Looking for rhaphidophora tetrasperma care tips? This post shares everything you need to know about this trendy plant that looks like a monstera but isn’t, including how to train it to vine and how to make a rhaphidophora tetrasperma trellis.
Rhaphidophora tetrasperma care: Everything you need to know!
Plant care post time! This is quickly becoming one of my favorite plants. It grows like an absolute WEED, and its thick stems can be trained up a trellis. It’s the rhaphidophora tetrasperma plant…but you might see it labeled “mini monstera,” “monstera ginny,” “philodendron monstera,” or “philodendron piccolo.”
This is all very confusing because it’s not a monstera or philodendron. Bear with me here. Take a look at the leaves below—it’s easy to see why this plant is often confused with a monstera deliciosa plant. The leaves have similar fenestrations (splits).
What is the rhaphidophora tetrasperma plant?
Rhaphidophora tetrasperma is an aroid in the Araceae family, rhaphidophora genus, tetrasperma species. It is native to Thailand and Malaysia and is a gorgeous evergreen vining plant. While it vines like crazy, its leaves stay fairly small—only about 4–6 inches long.
And the vines can get up to 12 feet long—though typically they are much shorter when potted as houseplants. I have pictures of my plant throughout this post and you’ll see that it has grown quite a bit in the few years I’ve had it! I’ve even pruned it a few times.
Much like plants they are related to, monsteras and philodendrons, rhaphidophora tetrasperma plants use aerial roots to help them latch on to trees and branches in the wild. As houseplants, these aerial roots appreciate trellises and climbing poles.
I’ve also seen this plant in a few nurseries as a hanging basket, and it does look lovely. But I much prefer it as a climber/vining plant!
Rhaphidophora tetrasperma vs. monstera deliciosa
Many plants have “common” or well-known names at nurseries that can be confusing, and this is definitely one of those. It doesn’t help that this plant’s leaves look a lot like the monstera deliciosa’s leaves. And monstera deliciosas are often mistakenly referred to as philodendrons. (See my monstera deliciosa care guide and my split-leaf philodendron selloum care guide.)
But this isn’t a monstera or a philodendron. R. tetrasperma is a cousin of both of these since they are all members of the Araceae family. But it’s from a totally different genus. It’s not a monstera or a philodendron. In fact, they are actually from different parts of the world. But it still looks like a tiny beautiful monstera, so that’s cool.
“Mini monstera,” aka R. tetrasperma light needs
Tetrasperma grows very well in bright indirect light. Right in front of a sunny window is great, but avoid too much direct sun outdoors. It can and will burn the leaves—much like a monstera! That’s probably because both are tropical plants that live under a canopy of dense foliage, leading to dappled sunlight.
Don’t keep your tetrasperma in an area with too little light. You can’t get away with snake plant and zz plant levels of low light inside. If you don’t get a lot of good light inside, you can add a grow light. I have had mine under a GE grow light hanging from the ceiling in a lower light area.
I’ve also had it in my high-light area that gets bright indirect late morning, afternoon, and early evening sun. And in the summer I’ve even moved propagations outside onto my covered patio so they can enjoy the humidity!
Water and soil needs
Water and humidity are also important parts of rhaphidophora tetrasperma care. Remember, this plant comes from tropical environments, so it enjoys being moist during the growing season. However, it’s a hardy plant, and if it dries out too much, it won’t throw a fit and will definitely forgive you.
Don’t overwater—water when the top two inches of soil are dry. If you plant your tetrasperma in light, well-draining soil, it will help to facilitate air flow and drainage. You can add a bit more coco coir or fine moss, perlite, or both to indoor potting soil to help with drainage. Water less in the winter when the plant isn’t actively growing.
Rhaphidophora tetrasperma care: Temperature and humidity
R. tetrasperma tolerates a variety of normal household temperature levels quite well. It doesn’t like to get below 60 degrees Fahrenheit and can be grown in USDA zones 9–12. It isn’t hardy to frost and will die. Once the temperatures get up into the triple digits, it will also be a bit unhappy with you and likely begin wilting.
Humidity plays a really important role in this plant’s health too. It will do well in normal household humidity, which is typically around 40%. But it will do really well in higher humidity—60–70% humidity levels. You can add a humidifier or set the plant on top of a tray with water and pebbles.
You can also group your plants together to help keep humidity levels higher. This is what I try to do with this plant. It’s too big to fit in my glass cabinet for higher humidity plants, but that’s the perfect spot for a tetrasperma propagation!
Fertilizing, repotting, and pruning
I haven’t fertilized my tetrasperma since having it. It’s so tolerant and grows so quickly, I just haven’t felt the need to. But if you’d like to, you can use a regular indoor houseplant fertilizer high in nitrogen in the late spring and summer. Too much fertilizer can burn the plant from the inside, which sucks.
I’ve mentioned that this plant really grows like a weed, so this isn’t a plant you’ll need to repot only every few years. It’s possible you’ll need to repot it every year depending on its growing conditions. When potting up, make sure the bigger pot is about 2 inches larger in diameter.
I’ve also noticed that the leaves on this plant are quite fragile—specifically the area right where the stem meets the leaves. Adding a little trellis, a moss pole, or another type of support will encourage healthy growth on this plant. I’ve got mine on a bamboo stake since it’s still pretty small—but I’ll be moving to a trellis in the spring.
The vines on this plant are thick, so even though they are vining, they don’t look great hanging. I had mine in a pot on a shelf with no trellis for a while, and it was fine. But once the vines started getting longer, I needed to add some support.
Pruning can be necessary to help keep the vines from getting too leggy. It’s also super easy to propagate this plant, so you can use the pruned pieces to create new plants!
Rhaphidophora tetrasperma trellis ideas—help this baby climb!
Helping support your plant as it climbs is an important part of rhaphidophora tetrasperma care. Some rhaphidophora tetrasperma plants come on trellises already, but if you buy a small plant, you’ll probably need to figure it out for yourself. That’s what I had to do with my plant.
I’ve had a couple different solutions over different periods of growth. My first solution was to use a small bamboo stake and a couple black zip ties. I simple stuck the stake down into the soil until it reached the bottom of the pot. Then I loosely tied the zip ties—just tight enough to keep the plant upright. Don’t squeeze the stem!
When the plant outgrow this (and boy did it outgrow this solution!), I leaned it up against a sunny window frame while I decided what to do next. I eventually made a bamboo trellis to support it—that’s a whole post about that process! No major tools required.
You can see how much the plant had grown by this point! It was getting unruly. I trimmed the two smaller plants to propagate and let the main stem continue to climb.
And most recently, it outgrew this trellis as well! I still wasn’t ready to cut the main stem, so I decided to take the bamboo trellis apart and attach the two taller pieces of bamboo to one another to make a super tall pole.
I then did exactly what I explained with the first pole method. Stuck the pole in the soil and loosely tied the main stem up the pole. It looks awesome, and I learned my lesson this time. I gave it quite a bit of extra room to grow 🙂
Once it outgrows the heigh of my ceilings, well…I have no idea what I’ll do! I have seen people vine these along walls to avoid chopping. I’ll decide when it comes to it!
Rhaphidophora tetrasperma propagation
Rhaphidophora tetrasperma is incredibly easy to propagate, much like its cousin the monstera deliciosa. To propagate it, cut right below a node on a stem. You can root the cutting in water, well-draining soil, or sphagnum moss. If you do soil or moss, keep it moist. If you do water, you should refresh it every week or so.
Once the cutting begins to develop roots from the node and they grow a few inches long, you can plant the cutting in well-draining soil. Keep the soil moist but not wet while the plant gets established in the soil. After a few weeks, you can gently tug the stem cutting to see if it has started to root.
Propagating a rhaphidophora tetrasperma in LECA
I’ve also been enjoying rooting plant cuttings in LECA lately. Don’t know what LECA is? Check out my post all about it, including how to grow plant cuttings in LECA. It’s the same process, except instead of rooting the plant in water, soil, or moss, you put it in LECA.
Here is a propagation I did of a rhaphi cutting a few months ago. The cutting rooted really quickly in the LECA, and I was able to plant it in soil with little to no shock to the plant. Hooray!
Toxicity and pests
This plant is toxic to cats and dogs because of the calcium oxalates it has in its sap. These can lead to drooling, vomiting, irritation, etc. I keep this one out of Henry’s reach because he is tempted like leafy plants, and I don’t want him chewing on this guy.
Generally this plant can fall victim to root rot from overwatering, so refer back to the watering section to make sure you don’t water too much. It is also susceptible to spider mites and thrips. Spider mites can destroy a plant fast, but they are easy to get rid of; neem oil can help get rid of them, and higher humidity can help prevent them from settling in. See my post on how to spot and get rid of spider mites.
Thrips, on the other hand, are absolutely awful. They aren’t always immediately evident, and they are extremely difficult to get rid of. I’ve had thrips on my plant—in fact, this is one of three plants I suspect brought thrips into my house and infected my monstera. No big deal, though…I’m over it. (Almost…it was an awful battle.) See my post all about thrips here.