It’s amazing that plants growing on opposite sides of the world can share so many of the same traits! A prime example of this is Monster Dubia and Rhaphidophora Cryptantha. Although both are tropical plants from the Araceae family, they originate from completely different regions of the world. Yet despite this, they share a remarkable similarity, both in how they look and how they grow.
A unique characteristic that Monster Dubia and Rhaphidophora Cryptantha share is that their leaves grow flat against vertical surfaces. This trait has (confusingly!) given them both the nickname “shingle plant”.
To tell the difference between Rhaphidophora Cryptantha and Monstera Dubia, you must observe the veins on their leaves, which direction the leaves point, and whether there are fenestrations or not.
Monstera Dubia has dark green veins and leaves that point downwards as they grow with fenestrations. Rhaphidophora Cryptantha has light green veins and leaves that point upwards as they grow with no fenestrations.
Let’s take a deeper look at the remarkable similarities between these two plants, and how you can tell them apart.
What is the Difference Between Rhaphidophora and Monstera?
The visual similarity between these two plants is unmistakable, so it takes a trained eye to notice the differences. Look out for these traits to determine if your plant is Rhaphidophora Cryptantha or Monstera Dubia.
Both Rhaphidophora Cryptantha and Monstera Dubia are two-toned. Their leaves are colored with similar shades of light and dark green. The main difference between the two is how those colors are arranged on the leaf.
Rhaphidophora Cryptantha leaves are dark green with distinctive light green veins. Monstera Dubia is the inverse, with silvery light green leaves and dark green veins.
Direction of Growth
Rhaphidophora Cryptantha and Monstera Dubia are both shingling plants. This means that as they climb up a tree or moss pole, they lay flat against it. This gives them the appearance of roof shingles, hence the name. Both Rhaphidophora Cryptantha and Monstera Dubia have been given the nickname “shingle plant” because of this unique growth habit.
Shingling is the most distinctive characteristic of these two plants and the reason why they are so often mixed up. But the truth is that they don’t grow exactly the same. Rhaphidophora Cryptantha leaves point upwards when they lay flat, and Monstera Dubia leaves point downwards when laid flat.
Fenestrations vs. No Fenestrations
Although these two plants are almost identical in their juvenile stage, their differences become more obvious as they mature.
Monstera Dubia leaves begin to grow bigger and develop fenestrations as the plant matures. Although the exact reason why plants develop fenestrations is yet unclear, scientists have some theories. The most popular theory is that fenestrations allow the leaf to spread out more efficiently so it can capture more sunlight. More sunlight means that the plant can grow bigger and healthier!
Rhaphidophora Cryptantha on the other hand doesn’t develop fenestrations, even after reaching maturity. In fact, its leaves stay the same size as it grows upward, which gives the plant a very pretty and uniform appearance.
Monstera Dubia Care vs. Rhaphidophora Cryptantha Care
Given their similar appearance, it makes sense that these two plants would have similar care requirements. We’ll break down the sunlight, water, and soil requirements to see if that’s true.
Both Monstera Dubia and Rhaphidophora Cryptantha are understory plants. They naturally grow beneath the rainforest canopy, which means they are not designed to withstand direct sunlight. These plants are happy with plenty of indirect light. Avoid full sunlight at all costs, as it can damage their delicate leaves.
Tropical plants like these require regular watering and prefer to have moist soil over dry. That being said, Rhaphidophora Cryptantha and Monstera Dubia can handle periods of drought. In the summer, give these plants a drink twice a week. You can allow the first 1-2 inches (2.5-5 cm) of soil to dry out before watering to reduce the risk of root rot.
Both of these plants require loose, moist, and well-draining soil. For best results, use a soil mix designed for aroids. Most will contain a mix of peat moss to retain moisture and perlite to improve aeration and drainage. Soil mediums with lots of organic material are a plus, as these tropical plants need regular fertilization.
Does Monstera Dubia Need High Humidity?
Like most other tropical rainforest plants, Monstera Dubia and Rhaphidophora Cryptantha appreciate high levels of humidity. It can be tricky to replicate the moist, warm environment they like indoors, especially in the winter.
Try to keep these plants away from windows or heating vents as they will dry out the soil. Use a humidifier if you have one and try to run it for a few hours every day. You can also mist your plants daily with warm water to create a moist environment.
Why is Monstera Dubia So Expensive?
A quick trip to Etsy shows that the cost of a Monstera Dubia cutting ranges anywhere from $20 to $30. Compare that with the cost of a grown juvenile plant (about $49.99 if you’re wondering!) and you can see that this isn’t your typical nursery plant.
In fact, Monstera Dubia is rarely found at nurseries or garden centers, simply because it’s not a very common houseplant. For this reason, many sellers consider it a collector plant and price it as such.
Do Monstera Dubia Like to Be Root Bound?
Like many climbing plants, Monstera Dubia and Rhaphidophora Cryptantha are fast growers. This means they can easily outgrow their pot in a single season. To not stunt their growth or limit their nutrient intake, it’s recommended that you size up their pot once they become root-bound.
You can identify a root-bound plant by checking the drainage hole at the bottom. Typically you can see roots start to creep out of the pot if it’s root-bound. You may also notice that the water drains very quickly when you water your plant—an indication that the soil is depleted. Another sign of a root-bound plant is yellow leaves. This indicates that the plant isn’t getting the nutrients it needs from the soil.
While some plants don’t mind being root-bound (the spider plant comes to mind), Monstera Dubia and Rhaphidophora Cryptantha prefer room to grow.
How Many Types of Rhaphidophora Are There?
Rhaphidophora is a genus with approximately 100 species. A common name for Rhaphidophoras is mini Monsteras. Although Rhaphidophora and Monstera are two completely separate genera, from separate parts of the world, they are considered close relatives.
Some of the most popular species of Rhaphidophora include:
- Rhaphidophora Tetrasperma: The most popular and widely available Rhaphidophora species. It’s commonly mistaken for Monstera Deliciosa and Monstera Adansonii, as the juvenile plants look very similar.
- Rhaphidophora Hayi: Another shingling species, similar to Rhaphidophora Cryptantha. This plant has smooth, bright green leaves and comes in several variegated forms.
- Rhaphidophora Decursiva: This unique species resembles a palm with deep fenestrations and wide fanning leaves.
Are Rhaphidophora Toxic?
All species of Rhaphidophora are considered toxic. Eating any part of this plant can cause a burning sensation to develop inside the mouth. This burning is caused by the presence of tiny, sharp calcium oxalate crystals that penetrate the skin. Plant owners should keep children and pets away from Rhaphidophoras to avoid any incidents.
And while we’re at it, know that all plants in the Monstera genus also contain calcium oxalate crystals. So Monstera Dubia will also give off that painful burning sensation if any part of the plant is ingested.
Monstera Dubia and Rhaphidophora Cryptantha may look identical, but they’re actually from two completely different genera. That being said, both belong to a unique group of shingling plants that share many of the same growth habits and care requirements.
To tell these two plants apart, first look at the veins on their leaves. Monstera Dubia has dark green veins, whereas Rhaphidophora Cryptantha has light green veins. The direction their leaves point is also a dead giveaway, as Monstera Dubia leaves point downward while Rhaphidophora Cryptantha leaves point upward.
Last but not least, a mature Monstera Dubia develops fenestrations, while Rhaphidophora Cryptantha does not.