The all-white situation…

I am a big fan of diversity in all forms. Maybe that’s also why I like variegated plants so much. What better than a little deviation from the monotonous green? (To be fair, green is one of the better colours in monotony, but even green works better if the tones are diverse.) A little while ago, I got a Monstera deliciosa ‘variegata’, as a birthday present from my wife. It had been on my wish list for quite some time. I found a nice specimen that I thought had some good variegation going on. Different shades of green, quite some white, but no more than 50%. A reasonable way to start with this type of plant, that are a bit more peculiar in their wishes than the classic wild type Swiss cheese plant…

Keeping a lot of green in Monsteras is important, as they need a lot of sunlight to develop their huge leaves and vines. Obviously the white parts contain no, or at least much fewer chloroplasts. The chloroplasts being the plant cell’s powerhouse, you can imagine that this can get problematic if the percentage of white becomes too large. The leaves will require more than they actually deliver. Not good. Now usually the Monstera stems are also variegated, even along the high white leaves. This means that future leaves, again, will potentially be variegated. Now my plant decided to go ‘fuck you’ on me, and developed an all-white leave, on an all-white stem. That can hardly lead to any good… I think now that the entire meristems are devoid of chloroplast making machinery, it will not spontaneously arise again. I think this is the end of the variegation in my plant…

Now I’m not fully sure what to do about this. Cut off a top in a rather small cutting doesn’t seem very wise, but it is usually the best way to develop auxillary buds, or eyes, to sprout new branches. Leaving them on will certainly stunt further growth. I’m somehow hoping that the plant recognizes its own mistake and magically starts branching. I don’t want to cut my plant yet. I’ll even admit that the white leave dus look pretty interesting…

I guess I’ll wait this one out for now…

Leaf number four – not exactly the right time for a white leaf, my friend
This leaf is pretty cool. I love the different shades of green

Published by Robin Heinen

Father of two | Husband | Entomologist and Ecologist | Postdoctoral Researcher @ TUM | Traveler | Coffee Addict

4 thoughts on “The all-white situation…

  1. I have a variegated monstera deliciosa that looks very similar to yours. For over a year, it had the pattern of producing one white leaf and then one half-moon leaf. Then recently, it started producing two consecutive all-white leaves in a row. And it’s super worrisome that the stem is also all-white. It’s like plant suicide. 😦 I decided to chop off the two white leaves. I’m hoping that the plant will “know better” and start producing leaves with some green. I wish the best for your plant. Looking forward to updates on this plant.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi! Yes, I think this alternating pattern should be possible if the stem has some green left. If it is all white, I believe the meristems from which new growth develops are white, and I don’t think new green can develop from there. I think this is generally not a problem if you have a decent vine with at least 5-10 leaves. It should be able to sustain two white leaves. However, mine is just starting. It doesn’t have the cutting leaf anymore, and the first leaves already have quite a high proportion of white. I think I could technically prune it back, there may be one or two eyes on the part of the stem that is still green/white. I just wanted to wait until the next leaf, to be sure. But growth is slow compared to my all green Monstera.


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