Undoubtedly one of the rarest, most sought-after, and most expensive houseplants on the market, the Monstera obliqua is not for the faint of heart. A single, unrooted cutting can be very expensive, particularly if it’s mature and highly fenestrated, which means this rare Monstera is usually only grown by serious collectors. Not only is this tropical plant expensive, but it’s also slow-growing and demanding in its care. Due to all of these factors, it is extremely difficult to come across a genuine Monstera obliqua. If you’re in the market for an obliqua, it’s best to source it from a specialty plant shop, reputable collector, or importer who can guarantee its authenticity.
The Monstera obliqua is frequently confused with its cousin the Monstera adansonii, which is similar in appearance. In fact, it’s common for Monstera adansoniis to be mislabeled and sold as obliquas, particularly the highly fenestrated ones. However, these two plants can be distinguished by the size and shape of the fenestrations. The obliqua develops far larger, rounder fenestrations as it matures and is known for its super-thin, delicate leaves and slow growth rate.
Here’s what you need to know about growing the elusive Monstera obliqua indoors.
|Common Name||Monstera obliqua|
|Botanical Name||Monstera obliqua|
|Mature Size||6-10 ft. tall (outdoors), 4-5 ft. tall (indoors)|
|Sun Exposure||Indirect, full light|
|Soil Type||Moist but well-drained|
|Bloom Time||Spring, summer|
|Flower Color||Green, white, yellow|
|Hardiness Zones||9-11, USDA|
|Native Area||Central America, South America|
|Toxicity||Toxic to pets|
Monstera Obliqua Care
The Monstera obliqua is particular about its growing conditions and is not ideal for houseplant beginners. It requires warm, humid temperatures that can usually only be achieved with the help of a greenhouse or terrarium. It’s sensitive to overwatering and underwatering and needs the perfect amount of light (not direct sun but ample indirect light) in order to thrive. That being said, under the right conditions this plant can thrive when grown indoors. As with most Monsteras, the Monstera obliqua is a climbing hemiepiphyte that does best with something to climb like a moss pole or trellis.
Monstera obliquas require 7+ hours of bright to medium indirect light. They should not be exposed to any direct sunlight, as the leaves will easily burn, and should also be kept out of low light conditions. Many growers will use grow lights for these Monsteras, particularly since it’s common to grow obliquas in greenhouse cabinets or terrariums. Just be sure to do your research about the best kinds of grow lights for the obliqua, as well as how far away it should be positioned to avoid burning.
Monstera obliqua needs a potting mixture that is rich and well-draining but also retains moisture well. A combination of indoor potting soil and perlite is common, with sphagnum moss on top to help increase moisture and humidity. Loamy soil mixed with bark is also a good choice.
The obliqua should be kept evenly moist, but not soaking. It’s best to allow the top inch or two of soil to dry out between waterings to prevent overwatering and root rot. Since this Monstera is relatively slow-growing, you may only need to water the plant once a week or once every two weeks during the growing season. However, rather than keep a strict watering schedule, it’s best to regularly check the soil moisture (you can use your fingers or a moisture meter) to evaluate when it’s time to water, since it will change throughout the year. You will need to cut back on watering in the fall and winter months as the plant enters dormancy.
Temperature and Humidity
One of the most important parts of successfully growing a Monstera obliqua is ensuring it has the proper temperature and humidity. These tropical plants require high humidity of at least 80%, with temperatures around 77 degrees Fahrenheit (25 degrees Celsius). Without adequate humidity, the obliqua's paper-thin leaves will quickly begin to shrivel up and die. This means that an enclosed environment like a greenhouse cabinet, terrarium, or tent greenhouse where the conditions can be closely controlled with a humidifier is usually the best spot for an obliqua. Small temperature and humidity readers can be purchased to monitor the conditions around your obliqua.
Since this rare plant is considered a slow grower, it requires less fertilizer than some of its more common monstera relatives. Apply a water-soluble liquid fertilizer diluted to half strength once a month during the growing season (spring and summer). Stop fertilizing in the fall once the temperatures begin to drop, and don’t apply any fertilizer during the fall and winter months.
Types of Monstera Obliqua
There are upwards of 15 different Monstera obliqua varieties that have been discovered. Here are a few of the most well-known:
- Monstera obliqua ‘Peru’
- Monstera obliqua ‘Bolivia’
- Monstera obliqua ‘Suriname’
- Monstera obliqua ‘Panama’
- Monstera obliqua ‘Filamentous’
- Monstera obliqua ‘Brazil’
Propagating Monstera Obliqua
One of the reasons that Monstera obliqua are so rare and difficult to find is that they can be tricky to propagate. The actual process of propagation is similar to many other types of Monsteras and aroids: rooting stem cuttings. Cuttings can be taken from the main plant or from a runner (stolon) if it’s growing any. However, just as obliquas are difficult to care for, they can also be difficult and slow to root. To increase your chance of success, ensure that you attempt propagation during the spring, when the plant is actively growing. Here’s what you need to know about propagating Monstera obliqua by stem cuttings.
- Prepare the sphagnum moss by soaking it in water for at least 15 minutes to rehydrate it. In the meantime, take cuttings from your plant.
- Using a pair of sharp, clean pruning shears, take a stem cutting from a healthy and established Monstera obliqua. The cutting should have at least two nodes and at least one leaf if possible.
- Remove the bottom leaf/leaves from the cuttings to expose the bottom nodes along the stem.
- Remove the sphagnum moss from the water and wring it out until it’s moist, but not soaking. Place it in a potting container with drainage holes on the bottom.
- Plant the stem cutting in the moss, ensuring that the nodes at the bottom of the stem are covered.
- Place the cutting in a warm, humid environment. A greenhouse, greenhouse cabinet, or terrarium are ideal locations.
- Keep the sphagnum moss evenly moist but not soaking. If successful, aerial roots should begin to grow within several weeks. Keep a close eye on the cutting for signs of rot, and cut away any rotted pieces immediately if you notice any.
- Once the aerial roots are at least an inch long, you can transition the cutting to the same potting mix that your mature obliqua is planted in. Keep the potting mix evenly moist and return the freshly potted plant to its original warm, humid location to prevent it from going into shock.
Potting and Repotting Monstera Obliqua
This slow-growing Monstera will likely only need to be repotted once every couple of years when it has outgrown its current pot. Roots growing from the pot’s drainage holes or circling the inside of the pot are both signs that it’s time to repot. Like most houseplants, it’s best to repot your Monstera obliqua in spring and summer when it is actively growing. Ensure that you choose a new potting container that is only two to three inches larger than the plant’s previous container to prevent accidental overwatering in a pot that is too large. Refresh as much of the soil as you can during repotting without breaking roots, and water the plant well once it is in its new pot.
The Monstera obliqua is susceptible to a range of common houseplant pests including spider mites, scale, whitefly, thrips, and fungus gnats. This can become particularly problematic if you are growing your obliqua in a greenhouse cabinet or terrarium where the infestation can quickly spread and take over the space. Make pest checks a regular part of your plant care routine and consider applying a mild insecticide to your plant on a regular basis to catch potential infestations early.
Common Problems With Monstera Obliqua
It’s common to run into a few problems growing a Monstera obliqua, particularly as you’re first learning how to care for them. Keep an eye out for these common problems.
Yellow leaves are a common problem among most plants with a few possible causes. Overwatering, underwatering, too much light, not enough light, and pests can all cause yellow leaves. The only way to know for sure what’s going on is to evaluate your plant’s growing environment closely.
Root rot is a common ailment among Monstera obliquas. Signs of root rot include yellow leaves, wilted leaves, mushy stems, and dead or mushy roots. Root rot is usually a result of overwatering—a costly mistake to make with this rare plant. If you suspect your obliqua is suffering from root rot, remove it from its potting container and soil immediately. Cut away any rotted pieces, and either repot the plant in fresh soil (if it has healthy roots left), or follow the steps for propagation if your plant doesn’t have any healthy roots remaining.
Without proper humidity, a Monstera obliqua’s leaves will quickly begin to dry out. Ensure your obliqua is placed somewhere with at least 80% humidity.
Why does my Monstera obliqua have a long stem with no leaves on it?
Like some other aroids, Monstera obliquas produce stolons. In their natural habitat, these leafless runners will grow along the forest floor until they find another tree to climb, at which point they’ll begin to grow new leaves again. While the runners don’t have leaves, they do have nodes. In indoor environments, these stolons can be used for propagation.
How big does a Monstera obliqua get?
In their natural environment, Monstera obliqua plants usually grow to be six to 10 feet tall. However, it’s difficult to achieve these heights indoors. When grown as houseplants Monstera obliquas normally only grow to be around four to five feet tall.
Why is the Monstera obliqua so expensive?
Monstera obliquas are expensive because they are difficult to find in the wild, slow-growing, and tricky to propagate. This makes them rare and highly sought after, driving up the price.
American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. "Cutleaf Philodendron." Aspca.org. N.p., n.d. Web.