Rhaphidophora Tetrasperma - Monstera Minima


Rhaphidophora tetrasperma



Contents

  1. Top Tips
  2. Location, Water, Humidity & Fertilisation
  3. Common Issues
  4. Origins, Temperature, Propagation, Repotting & Toxicity

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Top Tips & Info

  • Care Difficulty - Easy
  • Provide a bright, indirect location with the absence of prolonged exposure to the sun.
  • Near-continual soil moisture is key for consistent growth, allowing the top third to dry out in between waters.
  • Although average room humidity won't be too much of an issue, introduce a pebble tray to promote a reliable environment.
  • Fertilise fortnightly during the spring and summer months and monthly for the rest of the year using a houseplant-labelled feed.
  • Keep an eye out for Spider Mite that'll form webs on the under-leafs of the plant.
  • Repot biannually using a well-draining potting mix in spring; saturate the soil 24hrs before the action to reduce the risk of transplant shock. Scroll down to the 'Repotting' section to learn more about repotting a specimen that's attached to a moss pole.




Location & Light - 🔸🔸

A brightly lit spot away from the direct sunlight is best for quality growth. A sunny position that's too sharp will cause a 'washed out' appearance, along with spindly growth and a general decline in health. Locations that are too dark will cause the variegations to shallow, as well as an increased chance of mould developing on the soil

The amount of light and current season of the year will directly govern the frequencies of waters per month. Specimens placed in darker areas must be kept on the drier side to life, whereas brighter locations will require more soil moisture to lubricate photosynthesis.


Water - 🔸🔸🔸

Although short-lived droughts won't necessarily hurt this species, consistent irrigations are mandatory for healthy growth. Allow the top third of the soil to dry in between waterings, or a few inches for specimens that are too large to lift. Never allow standing water to accumulate beneath its pot as root rot is a common issue among gardeners. Under-watering symptoms include stunted growth, crispy brown patches forming on the leaves, and wilting; these issues are commonly due to either too much light/heat or forgetfulness. Over-watering symptoms include yellowing lower leaves, leaf blotches in brown, yellow or black, wilting or rotting stems and roots. If the base of the stem is beginning to rot, take stem cuttings and propagate via water.


Humidity - 🔸🔸🔸

Create a humidity tray to provide a moist and stable environment for your plant. If the surrounding saturation is too low or the heat too high, its leaves may start to brown over and curl, especially in direct sunlight. Hose the foliage down from time to time to hydrate the leaves and keep the dust levels down.


Fertilisation - 🔸🔸

Supplement twice a month using a houseplant-labelled fertiliser. Never over-supplement a Rhaphidophora as its roots are pretty susceptible to burning, so keep this in mind when diluting concentrated alternatives. Reduce fertilisation to monthly during the autumn and winter months to replicate their dormancy period.




Common Issues with Rhaphidophora

Root rot is a common issue with specimens sat in too moist or waterlogged soil for long periods. Symptoms include rapidly yellowing leaves, stunted growth and a rotten brown base. Take the plant out of the pot and inspect health below the soil line. If the roots sport a yellow tinge, you're good to go, but if they're brown and mushy, action must be taken immediately. More information about addressing root rot can be found on this link.

Mould developing on the soil means two things - too little light and over-watering. Despite the harmlessness of the mould, it'll prove unsightly to most gardeners and is therefore removed once known. To remove, replace the top two inches of the soil for a fresh batch of houseplant-labelled compost. Either increase the amount of light received (no direct sunlight for the first few weeks to prevent environmental shock) or decrease the frequency of waters slightly. If the mould is accompanied by yellowing lower leaves, you may also have a case of root rot.

Spider Mite are small, near-transparent critters, that'll slowly suck out the chlorophyll out of the leaves. Have a check under the leaves, most notably along the midrib, for small webs and gritty yellow bumps. Click here to read our article about the eradicating Spider Mite, along with some extra tips that you may not find elsewhere!

Too low humidity can cause browning leaf tips with yellow halos. Although this won't kill your specimen, you may want to increase the local moisture to prevent the new growth from adopting these symptoms. Mist or rinse the foliage from time to time and create a humidity tray whilst the heaters are active to create a stable environment for your specimen.

Yellowing lower leaves (closest to soil) are a clear sign of over-watering, usually caused by too little light. Although they can do well in darker locations, the frequency of irrigations must be reduced to counteract the chance of root rot. People don't realise that a plant's root system needs access to oxygen too; when soil is watered, the air will travel upwards and out of the potting mix. A lack of accessible oxygen for the roots will cause them to subsequently breakdown over the oncoming days. Click on this link to learn more about root rot and how to address it, and always feel the pot's weight for confirmation (heaviness = good soil moisture, & vice versa).

The browning of the cataphyll shouldn't of be a concern, as it's a wholly natural process which affects all specimens across the world. Remove the brown section once it becomes dry and crispy, using a clean pair of scissors or peeling it back by hand.

Failed cuttings propagated via water - There are several reasons why the cuttings haven't rooted well, with the first being the time of year. Although Rhaphidophora are best propagated during the spring, cuttings will still root in the autumn or winter months, just albeit much slower.
The second reason could be the cultivation environment - is there enough light to read a newspaper? If not, improve the growing conditions by increasing the amount of indirect light, avoiding the threat of excessive direct sunlight.
Moreover, the size of the cutting will play a big part in its success; smaller specimens (3cm in length or less) won't root appropriately due to the lower amounts of stored energy.
The water must also be replaced weekly to ensure nasty pathogens cannot breed and decay on the cuttings. If the bottom of the stem is brown and mushy, discard immediately as the rot will spread onto unaffected specimens.
Maintaining too dry soil or over-exposure to the sun will also prove unsuccessful for those that haven't acclimatised to the drier environment. Although water-logging must be avoided at all costs, be sure to maintain moist soil throughout the rooting development (the initial six weeks months) to quicken the process of establishment. To escape falling in the trap of dehydration, wrap the cutting and its pot in a transparent bag for the first couple of weeks. As there'll be a poor root system to soak-up vital water, its leaves will be able to absorb the excess moisture trapped within the bag for hydration. For more help with propagation, be sure to send us an email or via DM on Instagram.




Spider Mite are most likely to conjugate along the midrib & creases of the specimen's leaves.



Origins

Rhaphidophora is a genus of around one hundred species that originates from south-east Asia and Australasia. One of the more popular species, R. tetrasperma, has natural distributions around south Thailand to north Malaysia and was first described by Joseph Dalton Hooker in 1893. The word 'Rhaphidophora' could have Latin descent, referring to the 'needle-like' oxalates found in the plant's centre. The species' epithet, 'tetrasperma', refers to the four-sided seeds that are produced in the autumn months.

The genus is paraphyletic to Epipremnum, with R. tetrasperma being commonly confused with E. pinnatum due to their similar appearances.


A Distribution Map of Rhaphidophora tetrasperma



Temperature

12° - 30°C   (54° - 86°F)
H1b  (Hardiness Zone 12)  - Can be grown outdoors during the summer in a sheltered location with temperatures above 12℃  (54℉),  but is fine to remain indoors, too. If you decide to bring this plant outdoors, don't allow it to endure any direct sunlight as it may result in sun-scorch and dehydration. Regularly keep an eye out for pests, especially when re-introducing it back indoors.


Spread

Up to 4m in height and 0.8m in width. The ultimate height will take between 5 - 10 years to achieve, with up to 40cm of growth put out each season. Those that naturally grow in the wild can reach heights of up to fifteen metres; however, with smaller root systems and less favourable growing conditions, they'll only grow to five metres, give or take.


Pruning & Maintenance

Remove yellow or dying leaves, and plant debris to encourage better-growing conditions. While pruning, always use clean scissors or shears to reduce the chance of bacterial and fungal diseases. Never cut through yellowed tissue as this may cause further damage in the likes of diseases or bacterial infections. Remember to make clean incisions as too-damaged wounds may shock the plant, causing weakened growth and a decline in health.

Although the aerial roots aren't exactly appealing, you mustn't remove them as this can stress the plant and potentially weaken it.


Propagation

Via Seed or Stem Cuttings. 


Stem Cuttings via Water - Easy

  1. Choose the healthiest, most established vines that are wooded, but still juvenile enough to slightly bend. This propagation method can be taken from spring to summer, using between three to six leaves, with the vine being at least 12cm (4.7 inches) in length with two nodes (one for foliar development and the other for root growth). Although more nodes are fine, be sure only to submerge the bottom ones to avoid inappropriate rooting elsewhere, which will be more difficult when it's time for soil placement.
  2. Cut directly below a node using a clean knife to reduce bacteria count. Remove the lower half of the leaves and place the vines into a container of lukewarm water. Be sure to submerge at least one node into the water, or else the root development will be hindered.
  3. The leaves must stay above the waterline for the prevention of disease.
  4. Replace the water weekly, using lukewarm water to avert shocking the cutting with cold temperatures. 
  5. Once the roots surpass 4cm (2 inches) in length, it's time to pot the cutting.
  6. Choose a potting mix - as long as it has a well-draining nature, most soils are fine. Houseplant compost is best, but a multi-purpose compost with a splash of grit or perlite is acceptable, too.
  7. Use a 5-inch pot that has suitable drainage holes - plastic or terracotta are both acceptable in this instance. Try not to over-pot the cuttings - blackleg occurs when the bottom wound becomes infected, typically caused by water-logging or a too-damaged wound. See the last image towards the bottom of the article.
  8. Set the cutting into the compost, keeping the foliage above the soil line.
  9. Avoid direct sunlight and offer proper humidity by placing the potted plants into a transparent plastic bag for the first couple of weeks. 
  10. Open the bag every two days for half an hour for the prevention of disease. After a month of being placed in soil, remove it from the bag and follow the care tips provided above.



Aerial root buds are a must-have for fast & successful stem cuttings. This image is of a Monstera adansonii - a close relative of the Rhaphidophora.



Stem Cuttings via Soil - Moderate

  1. Choose the healthiest, most established vines that are wooded, but still juvenile enough to slightly bend. This propagation method can be taken all year round, using two nodes that already house aerial roots (image above). You should only have two nodes so that the lower one is for root development and the other for foliar growth. Remove the lower leaf so that each cutting only has one.
  2. Cut directly below a node using a clean knife to reduce bacteria count. Remove the lower leaf and place the vine into a moist, well-draining potting mix. Houseplant compost is best as it'll include perlite for better air circulation within the soil. 
  3. Use a 5-inch pot that has suitable drainage holes - plastic or terracotta are both acceptable in this instance. Try not to over-pot the cuttings - blackleg occurs when the bottom wound becomes infected, typically caused by water-logging or a too-damaged wound. See the last image towards the bottom of the article.
  4. Set the cutting into the compost, keeping the foliage above the soil line. Be sure to submerge the lower node into the soil wholly, or else root development will be hindered.
  5. Provide a bright, indirect setting with adequate warmth and the avoidance of direct sunlight nearby radiators. Place the potted cutting into a transparent plastic bag for the first couple of weeks to lock in extra humidity so that the cutting doesn't dry out. Maintain moist, but not soggy soil throughout this process. 
  6. Open the bag every two days for half an hour for the prevention of disease. After a month of being placed in soil, remove the bag and follow the care tips provided above.



Flowers

Rhaphidophora tetrasperma is part of the Araceæ family, meaning that they'll produce toxic flowers.  Its inflorescences bare large similarities to Peace Lilies, with a modified leaf (spathe) circulating around the site of pollination (spadix). Despite its readiness to flower in the wild, those grown domestically will rarely flower due to the unfavoured growing conditions.


Repotting

Repot biannually using a houseplant-labelled compost and the next sized pot with adequate drainage. Hydrate the plant 24hrs before the tinkering with the roots to prevent the risk of transplant shock. For those that are situated in a darker location, add a thin layer of small grit in the pot's base to improve drainage and downplay over-watering. Click here for a detailed step-by-step guide on transplantation, or via this link to learn about repotting with root rot.

If you're thinking of repotting a specimen that's growing up a moss pole, never remove the attached aerial roots as the disturbance could put further stress on the plant. Extend by purchasing another same-sized pole and pushing directly into the hollow hole in the original's top - its moss-like material may have to be cut off from the top to access the hollow centre. Get a long, sturdy stick that has a similar length to the two poles combined and place in the two's centre to support the weight. Always perform the repot BEFORE adding another pole, as it'll prove more challenging due to the weight distribution and overall balance. NEVER remove soil from the roots, or over-touch the root system, as this will cause transplant shock and possible death.

If you're still unsure of what to do, don't hesitate to send us an email or direct message to get our expert advice on transplantation.


Pests & Diseases

Keep an eye out for mealybugs, spider mite, scale, thrips & whitefly that'll locate themselves in the cubbyholes and undersides of the leaves. Common diseases associated with Rhaphidophora are root rot, red leaf-spot, botrytis & southern blight - click here to learn more about these issues. 


Toxicity

This plant is classified as poisonous due to varying concentrations of calcium oxalate crystals found around the plant's body. If parts of the plants are eaten, vomiting, nausea and a loss of appetite could occur. Consumption of large quantities must be dealt with quickly; acquire medical assistance for further information.


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