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Philodendrons vs Monsteras: Why That Heart-Shaped Foliage Fools So Many Plant Parents

Philodendrons vs Monsteras: Why That Heart-Shaped Foliage Fools So Many Plant Parents

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If you put a philodendron next to a Monstera, you’re bound to notice a few differences. For starters, Monsteras’ leaves are riddled with slits and holes.

Meanwhile, philodendrons are fitted with heart-shaped leaves that are often vining or trailing. Nevertheless, the confusion between both plant genera may come from unique similar-looking variations.

Two of these look-alike variations from the different genera may include Monstera deliciosa and split-leaf philodendron. They are similarly shaped but are differentiated by factors such as size and leaf texture.

Stick around to learn more about the difference between philodendron vs. Monstera.

Is Monstera a Philodendron?

Monstera Plants Are Not Classified As Philodendrons

Despite originating from the same botanical background, or the Araceae family, Monsteras are not classified as philodendrons.

The Araceae family is a broad spectrum of plants that flower via a spadix. Nonetheless, philodendrons and Monsteras are of different genera.

In other words, they can’t cross-pollinate and create hybrid plants.

Aside from that, philodendrons are more related to the common pothos houseplants. Meanwhile, Monsteras are more tied to peace lilies.

Monstera vs. Split-Leaf Philodendron

Monsteras and split-leaf philodendrons resemble one another, so much so, that they’re often named interchangeably in plant nurseries.

Besides that, the confusion in the houseplant community may come from a different reason. It could be perhaps due to the split-leaf philodendron name being given to two different variations of philodendron.

These similarly-named variations are scientifically named, Philodendron bipinnatifidum and Philodendron selloum. Apart from that, these genera are often still mixed with Monsteras.

Even though the similarities between Monstera and split-leaf philodendron are almost convincing, both plants have several differences.

The Differences

Monsteras and split-leaf philodendrons may carry resemblances in terms of leaf shape and background, but that’s where it ends.

1 – Leaf Size

Both species may be usually indistinguishable during their young stage. At that point, their leaf sizes are almost the same.

Nevertheless, as the split-leaf philodendron and Monstera grow, you can tell which is which due to the latter’s larger-sized leaves.

Monsteras can grow leaves that grow about 10 to 30 inches in width. Philodendrons usually grow around 12-inch wide leaves.

That being so, both Monstera and split-leaf philodendrons may have leaves of the same length, almost reaching about 36 inches long.

2 – Leaf Appearance

Besides size, the leaves of a Monstera are characteristically fenestrated, which is why they’re also dubbed the Swiss Cheese Plant.

The holes are hypothesized to be an evolutionary trait developed so that the Monstera captures more sunlight from the forest’s shaded canopy. That way, the leaves are more spread out, while reduced in mass for better support.

On the other hand, split-leaf philodendrons’ leaves don’t have holes. Instead, they’re split on the edges, almost like palm fronds.

3 – Leaf Texture

In terms of leaf texture, you can distinguish both genera upon contact. If you touch Monstera’s leaves, they’ll feel polished and smooth.
In contrast, a split-leaf philodendron’s leaves feel more wrinkled and leathery. In addition to this, the philodendron variation may develop cataphylls.

They are scaly-textured budding leaves that carry out storage and protective functions for the plant.

4 – Growth Pattern

When it comes to growth patterns, the split-leaf philodendron is not fruit-bearing like the Monstera genus.

In addition to this, Monsteras are epiphytes. This indicates that they can grow and climb supported by other plants and their general surroundings.

Although split-leaf philodendrons climb trees, they’re not classified as epiphytes. These plants grow in a self-heading fashion.

In this case, the space between their nodes or leaf branches is smaller. In turn, the plant’s trunk is thicker so it can support the dense amount of branch extensions.

5 – Growth Size

Split-leaf philodendrons mostly grow in an outward direction, unlike the Monstera’s upward growth.

Monstera heights can reach a mammoth 70 feet tall. Nonetheless, in a household setting, they’re approximately 10 to 15 feet tall and 8 feet wide.

Split-leaf philodendrons typically reach maturity after reaching 8 to 10 feet high and 6 feet wide. Consequently, the latter is relatively smaller in size than Monsteras.

6 – Soil Requirements

Although split-leaf philodendrons and Monsteras both thrive in well-draining soil, they have dissimilar nutrient intakes.

In Monstera’s case, they’re not particular about their soil pH. The best option would be slightly acidic mixes with lots of aeration quality.

Split-leaf philodendrons may need a little more TLC in terms of soil. Generally, they prefer less acidic soils.

At the same time, the philodendrons are also sensitive to salt accumulation. In this case, a well-balanced soil mix with filtered water is your best bet.

Otherwise, the split-leaf variation’s leaves could turn brown or yellow.

7 – Re-potting Requirements

The nature of Monsteras and split-leaf philodendrons requires repotting periodically. Having said that, Monsteras need to be repotted every two to three years.

Split-leaf philodendrons, on the other hand, may require yearly repotting. Accordingly, Monsteras are more pot-bound.

Broadly speaking, repotting is crucial for both plants since a root overgrowth can restrict oxygen intake and cause root rot.

8 – Uses and Benefits

Split-leaf philodendrons and Monsteras are primarily used as houseplants for aesthetic purposes. Additionally, both plants carry air-purifying benefits.

Between the genera, we’d have to say the Monstera provides more benefits due to its fruit-bearing advantage. Nevertheless, this advantage is predominantly present in the wild.

Besides that, the Monstera fruit tastes like a mixture between a custard apple and pineapple. In turn, it can make a flavorful addition to your fruit smoothies, bowls, jams, and other foods.

Plus, it’s healthy since it’s enriched with vitamin C and potassium and it’s low-calorie.

The Similarities

After discussing the difference between split-leaf philodendrons and monsteras, let’s look at their similarities.

1 – Background

Split-leaf philodendrons and monsteras originate from the Central American region. Besides that, they also hail from tropical areas.

2 – Leaf Shape

The main similarity between split-leaf philodendrons and Monsteras is the plants’ leaf shape. Both are adorned with exotic heart-shaped foliage.

3 – Growth Rate

Speed-wise, both Monsteras and split-leaf philodendrons are identified as moderate growers.

Monsteras grow about one to two feet per year. Split-leaf philodendrons can stretch 10 feet high and 15 feet wide in about 10 to 20 years.

Subsequently, the philodendrons grow about a foot or so every year.

4 – Light Care Requirements

Monstera And Philodendron Plants Prefer Indirect Light

Monsteras and split-leaf philodendrons prefer partial lighting akin to most tropical plants. The most ideal placement for both plants is near a window where there is indirect light present.

When outdoors, the houseplants should be placed in a shaded region. This is especially true during hotter climates since the plants’ leaves are susceptible to scorching.

5 – Watering Requirements

Like their light requirements, Monsteras and split-leaf philodendrons have the same water needs. These needs include a weekly or biweekly watering session.

The houseplants are vulnerable to overwatering and can develop root rot symptoms from waterlogged soil.
As a general rule of thumb, we suggest touching the topsoil to check whether it’s still moist from the previous watering session. If it’s dry, then you can safely water the plant.

6 – Temperature and Humidity Requirements

Both Monstera And Philodendron Plants Prefer 50 60 Percent Humidity

Since both plants originate from equatorial backgrounds, you’ll want to emulate this tropical environment for their survival.

This implies lots of humidity and warm temperature levels. If you decide to own both houseplants, then try to keep them in an area with at least 50% to 60% humidity.

You can achieve this level with a humidifier or use the pebble tray method instead. Climate-wise, split-leaf philodendrons and monsteras may flourish in temperatures between 65 to 85 degrees F.

Meanwhile, temperatures below 50 to 55 degrees F can prove dangerous for these tropical houseplants.

7 – Fertilizer Needs

The exotic Monstera and split-leaf philodendron can be fertilized with similar ingredients. Plus, they also require fertilization at matching times.

That being so, Monsteras require fertilization every two weeks or month during the growing seasons. The houseplant’s growing season is situated in the spring and summer months.

Likewise, split-leaf philodendrons need to be fertilized every couple of weeks in their growing phases.

The only main difference in both houseplants’ fertilization needs is that split-leaf philodendrons may need a monthly feeding in winter and fall. On the other hand, Monsteras are best left alone in those colder months.

That way, you can avoid overfertilizing and burning the leaves. Conveniently, you can use the 20-20-20 fertilizer for both houseplants.

The water-soluble fertilizer offers a balanced mixture of 20% nitrogen, 20% phosphorus, and 20% potassium. Make sure to dilute it before applying it to your plants.

8 – Pests

The split-leaf philodendron and monstera face the same kinds of pests. Those can include aphids, mealybugs, scales, and spider mites.

As soon as you notice any of these pests munching on your plant, the best course of action is to immediately spray it with insecticidal soap. For a natural alternative, you can treat the infestation with neem oil to smother the pests.

When it comes to prevention, you’ll want to avoid overwatering or underwatering the plant and keep the plant in a healthy state.

9 – Propagation Requirements

The houseplant may look great in the living room, but it might also look equally good in the kitchen. Luckily, both split-leaf philodendrons and Monsteras are fairly easy to propagate.

First off, you’ll want to find a node and then cut off two to three inches below it. Since both genera have an aerial roots advantage, you can place the cut-up piece in a water container.

Afterward, wait until you notice the roots extending and, finally, transfer it into a pot with well-draining soil.

10 – Toxicity

Another similarity between the split-leaf philodendron and Monstera is their toxicity levels. The latter contains traces of oxalic acid, while the former, calcium oxalate.

Both of which can cause irritation with mouth contact. It’s best to keep them out of your children’s and pets’ reach.

Other Similar-Looking Varieties

Apart from the Monstera deliciosa and split-leaf philodendron resemblance, other varieties are also mistakenly classified.

For instance, Philodendron minima look a lot like Monsteras, only smaller. Plus, unlike the split-leaf philodendron, the minima variation is fenestrated.

Now, despite being named Philodendron minima, this cultivar is not of the philodendron genus. Instead, it’s also named Rhaphidophora Tetrasperma, which categorizes it in the Rhaphidophora genus.

Another example is the Monstera standleyana. This is a perplexing case because it’s also interchangeably called and sold under the name Philodendron cobra.

All the same, the Monstera standleyana is not a philodendron.

Final Thoughts

Split-leaf philodendrons and Monstera houseplants are becoming increasingly popular pet plant options. People may perhaps have a hard time differentiating between the two because sources are divided on whether both plants are the same or not.

Simply put, Monsteras are not philodendrons due to the different genera classifications. Aside from that, they do carry several similarities such as their heart-leaf shape, growth rate, and some care requirements.

When placed next to each other, you can identify their difference through their leaf texture, size, and characteristics. Either way, both split-leaf philodendrons, and Monsteras make for exceptional hardy houseplants that add a jungle-themed edge to your room decor.

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