The mini-monstera is only distantly related to its much more famous cousin, the Swiss Cheese Plant, but it is equally as stunning in the home. Mini-monsteras (Rhaphidophora tetrasperma) feature the same remarkable fenestration but are vining plants instead of upright growers.
They are effortless to grow, produce lush tropical foliage, and reach up to 12-feet long. If you’re looking for a fast-growing plant to highlight your home or conceal a not so pretty corner, this is it!
All About Rhaphidophora Tetrasperma
Native to southern Thailand and Malaysia, the mini-monstera is a tropical plant with beautiful split leaves. It is often confused with Monsteras because of its common name; it gets mislabeled online and in nurseries.
Mini-monsteras are also known as Philodendron “Ginny,” Philodendron “Minima,” or Philodendron “Piccolo.” Philodendrons are vining plants, and some have fenestrated leaves, which is where the confusion lies. However, mini-monsteras aren’t Philodendrons either. Common names can be so confusing!
The plants were first described to science in 1893 by the British botanist Joseph Dalton Hooker. Recently, mini-monsteras have experienced a surge in popularity. At first, it was hard to find them, but now they are becoming more common and less expensive.
Unique R. tetrasperma specimens still garner a colossal price tag, though. In 2020, a very rare white variegated Rhaphidophora tetrasperma was sold in New Zealand for NZ $27,100, which is around $19,300 USD! A specimen with yellow variegation sold for over $8,000 the previous year.
Mini-monsteras are vining plants that can grow up to 12-feet long, but indoors, they usually average 6-8 feet in length. The leaves are green, deeply fenestrated (split), and grow along the vining stem. Mini-monstera leaves grow 6-8 inches long, creating a small and graceful display.
In their native habitat, they send aerial roots climbing up trees to access light and nutrients. They do great on a moss pole or trellis.
Rhaphidophora Tetrasperma Care
In this section we cover important Rhaphidophora tetrasperma care topics such as lighting, watering, temperature, humidity, and more.
This robust vining houseplant needs a trellis, moss pole, or window frame to climb. Mini-monsteras grow vigorously – you may need to repot it more than once a year to keep up. They’re prolific growers that hold up well to pruning, always bouncing back with determination to be a grand and beautiful specimen.
Hanging baskets aren’t the best option since they don’t provide good vining support. R. tetrasperma looks like an untamed, jumbled-up mess spilling out of a basket. Also, without the support, the growth gets leggy with smaller leaves that don’t have splits.
When new leaves emerge, they will not be split. The fenestration comes later, as the plant and leaves mature. Be patient! R. tetrasperma also needs to be getting proper light to develop the fenestrated foliage.
Bright, indirect light is best for the mini-monstera. It doesn’t like direct sunlight – that will scorch the leaves. However, if it isn’t getting sufficient sunlight, it won’t produce as many fenestrations.
The best light is from a north, east, or west-facing window. Place the plant at least a foot back from the window or use blinds or a curtain to block the harsh afternoon sun.
R. tetrasperma is not a fan of low-light. It will grow much slower and produce smaller leaves without fenestrations.
This tropical houseplant likes to stay moist but not too soggy. It can be a bit of a delicate balance, but it’s easy to maintain with these simple steps.
- Always check the water level first before watering. Never assume it does or does not need water.
- Stick your finger in the top 2 inches of soil.
- If the soil is dry, water thoroughly.
- If the soil is wet, wait a few more days before watering.
- You don’t want the root ball to dry out, but the soil shouldn’t be continuously drenched.
In the winter, reduce watering as the mini-monstera rests.
Soggy soil blocks the roots’ access to air, which it needs to thrive. The roots can actually drown without oxygen and then will rot, killing the plant.
Temperature & Humidity
Mini-monsteras appreciate warm temperatures, nothing below 55F, and typical household humidity between 40-50%. Higher temperatures and humidity are always preferred, though.
If you notice leaves with brown tips or drooping foliage, your mini-monstera probably wants more humidity. A small humidifier works great. Or, you can set up a DIY humidifier pebble tray. These aren’t as effective but still do a decent job adding moisture to the air.
Fill a tray with stones or pebbles. Place the pot on top of it, then fill the tray with water. As the water evaporates, humidity around the plant increases. You’ll need to replenish the water on a regular basis.
Keep R. tetrasperma away from window drafts, heating vents, air conditioners, and radiators. Sudden changes in temperature aren’t good and will dry out the leaves.
Soil & Potting
A well-draining potting soil mix is essential for a happy mini-monstera. The pot must have drainage holes, so water doesn’t collect around the roots. The soil mix must be moist and provide plenty of air pockets, yet not get soggy. The best mix is a homemade one of equal parts high-quality potting mix, perlite, coco coir, and pine bark.
Add a well-balanced fertilizer every month during the growing season (spring through summer). Dilute it to ½ strength. During the winter, don’t add fertilizer – the plant is resting.
This houseplant will need regular pruning to keep it looking its best. In this way, it is like a Philodendron. Its growth can get a bit wild and messy, so if you have a certain aesthetic, you’ll have to trim it back every so often. You can also keep growth contained by cutting it back to the desired size.
R. tetrasperma is prone to getting leggy, especially when it isn’t getting enough light. It will stretch out its vine to get closer to the light instead of producing new leaves. If you notice this happening, move the plant to a better light location. Then, cut back the leggy growth.
When you first acquire your mini-monstera, inspect the bottom of the pot. If there are roots coming out of the bottom, it needs repotting. When you take the plant out of its pot, gently loosen the soil around the roots. Repot it in a container 1 or 2 sizes up, but no larger.
Mini-monsteras are toxic to people and animals. Keep them out of the way of curious kids and pets.
Propagating Rhaphidophora Tetrasperma
Mini-monstera plants can be propagated through stem cuttings in soil or water. They tend to do better in soil. Only propagate from a healthy, mature plant. The best time to propagate houseplants is in spring, when the parent plant is at its strongest.
Soil Stem Propagation
- Sterilize a pair of scissors or shears.
- Cut a section 2-3 inch section of the vine off – make sure it includes at least one node (the joint where the leaf meets the stem) and several leaves.
- Clip the stem at an angle ½” below the node.
- Remove any leaves near the node.
- Fill a pot with potting soil and place the cutting in it. Make sure the node is covered.
- Moisten the soil.
- Cover the pot with a plastic bag, leaving one corner slightly open to allow airflow. This provides important humidity to the new cutting.
- Put the pot in a spot with bright, indirect sunlight.
- Check it daily to see if it needs water – mist the soil as needed.
- In 4-6 weeks, check that the plant has rooted successfully by very gently tugging at the vine. If there is resistance, it’s growing nicely.
Water Stem Propagation
- Follow the steps above for soil propagation up to step 4.
- Place the cutting into a jar or vase of water – the node must be submerged.
- Put the jar in a location with bright, indirect light.
- Refill the water regularly as it gets low.
- New roots should appear in 2-3 weeks.
- Wait until the roots are several inches long, then pot up in soil.
Commons Pests & Disease
Here are a few common pests and diseases that you should look out for when keeping Mini Monstera:
Spider Mites, Aphids, Thrips, and Mealy Bugs
All of these pests are small and easy to miss if you’re not checking regularly. For some reason, spider mites, in particular, love R. tetrasperma.
If you see stunted or deformed growth, yellowing leaves, brown-spotted leaves, and curled leaves, check for pests. Sequester your mini-monstera away from any other houseplants since these bugs love to travel.
A neem oil treatment is the most effective way to deal with bugs. In a quart spray bottle, mix two teaspoons neem oil with one teaspoon dish soap; fill the remainder of the bottle up with water. Shake it well. Every 5-7 days, spray the plant until the infestation is gone. Spray well underneath the leaves and on top of the soil, as that is where many of the tiny insects hide.
Root rot starts with overwatering; once the roots are vulnerable, fungal or bacterial infections can take hold. Symptoms of root rot are stunted growth, small pale leaves, thinned growth, and a decline in your plant’s overall health.
If you suspect root rot, gently remove your mini-monstera from the pot and inspect the roots. If they’re brown and mushy, you’ve got a problem. But, root rot is treatable if caught promptly, so don’t despair yet. Carefully trim away all the soft, rotted sections and treat the roots and pot with an anti-fungal solution. Then, repot the plant in fresh soil.
Once you’re done root surgery, reevaluate your watering schedule. Underwatering is better than overwatering, and all potting containers must have drainage holes.
Here are a few of the most common questions that we get about Rhaphidophora tetrasperma care:
What is the difference between Rhaphidophora tetrasperma and Monstera deliciosa?
True Monsteras have enormous foliage, way bigger than R. tetrasperma’s 6″ leaves. Monsteras also grow from a single central stem, and their stems are very thick. R. tetrasperma leaves grow from a single, long, thin vine. Monstera’s leaves also develop holes near the split ends, which is something R. tetrasperma rarely does.
Is Rhaphidophora tetrasperma rare?
Several years ago, finding even cuttings of this popular houseplant was difficult and expensive. Now, though, you’ll have a much easier time finding them, and it won’t hurt your wallet nearly as much. The best bet is a plant shop online, as many nurseries still don’t carry them.
How fast does R. tetrasperma grow?
In ideal conditions, the mini-monstera will grow 1-2 feet per year.
Why are the leaves of my mini-monstera drooping?
Dried-out roots cause leaves to curl and droop. Check the moisture level in the soil to ensure your plant has enough moisture. If it is extremely dried out, adding water will not fix the problem. Instead, remove the plant from its pot and place the roots in a vase of water to rehabilitate them. Repot to soil in 2-3 weeks.
Why is my mini-monstera foliage brown at the edges?
Brown, crispy edges are the result of insufficient humidity. Increase the humidity in your home to resolve this issue. The leaves affected won’t change back – but it should stop others from developing crispy edges.
Why aren’t the leaves of my mini-monstera split or fenestrated?
New leaves emerge whole then develop fenestrations. That’s the growth cycle of the plant. Also, newly planted mini-monsteras may take some time to adjust to their surroundings before evolving splits.
Why is my mini-monstera so leggy?
It is leggy because it is not receiving enough light. The vines are focused on reaching light instead of producing new leaves. Move the plant to a higher light location, but make sure it isn’t direct light.
This low-maintenance Monstera lookalike is an incredible addition to the houseplant family. Mini-monstera plants love to show off their prolific growth and will thrive in the proper conditions. If you love fenestrated leaves (and really, who doesn’t?) but don’t want a massive houseplant, R. tetrasperma is the perfect solution.