Did you manage to get your hands on the elusive Monstera Esqueleto? It’s getting easier to find these days! Learn how to care for the stunning “skeleton” monstera with this post.
What is Monstera Esqueleto?
Monsteras are beloved houseplants because they are easygoing and have stunning tropical leaves. You’re probably familiar with the Monstera Deliciosa and Monstera Adansonii, but today we’ll be talking about what I’ll affectionately refer to as their big siser, the Monstera Esqueleto!
The Monstera Esqueleto stands apart from other house plants because of their huge leaves and deep fenestrations (holes in the leaves). Esqueleto means skeleton in Spanish, which describes how cool its leaves look, just like a skeleton!
Honestly, large leaves on a mature, happy Monstera Esqueleto are more holes than leaves. The leaf area can be so thin—it’s really an interesting-looking plant for that reason. As with all plant care, you want to mimic their natural habitats as closely as possible.
Where is Monstera Esqueleto from?
So let’s talk about where the Monstera Esqueleto comes from. The Monstera Esqueleto is also known as the Monstera Epipremnoides. It hails from the mountains in the Costa Rican rainforest.
This mountainous region is also known as a “cloud forest” because the clouds form a dense canopy just above the treetops. Monteverde is the most famous cloud forest, where the fog and humidity levels are often at 100%.
Monteverde gives you the feeling of being on top of the world—it’s over 4,500 feet above sea level. And it’s the central point of the nation’s continental divide. It’s become a popular tourist attraction, so it’s pretty neat to be able to grow a plant that comes from there.
There is some debate about whether the Monstera Epipremnoides that is sold is really the same as the plant found in nature. I’m not going to get into all that in this post…because I don’t really know the answer. And either way, their care needs are probably pretty similar.
Is Monstera Esqueleto rare?
Monstera Esqueleto has—at least over the last several years—been a gold standard when it comes to house plant hobbyists collecting tropicals. Monstera Adansonii has always been the poor women’s esqueleto.
That’s because it looks a lot like it. And esqueleto has been suuuuper expensive and hard to find over the last few years. I recently saw a small plant on sale for hundreds of dollars at a local nursery.
And that hasn’t traditionally been in my budget. However, the plant is now being mass produced. And that means that supply will increase. Even if demand remains the same, it will certainly come down in price as supply increases!
I ordered my plant from Costa Farms—directly from them on their online shop. Here’s the skinny: it’s been sold out a lot. I haven’t been able to get my hands on one. However, I just happened to be at my computer and had my email open when I got one of those automatic restock emails from them.
I immediately put one in my cart, and I got it! I was so excited! It was pretty steeply priced (for Costa, at least) at $150. But it’s a very large plant that I’m very impressed with. And I used a $10 off coupon 😉
So if you can get your hands on one, I recommend it! I plan on sharing the wealth with mine by splitting it and selling it for super cheap to plant friends locally. And I’ve narrowed down what you need to know to care for this lovely tropical plant, so let’s dive in.
As with most tropical houseplants, the Monstera Esqueleto will need bright, indirect light for a good 6-8 hours per day. In the rainforest this plant receives dappled sunlight from beneath the cloud cover and canopies.
Its unique leaves aren’t equipped for direct intense sunlight for hours at a time, especially at the height of day. When you’re thinking about where to place your plant, avoid windows that get direct sunlight after 11 a.m. since that can scorch the leaves.
This means near an east or west facing window, since the brightest sunlight of the day won’t reach it. If it’s too sunny, just move it away from the window a bit or add a sheer curtain.
That said, even in my sunniest windows, I don’t have many issues with leaf scorch. Outside, though—definitely! When I bring my humidity lovers outside for the spring and summer, I make sure to put them in a shaded spot.
How often should I water Monstera esqueleto?
The lifelong question of a plant lover is “how much should I water it?” The best thing you can do when you first get the Monstera Esqueleto is to monitor the moisture levels in the first few weeks.
Your watering schedule will depend on the amount of sunlight, humidity, and type of soil you’re using. Once you’ve got all that figured out, you’ll find that watering once every 7-10 days will likely do the job.
The soil should be evenly moist. Never soggy at the bottom as this could cause root rot. Over and underwatering both present as wilting leaves. If your plant starts to droop then you’ll be able to adjust your watering accordingly based on the soil moisture.
When watering from the top, you should see it pass through the drainage holes almost immediately. This is a sign of proper drainage!
If you’ve managed to get your hands on this beauty, you’ll want to use high quality soil to help it flourish. Aroid soil mix is the best choice for Monstera Esqueleto because it needs good aeration, moisture retention, and nutrients.
Aroid mixes have perlite, pine bark, coco coir, and good old fashioned potting mix. The last thing you want is dense, compacted soil because it will trap moisture and suffocate the roots. If you find that the soil is too dense, add more pine bark to lighten it up.
Temperature & humidity
As you might imagine, the rainforests of Costa Rica are hot and VERY humid. The ideal range is 65-85 degrees Fahrenheit, though it prefers temperatures on the warmer end.
They have no frost tolerance and should be kept away from AC and heating vents since their leaves desiccate easily. Growing naturally in higher altitudes means cooler nights, but consistent warmth year-round.
Humidity is one of the most important care aspects for the Monstera Esqueleto. High humidity is essential for the health of the leaves and growth rate. Steamy bathrooms, kitchens, or even terrariums are smart placement choices.
Definitely enhance the humidity levels using a humidifier, pebble tray, and regular misting, and the plant will reward you with beautiful leaves. Keep in mind that pebble trays are more effective in smaller enclosed spaces like a greenhouse cabinet—and misting is a pretty temporary solution.
Brittle, crispy, brown leaves are a sign you need to drastically increase the humidity. Once they turn brown and crispy, they won’t turn back.
Is Monstera Esqueleto a climber?
Yes, Monstera Esqueleto is an epiphytic climber. An epiphyte is a plant that grows on the surface of another plant, branch, tree, etc. It derives its moisture and nutrients from the air and rain and uses the other plants and structures for support,
For this reason, it’s a good idea to give your Monstera Esqueleto something to climb. I recommend a stackable moss pole like I have my Thai Constellation Monstera on. That way you can make the pole grow with the plant.
Does Monstera Esqueleto grow fast?
Yes, when Monstera Esqueleto is happy and in ideal growing conditions, it is a prolific grower. It will speed up in the spring and summer, slow down in the fall and winter.
Its leaves can grow to nearly 3 feet long at maturity. And it’s super hard to find Monstera Esqueletos that are as large as the plants Costa is selling right now. Like the deliciosa, it can grow to be over 6 feet tall!
How do you propagate a Monstera Esqueleto?
Now that you own a rare Monstera Esqueleto, I highly recommend you propagate it—the more, the merrier! You will find the most success using stem cuttings.
Once your plant is in good health, find a stem with a good-looking leaf and cut just beneath the node (where leaves grow from the stem). This is where roots will sprout from.
Prepare a pot with fresh aroid soil blend, and place the stem cutting node-side down. You may have to support the leaf in the new planter if it’s lopsided. New growth requires plenty of humidity and warmth, so tend to its needs carefully.
After a few weeks you should feel resistance to gentle tugging, which is a sign that it has begun rooting. Once it has begun growing, you may transfer it to a larger pot as needed.
If you’re paranoid about the cutting rotting, I recommend rooting it in sphagnum moss and perlite or LECA. That way you can grow strong roots that will respond well to a soil transplant—but you can also monitor them!
Once they are a few inches long, you can transplant the cutting to soil. Then you’ll have a much higher confidence level in the roots doing well. I hate not being able to see what’s going on under the soil line!
What is the difference between Monstera Adansonii and Monstera Esqueleto?
And before I wrap up…given I’ve mentioned the plant—and that it looks awfully similar to a juvenile Monstera Esqueleto—you might be wondering, what is the difference between Monstera Esqueleto and Monstera Adansonii?
They are often mislabeled by nurseries and websites. Granted, it might be difficult to tell them apart with only pictures, especially before they’ve matured. But there are a few key differences:
Monstera Adansonii leaves are smaller, darker green, and have very little texture. Indoors their leaves will grow only 4-6in long, and have small ovular holes in no particular pattern.
Monstera Esqueleto leaves are large, light green, and have a leathery texture. Even indoors, their leaves will grow up to 2 feet long and have giant, symmetrical fenestrations. I think mature Esqueleto leaves look almost like a rib cage.