If you’re tired of the ordinary Swiss cheese plant and seeking an extraordinary addition to your plant collection, then let me introduce you to the captivating variegated Monstera. With its eye-catching mottled foliage, this plant is sure to mesmerize you.
- All About Variegated Monstera
- Variegated Monstera Varieties
- Caring for Variegated Monsteras
All About Variegated Monstera
The Natural Habitat
In the wild, variegated Monsteras are a rare occurrence. While a random mutation can result in variegation, these plants often struggle to survive due to their inefficient photosynthesizing abilities. However, in cultivation, variegated Monsteras thrive and can be propagated to create new plants.
The original Monstera deliciosa, the plant from which the variegated version stems, is commonly found in the rainforests of Central America. It climbs tall trees using its aerial roots to reach more sunlight.
Unveiling the Variegation
Variegated Monstera plants are distinguished by their unique mottled foliage, which lacks green pigment in certain cells. The variegation can vary in color (yellow, cream, light green, or pure white) and pattern (speckled, blocky, or splotchy). There are two main types of variegation: marbled and sectoral.
Marbled variegation features patches of light and dark colors evenly distributed across the leaf. On the other hand, sectoral variegation showcases large patches of white. Some leaves may exhibit both marbled and sectoral variegation simultaneously.
In essence, variegated Monsteras are similar to their non-variegated counterparts, with a genetic anomaly causing them to produce less chlorophyll in certain parts of their leaves. This reduced chlorophyll creates lighter or fully white sections.
A Closer Look at Monstera Deliciosa
Monstera deliciosa, also known as the Swiss cheese plant, is a hemiepiphyte that starts its life in the soil and then climbs trees to seek sunlight using its aerial roots. It boasts large, glossy, heart-shaped leaves with fenestrations (splits and holes) that help them withstand heavy rainfall in their natural habitat.
When grown outdoors, Monstera deliciosa can produce a delectable fruit with a flavor reminiscent of pineapple, mango, passionfruit, and strawberries. Interestingly, variegated cultivars have mottled-colored fruit instead of the typical uniform light green.
While the variegated version may not reach the same height or leaf size as its outdoor counterpart, it still belongs to the XL plant category.
The Allure of Variegated Monsteras
If you’ve been exploring the world of houseplants, you’ve likely noticed the fervor surrounding variegated Monsteras. These plants come with a price tag, but what makes them so sought after?
One reason for their high demand is the limited availability. Variegated Monsteras cannot be grown from seeds, so obtaining them requires more effort. Additionally, their slower growth rate and their popularity on social media contribute to their expense. A pricey plant adds an air of exclusivity and status to any plant collection.
Variegated Monstera Varieties
There are various accepted varieties of variegated Monsteras, although determining the exact type can be challenging due to environmental influences and misleading labels. Here are a few widely recognized varieties:
Monstera ‘Variegata’: This was the original variegated Monstera, arising from genetic mutations in plants grown from seed. The variegation can manifest in any color or pattern.
Monstera ‘Albo Borsigiana’: Also known as Monstera Albo, this popular variety features white variegation in large blotches and splotches. It can produce foliage with coveted half-moon or full moon (completely white) patterns. It tends to remain slightly smaller than other varieties.
Monstera ‘Thai Constellation’: Another highly sought-after variety, this one boasts cream specks that resemble a starry constellation. It is known to have more stable variegation and is said to have been genetically engineered.
Monstera ‘Mint Variegata’: As the name suggests, this variety showcases minty green and white variegation. It is relatively new and difficult to find, but it is undeniably stunning.
Monstera ‘Aurea’: The name “Aurea” refers to the yellowish variegation found in this variety. The variegation can appear as splotches, speckles, or a combination of both. However, splotched specimens usually have less pronounced variegation.
Caring for Variegated Monsteras
Light and Temperature
Finding the perfect balance of light is crucial for a variegated Monstera to retain its unique foliage. Insufficient light can cause the plant to produce leaves with less variegation. On the other hand, heavily variegated leaves are more prone to sunburn, so they should be protected from direct sunlight.
Placing your variegated Monstera near most windows is generally suitable, but if the window receives intense afternoon sun, consider positioning the plant a few feet away or using a sheer curtain for protection.
As tropical plants, Monsteras thrive in temperatures above 59°F (15°C). While regular Monstera deliciosa can tolerate colder conditions, the more delicate variegated varieties prefer room temperature. Avoid exposing them to chilly environments to ensure their optimal growth.
Water and Humidity
Determining the watering frequency for your variegated Monstera can be challenging, as it depends on various factors. Instead of following a fixed schedule, it’s best to assess the soil’s moisture level. Stick your finger into the soil or lift the pot to gauge its weight. Water only when the top layer of the soil has dried out, or the pot feels noticeably lighter.
Humidity is particularly important to monitor for variegated Monsteras due to their higher price and delicate nature. If your home’s humidity consistently drops below 50 percent, consider using a humidifier to maintain a suitable environment for your plant.
Soil and Planting
Variegated Monsteras prefer loose soil that allows their roots to breathe. You can create a basic soil mixture using high-quality houseplant potting soil, perlite, and orchid bark. Adjust the ratio based on your watering habits and preferences. If you tend to underwater, incorporate sphagnum moss into the mixture.
Choosing a planter with proper drainage holes is essential. Additionally, providing a sturdy moss pole or plant totem will support your variegated Monstera as it grows. These plants can become top-heavy over time, and the pole will maintain their balance and promote optimal growth.
Variegated Monsteras have a slower growth rate compared to their non-variegated counterparts, meaning they require less fertilizer. However, it’s crucial not to neglect fertilization. Use a diluted liquid aroid fertilizer once a month during the growing season, applying it while watering. Avoid fertilizing during the plant’s inactive winter months.
Pruning is generally unnecessary for variegated Monsteras, except for the removal of dead leaves. However, it is recommended to remove full moon leaves (completely white) as they cannot photosynthesize and can drain energy from the plant. If your variegated Monstera begins to revert to its non-variegated state, you can prune it back to the last variegated leaf. This will encourage new growth with proper variegation.
Propagating Variegated Monsteras
Given the high cost of established variegated Monstera plants, unrooted cuttings are a popular choice for propagation. Different types of cuttings, such as stem-only cuttings or leafed cuttings with nodes, are available for purchase.
Propagation methods vary, but some common approaches include rooting the cuttings in water, sphagnum moss, perlite, or LECA (lightweight expanded clay aggregate). Maintaining high humidity, using a humidity dome or plastic bag, and applying rooting hormone can enhance the success rate of propagation.
Variegated Monsteras are fascinating plants that captivate plant enthusiasts around the world. With their unique mottled foliage and limited availability, these plants have gained popularity and become valuable additions to any collection.
By providing adequate light, water, humidity, and care, you can enjoy the beauty of variegated Monsteras in your own home. Whether you choose to purchase an established plant or propagate your own, these captivating plants are sure to add a touch of enchantment to your indoor garden.
For more information on variegated Monstera plant care, check out the Ames Farm Center.