Rhaphidophora tetrasperma is not a type of Monstera at all. It’s also not a Philodendron. So why is it known as a Mini Monstera or Ginny Philodendron?
Not only are common plant names constantly changing but they often have nothing to do with science in the first place.
Plus, the plant world is full of species that look shockingly alike. Even experienced gardeners have trouble telling a Monstera deliciosa from a Split-Leaf Philodendron with a single glance.
Rhaphidophora tetrasperma is just another victim of mistaken identity.
But just because this houseplant isn’t a true Monstera doesn’t mean it shouldn’t have a place in your own collection. It could even be exactly what you’re missing!
Everything You Need to Know About Rhaphidophora Tetrasperma
Rhaphidophora tetrasperma is a climbing plant popular for its vibrant, uniquely shaped foliage. Its leaves boast one-of-a-kind hole patterns reminiscent of swiss cheese.
This species is most commonly kept as a houseplant, though some gardeners may have success growing it in outdoor containers or even in the ground.
Aside from its eye-catching foliage, this species is most famous for being mistaken for other popular houseplants like Monstera and Philodendron.
Are Rhaphidophora tetrasperma related to Monstera?
Rhaphidophora, Monstera, and Philodendron are distantly related in that they’re all genera in the Aracae family. The Aracae family also includes popular houseplants like the Peace Lily and ZZ Plant.
But the closest relative to Rhaphidophora tetrasperma in the average plant collection is actually the Golden Pothos.
Related Read: 20 Beginner Houseplants You Need in Your Collection
Where does Rhaphidophora tetrasperma come from?
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Rhaphidophora tetrasperma is native to Southeast Asia. Its natural range is pretty small, with this species typically being found in Malaysia or the southern edge of Thailand.
This plant lives in tropical forests, using its fast-growing vines to climb up large trees and reach sunlight.
How long does this houseplant live?
Rhaphidophora tetrasperma is a perennial plant, meaning it continues growing each year.
Because this species only recently became popular as a houseplant, there isn’t enough information out there to really know how long it will survive in “captivity.” Still, proper care should earn you three or more years of growth at an absolute minimum.
How big will Rhaphidophora tetrasperma get?
When allowed to climb freely, Rhaphidophora tetrasperma can easily grow up to 12 feet tall. Through support training and pruning, you can ensure your Mini Monstera grows only as tall as you want.
Is the foliage toxic to children or pets?
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Yes. Like other members of the Aracae family (including true Monstera and Philodendron), Rhaphidophora tetrasperma is toxic to household pets and children.
The main culprit of this toxicity is a compound called calcium oxalate. In high amounts, calcium oxalate can cause kidney and bladder damage.
The good news is that your dog or child would need to eat quite a bit of this plant to experience permanent damage.
Consuming small amounts of Rhaphidophora tetrasperma often leads to temporary side effects like mouth irritation, drooling, and stomach upset.
As with any toxic houseplant, keep Rhaphidophora tetrasperma out of reach of pets and young children who may chew on the leaves or stems.
How much does Rhaphidophora tetrasperma cost?
While Rhaphidophora tetrasperma costs a bit more than its look-alikes on average, you won’t need to fork out an arm and a leg to add this plant to your collection.
The cheapest way to purchase Rhaphidophora tetrasperma is as a cutting. Young plants are typically fairly affordable. Large, well-established specimens may cost more.
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How to Care for Your Rhaphidophora tetrasperma
Factors like light, soil type, and water all play a role in your houseplants’ health and longevity. At the end of the day, though, most plant species need many of the same things to thrive.
Mini Monstera might not actually be a Monstera of any sort. But its care needs are incredibly similar to species like Monstera deliciosa and adansonii.
If you’re new to caring for tropical houseplants like this one, here’s everything you need to know to get the most out of your new greenery:
Don’t mistake this species’ tropical home for a love of direct sunlight. Remember that it grows underneath the forest canopy where light is filtered through the trees above.
You can mimic the native habitat of Rhaphidophora tetrasperma by providing bright, indirect lighting. This can be achieved by placing the plant a few feet away from a brightly lit window.
Too much light can burn the leaves of Rhaphidophora tetrasperma.
On the other hand, this isn’t a shade plant. If you need to supplement the natural sunlight in your home, installing a grow light will ensure your Rhaphidophora tetrasperma gets what it needs.
The best soil for Rhaphidophora tetrasperma is one that contains lots of organic matter. Look for potting soil containing high amounts of peat moss (or mix your own).
Adequate drainage is important for root health but you don’t want to use sandy soil for this plant. An additive like perlite or orchid bark is best for improved drainage and aeration.
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Rhaphidophora tetrasperma prefers evenly moist soil.
Remember that moist does not mean soggy. Letting your plant sit in wet soil can cause problems like root rot or nutrient deficiencies.
Ideally, you should water your Rhaphidophora tetrasperma when the soil’s surface is dry to the touch. Don’t let the soil completely dry out between waterings.
The best way to water this plant is by flooding the soil with water and allowing the excess to drain out of the bottom.
This watering method will also flush out mineral buildup in the potting soil.
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As we’ve said, Rhaphidophora tetrasperma grows incredibly quickly. Select a pot with plenty of room for new roots to form — depth is more important than width for this plant.
We recommend a container at least 10 inches deep for a mature plant.
This plant’s rapid growth also means frequent repotting. You should plan to repot your Rhaphidophora tetrasperma about once per year.
Roots growing out of the container’s bottom or sides is a telltale sign that the plant needs repotting. You may also notice a lack of water draining from the pot (meaning the drainage holes are blocked with roots).
Typically, you’ll want to move your plant to a pot a couple of inches wider than its current container. However, some gardeners opt to use a pot of the same size to restrict the plant’s growth.
If you decide to use the same pot, trim back the roots to prevent binding or drainage problems.
Pruning this species will help maintain the desired size and shape. It’s also the best way to remove damaged or dead leaves from the plant.
Use a sharp pair of shears to cut away unwanted plant material. Ensure your shears are clean before using — contaminated tools may spread pests or diseases between plants.
The general rule of thumb is to not remove more than 25 percent of the plant at one time. Cutting away too much plant matter could stress your Rhaphidophora tetrasperma and affect future growth.
Rhaphidophora tetrasperma kept indoors need regular fertilizing. Fortunately, you don’t need anything fancy to get the job done.
Use your favorite houseplant fertilizer according to the product’s directions. Generally, you’ll want to fertilize once per month (or every three to four months if using a slow-release formula).
Despite being a tropical species, Rhaphidophora tetrasperma does great in household temperatures. What it doesn’t handle well, however, is low humidity.
Low humidity (outside of extreme cases) probably won’t kill your Rhaphidophora tetrasperma. But it will keep it from thriving.
If you have experience caring for cultivars of Monstera or Philodendron, then you’re already familiar with how to manage the humidity around your houseplants.
If not, here’s what you need to know:
Placing your tropical houseplants in a naturally humid room (like a sunroom or windowed bathroom) is a great solution.
Otherwise, you can boost the air’s humidity by setting up a portable humidifier nearby. Or use a simple mister to ensure the leaves stay moist throughout the day.
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Species like Monstera adansonii can be allowed to climb or trail out of their pots. This isn’t the case for Rhaphidophora tetrasperma.
Rhaphidophora tetrasperma exclusively climbs. So you’ll need to offer adequate support if you want this plant to grow to its full potential.
You can easily come up with a DIY solution using a small trellis or garden stakes. You can also purchase or make your own moss post to support your plant’s aerial roots.
Leveling Up Your Rhaphidophora Tetrasperma Care
Caring for houseplants isn’t all about watering and pruning, especially with a species like Rhaphidophora tetrasperma.
Here’s some more must-know information to get the most out of cultivating this Monstera copycat:
Does Rhaphidophora tetrasperma have a dormancy period?
This plant species grows extremely quickly during the spring, summer, and early fall. But you might notice growth slows down as winter creeps closer.
Related Read: Houseplants in Winter: Care, Lighting, Fertilizer, and More
Rhaphidophora tetrasperma enters a dormancy period when the temperatures drop and daylight hours shorten. This isn’t unique to this species — most houseplants go dormant to some extent.
When you notice your plant’s growth slow down, cut back on watering. It’s not necessary to fertilize your plant’s soil during this time, either.
Can I train my Rhaphidophora tetrasperma up a wall or piece of furniture?
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While it’s possible to train a Rhaphidophora tetrasperma to grow up a structure like an interior wall or bookcase, it’s not recommended.
Rhaphidophora tetrasperma, like many climbing vines, produce something called aerial roots. These roots grow out of the stem and collect moisture and other nutrients from the soil, host plant, or even the air. These also provide the “grip” needed to keep the vine upright.
When allowed to grow up something like drywall, these roots can actually grow into the surface and cause damage.
Along with causing potential damage to your home, this growing method can also be traumatic to the plant if it’s ever moved.
What is the best way to propagate Rhaphidophora tetrasperma?
Like Monstera, Philodendron, and Pothos, this plant is an excellent candidate for propagation via cuttings.
Each cutting must include at least one leaf and node (the segment of stem tissue that produces new leaves).
Place the cutting in water to encourage root production. Once the cutting has rooted, it can be placed in soil and allowed to grow into its own plant.
Plants created this way are clones of the original specimen. While they are entirely separate plants, they contain the exact same DNA (unlike a plant produced by seed, which contains DNA from two parent plants).
Is “Mini Monstera” the Right Plant for You?
Rhaphidophora tetrasperma is an excellent houseplant for gardeners of all experience levels. While it requires some special care in terms of humidity and climbing support, it’s incredibly resilient.
If you do forget to water it for a few days, it’s almost guaranteed to bounce right back!
Still, should you invest in this plant species if you already have a home filled with Monstera and Philodendron?
If your main concern is having a plant collection full of visual diversity, probably not. Rhaphidophora tetrasperma is a completely different species than any type of Monstera or Philodendron. But, at least to the average person, there’s very little difference in each plant’s appearance.
Instead, we recommend this species to houseplant enthusiasts who don’t yet have a variety like Monstera deliciosa in their collections.
And, of course, for anyone who strives to own as many individual plant species as possible!
Can you tell the difference between this plant and a species like Monstera adansonii? Do you plan to add this Monstera look alike to your own collection? Share your thoughts in the comments below!
Last update on 2022-01-29 at 14:37 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API