While I collect a host of different plants, Monsteras are without a doubt my favorite. My Monstera collection has grown fairly robust, and so I decided that I’d rank them from least favorite to favorite. Obviously, rankings are entirely subjective, but I tried to factor in their growth, maintenance, price and aesthetic. I hope that these can help anyone that may be on the fence with splurging on a new addition. The following is the ranking of the 7 monstera varieties that I currently have in my collection.
7. Monstera Dubia
So I struggled with where to rank several of these, but this one was not one of them. Most obviously, Dubias are not the type of plant that you are expecting when you picture a monstera. It is a very small plant that is only instafamous because of their unique ability to climb up wood plants. Once past the novelty, you are left with a plant that consists of several small leaves and…. that’s it. For their size, I find them to be rather slow growers. For the price (~$100) you could purchase 3 shingle plants that fulfill the same novelty of growing up a plank.
6. Monstera Adansonii
While number 6 in my collection, there are actually a number of things I really like about this plant. The growth (1/2 leaves a month), durability (mine sits in direct sun) and the value ($20) are valid. The reason this plant doesn’t rank higher is that there are many plants that are very similar to the adansonii.
I have seen some unique aspects to adansonii , such as the wide form, but unless you have grown the plant to a reasonably mature adult and have actively worked to grow it up a moss pole or trellis, it is overall a fairly underwhelming plant.
If you are new to collecting or are trying to purchase a gift for family, then this is great. But in my collection of dozens of plants, this guy is really forgettable.
5. Monstera Obliqua Peru
…I know. This probably comes as a surprise. Hailed as the “Unicorn Plant”, why do I have the peruvian form of an obliqua as number 5? And it’s kind of for that reason. These plants are so delicate, that the image above is my obliqua set up. It consists of temperature controlled 76 degrees, 90% humidity and 16 hours of indirect grow lights. It very possibly may be the single highest maintenance thing that I have in my life. Considering these plants retail for around a thousand dollars, it is unfortunate that I can’t even have it on display outside of my bathroom.
Additionally, the growth is really, really slow on these guys. I have been watching a new leaf grow for a couple of months now. When other plants have a leaf that I am anxiously waiting to grow, I always make sure that it is being fertilized, getting the right light, etc. With the obliqua, I am too afraid to change anything at all as it will quickly spiral into death.
Admittedly, the only negative health indication that I have seen so far is a very comfortable path to yellowing leaves. I think, in a year or so, when it is no longer a juvenile, the leaves are larger and there are maybe some racers, I will appreciate the novelty and distinctiveness of the plant. For now it is a lot of work and anxiety for what is kind of a slower growing elderly adansonii.
4. Monstera Borsigiana
SO I had a difficult time on where exactly to put this guy. Admittedly, I grew this one from a cutting that I purchased for $6. Value? Definitely. Where I began to doubt myself is when I considered that, since I live in Miami, these plants grow EVERYWHERE. I can be scrolling through plant listings on Etsy and see a mature adult listed for $100. Then, when I go out to dinner I’ll be seated next to 10 larger ones. They are the dandelions of Southern Florida.
But when I took a step back and thought through my experience of this plant when I lived in NYC- has there ever been a better centerpiece? Or a more iconic plant image for a shirt? The reality is that there is a difference between iconic and boring, and this plant is certainly iconic.
I’ve had him in full, direct sun, and I have had him in partial shade. He started off propagating in water, moved to moss and is now in soil. He is durable, fast growing and certainly distinctive. While in a large collection it can be easy to disregard him as common. However, a case can be made that I never would have even started collecting if it weren’t for this distinctive plant appearing on The Sill (My review for The Sill NYC can be found here, if of any interest).
3. Monstera Esqueleto
So the plant pictured is a juvenile, but the esqueleto basically covers everything great about all of the Monsteras that have been previously listed. It has very distinctive leaves, it grows pretty large, is incredibly durable and is a true-and-true Monstera by showcasing the distinctive “Swiss Cheese” holes. The value may not be there for anyone that isn’t a collector, as these at first glance are very similar to adansonii. However, I find that anyone familiar with the plant would be able to identify that there is a novelty.
2. Monstera Albo
This was my first “wish list” plant and the cutting from my first plant is the reason I started selling and trading my cuttings in the first place. You do not have to be collector to know that this is a special plant. The white variegation is attention grabbing even to me a year after having gotten it. Leaves grow reasonably quickly, propagation is not a nightmare and this is a plant that your friends can appreciate.
From a value perspective, I feel that it is worth it to splurge on extra variegation. When making your selection, it can be tempting to pick a cutting that is lightly variegated so that your plant can be $200 instead of $300. Resist this! I have found that light variegation tends to grow light variegation. While many people fear plants with a lot of white as they may not have enough green to support it, I have not seen that even on my whitest leaf. You can see one in the background of the image above.
Normally, when I acquire a rare plant, I buy 1 and then propagate. One plant to sell the cuttings from and then one plant for my own enjoyment. I actually bought two of these because I couldn’t wait the 3 months for a node to grow to harvest a cutting. I can’t recommend these enough, and while it is only number 2, the value of this plant is one that I really stand behind.
1. Monstera Variegated Adansonii
So this is my favorite plant in my collection. I am using an old picture of my smaller plant above as it has the most variegation, but everything about this plant makes me so over the moon happy. Before jumping into the pros, I do want to call out that no matter how much I love it, this is a $1,000 plant. This is not a plant that I would recommend getting if you aren’t already deep into collecting.
The reason that I have the regular adansoniii so low on my rankings is that I find it to be rather uninspiring. It is a fast growing plant that is certainly interesting but is interesting in the way that pothos can be interesting. This is a plant that grows a new lead every month (!), is incredibly durable and is beautiful.
The great joy of variegation is watching as new leaves unfurl and anxiously waiting to see how much white will be on the leaf. With the Monstera Albo, that is a joy you experience very slow every few months. Right now, I have been watching one of their stems slowly morph to accomodate a new leaf. I have been waiting for weeks for the leaf to START. In the plant pictured above, there are 3 growths happening at the same time, and one of them is a node, meaning that it is possible to make this very thick as well.
I am guilty of experiencing a degree of buyers remorse with some plants. The reality is that when you have dozens of plants, they tend to fall into the background of greenery and your love for the individual plant is sparked only when you notice random growth or you need to troubleshoot. With this plant, I see changes everyday. If I had to keep just one plant of mine, it would be this one (well, not the one that is pictured, but this member of the Monstera family).