Rhaphidophora Tetrasperma Care & Propagation (#1 BEST Hacks for Thriving Plant!)

rhaphidophora tetrasperma in small white pot, with green lobed leaves climbing up a wooden stake

Rhaphidophora Tetrasperma is a rapidly-growing vining plant with small lobed leaves. We think the mini-sized leaves are adorable 🙂

Fortunately, the Rhaphidophora Tetrasperma is low-maintenance and fast-growing. For best growth,

  • Don’t water on a set schedule. Water only when the topsoil is dry to the touch.
  • Ensure your plant gets 60-80% humidity.
  • Avoid >3 hours of direct sunlight a day. A spot with bright, indirect light supports fast growth.
  • Lightly fertilize with a gentle, urea-free liquid fertilizer.
  • Use a moss pole or trellis to support its climbing habit.

Read on for the full care details!

But before we dive into the details, let’s address a common question we get asked thanks to its misleading nicknames….

Is the Rhaphidophora Tetrasperma a Monstera or Philodendron?

Neither! Despite sometimes being referred to as the Mini Monstera or the Philodendron Ginny, Rhaphidophora tetrasperma are not of the Monstera or Philodendron genus.

They are Rhaphidophoras, native to Southern Thailand and Malaysia. Monsteras and Philodendrons are not naturally found outside Central and South America. Unlike monsteras, the Rhaphidophora Tetrasperma also has no edible fruit.

close up of rhaphidophora tetrasperma leaves

Caring for your Rhaphidophora Tetrasperma

Light

Rhaphidophoras are happiest in bright but filtered light, mimicking their natural habitat. Choose a bright spot that doesn’t get more than 3 hours of direct sunlight per day. Eastern-facing windows are ideal – as they allow your plant to receive bright light in the mornings and indirect light for the remainder of the day.

Prolonged exposure to direct sunlight causes sunburn and spindly growth. If you notice leaves yellowing or black or brown spots developing on the leaves, this is a sign of too much sun. In this case, use a 20-40% shade cloth to dapple the harsh light.

On the other hand, your plant will grow very slowly and develop smaller leaves that may not split if it doesn’t receive enough sun.

rhaphidophora tetrasperma in a pot

Watering

It’s essential to water your plant according to its needs rather than set a specific watering frequency. As seasons change, the rate at which your plant grows and needs moisture also varies, so fixed watering schedules typically result in an overwatered or underwatered plant.

To check if your Rhaphidophora Tetrasperma needs watering, place your finger about 2 inches (5cm) deep into its soil. If the soil is dry, water your plant. If it’s still slightly moist, hold off watering.

Overwatering is such a common problem for Rhaphidophoras, and can easily lead to root rot. Avoid this by always checking the topsoil’s moisture level before watering.

Humidity

Since your plant is native to rainforests in South East Asia, it’s no surprise that it loves high-humidity climates. Ideally, aim for 50-60% humidity directly around the plant, which may be challenging depending on where you live! But it can tolerate lower humidity (30-40%), so don’t fret.

Using a pebble tray is one way to elevate humidity levels. Alternatively, humidifiers can be an economical and easy option to keep your tropical plants healthy and lush.

Temperature

Interestingly, the ideal temperature for your Rhaphidophora Tetrasperma is a little lower than you would expect for a tropical plant, between 68 – 80 degrees F (16 – 27 degrees C). You can anticipate rapid growth during spring and summer months, and a natural slowing during winter.

Growth

Your Rhaphidophora Tetrasperma has a vining habit. In nature, it grows on top of trees! So, use a moss pole to allow it to climb.

Make sure your plant gets sufficient light, at least 8 hours of indirect light a day, for rapid growth. When mature, expect your mini monstera to grow up to 8 feet (2.4 meters) indoors.

Soil or Growing Medium

A loose, airy soil that drains well but still retains some moisture is crucial to support your Rhaphidophora Tetrasperma’s growth. We like using a mix of:

  • 3 parts high-quality indoor potting mix;
  • 1 part perlite;
  • a handful of orchid bark.

The organic matter in the potting soil helps to retain moisture and deliver nutrients to your plant. Perlite is porous, allowing it to hold up to three times its weight in water like a sponge, keeping the soil moist but not waterlogged.

Orchid bark creates air pockets and improves drainage properties of the soil.

Fertilizing

Fertilize your plant once every month at half strength during the spring and summer months using a gentle liquid fertilizer. Rhaphidophoras have sensitive roots, so ensure your fertilizer does not contain urea which can be harsh.

During winter, you can hold off fertilizing your plant since growth slows during this time.

Similar to our caution on overwatering your plant, do not be overzealous with fertilizer. A little goes a long way 🙂 Too much fertilizer will cause root burn and the leaves to turn yellow… all stuff you don’t want to deal with!

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08/21/2022 10:16 pm GMT

Repotting

If you notice roots emerging from the bottom of the pot, it’s time for you to repot the plant. Repotting may need to occur once or even twice a year for this rapidly-growing Aroid. Other signs that your plant is root-bound is if you notice slower growth or if the plant seems to be insatiably thirsty.

Some repotting tips:

  • Pick a pot about 2 inches (5cm) bigger than your current pot to allow your plant sufficient room to grow. Bigger than this, and the tendency is to overwater your plant.
  • Loosen the roots gently with your fingers when transferring the plant into its new home.
  • Always use fresh soil mix when repotting, as your plant would have depleted some of the nutrients from its old mix.
rhaphidophora tetrasperma in small white pot, with green lobed leaves climbing up a wooden stake

Toxicity

Place your Rhaphidophora Tetrasperma out of reach of pets or childrenLike many in the Araceae family (Aroids), these plants contain insoluble calcium oxalates in their leaves and stems, which are toxic if chewed or ingested.

When oxalate crystals come into contact with the skin or mouth, burning, pain, and swelling may occur. Wash the exposed area repeatedly with lukewarm soapy water. Consult a medical professional if symptoms persist.

Propagation

Propagating a mini monstera is easy enough, but you need to take note of where you cut. Your plant cannot propagate with a single leaf.

  1. Identify a stem where there is at least one node.
  2. Cut just below the node.
  3. Place your stem cutting in a jar filled with water.
  4. Ensure you change out the water once per day. Your plant will start growing roots below the cut. At the same time, the node will mature into a stem.
  5. After the roots have grown about 2 inches (5cm), plant your cutting in a soil mix.

Troubleshooting Rhaphidophora Tetrasperma Problems

Why are my Rhaphidophora’s leaves yellowing?

If your rhaphidophora has yellow leaves, it may be due to a number of reasons:

If your rhaphidophora has yellow leaves, it may be due to several reasons:

  1. Overwatering is the most probable cause. Allow the soil to dry out before watering again.
  2. Too much direct sunlight. Move it to a spot with filtered light or utilize a partially sheer curtain to block out harsh rays.
  3. Overfertilizing. In this case, flush the soil with distilled water until excess water starts draining through the bottom of the pot in a steady stream. This excess water will wash away the build-up of mineral salts. Repot your plant in fresh soil mix and allow the soil to dry out before watering again. Refrain from fertilizing until your plant recovers and even then, go easy.

Why are the leaves curling?

Curled leaves could indicate two main issues. The first is that your plant is not receiving adequate humidity. To fix this, purchase a humidifier and place it near your plant. You should aim for ~50-60% humidity.

The second issue is over-fertilizing. Refer to the section directly above to help your plant recover.

Water pooling on the surface of the plant

Recall that your rhaphidophora prefers airy soil that can drain easily. Water pooling on the surface of the plant could mean that you are using an incorrect soil mix. Check out the Soil or Growing Medium section for details on the ideal growing medium to repot your plant.

Spider Mites

Pesky spider mites! These creatures are less than 1/20 of an inch long and have translucent bodies, making them hard to spot. But if you find webbing under the leaves, you can be sure that spider mites are present.

Yellow, speckled surfaces of leaves are also a sign of spider mites.

Thankfully, neem oil is a relatively effective method of eradicating these pests. This oil can be purchased from your local nursery and shouldn’t cost more than US$10-15 for a spray bottle. Here’s our guide on everything you need to know on how to use neem oil to combat spider mites and other pests.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why are the leaves not splitting?

Many people love rhaphidophoras and monsteras for their distinctive fenestration. But when mature leaves do not split, this is usually a sign that the plant is not receiving adequate sunlight. Move the plant to a sunnier spot where it gets bright, filtered light.

Note, however, that it is natural for young leaves to remain whole until they grow more mature, so be patient! 🙂

Are Rhaphidophora Tetrasperma expensive?

It depends. You might have seen a very rare, white variegated Rhaphidophora Tetrasperma sell for US$19,200! This was the most expensive plant to be sold online.

Luckily for those of us less inclined to spend five figures on a houseplant, you can easily find the non-variegated mini monstera for US$20-30 at your local nursery.

How do I get my Rhaphidophora tetrasperma to climb?

For this climbing plant to thrive, you need to support your plant’s aerial roots. Utilize a trellis or moss pole to support its growth. Ensure that the plant’s nodes are near the pole so that its roots can grab hold of it as it matures. Alternatively, train its vines up a wall. (You can read more about how to use moss poles here.)

How quickly do Rhaphidophora tetrasperma grow?

For those impatient gardeners among us, there is good news. These plants can grow at a rate of over 6 feet per year (183 cm) when planted indoors, which is even faster than monstera deliciosa. Outdoors they can reach a height of over 12 feet (365 cm).

How do you encourage the plant to be bushy?

Pruning is the main way to make the plant bushier. Remember to use clean shears and cut about 1/4 an inch above the nodes.

Similar Plants and Varieties

We can’t get enough of the Rhaphidophora Decursiva. Nicknamed the Dragon Tail, this plant starts off with small oval-shaped leaves. As leaves mature, they enlarge and develop slits. Its final look resembles a fern or palm frond. They are also easy-going plants that don’t require too much special attention!

a potted rhaphidophora decursiva being held up
The Rhaphidophora Decursiva, otherwise known as the Dragon Tail

Deborah is a plant enthusiast and founder of Gardening Collective.

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