Plant Spotlight: Rhaphidophora Tetrasperma
This trending climber goes by many names: mini monstera, monstera minima and monstera ginny are common monikers. Although it resembles a small version of the popular monstera deliciosa, it is actually not a type of monstera at all. Rather, it is an aroid in its own genus from a completely different part of the world. The rhaphidophora tetrasperma grows natively in southern Thailand and Malaysia, giving us a clue to its ideal growing conditions.
Like many aroids that hail from the tropics, the rhaphidophora tetrasperma prefers bright indirect light reminiscent of the dappled sunlight that filters down through the canopy of the rainforest. Like most plants, it will grow towards its light source. Therefore to ensure that it grows evenly all around rather than leaning to one side or with fuller leaves one on side than the other, rotate it regularly so that every side gets the same amount of light.
WATER AND SOIL
Root rot is one of the most common ailments of aroids, and the rhaphi is no different. To avoid this, only water it when the top 2 inches of the soil is dry, and err on the dry side if you're not sure. I highly recommend using a moisture meter for accurate moisture level readings of the soil, rather than just using a finger and guessing. Use a well-draining soil mix that contains ingredients that help the water drain through rather than retain it, such as perlite, orchid bark, etc.
While it will do just fine with normal household humidity levels at around 30-40%, it will absolutely thrive if given upwards of 60-70% humidity. The more you can replicate its native jungle environment, the more it will love you! Use a hygrometer to check your humidity levels and a humidifier to bump up the moisture.
This cutie is actually a climbing plant. In the wild, it uses aerial roots along its stem to attach itself to rocks, tree trunks and other large objects to climb up towards the sun. As a house plant, while it is common to see it grown in a hanging basket with its vines trailing down over the sides of its pot, it will grow much healthier if provided with supports to climb up, such as a trellis, stakes or a moss pole.
I purchased my rhaphi as an "uglies" sale. It had just 2 (albeit huge) leaves and was looking otherwise pretty sad. I fell in love at first sight though and happily nurtured it over the winter months.
Once spring hit, it took off like crazy! It grew so tall so quickly that it I was afraid it would start to fall over. I staked it up in early June, and it's already beginning to out-grow those as well! I've had no issues with it whatsoever, even while some of my other plants got hit by a spider mite infestation (I spray and wipe down all my plants with a homemade neem oil solution to be safe). My rhaphi is honestly one of my easiest yet fastest-growing plants I own, and it is an absolute joy to have in my home. If you've been on the fence about adopting one, I would highly recommend it!