Rhaphidophora Tetrasperma - What is it and how to care for them

September, 2021
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Mini monstera, mini split-leaf philodendra and Rhaphidophora tetrasperma are all misleading names for the plant that is currently in fashion. You can purchase a single leaf cutting of this plant on eBay for around £20.

Post an advertisement for your plants in a buy/sell/trade group on Facebook, and you'll get a bunch of messages about it. There seems to be a lot of interest in these cute plants because they grow fast and are easy to take care of.

A. tetrasperma looks like a Monstera deliciosa at first glance and is commonly referred to as a Philodendron species, but it's actually wrongfully identified because A. tetrasperma bears a close resemblance to R. tetrasperma Rhaphidophora tetrasperma is not in the same genus as Monstera or Philodendron, despite being related to plants from the Araceae family. It's endemic to a different part of the world than those two plants! While Monstera and Philodendron species are native to Central and South America, R. tetrasperma is found in Southern Thailand or Malaysia with Rhapidophora not closely related to the other two genera it's often mistaken for.

Native habitat

The Rhaphi is a climbing plant that sends aerial roots that can attach to trees in its native Malaysia or south Thailand. A moss-based pole or plant support or wall-based support would help the plant grow tall just as they would in the wild. The climbing plant is often put as a monster or a philodendron but is not as genus as both of them. Always good for plants to be told the environment that their habitat would be so we can try and reproduce them in our own homes. This species is a different genus of monsters and indigenous in Central America.

Lighting

The Rhaphidophora tetrasperma requires bright indirect light, filtered light with indirect sunlight from southwestern or western directions. Indoors, direct sun is fine; outdoors, a little bit of dappled sun is also fine

Lighting requirements are important in the case of this plant. The Rhaphidophora tetrasperma is decidedly NOT a low light plant and will grow slowly if it's placed in an area with too little light.

Humidity

The Rhaphidophora tetrasperma requires humidity, but the level of humidity is different for this plant depending on where it's located. Indoors, the room needs to have a relative humidity of 30% or higher with an air circulation system. Outdoors, the Rhaphidophora tetrasperma needs a humid environment with high rainfall and never goes below 40% relative humidity (unless you live in a desert).

Temperature

Rhaphidophora tetrasperma prefers warm temperatures in the leaf range of 20-30 °C (68-86 °F), so don't be surprised if your leaves turn brown if it's too cool in your home! The ideal temperature ranges are between 55 degrees and 100.

Watering Rhaphidophora Tetrasperma

The Rhaphidophora tetrasperma likes it fairly moist, but not too dry. I've found that watering it consistently keeps growth from slowing down as much while giving the plant some room to regulate the amount of water in its pot and soil. It is more sensitive to overwatering than under-watering though so make sure you know what you're doing before sticking your hose into the dirt for this one!

It's recommended to water when the potting medium/mix starts to dry down and don't let the roots of your plant dry out. In winter, you can reduce watering a lot more than in summer.

Repotting + pruning:

This plant will need to be repotted at least once a year, and possibly twice. Houseplants are great for bringing life to the indoors, but be sure to give them support when they start climbing. A moss pole or totem works well or a trellis. I've seen people who hang plants, but I don't think that makes them good hanging baskets in the long run because it can cause leggy growth and smaller leaves at best. Making use of a moss pole is certainly our favourite way to go.

Soil & fertilizer:

A substrate that is able to wick moisture from the roots and drain well, while providing good aeration is essential. To prepare for planting, combine equal parts potting soil and perlite/pumice, pine bark, finely shredded sphagnum moss and horticultural charcoal. Brighten these plants monthly with a balanced or high-nitrogen fertilizer during spring through summer.

When winter begins, cut down on or eliminate fertilizing.

Common problems:

The main problems faced by the Rhaphidophora tetrasperma are spider mites, there isn't too much else to worry about really, apart from the other classic issues such as using a potting mix a little too dense or letting it sit in water for too long as you'll end up with root rot 🙁

Propagation:

These can be propagated easily. You just need a stem cutting with a node and root in water, soil, perlite or sphagnum moss. They will sometimes take some time to propagate in water.

Rhaphidophora tetrasperma is a low light plant that requires bright, filtered indirect sunlight from southwestern or western directions. Indoors, direct sun is fine; outdoors, a little bit of dappled sun is also fine. Humidity needs are different for this plant depending on where it's located: indoors the room needs to have 30% relative humidity with an air circulation system while outdoors Rhaphidophora tetrasperma needs a humid environment with high rainfall and never goes below 40% relative humidity (unless you live in a desert). The ideal temperature ranges are between 55 degrees and 100 degrees Fahrenheit. Watering requirements depend on whether you're inside or outside - when winter begins cut down on fertilizing. These plants can be propagated easily. You just need a stem cutting with a node and root in water, soil, perlite or sphagnum moss.

On the whole, this is a great plant as it's relatively easy to keep happy indoors providing you know what you're doing!

FAQs

What is the difference between Rhaphidophora tetrasperma and Monstera deliciosa?

Deliciosa is a much larger plant, growing to the ceiling height with big leaves. The difference between these two plants is Rhaphidophora has stiffer & more upright growth whereas Monstera has softer outward growth, fatter leaves, and re-grows them slower than Rhaphidophora does. They are very similar which is where the name mini monster comes from.

Is Rhaphidophora a Monstera?

No, Rhaphidophora is a different genus of plant, although they share many similarities. Rhaphidophora has stiffer, more upright growth whereas Monstera has softer outward growth, fatter leaves and re-grows them slower than Rhaphidophora does.

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