10 Reasons Your Rhaphidophora Tetrasperma Isn’t Growing

This post may contain affiliate links. Read the full disclosure here.

Rhaphidophora Tetrasperma are one of those plants that grow like the clappers if you’ve got everything right, but will sulk indefinitely if you don’t.

Luckily, they’re not that fussy about conditions, but the better the environment you put it in, the faster it will grow.

For those of you totally new to Rhaphidophora tetrasperma, I have a care guide here.

I also have an article that covers where they come from, what Rhaphidophora Tetrasperma cultivars are available, and that type of thing.

If you’re pretty sure you’ve covered all your bases in terms of light and watering, check through this list just in case there’s either something you missed, or you’ve been given misleading advice in the past.

Here are the main reasons your Rhaphidophora tetrasperma isn’t growing:

  • It’s not getting enough light
  • It’s in too big of a pot
  • It has pests
  • It needs more water
  • It needs less water (FFS)
  • It needs support
  • It’s gone dormant for winter
  • It needs fertilising
  • It needs higher humidity
  • It’s too cold

I have an article that goes through various other Rhaphidophora tetrasperma problems here.

1 – It’s not getting enough light

I like to keep my Rhaphidophora Tetrasperma on a bookcase about three feet away from my south-facing window (they’re actually patio doors, so they let in a lot of light).

It thrives here (or it would, if it hadn’t got stem rot, but the props I took are thriving!).

If you’re not sure how much difference good light can make to rhaphidophora, check out the article I linked before that compares the size of the leaves from when I had it in ok light and then how they grew under a grow light. It’s mad.

Rhaphidophora may live in the rainforest undergrowth, but you’d be surprised to know that rainforest undergrowth light is pretty similar to UK-light-on-a-sunny-day.

The first thing you should do if your Rhaphidophora tetrasperma isn’t growing is to give it more light.

rhapidophora tetrasperma climbing wall

2 – It’s in too big of a pot

Putting a plant in too big of a pot is just a fancy way of overwatering it. The soil holds waaay more water than the plant is ever going to need, so it takes AGES to dry out.

When the soil is wet it’s holding water, so there’s less room for oxygen (and soil roots aren’t great at extracting the oxygen from water, unlike water roots) and the roots begin to rot.

If there’s a pot that you’re desperate to use but it’s too big for your plant, then keep the plant in a nursery pot and sit that in the big pot. You can always prop it up on a couple of saucers or something.

3 – It has pests

Rhaphidophora Tetrasperma are pretty good at dealing with pests, in that they can support a decent infestation before it starts to have a detrimental effect.

I suspect that Rhaphidophora Tetraspermas aren’t particularly tasty to pests, because they’re not *that* difficult to eliminate in my experience.

For example, I got rid of thrips on my Rhaphidophora Tetrasperma in a couple of weeks by spraying it down thoroughly with castile soap and water twice a week (so four applications total). Totally gone. It took TWO YEARS to get rid of them from my Monstera.

Still, it only takes a few pests to stop plants growing, because they’re concentrating their energy on getting rid of the pests (think producing repelling hormones, rather than taking themselves off to the garden centre for some pesticides).

Tell-tale signs are lack of growth and any growth that does come in being stunted or misshapen.

4 – It needs more water

Overwatering is something we’re hyper-aware of nowadays, so it makes sense that many of us are so worried about overwatering that we underwater.

Luckily Rhaphidophora Tetrasperma are pretty good at dealing with a bit of casual neglect BUT they also won’t be able to grow very well.

After you’ve watered, check through the soil to see that the water is being absorbed – soil can become hydrophobic over time, and if that’s the case then I’d recommend giving it a good soak from the bottom up.

If the soil is absorbing the water (i.e. it’s wet after you’ve watered it) but it still needs watering a couple of days later, it may be time to go up a pot size. Don’t increase the pot size too dramatically or it’ll spend all its time filling out the pot with new roots, rather than growing leaves.

In my experience (bear in mind I live in the UK, so take this advice with a pinch of salt if you live somewhere with a dramatically different climate), checking the soil weekly to see if it’s dry works pretty well. In summer, I water pretty much every week, in winter, I usually do every three weeks. Checking every week means that you’re not going to let it get too dry, even though it’s only a few weeks in July that require weekly waterings.

If it’s super hot, then I add another check in. My plant care day is usually Thursdays, and I do an additional check on Sundays too,

5 – It needs less water

Common advice is to water when the top inch of soil is dry, but I prefer to use a moisture metre. The top inch might be dry (especially if it’s in the sun) but that doesn’t necessarily mean that the rest of the soil is.

Whilst moisture meters get a lot of flak for not being particularly accurate, I LOVE mine. It rarely steers me wrong, but I don’t live and die by it. If I think it’s inaccurate I stick my finger in soil and see if I agree with its findings. I water Rhaphidophora Tetrasperma when they hit the 2 mark.

6 – It needs support

Rhaphidophora Tetrasperma are very popular as hanging plants, but they’re climbers by nature.

They do grow if they’re left to trail BUT they won’t grow as quickly or big, both because the light tends to be worse when they’re left to hang (because the sun is, er, up) but also because there are messages in the plant’s genes that tell it to grow bigger leaves when it’s growing up.

Rhaphidophora Tetrasperma are NOT intelligent growers. I have one in my terrarium that grows directly into the grow light and then has to produce a new growth point when it inevitably shrivels up.

But the ‘go up’ genes are strong. My Pothos marble queen (which only grows mature leaves when they grow up) just deals with the situation she’s in and grows super bushy – not how she’d grow in the wild at all – but RT spend waaay too much energy trying to climb up literal glass.

If you have something for it to climb up, you can always make it bushier by propagating it.

I have a full guide to propagating Rhaphidophora Tetrasperma here.

7 – It’s gone dormant for winter

Tropical plants don’t always go dormant for winter. If you have pretty consistent light/heat then it may not notice it’s winter at all. However, in today’s climate of sky-high energy prices and climate change, I sacrifice a bit of plant growth. Our house gets pretty cold in winter, but the plants do ok.

8 – It needs nutrients/fertiliser

Rhaphidophora Tetrasperma aren’t particularly heavy or light feeders. I tend to fertilise mine every other time I water (just as an experiment, but it seems to be going well) but every six weeks is fine too.

If your Rhaphidophora Tetrasperma is looking a bit peaky and you’re unsure if it’s hungry or there’s another issue, then just be careful when adding fertiliser. It can cause damage to compromised plants so opt for something that is gentle but effective, like worm castings.

When you come to add the fertiliser check it’s not due a repot. They do like to be snug in their pot sp only do this is totally necessary, but you never know. I don’t repot my Rhaphidophora Tetraspermas until there’s considerably more root than soil.

9 – It needs higher humidity

Rhaphidophora Tetrasperma LOVE higher humidity.

Don’t get me wrong, they don’t need it. They’ll grow perfectly fine without it. BUT if you amp up the humidity to 60%+ then you can really get the growth rate increased. The one we have in the terrarium goes WAY faster than the one on the bookcase because the humidity in the terrarium is up in the 90s.

It would truly be an incredible specimen if it could stop getting entangled in the freaking lights.

10 – It’s too cold

Rhaphidophora Tetrasperma aren’t keen on draughts. I think that’s another reason the one in the terrarium does so well. Obvs winter is inevitable, and we can’t do much about that, but when you pick the spot your Rhaphidophora Tetrasperma is going to live in, try to make sure it’s away from any doors and windows that are open and shut frequently.

That being said, ours is potentially in the path of a draught when we have our patio doors open, but since we only have them open when it’s warm, it shouldn’t be an issue.

Final thoughts

Rhaphidophora Tetrasperma may be a pretty easygoing plant, but there are still a plethora of reasons it’s not growing. Increasing the light is usually a pretty good way of spurring on new growth, and as long as you do it gradually, doesn’t have any downsides. A plant growing in good light will find it easier to recover from things like root rot and pests than one growing in insufficient light (or even sufficient light – we want exemplary light!).

By the way, Rhaphidophora Tetrasperma are often called Mini Monstera, but they’re not Monstera at all – in fact, there is an actual species of Monstera called mini Monstera that no one knows about because if you google it all that comes up is articles on Rhaphidophora Tetrasperma.

I don’t know why I find this sad, and feel like I have to raise awareness for actual mini Monstera despite them being INCREDIBLY rare and not available in the hobby, but I do. Justice for mini Monstera.

Also, Monstera Ginny. Where the heck did that come from?

Caroline Cocker

Caroline is the founder and writer (and plant keeper) of Planet Houseplant

Leave a comment