Tag Archives: Monsteras

Aroid Photo Update

It’s been a while since I have posted updates on some of my plants that I’ve had for a year or two.  So here are some of my Aroids, which are doing quite well:

Aglaonema 'Gold Dust'
Aglaonema 'Gold Dust'

Though Aglaonema ‘Gold Dust’ has not grown a lot, it has recently put out a new offset, which I would prefer over height anyway, since I just have one stalk of it.

Aglaonema 'Royal Ripple'
Aglaonema 'Royal Ripple'

My Aglaonema ‘Royal Ripple’ has been putting out many offsets and is now filling the pot rather nicely.  Some of my other Aglaonemas are also doing really well: A. ‘Peacock’, A. ‘BJ Freeman’, A. ‘Abidjan’, and A. ‘Silver Bay’

Anthurium barbadoense
Anthurium barbacoasense

The Anthurium barbacoasense which I brought back from the April meeting of the MidAmerica IAS chapter is growing really well.  I need to figure out a good system for supporting it.  I probably just need to set up a totem for it.  For now, it has been growing leaning against a taller pot for support.  This plant was collected by Dr. Tom Croat in Colombia.

Epipremnum pinnatum v. 'Cebu Blue'
Epipremnum pinnatum v. 'Cebu Blue'

My Epipremnum pinnatum v. ‘Cebu Blue’ is one of my favorites!  It has been growing very steadily and has latched on to the wood totem I made for it.  Recently this plant was knocked over in a wind storm, which caused me to lose a leaf or two and some of the plant lost its grip on the wood, but the plant was mostly undamaged.  I’m so glad this one is doing well.  You can see from one of the neighboring plants that I am a sucker for this foliage color.  I just love the blue-silver shade.

Monstera obliqua
Monstera obliqua

I’ve had luck off and on with my Monstera obliqua, but this set of cuttings really took off recently and I gave it a totem to climb, which is going pretty well.  It has produced some very large leaves down at the base of the plant, which I didn’t expect.

Philodendron '69686'
Philodendron '69686'

My Philodendron ‘69686’ is growing very well.  It has been putting out leaves profusely, one right on top of the other.  According to Steve Lucas, this plant is likely a naturally-occurring hybrid from Brazil.  I’m glad it got out before they clamped down on exports of all plant life!

unknown Philodendron hybrid
unknown Philodendron hybrid

My unknown hybrid Philodendron from cuttings at my office has been growing really well and attached to the totem.  It’s already taller than the totem I made, so I’ll need to come up with something taller or start cutting it back.  It would be neat if I could make a really tall totem for this one and just let it keep growing taller.

Philodendron florida?
Philodendron florida?

This Philodendron was searching for something to climb, so I recently fixed up a totem for this one and have it temporarily attached with string.  I really like the texture of the stems of this plant.  This plant was a gift from Russ Hammer, who told me that it is called Philodendron florida, but I haven’t been able to find much information on that name.

Philodendron mayoi
Philodendron mayoi - with two happy pups in the background

My crowing glory right now is my Philodendron mayoi.  About 6 months ago I found a really nice piece of wood that was contorted and scarred and it was scheduled for destruction, along with a bunch of other tree limbs.  So I held onto it and waited for the perfect use.  One day I realized it would make a really nice climbing apparatus for one of my Aroids.  And I had just the perfect plant!  The P. mayoi latched on very quickly and has roots wrapping all around this unique branch.  It’s a work of art, in my opinion!  I really don’t think the pictures do it justice.

Philodedron mayoi
Philodedron mayoi
Philodendron 'Rojo'
Philodendron 'Rojo'

My Philodendron ‘Rojo’ hybrid is one of the few Meconostigma self-heading (upright, self-supported, non-climbing) Philodendrons in my collection.  This plant has been growing slow and steady since I got it sometime last year.

Philodendron bipinnatifidum?
Philodendron bipinnatifidum?

The other Meconostigma Philodendron in my collection has not been identified.  For a while I was calling it Philodendron selloum, but I’m not sure that is correct.  It might be Philodendron bipinnatifidum.  My plant has stayed about the same size since I got it in a trade about 3 years ago.  It puts out new leaves and loses old ones, but stays about the same size.

Philodendron tortum
Philodendron tortum

My Philodendron tortum is one of my newer plants.  It has been growing really well.  I will have to set up a totem for it soon.  I guess that will make it a “tortum totem.”

Syngonium wendlandii
Syngonium wendlandii

Syngonium wendlandii is probably the most attractive Syngonium that I have ever seen.  This plant, like my other Syngoniums, really likes water.

Recent Aroid Acquisitions

I have had three recent acquisitions of new plants from generous friends.  A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about my trip to see Steve Lucas’s tropical atrium.  I mentioned that Steve was kind enough to take cuttings of several of his plants and shared them with me.  I have also received some plants (most of them Aroids) through the mail recently from some of my plant friends.  Plant friends are great!  I thought I would bundle all my new plants into one post.  Most of them are Aroids, but there are a couple of plants from outside the Aroid family.  Here’s all of them:

Philodendron mayoi
Philodendron mayoi from Steve Lucas

Steve has A LOT of Aroids, many of them Philodendrons.  This particular Philodendron (P. mayoi) was named after a noted botanist at the Royal Botanic Gardens Kew in London – Dr. Simon Mayo.

Philodendron erubescens
Philodendron erubescens from Steve Lucas

Philodendron erubescens has really neat cataphylls that roll up into tight coils.  Many cataphylls are herbaceous, eventually turning papery and falling away.  These cataphylls are more persistent though.  The inflorescence of this Philodendron is a really beautiful red.  There are pictures on Steve’s website, if you’re interested.

Philodendron 69686
Philodendron 69686 from Steve Lucas

This is likely a naturally-occurring hybrid from Brazil, commonly mislabelled as Philodendron Joepii (named after Joep Moonen).  There has been much confusion regarding this plant and it has yet to be given a name.  It retains the number until a registered cultivar name is assigned.

Philodendron mexicanum
Philodendron mexicanum from Steve Lucas

This is beautiful Philodendron with a wonderful leaf shape and a nice red mottling on the undersides of the leaves.  By the way, Steve told me that noted Aroid collected Roberto Burle-Marx only collected plants for their interesting leaf shapes and didn’t care what their names were.  I found that very interesting.  There are a number of plants named after him.

Philodendron biliettiae
Philodendron biliettiae from Steve Lucas

This Philodendron has a bright orange stem and very distinctive, long leaves.

Philodendron atabopoense
Philodendron atabopoense from Steve Lucas

This Philodendron has a really cool coloration.  The undersides of the leaves, which you can’t see from the picture, are red.

Alocasia gageana
Alocasia gageana from Steve Lucas

Steve has so many of these Alocasias spreading in his atrium every year that he has to rip them out and throw them away by the end of the summer season!  Can you believe that?  I helped him by removing one plant this Spring. 🙂

Rhaphidophora tetrasperma cuttings from Beth
Rhaphidophora tetrasperma cuttings from Beth

I have enjoyed pictures of this Aroid for quite a while.  I went in search of a plant and found a friend, as well! 🙂  A fellow plant enthusiast (Beth in Mississippi) agreed to send me a cutting.  Actually she sent three and included some more surprises in the box, as well!

large variegated Monstera deliciosa cutting from Beth
large variegated Monstera deliciosa cutting from Beth

Monsteras are wonderful Aroids, best known for their leaf fenestrations.  Beth sent me this large cutting of Philodendron ‘Pink Princess’ (below), which is a gorgeous hybrid.  Apparently she has several pots of this plant that each have 5 stems this size!

large Philodendron Pink Princess cutting from Beth
large Philodendron 'Pink Princess' cutting from Beth

She also threw in two really cool non-Aroid plants – Synadenium grantii ‘rubra’ and a variegated Pedilanthus tithymaloides.

2 stems of Synadenium grantii rubra from Beth
2 stems of Synadenium grantii 'rubra' from Beth - rooting in Vermiculite

Beth told me that Synadenium roots very easily and quickly.  I have planted my two stems in moist Vermiculite, which has been the best rooting substance I have used in the past.  Beth also warned me to be careful with the sap of this plant, which will burn the skin worse than anything else she has ever encountered.  Vegetable oil can be used to remove the sap.

Pedilanthus tithymaloides from Beth
Pedilanthus tithymaloides from Beth

After a little research I found that Pedilanthus is a synonym for Euphorbia.  [I have a gigantic Euphorbia post prepared for Wednesday.  Stay tuned!]  This plants is sometimes called “Devil’s Backbone” or more favorably “Japanese Poinsettia.”  If I’m lucky, it will eventually produce small red or pink flowers at the top of the stems.

Philodendron hastatum from mr_subjunctive
Philodendron hastatum from mr_subjunctive

A fellow blogger noticed that I had a plant on my wish list that he had seen locally.  He bought the plant, sent it to me and I reimbursed him for his troubles.  This Philodendron has a different name everywhere you see it.  It is commonly called Philodendron glaucophyllum (or glaucaphyllum), though I am told the true species name is hastatum.  Some common names used are “Silver Metal Philodendron” or “Blue Philodendron.”  Regardless, it is a very cool plant, and this one is in great condition.

Aglaonema Gold Dust division from mr_subjunctive
Aglaonema 'Gold Dust' division from mr_subjunctive

Mr. Subjunctive had a large Aglaonema that he didn’t mind sharing.  He split off a large division and sent it to me.  He also included another cool, little foliage plant in my box – Pellionia pulchra.  He didn’t provide it’s name right away, to allow me to track it down.  I think I had seen pictures of this plant, but it took me some time before I got to the source.  Along the way I thought it might be in the Cissus genus or possibly even a Begonia.  My wife noted that the leaves are asymmetrical, which is true of all Begonia leaves.  Eventually I found the identity in one of my plant books – Ortho’s Complete Guide to Houseplants.  It’s a Pellionia pulchra, which is in the same family (Urticaceae) as another genus of common foliage houseplants – Pilea.  Pileas are the plants commonly called “Aluminum,” “Watermelon” and “Friendship” plants.

Pellionia pulchra from mr_subjunctive
Pellionia pulchra from mr_subjunctive

That’s a lot of new additions!  Thanks, Steve, mr_subjunctive and Beth, for the wonderful plants. 🙂


 

Genus profile: Monstera

First, a quick lesson…  Monstera is a genus in the family of Araceae – the family generally called “Aroids.”  [To add to the confusion of classifying plants, there is a subfamily in Araceae called Aroideae.  The Aroideae subfamily includes the popular genera Aglaonema, Alocasia, Dieffenbachia, and Philodendron.  Monsteras are in a different subfamily – Monsteroideae.  But when someone refers to “Aroids” they usually mean the whole family of Araceae (not just the Aroideae subfamily).  Therefore they are referring to all subfamilies, including the genus Monstera in the Monsteroideae subfamily.  The Monsteroideae subfamily includes 12 different genera, including: Epipremnum (pothos ivy), Rhaphidorpha, Scindapsus (S. pictus) and Spathiphyllum (peace lilly).]

I only gave that little lesson to continue to ingrain it in my head.  I am not a botanist by trade, but I’m very interested in classification and try to keep these distinctions as I talk about plants.

Monstera deliciosa v. Borsigiana - I wish this photo hadn't turned out so yellow...
Monstera deliciosa v. 'Borsigiana' - I wish this photo hadn't turned out so yellow...

Common names for the Monstera genus include “Mexican breadfruit” and “Swiss cheese plant.”  The Monstera genus contains 22 species (according to wikipedia) and a number of naturally-occurring varieties and cultivars (human-cultivated varieties).  I have 7 of these plants from 5 different species/varieties:

Monstera adansonii

my young Monstera adansonii
my young Monstera adansonii

This plant was sent to me a couple of months ago by my friend, aroid collector Russ Hammer.  It is one of the vining types of Monstera with a small leaf initially.  The two leaves on my plant are just about 5 inches long.  If my plant were to reach full maturity (unlikely), the leaves could become 3 to 4 feet in length.  Here is a picture of Russ’s mature specimen (notice the size of the leaves in comparison with the hand):

mature Monstera adansonii
mature Monstera adansonii

Monstera deliciosa ‘Borsigiana’

Monstera deliciosa v. Borsigiana
Monstera deliciosa v. 'Borsigiana'

Monstera deliciosa is the most common Monstera species, usually kept as a houseplant.  Sometimes it is mislabeled as a split-leaf Philodendron.  While the name “split-leaf” is perfectly applicable as a common name, the name Philodendron should only be applied to species that are in the Philodendron genus.  [Way too many plants are called Philodendrons by common name that are not in the Philo genus.]

I have had this plant just about a year now and it has grown tremendously.  I’m not sure where I’m going to put it next winter if it grows as much over the summer as it did this last year!  This is a gorgeous plant.  I’ll probably just have to start separating it into a couple of pots and give some away.  I guess I could also experiment a little, starting a plant as a climber.  So far, my plant has just been a huge bush.  But this plant really likes to climb, so I guess I could give that a shot if I decide to divide it next year.

Monstera deliciosa ‘Borsigiana’ variegated

Monstera deliciosa v. Borsigiana variegated
Monstera deliciosa v. 'Borsigiana' variegated

This is another plant given to me by my friend, Russ.  It is a variegated variety of the plant above.  The variegation is variable, from solid white leaves to solid green leaves and everything in between.  One of my leaves is almost just perfectly half and half.  My plant didn’t get much time outside before the weather turned cold and it had to be brought indoors.  So right now it is a fairly small specimen with just 4 leaves.  I expect it to really take off next summer, though.  I’d like to see this turn into the “monster” that my other deliciosa has become.

Monstera deliciosa v. Borsigiana variegated
Monstera deliciosa v. 'Borsigiana' variegated

Monstera obliqua (aka Monstera friedrichstahlii)

Monstera obliqua / Monstera friedrichstahlii
Monstera obliqua / Monstera friedrichstahlii

It seems that both of these names (obliqua and friedrichstahlii) refer to the same species of plant.  The name friedrichstahlii seems to have fallen out of use recently.  This species also closely resembles the species adansonii.  The differences are more apparent when the inflorescence (blooming stage) and infructescence (fruiting stage) are observed.  There is a discussion on the Aroid forum that may be of help here.  I haven’t been lucky enough to see an inflorescence on any of my Monsteras yet, so I have to take someone else’s word on the identification.

Monstera standleyana

Monstera standleyana
Monstera standleyana

This is a unique, climbing species of Monstera that is most frequently (as a houseplant) seen growing on a totem.  It can become very dense, with the leaves closer on the stem than some other species.  The leaves have some dappled variegation, as if some paint was dripped on them.

This is another plant that was given to me by Russ.  I potted it up as soon as I received it, but it started looking bad about a week later.  The leaves curled up into little scrolls and started to turn dark.  I unpotted it and found that most of the roots were black and mushy.  I pulled away the rotted roots and stuck the firm clipping in water in the windowsill.  The cutting has been slow to put out new roots, but the leaves look better, having unravelled and flattened out.  I plan to just leave the clipping in water until the Spring, at which time it should have enough roots to be put in dirt again and support itself.

New growth on my Monsteras

Unlike most of the plants I have to bring indoors for the winter, my Monsteras continue to growth.  Here are a couple pictures of the beautiful new growth that I have been watching over the last couple of weeks.

new growth on small Monstera deliciosa v. Borsigiana
new growth on small Monstera deliciosa v. 'Borsigiana'
new growth on Monstera obliqua
new growth on Monstera obliqua

In nature

Monsteras are found in central and tropical south America climbing up the trunks of trees in rainforests and jungles.  They are epiphytic, meaning they will attach themselves to trees.  However, epiphytes do not harm the host tree, as parasitic plants do.  Monsteras display heteroblastic growth, changing leaf shape as they mature and climb higher into a tree.  The fenestrations (holes in the leaves) are one of the most distinct attributes of the Monstera genus, though fenestrations do occur in other genera.  Actually fenestrations only occur in the Monsteroideae subfamily, a couple of other Aroid genera and an aquatic plant Aponogeton madagascariensis (Madagascar lace leaf plant).  I have actually kept the madagascar lace leaf plant in my 29 gallon aquarium before.  It is a very usual and interesting plant.  For tree-climbing aroids, these fenestrations help the plants to weather wind in the upper branches, and prevent them from being pulled off the tree.  And of course, they are the reason for the nickname “swiss cheese plant.”

Care

Monsteras don’t require any special sort of care.  Generally, I keep mine in bright, indirect light.  This means that they sit on my partially shaded (dappled light) back porch during the summer and are very happy.  Otherwise they are in as much light as I can find inside the house during the winter.  My M. obliquas usually have a couple of leaves turn yellow and fall off whenever I bring them indoors.  I guess they just go into shock with the decreased light, because it has happened each year.  The vining types (adansonii, obliqua) are very easy to propagate by serpentine layering or simply sticking cuttings in a glass of water in the windowsill.

As I mentioned in a previous post, I have propagated my M. deliciosa by sticking a leaf with attached stem into a glass of water, too.  I was surprised to see roots grow from the base of the stem, since the piece didn’t even have a single node on it.  But it sent out roots in a matter of days!

If you’re interested in seeing some more Monsteras, there are lots of good pictures of Aroids over at http://aroidpictures.fr.  Here’s a direct link to the Monstera pics.

The Pee-Wee Effect

I have been hesitant to write on my plant blog about my bad experiences or flat out failures in raising plants.  I felt that someone who has a plant blog needs to appear to know what they are doing.  But I guess we are all experimenting and I don’t think PETP (People for the Ethical Treatment of Plants) will come after me if I share some of my more trying moments with my friend, Kingdom Plantae.

I live in zone 7A.  This region can get pretty cold during the winter – dropping to around 0 degrees Fahrenheit on occasion.  Needless to say, tropical plants must be brought indoors.  Unfortunately, I don’t (yet) have a greenhouse and my house is not well-suited to keeping hoards of plants over the winter.  My window space is limited and I have some beautiful large trees in my yard which pretty effectively scatter a lot of sunlight before it can make it in the window.  So, I’m limited on where I can put plants in the house over the winter.  It’s a bit of a struggle to keep everything alive until it gets warm again and I can put all my plants back out for some fresh air, circulation, real rain and warm sunshine.  I really should experiment with artificial lighting, but I only this year put most of my plants in one concentrated place where this would be effective.

Anyway, in this little house of mine, live myself, my wife, 2 aquariums with plants and fish, approximately a hundred plants – and 2 dogs.  Those last 2 inhabitants add yet another restriction to where I can place my plants indoors (and outside as well).

I was reading a blog post about Zamioculcas zamiifolia today at Plants are the Strangest People.  [PATSP is an excellent and entertaining blog, so you should check it out.]  In the post, the writer says that ‘ZZ plants’ rarely do anything and they don’t require any grooming since dead leaves are so rare.  I was just thinking about how this plant is nearly indestructible – and yet, I have a couple of dead leaves on my plant.  I felt kind of embarrassed at first, thinking I might be the only person in history who has had trouble keeping a ‘ZZ plant’ – although I’m sure that’s not true.  Then I remembered why my ‘ZZ plant’ has its brown leaves.

And that, my friends, leads us to “the Pee-Wee effect.”  My two canine daughters are a 70ish pound Boxer named Pippa and a 15ish pound Boston Terrier named Pee-Wee.

Pups at play

Pippa and Pee-Wee playing when Pee-Wee was a newborn puppy

Both of our pups been known to chomp a leaf from time to time, but Pippa is usually more trust-worthy than the younger, hyper and erratic Pee-Wee.  My wife and I affectionately refer to Pee-Wee as “the pig” [really it is affection], because of her little round, pink belly and her common snorting noises.  Most of Pippa’s attacks came when she was younger and less mature.

ZZ destruction

My ZZ plant’s browning leaves were most likely brought on by an assault by Pee-Wee.  There are some little perforations in the affected leaves that could only have been made by the little pig.  If it had been Pippa, there wouldn’t be a plant left.  She destroys all evidence.

Anyway, the “effect” of Pee-Wee’s random plant chewing is almost always that I lose the affected leaves.  I usually don’t do anything after she has messed with one of my plants, hoping that the plant will remain healthy and just have some new features.  I probably should just immediately snip off the affected leaves, though.

Pippa

Pippa in front of the Christmas tree

Pee-Wee

Pee-Wee driving the boat

Incapable pig

Pee-Wee pretending to be incapable of any wrongdoing

Aglaonema 'Maria'

Other plants that Pee-Wee has attacked include my Aglaonema ‘Maria’, a bromeliad, a pineapple plant (which is also a bromeliad), a coconut palm, and a gerbera daisy.  She actually managed to eat the bromeliad and pineapple plant, but she only damaged a couple of leaves on the other plants.  This summer, the pig ripped a leaf (with attached stem) off of my Monstera deliciosa ‘Borsigiana’ and left it lying on the back porch.  I stuck the leaf in water (about 4 inches across with a 10 inch stem) and was surprised to see two fleshy roots appear within a week or so.  So, in one case (and one case only) Pee-Wee has actually helped me propagate a plant.

propagated Monstera deliciosa 'Borsigiana'

This year, I have managed to move all plants out of their reach.  I built a small shelf in the extra bathroom in the house where some more plants can get some bright, indirect light.  And I bought a shelf to put in the laundry room, loaded it down with plants and put a baby gate in front of everything on the floor.  The main bathroom in the house, however, has a number of reachable plants on the floor.  So I have to make sure to keep that door closed whenever I leave the house.  Otherwise, I will be sure to come home to some disappointment.

My Heteroblastic Hobby

I started a plant journal (on paper) in the last month.  I decided to start keeping track of my plants as they grow, as well as document any new plants I get.  I have spent most of my journaling time not talking specifically about my plants, but about plant knowledge I have gained recently.  When Russ sent me a box stuffed full of Aroids, I did a lot of image searching of the different plants he had sent me.  A number of these plants have 2 distinct leaf habits, which is common among many Aroids, especially Philodendrons.  Leaves in the first stage – the immature or juvenile stage – are usually smaller and more simple looking.  Although sometimes the juvenile leaves are more colorful.  When the plant matures leaves can become much larger and often develop splits or holes.  This maturation process is usually instigated by the plant beginning to climb high up the trunk of a tree.  The splits and holes in the leaves enable the large leaves of the plant to be more resistant to wind.  The Epipremnum pinnatum v. ‘Cebu Blue’ that I received from Russ has small, lance-like, pale blue leaves.  As the Cebu Blue matures, the leaves can grow to several feet and have large splits in them.  If you are not familiar with this characteristic of many Aroids, you would find yourself trying to convince me that these could not be the same plant.  But they are!

Many plants displaying the ‘immature’ habits are called ‘shinglers.’  I found an International Aroid Society article about these.  The immature flat, round leaves lay up close to the climbing surface, sometimes overlapping and looking like shingles.  One of the best examples of a shingler is a Scindapsus pictus.

I just learned today that the characteristic of multiple distinct leaf habits is called heteoroblastic development.  I think the word is a fitting analogy for my hobby with plants.  My hobby has recently gone through a transformation that makes my old hobby look like a different species of hobbies.  But it’s the same me and the same love of plants that’s underlying this hobby.

Here’s some other miscellaneous knowledge that I recently gained.  Several times in picture captions I have seen a Genus name and then the word ‘NOID.’  ‘NOID’ means ‘No Identification’ or ‘Not identified.’  From what I can tell, this can mean that the person does know what species the plant is, or it has literally not been classified yet.

Also, I’ve known that v. stands for ‘variety’ but I had never even seen ‘f.’ before until Russ was identifying one of my Aglaonemas as A. commutatum v. maculatum f. maculatum.  Apparently f. means ‘forma.’