The mini monstera is a tinier version of everyone’s favorite full-sized Swiss cheese plant, but how do you care for its smaller counterpart? I’ll tell you everything you need to know in this guide.
What care does the mini monstera need? The mini monstera or Rhaphidophora tetrasperma requires water when an inch of soil is dry, bright and indirect light, well-draining potting soil, temperatures between 55 and 85° F, 50 to 60 percent humidity, and monthly fertilizer applications to grow.
In this ultimate guide to mini monstera plant care, I’ll go over the above plant care facets and more so you can grow a healthy plant and safeguard it from pests and diseases!
Table of Contents
- About Mini Monstera (Rhaphidophora Tetrasperma)
- Caring for Mini Monstera
- Propagation Methods
- Mini Monstera Common Issues
About Mini Monstera (Rhaphidophora Tetrasperma)
The mini monstera or Rhaphidophora tetrasperma is sometimes called the philodendron ginny as well.
The mini monstera is certainly not a philodendron.
Interestingly, the mini monstera is technically not even a monstera.
It belongs to a different genus, the Rhaphidophora genus, whereas the Swiss cheese plant is in the Monstera genus.
The mini monstera originated in Malaysia and Southern Thailand, which are some very warm regions.
Despite that the mini monstera is not a true monstera, looking at the plant, you would never know!
The Rhaphidophora tetrasperma features tropical-looking leaves that have unique shapes but aren’t quite fenestrated.
This perennial plant is a vining species just like the full-sized monstera. If you give your mini monstera the room and the means to climb, it will surely impress you.
One of the benefits of growing a mini monstera compared to the full-sized indoor plant is that the former never grows huge.
Outdoors, a Rhaphidophora tetrasperma can ascend 15 to 20 feet, but indoors, its growth rate is six to eight feet. That’s quite manageable for plant loving apartment dwellers and homeowners alike.
Does the mini monstera grow flowers? Yes, they are able to flower under the right conditions. If the plant is exceptionally happy and well cared for, then it’s certainly a possibility.
If yours is going to bloom, it will be in the spring or summer. The flowers that grow from a mini monstera are either white or green.
Caring for Mini Monstera
Have I inspired you to bring home a mini monstera of your very own with the information in the last section?
Here’s everything you need to know to keep your mini monstera alive and thriving!
Watering Mini Monstera
Since the mini monstera is relatively small, its soil doesn’t need to dry out very much for the plant to begin thirsting for more water.
If you can feel an inch deep into the soil and it’s relatively dry, then it’s time to replenish your mini indoor plant with water.
Some indoor gardeners wait until the soil dries two inches deep, which is fine.
The mini monstera is actually rather forgiving when it comes to being underwatered. That said, you don’t want to make underwatering a habit. It’s not good for any plant in the long run.
If the plant’s root ball begins to dry out, then your mini monstera will be truly parched.
You’ll notice that any finger indentations you leave in the soil won’t go away (known as soil footprints). The soil will also feel dry.
If you happen to underwater your mini monstera it’s growth can stagnate, the leaf tips will look browned and deadened, and your plant will wilt.
If you begin to water your mini monstera more often after a period of underwatering, they bounce back quickly.
If you’re drowning your mini monstera in water, the plant will let you know. Emerging leaves will be brown while existing leaves will turn yellow.
Growth will stop, and what growth there is will noticeably wilt.
Underneath the surface, your mini monstera could be suffering from root rot. This disease kills a plant from the inside out.
As the healthy roots begin to die one by one, the mini monstera can no longer sustain itself. When most of the roots are dead is when you’re likeliest to begin seeing the above symptoms.
Can you save a plant that’s succumbing to root rot? Possibly, but it’d involve replacing all the soil, trimming away the dead roots, and hoping for the best.
The fingertip test–where you put a clean finger in the plant’s soil–will always be your best gauge of when it’s time to water a plant.
You can use the fingertip test regardless of season to prevent overwatering and underwatering.
Best Light for Growing Mini Monstera Indoors
Bright, indirect lighting suits the mini monstera perfectly.
If you’ve grown full-sized Swiss-cheese plants before, then you’ll recall that this is the same type of lighting the regular Monstera needs as well.
How do you provide bright, indirect light? Good question!
You need a curtain or something else to affix to a window. This will prevent the full brunt of the sunlight from streaming in and saturating your plant.
Where you place your plant in your home or office matters as well.
A northerly-facing window never receives direct sunlight and is thus a good candidate for a mini monstera.
An easterly-facing window gets more sunlight in the morning than the afternoon, so it’s another one to consider.
Avoid southerly-facing and westerly-facing windows for the Rhaphidophora tetrasperma, as the light from these windows might be too strong and harsh.
While all plants need light to photosynthesize, too much of a good thing can quickly become a bad thing.
You’ll know your mini monstera is getting too much sun if you notice brown, crispy foliage as well as bleached areas.
Once those leaves are affected, there’s no going back and fixing them. After moving the mini monstera to a cooler spot with less sunlight, be sure to prune the damaged leaves.
Best Potting Soil for Indoor Mini Monstera
The mini monstera prefers its soil well-draining above all else. The soil should also stay moderately moist.
Use fresh potting soil and double-check that the container you choose for the Rhaphidophora tetrasperma (more on that to come) has several large drainage holes.
To encourage drainage over the long term, you’re free to add soil amendments. The most recommended amendments for the mini monstera are orchid bark, coco coir, and perlite.
Let me explain what each is and what it does.
Orchid bark allows moisture to drain but can retain soil moisture.
Although you usually see orchid bark used as a soil amendment for epiphytes, orchids, and aroids, it’s quite suitable for Rhaphidophora tetrasperma as well.
Coco coir, also known as coconut coir in full, is the fiber from a coconut’s outer husk that’s extracted during the production of the fruit.
The stuff lessens the risk of the soil becoming waterlogged, which is another must for the mini monstera. Coco coir can also aid in water retention.
That brings me to perlite, a type of volcanic glass that’s lightweight and contains plenty of water.
When added to the mini monstera’s soil, perlite will maintain aeration and water drainage.
Perlite also prevents the soil from compacting over time, which is when the soil presses down on itself and becomes hard and immovable.
If your potting soil is old or compacted you’ll want to check out my article titled: Easy Ways to Loosen Compacted Soil in Potted Plants
The mini monstera prefers a soil pH between acidic and neutral.
Best Containers for Growing Mini Monstera Indoors
I said I would, so it’s time to discuss the preferred container for a Rhaphidophora tetrasperma.
You’ll remember that this small Swiss cheese plant prefers moist but well-draining conditions. To keep the soil in that state, you can select from a ceramic or plastic potter or container.
Ceramic is good at maintaining water retention, so you will have to watch how often you water the mini monstera. Overdoing it will allow the plant to become waterlogged quickly, but watering just the right amount will keep the plant hydrated.
Do be careful when handling ceramic pots or containers, as they’re heavy and easily shattered if you drop yours, even from a short distance!
Plastic is very inexpensive and maybe not quite as appealing as ceramic, but it doesn’t break nearly as easily. A plastic pot or container will retain water just as well as ceramic.
I would caution you against a clay or terracotta pot for the mini monstera. These materials are highly porous and will absorb the water in the soil quickly.
This forces you to have to water your plant more often, which can create overwatering conditions in a hurry.
Glazed clay or terracotta is less porous, but I’d still recommend ceramic or plastic first.
Mini Monstera Preferred Temperature and Humidity
The Rhaphidophora tetrasperma has quite an acceptable temperature range, which means it’s hard to get its care wrong in this area.
When growing the mini monstera at home, your plant probably won’t be exposed to temperature extremes on either side.
At 55 degrees, you’d be freezing your toes off. Most people also find 85 degrees too balmy for an inside temperature.
If you’re tending to a Rhaphidophora tetrasperma in an office and you have no control over the thermostat, this plant’s rather generous temperature tolerance will keep it thriving in this environment.
I would caution you to watch what sorts of air sources are around the mini monstera.
There are the obvious ones like return vents or the radiator.
Doors and windows could be drafty, and even your refrigerator and other appliances in the kitchen give off heat.
Make sure you don’t put your mini monstera near any of these sources of heat or cold.
What kind of humidity does the mini monstera prefer? To truly thrive the mini monstera plant needs to be grown in 50 to 60 percent humidity.
The average relative humidity in most buildings such as your home or office is between 30 and 50 percent.
If you haven’t yet invested in a hygrometer, I recommend it.
You can determine if your humidity already suffices or if you need a humidifier to keep conditions balmy for the mini monstera.
Fertilizing a Mini Monstera
Fertilizer is plant food, so how often do your mini monstera need to be fed?
That all depends on the type of fertilizer you prefer.
If you use liquid plant fertilizer, then you can fertilize the mini monstera once per month.
For those indoor gardeners who prefer a slow-release fertilizer, there’s no need to apply it any more often than every four months.
Begin fertilizing the Rhaphidophora tetrasperma in the spring and through the summer.
Always take care not to overfeed the mini monstera (or any indoor plant) with fertilizer.
As was the case of sunlight, too much of a good thing can again become a bad thing. Your plant can develop fertilizer burn, which will lead to some gnarly side effects.
For instance, the mini monstera will develop brown and yellow spots across the foliage and crunchy leaves. You’ll even see white streaks of fertilizer in the soil.
You’d have no choice but to prune the affected leaves and fully remove the mini monstera’s soil. It’s flooded with salts.
You can either flush the soil to remove the salts or just buy new potting soil.
You have a few healthy Rhaphidophora tetrasperma cuttings and you’d love to give them to other indoor gardeners you know.
How can you propagate the mini monstera cuttings so they’re ready to sprout into new plants?
You have two methods, so let’s explore your options now.
You grew your original mini monstera in soil, so why not the cutting too?
When you find a cutting you like, trim it 1/4th an inch underneath the swollen bump on the stem. This is the leaf node where new growth will emerge.
Pile up the potting soil so it’s one node deep. Then place the cutting in bright, indirect light.
It will take about 30 days, but your mini monstera should have grown roots that will hold in the soil.
Water propagation is a lot easier for mini monsteras and other indoor plant species.
Select a good cutting using the same criteria as above. This time, plunk the cutting in a clean glass of water. Submerge the cutting at least one node deep.
Just as before, bright, indirect light will help the cutting grow roots. Be sure to dump the water about weekly or whenever it gets murky and cloudy. Replace with clean water.
Mini Monstera Common Issues
Growing the mini monstera isn’t always a walk in the park. Here are some issues to be aware of as you take this plant into your home or office and tend to it.
The Rhaphidophora tetrasperma isn’t susceptible to many invasive pest species. It’s mostly spider mites that like to make their home on this small, vining plant’s leaves.
You might see whiteflies, thrips, scale insects, and mealybugs on occasion as well.
Let me talk about spider mites first, then I’ll get into those other bugs.
Spider mites include roughly 1,200 species of microscopic insects. Most indoor gardeners only realize there’s a problem with their plant once they see the silken webs that spider mites leave in their wake.
In the meantime, the spider mites could have punctured hundreds, maybe even thousands of holes in the leaves of the mini monstera to suck up plant juices.
By combining water and rubbing alcohol and applying it to the plant’s leaves, spider mites don’t stand a chance.
Here are the other mini monstera pests and their removal methods.
- Whiteflies: About as microscopic as spider mites, whiteflies include over 1,550 species of winged, troublesome insects that feed on plants. Fill a spray bottle with a gallon of water and a tablespoon of liquid dish soap and you can say goodbye to whiteflies.
- Thrips: Thrips have wings as well, and they’re just as small as the other insect species I’ve discussed. Their mouthparts allow thrips to both puncture plant leaves and drink the sap. Neem oil will work on thrips.
- Scale insects: Resembling small bumps on your plant’s leaves, scale insects might not fly, but they can still cause huge trouble for plants such as the mini monstera. These insects consume plant sap. You can manually flick them off your plant or put rubbing alcohol on a cotton swab and directly target the bugs.
- Mealybugs: As a vector for disease, you don’t want the unarmored mealybugs anywhere near your indoor garden. These bugs thirst for greenhouse plant juice and will happily nosh on it when they find it. A cotton swab covered in alcohol removes mealybugs as well as it does scale bugs.
At least you can rest easy knowing that the Rhaphidophora tetrasperma isn’t likely to develop diseases over its lifespan.
That said, fungal root rot remains the top killer of this plant. I discussed root rot earlier in my section about watering the mini monstera.
I must again implore you to always use the fingertip test to gauge when it’s time to water the mini monstera.
If the soil feels very wet, don’t water it. That’s also true even if the soil is damp.
You want to wait for the soil to feel moderately dry but not bone dry, and that’s when it’s time to pick up your watering can.
Is Mini Monstera Toxic to Pets?
Your home is a place where plants and animals coexist. You make it a point to only keep plants that are non-toxic to four-legged friends.
Is the mini monstera okay or is it poisonous to animals?
Unfortunately, the vining Rhaphidophora tetrasperma is toxic to cats and dogs alike. The plant has calcium oxalate crystals in its foliage.
If a curious pet takes a bite, they could end up very sick or even dead.