Tony O’Neill, gardener and author of the popular “Composting Masterclass” and “Your First Vegetable Garden,” combines lifelong passion and expert knowledge to simplify the art of gardening. His mission? Helping you cultivate a thriving garden. More on Tony O’Neill
For rare but popular plants, the internet is a great source of information – and misinformation. The Monstera Deliciosa Albo Variegata is such a plant, beautiful, rare, and misrepresented.
The claim that Monstera Albo is a mutation of the Monstera deliciosa var. borsigiana, presenting different petiole shapes and leaf spread, is contested by Plants of the World Online (POWA) – the global plant name index. The M. borsigiana is recognized only as a synonym of M. deliciosa.
While I’m not generally a pedantic type of guy, it irks me when plant articles blend truth and nonsense. Let’s set the record straight about this beautiful plant – the Monstera deliciosa albo variegata.
Because of the apertures in its leaves, some have called it a Swiss-cheese plant, or hurricane plant, suggesting that the holes and slits permit the wind to pass through without damaging the foliage.
Generally, in Mexico and other Latin American countries, it is known as pinanona or pina anona, but in Venezuela, it is called ojul or huracan; in Colombia, hojadillo; and in Guatemala, harpon or arpon comun.
Monstera plants are evergreen vines that can reach enormous heights in the wild (100 ft.). They grow up and climb trees, their aerial roots clinging to the trunks.
The leaves can be fenestrated (also known as split) and have holes.
These fenestrations boost the plant’s exposure to sunlight, allowing more light to pass through the upper leaves. Monsteras are significantly smaller than houseplants, but they can still grow to be quite large.
A variegated form of Monstera deliciosa is a monstera deliciosa albo variegata. The albo was created by a natural plant mutation, which was then propagated and duplicated.
This implies that each monstera albo leaf is unique, and you never know what you’ll get until the leaf unfolds.
The leaves are a mixture of medium jade-green and white, and the leaves can be nearly all-white or have a few white splotches, parts, or stripes.
Leaves can also be “half-moon,” with one half of the leaf being green and the other half being white – greatly sought after.
What is variegation?
Variegation can occur on various plants, and you can determine whether a plant is variegated if the leaves have lighter marbling, splotches, speckling, or stripes.
This variegation can come in various hues, but the albo’s is white. Another white-variegated Monstera is the M. standleyana, which I’ll write about soon.
Arum lily (calla lily) leaves are often naturally variegated.
The absence of chlorophyll causes these white areas on the plant’s leaves.
However, while the lack of chlorophyll may appear attractive, it makes caring for the plant more difficult because plants need chlorophyll to photosynthesize.
Consider it this way: the green parts of the leaves contain the healthy substance that helps the plant grow, whereas the white or variegated parts do not.
Is The Variegation on Albo Monstera Plants Stable?
Unfortunately not, but that’s part of the challenge. The variegation isn’t stable because it’s the product of a naturally occurring mutation.
That means the leaves could become completely green, which is a concern shared by practically all albo monstera owners!
Conversely, it could remain unchanged and offer unique social media photo opportunities.
How do I Keep My Monstera Deliciosa Albo Variegata Variegated?
You can do a few things to ensure the plant remains healthy and variegated. Trim any all-green or nearly-green leaves that appear on your plant. I know, I share your pain.
Trimming it back reduces the possibility of the trend continuing and could save your plant. I had to do this on my M. standleyana, and it worked perfectly.
Equally, this applies to entirely white leaves. With no chlorophyll to support life, these leaves are unsustainable, beautiful as they may be for a photo shoot.
Monstera Albo Light Requirements
Monstera deliciosa vines grown in full sun are more productive than vines grown in the shade.
However, the leaves of vines grown in the shade are a darker green and more aesthetically pleasing than those grown in full sun.
Leaves grown in full sun tend to be light green and may show signs of sunburn.
However, the M. deliciosa albo-variegata contains less chlorophyll than other Monsteras; therefore, they have difficulty absorbing the required light. As a result, you must provide them with adequate lighting.
When choosing a location for them, aim for a place that gets at least 8 hours of bright, indirect light. In front of a south-facing window with sheer curtains is a great option.
I keep my Monstera in a south-facing window but behind a few other plants so that some of the other plants’ leaves filter the light.
I also place the plant’s greenest parts closest to the light and the whiter parts farther away from the light source.
Monstera Albo Watering Requirements
These plants, like other Monsteras, like damp but not soggy soil. They can endure a little dryness in the soil but not significant drought. Most gardeners err on the side of overwatering – it’s not needed.
Your first trigger to water is when the top two inches of soil are dry. Stick your finger into the soil at the edge of the pot to check the moisture level.
Remember to wash your finger between testing different pots to avoid pathogen cross-contamination.
Several variables determine the frequency with which you should water. You’ll need to water more often when the humidity drops and the temperature rises.
Another factor to consider is the time of year. As their growth slows, plants will require less water (and fertilizer) in the winter. This is unless you use a growth cabinet with artificial lighting, heat, and humidity.
Monstera Albo Need for Humidity and Heat
Monstera thrives in hot, humid tropical settings but will also grow and fruit in warm subtropical regions worldwide. Light shade (filtered sunlight) benefits plants; direct sunlight can cause leaf burn.
Monstera is sensitive to cold temperatures. Between 30 to 32 degrees Fahrenheit (-1.0 to 0 degrees Celsius), leaves are injured or destroyed, whereas stems are damaged or killed at 26 to 28 degrees Fahrenheit (-2 to -3 degrees Celsius).
Vine growth is aided by light shading in locations with cool temperatures, especially during the winter months.
Misting the leaves won’t give them the humidity it needs, and it could even do more harm than good by spreading pathogens.
The Correct Soil Mix
Monsteras with variegated leaves demand well-draining soil and should not be kept in wet circumstances.
Using a potting mix that includes peat moss, perlite, coco coir, chunky orchid bark, and worm castings or compost is best.
A commercial monstera potting mix is ready to use, saving you time and money over purchasing all the substrates separately.
However, adding more perlite to achieve the required drainage consistency is still recommended.
Because the monstera albo is practically working overtime to photosynthesize, it’s critical to keep to a fertilization schedule. It will require all the assistance it can obtain.
On the other hand, over-fertilizing can cause substantial harm, so less is more.
The following nutritional practice is advised by the University of Florida IFAS Extension:
- Apply NPKand Mg in April and August
- Apply micronutrients in April
- Apply Iron in June
- Water only when soil is dry
- Prune if necessary during warm weather to allow regrowth to begin
Keep the Albo Leaves Clean
For optimal photosynthesis, keep the leaves of your monstera albo free of dust. They acquire dust readily due to their size, reducing their ability to absorb sunlight.
At least once a month, I like to clean off the leaves with a moist towel.
Monstera Albo Propagation
Propagating Monstera Albo in Water
What you’ll need
- A Monstera deliciosa albo-Variegata plant
- Scissors or a pruning knife
- A vase, jar, or bottle filled with tepid water
- Pots of compost
- Cut the plant below a node (where a leaf attaches to the stem). Cut at a 45° angle. This angled cut will maximize the amount of water that the cutting can absorb. Your cutting should be between 3 to 7-inches long.
- Cut off the lowest leaf and any other excess leaves, leaving just the top 2 or 3. Any part of the cutting that sits in water should be free of leaves (otherwise, they will rot).
- Half-fill a glass, vase, or bottle with water and place the leaf-cutting in it. Place it somewhere bright and warm (but not in direct sunlight).
- Change the water daily to keep it fresh – use rainwater if possible.
- Rooting takes 3–4 weeks, although some plants take longer. Once roots between 2 – 5cm long have formed in the water, it’s time to plant the new plant into a pot of pre-moistened compost.
- Keep the compost moist (but not too wet), and you should start seeing new plant growth. Say hello to your new house plant friend.
Air Layering Monstera Albo Propagation
- Locate the little brown bump (node), cut slightly beneath it, and cover it in moist sphagnum moss. After that, cover it in plastic wrap and let the node grow into a bigger aerial root.
- Unzip the plastic wrap and shower the moss every few days to keep it moist.
- After a few weeks, there should be some strong roots, which you may cut off and put in the soil.
Repotting & How to Plant Cuttings
Because Monsteras prefer to be rootbound, you should only report if you notice many roots sprouting out of the drainage holes at the bottom.
Only a few inches deeper and broader than the present root ball should be in your new container. It may trap too much moisture in the substrate if it’s too large.
How Do You Keep the Variegation in Your Monstera Albo?
One of the most crucial things to remember while caring for your monstera albo is this. You’ll need to remain on top of trimming to retain the variegation and keep it from returning to complete green.
The issue with not trimming is that all leaves will ultimately turn green. To keep the plant producing its lovely white leaves, you’ll have to force it nearly or encourage it.
You don’t want your plant to be completely white, though, because it won’t be able to photosynthesize.
On your plant, aim for a great balance of white and green. It’s also important to ensure it gets lots of strong, filtered light. No matter how much you cut it back, if it’s in a dark area of your house, it won’t be able to preserve its variegation.
Problems with Monstera Albo and How to Fix Them
There are issues with every houseplant, and here are some of the most prevalent variegated monstera problems and ways to solve them.
Overwatering or root rot are the most frequent causes of yellowing albo monstera leaves. Before watering the soil again, be sure it has dried out completely. Also, ensure that your soil is light and airy, with ample drainage.
For more info on why houseplant leaves turn yellow, check this out
Leaves That Are Browning
This can happen if the tips of your monstera leave if they experience underwatering or a lack of humidity. Sunburn might be the cause of brown areas on the leaves. For more info on why houseplant leaves turn brown, check this out.
Spider Mites and Thrips
Spider mites are most likely present if you find year leaves withering and have fine webbing on them. Use an over-the-counter pesticide spray and avoid too hot and dry environments.
That’s perfect for spider mites and thrips!
All the variegated aroids are lovely, but the M. deliciosa albo-variegata specifically so. Caring for it is easy if you follow my advice, and I hope this article will help you grow fabulous specimens of this delicious monster.