Learn about monstera deliciosa albo variegata care, propagation, and more!
Monstera deliciosa albo variegata care & propagation
Today I am sharing a plant I can’t believe I finally acquired—the elusive monstera albo borsigiana, aka the monstera deliciosa albo variegata, or simply albo monstera. The albo monstera is a type of variegated monstera deliciosa plant, much like the Thai constellation monstera.
You can check out my article all about my Thai constellation monstera plants, but this article is about the albo! There’s a lot to say, so let’s jump right in!
- Albo monstera care overview
- Background & creation
- How variegation impacts care
- Keeping an albo monstera variegated
- Albo variegata vs. Thai constellation
- How much light is best?
- Water & soil needs
- Fertilizer, temperature, & humidity
- Growth patterns, repotting, & leaf size
- How to get a good cutting to propagate
- Rooting cuttings in water
- Rooting cuttings in moss
- Rooting a wet stick in moss
- How to avoid stem rot
Albo monstera care overview
- Variegated version of monstera deliciosa resulting from a natural mutation
- Cannot be grown from seed and variegation is unstable; if growth begins reverting to all green, trim back to last variegated leaf.
- Care involves bright, indirect light; direct light can burn the foliage; not a low-light plant.
- Plant in well-draining soil and water when the soil has nearly dried out to prevent root rot.
- Fertilize with a balanced mix and maintain warm, humid conditions.
- Provide climbing structures for the draping growth pattern.
- Propagate through stem cuttings; preferred method is using a lightweight damp moss-based mixture.
Monstera deliciosa albo variegata background
The monstera genus has 45 species of flowering plants, including many you’ve probably heard of: monstera peru and monstera siltepecana are two types of monstera that are commonly grown as houseplants.
Generally monstera plants grow up and climb trees, clinging to the trunks with aerial roots. The leaves can be fenestrated (aka split) and have holes in them. These fenestrations increase the plants exposure to sunlight but letting more light through the upper leaves and allow the plant to use less energy to grow.
They can be quite large in nature, too. As houseplants, monsteras stay much smaller, but they can still grow to impressive sizes! See the picture of my monstera deliciosa below.
A monstera deliciosa albo variegata is a variegated version of monstera deliciosa. The albo came from a natural mutation of the plant that was then propagated and reproduced. That means that each leaf on a monstera albo is different, and you don’t know what you’ll get until the leaf opens.
The leaves are generally a combination of medium jade-green and white. Leaves can be almost entirely white or simply have some white splotches, patterns, or blocks. Or leaves can be “half moon,” where exactly one half of the leaf is green and one is white.
How variegation impacts care
To fully understand monstera deliciosa albo variegata care, you need to understand variegation. It’s what makes this plant so expensive, so rare, and so finicky. Variegation can occur on many different types of plants, and you can tell a variegated plant because it has lighter splotches, speckling, stripes, or marbling on the leaves.
This variegation can be different colors, but for the albo it’s white. These areas on the plant’s leaves are a lack of chlorophyll. But while this lack of chlorophyll might look beautiful, it actually makes caring for the plant a bit more challenging.
That’s because plants require chlorophyll to photosynthesize. Think about it this way: the green parts of the leaves have the good stuff that helps the plant grow, while the white or variegated parts don’t contribute anything toward the plant’s growth. They just look nice 🙂
So what does that mean? It means the plants grow slower and probably needs more light. So that is one thing that makes monstera deliciosa albo variegata care a bit more challenging.
Keeping an albo monstera variegated
Because the variegation is a result of a naturally occurring mutation, it isn’t stable. That means that the leaves can revert back to all green…which is a fear of nearly all albo monstera owners! But don’t worry, there are some things you can do to help keep the plant healthy with great variegation.
If your plant grows an all-green or nearly-green leaf, you should trim it off. I know! It’s painful. But trimming it back will hopefully help prevent that pattern from continuing. I have had to do this on my philodendron birkin—another plant with an unstable variegation—and it worked like a charm.
The same goes for all-white leaves. They are unbelievably stunning—and you SHOULD take 1,000 pictures of an all-white leaf if you get one—but you’ll probably want to trim them off, too. That’s because they have no chlorophyll and contribute nothing to the plant.
They actually hold the plant back from having healthy new growth as it struggles to maintain that deadbeat leaf. If you don’t trim the leaf off, it will likely die off on its own slowly. It’s essentially the plant going into survival mode.
Albo variegata vs. Thai constellation
As I mentioned, albo monsteras are a result of cultivating plants from a random, natural mutation. That means that the plant cannot be grown from a seeding, and the variegation is unpredictable and unstable. Every albo monstera you encounter is propagated from generations of albos that all stem from one mother plant. She must be so proud.
The Thai constellation monstera also cannot be grown from a seed. That’s because it was developed in a lab in Thailand. So the variegation on a Thai is not naturally occurring and is therefore much more stable. Basically, don’t worry about your Thai’s variegation reverting!
The variegation on the plants can look very similar, especially on juvenile leaves. For example, both plants have leaves with a jade-green base. However, the variegation on an albo is marbled or blocky. It is also nearly white—if not pure white.
The Thai constellation variegation, however, is more of a creamy or even yellow color, and the patterns look more like speckles and splashes. But it is possible for Thais to kick out a half moon leaf where one half is green and the other is cream.
Overall, the plants are quite similar in their care needs, but there are important differences to keep in mind when deciding which one you want. If the potential for variegation reverting stresses you out, go with a Thai. Thais are also easier to find and cheaper.
How much light is best?
It needs plenty of bright, indirect light to thrive. I currently have mine in my Ikea greenhouse cabinet under LED grow lights that stay on for about 12 hours a day. (See my guide for using grow lights with houseplants for more.) This is not a low-light plant.
I feel like I’m beating this point over its head, but the white variegation in the albo monstera’s leaves mean that those spots are not contributing to the plant’s growth. Therefore, the green parts must work in overdrive.
Albos will also do just fine in front of a sunny window—just be careful you don’t burn the leaves. Too much direct sunlight can burn the leaves, though this is generally more of an issue if you have your plant outside.
Water & soil needs
Put down that watering can! Albo monstera plants are extremely prone to root rot. I water both of my variegated monsteras only when the soil has almost completely dried out.
I have seen others recommend watering when the top few inches of soil dries out, and I would say that’s accurate for a smaller pot. But I tend to err on the drier side. Monitor your plant and see how it does.
Water is one part of preventing root rot, while soil is the other. Monsteras in general, but especially albo monsteras, like a light, well-draining soil. Mine come growing in a moss mixture (see below photo) but was ready for soil.
To plant it, I mixed up some high-quality indoor potting soil premixed with additives to encourage good drainage. Then I added in another handful or coco coir (similar to peat moss) and coarse perlite. (Read more about soil additives in my houseplant soil 101 guide.)
These additives help to encourage air flow to the roots and facilitate good drainage. This way, when I water my plant, I can let all of the water flow through the soil, and the extra drains away immediately. Only give this plant what it needs—no more.
Fertilizer, temperature, & humidity
I generally just rely on the fertilizer that comes pre-mixed in high-quality plant soils. Then, if I’m not repotting the plant the next year, I’ll add in worm castings and potentially something like a concentrated Liqui-Dirt plant food or Fox Farm’s Grow Big fertilizer.
Albos enjoy warm, wet conditions since they are tropical plants. They are absolutely not cold hardy. They do well in a variety of household temperatures and humidity levels, but they benefit from additional humidity.
I have my plant next to my little Thai constellation in the Ikea greenhouse cabinet with a little humidity gauge. The humidity levels always stay a bit higher in there form the ambient moisture and wet LECA propagations. You can also set a humidifier right next to your plant to help with moisture in the air.
If your monstera’s leaves have crispy brown on the tips, it’s likely a result of either underwatering or lack of humidity. However, keep in mind that those variegated areas may brown and die off if they are large areas. It can be challenging to maintain them indoors without modifications to humidity.
Growth patterns, repotting, & leaf size
When compared to monstera deliciosa and Thai constellation monstera plants, albo monsteras also have more of a draping, vining growth pattern. THat’s because the space between albo monstera leaves is longer.
Because of this, they really benefit from having some sort of structure to climb like a moss pole. Check out my DIY jute pole tutorial using rope and a PVC pipe for a good moss pole alternative, too.
Your albo monstera will likely not need repotted for a while. It is a slow grower and doesn’t like drowning in too much soil. When you see roots emerging from the drainage holes in the bottom of the pot, it’s probably time to size up an inch!
Also remember that albo leaves stay a bit smaller than non-variegated deliciosa leaves. And they stay way smaller than Thai leaves, which get HUGE! Albo leaves grow to a max size of about a foot wide.
How to get a good cutting to propagate
If you are buying a cutting online, make sure you see plenty of pictures. Even if a leaf is beautiful, it won’t grow without a node—so make sure it has at least one node. An aerial root is even better, too!
Check the stem and node area for variegation. True variegated monsteras (including Thai constellations) have variegated stems. Not just leaves. If the stems are solid green, run far away.
I’d also ask if the seller knows where on the plant the cutting came from. The general rule of thumb is that the higher on the plant the cutting came from, the better it is. That said, my albo monstera cutting was a mid-cut, meaning it was not cut from the top of the plant.
If you are buying a “wet stick” or stem cutting without a leaf, take a good look at the node and the stem variegation. This is the only way you can estimate how the plant will grow since it has no foliage.
Rooting cuttings in water
Rooting a monstera albo cutting is very much the same as rooting a regular monstera deliciosa cutting. Once you have a good cutting, you must decide the medium you’ll use to root the cutting.
You can choose to water-root your albo monstera cutting, and plenty do. If you choose this method, wait until the main roots begin branching out into smaller roots that are several inches long. The better the roots, the more likely your albo will be to survive the move to soil.
To help encourage a successful water propagation, I recommend using filtered water with either rooting hormone or something like a bit of SuperThrive to help encourage faster and stronger root development. Keep in a warm, bright spot.
However, I do not personally recommend water rooting for plants that I am deathly afraid of losing. That’s because the shock from water to soil can be dicey.
Rooting cuttings in moss
Instead, I recommend using a mixture of sphagnum moss and perlite. Occasionally I also add in some organic worm castings for nutrients—and also rooting hormone! I love using sphagnum moss because it encourages strong root development. And there is less of a shock when transplanting it to soil. When I purchased my cutting, it was already in sphagnum moss.
Keep the moss mixture moist but not wet—and keep humidity high. I have mine in my Ikea greenhouse cabinet where ambient humidity levels are a bit higher.
Once roots are nice and long, you can transplant the cutting to soil just as I described in the water rooting process. Water the soil as normal, and use a really well-draining, nutrient-rich soil. Don’t overwater! Eventually you’ll notice new growth, but remember, it takes a while.
Rooting a wet stick in moss
If all you can get your hands on is a little stick piece with a node—often called a “wet stick”—don’t worry—you can handle this! You can propagate this into a plant. I did it with a pink princess philodendron wet stick many years ago (see below).
To root your wet stick, put sphagnum moss and perlite into a small container. Keep the moss moist but not wet. Add the wet stick with the node facing down into the moss. And keep a clear plastic bag over it to maintain humidity.
You can also try using a DIY plant propagation box instead of a plastic bag. I love this method because you can throw a bunch of cuttings into one tiny makeshift greenhouse. Eventually your plant will root and sprout new growth. I’d keep it in moss until one full new leaf unfurls and then transition to a small pot with soil.
Separating an albo monstera
If you are growing a mid cut as I have done, the new plant will sprout from below the soil. That’s because the leaf you have doesn’t have a growth point above the soil—you’d need a “top cut” with an active growth point for that.
I rooted my mid cut in a damp moss and perlite mixture until the roots were quite long. Then I transitioned the plant to well-draining soil and cared for it like a doting mother for months. Finally, I saw the first sprout of a new plant—the tiny leaf in the first photo below!
Then I took the plant out of its pot and gently removed the soil to find where I could cut the new baby plant off. I carefully did so, gently separating the roots as I removed the baby. You don’t want to break off all of those precious new roots!
I then potted the mother plant up with fresh soil in the same pot and grabbed a smaller pot for the baby. Once potted, the plant took a while to produce another new leaf, which is to be expected with the shock of repotting.
How to avoid stem rot
To avoid stem rot when propagating an albo monstera, make sure you don’t bury the cutting too deep, and make sure that the potting medium isn’t too wet. Albos are prone to rot, which is another reason why water propagation scares me!
When using a damp moss mixture, make sure that the moss isn’t too wet. Squeeze the excess moisture out, and make sure to add in things like perlite, bark, or both to increase air flow. Also make sure to take off whatever humidity cover you are using to ensure the cutting is exposed to fresh air.
Navigating the care and propagation of the monstera deliciosa albo variegata can be challenging but rewarding. With its unique variegation and specific needs, this plant requires attentive care, particularly in terms of lighting, watering, and soil composition.
While the unpredictability of its variegation adds to its allure, it can also add to your stress levels. I know it adds to mine! On that note—have you cared for this plant? Tell me about your experience with it in the comments below. Happy planting!