Monstera deliciosa has been a popular houseplant for years, and now that it comes in a variegated form it’s even more in demand. Monstera’s large fenestrated leaves make it a statement piece in your house and its easy care requirements make it a no-brainer for even the worst plant parents.
What Is Variegated Monstera?
Monstera deliciosa was originally found in the rainforests of Mexico in 1840. While these plants are very popular and common as houseplants, they are actually quite rare in their native habitat as seedlings will die if they don’t have a tree to grow on.
Variegated monsteras or Monstera deliciosa variegata is a naturally occurring mutation in Monstera deliciosa. It is said that only 1 in 100,000 plants will develop this variegation, which makes them quite rare and very in demand, with plants selling for up to $5000.
A much more common, but still expensive type is Thai Constellation. This cultivar of monstera was created in a lab in Thailand and that is where it got its name.
This plant has gorgeous white and yellow variegation and is created from tissue cultures. Unlike some of the naturally occurring variegation types, the colors in Thai Constellation should not revert under stress or poor lighting.
My personal favorite of the variegated monsteras is Monstera deliciosa borsigiana variegate, also known as Monstera Albo. Borsigiana is a subspecies of Monstera deliciosa that spontaneously mutates more often than the standard deliciosa.
This type is heavily traded in houseplant groups and is very popular in plant stores. It often has bright white coloration on its leaves and is a stunning plant to look at. The variegation is natural, so it can revert if under stress. Prices vary on this plant but usually run $200+ for a cutting.
How to Care for a Variegated Monstera deliciosa
Variegated Monstera care is relatively similar for all three types. It is recommended that you keep them indoors year-round as the variegated types need a bit more babying than the standard variety.
Temperature and Climate
In its native habitat in Central America, Monstera deliciosa prefers temperatures between 60-80 degrees, and can not tolerate temperatures lower than 55. This should be easy to accomplish as houseplants, but in the winter it’s important to make sure they aren’t exposed to drafts from windows or doors.
Monstera plants also enjoy high humidity, so be sure they are kept well away from both heating and air conditioning vents as both push out very dry air.
Variegated monsteras can be pretty forgiving of low humidity, but only to about 40%, anything lower than that, and they will start to suffer and drop leaves.
Signs that low humidity is poorly affecting your plant are brown burnt looking leaf tips and stunted growth. If you need to raise the humidity for your variegated monstera there are a few simple ways you can do so.
Monstera plants enjoy being lightly misted once or twice a week. Misting can raise the humidity levels around the plant and provide its aerial roots with a little extra moisture. If you are going to be misting your plants, be sure not to get too much moisture on your walls as this could lead to issues with mildew or mold.
The best and most reliable method of raising humidity for variegated monsteras is a humidifier. While humidifiers can be a pricey investment, so are variegated monsteras. You want to make sure your plant is getting the best care possible to keep them happy and healthy and a humidifier will do just that.
If your variegated monstera is still young and small, a rock or pebble tray could do the trick for raising the humidity. Simply fill a tray with rocks, then fill the tray with water to a level just below the top of the rocks. Place your monstera pot on top. As the water from the tray evaporates, it will reach the monstera plant and provide it with increased humidity. Be sure to keep water in the tray for the best results.
Unlike the standard Monstera deliciosa, variegated varieties need more sunlight to properly photosynthesize and grow.
The variegation in Monstera plants is caused by a lack of chlorophyll. This means that in order to make enough food to support the plant and keep it healthy, the green parts of your plant have to work overtime.
It’s important that your plant is getting plenty of bright indirect light or it could start losing leaves and die. Also, in the case of Monstera Albo and Monstera deliciosa variegata, your plant could revert to its green form and lose all variegation.
To ensure your plant gets enough light, you may want to supplement your natural light with a grow light. These can be purchased at any plant store and are relatively inexpensive.
They can be set up as spotlights that will really highlight your plant as a focal point in the room while also serving the purpose of keeping your plant happy and healthy.
Due to their white variegated leaves, these plants are more prone to burning, so if you notice brown or burned-looking patches on your plant, it might be getting too much light. Try moving it a little further from the light source and see if that helps.
Monstera plants enjoy being watered about twice a week in the spring and summer and once every seven to ten days in the winter.
Before watering, you want to make sure that the soil is almost completely dry. To do this, press your finger roughly an inch into the soil. If it is mostly dry, you are safe to water again. If it still seems wet, it is best to wait.
Variegated monsteras are prone to root rot, so you don’t want to overwater them. If you notice that your monstera is taking a while to dry out, it could be that your plant pot is too big or it’s not getting enough sunlight.
I usually topwater my monsteras twice a week with a watering can until I see water running out of the bottom of the pot, but I also like to treat them to a shower about once a month.
Exposing your monstera to a rain shower or a pseudo rain shower benefits the plant by cleaning off its leaves and by simulating a natural rainstorm. To do this, you can either take your plant outside and use your hose, or you can place it in your shower and set the water to lukewarm.
I prefer to take mine outside, but it really is up to you what works best for you. If doing the shower outside, it is best to do it in the morning or early evening so your plant is not exposed to the heat or the intense sun of midday as this could cause the leaves to burn.
Some growers say the ideal soil for variegated monsteras is 1 part perlite, 1 part peat moss, and 4 parts pine bark. While this works well for them, I prefer to use 1 part Fox Farms Ocean Forest, 1 part peat moss, and 1 part vermiculite. Either could work well for you. I just love using Fox Farms products and have yet to have a plant that didn’t flourish in them.
Whatever soil you choose, be sure that it is well-draining as monsteras are prone to root rot.
Monstera plants are usually fast-growing, adding 1-2 feet of plant per year. Variegated monsteras do grow significantly slower than traditional plants, but both will utilize a good fertilizer.
I recommend fertilizing with a 20-20-20 fertilizer twice a month at half strength, but you could also do it once a month at full strength. Always follow the directions on your bottle of fertilizer for mixing and application, as too much fertilizer can burn the roots of your plants.
If you aren’t a fan of liquid fertilizer or think you will forget there are pelleted versions on the market you can use. These last around 6-9 months and are best applied in the spring. Each time you water, small amounts of fertilizer will wash off the pellets and into the soil for your plant to utilize.
It is recommended you repot your variegated monstera every other year into a pot that is 1-2 sizes larger than the one it is in. Monsteras aren’t fans of being root bound, so if you notice your plant seems to be dehydrated or the soil isn’t absorbing much water, it could be because the pot is full of roots and has pushed out most of the soil. Gently remove your plant to check and if you need to repot early, that is completely fine.
One of the most important things when choosing a pot for a monstera is that it has a drainage hole. If you are in love with a pot that doesn’t have a drainage hole, you can either attempt to drill your own or you can fill the bottom few inches of the pot with rocks and charcoal to catch excess water that drains out of your soil.
If you use the rocks, be sure never to overwater as it is easy for the excess water to accumulate under your plant and eventually cause issues with your soil.
Another important part of repotting is a moss pole. Monsteras are epiphytic plants, which means they only grow on other trees in the wild. They are not capable of fully supporting their own growth and will need either a moss pole or a trellis to grow well in your home.
Both moss poles and trellises are available online and in some plant stores. You can also DIY your own moss pole with PVC-coated hardware cloth and sphagnum moss. While the DIY poles can be a pain to make, your plant will thank you with amazing growth. I’ve found my plants do significantly better with my DIY moss poles than they do with store-bought ones.
Propagating variegated monsteras is relatively easy. You will want to choose a healthy leaf that has some variegation, but not a lot of variegation.
Too much variegation will lead to your cutting dying as it won’t be able to produce enough energy to grow new roots, but not enough variegation could mean that your new plant won’t be variegated.
To propagate you have a few options:
Cut your chosen leaf below the node with sterilized shears. Place the stem in clean water and change the water once a week until you notice the roots are beginning to grow.
When you see about an inch of growth, you can then transition the plant to soil. Keep the soil pretty wet to start, as your new plant’s roots are used to being in the water. Over about 2 weeks, you can reduce the amount of water until you are keeping the baby plant the same as the parent.
Cut your chosen leaf below the node as above, but instead of placing the cutting in water, you will place it in rooting hormone and let it sit out for a day to heal over. After it has had time to heal, place it in the same substrate you keep the parent plant in and let it grow. This method is a little slower and I’ve had slightly less success with it, but many plant keepers swear by it.
On the Plant Propagation
The most foolproof way to create a new plant from a parent plant is by getting the new roots to grow before you remove the leaf. This is the safest way to propagate and it’s the least stressful for your new cutting.
To do this, simply wrap damp sphagnum moss around the node on your plant that connects to the leaf you want to propagate, then wrap the moss in plastic wrap. In about a month you can unwrap the plastic wrap and you should have nice roots ready to support your baby plant. You can now remove the leaf below the node and plant it directly in the soil.
Monstera plants do not need much in the way of pruning. If you want a fuller plant, you can propagate cuttings and add them to the pot with your parent plant to give the illusion of a bushier specimen.
Other than that, the only pruning you would need to do is to remove old dying leaves. It’s completely natural for older leaves near the bottom of your plant to die off over time. When this happens, simply remove them with sterilized shears and throw them away.
Common Pest (and Diseases)
The most common issue for Monsteras is root rot caused by overwatering.
Unhealthy plants can also succumb to thrips, aphids, scale, and spider mites.
The best way to treat all of these things is to avoid getting them. Always quarantine new plants before bringing them near your current collection.
I also recommend taking time with your plants every week and giving them a good once over. Check their leaves both top and bottom, check your soil, and look over the stems. Catching pests and diseases early can mean life or death for your beloved plants. As a bonus, it’s been proven that spending time in nature can reduce your stress levels and your blood pressure, making you happier and healthier.