Rhaphidophora Tetrasperma: A Complete Guide for Beginners

By Kee

Rhaphidophora tetrasperma goes by a few different names and each of them can be quite misleading. You may find it as a mini monstera plant or perhaps the mini split leaf. All in all, this plant has an incredible moment these days and its popularity has skyrocketed, mostly because of social media. You can find single-leaf cuttings selling for a fortune. In fact, a rare type of this plant has fetched $8,000.

Whether it is the nice appearance, the split leaves, the growth rate or the care, here is everything you need to know about this plant.

What is Rhaphidophora Tetrasperma?

Rhaphidophora is a large genus with about 100 different species of plants. To the western world, it may sound a bit exotic – maybe because it is. All these species are native to the southeastern part of Asia. Since many species grow in jungles, they are exotic and rare. However, over the past years, they have been noticed in rainforests as well, not to mention drier climates.

As a direct consequence, these plants seem relatively simple to grow. They can adapt to various conditions and they can thrive anywhere. However, it is worth noting that plants grown in domestic environments tend to have smaller leaves. If you hang them, they may not have the unique splits that they normally get in the wild.

Rhaphidophora tetrasperma is one of the most popular plants in the genus. The rare tropical aroid is easy to identify because it has small leaves. They are usually ornamental and can go up to six inches in size. They feature split lobes – usually a few on each leaf. These graceful lobes make it stand out in the crowd.

Those who are familiar with plants will notice that leaves look like the ones from Monstera Deliciosa. Indeed, they are smaller, but they are almost identical. This is one of the reasons wherefore rhaphidophora tetrasperma is sometimes sold as mini monstera. But then, it is a completely different plant, and its fruits are not edible.

Based on where the plant grows and the conditions around it, it can go up to 12 feet in height. This size is more common in the wild though. No matter how careful you are, houseplants are less likely to reach this size. Instead, they usually make it up to five feet in size. It is more than enough for a houseplant though, unless you have plenty of room.

It is worth noting that rhaphidophora tetrasperma is a vining plant. As it grows up, it will need to stabilize – it does not have a very powerful trunk. Therefore, it has aerial roots and will climb anything around for support. If you have the plant next to a tree or a wall, chances are it will grow over the respective support to stabilize.

Caring for Rhaphidophora Tetrasperma

No matter what type of environment it goes in, rhaphidophora tetrasperma wants to grow and will try its best to thrive. It is faster growing than a classic begonia or fern, which gives it a serious advantage, especially among those who are not too good with plants. Now, what kind of conditions does it need for perfect growth?

Light

Just like most other plants, this one does need light. It needs plenty of filtered light. If you grow it indoors, make sure it gets plenty of direct sunlight. When grown outdoors, dappled sunlight is more than enough. Most people growing it domestically will keep it indoors. Make sure it has a decent amount of sunlight – you can also move it outdoors, but keep it in a bright shade.

While excessive light could be an issue, it is important to know that rhaphidophora tetrasperma is not a low-light plant. If you fail to give it enough light, it will grow slowly. It may also come up with small foliage if there is not enough light. Therefore, make sure you give it plenty of it, but without leaving it exposed for too long.

Water

Water is another major necessity for this plant. It needs to be constantly moist and especially during the growing season when it needs all the possible nutrients to thrive. Leaving it dry for a few hours every now and then will not kill it. However, watering it constantly throughout the day will give you faster and more prolific growth.

Compared to other plants, this one is a bit sensitive to overwatering, so do not exaggerate. While it likes to be moist, excessive watering could kill it. If the top inch of medium is dry, water it a bit – simple as that. Other than that, you can reduce the watering frequency in the wintertime. Just make sure the root ball does not dry out.

Soil

The soil is one of the most important considerations when growing rhaphidophora tetrasperma. It makes the difference. Ideally, you need something chunky. Make sure it drains well – you do not want water stagnating around, as overwatering is an issue. In other words, you need the water to spread all over the medium.

Ideally, the soil should have lots of aeration, but it should also manage to stay moist. Try it out before. If it gets soggy, you need to keep searching. You can also mix different types of soil, as long as you get the optimal characteristics. For instance, you could throw in a bit of horticultural charcoal, as well as pumice, pine bark and moss. Mix everything in equal parts and you are ready to go.

Temperature

Rhaphidophora tetrasperma is similar to other aroids. It requires a bit of balance when it comes to the temperature. If the temperature is too cold, it will stop growing – it may also harm it in the long run. The same rule applies if the temperature is too hot, as it could kill the plant. There are no general rules though, but some optimal recommendations.

Stick to a temperature that does not go below 55 degrees F. As for the superior side, do not exceed 100 degrees F. Should the temperature goes too high, the plant and its leaves will look exhausted. They will no longer stay up. If you notice such problems, bring the plant inside, especially overnight – when the temperature drops a little.

Humidity

Rhaphidophora tetrasperma loves humidity. If there is plenty of humidity where you live or you live in a humid climate, this plant will thrive. Generally speaking, it will do well with classic household humidity – somewhere around 30% or 40%. If the humidity is too low, it will feel tired and less likely to grow too much.

If you can add some extra humidity, your plant will love it. Place it close to a humidifier and it will grow at a faster rate. Moreover, you can also mix it up with other plants, as they tend to keep the humidity around. This is a great benefit for rhaphidophora tetrasperma, but once again, you can also keep it at standard household humidity and it will still grow.

Fertilizing

Fertilizing is common with most plants and will add to the growth – rhaphidophora tetrasperma makes no exception either. There are no special requirements or rules though. High nitrogen fertilizer will work wonders, but use it throughout the growing season only. When the growth slows down or the temperature drops, cut down on fertilizing – you can also skip it completely.

Height and Growth Rate

In terms of height, rhaphidophora tetrasperma grows differently, based on the living conditions. It thrives in the wild, yet you can maintain similar conditions in a household, which will also bring in significant growth. Assuming you have the best living conditions, the plant can easily grow up to 12 feet in height.

Most households maintain it at about six feet though or it could get out of control. Based on the conditions, there are times when the plant will barely reach six feet in height. Apart from the height, the spread is not to be overlooked either. Rhaphidophora tetrasperma will have a spread of about two feet when it grows to 12 feet in height.

How to Propagate Rhaphidophora Tetrasperma?

You need to wait for the perfect timing to propagate rhaphidophora tetrasperma. Pay attention to the plant and observe new leaf nodes. That is the right time to move on and come up with some new plants. Propagating is fairly simple and does not require any experience. You simply need to cut a stem chunk from the plant, leave it in a glass of water until the root kicks in, then plant it in soil.

The cutting should have at least a leaf node on it for proper growth. Roots will start in a leaf node – the lowest one. Therefore, make sure this part of the cutting is well covered in water. There are, of course, a few requirements there. For example, the water must always be fresh – you will have to change it once or twice a day.

Do not rush. Once the roots are out, you still have to wait a bit more before transferring the plant into the soil. Ideally, you should wait until the roots are about a couple of inches long.

Propagating rhaphidophora tetrasperma can also be done without water. You can throw it in soil and look after it, just like you look after the mother plant. The root will take longer to grow then – up to a month. You need to keep an eye on it, analyze it on a daily basis and check if there is any resistance to it. If there is, it means the roots have already gone out and you can go on with the caring process.

Rhaphidophora Tetrasperma Repotting

You do not have to be a genius to repot rhaphidophora tetrasperma. Most people grow the plant in small pots. As the plant starts outgrowing, they realize they need bigger pots. Whether you want to take it outdoors or you simply need a larger pot, the process is intuitive and quite simple. Compared to other plants, rhaphidophora tetrasperma is not too sensitive and will easily handle the process.

The plant grows vigorously. Unless you start with a very large pot straight away, chances are you will need to repot it on a yearly basis until you reach the maximum size. If you provide the right growing conditions, you might have to repot it twice a year. Other than that, make sure you give the plant plenty of support to climb. A moss pole will work wonders, but a totem is just as handy.

Simply dig around the root. Use your hands, as you do not want to accidentally cut roots off – too much stress could be problematic for the plant. You can also avoid digging it completely. Just get a bigger pot, dig around it and transfer it with a large chunk of soil. Put it in the new pot and cover it with soil all around it – simple as that.

How to Prune Rhaphidophora Tetrasperma?

Pruning is important for this plant. It is a climber, so it needs to hang onto things. Its aerial roots will get over the support you provide, but you can also use stripes of old clothes for support. Pruning is done to remove damaged parts – mostly because of pests or various diseases. It is also common for those who like to keep the plant at a specific size.

The leggy growth caused by low light can also be handled by pruning the plant. Stick to clean snips and get rid of the excessive growth of problematic areas. Do not take too much of it. Stick to a maximum of 25% – less if you can. Removing more than that can damage it.

Is Rhaphidophora Tetrasperma Poisonous?

Rhaphidophora tetrasperma is not an edible plant, so you should not try to eat it. Having it around your home is not poisonous and will not affect you whatsoever. However, if you have pets, you will have to be careful. The plant is part of the Araceae family. Many plants in this family are rich in calcium oxalate crystals. These crystals are toxic to cats and dogs. Therefore, if you have pets, they should be kept away from the plant.

Pests and Diseases

Since rhaphidophora tetrasperma is such a good grower, it is also quite resistant and strong. It is not necessarily exposed to particular conditions or diseases. Instead, it could be affected just like any other plant out there. Make sure you do not exaggerate with the sunlight or the watering process, as the roots could rot.

When it comes to pests, spider mites are probably the most problematic issues out there. Luckily, there are easy ways to get rid of them. Some options are organic, while others are not. If you can find it, stick to neem oil. It is natural and easy to apply – just spray the plant and the infestation will be gone within minutes only.

Rhaphidophora Tetrasperma vs. Monstera Deliciosa

Rhaphidophora tetrasperma and monstera deliciosa may seem similar from many points of view. The truth is they are not related at all. In fact, they are two different species. Sure, they do have a few things in common and some relations, but they are still completely different. Monstera deliciosa is much larger. Rhaphidophora tetrasperma is similar in appearance. Since it is so much smaller, a lot of people refer to it as mini monstera.

Everything differs though, including the growing tendency and rate.

Common Problems

Rhaphidophora tetrasperma is a strong plant that is less likely to face too many problems. It is vigorous and can resist most issues. Spider mites are the most common problems, but they are easy to deal with. Then, root rot is the next most common issue. Luckily, it can be prevented. The issue is caused by overwatering.

Red Spider Mite
Red Spider Mite

How do you know your plant has this problem? Keep an eye on it. If you notice the leaves are getting yellow, you are probably pouring too much water. The soil should not be overly dumped either. Stop watering until the medium is partly dry and start again.

In the worst possible case, saving a plant may involve repotting it in a different type of soil. It must be fresh and rich in nutrients.

Final Words

As a short final conclusion, Rhaphidophora tetrasperma has become extremely popular over the past couple of years. It used to be popular among those who like a natural green environment – jungle style. The plant is easy to grow and look after, so it has always been common among houseplant aficionados. You only need the right soil, indirect sunlight and a smooth fertilizer.

The plant can literally go anywhere. You can use it indoors, but you can also leave it outside of your house – just make sure the weather is suitable for it. Furthermore, if you like having a monstera deliciosa, but you lack the space for such a big plant, rhaphidophora tetrasperma makes an excellent alternative.​

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