Are you a full-fledged monstera fan and are ready to add the fantastic variegated monstera to your plant world?
If you aren’t familiar with them yet, Monstera is a genus consisting of 22 species and are mainly grown for their ornamental leaves. Monstera refers to its monstrous size which can reach up to 30 ft! Not to mention its monster prices.
It is also sometimes called the Swiss cheese plant because of the fenestrations or holes in its leaves. It is native to the tropical forests of Central America and Southern Mexico.
You will probably find variegated monstera varieties posted everywhere on social media.
If you’re new to being a plant parent, you will quickly learn that variegation is when plant leaves and stems show discrete markings of more than one color. It can be white, cream, yellow, or lighter shades of green.
Variegation can be natural gene expressions. But plant enthusiasts have placed great interest in the aesthetic appearance of the different colored foliage that most variegated plants are created in labs through selective breeding and genetic mutation.
These leaf patterns are rarely natural because variegation is not an evolutionary adaptation. Plants need chlorophyll, the substance that gives plants their green color to carry out photosynthesis and produce energy from sunlight. The white leaves don’t work for the plant and so the green leaves work overtime to supply the highly variegated areas.
A virus in plants can cause what is called mosaic disease which can be mistaken for variegation. These viruses attack the plant cells causing patterned discoloration on the leaves which look like a mosaic, thus the name.
Some variegations can be because of nutrient deficiency. Temporary yellowing of leaves can be a sign of iron and magnesium deficiency.
Going back to green
A variegated monstera can turn back to its natural green color as it is its natural reaction to its changing environment. Particularly depending on the amount of sunlight available or from temperature changes.
Why are variegated monsteras so expensive?
Law of supply and demand.
In economics, when supply is low which relates to how rare a variegated monstera comes by, up goes its prices. They are also considered rare because the types of variegated monsteras have slow propagation rates.
The demand comes from people (us) wanting to add a variegated monstera albo to their plant collection and post its fantastic beauty on Instagram. They don’t call them one of 2020’s indoor houseplants according to Reddit and most Instagram-mable plant for nothing.
Sellers dictate their market price. So we can imagine why they can get so expensive.
Types of Variegation
Before we showcase the variegated monstera varieties, let us take a look at how variegation can be described.
There are three types of variegation in terms of color:
White variegation is simply white. Albo comes from the Latin word Albus meaning white. The monstera borsigiana albo is the prime example of this.
Yellow variegation is the aurea variegation. Aurea is the Latin word for golden. The monstera borsigiana aurea is the type example of this.
Light green variegation is referred to as the sport variety. Some have popularized this coloring as the mint variety. This is where all the different shades of green meet. The monstera deliciosa sport is an example.
The color variation is brought about by the genetic mutation in the cells. The green leaves have more chlorophyll as compared to variegated leaves.
There are two basic ways to describe variegation in terms of color:
Marble variegation is how the patterning goes for marble. You can see the wavy pattern of different colored pigments in the leaves. This can show in both leaves and stem.
Half-moon or split-leaf variegation is when the leaf shows an equally split color in glorious green and milky white. Quite satisfying to look at.
I’ve held you out long enough, here are the fantastic variegated monsteras and where to find them.
Here are the four types of variegated monsteras known by the internet.
Monstera Deliciosa Variegata
Mirror mirror on the wall, she’s the rarest of them all.
The monstera deliciosa variegata is the name given to naturally variegated monstera plants. It’s basically impossible to grow this variety on purpose because of how random mutation happens in nature. It can be extremely rare for regular monstera plants.
According to Plantophiles, the chance of having a plant randomly produce variegation is about 1:100,000. If you do the math, to get a variegated monstera deliciosa means you have to make 100,000 cuttings and make new plants, on average.
It’s possible, but not highly likely. In November 2020, The spruce reports that a variegated monstera deliciosa can sell up to $5000 in an online bidding war.
The Thai constellation was named after the lab in Thailand that created it. The thai constellation is not a true species, it is a variety of the monstera deliciosa. This variety has leaves with similar shapes to the classic monstera deliciosa. The variegation in the thai constellation is more marbled or speckled or has little islets in the patterns. The colors are more white to creamy yellow.
The monstera thai constellation is a tissue culture which is a method of mass propagation in plants. They take young plant tissue and place them in a culture medium to grow into new plants. It is considered stable because it does not lose the variegation as it matures with changes in its growing conditions. The amount of variegation does vary from plant to plant.
Thai constellation monstera is the most common variegated variety you see commercially being sold and is all over social media.
You can find cuttings of the plant through private online sellers, but most specimens ship straight from Thailand. Some plant nurseries have them and can also be bought as potted plants up to 2 ft tall. But note that the bigger the size means a heftier price.
Although the thai constellation monstera is the most common variegated variety, it is still not the cheapest houseplant. But the cost of each plant is reasonable compared to the borsigiana and the true deliciosa.
The monstera borsignia otherwise known as monstera albo, is a monstera deliciosa sub-species that tends to mutate more often. The monstera albo has smaller leaves than the classic deliciosa, but it grows faster. It is arguably the most striking one as well which means they are in high demand.
The variegation in the monstera albo is split into the marbled type and some chunks in the leaf that are fully green. The colors are a mixture of white and lighter shades of green.
They produce less chlorophyll and photosynthesize a lot less. Burning in the leaves is common for the monstera albo and especially in the white variegated portions. Growing them requires a lot of skill.
This variety can only grow from cuttings or fully mature plants. The monstera albo does not grow from seeds because they don’t exist. They are very rare and quite expensive.
You will most likely only find private growers and sellers. Some lucky collectors find potted variegated monstera albo that range from $150 and up to $5,000. Thursd featured the most expensive monstera albo sold for $4,930 at Trade Me.
Monstera Adansonii Variegata
The monstera adansonii is also called the monstera monkey mask. It is a vining plant which makes it a good hanging basket plant. It can be quite finicky and tricky to take care of.
Because Amazon has everything right? They sell variegated monstera plants, cuttings, and seeds listed from third-party sellers. A search can sometimes provide you with some sellers that might be able to have some in stock.
Facebook Marketplace or Instagram
Some people get lucky with finding some variegated monstera in Facebook Marketplace or Instagram. It may be worth a shot.
Tips on purchasing variegated plants:
Set a budget and a price point. You can’t really put a price tag on the joy to add these beautiful plants to your collection. But make sure you are comfortable enough shelling out that amount of money because it can get expensive.
Purchase well-established plants in a pot or cuttings with roots
Purchase from a reputable seller with great customer reviews
Try to find a local store or sellers than online sellers to avoid damage due to shipping
Caring for your variegated monstera
Care for variegated monsteras are the same as for the non-variegated monstera. However, it might be a good idea to supplement indirect sunlight with grow lights. Remember that variegation happens because the plant loses its ability to produce chlorophyll and so may not be able to generate enough energy to support growth.
Therefore, variegated plants tend to be less healthy and vigorous. Some of the white patches in the monstera albo in particular are prone to burn in the hot sun. So be mindful that your variegated monstera may need a lot of extra care.