Have you ever noticed pale patches on the leaves of your Monstera and got excited? Variegated Monsteras are very unusual and expensive plants, so this might leave you wondering if you have hit a jackpot with yours and ended up with a special variety.
Variegated Monsteras are characterized by changes in color on the leaves and stems. Depending on the Monstera variety, these changes may be paler green, yellow, or cream. However, it is also possible for a mosaic virus to cause discoloration on the leaves, so it’s important to check whether your Monstera is healthy.
What Kinds Of Patterns Can Form On A Monstera?
There are two kinds of patterns that you may see on your Monstera, and these appear quite different from each other. The first thing you should do is look at the kind of patterning to determine which category yours falls into.
A marble pattern means that your plant has an even spread of light and dark patches on its leaves. It will look more symmetrical and tidier overall.
Sectoral pattern Monsteras are more uneven, and their leaves may appear patchy. Big chunks of a leaf or even entire leaves may be white, while other full leaves will be dark.
What Colors Can Appear?
In general, your plant will show either green, cream, or yellow variegation. Each of these has a name, with green being known as sport, cream being known as albo, and yellow being known as aurea.
The name of the variegation is then attached to the name of the plant – so you may have a Monstera deliciosa sport, with pale green variegated leaves, or a Monstera albo, with cream variegated leaves.
All of these variegation types are rare and sought after, and variegated Monsteras can be quite difficult to get hold of. Monstera deliciosa albos are perhaps the most famous of them, but the other two kinds are also extremely popular.
What Causes Variegation On The Leaves And Stems?
The variegation can be caused by one of three different things, and knowing which is causing it on your plant could be crucial to determining whether you have a true variegated Monstera or whether your plant is sick.
One: Tissue Culturing
If your Monstera’s variegation is due to tissue culture, that means the plant’s variegation was created by humans in a laboratory setting. The Thai Constellation is a good example of a plant that had this done to it, and it is an intentional effort to reduce the chlorophyll in the leaves to produce a dramatic visual effect.
This kind of Monstera has stable variegation, and it will not change as the plant grows and develops. The variegation will appear on every leaf, and any newly produced leaves will show the same variegation.
This is done by permanently damaging the plant’s cells, and it ensures that the variegation will be maintained no matter what you do. There is no way to stop a tissue cultured Monstera from being variegated.
Two: Natural Mutation
This kind of variegation is much rarer because it depends upon the plant mutating itself – which obviously rarely happens. It occurs when the plant is unable to produce chlorophyll in certain parts of the leaves because the chloroplast is defective.
Natural mutations are unstable and will show up in some parts of the plant and not other parts. If you want to keep a natural mutation going, you will need to prune parts of the plant that don’t show this defect, or the plant will lose its variegation.
Natural mutations will often show up as blocks of solid white color, which you may have seen in Monsteras. The Monstera deliciosa albo is a particularly famous variety.
You can grow a standard Monstera from one that carries the mutation if you take cuttings from a node that does not have the mutation in it, so it’s possible to turn a variegated Monstera into an ordinary one if you wish to.
However, these mutations are rare and generally highly sought after, so it’s usually best to maintain the mutation if possible.
Three: A Virus
You may have heard of mosaic viruses, and unfortunately, these can also affect a Monstera. If your plant has a mosaic virus, this will produce patterns like the variegation on other Monsteras – but actually, your plant is sick.
Mosaic viruses can produce yellow, cream, or green discoloration on the leaves, so it is very easy to mistake this kind of virus for a variegated Monstera. Unfortunately, mosaic viruses are deadly and will kill the plant fast.
If you have accidentally purchased a Monstera with a mosaic virus, you will need to get rid of the plant as soon as possible. Burn or throw it away, because it will not be safe to add it to a compost heap – the virus may remain in the soil and affect other plants.
Before buying a variegated Monstera, make sure you have checked whether the plant is genuinely variegated, or if it has a mosaic virus. Fortunately, it is fairly easy to tell if you know what to look for.
Mosaic viruses do vary, but they will often cause blistering on the leaves, and may result in the foliage shrinking or crumpling. Often, the leaves will be wavy, rather than smooth and curved as Monstera leaves should be.
You may also notice that the plant doesn’t look very healthy, and has stunted growth. The edges of the leaves may fail to develop properly, leaving thin, unhealthy veins in the center.
Avoid plants that look like this; there is unfortunately no cure for this kind of virus, and you will need to get rid of the plant so that it doesn’t infect your other plants.
Can A Monstera Become Variegated?
If you have a Monstera that was previously not variegated and is suddenly showing signs of variegation, you might be panicking that it has got a mosaic virus – but don’t get too worried straight away.
It is extremely rare, but it is possible for a Monstera to develop variegation on its leaves. All that needs to happen is for the genes to mutate and the chloroplasts to become defective – and you will have a mutated Monstera.
To be clear, the chances of this occurring are very low, but don’t immediately assume that the plant has contracted a mosaic virus and throw it away if its leaves start to change color. Instead, take some time to check whether the plant appears healthy. If the growth is only on new leaves, you might be lucky enough to have a variegated Monstera.
Note that this can only happen with gene mutations; tissue culturing cannot occur by chance in established Monsteras. That means the mutation will be unstable and you will have to learn how to maintain it.
Variegated Monsteras are rare and beautiful plants, and you can tell if yours is variegated by looking for any changes in the color of the leaves and stems. If the leaves are white, cream, yellow, or pale green in places, you have a variegated Monstera. However, be careful and look out for signs of disease – it is possible that your plant has contracted a mosaic virus instead.