Rhaphidophora tetrasperma has commonly been mistaken for Ginny Philodendron, mini monstera, Philodendron Piccolo, and mini split leaf. Even though the plant has split leaves that make it look like Philodendron or Montera deliciosa, it is an entirely different plant. Thanks to social media, these differences have been brought to the limelight.
This plant is not related to the philodendrons and the monsteras even though. It belongs to an independent genus Rhaphidophora of the Araceae family, often referred to as aroids. This unique species of plant originated from South Thailand and Malaysia. It was first discovered by a British botanist called Joseph D Hooker in 1893.
The meaning of the plant's scientific name comes from the characteristics of the plant. Rhaphidophora relates to the needle-like oxalates found at the center of the plant, while Tetrasperma relates to the four-sided seeds produced by the plant. If you are looking for a tropical green houseplant, you may consider R.Tetrasperma, for they are easy to grow and take care of.
I have compiled this guide to provide you with all the required information about the plant, from growth to care.
R.Tetrasperma is a tropical evergreen and lush plant with striking fenestrated leaves. The rare tropical aroid plant has small ornamental leaves with split lobes around 6 inches. The plant does not have edible fruits and can grow up to 12 feet, depending on the conditions provided. R.Tetrasperma is a vining plant with aerial roots that climbs things as they grow for stability.
The plant has a compact growth which means they do not grow as massive as other monsteras. It can be planted both indoors and outdoors, therefore suitable for any of the available space. For example, if you have a large living room, you may choose to plant it indoors, and if your living has limited space, you may as well have your plant outside in the alley or at the front door.
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Conditions Necessary for Plant Growth
Rhaphidophora tetrasperma requires bright and indirect sunlight. Adequate lighting is recommended, in which case dappled, filtered sunlight is ideal. If planted indoors, ensure plenty of the sun by placing the plant in a room wherein the mornings the plant can utilize the morning sunlight, say an east room. Such a room will ensure the plant receives shade throughout the day.
In the case of outdoor placement, you should ensure the area supplies the ideal lighting requirements. If there is too much direct sunlight on the site, you can use a 20-40% shade cloth to block some of the excess rays. Avoid direct sunlight as it will scorch the leaves.
Although the plant requires low light, too much shade or very low light conditions will affect the plant’s foliage. Very low light conditions will slow plant growth, reduce its leafy foliage and even prevent the leaves from splitting.
Ensure the plant is not exposed to long hours of sunlight which may cause black or brown spots to form on the green leaves. If you notice such symptoms on the plant, change the location accordingly.
R.Tetrasperma requires an optimal temperature of between 55-84degrees Fahrenheit. However, it can tolerate slightly lower temperature levels. The plant cannot thrive in frosty-hardy conditions. The plant thrives well in zone 11 even though it can grow in zones 9b-12. If the temperatures are below 55 degrees Fahrenheit in zones 9b-10, the plant should be planted indoors. As a general rule, extreme temperatures must be avoided.
Like other tropical houseplants, the plant requires high humidity levels. Since household humidity is usually lower, you need to make sure the humidity levels are optimal. The recommended optimal humidity levels should be between 30%-40%.
The following are some of the methods you can use to ensure the plant has the necessary humidity conditions.
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Proper watering is one of the most critical requirements of Raphidophora Tetrasperma. The plant requires even and consistent moisture but not soggy soil conditions. This means that great care must be taken when watering these plants.
It is essential to test the soil condition before watering; if the soil is still moist, you may skip watering for that day and check the next day again if need be. Water lightly while ensuring an even moisture level. Consistent watering is not needed in cooler months like the summer and spring months would.
During the active growth stage of the plant, more water is required hence the need to check the soil moisture content daily. The general rule is to ensure the root ball is not dry, and at the same time, the soil is not waterlogged. It is even best to underwater than to overwater the plant.
The plant should not be watered on a specific schedule but when watering is needed.
The following factors should be considered when watering.
R.Tetrasperma requires a well-drained chunky substrate will plenty of aeration and the ability to stay moist and not foggy. You can use a potting mixture of equal portions of sphagnum moss, perlite, horticultural charcoal, and pine bark.
You can also use loamy soils that are well-drained and organic-rich. It is recommended to add perlite, peat moss, or some orchid bark to improve the soil's drainage capacity while still holding moisture. Excessively sandy soils and those that become easily waterlogged should be avoided. The recommended PH levels of the soil should be approximately 6-6.5.
If water pools at the soil's surface due to poor drainage, you may change the potting mixture or consider repotting. Poor drainage may be as a result of the following:
When it comes to feeding, RT requires a balanced fertilizer or one with high nitrogen content. The fertilizer used should not contain harsh chemicals like urea. A high-quality slow-release balanced organic fertilizer should be used to prevent the fertilizer from burning the plant's sensitivity.
Over the active growth stage, the plant requires regular fertilization and drastically cuts down fertilizing or even completely when the plant’s growth rate reduces, especially in colder months. For liquid organic fertilizers, the monthly application is necessary. Heavily diluted chemical liquid fertilizers should be applied weekly. The manufacturer's instructions should be followed when using a slow-release organic fertilizer.
The general rule is to reduce root burn by avoiding too many fertilizers. Only fertilize during the active growth stages of the plant.
The vigorous growth nature of the plant calls for repotting at least once or twice a year.
Here are some indicators of the need for repotting.
If you notice all or any of these signs, then it is time for repotting. During this time, you can check the roots for any disease, rot, or fertilizer burn. This is very important that should not be ignored as it is the only time you get hands-on with the plant. During potting, you can give the plants support to climb like a trellis or a moss pole.
If you chose to restrict growth by repotting in the same container, it is necessary to sterilize the pot before re-using it. To prevent the plants from quickly becoming root-bound, you will be required to trim off some of the roots.
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Pruning and Training
These are important activities to maintaining the size of the plant. Being a climber, training is necessary to provide them with support and something to hang on to, such as substantial stakes and sturdy trellises. The aerial roots of the plant will latch on the support provided as the plant grows. You can offer more support using an old cloth or plant support tape.
Pruning is essential in maintaining a specific size and also pests and disease-damaged parts. This process also reduces leggy growth that results from one side of the plant receiving little light. The procedure is carried out using sterile pruning shears or clean snips.
When pruning, ensure you reduce the plant by a small percentage, say 25%, to avoid damaging the plant by removing excess parts at one time. Pruning is also done to acquire stem cuttings for propagation.
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The main problems you may encounter when growing and taking care of the plant are overwatering, leggy growth, pests, and diseases.
The plant is prone to growing leggy, especially when not receiving enough light. This is when they exhibit extra growth. Ensure the plant gets even light on all parts by regularly turning it to reduce leggy growth.
This is also a common problem with the plant, wherein you may find yourself overwatering in pursuit of ensuring consistent moisture. This may result in waterlogged and soggy soils, which are detrimental to the plant as they may lead to root rot. Avoid overwatering by finger testing the soil moisture level and only watering when needed. Scheduled watering is discouraged, and it is also not necessary to water every day.
The most common pests that attack R.Tetrasperma are spider mites. They mainly destroy the leaves and the stem of the plant by sucking out the sap. The problems are hard to identify, but you can see the symptoms of infestation, which include yellowing of leaves, scarring of the plate, and sparkled leaf surfaces. To control these pests, you can use neem oil and pyrethrin-based spray in extreme cases.
The plant shows a lot of resistance to most diseases but susceptible to fungal root rot, whose symptoms are yellowing of leaves. The main cause of this problem is overwatering. Some of the signs of overwatering include waterlogged and soggy soils, pools of water on the soil surface, and poor drainage.
Fungal root rot can be reduced by avoiding watering and leaving the plant without watering until the soil or the potting mix is dry. In severe cases, you may be required to repot the plant.
With this guide, you are one step towards proper growth and care of your Rhaphidophora Tetrasperma.