Plant Profile: Monstera Obliqua

Plant Profile: Monstera Obliqua

Plant Profile: Monstera Obliqua

Monstera Obliqua is a plant that has captivated plant enthusiasts worldwide with its delicate, lace-like leaves and enigmatic presence. Known for its extreme fenestration and almost ethereal appearance, this plant is as rare as it is beautiful.

Monstera Obliqua plant with lace-like leaves in a tropical setting.

Monstera Obliqua is native to Central and South America, primarily found in countries like Brazil, Colombia, and Peru. It thrives in tropical rainforests, where the humidity is high, and the environment is consistently warm. The plant's natural habitat involves climbing up trees, with its aerial roots anchoring into the bark and its leaves sprawling out to capture dappled sunlight.

Why Is The Monstera Obliqua Rare?

The rarity of Monstera Obliqua in the plant trade is primarily due to its slow growth, specific habitat requirements, ethical considerations, and limited availability.  

Slow Growth: Monstera Obliqua grows at a much slower rate compared to other Monstera species. This slow growth makes it difficult for growers to propagate and distribute the plant on a large scale.

Ethical and Sustainable Practices: In some regions, the collection of wild Monstera Obliqua plants is restricted to prevent over-harvesting and to protect native populations. These legal protections are essential for conserving the species in its natural habitat but also limit the supply available for the international market.

Cultivation Challenges: The specific environmental needs of Monstera Obliqua, including high humidity and stable temperatures, make it difficult to cultivate outside of its natural habitat or carefully controlled environments, further limiting its availability.

Misidentification: There is frequent confusion between Monstera Obliqua and Monstera Adansonii. The two plants share similar features, but Obliqua is far more delicate with thinner leaves and more extensive fenestrations. This misidentification has led to controversy among collectors and sellers and is something to be aware of when looking to buy. 

Limited Availability: Due to its slow growth, unreliable propagation, and sparse distribution, Monstera Obliqua is rarely available for sale even at specialised nurseries. Although it has unique allure, the Monstera Adansonii on the other hand is an exceedingly common variety that can easily be found in most local nurseries.

Cost: The price of Monstera Obliqua can vary widely depending on the reputation of the seller, size, and maturity of the plant. Generally, a Monstera Obliqua can be purchased from an affordable $20 AUD for a young plant to several thousand dollars for a well-established one. However, given their rarity in the market, the obstacle to owning one of these beauties is finding a genuine Obliqua.

Care and Maintenance of Monstera Obliqua

Caring for a Monstera Obliqua can be a rewarding experience, but it does require attention to detail and a controlled environment.

Light Requirements: Monstera Obliqua thrives in bright, indirect light. Direct sunlight can scorch its delicate leaves, while insufficient sunlight can slow growth and reduce fenestration. Regular filtered light is ideal either through natural light or UV grow lights. 

Humidity and Temperature: High humidity is crucial for Monstera Obliqua. Aim for a humidity level of at least 60%, but ideally around 80%. Using a humidifier or placing the plant on a humidity tray can help achieve this. Keep the temperature consistently between 18°C to 28°C avoiding drafts or sudden temperature changes.

Watering: Water the plant when the top inch of the soil feels dry to the touch. Given the warm temperature and high humidity requirements, overwatering can easily lead to root rot, while underwatering can cause the leaves to wilt. Ensure the pot has good drainage to prevent water from pooling at the bottom.

Soil and Potting: Use a well-draining, peat-based potting mix that retains moisture but allows excess water to escape, keeping the soil light and aerated. A mix designed for aroids, including orchid bark, perlite, and peat moss, works well. Repot the plant every two years or when it outgrows its current container to maintain the quality of the soil.

Fertilisation: During the growing season (spring and summer), feed Monstera Obliqua with a balanced, water-soluble fertiliser every four to six weeks. Reduce feeding in the cooler months of Autumn and winter when the plant's growth naturally slows.

Close-up of Monstera Obliqua's fenestrated leaves, showcasing its delicate structure.

Common Problems and Solutions

Although Monstera Obliqua is closely related to its doppelganger the Monstera Adansonii, it is far more suspectable to health problems if it is not consistently cared for and maintained.

Leaf Yellowing: This is a common issue caused by overwatering or poor drainage. Check the soil moisture and drainage. Allow the top inch of soil to dry out before watering again and ensure the pot has drainage holes.

Leaf Browning or Crisping: Given the fragile structure of the Monstera Obliqua’s foliage, low humidity or underwatering can readily cause discoloration and dryness of the leaves. Increase humidity around the plant using a humidifier or humidity tray. Check soil moisture regularly to prevent it from drying out completely.

Pests: The most common pests that attack Monstera Obliqua are spider mites and mealybugs. Regularly inspect the plant for pests. If found, treat with insecticidal soap or neem oil. Isolate the plant if an infestation occurs to prevent spreading.

Stunted Growth: This is usually due to insufficient light or a lack of nutrients. Ensure the plant receives adequate indirect light and feed with a balanced fertilizer during the growing season.

A lack Of Fenestration: A lack of fenestration on the foliage is often due to a combination of insufficient light, nutrient deficiencies, low humidity, improper watering, or temperature stress. Ensure bright, indirect light, proper fertilisation, high humidity, consistent watering, and stable temperatures. If these changes make little to no difference, your Obliqua may be a Adansonii or a similar variety in disguise. 

Benefits of Propagation

Propagating Monstera Obliqua not only increases the availability of the plant but also aids in conserving the plant in its natural habitat. However, given the rarity of the plant, there are some important considerations before attempting to propagate.

  • The most effective method is through stem cuttings, which should be taken from a healthy, mature plant. As this is causing trauma to the plant, a mature plant will have a greater chance of healing and recovery, and the cuttings are more likely to be healthier with a higher chance of successfully rooting.
  • Ensure each cutting includes at least one node, as this is where new roots will develop.
  • Place the cutting in water or a well-draining potting mix, maintaining high humidity and warm temperatures around 22°C. Keep the medium consistently moist but not waterlogged.
  • Patience is key, as root development and new growth can take several weeks to months even with optimal growing conditions. For best results, provide ample indirect light and monitor closely for any signs of stress or pests.

Caring for a Monstera Obliqua is a rewarding yet challenging endeavor that requires attention to detail and a commitment to providing optimal conditions. This rare plant, native to Central and South America's tropical rainforests, captivates collectors with its unique fenestrated leaves but demands specific care, including high humidity, stable temperatures, and bright, indirect light. Ensuring the right balance of these factors, along with proper watering and soil conditions, is crucial for its health and growth. Though its slow growth and delicate nature pose challenges, the satisfaction of owning and nurturing Monstera Obliqua makes the effort worthwhile. 

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