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Rhaphidophora Decursiva – A Tropical Epiphyte

by gardeningit
Rhaphidophora Decursiva

The gigantic climber and beautifully fringed Rhaphidophora decursiva is a tropical epiphyte native to the Himalayan forests. It is well-known for its deeply-lobed obovate leaves that resemble the fronds of a fern. Amazing, isn’t it? Its leaves are in shades of bluish-green at their juvenile stage. These striking leaves turn dark-green upon maturing. This gorgeous aroid is a perfect choice to give indoors, a tropical look. You can also grow it in hanging baskets, on the patio, or in a home garden. Let’s get into its features and care.

Common Names

  • Monstera decursiva
  • Rhaphidophora affinis
  • Philodendron decursiva
  • Rhaphidophora insignis
  • Scindapsus decursiva
  • Pothos decursiva


  • Family: Araceae
  • Genus: Rhaphidophora
  • Species: Rhaphidophora decursiva

About the Genus Rhaphidophora

This genus is a part of the Araceae family, and 100 different species have been classified into it. All of its species are climbers and flowering plants. These are native to the tropical regions of Africa, Malaysia, and Australia.

Origin and Distribution

This plant was originally discovered in the Himalayan forests of China and India. It is endemic to the Indian subcontinent and China.

Rhaphidophora Decursiva Indoors

Due to its large, striking leaves, Rhaphidophora is often mistaken and referred to as a Philodendron. This philodendron Rhaphidophora decursiva is a popular houseplant. It is mostly grown in hanging baskets; its long leaves hang over the basket and give indoors a lively look. Caring for a Rhaphidophora decursiva indoors is as easy as caring for other basic plants. It requires little attention and maintenance, and thus, can also be grown by beginners.

Rhaphidophora Decursiva Features

Foliage and Stem

This lovely climber has frond-like leaves that are obovate in shape. Younger leaves are blue to green in color. They start to deepen in the shade as they mature. Mature leaves are deeply-lobed and dark-green in color. The large leaves are about 40 inches long and about 20 inches wide.


This plant also blooms in spring and summer. Its inflorescence has spathe and spadix that grow erect on the long branches of this plant.


If you want a beautiful plant that stays fresh and green all year round, then Monstera Rhaphidophora decursiva is a great option. Its foliage remains stay functional throughout the year.


This lovely epiphytic plant can get as tall as 50 feet if it is grown outdoors. However, if grown indoors, it reaches 5 feet high. It can be grown as wall covers inside a room. If you want this plant to attain its maximum height even inside a home, you will have to mimic the indoor environment to the one in rainforests; you will have to regulate the humidity, sunlight exposure, and temperature.

Air Purification

Why install expensive air-purifiers inside the home when you can grow a plant that filters the air effectively? Rhaphidophora decursiva is a natural purifier that removes toxic substances from the air and keeps it fresh. It lets you breathe fresher air when you step in from the polluted outdoors inside your home.

Temperature Tolerance

This plant is not tolerant of high temperatures. 30°C is the maximum that this plant can tolerate. Above this temperature, its leaves are in danger of getting scorched. This plant is not frost-tolerant either. You should never leave it outdoors if the temperature falls below the freezing point; this plant is prone to chilly injuries in winters.

Humidity Tolerance

Humidity and moisture in the air are necessary to keep the leaves of plants fresh and green. The plants native to the rainforests prefer 80%+ humidity. However, this Rhaphidophora plant is quite tolerant of low humidity. It thrives in both; the high or low moisture level in the air. If you want to keep your plant fresh, try some simple tricks to maintain the humidity around it.

Drought Resistance

This beaut does not require a lot of water to survive. It is a drought-resistance plant that can survive days without being watered. Its water-storing capacity makes it able to live through the days of low water availability.

Disease and Pest Resistance

This beautiful climber does not attract many pests. The only insects that might roam around its foliage are spider mites, mealybugs, whitefly, scale, and thrips. These can easily be removed by rubbing the stem and leaves with neem oil or insecticidal soap.

Rhaphidophora decursiva is susceptible to mosaic virus. In this disease, yellow lesions and marks begin to appear on leaves. This can be treated only by removing the infected parts.


It is a climbing plant that grows at a faster pace. Its aerial roots quickly climb over surfaces to reach a maximum height. Its soil roots completely occupy the pot and start to grow in circles in just a year.

The best USDA plant hardiness growth zones for this epiphytic plant are 9b-11.


All-beautiful, all-poisonous, Rhaphidophora must be kept away from children and pets. Its leaves, stems, and roots contain toxic substances that cause swelling of the mouth, lips, and throat. If ingested, it causes contact dermatitis. It is better to keep it in a safe place, away from the reach of nibbling pets and toddlers.


No need to worry if you want to grow a Rhaphidophora indoors. It is an easy-to-care plant; it does not have a long list of requirements. All it needs is weekly watering and a bright spot to thrive. No matter if you are an expert in growing plants or you have a black thumb, you can easily grow this lovely plant inside your home.


Dormancy and resting period are really necessary for the plant. It lets them conserve energy and stay safe from cold. This species of the Rhaphidophora genus also goes dormant in fall and winter. It stops growing during these seasons.

Rhaphidophora Decursiva Care

This beautiful climber needs to be watered twice a week in the growing season and once a week in winters. It must be grown in well-draining, rich, and slightly acidic soil having a pH from 5.5 to 6.0. It prefers 40-60% humidity and 75-80% sunlight. 12°C-26°C temperature range is preferable for its proper growth.

Water Requirements

Rhaphidophora decursiva must be kept moist all the time. Water it as soon as its soil dries. This handsome peep needs watering twice a week in spring and summer. These are the growing seasons in which the plant blooms and increases its size. However, during winters, the plant goes into a resting stage. That is why it does not need occasional watering. Watering it once a week in winter will do fine. You should allow the soil to stay dry for some time between waterings.

Soil Requirements

Well-draining and slightly acidic soil is preferred for this monstera decursiva. The pH level must not be less than 5.5 as high acidity increases toxicity. The optimum pH range is 5.5-6.0. You can maintain this level by spraying the soil with diluted vinegar. Add only 1-2 drops of vinegar in a gallon of water and spritz the soil with it.

Regular potting mix will do fine for this plant. You can also add a little perlite or vermiculite to increase its drainage. However, do not use sandy, mucky, or damp soil. It will lead to root damage.

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Rhaphidophora decursiva thrives in bright sunlight. Filtered light or indirect light is sufficient for its proper growth. You can also place it in the morning sun to give extra sunlight to its green leaves. This beaut can also survive in low light conditions. It will still thrive if you grow it under fluorescence light in your basement. Keep it away from direct sun. If you are growing this plant outdoors, cover it with shade cloth, or the sun will scorch its leaves. A north or an east-facing window is the perfect spot for this plant’s placement.

Temperature Requirements

This tropical angiosperm prefers average temperature to grow. The temperature for its optimum growth must be kept between 12°C and 26°C. It cannot survive in extreme temperatures. It is better if you grow it indoors during winters to protect it from frost and chilly injuries. However, you can grow it outdoors in summers without any second thoughts. But never let the direct sun rays reach its pretty foliage.

Humidity Requirements

High humidity is preferred for the tropical Rhaphidophora decursiva. It is native to the rainforests, where the humidity levels are above 80%. When such a plant is grown indoors, humidity must be regulated as per its needs. It still grows fine when the humidity is 40-60%. Misting is one easy and efficient way to increase the amount of moisture in the air around this plant. However, do not mist it often as its foliage does not like to stay wet.


If you notice that the green color of the leaves of your Rhaphidophora decursiva plant is fading away and its growth has slow down, your plant might be low on nutrients. It needs feeding every month in the growing season. You can add the regular household fertilizer to its soil to provide it with the necessary nutrients. Always add the fertilizer 7 inches away from the surface of the soil. Production of unnecessary salt in the soil indicates that you are not using a good-quality fertilizer.

Grooming and Pruning

Monstera Rhaphidophora decursiva does not need occasional pruning. Its natural, fuller look is the real beauty of it. You can prune it at the beginning of spring to get rid of older and yellow leaves. This makes room for new leaves and blooms. You can also prune your Rhaphidophora plant if you want to limit its size.


This handsome peep does not like to be root-bound. As soon as its roots start to grow in circles and creep out of the drainage holes, re-pot your plant right away. This does not happen before a year, so you need to re-pot Rhaphidophora decursiva after every one or two years. Always use a pot that is 2 inches bigger than the previous one and fill it with fresh, new soil.


Who would not want to increase their collection of attractive and beautiful climbers? You can propagate your Rhaphidophora plant through stem cuttings. This method is as easy as propagating other indoor plants. It is a climber, so it has aerial roots on its stem. These aerial roots help the stem cutting to grow at a faster pace. Follow the following step-by-step guide to increasing your collection of monstera decursiva.

  1. Take a sharp knife and sterilize it.
  2. Cut an 8 inches long stem cutting. Make sure it has 2-3 aerial roots.
  3. Remove the leaves from the lower end.
  4. Place the stem cutting in soil or water medium, 4 inches below the surface.
  5. Make sure that the aerial roots are below the soil or water surface.
  6. Keep the container in a well-lit spot where it receives 75-80% sunlight.
  7. The roots will take 4 weeks to grow, and a new stem will appear in 6-8 weeks.
  8. In just 3 weeks, you will get yourself a fresh, new Rhaphidophora plant.

Final Thoughts

If you want a beautiful, fern-like, tropical climber to grow inside your home or outside in your home garden, then a Rhaphidophora decursiva plant is your best choice. This lovely epiphytic plant is a low-maintenance, easy-to-care angiosperm that is also a natural air purifier. Its frond-like leaves and dangling branches give a tropical look; this is why this epiphytic beauty is a popular addition to indoors.

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