What is variegation?
Variegated Monstera have become the darling of plant enthusiasts, but they can be very difficult and expensive to find. This is due to how rare variegation is in the plant and how difficult stable variegation is to propagate.
Variegation is a term used to describe a plant with variation in color. It occurs in monstera in three different colors. They are white (Albo), light green (Sport or Mint), and yellow (Aurea).
What causes the coveted coloring of these variegated houseplants?
Variegation happens for one of three reasons;
- Random mutation. Unstable, so it may revert back to solid coloring and is unlikely to propagate . *The photo on the left of the Aurea Monstera Variegata is likely an example of random mutation and you will notice other leaves on the plant are solid green.
- Genetic mutation. Expression in DNA, is fairly stable and more likely to successfully propagate . *The photo to the right of the Albo Monstera Variegata half moon looks to be fairly stable and you will notice other leaves on the plant are showing variegation.
- Viral. Unstable and unlikely to propagate. A virus can produce variegation, but will cause the plant to look unhealthy with time.
If a genetic mutation occurs, monstera deliciosa will produce a chromosomal pairing where some plant tissue will not produce chlorophyll. This lack of chlorophyll means the plant is unable to photosynthesize and which will result in the variegated coloring on the monstera leaves. In order for a variegated monstera to be stable and able to propagate, both types of tissue must be present.
Random mutation happens more often, but is known to be unstable. A cutting will be unlikely to propagate and the plant could revert back to solid green leaves.
Variegation occurs as a result of mutation and environmental forces cannot force it.
When I first saw the variegated monstera, like you, I was enamored. With their high price tag, I was curious if the beautiful displays were the result of growing conditions. Could you force variegation? The answer is no. BUT, with the exploding interest in house plants, stable varieties of these beauties can be found.