Photo by Alec Perez
For August we’re featuring the Rhaphidophora tetrasperma aka mini-monstera! If you’re looking to add a monstera to your collection but don’t have the space for a big one then consider this smaller more compact Monstera deliciosa adjacent plantie. Pictured here is my trio of mini-monsteras that I have affectionately named ‘The Supremes’ — guess who is Diana Ross!
Photo by Alec Perez
GET THE GREEN: Rhaphidophora tetrasperma — aka Philodendron piccolo or Ginny philodendron — is the cousin of the common houseplant Monstera deliciosa. This plant is on the less common side and you may have to pop into a specialty shop or nursery to find it. If you’re Los Angeles based, I picked up my bigger Rhaphidophora tetrasperma from Leaf & Spine in Highland Park and the two smaller cuttings from Sunset Nursery in Silverlake.
WATER: Once a week! But first, do a finger test by digging your finger 1 to 2 inches into the soil and if it is dry then it’s time to water. Best to keep the soil moist and not soggy and in the colder winter months water less frequently.
SOIL: To give your plantie the best chance to thrive consider a well-draining mixture of perlite, orchid bark or peat moss, and potting soil. This will help the soil maintain moisture but not be waterlogged which can lead to root rot.
FERTILIZER: Consider a slow-release fertilizer as this will ensure the plant gets consistent fertilizer during the growing season and will lower the chances of fertilizer burn.
HUMIDITY: Rhaphidophora tetrasperma is native to Malaysia and Southern Thailand where the environment is naturally humid so it’s best to keep the humidity up around your plantie by placing it near a humidifier or on a pebble tray. Any time you’re boosting humidity make sure to have a fan or some ventilation.
SUNLIGHT: This plantie will thrive in bright indirect light. The more light you give your plantie the higher chance its new leaves will produce fenestrations! Do not place in direct sunlight as it will burn the leaves and stunt growth.
PLACEMENT: Once you have enough height you can train your Rhaphidophora tetrasperma to grow up a trellis. Secure the vine with floral tape or plant clips until the nodes learn to sprout aerial roots and attach themselves to a moss pole or wooden trellis for stability.
Photo by Alec Perez
PROPAGATION: To propagate these planties, I would encourage using the water or sphagnum moss method. Before you cut your plantie, make sure it’s grown a couple feet so that you have a lot to work with and also note that from where you cut it a new vine — or vines! — will sprout so you want enough parent stem to support that growth.
For water propagation, locate a node — the brown nubbin on the vine where a leaf sprouts — and cut between the two. Then simply place the cutting in water. Trim off any of the bottom leaves so that they aren’t submerged in water as they can get moldy and hurt the chances of the plant rooting. Top off the water to keep the nodes underwater and keep the water clean by changing it out weekly.
For the sphagnum moss method, as above cut between the nodes and place the cuttings in sphagnum moss. Be sure to keep the moss moist — not soggy! — by regularly adding water or misting. When it comes time to pot up your cuttings, remove the sphagnum moss slowly so that the new roots don’t get damaged.
For both methods, a guiding principle is to keep your propagations in a warm sunny place for the best results. After a week or 2, you’ll notice root growth from the node and once you have about 1 to 2inches of roots, you can pot up your plantie by placing it in soil. Be mindful to keep the soil moist for the first week or so as the cutting will be establishing itself.
EXTRA CREDIT: Leaf Fenestrations, or simply the holes in the leaf, could have evolved the plant for a number of reasons. The leading theory is that the fenestrations allow the plant to absorb more sunlight by allowing the light to pass through to the leaves below. Other theories suggest that the plant evolved to survive hurricane winds. Whatever the true reason, both facts will be great the next time we’re allowed to have guests over and you’re giving them a tour of your plantie collection.
CAUTION: Rhaphidophora tetrasperma, like its cousin Monstera deliciosa, contains calcium oxalates which are toxic to pets.