Hailing from the rainforests of Central and South America, the Monstera Obliqua is somewhat of a unicorn plant. It is the rarest species of the popular Monstera genus and so is unsurprisingly coveted by gardeners all over the world! 🙂
Adding to the mystique of the ever-elusive Obliqua are myths and half-truths that circulate amongst the plant community. When speaking to fellow gardeners, we often hear 6 main questions being asked about the Monstera Obliqua.
In this article, we’ll answer these six popular questions. We’re here to clarify everything you want to know about this rare Monstera and set the record straight!
Table of Contents
Q1: Is it true that Obliquas are more hole than leaf?
This is a half-truth. Let us explain.
The Monstera Obliqua comes in four forms: Peru, Bolivia, Panama and Suriname. The Obliqua Peru in the photo above is the species most people think of when talking about the Monstera Obliqua. This is the heavily fenestrated variety and arguably the most unique-looking.
According to a research paper published by the University of Toronto, the Monstera Obliqua’s large fenestrations is a result of programmed cell death early in leaf development. Speaking of a perforated Monstera Obliqua, they note, “at each perforation site, a discrete subpopulation of cells undergoes programmed cell death simultaneously”.
So, as the Monstera Obliqua Peru matures, large perforations develop alongside green papery-thin foliage. The foliage appears to outline the leaf, given how large the holes are.
However, this characteristic is not true of the other Monstera varieties. In fact, most other Obliquas only have small holes relative to the leaf size; others don’t have holes at all!
For comparison, below is a photo of the Monstera Obliqua Bolivia, which has no fenestrations:
The correct statement, therefore, is that mature Monstera Obliqua Perus are more hole than leaf!
Q2: Why are Monstera Obliqua Perus so rare?
One reason why Obliqua Perus are rare is that they are slow-growers. Outside their native habitat, they will likely take the entire growing season for 1-2 leaves to emerge!
Part of the reason for their slow growth is the limited leaf surface area given its large holes. This means that there is less chlorophyll for the plant to manufacture food for growth.
On top of this, Monstera Obliquas are fragile and fussy plants. Their specific care requirements mean that successfully growing an Obliqua takes some knowledge and effort. Similarly, propagation can be challenging.
As a result, the overall supply of Monstera Obliquas is low. To date, it has been collected 715 times in the wild. (Sometimes, the number quoted is 17, however, this is an outdated number based on Michael Madison’s book published 1977.) 715 is still a very low number!
On the other hand, the popularity of this unique plant has only risen, thanks to social media. Of course, its scarcity has only added to its appeal.
All this leads to sought-after Monstera Obliquas and sky-high prices. Case in point: In 2021, a large Obliqua reportedly sold for US$23,000!
For a small rooted Obliqua Peru with one or two leaves, you can expect to pay high hundreds to low thousands (US$). If you buy a stem cutting with one or two small roots, this will usually set you back ~US$150-300.
Alongside the high prices is the rise in plant scammers – those who try to pass off a Monstera Obliqua for its much more common and rapidly-growing relative, the Monstera Adansonii.
Q3. I’m up for the challenge. What’s the best way to buy an Obliqua?
Unfortunately, buying an Obliqua is not as easy as making a trip to your local nursery. If you do happen to chance upon a Monstera Obliqua for sale, you’ll need to be very careful that the plant is in fact an Obliqua, not an overpriced Adansonii.
Given its scarcity, the Obliqua is usually only ever available through private sellers. So we’d be very wary of any supposed Obliquas available at local garden centres unless they are nurseries specialised in rare aroids. Otherwise, these are almost certainly a mislabeled Monstera Adansonii.
If you are keen to add the rare Obliqua to your collection, one good option is to check out reputable private sellers on Etsy. Again, be cautious and remember to do your homework. Here are tips, all common sense, but a good reminder if you are about to make an investment!
- Check that the prices make sense. Expect to pay high hundreds to low thousands (US$) for a starter single leaf plant.
- If you buy a stem cutting, these are usually a few hundred (US$).
- Thoroughly read the reviews and ensure the seller is established (at least 1-2 years in the business), and has a history of well-executed trades with happy clients.
- Consider the shipping times. Long shipping times will stress your plant out. You might prefer a reputable seller closer to you or choose to use express shipping.
- Examine the photos, including those uploaded by other buyers.
- Understand the shop’s returns and refund policy.
- Sellers usually provide growing information, including the potting mix that has been used. It’s good to understand how your plant has been cared for and emulate the care conditions it is used to.
Q4. Whats the difference between the Monstera Obliqua and the Monstera Adansonii?
The Monstera Obliqua is often confused for the Adansonii. It doesn’t help that for the first few years of life they look very similar. However, at maturity, it is much easier to differentiate between the two.
Here are the key 5 differences between the Monstera Obliqua Peru and Monstera Adansonii:
- Obliqua Peru has larger and rounder holes than Adansonii. At maturity, the Monstera Obliqua Peru’s holes tend to be broad, round and asymmetrical, compared to the Adansonii’s which are thin and long. The former also usually have much larger holes than the Adansonii.
- Obliqua’s leaves are thinner than Adansonii’s. Obliqua’s foliage is so very delicate. The leaves are almost papery-thin, compared with the sturdier Adansonii. If you compare the two side by side the difference is obvious.
- Obliqua’s stem is thinner than Adansonii’s. According to reknown botanist Michael Madison in his book “A Revision on Monstera (Aracaea)”, The Obliqua has the thinnest stem in the Monstera genus, at 0.078 inches (2mm). The Adansonii on the other hand has thicker stems of up to 0.31 inches (8mm).
- Obliqua readily forms stolons while the Adansonii does not. The Obliqua forms stolons or side-shoots. These are thin horizontal stems, or “runners”. This horizontal growth allows the Obliqua to expand sideways up to 20metres in search of another tree to grow on. On the other hand, Adansoniis do not readily grow stolons.
- The Obliqua grows much more slowly than the Adansonii. When kept indoors, the Obliqua grows really slowly. A leaf or two may take a year. The Adansonii on the other hand, is quite rapid in its growth even as a houseplant, and especially when kept under optimal conditions. It can grow up to 1-2 feet (30-61 cm) per year!
Q5. I have a Monstera Obliqua! What are your best growing tips?
Now that you have in your possession a prized Monstera Obliqua, the last thing you want to do is to inadvertently kill your plant.
Here are 6 basic care conditions to ensure your plant grows healthy.
- Ensure you use an airy substrate. Small plants tend to do well in 100% sphagnum moss. Alternatively, you may choose to use LECA as a growing medium. LECA has the added benefit of allowing you to observe the root development when placed in a clear pot, and reduces the risk of overwatering.
- Avoid direct light; opt for plentiful indirect light. With its papery-thin foliage, it cannot tolerate long periods under direct light, as this scorches its fragile leaves. To diffuse harsh light, you may choose to use a translucent curtain, or a 20-30% shade cloth. Alternatively, you may choose to relocate your plant away from the windowsill, to a spot that the light is bright but with no direct light. Though grow lights may work, we personally don’t like to use grow lights for fragile plants like the Obliqua as its hard not to scorch its leaves.
- Ensure your plant is kept in warm temperatures. Obliqua also likes warmer temperatures, from 70-85 degrees F (21-29 degrees C). Keeping a stable temperature at 77 degrees F (25 degrees C) is optimal.
- Use slow-release fertilizer spikes for a nutritional boost. Do not use fertilizer when the plant is dormant during winter. Overfertilization will harm your plant. During the spring and summer, use a slow-release fertilizer spike.
- Invest in a humidifier. Aim for 85-90% humidity. A terrarium is a good option to keep humidity levels this high. Alternatively, invest in a humidifier. We like this one that allows your to adjust the % humidity you require. Seems like a no-brainer feature, but surprisingly few humidifiers have this!
- It’s best to use a terrarium or enclosed space to have more control over growing conditions. Fluctuations in temperature or humidity will stress your plant out.
Remember that your plant is a slow grower. So be patient!
If you bought a stem cutting rather than a rooted plant, here are some tips to ensure your cutting establishes into a mature plant:
- The points above are all relevant to your plant when it is rooted. Prior to that, don’t fertilize your plant. Also take extra care not to place it in any spot that has direct light, even if this is (gentler) direct morning light.
- Keep your stem cutting evenly moist but not soggy.
- You may choose to use a clear plastic bag to increase warmth and humidity levels. Humidity is important!
Q6. What’s the best way to Propagate the Monstera Obliqua?
Congratulations on successfully owning and growing a Monstera Obliqua. The next step, of course, is to propagate this coveted houseplant. This can be achieved in two main ways: from its stolon and through stem cuttings. We’ll cover both.
Early spring is the best time to propagate your plant, giving it time at the start of the growing season to establish its new home.
How To Propagate Monstera Obliqua From A Stolon
A Monstera Obliqua will occasionally produce horizontal runners called stolon. These are typically leafless stems, but you will observe nodes along the length of the stolon. These are the sites where roots will develop.
This method of propagation uses rooted stolons to develop a new plant.
- Identify a healthy stolon.
- Place a small ball of damp sphagnum moss around the node of the stolon.
- You can use clear cling wrap (poke holes to allow the plant to breathe) to form an outer layer around the moss ball. Secure the ball to the stolon using twine, tying this loosely to the plant.
- Keep the sphagnum ball moist, watering through the holes in the cling wrap.
- You may want to repeat steps 1-4 for a few nodes at the same time.
- In 4-6 weeks, you should see small roots developing in the sphagnum moss balls.
- Use clean garden shears to separate the new rooted node from the mother plant.
- Transfer the cutting into a small pot containing sphagnum moss.
- Place in a warm location, with bright but filtered light.
- Continue to keep humidity levels high by placing a humidifier next to the potted cutting. Alternatively, use a clear plastic bag over the pot to increase humidity levels.
- In a further 4-6 weeks, you should see new growth.
- Now, treat the plant as you normally would any other Monstera Obliqua.
How To Propagate Monstera Obliqua From A Stem Cutting
Alternatively, you can propagate your Monstear Obliqua from a stem cutting. Here’s how:
- Identify a 6-inch length of healthy stem with at least two nodes.
- Using clean garden shears, cut off this 6-inch stem cutting.
- Apply a rooting hormone to the stem cutting. Allow the cutting to callus overnight.
- Plant the stem cutting in a pot filled with potting soil. Ensure this pot has drainage holes to allow excess water to easily and quickly drain away.
- Use a clear plastic bag placed on top of the pot to increase humidity.
- Place the pot in a bright and warm location with ample amounts of filtered light.
- Remove the bag for 30 minutes every day for fresh air.
- During this time, ensure that the soil remains slightly moist but not soggy. Do not fertilize.
- In 4-6 weeks, roots will start to develop. You can tell this has happened when you feel slight resistance when giving your plant a very gentle tug.
- Now, treat the plant as you would any Monstera Obliqua.
There you have it! Monstera Obliquas are a beautiful and delicate plant, not for the faint-hearted. They make for a unique addition to your plant collection if you’re up for the challenge.
- Given how rare this plant is, do your homework before buying. Monstera Obliquas from local garden centres are almost always a mislabelled and overpriced Adansonii.
- Expect to pay high hundreds to low thousands for a starter plant from private collectors.
- Ensure you provide high humidity and a warm climate for best growth. Direct light is too harsh; opt for bright but filtered light and lots of it. We like using 100% sphagnum moss or LECA as a growing substrate. If you can, keep the plant in an enclosed space to control for care conditions.
Other Monsteras we Love
- Monstera Dubia
- Monstera Siltepecana
- Monstera Lechleriana
- Monstera Esqueleto – the skeleton Monstera, with double fenestrations!
- Monstera Pinnatipartita
- Monstera Adansonii
- Monstera Peru
- Check out our Round up of Unique Monstera Types (w/Photos!)
Deborah is a plant enthusiast and founder of Gardening Collective.