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Turn into a Monstera Guru: Get the Inside Scoop About the Varieties

Posted on September 14 2021

Turn into a Monstera Guru: Get the Inside Scoop About the Varieties

Did you know that the word “Monstera” means “strange” in Latin? These popular (and addictive) houseplants have us captivated with their wondrous appearance. And while Deliciosa is probably what popped into mind, there are plenty of Monstera varieties to choose from… some more otherworldly than others! So what do you need to know about this genus to become a guru?

Origins

Most Monstera species can be traced to Central and South America, while there are a few in the West Indies! Geography aside, you will find these forest-dwellers nestled in the humid tropics. Monsteras can be either hemiepiphytes or complete epiphytes. What does that mean? They spend most (if not all) of their lifetime in the treetops rather than the soil. The chunky aerial roots of the Monstera help them to soak in rainwater, humidity, and nutrients from their balmy environment.

Let’s Talk Slits

Do all Monsteras have slits (aka fenestrations)? Nope. While that’s arguably what gives these plants such an appeal, you can find intriguing, slit-free species such as the Monstera Dubia, Monstera siltepecana, Monstera Karstenianum (aka Peru), and Monstera standleyana.

Other Monstera varieties, like the Esqueleto, Adansonii, and Obliqua, have hole-shaped fenestrations rather than Deliciosa-like slits.

So, why do some Monsteras have fenestrations? Theories on this differ, but it’s easy to see how these slits offer the plant some advantages in its home environment. For example, the fenestrations protect the large leaves of the Monstera Deliciosa from wind and storm damage. Another idea? The plant wants to maximize its surface area to soak in as much dabbled forest-floor sunlight as possible, so it divides (literally) and conquers. 

Why are my Monsteras leaves not splitting?

It is frustrating when the leaves aren’t splitting if you have a fenestrated Monstera variety, like the Deliciosa. What’s the deal? 

  • Immaturity: Young Monsteras won’t develop new, split leaves until they reach maturity. The antidote? Patience. (We know it’s hard!)
  • Low Light: Your Monstera requires bright, indirect light to achieve its maximum fenestration potential! Likely, this will be the brightest spot you can muster in your home. One to two hours of direct sunlight in the morning or evening is suitable for most Monstera species (but do your research).
  • Stress: If you have a mature plant that’s usually a great performer, don’t despair if it starts pumping out a lackluster leaf. If you’ve recently purchased your plant, received it from shipping, or repotted it, it’s likely throwing a temporary stress tantrum. Patiently wait it out.
  • Watering & Fertilizer: Double-check your care routine, which is slightly different for each Monstera species. A hungry, thirsty, or drowning plant makes for an unhappy Monstera, which will cause a loss of fenestration.

    Monstera Varieties at the Exotic Forest

    When you purchase from us, you can be sure of two things: (1) You’ll be receiving a fully mature, fenestrated plant. (2) You’ll get what you paid for: there’s no if, and’s, but’s, or worries about the species or variety you’ll be receiving.

    Monstera Deliciosa (aka Swiss Cheese Plant)

    This one is a classic, with its dark green, slitted, glossy leaves that can reach up to 3-feet in diameter! What are some of its basic care requirements?

    • Light: Bright, indirect light.
    • Water: Allow to dry out between waterings.
    • Soil: Well-draining soil.
    • Humidity: Average-high humidity. 
    • Fertilizer: Every two weeks during the growing season.

    Monstera Deliciosa ‘Thai Constellation’

    The Thai Constellation was born in a science lab as a variegated Monstera Deliciosa variety. With its splashes of creamy yellow scattered across its humongous leaves, it’s no wonder people are lining up to get one! How do you take care of it?

    • Light: Bright, indirect light.
    • Water: Allow to dry out between waterings.
    • Soil: Well-draining soil.
    • Humidity: Average-high humidity. 
    • Fertilizer: Every two weeks during the growing season.

    Monstera Deliciosa Borsigiana ‘Albo’

    As a subspecies of the Monstera Deliciosa, Borsigiana varieties have a few unique characteristics, like smaller leaves and a faster growth rate! What makes the Monstera ‘Albo’ extra special? Its stark white variegation, which can appear as stripes, spots, or entire leaves! Highly variegated plants need more delicate care than their all-green cousins:

    • Light: Bright, indirect light. Dabbled morning or evening sun is beneficial.
    • Water: Allow to dry out between waterings.
    • Soil: Well-draining soil. Opt to make your own mix or add perlite and orchid bark to organic potting soil.
    • Humidity: High humidity. We recommend a humidifier for the best results.
    • Fertilizer: Organic liquid fertilizer diluted to ¼ with every watering during the growing season.

    Monstera Adansonii (aka Friedrichsthalii, Monkey Mask Monstera, Swiss Cheese Vine, & Five Holes Plant)

    This attractive Monstera is more vine-like than other varieties, making it a stylish hanging plant or totem climber. Another remarkable trait? The Monstera Adansonii sports different fenestration than its Deliciosa cousins because it has holes rather than slits. These shiny, dark green, thick leaves change as they mature, developing more or larger holes as time goes on. Looking for some care tips?

    •  Light: Bright, indirect light. 
    • Water: Allow the first inch of soil to dry out.
    • Soil: Well-draining soil. 
    • Humidity: Average-high humidity. 
    • Fertilizer: Fertilizer diluted to ½ monthly during the growing season.

    Monstera Esqueleto

    At first glance, you may be wondering: ‘What’s the difference between Esqueleto and Adansonii?’ The Monstera Esqueleto is a lighter green, has larger, more delicately thin leaves, and bigger fenestrations. All in all, the Esqueleto is more lacey and less vine-like; it will eventually need a totem to support its growth and weight. If you’re going for a jungle-house vibe, this is it! How do you provide it with TLC?


  • Light: Bright, indirect light. Dabbled morning or evening sun is beneficial.
  • Water: Keep soil slightly damp.
  • Soil: Well-draining soil. Opt to make your mix or add perlite and orchid bark to organic potting soil.
  • Humidity: High humidity. A humidifier is recommended for the best results.
  • Fertilizer: Fertilize sparingly—three times a year with an organic ½ strength product.

  • FAQ About Monstera Varieties:

    Should I train my Monstera to a moss pole?

    For some Monstera varieties, there aren’t many other options. For example, the Deliciosa grows large, meaning mature plants need support. 

    Smaller plants, such as the Monstera Adansonii, don’t necessarily need a moss pole for support. A bonus to Monstera moss-pole training? Larger leaves and more pronounced fenestration. 

    Remember, training a Monstera to a moss pole requires more effort than simply tying your plant to a structure. To reap all the benefits, your pole will need regular misting so that your Monstera’s aerial roots attach.

    Why does my Monstera have yellow leaves?

    The most common reason your Monstera has yellow leaves? Improper soil moisture. The culprit? 

    1. Your soil selection. Regardless of the variety of Monstera in question, your soil should be well-draining. An unaltered, traditional potting mix is not suitable for these epiphytic plants. As a minimum, add additional orchid bark and perlite to a premade, peat-based mix. If you’re not into the extra fuss, you can purchase premade Monstera soil, like this one.
    2. Your watering habits. Double-check the watering requirements for your specific Monstera species since some need to stay moister than others. If you have a Deliciosa, Thai Constellation, or Albo, remember to allow the soil to completely dry out between watering. Use a moisture meter or chopstick to check the moistness of the soil.

    What’s the difference between Monstera vs. Philodendron?

    Many people confuse the Monsteras and Philodendrons, sometimes even mislabeling a Monstera Deliciosa as a Split-Leaf Philodendron. (Which, for the record, is its own thing: Philodendron Thauatophyllum bipinnatifidum, previously the Philodendron selloum bipinnatifidum) So, what is the difference? 

    • Genetically: Monsteras and Philodendrons are two separate genus in the same plant family (Araceae), making them cousins. 
    • Physically: Monstera Deliciosa (and similar varieties) have fenestration, which starts as holes that gradually become slits. Philodendron Thautophyllum bipinnatifidum (aka Split-Leaf Philodendron) are very deeply lobed but don’t have fenestration. As far as appearances go, they’re lacier and frilly.

    What are some signs my Monstera has root rot?

    A Monstera with root rot will have moist soil with a strong odor, and likely there will be plenty of fungus gnats buzzing around. You’ll start to notice brown spots with yellow halos popping up on the lower leaves of your plant. How can you fix it?

    • Repot your plant. Rinse off as much of the old soil as possible. Trim off any rotten roots with sterile scissors. Place your Monstera in proper well-draining soil, and hold off watering for 2 hours after repotting. Afterward, water thoroughly.
    • Place your Monstera in a brighter location. 
    • Remove affected leaves. This step isn't a requirement but will boost your plant's appearance.

    Can Monstera survive in low light?

    If you have a variegated Monstera variety, the answer is no. The essential process of photosynthesis requires pigment (chlorophyll), which variegated plants are short on (thus all the white and creamy patches), making it necessary for them to receive ample light.

    What about un-variegated Monsteras? It depends on the species you select. But let’s make one thing clear: There’s a big difference between a Monstera surviving in low light and thriving. If you want your Monstera to continue a healthy growth rate, it will need to be in bright, indirect light. Are you happy with your plant’s size? Then you can slowly nurse it away from its window.

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