Humans have shared their living space with houseplants since ancient times. In fact, records indicate that the Ancient Greeks, Romans and Egyptians adorned their homes with houseplants as early as 500 BC. Taking care of a houseplant leads to reduced stress, better focus, reduced symptoms of depression and an overall boost in positive emotions, like positivity, hopefulness, relaxation and happiness, says, Psychology Today.
Monsteras, a family of tropical plants that produce dramatic and showy leaves, fit the bill for adding greenery to your living space and enhancing the atmosphere in your home. These climbing plants are easy-to-care for and reward you with intricate leaf patterns seldom seen in other plants.
What Are Monsteras?
Monsteras are a genus of tropical flowering plants (although they rarely bloom as houseplants) native to Mexico and Central and South America. They belong to a family of plants called Araneae and contain twenty-two separate species. While they all have similarities, such as their aerial roots and delicate leaf fenestrations (holes and slits in the leaves), there are some distinct differences in Monstera species. Check out these intriguing Monstera varieties to find the right monstera for your houseplant collection.
Monstera deliciosa, also known as the Mexican Breadfruit Plant due to the unusual cylindrical fruit it produces in the wild, makes a striking statement when grown as a houseplant. Monstera deliciosa is the most popular monstera species and is readily available at florists or other plant outlets. It works equally well in the home or office. Because Monstera deliciosa requires low to moderate light and features attractive foliage that can be trained up a pole or trellis, it is ideal for corners or nooks where other sun-loving plants will struggle.
Monstera deliciosa is often confused with a split leaf philodendron. While the two are similar with splits in the foliage that reach to the outer edge of the leaves, Monstera deliciosa leaves have holes within the solid part of the foliage too, whereas a split leaf philodendron does not. Place your Monstera deliciosa in a location that receives indirect light, or grow it under fluorescent lights, and provide it with a moss-covered pole or trellis for support.
Monstera adansonii, often called the Swiss Cheese Plant, because its dramatic lacy leaves peppered with oval holes look like Swiss cheese, is smaller than Monstera deliciosa making it suitable for hanging baskets or grown in a location where the foliage can vine over the sides of the pot. Foliage is solid green, (although there are some variegated varieties) glossy, and lacy in appearance. Monstera adansonii typically grows to heights of 3 to 5 feet when grown inside as a houseplant. The holes in the leaf of Monstera adansonii can take up half the space of the entire leaf.
Monstera obliqua is also called the Unicorn Plant. It is a unique species of Monstera because of the dramatic holes in the leaves. This Monstera species is said to be more hole than leaf with the holes taking up an amazing 90 percent of the leaf surface.
Monstera obliqua foliage is paper-thin making them too delicate for the typical home or office environment. You probably won’t find Monstera obliqua at your local florist or home improvement center, but if you are lucky, you may spot it in a botanical garden.
Monstera siltepecana is a popular monstera variety that is readily available. This Monstera variety is from Mexico and Central America. It is a unique monstera species because it had two distinct types of leaves. Young leaves are lance-shaped, blue-gray with some silver shades, are 3 to 4 inches long and do not have holes. As Monstera siltepecana matures, it develops dark green leaves with characteristic leaf holes. It may take 2 to 3 years for it to reach its mature state.
Monstera siltepecana is also unique in that it has two different growing habits. Young (or juvenile) plants are terrestrial while mature plants are climbers. You can keep it in the juvenile stage by keeping it in a small pot without supports for climbing. Providing supports for the plant to climb spurs it to enter the climbing stage and encourages it to develop mature foliage.
Monstera pinnatipartita gets its name from the pinnated structure of the adult foliage. This variety has deeply lobed leaves with cuts that can reach nearly to the center rib giving it a feathered appearance instead of the characteristic Swiss cheese appearance of other Monstera varieties like Monstera siltepecana. Monstera pinnatipartita produces juvenile leaves that are solid instead of lobed or holey.
Juvenile leaves may be bicolored with silvery patterns, but the mature leaf is solid green. Monstera pinnatipartita is native to Columbia and northwestern Peru and Ecuador. Grow Monstera pinnatipartita on a moss pole or totem to encourage foliage to reach its mature size and shape. Pinnatipartita creates an exotic look in any indoor space.
Monstera karstenianum, also known as Monstera Peru, is an unusual Monstera variety that produces textured leaves but lacks the characteristic holes of many other Monsteras. Monstera karstenianum has dark green, glossy leaves and often has a scaly or puckered texture to them. This quick-growing climbing plant needs support from a trellis or moss-covered totem as it can reach a height of three feet within a few months. Monstera karstenianum can also be a variegated Monstera.
Monstera dubia, often called the shingle plant, is a small monstera variety with a unique growing habit. This plant climbs a totem or trellis (or trees in the wild) with its leaves held snugly against the surface of the support giving the appearance of shingles. Juvenile leaves are heart-shaped and speckled with light and dark green.
As the Monstera dubia plant matures holes and slits form. In the wild the progression from juvenile to mature leaves occurs as the vine reaches above the canopy when the leaves enlarge and may have holes that take up much of the leaf space, but this process takes years. Plants grown in the home as houseplants are likely to remain in the juvenile stage.
Monstera acuminata looks like Monstera adansonii’s little brother with its smaller leaves and somewhat shorter stature. It features heart-shaped, split leaves with a smooth texture. This compact Monstera is ideal for terrariums or hanging baskets or grown in a pot where the foliage can vine freely.
Monstera esqueleto produces leaves that are twenty inches long and over a foot wide. The stem reaches a size of over an inch in diameter in the wild, but do not reach this size when grown as a houseplant. It does best on a trellis or pole where it can climb upward. The foliage is deeply incised with spherical holes that begin at the center of the leaf and work their way to the edges. The leaves of mature Monstera esqueleto plants may have more holes than they do solid surface area. Foliage is solid green.
Monstera standleyana is a rare Monstera genus from Costa Rica with leaves that grow 6 to 8 inches long and five inches wide. As a houseplant, Monstera standleyana typically grows to heights of 2 to 3 feet with an equal width. Leaves are attached to the main stalk with long flared stems.
Each leaf has its own striking variations of color. Some appear speckled or splashed with white (some varieties are variegated plants in yellow or cream) against deep green while others appear striped and still others have only a tiny splatter of white. Monstera standleyana is known as the 5 Holes Plant. It is often mistaken as a philodendron and may be labeled as ‘Philodendron Cobra.”
Monstera subpinnata is a split-leaf Monstera sp. native to Ecuador that resembles a palm tree with its arching stems. Leaves are deep green and can reach a size of twelve inches long and eight inches wide. Also called the “Finger Vine” it can grow to heights of 20 to 30 feet in the wild but is considerably shorter when grown as a houseplant. This Monstera plant may benefit from a pole or trellis but does not climb as aggressively as many other Monsteras do.
Mini monstera (rhaphidophora tetrasperma)
Mini Monstera is known as Philodendron Ginny. It gets its name because it looks like a miniature Monstera deliciosa. Foliage is solid green and deeply lobed. Pinnate leaves appear fernlike with leaves less than 5 inches long when grown as a houseplant. It really isn’t either a Monstera or a philodendron, but it is in the same family. Mini Monstera is native to Thailand and Malaysia. It is often confused with a pothos when the leaves are immature.
Monstera borsigniana isn’t really a separate species of monsteras, it is a sub-species of Monstera deliciosa. Immature or juvenile leaves are deep green and heart-shaped, while the older leaves develop holes as they mature. Monstera borsigniana are also called Monstera deliciosa ‘wrinkle’ or Wrinkle Deliciosa. They may grow to six feet as indoor plants. There is also a variety with variegated leaves called Monstera borsigiana ‘albo.’
Monstera deliciosa Thai constellation is unique in the world of monsteras because it cannot be found in the wild. It was developed in a lab in Thailand via a tissue culture. The leaves of the Thai constellation are variegated in shades of yellow, cream or white and features both deep lances and holes in the leaves. Much of the leaves appear speckled or splashed and appear starlike, but they can have large chunks of color, too.
Philodendron bipinnatifidum isn’t really a Monstera, but it looks a lot like one and is often confused with or sold as a Monstera. This plant, also called a tree philodendron, lacy tree philodendron, split-leaf philodendron or horsehead philodendron. It reaches heights of six feet with a 5 to 8-foot spread when grown inside as a houseplant. It has bright green leaves that are deeply lobed. Leaves grow to a size of 2 to 3 feet. This plant makes a dramatic statement, but it does take up a lot of room. Like other large-leafed tropical plants, it requires similar care as Monsteras.
Monstera adansonii variegate
Monstera adansonii variegate is rare in the wild making it an expensive houseplant, but many are growing and propagating them to make them more widely available. This plant is prized for its striking variegated leaves and lacy appearance. While some leaves may be almost entirely white or cream-colored, others may be mostly green.
It gets its variegated appearance from a gene mutation that causes sections of the leaf to lack chlorophyll. For that reason, this Monstera requires more light than many other Monsteras. But beware. Direct afternoon sun can burn the delicate leaves of this tropical plant.
Place it in a northern or eastern window where it gets good morning light or place it several feet from a southern or western window. Give this plant a moss-covered pole or totem to support it as it climbs upward.
Monstera Acacoyaguensis looks like a Monstera adansonii on steroids as it produces massive leaves with giant holes. It has glossy green leaves with a lacy appearance. The holes can take up fifty percent of the leaf surface.
Monstera epipremnoides has glossy green, heart-shaped leaves that may be solid in immature plants but develop holes that may extend to and break through the outer edge of the leaves as the plant matures. Foliage is thick and leathery and may be slightly hairy. It grows to heights of thirteen feet. This climber prefers a moss-covered totem that gives its aerial roots something to cling to. It is rather slow-growing and produces about one new leaf a month. Holes begin at the center rib of the leaf and extend to the outer edge, sometimes perforating the edge and giving this plant a split-leaf appearance.
Monstera punctulata hails from the tropical forests of Costa Rica, Panama and Belize. Juvenile leaves appear on a flattened stem that holds the leaves close to the support giving the appearance of shingles and earning it the name of shingle plant. Leaves are soft and bright green. As the plant matures it produces large leaves with perforations that may extend to and break through the outer edge of the leaf.
What is a Monstera variegata?
Monstera variegata is not a species of Monstera. It refers to any Monstera species that has variegated foliage. This occurs as the result of a genetic mutation that cause portions of the leaves to form without chlorophyll. Because leaves need chlorophyll to capture sunlight and convert it into energy for the plant, these varieties require more light than other monsteras and grow more slowly.
How should you water monsteras?
Monstera plants may be tropical, but that doesn’t mean they want to sit in soggy soil. In fact, they will suffer if they do. Water your Monstera plant when the soil in the pot is dry to the touch an inch or two below the surface. Saturate the soil until the water runs freely through the bottom of the pot, Empty the catch basin and allow the soil to dry naturally.
Water your Monstera again when the soil dries. During periods of active growth, you may need to water your Monstera once or twice a week, but during the winter when grows slows it may take two weeks or more for the soil to dry sufficiently. Keep in mind that larger plants in small pots require more frequent watering than small plants or those in large containers.
How do you grow monstera plants?
Monstera plants are easy-to-grow, but they need more than water to keep them healthy. As tropical plants, they thrive in high humidity. When grown on a moss-covered totem or pole they benefit from misting the moss in the morning. This keeps the aerial roots moist and encourages growth.
- Place your Monstera plant in a location that receives bright, indirect light. Some varieties of Monstera, such as variegated varieties, require more light exposure than others as portions of the leaves lack chlorophyl, but all Monstera plants will suffer from direct afternoon sun. Place them several feet from southern or western windows, hang a sheer curtain between the plant and the window to provide some sheltered light or place them in a northern or eastern window where they will get strong morning light.
- Grow your Monstera in a location with a temperature between 60 and 80 degrees. Sudden drops in temperature or temperatures below 50 degrees will inhibit growth and may even cause your Monstera to die. Avoid areas with hot or cold drafts, such as near the AC in summer or near a heating vent in the winter.
- Fertilize your Monstera plant with a balanced 20-20-20 water-soluble fertilizer designed for houseplants once a month during the spring and summer. Always water your plants first and then apply the fertilizer to the soil. This helps to prevent burning delicate roots. Withhold fertilizer in the winter when growth slows and begin again in the spring when you see signs of new growth.
- Clean the leaves of your Monstera plant with a damp cloth once a month or whenever dust builds up on the leaves. This not only makes your plants look amazing it clears the pores so your leaves and can breathe. Removing dust also makes it easier for your plant to gather and use sunlight.
- Provide your Monstera plant with adequate support. Most prefer a moss-covered totem or stake, but you can use a trellis if you prefer. Monsteras produce aerial roots that cling to the bark or moss on trees.
How much do monstera plants cost?
Many Monstera plants can be pricey due to their rarity and demand, but not all Monstera plants will break the bank. You can easily find a 2-to-3-foot green Monstera for $25 to $60 and may pay $100 or more for a variegated one. Some rare Monstera plants can cost up to $5000.
Where do you get a monstera plant?
Monstera plants are readily sold in nurseries, at florists and in the plant section at home improvement centers. However, you may need to do your shopping at an Exotic or Rare Tropical Plant outlet to find some of the more elaborately colored Monsteras.
How to choose a monstera plant
If this is your first Monstera plant, there are a number of things to consider.
- Size: Consider the amount of room you have for your Monstera plant and choose one that will fit comfortably into your space at maturity.
- Appearance: Consider the appearance of the mature foliage and choose something that you find attractive. Do you prefer the split leaf look? Like one that is graceful and palmlike? Or do you just want your Monstera to look like Swiss cheese? Choose what appeals to you.
- Cost: Consider your budget when it comes to buying your first Monstera. While a pricey variegated variety may steal your heart, make sure the price is within your budget.
- The Seller: If you are considering a high-end Monstera that comes with a big price tag, always buy from a reputable seller. Avoid the temptation to purchase from an unknown seller online as they often advertise one thing and send you another. If you must purchase your Monstera from an independent seller, check their reviews and ratings carefully.
How do you keep a monstera plant small?
Keeping Monstera varieties small requires some work. Try these tricks for keeping your Monstera small.
1. Give it less light.
Monsteras grow best in bright indirect light but can survive with less. Try moving your Monstera to an area with less light to slow down its growth. Too little light will threaten the life of your plant. If leaves begin to turn discolored or yellow and new growth lacks holes move it to an area with slightly more light.
2. Prune it.
Use sterilized clippers or a sharp knife to remove leaves that have grown too large for the area. You can also trim stems back at any point and new growth will sprout and grow at that point.
3. Grow it in a small pot.
The growth of the Monstera plant naturally slows when its roots fill the plant pot, which means growing yours in a small pot and letting it fill with roots will control the size of the plant. You will need to remove the plant from the pot and trim off about one-third of the roots every year to avoid it becoming totally root-bound.
When do monstera leaves split?
As a rule, immature Monstera leaves are solid and do not develop their characteristic fenestrations until they are mature. While some varieties may take years to reach the mature state, most will produce split or holey leaves within the first year.
Whether you are searching for a new and attractive plant to add to your indoor houseplant collection or are seeking out unusual Monstera varieties to expand your Monstera collection, these Monstera varieties will give you a good jumping-off point.