Critical Differences Between Split Leaf Philodendron vs Monstera

Differentiating Monstera deliciosa from split-leaf philodendron is quite challenging if you don’t pay close attention to their appearance, adaptation, and features. Both of them have several similar characteristics that are quite confusing during the identification. 

Most people consistently confuse philodendron with monstera and vice versa and use their names interchangeably. Even some articles seem to disagree on their resemblance. Before embarking on the difference between split-leaf philodendron vs monstera, let’s understand what they are.

What is Split Leaf Philodendron ?

The split-leaf philodendron belongs to the Araceae family, Thaumatophyllum genus, and bipinnatifidum species. The term philodendron is a Greek word, whereby “Philo” means love while “dendron” means tree. Therefore, they use their aerial roots to climb trees to reach the canopy to access sunlight and necessary support. Nevertheless, some not climber varieties, such as philodendron Prince of Orange, have aerial roots.

The native origin of philodendron is Brazil, Paraguay, and Argentina. It has a unique appearance. It is a green shrub with sleek long-trailed leaves. It grows up to about 3.5m in height and 5m wide. Its leaves are deeply divided and can grow up to 1.5m in length.

How to Identify Split-Leaf Philodendron

There are more than 500 philodendron species, and each has a distinctive appearance and features. That is why it isn’t easy to differentiate it from Monstera. These plants tend to grow into tree-like shrubs that spread with time. You can identify split-leaf philodendron by looking at the following features:

  • Philodendron leaves are large, heart-shaped with a leathery texture, but the most common thing about them is the cataphylls. These are small, modified leaves that protect the new ones during growth.
  • The cataphyll can also fall off when the leaves become mature enough, like in the case of vining philodendrons such as heartleaf philodendrons. In other varieties, such as epiphytic philodendron, the cataphyll dries out but remains on the plant’s leaf surface, like a monstera.
  • Apart from the falling cataphylls, you can identify split-leaf philodendron by looking at the following features: Some varieties produce fruits. The plants tend to extend horizontally instead of vertically. The leaves are small and heart-shaped with a fibrous texture

What is Monstera Deliciosa?

It is famously known as a tropical plant that originated from Mexico and Central America, and it is also common in tropical climates such as tropical forests in Hawaii. It is also known as the swiss cheese plant due to the unique holes in its leaves. 

However, did you know that it also produces delightful fruits? The species name is deliciosa because it produces delicious fruits while growing in tropical forests. Monstera is its genus name due to its monstrous characteristics. Therefore, don’t mistake for philodendron.

How to Identify a Monstera?

Monstera deliciosa is a smaller genus compared to split-leaf philodendron, comprising about 50 species. The name “monstera” came from Latin and described their “monstrous” large leaves. Nevertheless, numerous houseplants are similar to monstera such as philodendron because they have a lot in common.

From the way they grow to the shape of flowers and their native origin, differentiating them can be very tricky. The easiest way to determine split-leaf philodendron vs monstera deliciosa houseplants is by conducting a genetic analysis. Therefore, you can identify if a plant is a monstera by looking at the following features.

  • Leaves: Monstera has large and green shiny leaves that grow above 3 ft in length. Moreover, there are small holes on the leaf surface that can help you differentiate them from philodendron.
  • Stubborn cataphylls: Monstera also have protective leaves known as cataphyll, which protects the emerging young leaves. Nevertheless, while the cataphyll in philodendron always dries out and falls off, monstera deliciosa often retain it permanently. Therefore, do not remove it from mature leaves because it can cause severe damage to the stem.
  • Moving parts: The leaves of monstera deliciosa have a knee-like joint known as pulvinus or geniculum. This joint enables the leaves to move freely as they follow the direction of sunlight. This feature is sporadic in the case of split-leaf philodendron, and it’s one of the best ways to tell the difference.

The Issue of Fenestration

Some of the most popular monstera varieties, such as monstera deliciosa and monstera adansonii, are known for perforated or split leaves. Yet, some philodendron varieties also have split leaves. You have to understand the difference between pinnation and fenestration because of the similar phenomenon among these two houseplants. 

In a botanical language, fenestration means circular-shaped hole or perforation. Pinnation is used to describe how the leaf lobes or leaflets are arranged in a feather-like pattern along the stem. In fenestration, the leaves can split through until the original round shape of the perforation becomes invisible. This is common in some varieties, such as monstera borsigiana and deliciosa.

When the leaves are still young, the fenestration appears small and round, with perfectly-defined borders around the holes. But as the monstera matures, the borders become extremely thin and split along the edges. Fenestration is a common feature among monstera plant varieties. In contrast, the leaves of philodendron are pinnated, meaning they split down from the tip of the leaf.

Differences Between Split Leaf Philodendron Vs Monstera

There are several unnoticeable differences between philodendron vs monstera. Identifying these plants always proves to be tricky for most gardeners. Therefore, below are some significant features you need to consider if you want to tell their differences:

Size of the Plant

A monstera has an apparent size, unlike a philodendron. The term “monstero” attributes to the leaf’s large size of approximately 1m in width and length and a height of about 10ft. These giant houseplants can grow to very high elevations to enable the fruits to access the sunlight.

In contrast, philodendrons are relatively small compared to monstera, and they rarely grow more than 1m tall in height. The average size a philodendron can grow is approximately three feet. Nevertheless, variations can occur depending on the plant variety and species.

The shape of the Leaves

The second way you can differentiate between monstera deliciosa vs split leaf philodendron is by examining the leaf shape. Split leaf philodendrons have small heart-shaped leaves with fibrous structures and deep cuts. Some varieties have unique shapes and shiny leaf colors, which make them suitable for hanging baskets.

Moreover, some philodendron species, such as philodendron pinnafidum, can resemble monstera leaves. It has large, finger-like leaves almost similar to monstera; the only difference is the presence of fenestration and leaf size.

On the other hand, monsteras have large, conspicuous, and evergreen leaves. Mature leaves tend to have small spaces (fenestration) that keep the veins intact. The main feature you can use to identify between split leaf philodendron vs monstera is through fenestration.

Adaptation

Both split leaf philodendron and monsteras have some similarities in terms of their adaptation and growth. Monstera deliciosa grow large and tall compared to philodendrons, and they produce seasonal fruits and flowers too. In contrast, split-leaf philodendrons have long vine stalks that offer the necessary support on the growing surface.

Nevertheless, philodendrons grow horizontally, unlike monstera, which grows vertically. It is also rare to find a philodendron that can grow above 2m, but the width is about twice its height. They are the easiest houseplants to propagate.

Difference in Appearance

The key difference between monstera vs split leaf philodendron is their leaves. Philodendron has small heart-shaped leaves, while monsteras have large and conspicuous leaves that you can recognize easily. The swiss cheese plant’s leaves are solid green color while philodendron’s leaf colors are more textured.

Difference in Characteristics

Split leaf philodendrons are quite easy to propagate, making them the best houseplants for hanging plants, unlike monsteras which grow differently. Moreover, philodendrons are easy to get because they are available. And if you would like to propagate it as a hanging plant, you need to pot it and place it in an area with enough light.

This will enable it to grow and become a beautiful hanging plant, thus making your home attractive. They are affordable because they come at a lower cost. In contrast, monsteras are rarely available, and they are expensive if you are looking for an original species.

Philodendrons are grown in variegated varieties, and they have diverse coloring, which makes them unique, unlike monsteras, known for only one evergreen color. In addition, monsteras also require more sunlight than split-leaf philodendrons.

Is split leaf philodendron the same as monstera?

Although they belong to a different genus, both of them belong to the Araceae family. In Latin, the word monstera means abnormal or outrageous due to its large and broad leaves. It is also slightly oversized in size, unlike the other one. 

They can grow up to 10m, and leaves grow up to 12 to 35 inches. As their leaves age, they are affected by fenestrations, but split leaf philodendron is affected by pinnation.

Philodendron is a Greek name. The term Philo” means love, while “Dendron” means a tree. It belongs to the genus of most flowering plants that originate from tropical areas like the West Indies. Their leaves exhibit the shape of a heart to signify love, thus “love tree.” 

However, their vines don’t grow very large like the swiss cheese plant. Split leaf philodendrons are excellent hanging plants and require less sunlight than monsters. This enables them to develop the split-leaf pattern. However, the confusing fact is that if your monsteras receive less sunlight, they can also develop weak split leaves.

The similarity between split leaf philodendron vs monstera is that both:

  • Flourish well in humid and warm climatic conditions (tropical plants)
  • Are hemiepiphytic, to means that they all grow from the soil and depend on trees.
  • Develop aerial roots 
  • Are relatively easy to propagate and maintain at home
  • Their leaves have holes

How to Care for Monstera Deliciosa and Split Leaf Philodendron

Perhaps swiss cheese plants and philodendron are among the easiest houseplants to maintain and grow. They give you an attractive and aesthetical environment. Anyway, caring for these plants does not need much.

Light

Philodendron thrives well in low light, but it produces small leaves without splits. If you subject it to intense sunlight, it can develop large leaves and appealing perforations. Direct sunlight keeps it healthy.

Swiss cheese plant requires bright, indirect sunlight under a constant temperature of about 60 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit. Remember that it can grow anywhere around your home. If you are growing it indoors, the south or east-facing window is the place to accumulate enough sunlight, particularly the morning sunlight that is relatively placid to your plant.

It can tolerate dark growth conditions, but it can’t thrive as needed. If you subject them to direct sun, the leaves can be scorched, particularly the severe afternoon sunlight. If you live in areas with excess heat from the sun, you might want to provide shade for it.

Ideal Temperatures

Thus, it enjoys humid and warm temperatures, requiring a temperature of about 18 to 28 degrees Celsius. Moreover, it can tolerate low temperatures below 16 degrees Celsius. You can achieve the suitable temperatures needed by placing it close to a south-facing window.

Ensure the humidity is above 44%; if not, the leaves’ tips can dry and eventually die. But if you stay in hot regions, mist it frequently to enhance the simulation of high humidity. You can as well install a humidifier in the room.

Fertilizer and Soil

If you want this plant to grow healthy, use soil that has peat moss. Create a large room for extensive root growth. Its roots are prone to breaking because they grow wide. You can provide vital support in the container for its aerial roots to stay moisturized. You can apply water-soluble fertilizer at least once a week to help it grow strong. It is also advisable to change fertilizer so the plant can accumulate different nutrients.

Watering

When it comes to watering, these houseplant is quite forgiving. First, allow the topsoil to dry at least two inches before you water them. Then, test the moisture in the soil using your finger.

Avoid overwatering them, and never allow them to sit on still water to prevent rot. Apart from that, do not allow your peat moss to be dehydrated. Instead, water the pot until it penetrates through the drainage holes and removes any still water that might accumulate in the saucer.

It is advisable to water your plants frequently, especially during the growing season. You can also use a spray bottle filled with distilled water to mist their leaves, thus enhancing humidity.

Recap: Split Leaf Philodendron Vs Monstera

Now that you know the difference between these two houseplants, you probably wonder which you need to get for your home decoration. Although there are several noticeable differences, differentiating them physically can be quite tricky. The main differences are based on plant size, leaf shape, plant adaption, and fenestration. 

You should keep in mind that premature monstera leaves lack fenestration. So if you want to tell the difference between these two plants, you need to look at the size and height of the leaves. But, I recommend that you use pictures in this article to help distinguish them effectively.

10 thoughts on “Critical Differences Between Split Leaf Philodendron vs Monstera”

  1. This information is so incorrect. Both of the photos you show are monstera deliciosa, just in different stages of maturity. If you’re so concerned about misinformation on the internet you should make sure that you aren’t contributing to it.

  2. So so SO much incorrect information! Why write an article to educate and not even know the topic yourself?
    None of the plants pictured are philodendron, they are all monsters. And monstera also do not always have fenestration, especially when young. AND monstera climb trees. Just take it down aye

  3. In addition to the previous comments, please explain why, because it takes approx 45 days to root, must we keep a philodendron cutting in the same initial pot for 2 years?

    1. Hi Amy! Thanks for your comment! When you first propagate it, it is still a seedling with incomplete roots. In my experience, it takes about 2 years for the plant to mature, the roots are now strong and you’re ready to repot every year in the spring. Hope this information helps you. Good evening!

  4. Why is this still up? Remove it. It’s incorrect. There is a split leaf philodendron and there isn’t a picture of it in this article at all. As others have written, both pics are Monstera.

    1. Really sorry guys! We have updated the image and the information is being checked for accuracy. Thank you for your comments that will help us improve. Sorry again guys!

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top