The Monstera Esqueleto is a rare aroid that looks very much like the Monstera Adansonii. However, the two are different plants.
And you can tell the difference as the Monstera Esqueleto is bigger than the Monstera Adansonii. Its leaves will likewise develop and grow to become bigger than that of the Monstera Adansonii.
That said, they both have lots of holes in their leaves which is why the two are often confused for one another.
The plant is also known as the Monstera epipremnoides. And its holes take up most of the leaves although not to the same extent as the Monstera obliqua which is another rare and more expensive plant.
One thing worth noting is that the Monstera Esqueleto is a more “affordable” monstera that usually cost about $100 to $200. This makes it a good option if you don’t want to spend over $1,000 for a monstera plant.
It is native to tropical South America, particularly in Costa Rica.
How do you care for the Monstera Esqueleto plant? Place the plant in medium to bright indirect light. Avoid intense direct sunlight and cold weather. It prefers warm climates and high humidity. Be careful about overwatering. And make sure to use well-draining soil. For optimal growth, give it fertilizer during its growing season.
Monstera Esqueleto Plant Care
The Monstera Esqueleto plant likes medium to bright indirect light when grown indoors. Keeping it in this environment will allow it to grow bigger and produce large, fenestrated leaves.
However, you want to be careful with too much light.
While the plant enjoys plenty of light, it cannot tolerate very strong or intense light for more than 2 to 4 hours a day. Therefore, avoid harsh direct sunlight between 10:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. as much as possible.
In contrast, gentle early morning direct sunlight before 10:00 a.m. suits the plant really well. This is why it thrives near an east facing window.
The reason why the plant cannot withstand very strong light is because it lives under the forest canopy in the rainforests of tropical Costa Rica.
Therefore, it is not exposed to the sun’s rays.
Instead, the larger trees, their leaves and branches shade the plant.
So, while the Monstera Esqueleto gets enjoys bright light, it is used to filtered or dapple light, not direct sunshine.
Therefore, keep it away from mid-day and summer direct sun which can burn its leaves. At the very least, the excess exposure will turn its leaves yellow or cause them to fade in color.
This is likewise the case outdoors where it will thrive in partial shade but cannot take full sun.
On the other hand, be careful with low light as well.
While the plant can tolerate a northern exposure, you don’t want to leave it in a dim or dark location.
Lack of light will slow its growth and cause it to produce fewer leaves. Also, the leaves will be smaller as well. And if there isn’t enough light the leaves may not split so you don’t get the beautiful holes.
The Monstera Esqueleto plant prefers warm temperatures between 65 and 85 degrees Fahrenheit. Again, this has to do with its native habit of tropical South America.
As such, the plant enjoys consistently sunny, warm to hot climates all throughout the year.
It also does not mind hot weather going up to 95 degrees Fahrenheit.
But the opposite is not true.
The cold is its nemesis. And it cannot tolerate temperatures below 55 degrees. It will not only struggle here but these conditions will also cause its growth to slow.
The colder it gets or the longer it stays in the cold, the more likely it will experience cold stress or damage.
At some point, you may see its leaves drop and have yellow leaves as well.
Therefore, don’t leave it outside in the winter. Instead, bring it indoors and keep it in a warm location.
While indoors, keep it away from air conditioning as well as any area with cold drafts.
The Monstera Esqueleto thrives in high humidity preferably 60% and above. It is used to the tropical rainforests which are not only warm and humid but also experience regular rainfall.
Thus, it is damp which causes humidity to stay high.
Therefore, if you live in tropical climate areas, humidity should not be a problem and you won’t need to do anything to keep the plant happy.
The same is true for homes in coastal regions or near bodies of water like lakes.
But if you live in desert areas or similar locations with dry air, then it is important to keep track of humidity and give then plant a hand in this aspect.
Humidity is important for keeping the leaves healthy.
If the air gets too dry, you notice the tips and edges of the leaves turn brown, dry and crispy. This is a sign that there isn’t enough moisture in the air which is why the ends of the leaves are drying up.
To fix this, you can get a humidifier.
I don’t recommend misting the plant although you can to help it out.
The reason I don’t like misting is because if you overdo it, there’s a chance you increase the risk of fungal infections instead.
So, I prefer using a humidity tray or pebble tray. You can pick up a humidity tray in stores or make one yourself.
These are low cost and low maintenance since you only need to fill the water when it gets depleted.
Also, keep the plant away from heaters, air conditioners, stoves, ovens, fireplaces and other appliances that affect the air or temperature.
That’s because they tend to dry the air or cause sudden fluctuation in temperature. Both of which are not good for the plant.
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How Often to Water Monstera Esqueleto
The Monstera Esqueleto plant can be tricky to water because it likes consistently moist soil. But it is prone to overwatering and does not wet, soggy soil.
So, you do need to a bit of a balancing act.
The problem here is that overwatering is the number cause of houseplant death. And it often does not give you second chances especially when root rot sets in.
Because root rot is hidden under the soil, it can develop and spread without you noticing until the leaves turn yellow or brown. By then, the damage has affected a good portion of the root system.
As such, being more conservative is the best play here.
This is especially true before the Monstera Esqueleto is a rare and costly plant.
Therefore, it is never worth taking risks.
This is why the best way to water the plant is to wait until the top 2 inches of soil is dry to the touch between waterings.
An easy way to check is to feel the soil once a week.
If the surface feels dry, stick your finger into the soil down until the second knuckle. This is roughly 2 inches deep.
If the soil is completely dry there, it is time to water.
However, if it feels moist, wait a few more days and test it again. Never water before the soil at that depth has completely dried.
Doing this before each time you water will prevent overwatering.
Another option is to use a moisture meter.
Here, just stick the probe into the soil and check the reading on the screen. It will tell you if the soil is dry, moist or wet.
How to Water the Monstera Esqueleto
The most traditional way of watering is from above.
If you do this, don’t wet the leaves. Instead, pour directly on the soil. Then keep pouring until the entire root ball is drenched.
After that, allow the soil to drain completely before you put the plant back to its spot.
If you want to be more conservative, you can water from below.
Here, get a container that’s larger than the pot and fill it with water that’s about a quarter the height of the pot.
Then place the pot into the container.
The holes in the bottom of the pot will allow the soil to absorb water from the larger container.
In this method, the soil will take longer to absorb water so, go and do something else and check back every 10-15 minutes.
Once the surface of the soil feels moist, remove the large container.
Then allow the soil to completely drain. This can take as long as 30 minutes if your Monstera Esqueleto is big. Again, just leave it in the bathtub on a tray or stand to let it drip while you do something else.
Monstera Esqueleto Potting Soil
Because overwatering is a big problem you want to avoid, the best soil for the Monstera Esqueleto needs to be well-draining, light and moist.
Good drainage is very important in order for the soil to quickly drain excess liquid.
This way, the roots don’t end up sitting in water for long periods of time.
Additionally, light and loose soil is important because it allows for good aeriation. This way, the roots are able to get enough oxygen to keep them healthy.
The best soil that fits all these features is an Aroid mix.
And you can pick one up from your local nursery or favorite online plant shop.
If you’re like me, you’d rather make your own potting mix at home. Here’s a great potting mix recipe that works very well for the Monstera Esqueleto.
- 1 part potting mix
- 1 part perlite
- 1 part orchid bark
- ½ part horticultural charcoal
If you prefer going minimalist and using only a few ingredients, here are a some I’ve used with success. I’ve experimented a lot which these so I know they work well.
- 1 part potting soil
- 1 part orchid bark (or you can use coco chips instead)
Or you can go with:
- 1 part potting soil
- 1 part coco fiber
If you want to increase drainage, just add a few handfuls of coco chips or orchid bark in there.
The other thing you can do is top dress the soil to increase organic matter content. To do so, add a half inch layer of worm compost over the soil.
Don’t use potting soil on its own. This is something I get a lot.
Unfortunately, the answer is no, you should not do that. That’s because the soil will retain too much moisture on its own that will leave you with waterlogged soil.
Similarly, don’t use any moisture-retentive soils or something that’s heavy. This will regular in waterlogging and overwatering as well.
The Monstera Esqueleto needs nutrients if you want it to reach its full potential. This is likewise true to produce the large leaves that plant is capable of developing.
But don’t get tempted to keep feeding it just because you know it will grow into a large, impressive plant.
Instead, follow the instructions on the label.
Over fertilizing is worse than not feeding the plant, especially for something like the Monstera Esqueleto.
That’s because the excess salts will build up and eventually damage the roots and also cause its leaves to turn yellow.
Thus, it is important to know how much to use, when to fertilizer and more importantly when not to do it.
For optimal growth, you can use a 20-20-20 or 15-15-15 N-P-K blend. This is a balanced fertilizer with enough nitrogen to encourage foliage development.
Only feed the plant during spring and summer. It does not need plant food in autumn or in winter due to the cold weather.
Also, dilute the dose each time you apply to half strength.
I like to use liquid fertilizer because this makes it easy to dilute just by using water.
Don’t forget that you should never add fertilizer when the soil is dry.
The Monstera Esqueleto will grow into a good sized plant. However, its size will be primarily made up of its leaves. As such pruning is not something you want to be doing.
That’s because its leaves make the plant stunning.
Because the plant can get messy looking if you just let it grow on its own, it is a good idea to give it a support. A moss pole, totem or cedar stalk will work very well.
Allowing it to climb not only lets it develop larger leaves, it also keeps the leaves coming from the center point.
In general, pruning is a low maintenance task for the plant. But you may need to do so if it gets too big for the space you have indoors.
How to Propagate Monstera Esqueleto
The Monstera Esqueleto propagates well from stem cuttings or division.
Each of these methods work. But they involve very different processes.
Stem cuttings are the most popular way of propagating the Monstera Esqueleto. It is easy to do. And you can grow many new plants from one stem.
The most important thing here is to take healthy stems. Make sure that each cutting you make has at least one node and a few leaves on it.
The stem cutting needs a node to propagate. Otherwise, it won’t successfully develop into a new plant.
Once you have the cuttings you can propagate the cuttings in water or propagate them in soil.
Propagating Monstera Esqueleto in Water
To propagate in water, place the cuttings in water with the nodes submerged in the liquid. Keep the upper leaves intact and remove any leaves that get wet.
You’ll want to keep the container in bright, indirect light, a warm location with good humidity for faster growth.
It usually takes 3-4 weeks for the cuttings to root in water. Then you can move the cuttings into soil and plant them in well-draining potting mix.
Propagating Monstera Esqueleto in Soil
To propagate in soil, directly plant the cuttings into soil.
I like to dip or rub the cut end of the stem with rooting hormone beforehand to increase propagation success rates and speed up root development.
Once you plant the stem cuttings in soil, water the soil and keep doing so to keep it moist. Avoid overwatering or wet soil.
Again leave the cuttings in bright, indirect light with good humidity and warm temperature.
In about 4 weeks the roots will grow. And since the cuttings are already in soil, you don’t need to move them until they grow bigger and need repotting.
Propagating the Monstera Esqueleto by Division
Division, on the other hand, is all about separating the mother plant into 2 or more small plants.
This takes a bit more work during propagation as you’ll need to unpot the plant. But once you’re done, you have smaller plant with roots and leaves already there. So, it can keep growing and producing shoots and leaves instead of having to root first.
To divide the Monstera Esqueleto plant, you’ll need a mature plant. Ideally it is bigger as well.
Otherwise, you end up with very small new plants which are not only harder to keep alive but also take longer to grow big again.
Once you unpot the mother plant, clear the excess soil and untangle the roots. Your next goal is to decide where you want to separate the plant.
Make sure each division has at enough roots to support the plant above it. Of course, each division needs to have a few leaves at the very least as well.
You can use your hands to sperate the root ball. Or if it is stubborn, use a sterile knife to cut it apart.
Once you have the divisions, plant each of them in their own pots and fill with well-draining potting soil. Take care of them like you would the parent plant.
Note that you don’t need to make the divisions equal in size.
By that I mean you can have one bigger division and another smaller one. That’s fine especially if you want to maintain a good sized Monstera Esqueleto plant.
How to Repot or Transplant Monstera Esqueleto
The Monstera Esqueleto will need repotting every 18 to 28 months or so. A lot will depend on how fast the plant grows.
Therefore, you’ll need to check the soil every few months.
What you’re looking for are a couple of things.
One is the soil. You don’t want the soil to get compacted. It has to be loose and airy. Once the soil gets hard, dense or compacted, you’ll need to replace it with fresh, well-draining soil.
The other thing to look for is if the plant has outgrown its pot.
This occurs when the Monstera Esqueleto plant is root bound. And you’ll easily tell by looking at two places.
One if the holes at the bottom of the pot. If there are roots coming out from there, then repot the plant come spring.
The second is the surface of the soil. If roots are popping up or out from the soil or emerging from the creases around the inner rim of the pot, it is likewise time to repot.
Spring is the best time to repot the plant.
And prepare a container that is 2-3 inches bigger than the current one. Also have fresh, well-draining soil on hand to replace the old soil.
The bigger your Monstera Esqueleto is, the more careful you need to be when repotting because of the delicate leaves.
Carefully tip the plant to its side and gently coax the root ball out.
For larger plants, making it a 2 person job will ensure the plant does not get damaged through the process.
Is It Toxic/Poisonous to Humans, Cats & Dogs
Yes, like other aroids, the Monstera Esqueleto is toxic to humans and animals when ingested.
Therefore, as beautiful as the plant is, you want to be careful where you put it if you have young children or pets running around the house.
Monstera Esqueleto Problems & Troubleshooting
Pests are not a huge problem for the Monstera Esqueleto plant. However, they can be if it is stressed, weak or sick.
That’s because in these instances, its resistance is down. And the pests know this.
Therefore, they will pounce on the plant.
As such, it is your job to keep the plant healthy at all times.
Also, inspecting for pests will allow you to begin treatment while there are only a few bugs present. This reduces the damage they inflict and also the time to get rid of them.
Use neem oil or insecticidal soap to remove and get rid of the pests if you find them.
Root rot is the big thing to watch out for with the Monstera Esqueleto.
Overwatering and waterlogged soil are the main causes. Therefore, making sure you wait until part of the soil has dried before watering is crucial.
Also using well-draining soil is very important to avoid overwatering.
Don’t forget to use pots with drainage holes at the bottom. This way, the excess liquid that drains from the soil can drip out of the pot and not just pool at the bottom (keeping the soil wet).