Since 2020, the “houseplant jungle” has become more prevalent than ever. At the same time, we’ve seen a rise in the popularity of rare and exceptional plants. Monstera Esqueleto, a variety of Monstera endemic to the enigmatic cloud forests of Costa Rica, is among the most sought-after of this genus for enthusiasts and collectors the world over. And there’s no need to guess why – she’s an absolute beauty.
With enormous, light green leaves primarily constructed around deep fenestrations, this plant is a sight to behold. Even indoors, Esqueleto can grow to substantial sizes, boasting impressive, showy foliage with a sought-after jungle-like aesthetic. Best of all, they are hardy and easy to care for, propagate well, and grow quite quickly.
Esqueleto, which means “skeleton” in Spanish, has straightforward care requirements that we’ll look at in-depth in this article. We’ll also look at how to identify the Esqueleto, particularly in comparison to similar plants in the Monstera genus – after all, you wouldn’t be the first to ask the difference between Monstera Esqueleto vs adansonii, obliqua and more!
How do you care for Monstera Esqueleto?
The Monstera Esqueleto requires good-quality aroid soil, warm temperatures, high humidity, medium to bright light, and plenty of water. In terms of maintenance, regular pruning and occasional fertilization are advisable. Esqueleto are not prone to disease but can be susceptible to root rot.
Looking after Monstera Esqueleto is simple, provided you keep its growing conditions consistent, make sure not to over or underwater it, and plant it in good-quality soil. Exposing your Esqueleto to plenty of humidity is a surefire way to see it thrive, so bear this in mind, too, when positioning it in your home.
As with all plants, it’s a good idea to inspect your Esqueleto regularly for any signs of distress. When these plants aren’t feeling their best, they’ll communicate via droopy yellowing or browning leaves and an overall lackluster appearance. At the first sign of ill health, it’s good to check your Esqueleto’s roots, as most often, when they show symptoms of sickness, the cause is related to water.
On that note, let’s take a closer look at exactly how much light, water, humidity, and maintenance your Esqueleto needs, so you can equip yourself to look after this exotic stunner.
Does Monstera Esqueleto need direct sunlight?
In their natural habitats, Monstera Esqueleto are almost never exposed to direct sunlight. Instead, they prefer bright, indirect light for around six to eight hours a day. This can be done by placing your beautiful Monstera in an area that receives more morning light than afternoon light and set a few feet back from any direct exposure.
As with most plants, it’s best to try and emulate the conditions from your Esqueleto’s natural habitat in a home environment (as best you can) if you want to see it grow with vigor. In the case of this Monstera, they receive light through the leaves of the bigger trees around them and through the humid, low-lying cloud cover typical of the jungles of Costa Rica.
If it’s not possible to get this much light in your home, you can supplement your Monstera’s access to light with gentle grow lights. Whatever you do, don’t put your Esqueleto where the sun’s rays can hit it directly, as this can be highly damaging to their delicate foliage, which tend to scorch in the sunlight and can lead to you having burnt Monstera leaves.
Find out more about using a grow light for this plant, including our top pick for the best grow light for Monstera.
How often should you water Monstera Esqueleto?
While watering every 7 to 10 days is the general recommendation, this can vary depending on the climate of your home and the season in general. For this reason, it’s best to instead test the moisture of your soil with a fingertip (or moisture meter) before deciding to add more hydration to your plant.
There are no hard or fast rules when developing a watering schedule for your Monstera Esqueleto. In fact, the best thing you can do for Monstera is to monitor their soil’s moisture levels and water them only when they’re thirsty.
Overwatering and underwatering can be treacherous for Monstera, and the signs of both present in a similar fashion. A drooping Monstera with wilting leaves is your first indicator, so if your Esqueleto is suffering from either, do yourself a favor and check its soil. Once you’ve determined if water is indeed the issue, adapt your H20 practices accordingly.
Does Monstera Esqueleto need humidity?
All Monstera love humidity and the Esqueleto is no exception. Tthis beauty is endemic to the tropical forests of Costa Rica, which are rich in moisture and warm to boot. If possible, you should try to keep the humidity levels around your Monstera as high as possible.
In a home environment, humidity for your Monstera can be supplemented in a number of ways. One of the easiest is to cluster many houseplants together, as they give off moisture while undergoing their daily biological processes. Another clever technique is to set your Esqueleto over a damp pebble tray without letting its roots touch the water.
If neither of those options is viable for you, you can consider investing in a plug-in home humidifier. Together with this, regular misting of your Esqueleto’s leaves will keep them moisturized and well-hydrated. In a home, top spots for Esqueleto are more humid spaces like kitchens and bathrooms.
What soil does Monstera Esqueleto need?
The ingredients that make an excellent Monstera soil mix are chunky bits like bark that allow for nutrient growth and air circulation, a moisture-retaining substance like perlite, and a well-draining potting soil as a base. You want your soil to hold moisture without becoming dense or cloggy.
A big part of Monstera Esqueleto care is providing it with a good foundation of high-quality soil. This beauty can be pretty specific about what it likes, so invest in a Monstera-specific soil blend, or if you’re up to it, mix one yourself.
Adding a dash of activated charcoal works well to keep your soil balanced, as Monstera need slightly acidic to neutral ground with a pH level of 5.5 to 7. And never fear if you feel your soil isn’t nutrient-rich enough. You can always top up your Esqueleto with a little slow-release fertilizer every now and then.
Find out more about what constitutes the absolute best soil for Monsteras here.
When should you repot Monstera Esqueleto?
Monstera Esqueleto should only be repotted when they’ve run out of growing room or when you feel it’s time to refresh your soil. On average, I recommend repotting your Esqueleto once every two or so years, but this also depends on how healthy it is and how fast it grows.
Signs that your Esqueleto may need to be repotted include ascertaining if it has physically run out of space in its planter. You can usually judge this by eye, but in some cases, you may need to inspect the underside of its pot to see if it’s become rootbound.
Another good time when to repot your Monstera (or any plant for that matter) is if you feel it needs new soil. Houseplants can exhaust their existing soil over time, and it also tends to develop unpleasant fungus or bacteria if left unattended for too long.
Should you prune Monstera Esqueleto?
There are two main reasons we prune our Esqueleto: one is maintenance, and the other is aesthetics. Maintenance is necessary to make room for new growth and to preserve your plant’s energy. But, pruning is also a good way to keep your Monstera as good-looking as possible.
After all, no one enjoys dead leaves on a plant this gorgeous!
Check out exactly how to prune your Monstera here.
How to identify Monstera Esqueleto
A Monstera Esqueleto juvenile can be challenging to identify, as it looks a lot like the adansonii or Obliqua. However, as it matures, the Esqueleto develops a characteristic fenestration pattern that sets it apart from its peers. Its leaves also possess a unique texture.
As the name suggests, the Esqueleto has quite a skeleton-like appearance, with nearly 80% of its leaves’ surface area covered in fenestrations. These apertures usually comprise two shapes: one smaller set of circles running along each leaf’s central rib, with a second set of wide oval holes between those and the leaf’s edge.
Further characterizing this plant is its size. Its leaves are enormous, growing up to two feet long (60 centimeters) in the wild. Indoors, it won’t become as big but can turn sizeable in ideal conditions over time.
In color, the Esqueleto has bright but relatively light green leaves and thick stems with distinctive nodes. It is a hemi-epiphyte, which means it has both terrestrial and aerial roots, so don’t be surprised if you see this beauty trying to climb up trees or other support structures.
The texture of the Esqueleto’s leaves is slightly leathery, and they’re tougher than their delicate composition suggests.
Monstera Esqueleto vs adansonii
The main differences between the Monstera Esqueleto and Monstera adansonii are in the color, texture and fenestrations of their leaves. Where the Esqueleto has relatively light green leaves, the adansonii’s are darker and brighter. The Esqueleto also has distinctively uniform fenestrations, while the adansonii’s are more scattered and sporadic.
The question of Monstera Esqueleto vs adansonii is a common one. The two types of Monstera are regularly confused, given they both have loads of fenestrations and look relatively similar when they’re young. In particular, a Monster Esqueleto baby is almost indistinguishable from an adansonii, but as it grows older, it lightens substantially.
In terms of texture, the adansonii has smooth glossy leaves, whereas the Esqueleto has a slightly leathery texture.
But perhaps the most significant difference between these two plants lies in their fenestrations. As mentioned, the aperture pattern of the adansonii is scattered and sporadic, comprising numerous small holes all over its leaves’ surface. The Esqueleto, on the other hand, has leaves that comprise one set of smaller and one set of larger holes, extending from the central vein to the leaf’s edge.
Find out all about how to care for a Monstera adansonii here.
Monstera Esqueleto vs Obliqua
The main difference between the Monstera Esqueleto and Monstera Obliqua is the size of their fenestrations. The Obliqua is almost more aperture than leaf, and it looks virtually skeletal in its delicacy. That being said, the Esqueleto is the more robust of the two and is also less rare (and slightly cheaper).
It’s easy to see why the question of Monstera Esqueleto vs Obliqua comes up so often. Like with the adansonii, the hardest time to tell these two apart is when they’re young. As Monstera Esqueleto mature, their signature fenestrations begin to develop, making it fundamentally easier to tell them apart.
Where the Esqueleto has two sets of fenestrations, the Obliqua only has one. Its apertures run from midrib to leaf’s edge, connected only by fine sheaths of plant tissue here and there.
Take a look at our ultimate guide to the Monstera Obliqua here.
Monstera Esqueleto vs Epipremnoides: What’s the difference?
Monstera Esqueleto and Monstera Epipremnoides are actually two different names for the same plant. Some equate the Epipremnoides to the image of it being a big, magnificent jungle plant of Costa Rica, whereas the Esqueleto is a cultivar developed by man to live indoors.
However, the question of the difference between Monstera Esqueleto vs Monstera Epipremnoides is an easy one to answer: they are exactly the same.
How to propagate Monstera Esqueleto
Monstera Esqueleto can be propagated from stem cuttings, either in prepared soil or water. To propagate in either, first select a stem cutting with two to three nodes and at least one or two healthy leaves. Once in their growing medium, they should develop new growth in four to six weeks.
Monstera Esqueleto are fantastic for propagation, so you have no reason not to spread the love. All you need is a good stem cutting (remember that you can’t propagate a Monstera without a node!) and a growing medium (either water or soil), and a healthy dose of patience and maintenance.
To propagate a Monstera in water, set your stem cutting in a container with water near a sunny spot by a window. Every week or so, refresh your water to keep it oxygenated. It’s also a good idea to rotate your plant, so it receives light from all angles.
Soil propagation is even more straightforward. Prepare a planter with a monstera soil blend, and simply plant your cutting inside it. With soil propagation, your most crucial consideration is humidity, so make sure to keep misting your plant while it works to develop new roots. The warmer the spot where you place it, the better.
Learn everything you need to know on how to propagate a Monstera here.
Where to find Monstera Esqueleto for sale
The easiest way to get hold of the rare and enigmatic Monsters Esqueleto is through specialist online suppliers. They are not yet in-demand enough to be freely available in nurseries, but more and more are popping up online in marketplaces like Etsy and eBay.
The Esqueleto is a definite must-have for Monstera collectors, but they can be tricky to find and expensive to purchase. The reason for this is their relative scarcity, although they’re becoming more freely available with every month that passes.
Let’s take a closer look at why this beauty is so rare and how much you can expect to pay for one.
Is Monstera Esqueleto rare?
The Monstera Esqueleto is definitely considered to be rare, although it is not nearly as hard to come by as the Obliqua or certain variegated varieties of Monstera. For years, exotic Monstera have been scarce, but as they rise in popularity, so they become more freely available.
What’s a standard Monstera Esqueleto price?
Monstera Esqueleto are, unfortunately, one of the priciest plants around. Depending on its size and condition, a juvenile plant can set your back anywhere from $500 to $1000. Cuttings should be slightly cheaper, but they present their own risks as there is no guarantee they’ll develop new roots, particularly following transportation.
Why is Monstera Esqueleto so expensive?
Supply and demand is probably the easiest explanation for why Monstera Esqueleto is so expensive. Because they’re so difficult to get hold of, suppliers can get away with charging exorbitant prices for them. Fortunately, the more popular they become, the more likely we will witness a price drop.
Can you find Monstera Esqueleto variegated?
Theoretically, any plant can be variegated, as this cell mutation occurs randomly in nature. However, there is currently no evidence to suggest that variegated Monstera Esqueleto exist in the open marketplace. If they have become available at any point, they’ve likely been swept up in a heartbeat.
While many different variegated Monstera exist, they are almost impossible to find. Online, variegated species sell for record-breaking prices, compounded by the fact that they’re exceptionally difficult to propagate. Presumably, Monstera Esqueleto can develop variegation, but whether there are any in circulation currently is unknown.
What’s Monstera Esqueleto’s origin?
Monstera Esqueleto is endemic to the cloud forests of Costa Rica, where it thrives in low-lying humidity and medium light. As epiphytes, they need larger plants to climb and trail along, making this environment perfect for survival.
If you’re hoping to see a Monstera Esqueleto in the wild, you’re going to have to take a trip to Central America. But if you’re fortunate enough to do so, you’ll be blown away by the size and spread of these beauties, as well as by their growth rate.
For most of us, our experience with Monstera Esqueleto will be the ones we grow indoors. They are nevertheless beautiful, albeit somewhat smaller and less striking.
How to deal with a Monstera Esqueleto runner?
Runners are long trailing roots given off by Monstera that don’t possess nodes, leaves, or stems. Removing them from your plants won’t harm them, but you can use runners to try and propagate your Monstera Esqueleto if you’re hoping to produce new juveniles.
A Monstera with many runners can start to look a bit unruly, so if they’re bothering you, don’t feel bad to snip them off. However, instead of throwing away this excess, you can try to propagate runner cuttings in a peat moss tray, which is wrapped in plastic to lock in humidity.
While runner propagation isn’t always successful, it can have surprising results if set in ideal conditions. It can take months, but with proper care, new growth can develop from cut areas of your runners, which can be transplanted into prepared soil to grow.
Is Monstera Esqueleto toxic?
All Monstera varieties are mildly toxic to humans and animals. Monstera Esqueleto nodes, stems, and leaves contain a sticky sap that can cause skin irritation, swelling, nausea, vomiting, and dizziness. Should someone (including a pet) ingest this sap, seek medical attention immediately.
Unfortunately, the Monstera Esqueleto can be quite harmful if chewed, eaten, or if its sap is spilled on the skin. To curb this, always be mindful when handling these plants, particularly if you’re pruning them. The sap is unlikely to make humans fatally ill but can be temporarily hazardous to the gastrointestinal system.
Similarly, if your cats or dogs like to chew your plants, keep your Esqueleto out of their reach given that Monstera is toxic to cats (and dogs). The effects of this sap is harder on their systems, as they are smaller in size. In good news, these plants don’t taste good, so they shouldn’t have an incentive to become repeat offenders.