot, and at least 50% deeper than the pot on its own.
Why do you need to dig a deeper hole?
When you dig a hole, you loosen up the soil. This will help the plant’s roots expand out and make sure your new outdoor plant gets off to a good start.
I like to grab a similar sized empty nursery pot and place it in the hole to make sure it is the right size.
While you might want to skimp this step, it is EXTREMELY important to make sure your hole is wide enough and deep enough. If you do not, not only will it make it tough for the roots to grow, but the plant might end up leaning over. This is more common with trees, but can happen to hedge plants as well.
A larger hole will also help with water regulation. The soil will retain essential moisture better, and will allow excess water to drain out easier as well. Win. Win.
Now that my holes are dug and the Monsteras are ready, it is time to put soil BACK in the holes.
Ideally each hole is 50% deeper than the pot, so I need to add the soil and compost mix back to the hole so the plant can sit at a ground level.
I can eyeball the height pretty easily now, but it might be trial and error in the beginning for you. It is good to use your empty nursery pot to measure how much soil you should add back into your holes.
Once I added the right amount of soil and compost mix to the holes, I gently removed the Monsteras from the nursery pots using a sterile, sharp razor blade. When I work with plants, I always try to sterilize any tool with rubbing alcohol before using it.
I set the razer blade to the shortest setting and try to just cut the plastic liner pot. You want to avoid cutting the roots, as open “flesh wounds” make it easy for fungus to infect your new plants.
I do not break up the roots unless there is a large tap root on the bottom I can pull off. The roots will eventually do their job and expand out into the surrounding soil.
I place each Monstera in their hole. I would position them around to make sure they are going to vine in the right direction. The worst thing is for you to put it in the ground, replace the soil and realize it would look better if you just flipped it 180 degrees.
For Monsteras it is important to remember that they are vining plants. They should be placed about 3-5 feet apart and 3-5 feet away from a structure. Furthermore, they can climb surrounding trees.
They won’t harm the tree, and when they do vine up the tree, will add nice height to the garden.
Once I had all 7 monsteras in the ground, I grabbed my wheelbarrow with the soil and compost mix and started shoveling the mix around the plants.
I have seen people recommend watering after halfway filling the hole with soil, but I waited until the end this time.
When I add the soil back, I make sure to go all the way around the plant, and make sure that all the empty spaces along the sides are full with soil.
I do not pat it down, I will let the water settle the loose soil.
Once the Monsteras are in the ground and I have added the soil back around them, I will water them for about 60 seconds.
I make sure to water all around the plant. The water will help expose any area that needs more soil added to it as well.
Give each of your plants another check to see if there are any spaces that need more soil and add as necessary.
Voil-a! You are all set until tomorrow!
How often should you water new Monsteras outside?
Most new outdoor plants should be watered every day during the first week. And then every other day during the second week. Once it hits the third week, you can stick to their normal watering schedule. If it doesn’t rain, these Monsteras will need watering about once a week.
I will water each Monstera for between 1 to 2 minutes each day the first week, and about 1 minute every other day the second week.
After that I will play it by ear and eye based on the rain and how they look in the ground.
So we’ve inspired you and you want to install a Monstera hedge. Here are the easy steps!
Live in a tropical location
Monsteras need zone 10 or higher. This means southern Florida and California are about the only places in the continental US where they can grow outside year round.
Identify a Location
Make sure your spot receives ideal sunlight. Filtered shade is best. At the base of a tree or along a fence that is protected with some overhead palm trees are good.
Plan Your Space
Are there any steps you need to perform before planting the Monsteras? This can include removing existing vegetation, pulling out all the weeds, painting a fence before you plant in front of it.
Visualize your Future Space
Think about how many plants you will need. Are you going to add any other plants to your space? If so, try to visualize them. You can even place other plants in the area just to get an idea of spacing.
How many do you need. How many do you really need?
These can be two different numbers. We identified that 5-6 Monsteras were good for our space about 25-30 feet long. However I am very happy that we bought 7.
Go buy your plants!
The fun part! Selecting healthy plants is key for your success. Inspect everyone you want to buy. Are there bugs, mites or fungal spots? Are a majority of the leaves the correct color. Do the other plants in the area look healthy?
If there are only a few specimens of your desired plant left, that means all the other ones have sold. That could be a good thing or a bad thing. If they have been there a long time they might be crowded in their pots and susceptible to disease. Also, the better ones were probably already purchased. The good part is that it means other people have come to that nursery to buy plants.
Place your new plant babies in their spots.
Organize it how you want it to look. Move them around and play with spacing to make sure you like it. Once they are in the ground it is tougher to move them.
Dig your holes.
Make sure to dig your holes twice as wide as the pots, and at least 50% deeper. This softens up the soil and makes it easier for the roots to expand.
Mix your soil with compost
I use a wheelbarrow to put all the soil I dug up and then mix it with compost. Compost is a cheap way to add nutrients back to the soil.
Add new soil mix to bottom of holes
You want the Monsteras to be the same level as the ground around them. Add enough soil to so that when you place the Monstera pot in it, the top is right at the lip.
Remove the Monsteras from their holes
I use a sterile razor blade to cut the nursery pots. I sterilize blades, scissors and the moisture meter with rubbing alcohol. These were slightly root bound so it was easier to cut the pot than try and slide it out and save the pot. I try to save as many pots as I can.
Place the Monsteras in their holes
Adjust the soil height if necessary. Make sure to rotate them to the exact placement you want.
Fill in the soil mix around the Monsteras
Gently add your soil and compost mix back around the monsteras. Try not to get any on the leaves or damage any leaves when you are wielding a shovel in the area.
Water each plant for about 2 minutes. This will allow the soil to situate into all the nooks and crannies and also provide the plants a good drink. The roots will start to expand into the surrounding soil.
Add soil where necessary
After watering, closely look at the base of each plant. If there are new gaps from where the soil subsided, add some more.
Water each day for the first week
I water each plant about 60 seconds the first week. If it is warmer out or the plant is in more sun I will give it more water. The soil outside drains quicker than the soil in your houseplant pots.
Water every other day the second week
I will still water for about 60 seconds every other day the second week.
In the rainy season you probably will not need to water at all. Over the winter, once or twice weekly watering for about 30 to 60 seconds should be good. Remember, if the plant gets more sunlight, it will need more water.
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