Monstera plants are growing in popularity and price as I type. Oversized tropical leaves fill the backgrounds of millions of Instagram posts. Oversized demand is pushing the price of rare, variegated varieties to thousands of dollars at plant auctions. On Etsy, you can buy barely rooted cuttings for $350 or a single leaf for $65. My local Ace Hardware has a huge variegated Monstera priced at $1,499. It’s surrounded by solid green ones for $799. My Costco has an entire row of solid green ones, bigger than I could carry, for $29. Some have large, shiny leaves. Some have smaller leaves trailing down like ivy. Is this all the same plant?
Monstera is species of tropical shrubs and vines that are native to Central America and Southern Mexico. There are 45 recognized species or varieties in the Monstera plant genus and, along with Philodendrons, Monstera are part of the Acraea plant family. The confusion grows as the two most common types of Monstera sold as houseplants, Monstera adansonii and Monstera deliciosa, are both referred to as the Swiss Cheese plant and are sometimes called split-leaf Philodendrons. Both have naturally occurring holes in their leaves. However, they have different leaf shapes, growing habits and lighting needs even though they are close plant cousins.
The Monstera adansonii species is often labelled as the Swiss Cheese plant, split-leaf philodendron, or more accurately, the Swiss Cheese vine. Its leaves are dark green, tapered and remain small to medium-sized even in very large or mature plants. The large leaf holes, which are fully present when a new leaf unfurls, do not split through to the edges. Sometimes, new leaves will grow through the holes of existing leaves, forcing a split.
Monstera deliciosa is also called the Swiss Cheese plant. The naturally occurring holes in this variety start out small, grow larger as the leaves grow, and then spilt open to the edge. This tropical leaf shape is currently having its day in the sun. It is featured on t-shirts, throw pillow, tea cups, tattoos. Monstera deliciosa is named for the fruit that flowering plants produce while growing large and wild in the natural lush forests of Central America. They almost never bloom or flower as houseplants.
Variegation = Contrasting Colors And Realities
Pictured above are the $65 leaf, $350 cuttings (with and without roots), and a $10,000 variegated Monstera with less than 10 leaves. It is stunning, but I will never, ever spend that much money on a plant. I do love that there are people who value rare plants as much as others value handbags or sports cars. Still, Krimson Queen Hoya and Snow Queen Pothos are variegated plants that bring the same striking white-on-dark-green contrast for $5-25. Stop by a beaches area outdoor market to find a Monstera adansonsii or an affordable variegated vine at the Grow Earthy booth!