Why Are Variegated Monsteras So Expensive? (EXPLAINED)

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Variegated Monstera plants are expensive mainly because they are hard to find and propagate. Their prices vary depending on the size and patterns of variegation they display. In this blog, we cover the following details about variegated plants.

·        The meaning of variegation

·        Types of variegation

·        Causes of variegation

·        Why Are Variegated Monstera So Expensive?

·        Monstera Albo and Thai Constellation

·        Can Monstera Variegation Revert Back?

·        Where to Find a Rare Variegated Monstera plant?

·        Frequently Answered Questions

What Is Variegation?

Monstera Adansonii 10

Variegation is the development of differently colored patterns on the leaves, as well as the stems and fruits, of some plants. More precisely, the leaves of variegated plants have two-toned or multi-tonal sections that feature splotchy, blocky, speckled, or other patterns. These patterns often take the form of stripes, circles, spots, or borders.

Variegation occurs due to a mutation in the plant’s chlorophyll formation, causing the leaves to lose the green color in some areas.

Variegated Monsteras are expensive; their prices vary from $100 to thousands of dollars based on their variegation pattern and size. The main reason behind such high prices is that these plants are rare to find.

Read Also: Different Types of Monstera Plants

The Types & Causes of Variegation

Natural Mutation

The leaf cells in some plants may naturally stop producing chlorophyll due to various reasons, like genetic mutations, hormonal changes, and environmental factors, including exposure to direct light, extreme temperatures, temperature fluctuations, uneven distribution of water and nutrients, viral infections, and insect damage.

The most common types of variegation based on genetic mutation include the following.

·        Chlorotic variegation is marked by yellow or white patches on the leaves resulting from a lack of chlorophyll.

·        Sectorial variegation features distinct areas of different colors on the leaves, typically green and yellow or green and white.

·        Mosaic variegation involves irregular, random patterns of different colors on the leaves.

·        Marginal variegation is where the leaves develop a colored margin or edge.

·        Pattern variegation refers to the development of differently-colored specific patterns on the leaves.

·        Albinistic variegation is characterized by a complete lack of pigmentation that results in white or pale-colored leaves.

·        Marbled variegation is the development of swirling or mottled patterns of different colors on the leaves, stems, and other parts due to natural, induced, or engineered mutation.

Variegated Monstera Albo is type of Monstera plants that features variegation resulting from natural mutation. It came into existence when a few cells of a regular, green Swiss Cheese plant mutated spontaneously and stopped producing chlorophyll.

Tissue Culture

Variegated Monstera

Tissue culture is a technique of producing new plants in a laboratory setting using leaves, stems, or root cuttings from an existing plant. These cuttings are placed in sterile containers and grown in a controlled environment with nutrients and growth hormones. This method is used to grow genetically identical or modified plants, including variegated varieties.

Monstera Thai Constellation is the best example of a variegated variety produced from tissue culture. This rare plant was created in a lab in Thailand.

Why Are Variegated Monsteras So Expensive? (EXPLAINED)

Variegated Monstera

The strikingly beautiful variegated plants, like Monstera Albo and Monstera Thai Constellation, come with a high price tag. If you have been wondering why these plants are super expensive, refer to the reasons below.

Variegated Plants, Like Monstera Albo, Are Rare

Variegated Monstera

Variegated Monstera varieties are not commonly found in nature or produced in labs. A very limited number of these plants and cuttings are available at the shops. Hence, the shortage of supply is a major reason for the high prices of variegated varieties.

Variegation in Plants Grown From Seeds Is Not Reliable

It is possible to grow variegated Monstera plants from seeds, but it is not the most common propagation method.

The variegation in some plants, like Monstera Albo, is caused by a genetic mutation, which means that it is not guaranteed that all seedlings grown from variegated Monstera will also be variegated.

Moreover, some variegated Monstera types are only available in specific regions, making them hard to find in other areas.

They Grow Slowly

Another reason Variegated Monstera plants are expensive is that they grow slowly.

Since their leaves produce less chlorophyll, they cannot photosynthesize (produce energy) as efficiently as regular plants with green leaves. Hence, growing them requires a significant amount of time and patience.

The slow growth of a variegated Monstera plant is one of the main factors that limit its supply and availability worldwide.

They Have a Unique, Exotic Appearance

Variegated plants, including Albo and Thai Constellation, feature unique patterns and colors. For example, some of them have leaves with creamy speckles, while the leaves of others display a half-mooned or marbled appearance. Such lush and exotic combinations of patterns and colors give variegated varieties a unique appearance, making them a prized possession for all houseplant enthusiasts and collectors.

They Are High in Demand

The unique, exotic appearance of variegated varieties and their rising popularity on social media have made them highly sought-after by people worldwide. Their growing demand among houseplant enthusiasts and collectors, interior decorators, and nature lovers has naturally driven their prices.

They Have Been Trending on Social Media

Variegated Monstera

Anything that is talked about and reviewed on social media becomes popular amongst people all over the world. This is exactly what’s happening to variegated Monstera varieties! Many social media influencers, plant bloggers, vloggers, and others have proudly shown them off as prized possessions in their social media posts. Seeing it trending on social media makes the viewers excited to purchase them, despite the high cost.

Variegation Is Unpredictable

Since the mutated cells that cause variegation are not found equally throughout the plant, it is not guaranteed that all cuttings or offsets taken from a variegated plant will also be variegated.

In other words, it’s difficult to get the desired level and type of variegation in propagated plants through stem-cutting or air layering methods.

They Require Skills to Propagate

Propagating variegated Monsteras can be more challenging than propagating solid green ones. The most common way to propagate variegated Monstera is through stem cuttings or air layering, which involves taking a cutting from a mature variegated plant and rooting it in soil or water. However, it is important to note that the variegation may not be present or stable in the new plants, and it can take many years for the variegation to be stable or for the plant to show it.

Additionally, it can be difficult to maintain the variegation in propagated plants, as they require specific growing conditions, such as extra sunlight and fertilization, to keep the plant healthy and maintain the variegation.

Variegated Monstera

Monstera Albo vs. Thai Constellation

Monstera Albo and Thai Constellation are two of the most popular varieties of Monstera Deliciosa Variegata. They might look the same to some people, but they have numerous differences.

Monstera Albo is a result of a genetic mutation that occurs when two different types of chromosomal makeup mingle. The mutated cells stimulate the green pigmentation in plants to produce a mix of tissues with or without chlorophyll, resulting in light-colored patterns or patches on the leaves.

On the other hand, Monstera Thai Constellation was originally engineered in a Thai Lab. Unlike the white variegation patterns on Monstera Deliciosa Albo Variegata, the variegation on Monstera Thai Constellation is off-white or cream-colored.

Variegation

Variegated Monstera

The most prominent difference between these plants is the pattern and stability of variegation. Monstera Deliciosa Albo Variegata has leaves speckled with big green, white, and marbled markings, while the leaves of Monstera Thai Constellation have tiny, cream-colored splotches across their surface.

Moreover, the variegation pattern on Monstera Albo is unstable and unpredictable because it results from a natural mutation in a few cells. Some leaves of this plant can be entirely green, some patterned, and others can be completely white with no chlorophyll.

In contrast, the variegation on the Thai Constellation remains stable and easy to predict because it is grown in a lab setting. The mutation is spread across all the plant cells, making the leaves less likely to revert to green.

Inter-Nodal Distance

Internodes are the sections of a plant stem between two successive nodes (the points on a stem where leaves or branches grow). It is an important factor in determining a plant stem’s final height. Elongated internodes mean the stem is weak and incapable of supportable buds or blooms.

Monstera Deliciosa Albo Variegata may not appear as lush and green until it matures into a vine. This is because it has larger internodes (around three to four inches), and its leaves are slightly distanced from each other. A larger intermodal distance also means you can easily prune a cutting from this plant.

The intermodal distance between the leaves of the Monstera Thai Constellation is shorter than Monstera Albo, which gives it an overall lush, bushy look.

Leaf Size

The leaves of Monstera Albo are smaller than a typical Monstera Deliciosa (also called the Swiss Cheese Plant).

In contrast, the leaves of the Variegated Monstera Thai Constellation are large and expansive, just like a typical Monstera Deliciosa’s leaves.

Their Costs

Variegated Monstera Albo is rarer than Monstera Thai Constellation. This is because the patterns on the leaves of Monstera Albo Borsigiana or Deliciosa develop due to genetic mutation. It becomes difficult for the growers to replicate the same variegation through variegation.

Plus, growers commercially produce Thai Constellation in controlled environments of the labs, making them more easily available than Monstera Albo Borsigiana or Deliciosa.

The unreliability of variegation and slow growth make it difficult for growers to produce large quantities of Monstera Albo plants. This makes them rarer and more expensive than Thai Constellation.

Can Variegated Monstera Revert?

Variegated Monstera

It is possible for naturally variegated Monstera Albo Borsigiana or Deliciosa to revert to their all-green form. This process, also called de-variegating, can occur due to several reasons, such as improper care, genetic instability, and changes in the plant’s environment.

However, You don’t have to worry about cultivars like Thai Monstera reverting. They are genetically modified in labs, and the mutation is spread across all the cells in the plant, which means they will stay variegated throughout their life.

How to Maintain the Variegation on Monstera Albo

If you see too many green leaves on your variegated Monstera, your plant is reverting to its all-green form. Trim those green leaves to stop the plant from turning completely green because they don’t have any mutated cells that cause variegation. Only the mutated cells in the stem and nodes can produce variegated leaves.

Other than that, you must provide the plant with the right growing conditions:

·        Bright, indirect light: A variegated plant needs bright, indirect light to retain its variegation. Direct sunlight can cause the green parts of the leaf to grow more quickly and the variegation to fade.

·        Consistent moisture: The soil should be consistently moist but not waterlogged. Overwatering can cause the plant to revert to all green.

·        Proper fertilization: Fertilize the plant with a balanced fertilizer every 4-6 weeks during the growing season.

·        Keep away from temperature fluctuations: Keep the temperature consistent, as sudden temperature fluctuations can cause the plant to revert to all green.

·        Avoid stress: Avoid moving the plant around too much and stabilize the humidity levels.

Note: Besides pruning the all-green leaves, you should also cut off the all-white ones. These completely white leaves might look beautiful, but they take up significant energy from your plant.

Where to Find Variegated Monstera Plants

Variegated Monstera

You might not find such rare and variegated varieties at your local grocery or hardware store. The best place to look for them is online or at a nursery specializing in high-value plants. Ensure you buy from a trustworthy store with good reviews and ratings. The high popularity and price of Variegated Monsteras encourage many scammers to sell wrong and low-quality plants to customers.

An important point to remember is that Monstera Deliciosa Albo is mostly sold as a cutting from the mother plant. Since this rare plant takes a long time to grow and mature, it is more cost-effective for nurseries to sell its cuttings. Even if you find a nursery selling Monstera Deliciosa Albo as a mature plant, it is likely to be extremely expensive.

On the other hand, Thai Monstera is usually sold as a young, established plant because it is grown through tissue culture in a controlled lab environment. These baby plants have small leaves with no fenestrations due to their young age.

Variegated Monstera

Frequently Asked Questions

How Much Do Variegated Monsteras Cost?

The cost of a Monstera Albo and a Thai Monstera can differ based on the size and location of the plant. On average, a Monstera Albo Borsigiana can cost anywhere from $50 to $200, while a Thai Constellation can cost anywhere from $20 to $100. Remember that prices may also fluctuate depending on the season and demand.

Why Are Monstera Albo Plants So Rare?

Monstera Deliciosa Albo plants are rare because their demand is much higher than their supply. The variegation patterns on their leaves result from a naturally occurring genetic mutation, which is difficult to replicate through propagation. Plus, these plants grow slowly due to a lack of chlorophyll production, which further contributes to the supply shortage.

Why Do Variegated Leaves Grow Slower?

Variegated Monstera grows slower due to the lack of chlorophyll-producing cells in its leaves. Less chlorophyll means it cannot photosynthesize as efficiently as a regular Monstera plant.

Photosynthesis is the process through which plants produce energy for their growth. Since variegated varieties produce less energy, they grow slower. You can expose them to extra bright, indirect light to accelerate their growth.

Can Variegated Monstera Nodes Without Leaves Be Propagated?

Yes, Variegated Monstera nodes without leaves can be propagated because the cuttings may still contain mutated cells. But make sure you provide it with proper care and humid conditions.