How to Tell If Your Monstera Is Variegated

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A Monstera is variegated if it has patches/splashes of white, yellow, or green on the leaves.

A Monstera is still variegated if the stem is all green, but don’t be surprised if you get a couple of splashes of white and then it reverts to all green.

Sport hunting is the closest us houseplant enthusiasts come to extreme sports. 

It basically involves going into planes like B&Q, Ikea, big garden centres etc and checking every single Monstera for signs of variegation.

But how can you tell a Monstera with sport variegation apart from a ‘proper’ variegated Monstera?

*DISCLAIMER* sport hunting is highly unlikely to make you rich., despite what the people of TikTok will tell you.

People are pretty savvy nowadays, and won’t pay over the odds for a green Monstera with three white specks.

You could find yourself a nice specimen though. Just…not like this one:

variegated monstera

Variegated Monstera have white, yellow, or mint patches on the leaves

Variegation (in the case of Monstera) just refers to a lack of chlorophyll in the leaves.

There are other types of variegation, but variegation in Monstera happens when the plant has areas of the leaf without chlorophyll so they appear white.

There's also a pigment in the leaves called xanthophyll, and when you remove chlorophyll but leave xanthophyll you end up with Monstera aurea, which has yellow variegation.

There are different types of variegation, for example, the variegation of a Thai Constellation is different to the Albo. The variegation on a Thai is creamy rather than bright white, and the leaves look flecked. Both can have sectoral variegation, which is large patches of variegation.

An all-over white or yellow very fine pattern may indicate disease or something like Mosaic virus. I don’t have a picture of a Monstera with mosaic virus, but here’s another plant with it.

Bear in mind there are loads of different types of Mosaic Virus – basically a specific one for each species. If it looks sick rather than variegated, it’s better to be safe than sorry.

There’s no cure and you’ll have to burn your plant.

Variegated Monstera have variegated stems

You can get plants with variegated leaves but all green stems BUT it indicates a high likelihood of the variegation not turning up again. You might get lucky, but a plant without variegated stems aren’t worth much more than its green counterparts.

Here’s the stem on my Thai:

It’s pretty clearly variegated.

A variegated parent doesn’t guarantee a variegated offspring

Whilst variegation is a desired trait for humans, it’s not for Monstera. It doesn’t benefit them in any way (unless they like attention I suppose), and can even impact their growth.

Variegated Monstera grow more slowly than all green Monstera, because they have less chlorophyll, and chlorophyll is necessary for photosynthesis.

Variegation is a genetic mutation, and can have a few different causes. If you let a variegated Monstera albo go to seed and germinate the seeds, you’ll have the same chance of getting a variegated Monstera as if you planted the seeds from a non-variegated plant.

Monstera Thai Constellation was genetically created in a lab, and whilst it can produce seeds, they’re sterile, and can’t be germinated.

Not all variegated aroids are Monstera

This may seem obvious, but I just want to make you aware of this, especially if you’re planning on buying a variegated Monstera in the form of a wet stick.

There are so many chances out there selling variegated wet sticks which turn out to be golden Pothos. Many unsuspecting people end up with Philodendron white wizard/knight thinking that they’ve got a baby variegated Monstera for a steal.

Sport variegation doesn’t guarantee further variegation

It’s highly unlikely that you’ll find a variegated Monstera in amongst the regular green Monsteras at the local big box store. If you do, great. That will be a genetic blip in a sea of green.

You’d have to be EXTREMELY lucky to get a Monstera with a variegated stem. It would most likely have been removed before it left the growers.

You’re more likely to get a couple of specks of white and then no more.

The vast majority of variegated Monstera are produced by tissue culture – all Thai constellations are.

Price remains high because demand is still high.

Also, whilst it is possible to tissue culture Monstera albo, the results are spotty at best, so prices are still super high. It’s pretty easy to clone all green OR all white Monstera, but getting a mix isn’t easy.

There is a lot of variation in price, for example, you could get a cutting with a couple of leaves with a speck of variegation for £45, or the same cutting with more white for £200.

Monstera have quite high instances of sport variegation, so you can get a low variegation plant for not much more than a green one. Florida greens also produce sport variegation a lot but are unlikely to start producing Flordia beauty leaves, so they’re still pretty cheap in comparison to the variegated version.

Caroline Cocker

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

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