Guide: Raising a Monstera Albo

In October, I finally bit the bullet and bought myself a Monstera deliciosa albo top cut for $250 on Etsy.

He’s not much and is this the most I ever spent on two leaves? You bet.

Monstera also top cut

First off, I waited for a really long time to buy a variegated Monstera. Shelling out $600 for a shipped plant in October was just not smart and really not necessary since I have so many other plants that I love. Also, and no matter how much I wanted to shell out $600, my thought before hitting “buy” was always, “but what if it dies?” Then I would grimace and the sad, defeated Charlie Brown music would play as I closed my laptop.

Buying rare plants, especially variegated ones like Monstera albos or variegated Philodendrons, are a bit of a gamble when they have to be shipped to you. Plus I live in NY and October weather-wise is a bit of a gamble. Why did I do this again?

Anyway, I searched high and low for months with a budget of $250 and wanting a top cut only. Why a top cut? I’ll explain later. Finally I found this seller on etsy and he was nice, accommodating, and understood my concerns. Finally a two-leaf baby Monstera arrived to my house – after I had been repeatedly panicking because it was stuck in a cold Pennsylvania warehouse for five extra days – healthy. Why did I do this again?

Being part of the plant community since 2018 at this point, I’m well aware that my experience, panic and hesitation is not unique. I know that, like me, many of you are salivating at the thought of owning one of these plants, but don’t know if these single or double-leaf cuttings are worth it or or likely to survive. Should I start a support group?

Actually this is the support group. This post. This is all about rooting and caring for that Monstera chunk you bought – whether an albo/thai Monstera or Philodendron. And yes it’s supposed to give you “What to Expect When You’re Expecting” vibes.

Raising a Monstera albo Cutting, Week by Week

I’ve documented my Monstera albo’s first day home to three months later, and all the bumps along the way. I should probably stop making baby jokes – I don’t even have kids. Speaking of which I named him Marvin.

Week 1 – Unpacking the Monstera Albo:

Marvin arrives on October 20th. Once I stop freaking out that I am the proud owner of a monstera albo, I unpack him and check his roots, leaves, and stem. He arrives bubble-wrapped in a box with a wet paper towel keeping the roots moist. He looks so amazing and I begin to cry.

I strategically bought a top cut. If you don’t know what a top cut is, it’s literally the top-most part of the plant, the section with the newest leaves. A top cut is one of the “better cuts” but any cut on a Monstera will work as they just push out new growth near the aerial root.

Monstera albo plant cutting for sale

I noticed he had a new leaf about to unfurl which may seem exciting but I knew it wasn’t going to unfurl. Because he was sent to me (and, remember, stuck in Pennsylvania) he was VERY stressed out. Eventually I figured this new leaf would dry up or get stuck. I was correct, one of those things happened, but more on that later,

Following my propagation techniques, I stuck him in water, in a hefty glass jar. He’s living on one of my carts in front of a giant sliding glass door. He’ll get about 6+ hours of strong indirect light each day.

Week 2: Roots are A’comin:

After a week of being a helicopter parent, roots began a’poppin. They’re so smol, so cute. But more importantly, they’re HAPPENING. Talk about relief. I did nothing but monitor him this week, didn’t change water, nothing, just watched him like a hawk.

Monstera albo aerial root

Week 3 + 4 – Marvin Giveth Thy Roots

Those smol white roots began branching in week three and four. I added water as needed, just topping off the jar. I did mix in a tad bit of aquarium water from my fishtank (you can use the tiniest bit of fertilizer too if you, like, don’t have fish). Since roots were growing so rapidly I wanted to give him a Flintstone vitamin (not really, please don’t do that).

Monstera albo in water

Remember that leaf that was supposed to unfurl? It still hasn’t, but I’m leafing it alone. Get it? I’ll see myself out….

Week 5 – Upgrade Time:

Marvin needed a bigger jar and a bigger jar he received. He moved from a curry sauce jar to an actual ball mason jar with a larger opening.

Week 6 + 7 – Free the Leaf

Still remember that stuck leaf? Nothing was happening and it was starting to dry up and looking sketchy.

I took a huge risk by taking a sterilized sharp facto knife and slit the leaf skin that was keeping that leaf in. Marvin was putting energy into keeping this unfurled leaf going so I had to intervene. And this is what happened a week later:

Monstera albo node

See that tiny nub? That’s a new aerial root! You can still see the “leaf” in the stem to the left but I know it will dry up at this point. Marvin will start putting his energy towards making new leaves now.

Week 8 + 9 + 10 – I Was Right

Now, if you haven’t read my Monstera propagation post, you need to, because week eight is when everything changed. That tiny aerial root bursted with growth and he even pushed out another because he is now putting out a new LEAF. A leaf you guys, a leaf. Here’s what we’re looking at at week 10+.

Monstera albo new leaf

Now, Marvin arrived with a single dark aerial root, which is the aerial root that will ultimately become the mother root. And this is typical on a Monstera cutting. Basically, it is what the smaller white roots grow from. But now that more nodes are appearing/growing, this shows stronger, more secure root development. In other words, it’s almost time to plant. You can see how I “freed” the leaf better in the photo below. That papery skin on the right was where it was trapped.

Now, just a disclaimer, normally Monsteras do not need help, but since I’ve cared for Monsteras for years now, I knew the signs. Don’t go “freeing” your Monstera’s leaves to get them to come out quicker, that will not work in your favor and your Monstera will be sad. Let them do their thing, honey.

Monstera albo new growth

When it’s Time to Plant Your Monstera albo cutting:

Here’s the big question it seems no one answers. No matter how many videos I watch on IG or Youtube, I’m aware that a decent answer to this only exists in a few places. It’s just such an imperative question and one that can either put your Monstera cutting into growth mode or death mode.

Generally, I say when the roots are at least 6″ BUT, and a huge but here, Monstera albos are different. Actually most variegated leafy plants are because they are generally just more fragile. For one, they grow slower. And they are so beautiful yet cause so much misunderstanding like the unicorns they are.

Variegated Monstera top cut

So I’m telling you, when you think it’s time to plant your cutting, don’t yet. Wait another month in water in a warm place. Just wait. As Nike says, just do it. Why? Because from the thousands of Monstera-related messages I’ve gotten over the years, many ask “can I plant” and my answer 90% of the time is not yet. They are always glad they waited. So, just be patient.

When to plant Monstera albo

You don’t want your cutting to be water forever but know that planting it causes it more stress, so making sure the roots are ready is the best way to combat this. Marvin’s roots look like this today (it’s January 2022) and I planted him in June! Read the blog post about it here and see what I did.

I want to hear from you too though – what else would you like to know about raising expensive plant cuttings? Do you need more info on a what I did in a certain week? I want any and all of your feedback in the comments. Thanks for reading and I hope you learned something!

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13 replies
  1. Thanks for the excellent post. I too, am hoping to be an albo parent, and have been stalking adoptees for what truly feels like forever. I found your post when searching for info on ordering from afar. Quagmire: I really want it before the growing season begins, but I am in New England and it’s February 🙁 So much helpful info in your posts- thank you for sharing!!

  2. Must the Monstera be soil potted? Could it be kept in water indefinitely? I’m experimenting with having some of my houseplants grow out of the top of my aquarium. It’s a work-in-progress that I hope turns into a win-win for both the plants and the fish. The Monstera would be amazing growing out of the tank. Thoughts?

    1. Hi Chris, I have had a Monstera (not an albo) in water for 2-3 years and it is bursting at the jar’s seams, but is still growing and putting out new leaves. I have found that it may be at its limit, since water can only provide so many nutrients and it will probably need to go into soil as the water gets sucked up almost immediately and the jar is bare again, telling me it’s looking for more. You can definitely try it for a fish tank, just keep an eye on the water levels.

  3. I just brought home my new cutting. Single leaf with fenestration and nice coloring. 3 big aerial roots. No other roots forming. Seller had this leaf with 3 other cuttings all propped at the same time. This one was the one lagging behind in development. Not sure why. Seller props hers in wet moss and that’s how it’s sitting here at my house 😲. Do you have any idea why the only cutting with 3 aerial roots would take longer to grow baby roots? It looks very healthy otherwise.

    1. Hmm, I wonder if there is just too much energy going towards these big roots. If it were me I would probably chop off the smallest root, leaving two, and make sure the whole cutting is in the warmest and most humid place in your house. I have gotten (not albo) slower Monstera cuttings before from frustrated plant parents and I always had luck just trimming them down and sticking them in water. You can try the water method too, since I wonder if it was just slower since moss can dry out (moss can be difficult to keep evenly moist). I hope that helps!

  4. I have to albo cuttings I got 2 years ago. Both are now potted and happy. However, if I could re-do it again I would have pulled from water before I did. It had a ton of roots and looked very happy in the water but I think if I’d pulled it out before it had so many roots the new leaves and new growth would be larger than what it is now. It has several leaves with lots of variegation however the leaves are not that large in comparison to my other monsteras and other albos ive seen pics of. I also use Noot fertilizer (not sponsored or anything) but I swear that’s the best fertilizer Ive ever used it makes all my plants happy and I have an entire sunroom full of plants. What fertilizer do you use? Do you make your own soil? I’d love to see a post about this!

    1. Hi Rosemary – that great that he’s done so well! New leaves on cuttings are always a tad smaller and that’s normal. For fertilizer I really love Jacks and yes I do make my own mix! I do perlite, soil and orchid bark, usually in a 1:1 ratio, sometimes I use more soil depending on the plant.

  5. Hello! Love this post, I have 3 albo cuttings, one of which is thriving and the other two have gotten root rot in the water. One has since completely rotted away. The other i ended up taking out of the water and planting in MAB that is kept moist – it still has no roots(as the arials rotted away). Do ou have any advice? Should I just take it out and put it back in water and hope for the best?

    1. Hi Kelly, Honestly that’s what I would do, only because I feel like water is the only way I can truly tell what’s going on with the roots. Best of luck! I hope he pulls through.

  6. Okay, this may sound extremely weird… I once got a plant from a friend who had a shop with all kinds of stuff, and plants now and then. One day he got a batch of monstera albo. But they were too expensive for me as a single mom. But, one plant was so poor that he could not sell it and gave it to me. And I gave it some plant loooving and it quickly grow. I had to trim it, and made some cuttings. I gave one plant back to my friend as a thank you.
    Anyway… my mother plant grew and it got big and filtered… I just did’nt have time to nurse it to become really beutiful. So, the I had to trim it again, and now I have like, 15 cuttings in water, 25 plants in pots and they are EVERYWHERE 😛
    And all I’m waiting for, is the perfect leaf. A leaf with big “fingers” and half white half green/variagated.
    I want that perfect look. Or a look I did’nt expect I would find perfect.
    So my question is….If you can help..
    How do I make the best for my plants to develop the “fingers” what does it take to develop those finegrs?
    Why does some leafes not get the variegated as soon as others? As they are all from the same mother plant?
    Does fertilizer not prevent the plant to variagate?
    And, what is the difference of the monstera variagated and the monsterea albo variagated? If any.
    I can see on your pictures it looks like mine. But how can I be sure?
    Thanks a lot from a plantaholic 🙂

    1. Hi Tine! The fingers form on plants that reach a certain maturity, so with constantly cutting them you’re essentially making then start the rooting process all over and stunting their growth. So to get some fun leaf shapes I would just let a few of those cuttings do their thing in some soil. As far as the variegation, each leaf and plant is different, but typically high light will give you the best chances of variegation. Fertilizer, unless it’s given in too high of quantity, will not affect the variegation. Too much fertilizer will hurt the plant. And Monstera albo is a type of variegated Monstera, it usually has white and green patches, whereas some have yellow and green and those are Monstera thai constellation. I hope I answered all of your questions!

  7. Hello everyone. I’m going to be purchasing a monstera albo variegated leaf today. Any advice on what I should look for on the leaf cutting before I pick one to purchase. The seller said he has quite a few to choose from. I’d appreciate any feed back asap.

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