Rhaphidophora Tetrasperma Care and Propagation

Rhaphidophora Tetrasperma Care and Propagation

Rhaphidophora tetrasperma is a vining plant that is often confused for a Monstera, despite being from a different family. This is because the plant’s leaves resemble those of the Monstera deliciosa. This plant is relatively easy to care for and propagate, and is a good choice for beginner plant owners who are not quite ready to take on finicky plants just yet.

In this article, we will discuss the proper cultural care of this plant, as well as how to propagate it correctly.

If you are thinking about adding a Rhaphidophora tetrasperma to your collection and you want to learn more about these plants, keep reading.

Rhaphidophora tetrasperma care

1. Watering requirements

There is no set schedule to follow when it comes to watering your plant. The frequency will depend on the climate where you live, the season, and the current weather conditions. If you live in a place that is cold for most of the year, and it is currently winter with a lot of rainfall, then you will obviously not need to water the plant as often as someone living in a drier, sunnier place with little to no rainfall. These factors all affect the rate at which the plant’s soil dries out, so the easiest way to determine whether a plant needs watering is by touching the soil in the pot.

If the top two inches of soil feel dry, go ahead and water the plant, but if the soil in the pot is still a bit damp, wait one or two days before checking it again.

This plant likes its soil to be a little moist at all times, but it should never be soggy. Soggy soil means you are overwatering the plant, and an overwatered plant’s roots will suffocate and drown because they have no access to oxygen. The roots will die and begin to rot, and the rotten roots will be susceptible to opportunistic pathogens which exacerbate the spread of the rot to the rest of the plant. If the rot reaches the stems and leaves, the plant’s chances of recovery are slim to none. It is therefore best to avoid ever overwatering your plant in the first place.

If you suspect that your plant is overwatered, you can try to salvage it by removing it from its pot and washing off as much soil as you can from the roots. Be gentle, because some of the roots will be soft and mushy. Inspect all the roots and, using sterilized pruning shears, remove the parts that have turned brown or black. Only healthy, white roots should remain. Spray these remaining roots with fungicide and let the plant dry on a paper towel for several hours.

Once the plant’s roots are dry, you can replant it in a pot that has sufficient drainage holes at the bottom, using a well-draining potting mix. If you have removed all the rot successfully, the plant should make a full recovery.

2. Light requirements

Rhaphidophora tetrasperma prefers bright, indirect light such as that which enters through a north- or east-facing window. Never let the plant sit under direct sunlight for extended periods or it will get sun damaged.

If the only window available lets in light that is too intense, you can diffuse the light by placing a sheer curtain over the window.

This plant cannot tolerate low light conditions, so make sure you have grow lights ready if you live in a place where sunlight is scarce for several months of the year.

3. Humidity requirements

This plant is native to Thailand and Malaysia, so it is used to humid environments and you will need to simulate this in your home.

You can try misting the plant with a spray bottle every once in a while so that the leaves do not dry out. You can also use a pebble tray filled with water. Place the tray under the plant’s pot and, as the water evaporates, it will moisten the soil in the pot as well as the plant’s leaves. You can also place the plant next to other humidity-loving plants so that together they create a microclimate. Lastly, if you have the money to spare, you can buy a humidifier that will automatically regulate the humidity in your home and you will not need to worry about it.

4. Temperature requirements

This plant is accustomed to the warm weather of its native tropics, but it should do fine in normal room temperature. As long as you keep the temperature around the plant between 60 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit, that should be sufficient. Do not leave the plant outside during the fall or winter when temperatures drop below 60 degrees Fahrenheit.

When the plant is indoors, keep it away from spots where warm or cold drafts can hit it. This means it should not be placed under heating vents or air conditioners, because the warm or cold air from them can dry the leaves out very quickly.

5. Soil requirements

The ideal soil for Rhaphidophora tetrasperma is one that is well-draining but still able to retain a certain level of moisture. Try not to let the soil dry out for long periods of time. You can make your own soil mix by mixing one part regular potting soil, one part orchid bark, and one part perlite. This mix is light, airy and porous and will allow air and water to flow freely, reducing the chances of overwatering and root rot.

Also make sure that your pot has sufficient drainage holes at the bottom, so that any excess water can simply flow out.

6. Fertilizer requirements

Rhaphidophora tetrasperma does not really need to be fertilized, especially as it is quite prone to overfeeding. The soil can become toxic and burn the roots if fertilization is done incorrectly. If you want to fertilize the plant, use a liquid fertilizer made for houseplants, and only apply it once a month in the spring and summer when the plant is actively growing.

7. Pruning

This plant requires minimal pruning. All you really need to do is remove any dead leaves by pulling them gently off the plant.

If the plant is not getting enough light, you may notice it becoming leggy. This means that the plant is actively focusing its resources and nutrients into growing a vine long enough to reach the closest source of light. This is not exactly a fatal condition for the plant, but it does detract from its overall aesthetic. You can simply clip off the leggy vine above a node. Do not include the node in the cutting, because you will need it if you want to propagate the plant in the future.

Rhaphidophora tetrasperma propagation

Propagation in soil

Cut off a section of the parent plant using a pair of sterilized scissors or pruning shears. Make sure the cutting is a few inches long and that it has several leaves and at least one node on it. The node is very important, because this is where the new roots will grow from. Cut the stem a quarter of an inch below the node at a 45-degree angle and remove any leaves near the base of the cutting.

Prepare a small pot with well-draining soil mix and poke a hole in the middle of the soil. Place the cutting into the soil and make sure the node is covered. Keep the soil moist but never soggy, and place the pot where it can get bright, indirect light. Place a plastic bag over the pot to lock in moisture and humidity around the plant, but let the plant breathe by removing the bag for a few minutes every day.

After four weeks, check the viability of the roots by gently tugging on the cutting. If you can feel resistance when you pull, that means that the roots have grown in nicely and you can now care for the plant as you would a fully-grown plant.

Propagation in water

Propagating the Rhaphidophora tetrasperma in water is quite simple. Take a cutting from the parent plant using sterilized scissors or pruning shears. Make sure the cutting has several leaves and at least one node on it. Cut the stem at a 45-degree angle a quarter of an inch below the node, and remove any leaves near the base of the cutting.

Place the cutting in a glass jar half-filled with water, making sure the node is submerged. This is important because this is where the new roots will sprout from.

Place the jar in a spot where there is bright, indirect light. Replace the water in the jar if it starts to look murky, and refill the water if the level drops below the node.

After two weeks there should be roots growing from the base of the cutting, but do not pot the cutting yet. Wait another two weeks or so, until the roots are several inches long. Then, place the cutting in a pot with a well-draining soil mix and you can proceed to care for the plant as you would a normal, mature plant.

Conclusion

The Rhaphidophora tetrasperma is a climbing, vining plant native to Thailand and Malaysia. It is often mistaken for a member of the Monstera family because of the similarity of its leaves. 

This plant is relatively low-maintenance and easy to propagate. It just needs bright, indirect light, water when the top two inches of soil are dry, room temperature, a humid environment, minimal pruning and minimal feeding.

You can propagate this plant by planting a cutting directly into the soil, or you can let the cutting root in a glass of water for several weeks before transferring it to a pot with soil.

Image: istockphoto.com / Firm