Hailing from the mountainous rainforests of Costa Rica is the magical Monstera Esqueleto (also known as Monstera Epipremnoides).
The epithet ‘Esqueleto’ means ‘skeleton’ in Spanish, and no wonder!
Its large leaves are characteristically “double fenestrated”. A set of small holes run along the midribs, and another set of larger holes sit between the small holes and the leaf edges.
Caring for your Monstera Esqueleto is relatively easy. They need similar conditions to other tropical Monsteras:
- Moderate to bright, indirect light;
- A well-draining potting mix;
- As much humidity as you can give it, ideally >70%, though they can endure average room humidities.
- Lastly, be careful not to overwater.
In this article, we’ll show you everything you need to know for your Monstera Esqueleto to thrive. We’ll also teach you how to identify and differentiate the Esqueleto from other popular fenestrated Monsteras.
Let’s dive in. 🙂
Table of Contents
Caring for your Monstera Esqueleto
Growing in the wild under a canopy of trees, your Monstera Esqueleto loves bright but indirect light. When kept indoors, East-facing windows are ideal. South and West can work too, if place a few feet away from the windowpane.
Most people underestimate the intensity of bright, indirect light. To check if your plant is getting sufficient light, place your hand about 12 inches (30cm) away from your plant in the direction of the light source.
Your hand should cast a dark shadow with slightly blurry edges. If the edges are crisp, your plant may be getting too much direct light. On the other hand, a barely-there shadow means you need to relocate your Monstera to a brighter spot.
Getting sufficient light is important to bring out those beautiful fenestrations.
Your plant is hardy outdoors to USDA Hardiness zones 9b-11, so you can grow it in your patio or garden. When kept outside, choose a spot that has partial shade or dappled light.
Avoid direct light altogether.
However, you can acclimatize your plant to harsher light conditions by slowly exposing your plant to more light over a period of time. Place your plant in a brighter spot for an hour, before relocating it to its original darker position. Each day, place your plant in the brighter spot for add an additional hour, until it spends its whole day there.
In the wild, this epiphyte (climbing plant) spends most, if not all, of its life above-ground. This means its aerial roots are never wanting for air.
Your plant loves a good soak, but needs to dry off quickly.
Mimic this environment by using the ‘soak and dry’ method:
- Water your plant only when the top 2 inches of soil is dry.
- Water deeply and slowly, avoiding wetting the leaves.
- Allow your plant to dry off! Empty its saucer after watering. Ensure your pot has drainage holes.
- Refrain from watering again until the topsoil is completely dry.
Lastly (but so importantly!) choose an airy and well-draining potting mix. We’ll cover that off in the Soil section. 🙂
It’s no surprise that your tropical Monstera thrives in high humidity. Ideally, keep your plant in >70% humidity, although they can tolerate average room water vapor levels.
A humidifier is the best way to boost humidity in a convenient and long-lasting way.
Did you know that high humidity helps plants carry out photosynthesis?
High humidity levels keep your plant’s stomata (pores) open, allowing carbon dioxide, which is needed for photosynthesis, to be absorbed. If humidity is too low, plants close their stomata to prevent water from being lost by evaporation.
Keep your plant in temperatures between 60-80 degrees F (16-27 degrees C). As long as you provide stable temperatures within this range, your plant will be happy.
You may choose to bring a containerized Monstera Esqueleto indoors during the colder months. Your plant isn’t hardy to cold or freezing temperatures.
Drops in temperature will lead lead to slower growth.
Your Monstera Esqueleto very rarely blooms when kept indoors.
Monstera Esqueleto leaves grow pretty large, up to 2 feet (61cm) long! However, they grow slowly, especially compared to others in the genus like the Adansonii and the Deliciosa.
Heavily-fenestrated leaves are partly to blame for slow growth. Covering up to 80%, large holes mean the plant has less surface area to manufacture food for growth! 🙂
Use a moss pole to allow your plant to climb. Not only does this provide a stability or your vining plant, it also encourages radpiy growth, and larger leaves.
Stackable moss poles are fun – increase the height of the poles as your plant climbs taller.
Soil or Growing Medium
Choose a potting mix that is rich, airy, and well-draining. Using commercial soils without added amendments is typically too dense for this Aroid.
Instead, we like using a mix of:
We like using Miracle-Gro indoor potting mix, which provides a rich organic medium. Perlite helps the soil hold moisture and improves drainage.
Orchid bark and charcoal help create air pockets within the soil, allowing roots to breathe, and excess water to drain freely. Couple this with a pot with drainage holes to ensure your plant never sits in a stagnant pool of water.
Applying a light dose of liquid indoor houseplant fertilizer has done wonders for our Esqueleto. But be careful not to overdo it!
Incorporate the fertilizer, at half strength, into the plant’s watering schedule so that it is extra diluted. Apply once every 8 weeks during the growing season.
Hold off fertilizing in fall and winter.
Repot your plant whenever you see signs of it becoming root-bound.
Signs of a root-bound plant include:
- roots peeking out of drainage holes,
- slow or stunted growth,
- water that drains through the pot immediately or a plant that seems insatiably thirsty.
- Water your plant 24 hours prior to repotting – this reduces transplant shock.
- Gently unpot your plant and refresh its soil.
- Choose a pot that is just 2 inches (5cm) larger than the original.
- Hold off watering until a few days after repotting.
FOR more tips on how to repot a root-bound plant, check out our repotting guide.
According to the ASPCA, your Monstera Esqueleto is toxic when ingested by animals and humans. Your plant stores calcium oxalate crystals in its stems and leaves which stab sensitive mouth tissues when chewed or swallowed.
Other symptoms include nausea, vomiting and kidney stones.
Stem cuttings is the easiest way to propagate your Monstera Esqueleto. Since your plant is slow-growing, be warned that propagation takes some time.
Increasing humidity helps new plants establish more quickly. If you don’t have a humidifier, you can prop a clear plastic bag over your stem cuttings, with chopsticks holding up the bag.
Water Propagation (Stem Cuttings)
- Look for a healthy part of the stem, about 5 inches (13cm) long. Make sure it has at least one leaf.
- Snip off the identified part of the stem, just below the node. Nodes are where new growth emerges, so the stem cutting must INCLUDE the node.
- Remove any leaves from the bottom-half of the stem cutting.
- Place the stem cuttings into a jar half-filled with water. Ensure that the nodes are submerged, but leaves are above water!
- Place the water jar in a warm spot with bright, indirect light. Refresh the water every few days.
- When you see the roots growing out to about 2 inches (5cm) long, replant in a lightly-moist potting mix.
Soil Propagation (Stem Cuttings)
You can also use potting mix as your chosen propagation medium. The steps 1-3 are the same as the water propagation method. Then,
- Plant the stem cuttings directly into a potting mix. Keep the soil evenly moist.
- Choose a bright spot with plenty of indirect light.
- In about 4-6 weeks, roots should have established in your plant. You can test this by giving your plant a very gentle tug – some resistance means the roots have grown.
- Treat as you would any other Monstera Esqueleto.
An easy way to propagate is to simply divide your plants and its roots. Just be careful not to damage the roots too much.
- Water your plant the day prior – this helps it dislodge from its pot more easily.
- Unpot your plant.
- Examine the rootball, freeing up compacted soil from the roots.
- Using your fingers, divide the plant into individual sections. Try not to damage the roots too much.
- Pot each individual section into appropriately-sized pots. Don’t overpot!
If you see dead or wilted leaves, snip them off with sterilized shears. This helps your plant refocus its energy on healthy (and new!) growth.
We like using 70% isopropyl solution to sterilize. This prevents cross-contamination of microscopic bacteria, fungi, and pests.
Common Issues & Troubleshooting
- Yellow leaves. This is commonly a sign of an overwatered plant. Check that you are only watering when the topsoil is dry, and using a well-draining potting mix.
- Brown crispy leaves. Too little water or humidity is often the problem.
- Droopy leaves. Improper watering can lead to droopy leaves. Revisit your watering practices, and check the soil moisture to see whether over or under watering is the issue.
- Leaves are not splitting. Insufficient light is usually the case, but check out our article on other possible reasons.
- Houseplant pests. While your plant is not susceptible to pests, no plant is immune. Pests may be introduced into the home by an infected plant which then cross-contaminates healthy plants. Usual suspects include: spider mites, mealybugs, fungus gnats and scale.
Comparing Monstera Look-Alikes
Monstera Esqueleto vs. Adansonii
The main differences between these two look-alikes are:
- Color. The Monstera Esqueleto has a lighter green color than the Adansonii.
- Texture. The Esqueleto feels (supringly!) slightly leathery compared to a more papery feel of an Adansonii. The Esqueleto is sturdier than it looks. 🙂
- Fenestrations. The Esqueleto has “double fenestrations” – a set of small holes running near the midribs, the another set of larger holes closer to the leaf edges. Adansoniis holes are more sporadic, dotted through the leaf.
- Size of a mature leaf. The Esqueleto leaf can grow up to 2 feet (60cm) long. On the other hand, Adansonii leaves are typically much smaller, 4-6 inches (10-15 cm) when kept indoors.
- Growth rate. The Adansonii is a much quicker grower than the Esqueleto.
Monstera Esqueleto vs. Obliqua
- Thickness of leaves. Monstera Esqueleto’s leaves are thicker and sturdier than the papery-thin and flimsy leaves of an Obliqua Peru.
- Size of mature leaves. The Obliqua’s leaves are much smaller than the Esqueleto’s.
- Fenestrations. The Obliqua Peru’s holes tend to be larger and less “symmetrical” than the Esqueleto’s.
- Price. Obliquas can cost in the high hundreds to low thousands US$ for a small starter plant. They are extremely rare and expensive. Your Esqueleto, while still considered rare, will likely set you back US$150-200 for a small pot.
- Difficulty of growing. The Obliqua Peru is extremely hard to grow, compared to the easygoing Esqueleto.
- Growth rate. The Obliqua is a much more slow-growing Monstera. It will likely take the entire growing season for 1-2 leaves to emerge!
How to identify a Monstera Esqueleto
You can identify a Monstera Esqueleto by its:
- “Double fenestrations”;
- Large leaf size – up to 2 feet (61 cm);
- Light green leaf color – some Monstera varieties have a darker green color;
- Slightly leathery leaf texture.
The Monstera Esqueleto is previously called the Monstera Epipremnoides. They are the same species. 🙂
Frequently Asked Questions
Where can I buy a Monstera Esqueleto?
Specialist online suppliers are the easiest way to get a hold of this rare beauty. Etsy or Ebay is a great place to check out.
Is Monstera Esqueleto rare?
Yes, they are rare! Unfortunately, they are also pricey. Expect to pay around US$150-200 for a small starter plant.
Prices of more established Esqueletos vary depending on size.
Why is the Monstera Esqueleto so expensive?
This is really due to a lack of supply whilst demand for the Esqueleto remains high.
Does a variegated version of the Monstera Esqueleto exist?
Not that we can tell. Genetic mutations that prohibit cells from producing chlorophyll can occur spontaneously, so it is possible that a variegated version exists somewhere! But we haven’t seen any available online or in person.
Other Monsteras we Love
- Monstera Dubia
- Monstera Siltepecana
- Monstera Pinnatipartita
- Monstera Adansonii
- Monstera Obliqua
- Monstera Deliciosa
- Monstera Subpinnata
- Monstera Peru
- Monstera Lechleriana
- Monstera Laniata
- Check out our Round up of Unique Monstera Types (w/Photos!)
Your Monstera Esqueleto is an easy-going tropical plant with beautiful fenestrations. Help it thrive by:
- Providing it bright, indirect light.
- Using an airy potting mix. Add perlite, orchid bark and charcoal to indoor potting soil and mix together.
- Providing it a moss pole to climb.
- Watering only when the topsoil is dry.
- Using a pot with drainage holes.
- Giving your plant as much humidity as possible.
- Fertilizing lightly, every 8 weeks at half strength during the active growing season.
- Keeping it in mild indoor temperatures.
Deborah is a plant enthusiast and founder of Gardening Collective.