Monstera deliciosa - Swiss Cheese Plant
Monstera deliciosa is undeniably in the cultural zeitgeist right now, but, just like every cool new thing (from Snapchat to painting your walls in ‘Millennial Pink’), it begins to lose its charm when your parents pile in. And, after decades out of the limelight (I remember my mum’s sad-looking 70’s moss pole Monstera from my childhood), the ‘Swiss Cheese Plant’ is now back in a big way. According to Google Trends, interest in this split-leaved sensation is at its highest point for the past 15 years, and still trending up.
Welcome to 2020 - the year that Monstera deliciosa hit the mainstream and started popping up in the background of your parents’ Facebook photos. What can you do to avoid the mainstream and find those edgy Monstera species that haven’t yet hit the big time? We’ve compiled a list of Monstera plants that are flying under the radar in the UK, and going for big bucks on marketplaces right now.
Monstera deliciosa care tips
If you want to propagate this plant, there are three ways to go about it:
- Wrap an adventitious root (i.e. a root coming out of the stem) in wet sphagnum moss.
- Take a stem cutting with bumps (nodes) on it and stick it on some moist soil
- Take a cutting just below an adventitious root and stick that in water.
For all these propagation methods, the idea is to encourage further roots to form, then pot this Monstera baby into fresh compost.
Monstera pertusum and 'Monstera borsigiana'
A Monstera deliciosa f. borsigiana leaf - allegedly!
OK, so the first one is a bit of a red herring - you’ll see a lot of people searching for ‘alternative’ Monsteras like M. borsigiana and M. pertusum right now. Turns out that M. pertusum is just an old name for M. deliciosa. So if you’ve been sold a ‘rare Monstera pertusum’ then you might have been ripped off!
On the other hand, Monstera deliciosa f. borsigiana is a 'form' of Monstera deliciosa, which allegedly grows a little faster and has smaller leaves in adulthood. The difference between these two forms is negligible in an indoor setting, so it's probably not worth paying extra for M. borsigiana.
Monstera adansonii - ‘Monkey Mask’
Monstera adansonii cutting in water
This cute little Monstera breaks away from the clichéd leaf splits of its famous namesake, opting for holes instead. The frequently-used common name of ‘Monkey Mask’ is really spot on - you could absolutely imagine a monkey wearing this to rob a bank, or whatever it is they get up to in disguise. The small size of the plant as it’s usually sold is actually quite misleading - Monstera adansonii can grow up to 6 metres in height!
Monstera adansonii care tips
Having kept this one myself, I can confirm that it doesn’t really like draughty or dry conditions. A quick mist of water every few days will help the holey leaves unfurl properly. Otherwise, they can get stuck while trying to open and go yellow or brown.
An unbelievably-rare Monstera obliqua in the wild
Image credit: Ben Phalan CC BY 4.0
This is the next most popular Monstera species after Monstera adansonii by search traffic, but it’s much harder to find online or in plant shops. Monstera obliqua looks like an M. adansonii that got stuck in a wind tunnel - the holes are so big that some leaves are only held together by tiny filaments.
These fragile leaves coupled with its thin stems make it very hard to ship. That means buying a real M. obliqua online is almost impossible. Most of the M. obliqua specimens you’ll see listed are actually M. adansonii. In fact, world expert Dr Thomas Croat claimed in 2018 that only 17 wild specimens of Monstera obliqua have ever been found!
Monstera obliqua care tips
Take care of your wallet and don’t get ripped off - a real M. obliqua would go for £1000s online!
Monstera deliciosa variegata - ‘Variegated Monsteras’
Monstera deliciosa 'Thai Constellation'
So this plant is more popular in searches than M. obliqua, but it’s not a true species. It’s actually a variety of the common Monstera deliciosa, with striking white patterns on its leaves. The scientific name for the most popular of these varieties is ‘Monstera deliciosa ‘Thai Constellation’, and this plant profile is one of our most popular. This popularity explains why a simple rooted leaf of this plant sells for over £100 online.
Monstera deliciosa ‘Albo Variegata’ is another type of deliciosa with white leaf markings. This one tends to be a bit cheaper than ‘Thai Constellation’, but you’ll still need to pay upwards of £80 for a rooted cutting. You can easily find a few these in the Candide Marketplace.
Variegated Monstera care tips
Like most variegated varieties, these plants wouldn’t survive for very long in the wild - the white patches on their leaves make it harder for them to absorb sunlight, so keeping them in a dark room is a bad idea. Otherwise, look after them the same way as a regular Monstera deliciosa - allow it to dry out between waterings and give it support to allow the plant to climb.
'Monstera minima' - Mini Monstera (Rhaphidophora tetrasperma)
'Monstera minima' Rhaphidophora tetrasperma cuttings can be propagated in water
Image credit: plantattic
While it looks exactly like a miniature Monstera, this newly-popular houseplant is actually Rhaphidophora tetrasperma, a plant from a completely different genus. Though like Monstera, Monstera Minima can put on a lot of growth, reaching a maximum height of 5 metres in the wild. At the time of writing, you could buy R. tetrasperma 'Mini Monstera' in the Candide Marketplace.
'Monstera minima' care tips
This is a hardy little houseplant that can tolerate a variety of conditions, but does best in humid conditions, in a sunny window.
Monstera karstenianum - 'Monstera Peru'
Monstera karstenianum soaking up the sunshine
Image credit: Mike_1
But wait, is it really a Monstera?! This species looks very little like its better-known relatives but the oval leaves and climbing habit signal it belongs in the Monstera genus. Perhaps this wouldn't be your first pick as a Monstera alternative, as M. karstenianum looks more like a Pothos, but it's a robust plant that can be picked up much more cheaply than the other Monsteras on this list. In fact, at the time of writing, this plant is even available from a seller in the Candide Marketplace.
Monstera karstenianum care tips
This plant is used to environments with high humidity and, while it does OK when the soil dries out, it's important to regularly mist the leaves.
Monstera standleyana - Silver Monstera
A Monstera standleyana cutting
Image credit: greensplantsandprints
Like M. karstenianum, this isn't the obvious choice for an alternative Monstera, as it looks more like a Pothos than to Monstera deliciosa. However, the young silvery leaves are quite striking and, like M. karstenianum, it's considerably cheaper to acquire than the rarer forms of Monstera. Older leaves also begin to develop the fenestrations (leaf splits and holes) that have made all Monsteras so popular.
Monstera standleyana care tips
This species is known to suffer badly from mealybug infestations, so make sure any new plants are bug-free when they arrive.
Monstera dubia - Shingle Plant
Monstera dubia in its natural habitat
Image credit: Dick Culbert CC BY 2.0
What a fascinating and unique-looking Monstera this is! It's definitely on the rarer side, with plants selling from £25 to £125 depending on their size. Monstera dubia is the perfect example of a plant that requires something to grow up - in the wild, the mature leaves lie almost flush with the surface of tree trunks, like shingles on a roof, protecting them from wind damage.
Like many of the other plants on this list, the young leaves are intact and only older leaves (as the plant matures) develop the characteristic leaf splits or 'fenestrations'. As a seedling, this plant is very similar in appearance to Satin Pothos, but let it grow for a few months or years and the older leaves will be much larger and more distinctive.
Monstera dubia care tips
To get the most out of your plant, it needs to be positioned in bright sunlight - without it, the leaves will remain in their immature stage.
How to Buy Rare Monsteras
At the time of writing, you could buy Monstera deliciosa, Monstera deliciosa 'Albo Variegata', 'Monstera Minima', Monstera adansonii 'Monkey Mask' and Monstera karstenianum 'Monstera Peru' in the Candide Marketplace. By buying through Candide, you will be directly supporting the small businesses which propagate these exotic species.
If plants are available, you can also find any of these listings from the Marketplace button on plant profiles: