Mini monstera, (Philodendron Ginny), (Philodendron Piccolo)
Rhaphidophora Tetrasperma is a desirable tropical houseplant displaying a characteristic split-leaf formation.
Commonly mistaken for Monstera and Philodendron, this small delicate sub-species of the Araceae family is a wonderful addition to any plant lovers collection.
Our guide will walk you through accurate identification of this often misunderstood plant and how to care for the Mini Monstera.
Position Bright but indirect sunlight, leaves easily burn
Watering Water regularly to keep root ball moist
Size 6–12 ft. tall indoors
Climate Not cold hardy. Zone 9b, 10, 11, 12 (Min 55°F / 12°C)
Propagate Stem cuttings
Seasonality Evergreen, winter dormant
Rhaphidophora Tetrasperma is a vining plant that develops delicate split leaves that grow in abundance as the plant matures. Although it loves to creep and climb against a trellis or a moss pole it can be pruned to be compact enough to position on a shelf or table without taking over your home.
It is also possible to plant in hanging baskets however, they tend to produce leggy shoots and less foliage. It’s also important to note they are also toxic to humans and pets and any runaway growth could soon become a risk to pets or children in certain areas of your home.
Rhaphidophora Tetrasperma Vs Monstera Deliciosa
At a glance, Rhaphidophora Tetrasperma does bear a striking resemblance to Monstera Deliciosa so it is understandable how it came to be known by the popular nickname ‘Mini Monstera’. It is also often referred to as Philodendron Ginny or Philodendron Piccolo.
Both Rhaphidophora Tetrasperma and Monstera Deliciosa are evergreen vines with similar habits and split-leaf formation (fenestrations). There are a few clear distinguishing features to look out for. Rhaphidophora Tetrasperma is a smaller plant with a smaller leaf compared to the Monstera. The specific epithet or botanical term Monstera means Monsterous (huge) and Deliosa means delicious, in reference to the fruit this plant produces. Neither of these characteristics applies to Rhaphidophora, which is a smaller plant and does not bear fruit.
The final obvious difference to look out for is the leaf pattern. Rhaphidophora Tetrasperma leaves will not display the familiar holes we see on Monstera plants, near the leaf midrib.
Rhaphidophora Tetrasperma, has been identified as a separate genus (Rhaphidophora) to both Monstera and Philodendron. Furthermore, it is native to Malaysia and Southern Thailand in southeast Asia, whereas, both the Monstera and Philodendron can only be found in Central and South America.
The misunderstanding between the various Araceae family of plants has developed through very similar characteristics between each plant sub-species, as well as nurseries and houseplant retailers over-using generalist terms for their plant listings.
Rhaphidophora tetrasperma Care
Rhaphidophora tetrasperma are best positioned in an indoor spot with plenty of natural light but away from direct sunlight as this can scorch their delicately thin leaves. They also prefer a warm environment of 55°F or more and humidity levels at around 40%. Replicating these conditions for your Rhaphidophora tetrasperma will encourage the development of leaf fenestrations in young plants.
To bump up humidity levels for your plant you could invest in a humidifier. Alternatively, make sure you mist the leaves of your plant regularly and position your plant next to other humidity-loving plants. Another way of increasing humidity is to place stones or pebbles in the tray that collects water below the pot in which your plant sits.
Height and Spread
Rhaphidophora tetrasperma is a fast-growing plant that can reach heights of up to 12 feet when grown indoors. It is possible to keep growth to more modest proportions with regular pruning. If you live in a tropical climate this plant will grow taller if grown outdoors. In any event, your plant will need decent levels of humidity, good quality well-draining soil, and a pot with good-sized drainage holes in order to thrive.
Watering Mini Monstera
To encourage new grow and a stronger, heathier plant it is best to water Rhaphidophora tetrasperma regularly and not allow the soil to become too dry.
I find it better to check the moisture level in the soil to tell if and when my plant needs watering. If the soil is dry in the top 1 to 2 inches and moist thereafter, it’s time to water your plant. If it is still moist at the top, then put your watering can back on the shelf for a few days before checking again.
You can test the moisture levels in the soil easily by either purchasing a soil moisture meter or by placing your finger 2 inches below the level of the soil. Rhaphidophora tetrasperma are able to tolerate a little underwatering but are prone to root rot when they are left in soggy soil for too long. If in doubt, err on the side of caution and hold off with your watering can.
Watering schedules aside, there are some variables that contribute to the watering needs of these plants including changes in the temperature, light conditions, and the time of year. All of this will affect how much water your plant will need especially when Rhaphidophora tetrasperma is in its dormant period during the winter. You may notice that the soil remains damp for longer. When this happens, you’ll need to reduce the amount and frequency of watering.
Rhaphidophora Tetrasperma Soil
To encourage healthy growth and also avoid root rot Rhaphidophora Tetrasperma plants need a well-draining potting mix. You may struggle to find a Rhaphidophora potting mix, but a good quality general house plant potting mix will be fine check the latest price on Amazon.
For best results make sure it contains organic minerals such as perlite or grit and a substrate such as orchid or pine bark as well as sphagnum moss and charcoal to help control moisture levels. This will give the root ball of your plant every opportunity to retain some moisture but not enough that the soil will be left soggy and damp for prolonged periods.
There are lots of good-quality potting mixes available to purchase from any decent garden supply retailer or online at stores like Amazon.com where there are plenty of options available. Alternatively, you can make your own well-draining potting mix at home. It’s easy to do and relatively cheap. Simply, mix one-third of organic matter such as coconut coir with equal parts perlite or grit, and finally one-third bark.
Use a good quality houseplant fertilizer once per month from Spring until the end of the growing season in Autumn. The roots of these plants are sensitive to harsh chemicals and may suffer fertilizer burn from low grade or intense levels of fertilizing.
I personally like to use Jobe’s slow-release fertilizer spikes that you push into the soil and they release a delicate feed over the growing season. You can find them on Amazon.com here.
Hold off feeding your Rhaphidophora Tetrasperma during the winter period whilst your plant is dormant, it simply won’t need feeding during this time.
As a vigorous grower, your Rhaphidophora Tetrasperma may need a little pruning assistance if foliage becomes unruly or takes over your space.
Wait until Spring or Autumn before attempting any pruning at which point remove dying or damaged leaves and any leggy growth.
If your plant is taking over your space it is okay to cut any unruly growth but avoid losing any more than 25% of your plant. Always use a sterile and sharp knife or pair of scissors and cut just above a leaf junction.
The fast growth of Rhaphidophora tetrasperma means that it will need to be re-potted at least every year. To avoid any undue stress and possible damaged roots whilst repotting it is best to wait for the growing season to re-pot as this is when your plant is in its growing prime. Summer is ideal and will give your plant the best chance of making a full recovery.
Choose a pot or container that is slighter larger than the previous pot and one that has good-sized drainage holes. Clay or terracotta are great at helping to draw moisture away from the soil and will help further with drainage.
The roots of your Rhaphidophora tetrasperma will need plenty of room for growth. Make sure that a new pot is at least 2 inches wider than the last and that any pot you choose is not too shallow.
Always use fresh well-draining potting soil and avoid fertilizing your plant for a month or so afterward. A fresh potting medium should already contain a healthy dose of nutrients for your plant to absorb and any additional chemicals that may harm your plant.
How To Propagate Rhaphidophora Tetrasperma
You can propagate Rhaphidophora tetrasperma in water or in soil. Both are achievable although propagating in water often takes longer for roots to appear.
First, you will need to carefully select your cutting. Find a healthy-looking stem that has 2 or 3 nodes and at least one leaf attached to it. Use a sterile and sharp knife or pair of scissors to carefully remove the cutting making sure you get as close to the stem as possible.
Propagating Rhaphidophora tetrasperma in Soil
Place the cutting in a small pot with drainage holes and fill it with potting soil. Position in a bright spot but not in direct sunlight and keep the soil slightly damp. Keep your cutting warm by covering it with a plastic bag to seal in moisture but remember to remove the bag for a few hours every few days to allow air to circulate.
You’ll then need to be patient and wait for the first signs of new growth to appear above the soil. This should take 4-6 weeks. Once new growth has appeared, you can remove the plastic bag and begin watering as you would for a Rhaphidophora tetrasperma plant.
Propagating Rhaphidophora tetrasperma in Water
Take your healthy stem cutting and place it in a propagation station or in a jar with clean water that covers the nodes. Place your cutting in a bright position but not in direct sunlight and change the water every 3-5 days.
Be patient while you wait for new roots to appear. This can take 4-6 weeks and often longer. Your cutting will be ready to pot in soil once a network of new roots begins to appear.
It can take longer than you might imagine for new cuttings to root but keeping them warm and being patient will all help.
Common problems with Mini Mostera
Rhaphidophora tetrasperma will not tolerate soggy soil and any prolonged periods of wet roots will almost certainly cause root rot. This is often detrimental to the health of your plant and so the best method of prevention is to always use well-draining soil, use a container or pot with good-sized drainage holes, and only water your plant when the first 2 inches of soil is dry.
Yellowing leaves at the base of your plant is often an indication of root rot however, to know for sure if your plant does have root rot, you will need to carefully remove it from the pot or planter.
To minimize the amount of stress that this may cause remove your plant from the pot two days after you last watered it. This will ensure that the roots are softened slightly so that as you lift the plant and soil from the pot it is likely to minimize any root damage.
Tip the pot on its side and loosen the soil around the edges of the pot with your finger. This will make it easier to slide the plant from the pot or container.
Brush away as much soil as possible from the roots using a soft brush or your fingers. Roots that appear brown or black and are soft and mushy will need to be trimmed away using a sterile and sharp knife or pair of scissors. All traces will need to be removed until you are left with only white or cream roots.
Re-pot in a cleaned pot and always use fresh soil, allow you plant a few weeks to recover before resuming a less frequent watering schedule.
Like many houseplants, Rhaphidophora tetrasperma can be prone to an infestation of insects and pests from time to time and are especially susceptible to Spider Mites. Whilst unsightly and inconvenient they are unlikely to be detrimental to the health of your plant provided they are treated promptly.
Spider Mites are minuscule eight-legged creatures that look like tiny white specks. They suspend themselves to the silk webbing that they spin on the leaves they have infected. Typically, they inhabit the underside of leaves near the stem.
If left untreated the leaves of your plant will develop yellow spots and tiny holes from where the little critters have been extracting sap from your plant.
As soon as you have detected any signs of spider mites move your plant away from all other plants. Once you have treated your infested plant, take some time to check over all other plants for any signs of infestation.
To rid your Rhaphidophora tetrasperma of spider mites you first need to blast all affected areas with a reasonably powerful faucet of water. Do this in the sink, shower, or with a hose to dislodge the spider mites and their webbing. Take care not to get too much water into the soil when the water runs off. This step can be done daily.
After rinsing on day one use a spray bottle or a clean dry cloth to apply a solution of neem oil and water to your plant. Carefully wipe the solution all over the plant paying particular attention to the underside of leaves and at stem junctions. Repeat this step every 5-7 days or until all signs of the infestation have been removed.
More serious infestations may need to be treated with a stronger insecticide. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for application of any chemical treatment and take extra caution as Rhaphidophora tetrasperma plants whether juvenile or mature can become burned by chemicals.