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I remember when I first moved out of my parents’ house and started decorating my new airy apartment. I used multiple ornaments and trinkets, including cushions, scented candles and all sorts of things. But, my place still lacked a home-like feeling.
Then I got a pink gerbera as a house-warming gift. I immediately realised what my place needed. Plants were the answer.
Generally, I don’t like the non-flowering plants so I filled my space with violas, new guinea, aloe and similar.
But, one plant that does not flower the typical way as violas would particularly caught my eye. It was a Variegated Monstera.
What is Variegated Monstera?
I’m sure you’ve heard all about monstera before.
It’s a vining tropical plant native to southern Mexico and Panama and tropical regions in general and it is one of many philodendron sub-types. It can grow very large (up to 9 meters) and as a houseplant, it is also known as Swiss cheese due to pierced leaves.
What would then be Variegated Monstera?
Well, Variegated Monstera would be just like regular Monstera, but discolored. Although this may sound to you like something unsightly, it’s actually a wonderful sight to see this beautiful green-leafed monster with the shades of silver or yellow.
To fully comprehend why this happens, know that it’s pure biology. We know that DNA is in the core of all living things. It forms chromosomes and at times it happens that two types of this chromosomal build get mixed.
If you are unaware where all of this leads – the answer is mutation. This mutation can happen in any feature written in the DNA, but when it happens in the chlorophyll, the result is the discoloration.
Once the different tissues – the one with and the one without the chlorophyll – mix, you get the leaves in silver and yellowish shades. Just to mention, these areas with different color are not strictly limited to the leaves only. You can also find the change of color in the petioles and the stem too.
And, this was the biology behind variegated monstera in a nutshell.
I already mentioned that regular monstera can grow some 9 meters in height but with the variegated plant things are slightly different. The max that variegated monstera can reach some 3 meters. This is why you need to be extra careful with space and pots, but more on that later.
The good thing about it is that you can use some rods or moss sticks to direct its growth anywhere you want it.
As for some other features, it yields leather-like leaves 400-500 mm long. These are also wide and pieced. The root of the plant is also a tad longish and it can grow up to 250 mm.
What you need to be aware of is that due to the deficiency of chlorophyll, variegated monstera is not as persistent as its non-variegated counterpart. It is rather fragile and in most cases, when found in nature, it withers and dies rather quickly due to the insufficient amount of chlorophyll for the proper growth and life.
Since I believe you are now worried whether it’s all worth it, with the simple steps and guidelines you’ll find in this writing, growing variegated monstera all by yourself will be no fuss.
Let’s go step by step!
Light and Temperature Requirements of Monstera Variegata
If you’ve ever had the chance to grow the regular monstera, then you are already on the good path. Why? Well, these two – the regular and the variegated version – need almost the same level of care.
Still, their most important difference needs to be taken into proper consideration. Namely, since the white part of the variegated plant cannot absorb the required amount of sunlight, it needs to work harder than its regular counterpart.
This is why you cannot afford to keep your variegated plant at corners with low quantity of sunlight. For optimum growth and absorption, keep it in bright ambient light at all times.
The next thing you need to know is that the variegated monstera requires and works best in the environments with adequate humidity and water (more details upcoming), as well as gentle (!) sunlight.
Note that the variegated monstera does not tolerate direct exposure to sunlight. It does need a lot of sun, but this must be an indirect exposure. Otherwise, you are risking that your plant gets burned.
As for the temperature range that provides the optimum conditions for your Variegated Monstera know that 65-80°F (or 18-27°C) is ideal. Any temperature range that is below 50°F (10°C) is harmful to your plant. Not to mention the long-term detrimental effects if the low temperatures last for a longer period of time.
Accordingly, optimize and adapt so as to provide the optimum space requirement for your Monstera.
Pro Tip: Move your plant as far away as possible from any sources of dry air, such as drafts and vents.
Watering Variegated Monstera Plant
As for watering of the variegated monstera, this is no pain either.
The most important thing you need to do for an optimum watering is to evaluate the general state of the plant once you receive and this includes the watering needs. Naturally, if you want to take the proper care of your plant, you need to observe it at all times and see if it needs water.
Don’t water it at all costs or just because it seems dry to you.
Here’s how you need to do it.
Let’s say that you watered your plant today. In two days, the surface will seem completely dry. Here’s where you mustn’t be fooled.
For proper assessment of moisture level, you need to see what’s underneath the surface. Use a toothpick, or even a finger, and stick it into the soil to see if there is any moisture under the superficial layer.
If it’s dry (2 inches at the top!), you’re good to go with watering and if it’s still moist, postpone the watering for a day or two, depending on how moist the soil was.
Why so? In general, monsteras draw higher benefits from the soil that is lightly humid at all times. The same goes for the variegated version. These are epiphytes and their roots are aerial so they do not tolerate excessive water.
In general, watering once a week is just fine. Even better if you do it in the morning.
Pro Tip: Rotate your variegated monstera from time to time so it can grow equally. Occasionally dust its leaves to enable proper photosynthesis.
Fertilizing Variegated Monstera
For the optimum growth of plants, the most important thing is to choose the soil that can provide all the required nutrients. However, since the plants slowly consume all of these, you eventually have to add some fresh soil together with the additional nutrition provided in the form of fertilizers.
Fertilizing your house plants is always a good idea but you need to be careful when you do it. Fertilizing cycles can vary depending from plant to plant; however, in general, for optimum nutrition, you should fertilize spring to fall.
As for your variegated monstera, it is safe to fertilize it once per month using an organic liquid fertilizer. Note that you can’t just choose any fertilizer. It must clearly indicate that it’s a fertilizer specifically designed for houseplants.
The market is filled with these products and whichever you choose, read the application method and dilution ratio properly.
This is important so as to avoid over-fertilizing your plant. Trust me, adding some extra fertilizer (i.e. more than prescribed) will do more damage than not adding it all.
First of all, it might burn the plant and second of all, it will lead to salt accumulation around the root. The latter shall prevent the absorption of water and we’ve already established that water is essential.
Anyhow, once you’ve made your choice of liquid fertilizer, you can use it on your beautiful monster spring to summer, once each month. Fertilization through autumn and winter is not required since at that time the plant is dormant.
Repotting Variegated Monstera
You know that repotting is a very important factor for the proper maintenance and care for your plants. The variegated monstera is no exception here.
Most likely, you will have to repot the plant immediately at receipt since the pot you get it in is just a temporary solution.
Additionally, due to the growth and general exhaustion of the nutrients from the soil, you will have to repot the variegated monstera every two years, or 18-24 months to be more precise.
Still, be careful here. The best season to repot is early spring before the new leaves have appeared. If you wait until later, you might disturb the growth of new leaves. Don’t make the same mistake; I almost killed mine like this!!!
Now that you have the generalities, let’s deal with some practical guidance.
Choosing the Pot
Now that I’ve told you about the best time to repot, the next practical info for you is the container that you choose. Here you can play with the exterior design, mix and match to the general vibe of your home.
I won’t give you any pieces of advice here since I’m sure you can all choose what suits you best.
But, what I am going to tell you is some details on the pot size and it is of crucial importance that you follow these instructions.
Namely, each time you decide to repot your variegated monstera, you will need a pot with a larger diameter than the one you used up until that point. For optimum growth, use a pot of 25-50 mm wider, and preferably deeper, than the old one.
Another thing that you need to know is that you can opt for two types of pot. The first one is the regular pot (with or without drainage holes at the bottom) and the second one is self-watering pot.
In both cases, the repotting procedure is the same, however, the main difference is in the way you water it.
1. Regular Pots
With the regular pot with drainage holes, you also get the tray that collects the excessive water. This is quite helpful when watering your plant since you won’t be able to overdo it and drown the plant.
On the other hand, you need to be way more careful with regular pots without the holes. Here, your chances to mess it all up are higher. You can’t just pour as much water as you like since the excess has nowhere to go.
In this way, your root will rot and the plant will eventually die. I am sure you don’t want that.
2. Self-watering pots
For all the beginners reading this, here’s a suggestion on how not to kill your plant with too much water.
Namely, self-watering pots are an excellent solution for you since they come with an integrated watering system. This feature enables them to provide constant watering to your beautiful monster.
Here are some of the self-watering pots that your Sara tested for you and absolutely loved.
Once you repot the plant into such a container note that it is very important to water the plant the same you do it with the regular pots for two weeks. But, these first two weeks are the only instance where you water the plant directly. Afterwards, the pot does it all in your stead.
So, after these two weeks, your next step is to max out the pot reservoir with water. Then closely follow if the water level is dropping. If yes, this means that the plant has started drinking the water from the reservoir and all you need to do is to refill it regularly.
Again, once your plant starts relying on the water from the tank, there is no need to water it directly.
Repotting Variegated Monstera – Actual Steps
As you can see, the pot choice is completely up to you. So, once you’ve made that choice, here is how to practically repot the variegated monstera.
During this procedure, it would be great to wear protective gloves on your hands so as to keep them clean. We know how soil can darken your natural nail color (and we don’t want that!).
What I would also suggest is to use some cloth as a mat, or an old blanket or even a film or a sack, to protect your floors from getting dirty.
After these prep steps, this is what you need to do.
- Pour some fresh soil in a separate container and crush it a bit with your hands. Here you can later add the soil from the old container too. Just be careful to mix it all properly.
- Indent/squeeze the old pot from the outside so as to separate the soil from the pot easily. It can stick at times making it difficult to take out the plant without hurting the root.
- Set the plant aside taking care not to break the leaves. Don’t worry; it will survive 10 minutes without the soil. Yes, 10 minutes is all you need.
- Mix the soils (check pt. 1) and start pouring it into the pot. Take care that the layer of soil is such that the root is neither too deep down nor too close to the surface.
- Shake the pot to eliminate the air pockets.
- Centre the plant on top of the layer of soil and hold it steady. Keep adding the soil using your other hand until you cover the root.
- Shake occasionally to eliminate the air pockets.
- Tap the soil on top to flatten it.
- Place the plant where you want (you already have the guidelines about the optimum setting).
- Clean up the mess you made.
You’re good to go.
Pruning Variegated Monstera
Pruning is a rather important step in the everyday nurture and maintenance of your plants. You can do it from various reasons and it will improve the general well-being of your plant in any case.
If we talk about pruning variegated monstera, it is done from both aesthetic and maintenance reasons.
There are two ways to prune your monstera. The first one is through the roots and the second one is via the leaves.
1. Pruning the roots
First of all, let me be clear here that under the roots I am referring to the areal roots developed by the variegated monstera. They protrude from the surface and very often spoil the general look of the plant.
The natural thing to do, in this case, is to cut them. This can be quite useful, especially if these roots are loose. In this case, they have no function since they take in neither food nor water.
Pro Tip: Instead of cutting these roots off, it’s better if you tap them in or lead them back into the pot so they contribute to the feeding. This will enable the leaves on the very top of the plant to get an additional intake of nutrients.
2. Pruning the leaves
Pruning the leaves is also an option and you can do this only when your variegated monstera reaches some optimum growth.
The procedure is simple – cut the leaf (with the petiole, of course) immediately above the areal root.
Note that removing too many leaves at once is never a good idea.
Pro Tip: Save the pruned leaves for later since you can use them for the reproduction of your plant.
And, speaking of reproduction, here’s…
How to Propagate Variegated Monstera
Knowing that you’ve fallen in love with your variegated beauty, I will share with you some tips and tricks on how to propagate it and preferably keep the variegation. I mean, that’s the point, right?
At the very beginning, I need to warn you that the occurrence of variegation is rather rare. To put it in numbers, the chances for a plant to produce variegated offspring is some 1:100.000. Not high, I know!
So, the reproduction of the existing plant is the key. You know that plants generally propagate by planting seeds or from stem cutting. The same can be true of variegated monstera, but…
1. Propagation from Seeds
This kind of reproduction is unfortunately highly unsuccessful. The variegation is caused by insufficient chlorophyll due to mutation in the cells.
As a consequence, planting from seeds does not guarantee that the cells shall develop the required mutation.
On the other hand, sometimes the mutation in the cells can be genetic and only in this case the reproduction from seeds can guarantee the variegation.
2. Propagation from Stem Cuttings
This form of reproduction is the one that guarantees the preserved variegation and is rather easy to do it.
Now, once you decide it’s time for another variegated monstera in your home, you need to be very careful which cuttings to make.
You can’t choose the first one that you see. No, you need to examine your plant carefully and then choose a healthy-looking stem that is fit for propagation.
Such cuttings may be recognized by the inclusion of nodes, or at least one since these are the sign that the cutting shall be able to grow.
Of course, you will have to make a cut using clean tools – knife or scissors – to make sure that your plant does not get contaminated with pesticides.
Make the cut below the node and always take care that there are two or three leaves on the cutting you want to separate. I did mention previously that even the leaves that you cut when pruning can be used for propagation.
Still, it’s better to have more leaves since they will be able to photosynthesise thus speeding up the growth of the new plant.
Now that you made the cut, you need to decide on the type of media that you will keep your cutting in before it’s time to officially repot, if necessary. For the uninformed, the time to repot is when your cutting has started growing root.
As for the media, you can keep your cuttings in water, soil, or sphagnum moss.
a) Propagating in Water
The first method I gave you is the “beginners” method. I’m sure we all know how this works.
The point is to put the cuttings in a water container and wait for it to grow roots.
Hint: Use a transparent container so you always know what is happening with your cutting. I know how impatient we can get with new plants, always checking for the novelties.
Know that the water roots shall be of a different color (paler) than the roots developed in soil, for example.
Also, once it’s time to plant, the cutting will first have to adapt to the soil so you will get a bit prolonged growth.
b) Propagating in Soil
This is another option you have at your disposal.
It is definitely a more favourable one than water propagation. Though, here you are not quite certain on what’s going on underneath the soil.
More or less, the principle works by preparing some soil in a pot and watering it so it’s moist, but not soaking wet.
After this make a small hole in the soil and put the cutting inside. Then cover the cutting with the surrounding soil and let it rest for several weeks. What’s important here is to have the node covered in soil as well. Occasionally water and this is about it.
Now, I did say that this is a tricky procedure since you won’t be able to tell at first whether you did a great job. However, as soon as you see new leaves growing, know that the propagation has been a success.
If you can’t wait for the leaves, there is another way to check what’s happening. Gently pull the leaves upward and should you encounter any resistance, this is a good sign.
c) Propagating in Moss
Sphagnum moss may yet be the best way to propagate.
The reasons are the antibacterial properties of moss and the fact that it boosts the growth of roots so your plant will advance at a higher rate.
As for the actual steps, you need to place the moss in a container. Know that both fresh and dried sphagnum moss will do the trick.
Water the moss or even soak it in water (preferred for the dried one) and place the cutting inside. Take extra care that the moss is not too wet (variegated monstera does not tolerate excessive water, remember!) since that will lead to inevitable rotting of the root.
With this, I think you have all you need to know about the best ways to propagate the variegated monstera, including the possibility to keep the lovely color pattern.
Monstera Variegata Pests, Problems and Solutions
As we are approaching the end of this guide, I still feel the need to share with you the common problems encountered when growing variegated monstera indoors.
1. Yellowing Leaves
This is one of the most frequently encountered problems with variegated monstera when growing inside.
In most of the cases, the reason is excessive watering. This prevents your lovely monster(a) from taking sufficient oxygen and as a consequence, the leaves will change the color.
To fix this, start by checking how moist/wet the soil is. If it’s soaking wet, the best thing you can do is to repot the plant and start watering properly from then on.
In the worst-case scenario, i.e. if the roots have also started rotting, remove these rotting parts to protect the remaining healthy part of the root.
Infection is a serious problem since it diminishes the health of your plant and it ruins the aesthetic appeal.
With variegated monstera, the most frequent causes of infection are mites and scale. If you’ve been growing plants for some time already, I’m sure you know everything about little monsters called mites.
They are easy to spot and the main reason of their existence is to suck all the sap from the underneath of leaves easily destroying the entire plant in the undertaking.
The second cause of infection are scale insects mostly visible when mature. They also suck the life out of your plant.
Once you go into battle against these, arm yourself with an alcohol solution or diluted soap. If this doesn’t do the trick, then use a bug spray and be done with it.
So far, we’ve established that this lovely evergreen plant that is variegated monstera likes to climb vertical surfaces and that it’s rather low-maintenance.
Despite this, I believe that you still have so many questions in your head. To help you out, these are some of the most frequent ones.
1. Why are the leaves’ edges on my Mostera Variegata turning brown?
There are typically two reasons for such a condition. One of them is the accumulation of salt in the water and the second one is the insufficient amount of light.
If salt is the cause, you can fix it by letting the water overnight and then use it on Monstera Variegata . If the problem is caused by the lack of light, then simply relocate the plant as suggested in this guide.
2. Is it ok to put my Variegated Monstera close to the air-conditioning?
This might be acceptable if your AC (or heaters) do not dry out the air too much.
On the other hand, this might do some good for them. Still, what you need to pay attention to is that they are on a safe distance. You can check this by observing your leaves – if they sway, then move the plant a bit further.
3. Does it flower?
Yes, it does.
However, flowering is rather rare for house plants. Still, if your indoor Variegated Mnstera flowers, this means you are doing an amazing job with it!
4. Where to buy Monstera Variegata?
This is a rather legit question.
The best option is to browse the internet and see what you can find. If you are not sure of such a method, you can always ask around your local florist since they might come in rather handy for such supply channels.