Beautiful and beloved, the Monstera in all its forms is more popular than ever, especially among houseplant devotees. But while we are most often confronted with standard types like Monstera Deliciosa, the species commonly found in garden centers and household jungles, few things compare to the variegated Monstera. It is, in a word, breathtaking.
In the plant world, variegation refers to the phenomenon where a plant has distinct white, cream, or yellow patterns splashed across its leaves and stems. These light-colored areas do not contain chlorophyll, which explains their absence of hue.
In Monstera, variegation is exceptionally rare, making these beautiful anomalies immensely in demand.
In this article, we’ll take a deep dive into everything there is to know about variegated Monstera. From the different varieties to how they are bred, how much they cost, and how to care for them.
How do you get variegation in Monstera?
Variegation in Monstera results from uncommon DNA mutations (random or genetic) that prevent sections of plant tissue from producing chlorophyll and are usually most evident on its leaves. Chlorophyll, which gives leaves their green color, is what plants employ to convert sunlight into energy.
Generally speaking, natural variegation in Monstera is luck-of-the-draw, as, at this stage, the cause is unknown. In terms of the science behind these kinds of mutations, it’s commonly accepted that one cell mutates, multiplies, and results in whole sections of discolored plant tissue, which in our eyes makes these specimens a rare and sought-after beauty.
When it comes to natural mutations, they might occur in two ways. A random, once-off variegation, called a chimeric mutation, is an isolated set of cells that have hybridized to form white or yellow splatters on a leaf or leaves of a Monstera. This occurs at random and for no discernible reason, and the mutation is hardly, if ever, passed on through seeding or propagating.
On the other hand, genetic mutations are far more stable and are passed on via seeds and cuttings. This marks a permanent change to a plant’s DNA, meaning the variegation is irreversible. This sounds wonderful for collectors but, unfortunately, has a bit of a proviso. Because these Monstera contain far less chlorophyll, they are also more challenging to keep healthy, especially when they are young.
A third type of variegation exists, which is manufactured and taking the houseplant world by storm. In Thailand, a tissue culture lab has managed to produce an engineered variegated Monstera known as the Monstera Thai Constellation. While still exceptionally rare, it has opened new doors for how these plants can be grown, filling a genuine demand.
How rare is a variegated Monstera?
Naturally occurring variegation in Monstera is incredibly rare, appearing on average in only one of 100,000 specimens. When discolored spots appear on a Monstera, the cause is usually an illness rather than a chimeric mutation. That being said, variegation can and does occasionally happen.
Perhaps it is human nature to covet that which is unusual and unique. Whatever the case and cause, there is an absolute buying frenzy for variegated Monstera, meaning they are snapped up almost as soon as they land on shelves. And not just any shelves either. These gorgeous plants can generally only be purchased from specialist suppliers and online marketplaces.
If you are fortunate enough to come by a variegated Monstera, the chances are also high that you’ll be facing a hefty price tag. These plants have been known to cause all-out bidding wars among Monstera enthusiasts, with astronomical selling prices of thousands of dollars recorded in the past few years that show no sign of abating.
Why is variegated Monstera so rare?
Variegated Monstera are so rare due to their slow growth rate. Their lower levels of chlorophyll make that they cannot convert sun energy at the same rate as standard Monstera, and therefore they grow far less quickly than other Monstera varieties. Slower growth impacts propagation processes, and suppliers simply cannot keep up with demand.
Of course, there is also the possibility that cuttings or seedlings won’t take at all. Because variegated Monstera are not as hardy as their standard, all-green counterparts, they are slower to root and challenging to grow from seed.
Complicating matters further is the fact that variegation can reverse itself, mainly if it has happened randomly rather than genetically. In some Monstera, the appearance of variegation is a once-off anomaly that cannot be reproduced through propagation and may even grow out and disappear over time, never to return.
Types of variegated Monstera
There are roughly a dozen types of variegated Monstera, and all of them are extremely rare. They range in color from light green to cream to bright white, and their patterning from splatters to spots to near-perfect coverage. The commonality they share is two distinct hues, with one being lighter.
Most of the popular types of Monstera are capable of variegating, creating designer hybrids that get swept up in a heartbeat by the fortunate few. Suffice it to say, these plants only very rarely make an appearance, and with the exception of the Thai Constellation, breeders must carefully propagate their Monstera specimens and hope for the best if they want to see their plants multiply.
Let’s take a look at a few of the world’s most sought-after variegated Monstera species.
1. Monstera Deliciosa Albo Borsigiana
The undisputed queen of the variegated Monstera world is the Monstera Deliciosa Albo Borsigiana. This absolute stunner has bright, snow-white variegation covering large areas of its leaves, making it essentially a partially albino Monstera. However, in every other respect resemble the jungle fronds we know and love in a Monstera.
However, finding a variegated Monstera Albo for sale can be a struggle given how in demand this type of plant is – and that’s not even mentioning the price. Just for a cutting of one leaf, expect to pay around $100. And for an actual plant of a large, mature Albo, this can cost upwards of $8,000 and requires extra special care in terms of light.
While there’s no question that that’s a lot of money, it’s also true that the variegated Monstera Albo is a spectacular plant and if you have the money and the willingness to put in the time for caring for this plant, it could definitely be worth it for you.
2. Monstera Adansonii Albo Variegata
The standard Monstera Adansonii is already rare among its Monstera peers, so imagine how much more so a variegated variety? Its glossy, holy foliage is emphasized by cream-white coloring over large portions of its leaves, adding eye-catching allure to an already stunning plant.
3. Monstera Deliciosa Sport Variegata
The sport variegated Monstera is one of the most unusual specimens on our list. Its leaves are dotted with cream and white splatters as if it’s been covered in paint. Furthermore, its variegation tends to start around the edges of its leaves, moving inward in varying degrees of coverage.
4. Monstera Deliciosa Thai Constellation
Bestowed upon the world by a tissue culture lab in Thailand, the variegated Monstera Deliciosa Thai Constellation has creamy smatterings of stars peppering its leaves, giving them an ethereal, otherworldly aesthetic. While the supply of this cultivar is technically stable, being genetically engineered, they’re still slow-growing and thus can’t meet demand.
While Thai Constellations are becoming more prevalent, they’re still only available through specialist suppliers.
5. Monstera Obliqua Variegata
The Monstera Obliqua already seems impossibly delicate due to the large fenestrations of its teardrop leaves. Add to this cream and white coloring, and the result is a plant that appears made-up. That being said, this variety is so rare it may as well be, and you’d be fortunate to find one in your lifetime.
6. Monstera Deliciosa Variegata Full Moon
The Monstera Deliciosa Variegata Full Moon is a unique species indeed. Named for its almost entirely white leaves (and differing from the half moon Monstera which, as you can probably guess from its name, has half of each leaf white), this plant is harder to care for than most and has the most challenging needs of the variegated varieties. This is because of its very limited chlorophyll and, by default, its low energy reserves.
7. Monstera Deliciosa Borsigiana Mint Variegata
The Monstera Borsigiana’s perfect fenestrations give it a sense of symmetry that is wonderfully disrupted by shades of cream and mint green in its variegated form. This big breed – also simply called the variegated mint Monstera – is easier to look after than some lighter Variegata species and is infinitely attractive to boot. More subtle but definitely a must-have.
8. Monstera Stadleyana Albo Variegata
The Monstera Stadleyana Albo Variegata is known for both the more scattered patterns that many types of variegated Monstera are known for, as well as what for the solid blocks of color that often give Standleyana leaves their half green-half white appearance.
When combined with the fact that its one of the few Monstera whose leaves don’t split, this is a real standout within this plant family.
9. Monstera Aurea
The Monstera Aurea Marmorata is prized for its yellow variegation that can range from some dainty splatters to half the leaf or more. It can be hard to find, although not impossible and if you track one down, this is definitely one variegated Monstera variety you should hold on to.
How to care for variegated Monstera
Caring for variegated Monstera is much the same as caring for standard varieties, with some exceptions in terms of light, water, and humidity. Their lack of chlorophyll means they need more sun to compensate and use less water for energy. High humidity prevents them from drying out.
The task of caring for such a rare and expensive plant can be daunting, but there are really only a few small considerations to keep in mind. Indeed, much of looking after them simply requires careful observation to ensure their needs are met, particularly when it comes to looking after your Monstera’s needs regarding light, hydration, and moisture.
FYI: As mentioned, variegated Monstera don’t photosynthesize at the same rate as normal Monstera. This means they need more sun to help along the existing chlorophyll in their systems and use less water for energy conversion. Together with this, they can also be tricky about light in that they scorch easily, especially on their delicate pale areas, and therefore their access to the sun must be indirect.
Keeping their leaves moisturized with regular spritzing and medium to high humidity levels in their growing environment is also advisable. Variegated leaves tend to become dry and curled and you could even see your Monstera’s leaves turning brown if they spend too much time exposed to dry air. This kind of damage is impossible to reverse. To combat this, consider investing in a home humidifier or keep your Monstera on a damp pebble tray.
A further note on variegated Monstera care regards root rot. Unfortunately, these varieties are pretty prone to root rot if you allow your Monstera to become overwatered, so keep a close eye to ensure your dappled beauty doesn’t have “wet feet.” Err on the side of caution and allow your Monstera’s top layer of soil to dry between watering.
Related: Exactly How Often to Water Your Monstera
How do you induce variegation in a Monstera?
Monstera variegation cannot be induced in a home environment as this would entail genetic engineering. It can, however, be encouraged by ensuring your Monstera has as much bright, indirect light as possible. This enhances variegation and can prevent your plant from reverting to full green.
In a perfect world, houseplant hobbyists would be able to induce variegation in their Monstera, but sadly, most of us are not equipped with the knowledge to do so. This process is immensely complex, requiring genetic manipulation, and to date has only been carried out successfully by the technicians in Thailand responsible for the variegated Monstera Thai Constellation.
Of course, if you aim to emphasize or amplify your Monstera’s existing variegation, you can do so by providing it with an optimal growing environment. By focusing on how much light your Monster receives, you can, to a degree, encourage it to develop and maintain as much variegation as possible. In low light conditions, variegated cultivars tend to revert back to green.
Can a Monstera plant turn variegated?
There is a one in 100,000 chance that a Monstera will undergo a random genetic mutation resulting in variegation. So, while it can happen, it’s improbable. Variegated specimens are most often propagated from parent plants with stable genetic mutations that do not revert over time.
In these cases, even a plain green cutting can become variegated as it matures. They can also be grown from seed.
If you do have a Monstera that seemingly develops chimeric (random) variegation, first inspect it thoroughly to make sure there is no evidence of pests or diseases. Some Monstera diseases present with creamy white spots, which may look appealing but can be deadly.
All that said, if your plant is in good health and develops true patterned variegation out of the blue – good for you. That is a lottery strike of nature.
Why is Monstera Variegata so expensive?
Variegated Monstera are expensive because they are both rare and in demand. Furthermore, they seldom become available for purchase, and when they do, they are bought quickly and usually by whoever can offer the highest bid.
This sounds like an oversimplification, but it’s indeed very accurate: there just aren’t enough variegated Monstera for all those who want them. And as the principle of supply and demand dictates, in this case, when resources are scarce, the variegated Monstera price will rise.
In turn, this begs the question of why they are so difficult to get hold of, which we have looked at in the previous sections. These beauties rarely occur in nature and are slow to propagate and reproduce. Even the tissue culture-produced Constellation, which should be in stable supply, isn’t always freely available.
In good news, when things become as wanted as the variegated Monstera is, innovations will follow. Likely in the next few years will start to see a rise in the availability of these plants, which should lead to a drop in price, making them more obtainable.
How much does a variegated Monstera cost?
The price of a Monstera Variegata depends on the size and type of plant and whether it’s a cutting or a whole specimen. A variegated Monstera cutting can go for as little as $100, but established plants can sell for up to $10,000.
Just a few years ago, a variegated Monstera Adansonii sold for a record $38,000, making it one of the most expensive plants ever purchased globally and certainly the most expensive Monstera for sale.
At a – relatively – more reasonable level, the Monstera Adansonii variegated price is slightly less than that, although don’t expect to get it for the normal prices you see for plants at your local garden center. That is, variegated Monstera Adansonii are occasionally available online for around $700, which gets you a small plant with a few leaves. While this won’t turn into a giant Monstera, as the Adansonii tends to stay relatively small, it still looks incredible and won’t be completely out of reach for everyone at that price point.
What is sport variegation on Monstera?
“Sport variegation” is when a whole plant is variegated, compared to “bud sport” which is variegation of just one branch. A sport variegated Monstera is thus one that has variegation throughout the entire plant.
A true Monstera variegata will be a sport variegated Monstera, in that you’ll find variegation on every leaf. If you have a bud sport variegated Monstera, where only one leaf appears to be showing a pattern, you should double check that it’s not something else, like a bacteria or fungus causing it.
Can you grow a variegated Monstera from seeds?
While it can happen, successfully growing variegated Monstera from the seeds of a parent plant is complicated and never guaranteed. The recessive gene that causes a Variegata’s discoloration will not necessarily pass over into its seeds, meaning your plant may come out plain green.
Plenty of sources on the Internet argue that variegated Monstera cannot be grown from seed. However, it is possible to grow stable variegated varieties like the Monstera Thai Constellation with a bit of know-how and a lot of care. This is, of course, provided that you can get your hands on the seeds of a parent plant too.
To grow these gorgeous Monstera, you would need to first soak your Monstera deliciosa seeds for 12 – 24 hours before setting them up in your germination station. Once settled, they need plenty of light and warmth to grow, ideally turning into seedlings in a few short weeks. From there, the challenge is to keep your juvenile plants happy and healthy until they’re big enough to become resilient. Bearing in mind, of course, that Variegata are not as tough as their cousins.
Even if you do successfully see seeds through to the sapling stage, there’s no guarantee they will become variegated, and much of this will depend on their growing environment. This is why trying to grow variegated Monstera from seed is discouraged in favor of, for example, seeking out a variegated Monstera cutting for sale, which has a better chance of taking.
How fast does a variegated Monstera grow?
While it varies between species, variegated Monstera are known for being slow-growing, which adds to their rarity and scarcity. Their growth rate is directly related to their gene mutation, which causes them to have less chlorophyll, meaning they don’t photosynthesize as fast as other plants.
If you happen across a variegated Monstera for sale, particularly a mature plant, know that it has undergone a journey to get to that point, as growing these plants takes patience. Even in optimal conditions, Monstera Variegata take their time, having to work up double as much energy as standard Monstera to develop.
On the upside, when they do grow, unfurling beautiful new bi-colored leaves, the feeling that follows is nothing short of gratifying.
Final thoughts on variegated Monstera
There’s no question that having a variegated Monstera in your plant collection can be an absolute show stopper. Even non-houseplant addicts can appreciate the speckled white and green look of the leaves on these plants so it’s definitely an addition to your home that everyone will appreciate.
At the same time, their popularity is both a blessing and a curse. You’ll be lucky to find a cutting of a variegated Monstera and while you could always consider buying a mature plant, the price point for this will likely be out of reach for many people. It’s also important to consider the extra care that these houseplants need, meaning they’re not entirely for beginners.
But if you’re committed to adding one of these beauties to your collection – and who wouldn’t – and have the ability to buy one (let alone find it!), then you absolutely won’t regret having a stunner like this in your home.