There are many kinds of Monstera, and the Albo and Thai Constellation often get mixed up. They are the two main variegated kinds of Monstera, and both have white or light-colored markings spread across their bright green leaves. However, in spite of their similarities, they have quite a few differences.
The major difference between the Monstera Albo and the Monstera Thai Constellation is that the Albo’s variegation is almost always white, whereas the Thai Constellation’s is often white-green or yellow-green. The variegation of the Albo is also often larger, forming big spots across certain leaves, and sometimes covering more than half of the leaf. By contrast, the Thai Constellation’s leaves are more lightly speckled.
Monstera Albo Vs Thai Constellation: Leaf Variegation
At a glance, these two plants look similar, but with a little practice you should be able to recognize the differences between them. The most noticeable is the Thai Constellation’s larger leaves and denser foliage, which are especially apparent once it hits maturity.
Other differences can be found in the variegation itself. A Thai Constellation’s variegation is usually rather like paint splatters and appears across its foliage. All of its leaves are speckled, and few have large sections of white. The Thai Constellation takes its name from its cosmic, star-flecked appearance.
On the other hand, on an Albo plant, it is not unusual to see leaves that have no variegation at all alongside leaves that are mostly, or entirely, white. A healthy Albo plant may be able to sustain large quantities of white, but be aware that it needs plenty of greenery too in order to survive.
As well as differences in its distribution, the Albo’s variegation will often be much chunkier, with large patches and splashes decorating its foliage, as opposed to the Thai Constellation’s more speckled look.
The color of the variegation is another noticeable difference, because the Albo is usually closer to cream or true white, whereas the Thai Constellation generally has a more green or yellow tint to its mottling. Albos look purer white, which some people find particularly attractive.
How Large Are These Plants?
Both plants can grow to an enormous size, but the Thai Constellation is usually larger. It has leaves reaching up to three feet wide in some cases, particularly if it is kept in a suitable environment where it can flourish. It also grows a lot of foliage, quite densely packed along the main stem, resulting in a bushy, full appearance.
By contrast, the Albo grows more sparsely, with its foliage spread out, and more space between the growth nodes along its stem. Overall, most of the Albo’s leaves are smaller than those of a Thai Constellation, and will only grow to around a foot wide at most.
The two plants’ leaves can look quite similar when they are young, but as they mature, the Thai Constellation will outstrip the Albo in terms of size and leaf density. It offers an attractive flush of greenery, while the Albo provides more delicate, elegant fronds.
Both plants are climbers and will go up any vertical surface nearby. They can reach extraordinary heights, even when kept indoors.
What Causes The Variegation?
It might surprise you to learn that these two plants acquired their variegation for different reasons – although both arise from cell mutations.
The Thai Constellation is a genetically engineered plant, and it was created in a lab specifically to achieve the variegation we see. The mutated cells are spread throughout the whole plant, which is why there will (or should) be variation on every leaf. No leaves will be either completely green or completely white.
This is known as stable variegation and many people prefer it because it ensures that the plant is even and aesthetically pleasing. It also means it will always have enough chlorophyll to photosynthesize.
The Monstera Albo, by contrast, is made white by a rare genetic mutation that occurs naturally. This effect is unstable, which is why some leaves will be fully green, some white, and some patchy.
The mutation is only present in certain parts of the plant. If you get a leaf that does not show the mutation and is completely green, you may wish to remove the leaf and trim the stem back to the growth node. This will encourage the node to produce new foliage, and hopefully the mutation will reappear.
If you don’t trim back green leaves, or you fail to look after your Monstera Albo well enough, it is quite common for it to revert to fully green. On the other hand, you must not cut off every green leaf to try and encourage the white mutation. If you do, the plant will die because it cannot produce enough chlorophyll to photosynthesize.
The stems of completely white leaves will never produce green leaves, and likewise, stems that produce completely green leaves will not produce white ones. Keeping the balance between the two can be a tricky challenge, and many Monstera Albos struggle to survive because of this.
This is the main problem with Monstera Albos; they need more time and attention if they are to maintain their fabulous foliage. By contrast, the mutation found in Thai Constellations is stable and spread throughout the plant. This means that it will not lose its character, even if you don’t cut the plant back.
What Shape Are The Leaves?
As well as being different sizes, the leaves of the two plants are quite different shapes and are arranged differently. Monstera Albos have longer, thinner leaves, giving them a more curving, elegant look. They also have longer stems, meaning the leaves grow further away from the main stalk.
The Thai Constellation’s leaves are rounded and the stems that support the leaves are shorter, which again adds to the plant’s dense look. Because the Albo’s leaves are spaced out, smaller, and thinner, it will usually look lankier.
Some people prefer the voluminous and abundant appearance of the Thai Constellation, which creates a more solid aesthetic overall, while others prefer the climbing, sprawling look of the Albo.
Which Is Easier To Care For?
In terms of care, the two plants need much the same environment. Because they are variegated, they tend to be quite slow-growing, so it’s important to maximize what light they get while being cautious about direct sun. Too much sunlight will burn the leaves and make them turn crispy and brown.
They like a humid atmosphere, so occasionally misting the leaves and soil will help them to thrive. Both benefit from having a moss pole, but an Albo definitely requires some support thanks to its thinner, longer stalks.
In several ways, a Thai Constellation is a bit easier to look after than an Albo. This is partly because you do not need to keep an eye on the white-green balance or try to correct it. This means the plant should need less pruning overall, which may also mean you get a larger plant more quickly.
You also don’t run the risk of getting too much white in the plant for it to keep producing new foliage. The balance will be maintained because the mutation is stable, and this results in much less work for you.
Thai Constellations are also easier to propagate – again, because of the stable mutation. You can take any cutting and it should have a good chance of survival. These plants can also be reproduced using tissue culture, rather than proper cuttings.
Propagating an Albo can be difficult because it can only be made via cuttings. Tissue culture may occasionally work, but it’s rarely successful, so you need a healthy adult plant.
An additional challenge in propagating an Albo is the need for both green and white on each cutting, and they may struggle because the white leaves cannot photosynthesize and produce the energy needed to make new roots.
If you take an all-green cutting, however, it will not have the mutation and the plant will grow green across all of its leaves.
Which Plant Is More Expensive?
Because both of these plants are rare, they command high prices. These can fluctuate depending on the mood of the market, but in general, a Monstera Albo is both rarer and more expensive. This is because it is harder to propagate and harder to care for, and it’s easy for the mutation to get lost.
However, Thai Constellations are also expensive. Although less challenging to propagate, both via cuttings and tissue culture, it remains rare and subsequently commands a high price. It may not cost as much as an established Monstera Albo, but will not be cheap either.
Before buying an Albo, make sure to view the actual cutting you will get. One Thai Constellation cutting will be much like another, but Albos vary considerably.
You need to check that the white is present and that there is enough greenery for the plant to have a good chance of survival while offering a pleasing variegated appearance.
If it has chunky white sections, you will see chunky white sections on the rest of the plant as it grows. If the white is more swirly or wispy, the rest of the plant will follow this tendency.
Unlike a Thai Constellation, which can show quite diverse variegation, an Albo’s variegation will follow much the same pattern wherever it grows on the plant. This means it’s important to have seen the plant before you purchase it, so that you know what you are getting and that it is healthy.
Which Plant Is Better To Buy?
It’s difficult to know which to choose when it comes to these two stunning plants, but many people feel that a Thai Constellation is a better option, both because of its consistent appearance and lower price point.
They also provide a big splash of green and white, which will look beautiful and fill the room. Because the leaves are larger, the Thai Constellation often seems more impressive and unique.
However, some people fall in love with the ice-white of the Albo’s leaves and find the contrast with its greenery irresistible. If you are an experienced plant enthusiast and you are confident in your ability to keep the Albo alive, you may want to opt for this.
The Albo and the Thai Constellation share a lot of similarities, but they are far from being the same plants. It’s important to distinguish between them if you are thinking of buying one so that you know what to expect in terms of appearance and behavior over time.