The uniquely perforated leaves and stunning white and green foliage have turned the Monstera Albo houseplant into a sensation. All the social media feeds went crazy when this variegated Monstera first appeared. And the obsession is wholly warranted. This is a spectacular houseplant.
We hope you didn’t have to pay too much for your Monstera Albo, but we’re guessing that if you have one of these striking houseplants, it wasn’t a low-cost purchase! And, now that you have it, caring for it properly is hugely important. Monstera Albo isn’t difficult to take care of, but it does have some very particular needs due to its unique variegation.
Origin and History of Monstera Albo
Monstera Albo’s official name is Monstera Deliciosa ‘Albo-Variegata‘ or the variegated Swiss Cheese Plant. Some people call it the Split-leaf Philodendron. It also is listed as Monstera deliciosa borsigiana ‘Albo‘ or ‘Variegata.’ In short, there are many names for this sought-after plant, and there are some lookalikes. Because of this, you want to ensure you only buy from reputable sellers as there are many scams out there.
The non-variegated Swiss Cheese Plant was already a sensation before the variegated version appeared. The distinctive holey leaves that look like Swiss cheese caught the imagination of houseplant lovers worldwide. The holes, called fenestrations, turn the massive, vibrantly colored green leaves into a stunning centerpiece plant.
Monstera plants are originally from Central and South America and thrive in humid, tropical locations. In the mid-19th century, it was popular as a houseplant, and again it was a trending plant in the 1960s and 70s. It fell out of fashion for a while, but recently, thanks to social media, it is on the top of every plant lover’s wish list.
Why Is Monstera Albo So Expensive?
Did you hear about the variegated Albo Monstera that sold for almost $5000 in New Zealand? Monstera Albo is expensive because the variegation occurs through a natural mutation. This mutation is from the genetic DNA of the specific plant and is not passed on to the seeds.
This means that the only way to get one of these plants is to purchase a cutting of a healthy mature mother plant with good variegation. And, due to the unique needs of a variegated Monstera, the cuttings aren’t always successful. That’s normal with any houseplant; some just don’t make it.
In addition, this variety doesn’t grow as quickly as the non-variegated versions. The lack of chlorophyll in the white leaves slows down the overall growth which the plant needs to grow. A fully green plant will grow much quicker.
All this, combined with the immense popularity, mean there is huge demand and limited plants, which drives the prices way up.
Monstera Albo Care Guide
This section cover important Monstera Albo care topics such as watering, lighting requirements, temperature, humidity, and more.
As mentioned above, Monstera Albo is a slower grower than its all-green cousin. The white leaves, which make it so attractive, also slow down the overall growth rate. Plants need chlorophyll to grow, and chlorophyll is in green leaves. Also, due to the lack of chlorophyll, the white leaves die off sooner than the green ones. Unfortunately, all white or primarily white leaves have a relatively short lifespan. Make sure you enjoy them fully when they appear!
The variegation on Monstera Albo varies by leaf; some have large patches or blocks of pure white while others are streaked with white and green. There is no way to predict how the white will appear on each leaf. This is one of the beauties of this houseplant; each leaf is its own artistic masterpiece.
Monstera Albo produces new leaves every few months and usually grows 1-2 feet yearly in optimal environments.
Monstera Albo light needs are particular and where the care gets the most complex. It needs lots of indirect light, even more than the all-green relations. Again, this is due to the lack of chlorophyll. Because the white leaves produce so much less, the rest of the plant needs to compensate and receive more.
If the plant does not receive enough light, the leaves will die, and you’ll probably lose a lot of the white variegation. It isn’t uncommon for the leaves to revert back to green if there isn’t enough light.
However, the Albo foliage will burn if placed in direct sunlight, especially the all-white sections. So, you have to find a well-balanced location. Pick a spot where your Monstera Albo will receive 6-8 hours of indirect or filtered sunlight each day. Place it a foot or two away from a window so the leaves don’t get scorched.
The Albo likes consistently moist soil without being overly soggy, and it does not do well if the soil dries out completely. This can be a little fussy to manage, but once you get into the routine of it, it’s easy.
The best way to monitor and manage the moisture needs is to always check the soil before watering. Never assume it needs water. Stick your finger in the top inch of soil; if it is still moist, wait another day or two and check again. If the top inch of soil is dry, water thoroughly.
Make sure the roots don’t sit in water. If you have a saucer under the pot, empty it after watering. Be aware of overwatering because Monstera Albo is prone to root rot.
Small plants in little containers dry out faster than mature plants, so the watering needs in the beginning will likely be more than when it’s bigger. This is one reason it’s essential to check the soil before watering.
Temperature & Humidity
Since Monstera Albo is a tropical plant, it likes warm temperatures and high humidity. The ideal temperature range is between 55-90F (never below 50F), and the ideal humidity is 60-90%.
It is essential that you pay close attention to temperature and humidity, especially in winter when the air gets dry. You can create a DIY humidity pebble tray to increase the humidity levels, but this only works to a certain extent. Since you probably paid a considerable price for the Albo, you should invest in a humidifier. You don’t want to lose your pricey plant baby due to insufficient humidity.
Soil & Pots
A high-quality tropical plant potting mix is the best. It is vital that the soil drains well and is well aerated. It needs to hold enough moisture but not excessively. You can mix in handfuls of perlite and coco coir to increase the soil’s ability to drain thoroughly and allow airflow.
Be careful about soil that becomes compact, either because it isn’t aerated enough or it is old. Compact soil leads to poor drainage and root rot. As an aroid epiphyte, the Albo is not accustomed to being covered in dense soil.
Make sure any container you choose has drainage holes so excess water can empty easily.
During the growing season, spring and summer, fertilize your Monstera Albo once a month. Stop fertilizing in the winter so the plant can rest. A basic tropical houseplant fertilizer diluted to half strength is the best option.
All Monsteras are toxic to people and animals, so you’ll need to keep this houseplant away from small children and pets.
Plan on repotting your Albo every year to a larger container. It isn’t a fast grower, but the plant benefits from a yearly soil refreshment. The plant will also grow bigger with regular and consistent repotting. If you want it to stay the same size, don’t increase the container size. However, you should still repot it to replace the soil.
Monstera Albo doesn’t need any pruning except removing dead or dying leaves. The leaves naturally die off over time, so don’t stress about this – it’s normal. If desired, you can prune it to keep it smaller or limit its growth.
Since photosynthesis is a problem with all white leaves, it’s incredibly beneficial to the overall health of the foliage if you clean the leaves. The enormous leaves tend to accumulate dust which impedes their ability to absorb sunlight. Use a damp cloth to wipe down the leaves once a month.
Common Pests & Disease
Here are a few of the most common pests and diseases that you should look out for when keeping Monstera Albo:
Spider Mites, Aphids, Thrips, and Mealy Bugs
These little pests cause stunted or deformed growth, yellowing, brown-spotted, and curled leaves. If you see this, remove your Albo from other houseplants, as these bugs love jumping from one plant to another.
The most effective treatment for these tiny pests is a neem oil treatment. In a quart spray bottle, mix two teaspoons of neem oil with one teaspoon of dish soap; fill the remainder of the bottle up with water. Shake it well and spray on the plant every 5-7 days until the infestation is gone, being sure to get underneath the leaves, as that is where most tiny insects hide.
Symptoms of root rot include stunted growth, small pale leaves, wilted leaves, thinned growth, and a quick overall decline in your plant’s health. Root rot is usually caused by overwatering, although it can also result from a fungal infection. Either way, the roots are starved of oxygen, which is often a death sentence for the plant.
If you suspect root rot, gently remove your Monstera from the pot and inspect the roots. Brown, mushy roots are a sure sign you’ve got root rot. The good news is that root rot is treatable if caught promptly. Trim away all the rotted mushy sections and treat the roots and pot with an anti-fungal solution. Then, repot the plant in fresh soil.
After removing the rotted roots, reevaluate your watering schedule and remember that underwatering is better than overwatering. Never let the plant sit in soggy soil; only use potting containers with drainage holes.
How To Propagate Monstera Albo
Note: Below is just a quick recap of the propagation process. For in-depth instructions, check out our step-by-step monstera propagation guide.
Only take cuttings from mature and healthy mother plants. If you take cuttings too soon, you may hurt the growth of the parent. The best time to propagate is spring when the plant is the strongest.
- Sterilize a pair of scissors with alcohol or heat.
- Cut a stem 2 inches below a node. The node is the swollen bump along the stem where a new leaf grows.
- The stem you choose should already have 1-3 leaves. If it has more leaves than that, remove them. And always remove any leaves below the node.
- Place the node in a warm, dry location for an hour where the cut end can callous over (heal).
- Wrap the node with moistened sphagnum moss and place it in a jar. Ensure the cutting is suspended in the jar and not squished in as that might cause root rot.
- Place the jar in a sunny, warm location with lots of indirect light (no direct sunlight).
- Keep the moss moist but not soggy; check every couple of days to ensure it is.
- In 6-8 weeks, possibly longer, roots will form. Be patient!
- Let the roots develop well before potting up in soil. There should be several roots, and each one a few inches long.
- Pot up the cutting in a good tropical houseplant potting soil mix, water well, and place in a spot with lots of bright, indirect light.
- Your Monstera Albo might go into mild shock at the soil change – let it be and give it the regular proper care, and it will bounce back.
Frequently Asked Questions
Here are a few of the most common questions about Monstera Albo care:
Monstera Albo vs. the Thai Constellation Monstera – what’s the difference?
These two Monsteras’ leaves look similar enough to cause lots of confusion. However, they are very different plants. The white mutation in the Thai Constellation is created in a lab, and the variegation is much more stable. The leaves will not revert back to green.
The variegation on the Thai Constellation is speckled, like stars in the sky, and is not as pure white as the Albo. It, too, is expensive and difficult to source. Costa Farms, one of the largest wholesalers in the country, recently released a statement that they can’t offer the Thai Constellation due to production issues.
Can you grow Monstera Albo from seed?
No! The seeds of this plant are a scam.
Why do Swiss Cheese Plants have holes?
The holes are a natural evolution to enhance photosynthesis. The holes allow the leaves to be more efficient in absorbing every drop of sunlight the plant receives under a dense tropical canopy.
Is the variegation on the Monstera Albo stable?
No. Since the variegation is a natural mutation, it is not stable. A plant can (and will) revert to all green coloration if it does not receive enough light.
Why isn’t my Monstera Albo growing?
There could be several reasons, but it may just be that it’s taking its time. The plant doesn’t care if you want to see leaves immediately; it will grow in its own time. To ensure optimal growth possibilities, ensure it receives enough light and appropriate watering. If it is winter, let the plant rest as downtime is just as essential to a healthy plant as all the other factors.
Monstera Albo proves that all beautiful things are worth a bit of patience. It takes some effort, consistency, and care to keep the Albo happy, but the end result is an exquisite plant that will light up your living space.