Plants

Guide to Rhaphidophora Tetrasperma: How to Care & Grow for “Mini Monstera”

Read our guide to Rhaphidophora Tetrasperma for everything you will ever need to know! Tips for planting & caring for “Mini Monstera” plants.
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Rhaphidophora Tetrasperma, also known as “Mini Monstera”, Philodendron/Monstera “Ginny”, or Philodendron “Piccolo”, is a unique species of plants originating from Malaysia and Southern Thailand. Although these plants are part of the Araceae family, they belong to an independent genus known as Rhaphidophora.

The Rhaphidophora Tetrasperma plant was first discovered in 1893 by a British botanist named Joseph Dalton Hooker. The species’ scientific name has the following possible meaning: firstly, the word “Rhaphidophora”, which could refer to the oxalates found in the plant’s center that are “needle-like”, and secondly, the term “Tetrasperma”, which describes the four-sided seeds that are produced by the plant in the autumn season.

Considering their reputation as small-sized climbers, these Mini Monsteras can be great houseplants if proper conditions are provided. These ornamental plants are suitable both indoors, especially if you have a large living room or if you love Jungalow style, and outdoors, placed in the alley or at the front door.

Rhaphidophora Tetrasperma - "Mini Monstera"
Rhaphidophora Tetrasperma – “Mini Monstera”

Record Selling Plant!

In August 2020, a Rhaphidophora Tetrasperma, an  Extremely rare variegated rhaphidophora tetrasperma was sold in New Zealand for over $8000!

This was a rare example with “4 leaves with stunning yellow variegation on every leaf”. You can check out the auction page here.

The Record-Setting Plant!
The Record-Setting Plant!

Ruby Topzand, a spokeswoman for Trade Me, said the record before this for the most expensive houseplant ever sold was previously held by a reverse variegated hoya that went for NZ$6,500 in early August.

About Rhaphidophora Tetrasperma

  • Rhaphidophora Tetrasperma plants are often confused with other families and species including Monstera Deliciosa (looking like a miniature version of it), Epipremnum Pinnatum (can both have pinnate foliage), and Philodendron species of plants.
  • Rhaphidophora Tetrasperma thrives in bright and indirect light, as too much direct sunlight could scorch the leaves. It will have a great time in the direct sun only if it is placed indoors near the west and east-facing windows.
  • The ideal container for these plants would be one that does not dry out the soil too quickly. A plastic pot or a glazed ceramic pot will do the job, but you can also use a large terracotta pot.
  • During the growing season, this plant likes to have consistent and balanced moisture conditions. It is suggested that you test the soil with your fingertip before watering to see if it feels damp.
  • Tropical plants like this one prefer higher levels of humidity around it. You can create these conditions with the help of a humidifier or by placing the pot above a tray with water as the evaporation will assure the humidity needed.
  • Due to them being part of the Araceae family, Rhaphidophora Tetrasperma plants contain calcium oxalate crystals which are highly toxic to pets. Be sure you keep them hanging where cats and dogs cannot grab a snack.
  • If you wish to propagate your Rhaphidophora plants, you can easily do so by cutting a stem with few baby leaves and place it in water or a good soil mix.
  • Pruning is important for these plants, so offering them a stable trellis will help their aerial roots lean on the support you provide. You can also use a plastic support tape for plants.
Rhaphidophora Tetrasperma
Rhaphidophora Tetrasperma makes a good houseplant

Rhaphidophora Tetrasperma Overview

  • Rhaphidophora is a genus that contains around 100 species native to south-east Asia.
  • This mini Monstera is considered an exotic jungle plant, but it can also be found in rainforests or dry climates making it an easy-to-grow houseplant. However, hanging these plants can result in smaller leaves without splits.
  • Rhaphidophora Tetrasperma is a rare tropical aroid, having small and graceful ornamental leaves with 6 inches (15 cm) split lobes.
  • Their leaves look like a smaller version of Monstera Deliciosa, which is why it is mostly referred to by the name Mini Monstera. However, it is a completely different species, with no edible fruits.
  • Depending on the environmental conditions, these plants can reach up to 12 feet (3.65 meters) in height. As a houseplant, it is usually preferred at 4 to 5 feet (1-1.5 meters) tall.
  • They are vining plants, having aerial roots that climb trees or whatever is good for them to stabilize as they grow, such as trellises.
Rhaphidophora Tetrasperma leaf
Rhaphidophora Tetrasperma leaf

Growing Rhaphidophora Tetrasperma

Although they are not the same, if you already have a Monstera Deliciosa plant by chance, you are halfway there in knowing how to care for a Rhaphidophora Tetrasperma. These plants are big fans of diffused bright light, so it is better to keep them out of direct hot sunlight. Too much exposure to the harsh sun can damage the leaves, drying and turning them yellow. If you want to keep them as houseplants, they should be fine if placed near a sunrise-showing window that provides them with plenty of light. You can also add extra ambient lighting using an artificial grow light.

For outdoor growth, it is recommended that you keep these plants in a bright shade, allowing them to get a gentle touch of the morning sun. However, Rhaphidophora Tetrasperma is considered a fast-growing plant, so too little light will slow down the process and will produce small leaves.

The ideal temperatures that the Rhaphidophora Tetrasperma plants need to grow healthy are somewhere between 55°F and 85°F (12-29°C). They can be pretty tolerant of slightly cooler conditions too, but if the temperature starts to drop below 55°F (12°C), you should bring them indoors. During the summer months, you can place them outdoors, but relocate the plants in your household in the wintertime.

Rhaphidophora Tetrasperma, Live plant from Amazon

Rhaphidophora Tetrasperma plants thrive in an all-purpose potting soil, damp, well-draining, and rich in organic matter. If you want to improve the drainage system, you can use perlite which aerates the soil and promotes root growth. A potting mix used for orchids with added active charcoal would also be a good choice for these plants.

Due to their sensitive roots, Rhaphidophora plants are quite susceptible to fertilizer burn. They prefer a high-quality, balanced organic fertilizer that lacks harsh chemicals to reduce the chance of burning. During the active growing phase, these plants are happy with regular fertilizing.

When you are repotting your plant, remove it gently from its pot and check it for symptoms of root rot. If there are any signs, cut the part which is damaged with a sterile knife. After this process, you should place the plant in a new pot. The container should be at least 10 inches wide (25 cm) for a full-sized plant, but with the possibility of buying a double-sized pot over time.

The most dangerous pests for Rhaphidophora Tetrasperma are spider mites. You can spray your plant with Neem oil to get rid of the infestation in a few minutes.

Watering Rhaphidophora Tetrasperma

Rhaphidophora Tetrasperma is known to grow faster if it is provided with regular waterings, so it should not be left too dry for a long time. Although these plants are pretty thirsty for moisture, they can be very sensitive to overwatering.

Your plant will be happy and healthy if you water it no more than once every 7 to 10 days (about 4 times per month) in the summer or warm temperatures. In cooler conditions or the winter season, the plant should be fine with watering every two weeks.

In general, the best percentage of humidity needed to prevent microorganism growth and to keep your plant happy would be exactly 40%. To keep relative humidity at this level, you should use dehumidifiers or whole-home humidifiers.

If the humidity will rise above this value, do not panic! They will love a few moments of added humidity and you can also place them near other plants.

Propagating Rhaphidophora Tetrasperma

When you start to notice leaf nodes on your Rhaphidophora Tetraspermas plant, it is the perfect chance to transform it into new little plants. Propagating these Mini Monstera plants is quite easy as the only thing you need to do is take a stem chunk from the mother plant and place it into a glass of water or root into a dump potting soil.

Make sure your cutting will have one or more leaf nodes on it. The roots will form from the lowest leaf node, so make sure you place it under the water or soil surface.

If you choose to propagate your Rhaphidophora Tetrasperma plant in water, you should keep a fresh growth environment changing the water at least once per day. The cutting will be ready for transfer into a potting mix within a few weeks when the roots are about 1-2 inches (2-5 cm) long.

However, for cuttings placed in the mix from the beginning of propagation, it is necessary to wait for one month or so to root. All this time you need to keep it alive and then, check very lightly if there is any resistance for the plant. When there is, it means that roots have developed and it can be cared for as a new Rhaphidophora Tetrasperma plant.

In Conclusion

Rhaphidophora Tetrasperma species are very popular among Jungalow-style lovers and houseplant aficionados and they are really easy to grow and care for. The only demands that these plants have are a cozy home that can ensure bright, indirect light, and an owner that provides them with well-draining organic soil, smooth fertilizer, weekly waterings, and a lot of love.

They can be placed anywhere you want, both inside and outside of your home. Also, if you are hyped by the idea of having a Monstera Deliciosa plant, but you do not have enough space for it to grow, Rhaphidophora Tetrasperma is a great alternative.

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Miruna Secuianu

Miruna is an experienced content writer with a passion for gardening. She is the proud owner of an outdoor rose garden and an indoor collection of tiny succulents. She bought her first succulent 10 years ago - an adorable Echeveria Setosa. Now she owns more than 100 succulents and cacti of different colors, shapes, and sizes. Miruna is a versatile writer and, as you might have guessed, her favorite topic is gardening. Contact miruna@gardenbeast.com

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