Rhaphidophora tetrasperma (ra-fid-OH-for-a tet-ra-SPERM-a) is a perennial vining plant that is often mistaken for other plant species. This has led to the misleading common names of:
- Mini monstera
- Mini split-leaf
- Monstera ‘Ginny’
- Philodendron ‘Ginny’
- Philodendron ‘Piccolo’
In truth, this member of the Araceae family is native to Malaysia and southern Thailand and is not directly related to Philodendron or Monstera.
Rhaphidophora tetrasperma closely resembles a miniature version of Monstera deliciosa.
Similar to its kin, this mini monstera has evergreen leaves that usually bear a rich green hue, although some variegated varieties have debuted on the market at a high price.
Rhaphidophora Tetrasperma Care
Size & Growth
Mini Monstera tends to grow up to 12’ feet tall and 1 ½ to 2’ feet across in the wild.
Indoors, the plant is usually kept pruned to a more manageable 4′ to 6’ feet in height.
It can be a fast grower in ideal conditions but will slow if humidity, light, or other conditions are insufficient.
The lobed leaves are far smaller than their monstera kin, measuring in at around 6” inches.
As the plant grows older, its leaves will begin to split or fenestrate.
Flowering and Fragrance
While Philodendron ‘Piccolo’ is capable of producing flowers, it almost never does so indoors due to the less-than-perfect conditions.
As a result, the plant is usually grown purely for foliage.
Light Conditions & Temperature
The mini split-leaf requires a lot of light but burns easily in direct sunlight.
Ideally, it should be placed in dappled sunlight when planted outdoors.
It’s widely believed that the fenestrations (literally “windows,” referring to the slits in the leaves) exist to help allow light to filter down to lower leaves and increase overall exposure.
This theory is supported by the fact that plants with inadequate light will have smaller leaves with no fenestrations.
Indoor plants fare well in bright indirect light, such as beside a window. Low lighting produces leggy-growth.
It’s somewhat receptive to artificial lighting but will not do as well as it does in the real thing.
In some cases, it will thrive in a window that faces away from the sun, but should never be placed in windows that receive direct, unfiltered sunlight.
As this plant is native to tropical jungles, it prefers high humidity.
While it can handle relative humidity levels of 30 to 40% percent, it’s best to place it in a kitchen or other more humid room.
You may also augment the plant’s local humidity using water trays or a humidifier.
Ideally, you should keep R. tetrasperma in temperatures between 68 and 80° degrees Fahrenheit, although it can stand temperatures down to 55 and up to 95° degrees Fahrenheit.
Outdoors, it may be grown in USDA hardiness zones 9b to 12 but should overwinter indoors in zones under 11.
Watering and Feeding
Your Ginny philodendron can handle a missed watering here and there but is very sensitive to overwatering.
Test the soil prior to each watering, making sure it’s dry to between 1 to 2” inches down.
This will help prevent a number of problems, such as yellow leaves, root rot, and some infestations and fungal infections.
When possible, use either rainwater or distilled water.
If using unfiltered tap water, let it sit overnight to allow the chlorine to escape.
You may also wish to do an occasional hydrogen peroxide-augmented watering.
When to fertilize Rhaphidophora produces a variety of answers.
Some suggest feeding the plant twice per month during the growing season, once per month if using a liquid fertilizer.
Others recommend using a slow-release plant food to help reduce the risk of chemical burns.
The overall consensus is to use a balanced, high-quality fertilizer that’s been diluted (unless it’s slow-release) to minimize the risk of burns.
It’s also better to give too little food over giving too much.
Well-Draining Soil & Transplanting
When you have access to it, the ideal soil is a mix designed specifically for aroids (members of the Araceae family).
An organic-rich, loamy soil or orchid mix is a perfect choice for the aerial roots of aroids.
Amend the soil with aggregate materials to improve drainage and aeration. Always use a pot or planter with a drainage hole.
Some common materials include:
- Coco chips
- Horticultural charcoal
- Orchid bark
- Pine bark
- Sphagnum moss (fine shredded)
Avoid sandy or peat-based soils, as these may retain too much or too little water.
Due to its rapid growth, you’ll need to repot your mini monstera once per year.
In early spring, gently lift the plant from its pot and remove any old soil from the roots.
Use this time to examine the root structure for signs of damage, cutting away any signs of root rot using a sharp, sterile knife.
You may need to give the plant a new pot one size larger when it’s still young.
Be sure to choose a good ceramic or terra cotta pot with excellent drainage.
The pot should be at least 10” inches deep and a minimum of 10” inches across for an adult plant.
You may choose to use an even wider pot, going up to 20” inches for especially large plants.
Repotting a second time may be needed if you notice roots protruding from the drainage holes.
Be warned. This plant has fragile roots, so always handle it with care during repotting.
Grooming And Maintenance
While it’s possible to grow R. tetrasperma as a hanging plant, it tends to become leggy.
Give the plant a moss pole or other support for the plant to climb and attach its aerial roots.
You may choose to use cloth strips as needed to help support the plant as it climbs.
Pruning is another important part of life with a mini split-leaf plant.
The most obvious use of pruning is to maintain the desired size, and the plant may be trimmed as much as 25% percent safely.
Pruning is also important for removing any leaves that are damaged, diseased, infested, or dead.
It can reduce the legginess of plants that are not properly supported.
Finally, as it’s difficult to get this vine to produce flowers, pruning is the best way to propagate.
How To Propagate Dwarf Monstera
Your mini monstera can be propagated in either water or soil using clippings.
Choose a healthy cutting with more than one leaf and at least one leaf node.
NOTE: Always try to take a cutting with several leaf nodes if possible.
Cut ¼” inch below the leaf node using sharp, sterile shears.
The bottom-most node must be submerged and will form the new root system.
For water propagation, place your clipping in a small cup or jar of distilled water, making sure the bottom node is submerged.
Place the cup in bright, indirect sunlight.
Some growers have found adding a bit of sphagnum moss to the water speeds up root development.
Change the water (use distilled) every few days or when it starts to cloud to ensure healthy growth.
Once the roots are 2” inches long (approximately 2 to 3 weeks after clipping), the plant is ready to be potted.
Soil propagation is just as easy.
Place the clipping in either potting soil or a small, well-draining container of coco chips.
The coco chips will require frequent watering but provide superior aeration and allow you to check the roots without damaging them.
Both methods will require up to a month for the roots to sufficiently establish.
When using soil, use a very gentle tug to check for resistance.
Once the roots are 2” inches long or the plant holds in its soil, it’s ready for its new home.
Ginny Philodendron Pests or Diseases
This plant is far more resistant to pests than most houseplants.
However, it’s a favorite target of spider mites and may also attract mealybugs.
In terms of disease, root rot is the single greatest concern.
Yellow leaves may signal overwatering, which can lead to this deadly infection.
Yellowing may also be a sign of chemical burns to the roots, which may happen when the plant is overfed.
As with all aroids, dwarf monstera contains calcium oxalate crystals. These crystals are toxic to pets and can cause kidney stones in humans when ingested.
Symptoms of ingestion include excessive drooling, irritation of the mouth, and vomiting.
Keep the plant out of reach when there are children or animals in the house, and be wary of any trailing limbs.
Suggested Mini Monstera Uses
While this plant has no medicinal uses and is not edible, it provides a beautiful display when allowed to climb.
Place it against a trellis or other support and enjoy the resulting column of green.