Rhaphidophora tetrasperma plant

Rhaphidophora Tetrasperma | Plant Care Guide

The Rhaphidophora tetrasperma plant is quickly gaining popularity among house plant owners due to its fast growth, simple care requirements, and attractive foliage. 

However, due to their increasing popularity, they have become quite rare. Because of this, you may have better luck finding one online rather than at your local garden center. 

Rhaphidophora tetrasperma plants have eye-catching, large, split leaves and can grow up to 12 feet in height when given proper growing conditions. However, most indoor plants are typically best maintained around five feet tall. 

They are climbing plants, as well. This characteristic makes them an excellent plant to train on a structure of your choosing (such as a trellis or pole) or to be used as a hanging plant. 

Rhaphidophora tetrasperma is often called a “mini monstera” because its leaves resemble that of a monstera deliciosa. It is also sometimes called “Ginny Philodendron” and confused as a philodendron. 

However, both of these are misnomers. The Rhaphidophora tetrasperma is, in fact, in an entirely different genus than both of these plants.  

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Botanical NameRhaphidophora tetrasperma
Common NameMini Monstera, Mini Split-Leaf, Ginny Philodendron, Philodendron Piccolo
SizeUp to 12 feet high
DifficultyEasy
Pet FriendlyNo, Toxic to pets
Air CleanerYes

Hoya Rhaphidophora tetrasperma Origin

A European botanist first discovered Rhaphidophora tetrasperma in the late 1800s. 

Rhaphidophora tetrasperma is an “aroid,” meaning it is in the family Araceae, similar to philodendrons and monstera plants. However, contrary to those plants, it is in the genus Raphidophora. 

This genus is slightly closer in relation to that of Monstera than the Philodendron, but neither are that closely related. 

Native to Southern Thailand and Malaysia, Rhaphidophora tetrasperma is most commonly found in Kelantan and Perak and southern Thailand, specifically. 

How to Care for Rhaphidophora tetrasperma

Rhaphidophora tetrasperma is delightfully easy to grow! Follow the tips below to keep your plant healthy and happy. 

Light

Rhaphidophora tetrasperma prefers bright light. Direct sunlight is completely fine; however, if you keep your plant outdoors, it’s best to keep it in somewhat filtered light. 

Outdoors, try placing your plant in a somewhat shaded area that receives morning sunlight. 

When indoors, west and east-facing windows are the best locations for your Rhaphidophora tetrasperma. If you notice that the leaf color is beginning to fade, that may mean your plant is getting too much light. Leaves often turn lighter when they are scorched from sunlight.

Try moving your plant a bit further out of the direct sun to see if this helps bring color back to it.

Rhaphidophora tetrasperma prefers more sunlight as a rule. If not given enough light, it will slow its growth, and the foliage will also be affected, often causing the plant to produce smaller leaves.

Temperature

Rhaphidophora tetrasperma can thrive in regular household humidity (typically between 30-50%), but it will love any added humidity that mimics that of its native environment. 

If you have a room with tropical plants where you keep a humidifier or engage in other humidity encouraging methods, your Rhaphidophora tetrasperma will be most happy there. 

If your Rhaphidophora tetrasperma begins to curl its leaves, that is a clear sign that it is lacking humidity. 

Consider using a pebble tray to increase the humidity around your plant. You can do this by placing a small, shallow tray filled with pebbles and water beneath it. As the water evaporates, it will increase humidity around it. 

When using this method, note caution: be sure that the water in the tray is not higher than the pebbles. To avoid root rot, you want the plant to sit on top of the pebbles and not directly in water. 

You can also group your Rhaphidophora tetrasperma with other plants to increase humidity by the transfer of moisture from plant to plant through their natural transpiration processes. 

In terms of temperature,  Rhaphidophora tetrasperma does not like anything too cold or too hot. Standard household temperatures should be quite suitable for your plant. 

If you keep your plant outside, be sure to bring it indoors or cover it if temperatures get below 55 degrees. Similarly, bring your plant indoors if the temperatures are above 100 degrees Fahrenheit. 

Water

Rhaphidophora tetrasperma prefers to be on the moist side. But, as with many plants, it is much more sensitive to overwatering than underwatering. 

Be sure your plant is in well-draining soil, and water it only when the top 1-2 inches of its soil are dry. 

It will usually need water once every week, but it can be even less, depending on the season and your local conditions. It is always a good rule of thumb to test your plant’s soil before watering. 

Plan to water your plant slightly less in the winter when it is not actively growing. 

Fertilization

Rhaphidophora tetrasperma does well with monthly fertilization during its growing season. 

Use a balanced fertilizer. An organic fertilizer or one that does not have harsh chemicals is ideal, as Rhaphidophora tetrasperma has sensitive roots and can be susceptible to fertilization burn.

Cut back your fertilization during the winter months when the plant is not actively growing. 

Pruning

Regular pruning of your Rhaphidophora tetrasperma is not necessary. 

Prune your plant if it shows yellowing, dead leaves. This pruning can help keep the plant clean and encourage proper circulation around it. 

Pruning can also support further growth and increase your plant’s fullness. This is helpful if your plant does not appear to be growing the way you would like it to. 

This type of pruning can also help control leggy leaf growth (although leggy growth can be a sign that your plant is not getting enough light. Be sure to note this if you notice your plant is growing leggy stems.) 

When pruning, always use clean, sharp pruning shears. 

It is best to prune in the spring. 

Repotting

This plant does not mind being slightly root bound, so it does not need to be repotted too regularly. 

Roughly plan to repot your plant every 2-3 years if growth is regular. Repot even less if your plant has experienced slowed growth. 

Roots circling the bottom of your planter or poking out of the drainage holes on the bottom are a sign that your Rhaphidophora tetrasperma needs to be replanted. 

When transplanting your Rhaphidophora tetrasperma, it is best to choose a pot that is only slightly larger than your Rhaphidophora tetrasperma’s current pot – about one plant size larger is ideal. 

Spring and summer are the best times to repot your plant- when there are periods of active growth ahead. 

When you remove your plant from its current potting medium, inspect it gently for any signs of pest or root rot. If you notice any, cut them off with pruning shears. 

Use fresh, all-purpose potting soil that is well-draining for your plant’s new home. Consider mixing perlite into the medium to increase its aeration. This aeration increases water drainage and supports root growth in your plant. 

Be sure to include proper training mechanisms in your plant’s new pot. These might include a moss pole or other trellis to help guide your plant’s vining growth. 

If you use these, gently secure your Rhaphidophora tetrasperma’s stems to the trellis (or other support structure), if needed, with string or twine to help it stay in place until the aerial roots can take hold of the new trellis. 

Spray your newly planted with neem oil to protect against pests. 

Pests

Rhaphidophora tetrasperma is generally pest-resistant and should be low-maintenance in terms of pests. If your plant does develop pests, they are most likely to be spider mites – the pests that Rhaphidophora tetrasperma are most susceptible to. 

You can identify spider mites by tiny, white spots under your plant’s leaves or in the crevices between their stems and leaves.  

Spider mites suck sap from your plant, also causing yellow spots on the leaves and damaging both that and the stem. 

If you notice spider mites, move your Rhaphidophora tetrasperma away from nearby plants immediately, as these infestations can be highly transmissible from plant to plant. 

Spray your plant with neem oil to kill the spider mites. You may need to repeat this method several times to kill the mites completely. 

Neem oil also helps kill and prevent other pests like mealybugs and scale, other potential pests that your Rhaphidophora tetrasperma might see.  

Disease

Diseases are not common in Rhaphidophora tetrasperma. The most common sickness your plant will experience is likely root rot. You will notice this if your plant begins to drop its leaves. 

If you suspect that your plant has root rot, you will need to repot it in a different medium with better drainage. 

Take note of your watering habits and adjust if you think you might be watering too much.  Make sure you’re checking the soil of your plant before watering! 

If the root rot is too far along, you may be better off taking cuttings from your plant to propagate before the root rot kills the entire plant. 

In general, take care not to overwater your plant, and you should be able to avoid disease altogether. 

How to Propagate Rhaphidophora tetrasperma

Rhaphidophora tetrasperma is very easy to propagate! 

To begin the process, first, take a cutting from your plant. This cutting should be a stem with one or more nodes on it. 

Use shears to cut the stem away from the plant. Using clean, sharp shears is important to help avoid disease transfer or unnecessary damage to the plant.  

Once you have made the cutting, you have a couple of options:

  1. Take your cutting and place it in a shallow cup of water. Be sure the node(s) is submerged -that is where the roots will develop – but do not submerge the entire leaf. After the cutting begins to root, wait until the roots are several inches long before moving to a planting medium. 
  2. Alternatively, you can dip your cutting in root stimulating hormone and plant it directly in fresh soil. Rhaphidophora tetrasperma grows quickly and should root very well on its own, with roots sometimes forming as soon as two weeks. Many gardeners prefer this method of propagation, saying that this method is faster and more effective than water propagation. 

Once you propagate and plant your fresh cutting, care for it as you typically would for an adult plant. 

Frequently Asked Questions

No, Rhaphidophora tetrasperma is not a Monstera.

Their leaves look quite similar, which is why these plants are often confused as one another; however, Monstera is in a completely different genus than Rhaphidophora tetrasperma.

Rhaphidophora tetrasperma and Monstera deliciosa are in the same family, but they each come from a different genus. This classification is the most significant difference, but there are others. 

Monstera deliciosa is native to South America and Central America. The Rhaphidophora tetrasperma, on the other hand, is endemic to Southern Thailand and Malaysia. 

Additionally, the Monstera Deliciosa’s leaves will grow much larger than the Rhaphidophora tetrasperma, growing up to two feet long. They are thick and waxy.  At the same time, Rhaphidophora tetrasperma leaves will grow to be less than one foot long. Their leaves are also thinner. 

In another vein, Rhaphidophora tetrasperma does not produce edible fruit. Monstera delicious has the ability to bloom (though it often has a lower chance of doing so as a houseplant). 

Not only that, they have very different growing tendencies – the Monstera deliciosa grows more slowly, while Rhaphidophora tetrasperma grows much more quickly. 

Rhaphidophora is a fast-growing plant when provided with the proper growing conditions. Many say they can grow up to half their full size in one growing season.

If your Rhaphidophora tetrasperma is growing very slowly, be sure you are caring for it properly. Most importantly, ensure that it has enough sunlight and the proper soil medium to support its growth. 

Yes, the Rhaphidophora tetrasperma is highly toxic to dogs, cats, and other household plants. 

This toxicity is due to the oxalate crystals present in the plant, which are toxic to animals. 

As with all plants, a good rule of thumb is to keep them out of reach of pets and small children to avoid accidental ingestion.  

Final Thoughts

Rhaphidophora tetrasperma is an attractive plant that is easy to care for, not prone to many pests or diseases, and simple to propagate! They are rare plants due to their popularity, but if you can find one at your price point, they can be an excellent, attractive addition to your home. 

Follow these tips above, and you should have no problem keeping your plant happy, healthy, and growing strong for years to come. 

Be sure to check out all of our Plant Care Guides!

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