8 Varieties of Monstera Adansonii

Monstera adansonii, commonly known as Adanson’s monstera, is instantly recognizable. So much so that the thick, waxy, heart-shaped leaves have been depicted on everything from wallpaper to jewelry.

For a long time, growers could only get their hands on one type, with solid green leaves. Those days are gone. Now, you can find this plant in a range of patterns, leaf sizes, and colors, some commanding hundreds of dollars.

The original plant gained widespread popularity because it’s easy to care for, quick growing, and instantly draws attention. Now, with new cultivars gathering in popularity, adansonii is poised to reach new heights.

Subspecies of Monstera adansonii

Monstera adansonii, commonly known as the Swiss cheese plant, is a popular species of tropical plant that belongs to the Araceae family. This evergreen vine is native to Central America, and it’s a favorite among plant enthusiasts for its distinctively holey leaves and easy-to-care-for nature.

There are several subspecies of Monstera adansonii, each with its own unique characteristics and appearance. Let’s take a closer look at each of them.

Monstera adansonii subsp. adansonii

Monstera adansonii subsp. adansonii - 8 Varieties of Monstera Adansonii
Source: T. Croat (CC BY-NC-SA 3.0)

This is the most common subspecies of Monstera adansonii, also known as the ‘Type’ subspecies. It has large, heart-shaped leaves with familiar characteristic holes. Thi sis the plant you will recognize as the commonly grown houseplant. This subspecies is typically grown as a trailing plant, but it can also climb if given suitable support.

Klotzschiana

Klotzschiana
Credit: jpiolain (CC BY 4.0)

Klotzschiana is native to the northern half of South America in Brazil, Columbia, French Guiana, Peru, and Venezuela. While it isn’t commonly cultivated for commercial production, it’s widespread in its native habitat, where it grows as a root-climbing hemiepiphyte in humid forests.

Blanchetii

Blanchetii
Credit: pedrohmartins  (CC BY 4.0)

Blanchetii has larger leaves than the primary species, with wider holes. It isn’t a common commercially grown plant, but you can find it through specialty and rare plant retailers. Right now, growers are working on creating more stable cultivars of this Brazilian native, but they’re challenging to find available for sale.

Laniata

Laniata
Source: eduardo4bv  (CC BY 4.0)

Laniata is a subspecies of adansonii that is characterized by smaller, dark leaves, and narrow fenestration. It’s sometimes labeled under its heterotypic synonym Monstera friedrichsthalii

8 Varieties of Monstera adansonii

It’s common to see people confusing different plants in the Monstera genus with Adansonii. They have similar characteristics, and they are often referred to using what some retailers (incorrectly) see as interchangeable names. However, they are in fact different species.

  • Monstera acuminata
  • Monstera epipremnoides
  • Monstera punctulata
  • Monstera obliqua

All monstera are aroids, which are flowering plants in the Araceae family. M. adansonii are hemiepiphytes, which means that they spend the first part of their life clinging to trees in order to reach upward into the lower reaches of the canopy towards daylight. The plant produces air roots that push into crevices of tree branches and trunks. 

As the plant matures, it sends roots down toward the ground, where they eventually make contact with the forest floor.

Their growth habit is important to understand, as it informs how we care for these plants. Because their roots spend the majority of their life in the debris that collects in the joints of tree branches, they are extremely sensitive to overwatering and can’t survive standing in water for any length of time.

Each of the following varieties has a similar appearance, with fenestrated, heart-shaped leaves, albeit they differ in size, color, and sometimes leaf shape. When growing indoors, provide the plant with temperatures between 55-85°F, and it’s possible to grow them outdoors in Zones 10 and 11.

Monstera adansonii

Monstera adansonii
Source: spurekar CC BY 2.0

This plant, along with delicious, is the most iconic monstera plant, and one of the varieties that you’ll most commonly find in stores. It has solid green, heart-shaped leaves with fenestration throughout. It’s easy to care for and quickly growing. Provide it with a pole to climb up or let it tumble down the side of a bookcase or cupboard.

  • Ideal Position: Bright indirect light
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Toxicity: Toxic to pets and people if eaten

Monstera adansonii, also known as Swiss cheese plant, Adanson’s monstera, and five holes plant, is a beautifully vining plant that looks similar to its close relative, Monstera deliciosa

It’s much smaller than its cousin, and the leaf shape is technically known as “cordate,” with oblong holes, known as fenestration.

This species grows in the wild in Central and South America in humid, tropical regions in the dappled light of the forest. When mature, the vines can reach up to 13 feet long. Of all the plants on this list, this is the easiest to care for. It’s ideal for beginners.

Archipelago

Archipelago

Monstera adansonii ‘Archipelago’ is a beautiful variegated type with pure white blotches on deep green leaves. It has become a grower’s favorite for its striking coloration, and it’s a little more robust than some of the other variegated types.

  • Ideal Position: Bright ambient light
  • Difficulty: Moderately easy
  • Toxicity: Toxic to pets and people if eaten

Variegated monsteras tend to be more prone to root rot than standard species. Be careful not to overwater them and to provide free draining soil in pots with excellent drainage. If you tend to overwater your plants, grow ‘Archipelago’ in LECA rather than a traditional potting medium. LECA is clay that has been manipulated to turn it into large, porous pellets. It has excellent drainage, increasing the air pockets around the roots and significantly reducing the chance of root rot, according to the University of Georgia.

Otherwise, ensure that your potting medium contains perlite, which improves drainage, and that your pot has at least one drainage hole. Be certain to empty the catchment container 30 minutes after watering.

‘Archipelago’ stays more compact, growing to about 10 feet long.

Although it can be a bit fussier than the species plant, it’s less difficult to grow than some other variegated types. Variegated adansonii have a reputation for being a challenge to grow, so if you’d like to try your hand at a variegated type, this is a smart option for less experienced growers.

Aurea

Aurea

Beautiful ‘Aurea’ stands out from its variegated friends because it starts out green with yellow patches. Those patches eventually turn a cream hue as the plant matures.

  • Ideal Position: Bright ambient light
  • Difficulty: Challenging
  • Toxicity: Toxic to pets and people if eaten

‘Aurea’ is smaller than the main species, staying under six feet long in most cases. But just because it’s a bit smaller doesn’t mean the impact is any less impressive.

‘Aurea’ was cultivated by growers looking for a plant that was more stable than naturally variegated forms. That means you can count on the green, yellow, and cream coloring to be more reliably retained by the plant than the others on this list.

As with other variegated types, remove any solid leaves to prevent a reversion, which I’ll talk about in more detail shortly.

Half Moon

Half Moon

‘Half Moon’ is a variegated plant with distinctive half-white, half-green leaves. However, it’s an unstable cultivar, which means that it doesn’t always grow precisely half-white, half-green leaves. Some leaves might be entirely green or just have small patches of white.

  • Ideal Position: Bright ambient light
  • Difficulty: Challenging
  • Toxicity: Toxic to pets and people if eaten

As we said, ‘Half Moon’ isn’t a stable cultivar, yet. To label a plant as ‘Half Moon,’ growers identify a plant with at least a few leaves that show the desirable half-and-half growth, and they use that in their cultivation efforts. 

However, not every leaf on these plants will show this distinctive coloration, and the plant might not ever grow another half-and-half leaf. It’s possible that new leaves on ‘Half Moon’ will emerge entirely green.

When this happens in any sort of variegated plant, ‘Half Moon’ or otherwise, it’s known as the reversion. This is a frequent occurrence on variegated plants since they are often bred from a mutation, or a sport, of a plant that is typically green.

Mutations might not be stable, and there’s no guarantee that the plant won’t return back to its genetic origins. To help limit this occurrence, you should trim off any pure green branches.

Remember, this plant is from humid, tropical environments, and it prefers humidity levels around 60%.

Half Moon can be more challenging to grow due to its susceptibility to root rot, however, it can reach the same length as the main species, 13 feet long.

Indonesia Mint

Indonesia Mint

Indonesia Mint is a tropical plant native to Indonesia’s rainforests, characterized by its mint-green, heart-shaped leaves with natural perforations. Thriving in warm, humid environments, it climbs trees using its epiphytic nature, benefiting from dappled sunlight. Its unique fenestrations enable light to reach lower leaves, contributing to survival.

  • Ideal Position: Bright indirect light
  • Difficulty: Moderately easy
  • Toxicity: Toxic to pets and people if eaten

Despite its preference for high humidity and filtered light, this cultivar adapts well to various indoor conditions, making it a visually stunning and low-maintenance choice for plant enthusiasts seeking a vibrant, captivating addition to their collection.

Give this plant bright, indirect light, and be careful not to overwater it. One way to effectively avoid overwatering and replicate their native growing environment is to mount the plant on wood in a base of sphagnum moss.

Japanese Tricolor

Japanese Tricolor

‘Japanese Tricolor’ is stunning because of its unique patches of cream, green, and white, which is part of the reason it can command such a high purchase price. It resembles ‘Half Moon,’ with leaves that are primarily white on one half and green on the other, but with patches of cream interspersed throughout.

  • Ideal Position: Bright ambient light
  • Difficulty: Challenging
  • Toxicity: Toxic to pets and people if eaten

‘Japanese Tricolor’ prefers the similar tropical conditions that it’s used to growing in its native habitat. If you give it the right conditions, which include warm temperatures above 55°F and humidity above 60%, it will grow up to 10 feet long.

Prune off any solid green leaves, or you run the risk of the plant reverting back to a solid green type. You should also prune off any solid white leaves, as these aren’t healthy for the plant. White tissue doesn’t contain chlorophyll, which is necessary for photosynthesis. If a plant has too much white tissue, it won’t be able to support its nutrition needs.

Laniata Variegated

Laniata Variegated

The laniata subspecies are fairly rare, to begin with, and the variegated (variegata) cultivar is even harder to find. But if you do, you’ll be treated to a plant with petite, dark leaves with striking cream variegation.

  • Ideal Position: Bright ambient light
  • Difficulty: Challenging
  • Toxicity: Toxic to pets and people if eaten

As with other variegated types, it needs brighter light than green-leaved plants. All that white coloring doesn’t photosynthesize efficiently, so the plant needs more light to grow. Put them in bright ambient lighting or even direct light in the early day.

Protect them from the afternoon sun, however, which will burn the leaves. 

As a houseplant, it will grow up to 12 feet long, though it can grow up to 14 feet outdoors.

This is another good candidate for growing in LECA or mounted, as it’s exceptionally susceptible to root rot.

Variegated

Variegated

Variegated M. adansonii is a variety, which means it’s a natural variation of the species rather than one cultivated by growers. Either way, it has splotches of white on a green background. There are both variegata or albo forms of the adansonii species and the adansonii subspecies.

By the way, you’ll often come across the term “albo” in reference to plants. It’s simply the Latin word for white. “Variegata,” on the other hand, is Latin for intermingled color. Botanists typically assign “albo” to plants with more white than green pigment.

  • Ideal Position: Bright ambient light
  • Difficulty: Challenging
  • Toxicity: Toxic to pets and people if eaten

This plant can’t handle cold temps. It grows naturally in warm, tropical regions, so avoid placing it near a drafty window in the winter. In your home, it will reach about 12 feet long.

Variegated varieties occur naturally, as we mentioned, which means that there is no consistency in their appearance. Some leaves might emerge pure white, some might be pure green, and some might have a large or small amount of variegation. There is no way to predict what will emerge.

Remove any pure white leaves as they lack chlorophyll, which is essential for the process of photosynthesis. Photosynthesis is how plants synthesize carbon dioxide and water to turn them into nutrients that the plant can use. If there isn’t enough green tissue on the plant, it won’t be able to generate enough food to support itself.

You should also remove any pure green leaves, or you run the risk of allowing the plant to revert entirely back to green. To help encourage fenestration, be sure to give it enough light. Scientists aren’t entirely certain why some plants fenestrate, though one study by the Monteverde Institute found evidence that it helps with water uptake efficiency. What is certain is that plants in low light conditions develop smaller, solid leaves to maximize sun capture rather than larger, fenestrated leaves.

Monstaera adansonii Plant Care

Is one of the options above calling your name? It’s easy to be overwhelmed by so many good options. Regardless of which you choose, they all require a similar routine to keep them in good health.

Watering

All Monstera adansonii need consistently moist soil, but no standing water. The soil should be extremely well-draining so that water doesn’t suffocate the roots. It’s impossible to suggest a watering schedule or amount since conditions vary widely from one location to another. One person may need to add an inch of water a week and another twice or three times that amount.

The easiest test is to stick your finger in the soil. It should always feel like a well-wrung-out sponge. If it feels drier than that, add water. If it feels soggier, refrain from watering until the soil feels drier. You can also use soil moisture meters to help guide you.

Soil

All Adamson’s monsteras do fine in standard potting soil, though variegated types might benefit from growing in LECA or in soil with added perlite if you tend to overwater.

Fertilizing

Feed your monsteras once per month during the spring, summer, and fall with a mild houseplant-specific fertilizer. A water-soluble food that you can apply at the root level is best, but you can also use a foliar fertilizer. Look for something with an NPK of 10-10-10 or use a 20-20-20 and dilute it by half.

Pruning

As mentioned above, variegated types should be pruned to remove solid green or solid white leaves to prevent reversion and aid with photosynthesis. Solid types don’t need to be pruned, but trimming a vine just in front of a leaf node will encourage branching.

Repotting

Monsteras prefer to be rootbound, so repotting isn’t necessary as frequently as with other plants. Every few years, or when you check the moisture level of the soil, check to see if it feels like the roots are packed tightly in the pot. If there isn’t much space left for the soil because the root system has grown so extensive, it’s time to move up one pot size.

Regardless of whether you report or not, you should replace the soil in the container once every two years. Soil tends to become compact and denuded of nutrients over time, even when you add fertilizer, so it should be refreshed.

Propagation

All monstera tend to be easy to propagate via cuttings. You can start six-inch cuttings with at least one aerial root node in water or in soil. The aerial root is the brown, hard root-like growth that emerges above the soil level. These aid the plant in obtaining nutrition, and when removed, they contain cells where new roots will emerge.

Frequently Asked Questions

How many types of Monstera adansonii are there? 

There are four subspecies and approximately ten commercially recognized cultivars, varieties, and forms.

What are the different types of Monstera adansonii variegated? 

There are six variegated Monstera adansonii available to buyers. Look for ‘Albo,’ ‘Half Moon,’ ‘Japanese Tricolor,’ ‘Aurea,’ ‘Indonesian Mint,’ and natural varieties like ‘Albo.’

What’s the difference between adansonii albo and adansonii ‘Aurea’? 

Albo is a natural variation that was discovered in the wild by botanists. ‘Aurea’ is a cultivated type, which means that humans bred it to create a specific look. Both are variegated with splotches of white on a green base.

Citations

  • University of Connecticut – Monstera adansonii
  • Annals of Botany – A Preliminary Study of Genetic Variation in Populations of Monstera adansonii var. klotzschiana (Araceae) from North-East Brazil, Estimated with AFLP Molecular Markers
  • Monteverde Institute – The adaptive function of leaf fenestrations in Monstera spp (Araceae) a look at water, wind, and herbivory
  • University of Georgia – Planting and Growing with Challenges June 2021 Volume: VI Number: 2 Gardening Issue: Linda Doiron, Editor
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Ben's horticultural interest grew when graduating from Hertfordshire University in 1997. Having contributed to numerous publications including Better Homes & Gardens, Garden Design Magazine, and The English Garden. He is also the author of Propagating Houseplants Made Easy.