By Vina Medenilla
In Silang, Cavite, a cafe that plant enthusiasts would not want to miss out on is Monstera Cafe.
This coffee shop is not an ordinary one since it is filled with common to rare varieties of aroids, mostly Monsteras and Philodendrons.
It is owned by two couples who are friends, namely Herbert Babia and Monica Romerosa, as well as spouses Christian and Cristina Giron.
Each of them has a role to play in business operations. The one in charge of the plant maintenance is Babia who transplants, propagates, and fertilizes the plants. He gets help from a dining staff who waters the plants when needed.
Their plants, which mostly belong to the Araceae or aroid family, include varieties of Monstera, Philodendron, Caladium, Anthurium, Syngonium, and Colocasia.
Here are some of the basic needs of aroids and other ornamental plants that they grow inside Monstera Cafe.
Water. Most ornamentals, except for ferns, are watered once a week. They expose the ferns to direct sunlight before opening the cafe and place them back in a shaded area to prevent their leaves from wilting.
They save rainwater for daily use and they also have a machine to customize the acidity or pH level of water for the plants.
“Plants need 5.5 to 6.5 pH, anything below 5.5 means it is acidic, while anything above is alkaline and harmful to the plants.”
Soil mix. Their soil mix for aroids is composed of 50 percent coco peat, 10 percent vermicast, 10 percent acacia leaves, 10 percent rice hull, 10 percent garden soil, and 10 percent carbonized rice hull.
Trellis. To support the climbing philodendrons that are planted in pots, they use fern sticks, moss poles, and tree barks.
Fertilizer. The majority of plants are fed with osmocote, maxxicote, urea, or complete fertilizer to promote foliage growth.
Variegated plants such as Monstera Albo Borsigiana, Syngonium Albo, and Monstera Thai Constellation are given osmocote plus for additional nutrients.
Pest control. A plant disease called rust fungus, which causes small rusty spores on leaves, is one issue they previously encountered with Monstera Deliciosa and giant Monstera Thai Constellation.
Every two weeks, they spray a mixture of baking powder and water to keep it under control.
They do not apply harmful pesticides and go for neem oil for a more natural option. They simply add a teaspoon of neem oil in 1.5 liters of water and spray it to their plants every two weeks.
The grower said that most Monstera and Philodendron varieties are relatively easy to care for, especially if placed under the trees where they can get enough filtered light and rainwater they need to thrive.
However, the variegated ones like Monstera Thai Constellation are slow growers and more prone to root rot, especially when potted.
Aroids, particularly uncommon or variegated ones, can be excellent investments and collection items. They provide not only stunning leaf patterns, shapes, and sizes, but also potential to earn money.
For more information, visit Monstera Cafe