The variegated Monstera dubia is a rare and exceptionally beautiful plant species native to Central and South America. Beloved for its shingling growth and breathtakingly aesthetic light-dark variegation, it’s easy to see why this stunner is so sought-after by Monstera collectors worldwide.
In terms of appearance, a dubia’s journey to maturity is marked by two distinct growth phases, making it fascinating to care for. As a juvenile, it has small, marbled, heart-shaped leaves that cling to and lie flat against surfaces or other plants. As it grows larger and older, its leaves’ coloring, shape, and growth pattern change, adopting the Monstera genus’ signature fenestrations and longer, hanging stems.
If you’re considering investing in a Monstera dubia for your home, you’ve come to the right place. In this post, I’ll cover how to care for this striking plant, including how to propagate, transplant, and prune it, where to buy one, and how much you can expect to pay.
Ready? Let’s take an in-depth look at the peculiar and awe-inspiring Monstera dubia.
How do you care for Monstera dubia?
Monstera dubia are low-maintenance plants provided their few key needs are met. Regular water and feeding keep them healthy, and they need well-draining soil and high humidity. Having a structure or support to attach themselves to is a necessity. They also require plenty of bright, indirect light.
If you’ve cared for other species of Monstera or tropical plants in general, you’ll find this one no different. Like most varieties of Monstera, the dubia (or shingle plant) is easy and rewarding to care for. It does not require much fuss and has relatively straightforward requirements in terms of water, soil, feeding, temperature, and light.
Being tropical, they are, of course, thirsty plants, and enjoy having lots of water, provided it drains off and doesn’t turn their soil cloggy or dense. While they are hardy plants, they can develop root rot quite quickly, so allowing the top layer of soil to dry out between hydration sessions is encouraged.
On the topic of soil, they do best in a loose, well-draining aroid mix with plenty of chunky bits of organic matter. Dubia expend quite a bit of energy to grow and thus need a nutrient-rich substrate to draw from. If you’re mixing your own soil, consider turning it with bark, peat moss, and perlite. Occasional feeding with a slow-release fertilizer also benefits this plant, giving it a little health boost and encouraging growth.
As is the case with most types of climbing Monstera, having a structure or support to grow on is of great importance. What this gorgeous plant loves most is to press its leaves flat against a climbing surface, and it is in these circumstances that we really see them thrive and develop their shingled appearance. While many Monstera like a moss pole or similar, your chosen structure with this particular type need not be complicated. The dubia will even be happy with a plain, flat piece of wood.
Does Monstera dubia like humidity?
Monstera dubia are happiest in environments with medium-to-high humidity reminiscent of their jungle origins, ideally with humidity levels exceeding 50%. Moisture in the air keeps their leaves and aerial roots hydrated, providing energy and, in turn, allowing and encouraging them to climb. While normal household humidity levels should be enough, keep an eye on your dubia for signs of dryness.
That is, Monstera leaves that are curling or whose edges turn crispy may indicate that your Monstera dubia may need a little additional humidity. You can implement this by investing in a plug-in home humidifier or regularly misting your dubia’s leaves.
Keeping this beauty close to your other houseplants also encourages a collective heightening of humidity levels in the home. On that note, try to keep them away from drafty windows or artificial air conditioners.
In dryer, hotter areas, it can help to keep your dubia in a kitchen or bathroom environment which tend to be the more humid areas of your house. And, of course, never underestimate the value of a damp pebble tray resting beneath your plant.
Find out more: 12 Proven Tips to Get Your Monstera the Humidity It Needs
What are Monstera dubia’s light needs?
The Monstera dubia needs six to eight hours of bright, indirect light per day. In their natural habitats, where they grow against larger plants and trees, they constantly strive for the sunlight breaking through the canopy above them. This means they are adapted to dappled light rather than harsh, direct sun rays.
Indeed, direct exposure to the sun can, in fact, harm them, scorching the leaves of juvenile plants particularly. The best practice is to keep your Monstera dubia in a light space with plenty of windows but set a few feet back.
Like the light needs of Monsteras generally, morning sun is preferable to afternoon sun, as it is less harsh but still provides the necessary energy for photosynthesis.
Is Monstera dubia fast-growing?
The Monstera dubia is not fast-growing, especially compared to other plants of the Monstera genus. The speed of their spread is moderate and directly related to their growing conditions and how much space they have. Indoors, they generally only reach heights of between 3 and 6 feet (1 to 2 meters).
This gorgeous shingle plant loves to amble along at its own pace. While not slow-growing either, it does not experience tremendous growth spurts, instead keeping to a regular schedule of growing a few new Monstera leaves every season.
Indoors, these plants will also only grow in the space allocated to them. For their health, regularly prune your Monstera dubia, even though this also impacts their size.
That being said, a Monstera dubia in the wild behaves somewhat differently in the outdoors, where they can reach up to 25 feet (7 meters). This is most commonly seen in their natural habitats and has allowed observers of the dubia to chronicle their unique growth patterns. Domestic dubia are unlikely to reach the size and maturity required to see their leaves become fully fenestrated, but in the jungle, they are Monstera like all others.
To encourage your Monstera dubia to grow to its full potential, try to make its environment as ideal as possible. This means ensuring that its needs are met in terms of light and humidity, soil, and water and that it has a great structure to cling to. Furthermore, inspect your plant every few weeks to ensure nothing is hindering its growth.
Why is my Monstera dubia not growing?
When a Monstera dubia stops growing, it usually means something has gone wrong in their environment or that they are suffering from a deficiency of some sort. The main culprits of stunted growth are overwatering, underwatering, underfeeding, overfeeding, pests, root shock, or insufficient light.
Fortunately, the dubia is quite good at communicating when it’s not feeling its best. Overwatering and underwatering present in much the same way, with wilting and yellowing leaves on your Monstera. Similarly, a Monstera with brown spots may be experiencing underfeeding and overfeeding, accompanied by a generally lackluster appearance. Pests are easy to treat and identify through a close inspection of your plant, followed by a wash-down with an organic pesticide.
If your Monstera dubia appears to be healthy overall but just won’t budge in terms of growth, it might be that it is not receiving enough light or is becoming rootbound in its pot. Both of these issues are easy to solve once identified and simply require a change of placement or a new pot in case of a sizing problem.
To see just how easy the full process is, check out our article on how to fix a root bound Monstera.
Do Monstera dubia need soil?
Monstera dubia need soil to grow given that they are both terrestrial and epiphytic, which means they grow both from the ground and along surfaces, structures, or other plants. In fact, the dubia has quite particular soil requirements in order to thrive and grow to its full potential.
Like most plants in the Monstera genus, the dubia has roots that grow in soil and aerial roots that cling to various surfaces, should the opportunity arise. Most if not all of the nutrients they need are drawn from the ground they are potted in, so it’s crucial that they are planted in a top-grade mix from the start.
The best soil for a Monstera dubia is loose and well-draining and packed full of beneficial organic matter. Regular, shop-bought potting soil is not suitable for these little creepers, as it is often too dense and can suffocate their roots. That being said, it can certainly be used as part of a soil mixture but should not make up the majority of the resultant product.
This is because Monstera dubia are prone to root rot, particularly if they receive a lot of water that is not draining off correctly. Dense, compact soil heightens the risk of having an overwatered Monstera dubia, which is why it’s better to avoid it from the get-go. Root rot is difficult to manage and can be fatal to plants, especially young ones.
Chunky, aerating substrates like bark or peat moss are excellent components to add to your soil mix. They keep the airflow going around a dubia’s root system while simultaneously serving as a source of minerals and nutrients. A moisture-retaining substance like perlite is also worth adding to the makeup of your soil and will only benefit your plant in the long run.
How to propagate Monstera dubia
Monstera dubia are most commonly propagated from cuttings grown either directly in soil or rooted in water. To develop new plants from cuttings, you need to select a stem containing leaves and nodes, make a clean cut, and transfer it into its growing medium. Plenty of light is a must.
Most varieties of Monstera are easy to propagate, and the dubia is no different. The process of growing new specimens from stem cuttings is easy and gratifying, with an exceptionally high success rate if you implement sound Monstera dubia care. All you need to do is follow a few simple steps, and you’ll have new plant babies in no time.
If you intend to propagate directly into soil, you need to start by identifying a stem with decently-sized aerial roots growing from nodes and at least one or two leaves. Make sure your cutting tools are clean and sterilized before making the snip to prevent the spread of diseases or pests to your Monstera. Most importantly, prepare your soil container in advance so that your cutting doesn’t suffer too much exposure to air.
Dipping your cutting in rooting hormone before planting it can’t hurt, but what’s more important is ensuring you have a good soil mix ready, as outlined in the section above. If you’d prefer your stem cuttings to develop strong roots before planting, you can propagate them directly in water.
As with the soil method, identify a suitable and robust cutting and prepare your water station in advance. Once you’ve made your cut, simply pop the stem into fresh water (never submerging the leaves) and place it in a spot that receives plenty of indirect sunlight every day. To continue growing your Monstera in water, make sure you change the water every five or so days and expect to see root growth in 4 to 6 weeks. When your roots reach about an inch, your cutting is ready to plant.
Propagating Monstera dubia by division
Monstera dubia can also be propagated by dividing their basal root systems. This entails removing the plant from its container and really just dividing it into two or more parts at a ground root level. The dividends can be planted separately and cared for as you would any juvenile dubia, going slightly easier on watering and restricting fertilization of your Monstera until it settles.
The best season for this is during the warmer months of spring and summer. Naturally, your plant should be relatively mature and very healthy before attempting propagation.
How do I transfer a Monstera dubia?
To transfer or transplant a Monstera dubia requires exceptional care, especially when encouraging your plant to cling to a new surface. Its ground roots must be gently buried in an aroid soil mix, and its aerial roots temporarily attached to a structure until they’re ready to hold on their own.
Transplanting a shingling plant can be daunting, but if you’re adequately prepared, and your workstation is clean and spacious, you shouldn’t have any challenges getting it right. Your first port of call when repotting a Monstera is to ensure you have your Monstera’s pot or planter ready with your aroid soil mix, as well as the structure you’re planning to mount your dubia to, which may be a pole or plank.
Next, you want to remove your Monstera dubia from its existing container as gently as possible. Sliding it out on its side is most effective. Once exposed, try to shake off as much of the remaining soil as possible. If you notice any unhealthy roots, this is also an excellent time to snip them.
If your dubia is already shingling to a structure, you may want to transplant it intact, or you’ll have to painstakingly loosen each of your Monstera’s aerial roots from the surface. This will require a lot of patience and is a very delicate procedure, but it will be worth it to protect your plant’s health and keep it safe for its future growth.
Once loose, it’s time to replant your Monstera. Place its roots into your new planter, spreading them out as much as you can, and fill in around them with soil, pressing it down firmly without compacting it. The shingles of your plant can be attached to their new climbing structure with florist’s tape or twine. Take care to work lightly and secure the plant under its leaves around its stems. In a few weeks, it should be able to support itself.
When can I repot a Monstera dubia?
Monstera dubia only need to be repotted every two to three years as they are not the fastest growers. Alternatively, you may want to consider providing them with a bigger home once their root systems start to outgrow their pots. In either case, try to transplant your dubia sparingly as drastic changes can cause them distress.
The same logic applies to their climbing structure. Start with a bigger surface for your plant so that you can avoid having to replace it in the future, which entails disconnecting your dubia’s aerial roots. Indeed, it will also grow as much as its climbing surface allows, so in this regard, plan for future expansion.
Why is Monstera dubia so expensive?
Monstera dubia is so expensive as they are one of the rarer and lesser-known Monstera varieties, well-loved for their beautiful shape, shingling, and dark and light green variegated leaves. They are not commonly available, and for this reason, they are expensive and sought-after.
In contemporary culture, Monstera is more popular than they’ve ever been before, especially in a generation obsessed with houseplant jungles. The more we learn about these beautiful plants, the more sought-after they become. The flipside of that is demand.
Because the Monstera dubia is challenging to find and is not freely available at garden centers and nurseries, it comes with a heftier price tag. Currently, the only way to get hold of one of these beauties is through specialized suppliers, usually online, which unfortunately also involves transportation costs.
Monstera dubia price aside, there is also the fact that they are slower to grow, making propagation and multiplication a lengthier process for those waiting in line to get one.
Find out more about how much you’ll pay for this variety with our Monstera plant price guide.
How do I prune Monstera dubia?
To prune your Monstera dubia, make sure your tools are clean, and then snip away at unwanted developments as close to the stem as possible. Never remove more than 30% of your Monstera’s overall growth, as this can be distressing for your plant and difficult to recover from.
Regular pruning is part and parcel of keeping your Monstera healthy. Removing old, dead, or dying leaves prevents your plant from wasting its energy while keeping it in shape and helping it look its best. Pruning is simple and requires simply snipping away unwanted growth (within reason).
It seems a shame to take shears to your beautiful shingle plant, but pruning keeps it healthy and happy in the long run. It is also natural for some leaves to decay or die off as your plant ages, and cutting them away prevents your plant from having to expend energy on shedding them itself.
Think of it as giving your dubia a haircut, so it doesn’t have to contend with split ends.
Aesthetics aside, pruning can also be beneficial if your plant has suffered from an infection or illness of any kind, even if it was a minor error in caretaking. Yellowing leaves will not recover and are better off removed. The same goes for those with brown spots or dry edges.
Does Monstera dubia fenestrate?
Monstera dubia in the wild fenestrate freely, developing beautiful apertures in their leaves as they mature and expand in size. While it’s not impossible, Monstera dubia grown in the home are far less likely to reach the size required for fenestration, hardly ever exceeding six feet in height.
These striking plants undergo particular developments during the course of their lives. When they are young, they present their signature heart-shaped, variegated Monstera dubia leaves of light and dark green. As they reach full maturity, this is when Monstera leaves split generally, transforming into leaves resembling the more common Monstera, like Deliciosa.
To really get your Monstera dubia large enough to fenestrate will require years and years of growth and patience. Together with this, home environments are not their ideal conditions, although they can live in them happily. In a hothouse or conservatory, you have a greater chance of bringing your dubia to size for fenestration.
Monstera dubia vs Scindapsus: What’s the difference?
The main difference between the Monstera dubia and the Scindapsus is that the dubia ceases to shingle as it matures, whereas the Scindapsus retains its juvenile appearance throughout its life. They also differ in terms of their native environments. That is, the dubia hails from Central America, whereas the Scindapsus is of Asian descent.
Furthermore, they differ significantly as they grow older. Where the dubia changes in shape, begins to trail and fenestrates (at least in terms of Monstera dubia in the wild, given that fenestration is pretty rare with dubia houseplants), the Scindapsus remains a shingling plant and retains its variegated leaves.
They are, however, both variegated shingling plants (at least for a while) belonging to the family Araceae. And it’s fairly understandable that these two beautiful plants are often confused as they have similar looks and growth patterns when they’re young, although the argument could be made that the dubia is more similar in appearance to the Monstera tuberculata.
Safe to say, you wouldn’t go wrong with either of them in your home!