Highly revered and much sort-after, a Variegated Monstera plant is THE ‘must have’ Monstera for any discerning houseplant enthusiast.
A cultivated version of the boho-chic 1970s classic climbing plant, a Variegated Monstera is set apart from other Monstera plants by the white or yellow markings on the leaves.
Popularity for these plants has soared in recent years and ownership has become something of a cult status given how difficult they are to cultivate and how high a price tag they command.
Variegation in these exquisite beauties makes for a rare Monstera. Even a Monstera Variegata cutting can set you back anything from a few hundred dollars to a few thousand dollars depending on the specific cultivator.
Position Bright but indirect sunlight
Watering Water infrequently and mist leaves regularly
Size 6 – 13 ft. tall indoors
Climate Not cold hardy. Zone 9b to 11 (Minimum 60° F | 15° C)
Propagate Stem cuttings and seeds
Seasonality Evergreen, winter dormant
These days, getting your hands on a variegated and therefore rare Monstera is seen as uber-cool and a home interior photographer’s dream. So if you are one of the lucky few who strikes gold with one of these stunning rarities, then you’re going to have to make sure it’s Instagram-photo worthy. Read on to find out about how to care for a Monstera Variegata as well as details of our favorites here at The Yard and Garden. But first, let’s look at exactly why this plant is so special.
What Makes Monstera Variegata so Special?
The partly white or yellow leaves of a Variegated Monstera contain no chlorophyll at all. This makes the plant more delicate because it has to work that much harder to photosynthesize. In contrast, the chlorophyll-rich green leaves of a standard Monstera help the plant to effectively absorb light which in turn becomes energy. For this reason, Monstera Variegata needs plenty of bright natural light to enable it to thrive.
Successful propagation of a Variegated Monstera either requires a whole lot of good fortune or laboratory conditions to be successful. Most Variegated Monstera varieties are not 100% stable meaning that variegation may not continue once cuttings are taken. This is because the cutting requires the tissue of both plants to be present and unfortunately, this happens on average in only 1:100,000 occurrences.
One variety of this plant that does not lose its variegation and is known to be 100% stable is the Monstera Thai Constellation. This plant is produced in a laboratory in Thailand and so production is limited. Demand and availability are therefore what drives an often uncapped price tag for even a cutting.
Unsurprisingly, propagating a Variegated Monstera from seed can be problematic. For the average Joe, seeds are hard to come by and are often only available commercially. They don’t have a very long shelf life but even when healthy young seeds are available they don’t all mutate to become variegations and so lineage cannot be guaranteed.
Variegated Monstera Varieties
All Variegated Monstera varieties are in high demand thanks to their current fashionable status through social media and home interior publications. They make a fantastic talking point or room feature whether they are planted in hanging baskets to trail or in a pot or container to creep and climb. Do bear in mind though, if you are lucky enough to own one, they are toxic to humans and pets.
Here’s a look at some of The Yard and Garden team’s favorite varieties.
Monstera Variegata adansonii
The white and yellow colored markings on the leaves of the Monstera Variegata Adansonii take the unmistakable lacy holes of its cultivator plant Monstera Adansonii or Swiss Cheese Plant to the next level.
Heart-shaped leaves are initially green in young plants and will only develop yellow and white markings and the intricate lacy holes that are synonymous with Monstera Adansonii as the plant matures.
This plant can grow between 6 to 13 feet and not all leaves will develop variegations.
Monstera deliciosa Variegata
The unique nature of the splits, holes, and markings means that no two leaves of any Monstera Deliciosa Variegata plant are the same. There is something special about the flecked white patterning that offers a striking contrast to the dark greens of the heart-shaped leaves.
A Variegated Monstera Deliciosa is grown commercially from seed. What makes it so special is that only a handful of seeds that germinate will mutate to become variegated. On the rare occasion that a mutation does occur, leaf coloring can develop into either white, yellow, or pale green.
Identifying an authentic Monstera Deliciosa Variegata takes time. Mature plants of this variety are the only Monsteras to have wrinkles on the stem near to the underside of their leaves.
Monstera deliciosa Thai Constellation
Perhaps the most widely available variety of Variegated Monstera and therefore the most popular is Monstera Deliciosa Thai Constellation.
Unlike all other Variegated Monsteras, each leaf will have some variegation markings. The white and yellow patterning of these markings is said to resemble a star-filled night sky.
With the right growing conditions of well-draining soil, a bright spot, and at least 60% humidity, you can expect a healthy and mature plant to grow up to 8 feet.
Monstera Albo Borsigiana
Monstera Albo Borsigiana is easily identifiable by the large areas of pure white that cover the leaves in blocks rather than a speckling pattern.
Another distinguishing feature is the size of the leaves which are smaller than is found in all other Monstera varieties.
A fully mature and well-cared for Monstera Deliciosa Albo Borsigiana will grow to 6.5 feet which again, is slightly smaller compared to other varieties.
On the flip side and if the size isn’t everything to you, this variety is faster growing, propagates well, and holds the variegation more readily than other Variegated monsteras and so these tend to be more readily available. It’s fair to say that if this were a popularity contest the Monstera Deliciosa Albo Borsigiana would come a close second after Thai Constellation.
How To Care For a Variegated Monstera
If you are in the enviable position of owning a Variegated Monstera, keeping it in tip-top condition will undoubtedly be a priority. Typically, it needs the same care and attention as a standard Monstera. However, the limiting factor is always going to be its ability to absorb light so it is going to need a little extra help. Here are our top tips for growing success.
Choose a bright, naturally well-lit spot that is away from direct sunlight and draughts to give your Variegated Monstera a fighting chance to thrive. Positioning it like this will help it to absorb as much light as possible to support a healthy growth system but also to avoid damaging or burning the delicate leaves.
Your plant will grow healthier and stronger in conditions with lots of moisture and humidity levels above 60%. Place it in a greenhouse or warm conservatory if you have one. Otherwise, select a warm, sun-facing room such as a kitchen or bathroom.
Water your Variegated Monstera thoroughly when the soil is nearly dry and do not allow it to stand in damp soil for prolonged periods. All Monsteras are prone to root rot which is caused by overwatering. It can be helpful to use a watering can with a measuring gauge to help you get a feel for how much water your plant needs.
To assist with humidity keep your Variegated Monstera moist by misting the leaves regularly.
Bear in mind that there are a number of variables that will affect how often you need to water your Variegated Monstera. Changes in temperature, the amount of light your plant is getting and seasons of the year all play a part. A Variegated Monstera is winter dormant and so will need less water during this time.
Rather than being guided by a strict and regular watering schedule, be guided by the moisture in your plant’s soil. You can test this by investing in a moisture test kit or by placing your finger completely below the level of the soil. If the soil is dry on the surface and slightly damp when your finger is fully immersed in the soil, then it is time to water your plant.
Your Variegated Monstera will thank you for being planted in a well-draining potting mix that is rich in nutrients. A peat-based and coconut coir mix combined with perlite and bark works best. This will give the roots every opportunity to be free from excess moisture to encourage healthy growth and to avoid root rot.
Use a half-strength liquid fertilizer 10-10-10 once per month from Spring until the end of the growing season in Autumn.
Your plant needs this extra boost of nutrients on a regular basis throughout the growing season to compensate for the chlorophyll it lacks from its white and yellow leaves. Avoid feeding during the winter dormant period though.
As your Variegated Monstera gets bigger you can remove the top layer of growth as well as trimming back any unruly, damaged, or discolored leaves. Do this in Spring or Autumn. Use a sterile and sharp knife or pair of scissors and cut as close to the main stem as possible.
As your Variegated Monstera grows it will undoubtedly need to be re-potted. Possibly every other year. A little extra care is needed here because all Monsteras and especially the Variegated type are prone to stress and damaged roots during repotting. To mitigate this stress, it is best to re-pot during the growing season when your plant is in its growing prime. Summer is ideal and will give your plant the best chances of recovering.
Repot your Monstera two days after you last watered it. The moistened roots will come away from the sides of the pot easier than if you are pulling at dry roots that can easily fracture and become damaged.
Once lifted out of the pot, remove as much soil as possible from the roots by carefully brushing it away. While the roots are exposed, now is a good time to give them a thorough inspection. You’re looking for roots that are firm to the touch and cream or white in color.
Any roots that appear brown or black and are soft and mushy will need to be trimmed away as this is a sure sign of root rot. Always use a sterile and sharp knife or pair of scissors to cut away all traces of the diseased roots.
Choose a pot or container that is slighter larger than the previous pot that has good-sized drainage holes and always use fresh well-draining potting soil when repotting. Bury the roots and just enough of the stem to enable the plant to stand upright. Press the soil around the stem gently but avoid covering it too much.
Your plant is likely to take a few weeks to settle and adapt to its new pot and you can expect the growth rate of your plant to be hindered temporarily whilst it recovers. It should take between 4-6 weeks until you begin to see new growth again.
Common Problems with Variegated Monstera Plants
Variegated Monstera plants are prone to infestations from a number of common pests. This is largely due to the humid environment they need to survive. It wouldn’t be uncommon for your plant to be visited by whitefly, mealybugs, and/or scale. Don’t be alarmed! Yes, these pests are unsightly and inconvenient but they are unlikely to cause long-term damage to your plant provided you act quickly as soon as you spot them.
The first thing to do is to move your infected plant away from all your other plants. Keep them separated until all signs of infestation have been cleared. Once you’ve treated the main problem check your other plants for signs of the little pests too.
Use a wet cotton tip, cotton pad or clean cloth to gently dab away as much of the infestation as possible. Be sure to check under leaves and between leaf and stem nodes for any that may be lurking.
Follow this up by using neem oil, soapy water, or if you prefer a watered-down household insect spray or detergent to wash as much of the remaining infestation away. Keep repeating this every few days until all signs have subsided.