Rhaphidophora Tetrasperma: Split-Leafed Tropical Wonder

The split leaves of Rhaphidophora tetrasperma are quite reminiscent of one of its cousins, Monstera deliciosa. But it’s an entirely different plant which is greatly popular!

A bit rare to find for sale, this lovely vining plant has striking fenestrated leaves. It’s sometimes called the “Mini monstera plant” as it resembles its relative but in miniature. Evergreen and lush, this tropical is a great candidate as a houseplant. And if you live in a warm climate, you might coax it to grow outside, too!

We’re providing all the information we have available on this lovely, split-leaved wonder. It seems infused with the will to grow, so even beginners will have an easy time with this tropical. Let’s go over everything you need to know to grow it!

Good Products For Growing Mini Monstera Plant:

Quick Care Guide

Rhaphidophora tetrasperma
Rhaphidophora tetrasperma plant
Common Name(s): Mini monstera, monstera ‘Ginny’, philodendron ‘Ginny’
Scientific NameRhaphidophora tetrasperma
Family:Araceae
Zone:9b-12, but should come indoors in 9b-10 when cold
Height & Spread:Often maintained at 6′ but can get to 12′ tall, 1.5-2′ spread
LightBright indirect light, limit direct sun to prevent sunburn
SoilMoist, but very well-draining
Water:Keep soil consistently moist but not wet, as needed
Pests & Diseases:Spider mites, fungal root rot

All About Rhaphidophora Tetrasperma

Rhaphidophora tetrasperma is a unique plant from the Araceae family. The evergreen vining plant is native to Malaysia and Southern Thailand. Its leaves look like miniatures of another plant, Monstera deliciosa, which is why it’s commonly referred to as mini monstera. However, it’s an entirely different species, with much smaller leaves and no edible fruit.

The plant also goes by the names of Philodendron Piccolo and Ginny Philodendron. 

It has small and dainty ornamental leaves with 6” split lobes. The splits look like windows in the leaf, but they remain small. 

These vining plants use their aerial roots to climb trees or trellises. These aerial roots latch on to whatever they’re clambering up to stabilize them as they grow.

With small, green foliage, this plant grows fast and prefers moist conditions. It can reach up to a height of 12 feet, depending on the local conditions. As a houseplant, it’s typically maintained at around 4-5’ length vines.

Rhaphidophora Tetrasperma Care

Mini monstera leaves
Mini monstera leaves.

Rhaphidophora tetrasperma is super easy to care for. This lovely plant is perfect for bringing life into your living space. But it does need a few things to thrive.

Light & Temperature

Bright, indirect light is ideal for your Rhaphidophora tetrasperma. Its leaves are shaped in a way that makes the most of the ambient light in its area. While it can’t tolerate a lot of direct sunlight, bright but indirect lighting mimics what it naturally gets in the wild. If you lack a good location outdoors which supplies the right lighting requirements, use a 20%-40% shade cloth to block some of the harsher rays and mellow the sunlight.

Those growing it indoors should ensure it gets plenty of light, too. Avoid direct sunlight because it can scorch the delicate leaves. Eastern exposure windows often provide a good amount of light for this plant, and a grow light can add extra ambient lighting. Avoid low light conditions which will slow the plant’s growth and reduce its leafy foliage.

Ideal temperatures are between 55-85 degrees Fahrenheit. It is tolerant of slightly cooler temperatures but isn’t at all frost-hardy. It’s grown in zones 9b-12, but performs at its best in zone 11. For zones 9b-10, it should be brought indoors if it’s below 55 degrees. Be sure it has plenty of bright indirect light wherever it’s placed!

Water & Humidity

Consistent and even moisture is key for growing these plants. They like even moisture at all times, but they can’t tolerate soggy, muddy soil conditions. It’s best to test with a fingertip to see if the soil still feels moist before watering. If it does, then leave the pot alone for now and check again the next day. Water lightly when needed to keep that even moisture level.

During the cooler months of the year, you won’t need to water as often as during the spring or summer. When these plants are in active growth, they’ll need more water. Check the soil in your pot daily during these times!

Tropical plants like rhaphidophora tetrasperma prefer the humidity to be a bit higher around the plant than one would expect. 50-60% humidity is a good level to aim for directly around the plant. Use a humidifier, or place your pot on top of a pebble tray with water coming halfway up the pebbles. Evaporation will provide extra humidity right where your plant needs it.

Soil

Well-draining, organic-rich loamy soil is a good base for this plant. Add a little peat moss or some orchid bark to provide extra drainage while still holding some moisture. Perlite can also improve drainage. Avoid soils that become waterlogged or that are excessively sandy. A pH level of 6.0-6.5 should be fine for your plants.

Fertilizer

A balanced, high-quality fertilizer that lacks urea or other harsher chemicals is preferred. Rhaphidophora plants have very sensitive roots and are susceptible to fertilizer burn. Opt for a slow-release balanced organic fertilizer to reduce the chance of burning.

Varying recommendations for this plant exists, but all agree on one point – it enjoys regular fertilizing throughout its active growing phase. A monthly regimen is best for liquid organic fertilizers, biweekly for heavily diluted chemical liquid fertilizers. For slow-release organic fertilizers, follow manufacturer’s directions and don’t overdo it.

Repotting

This plant is quite partial to having lots of room for root development. When you pot it up, ensure it’s got a deep container. Assume a full-sized specimen is going to need a pot that’s at least 10” in diameter, but it can reach widths of 20” over time. Choose a pot which is an inch or two wider than your existing one, with at least 10” of depth and possibly more.

When repotting, be gentle with the plant. Remove it from its pot and dust the older soil away from the root system. Check for symptoms of root rot and remove any which has formed with a sterile knife or pruning snips, being sure to sterilize again between cuts. Repot at the same depth it was previously with your prepared and available potting mix. 

Pruning/Training

Both pruning and training are important for this plant. As a climber, rhaphidophora tetrasperma loves to hang onto something, so providing a sturdy trellis or solid stakes is important. As it grows, its aerial roots will latch onto the support you’ve provided, but you can assist by using strips of soft cloth (old t-shirt material is perfect) or a wide plastic plant support tape.

Pruning is mostly to remove diseased or pest-damaged material and to keep it at a specific size. It can also be used to reduce leggy growth resulting from too little light reaching one side of the plant. Use clean snips to neatly cut off excess growth, but do not take off too much of the plant at any given time. Reducing it by up to 25% is fine, but beyond that, you’re risking damage to your plant.

Propagation

Rhaphidophora tetrasperma propagation is surprisingly easy. Select healthy cuttings that have at least a few leaf nodes on them. Set your cuttings into a glass of water or into moistened potting soil. Make sure that the lowest leaf node is under the surface. Roots will form from that point.

If using water, change it out for fresh at least once per day. Once the roots are at least an inch or two long, you can transfer your cuttings into potting mix. With ones started directly in the mix, keep the cutting alive and wait for at least a month, then very lightly pull on it to see if there’s resistance. If there is, roots have formed and you can treat it as a new plant. 

Troubleshooting

Young raphidophora tetrasperma plant
A young raphidophora tetrasperma plant.

R. tetrasperma isn’t particularly difficult to grow, but can face a handful of problems. Let’s go over those and how to resolve them if they appear.

Growing Problems

One of the most common issues for gardeners with R. tetrasperma is that they find it’s growing leggy. It’ll send out extra growth if it’s not receiving enough light. While bright indirect light is best for this plant, be sure it receives a lot of it! If needed, small amounts of direct sun can help. Turning the plant regularly so that all of it has access to the light can also help reduce leggy growth.

While your plant definitely likes consistent moisture, that doesn’t mean you should water it every day. Excessive watering can lead to conditions that are optimal for fungal root rot development. Monitor the moisture in the soil, and only water your pot if necessary.

Pests

The most common pest for your R. tetrasperma is spider mites. These annoying little pests may cause damage to the leaves and stems of your plant as they suck the sap out. They’re hard to see, but the damage they cause includes yellowing or speckled leaf surfaces and occasional scarring to the leaf.

Use neem oil to combat these annoyances. You may also consider a pyrethrin-based spray if the problem is severe, but neem should deal with the majority of your mite problems.

Diseases

A stubborn and strong plant, R. tetrasperma appears impervious to a lot of common plant diseases. What it can’t handle is fungal root rot. This condition, caused by soilborne fungi, can be devastating to your plant.

While there’s little to no way to treat this condition once it forms, prevention is far better than trying to find a cure. Keep the soil damp, but not soggy. Avoid standing water around the plant. You may want to consider better-draining soil if you’ve already had to trim rotten roots away during a transplant.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Is Rhaphidophora tetrasperma toxic to cats or dogs?

A: Like Monstera deliciosa and other members of the Araceae family, R. tetrasperma has calcium oxalates in its sap. These insoluble materials can cause a host of problems to small animals including drooling, vomiting, oral irritation and burning, or difficulty swallowing. Keep this out of reach of your pets.

Q: What’s the difference between Monstera deliciosa and Rhaphidophora tetrasperma?

A: They are two different species of plants. Closely related, but they’re two different species. M. deliciosa is a much larger plant, and Rhaphidophora tetrasperma resembles it (which is why it’s often called “mini monstera”), but they have different growing tendencies. Their care is quite similar, and both make beautiful plants to grow, but Rhaphidophora has smaller leaves and does not form any edible fruit.


The Green Thumbs Behind This Article:

Lorin Nielsen
Lifetime Gardener

Clarisa Teodoro
Researcher

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