Monstera vs Philodendron: Differences & Similarities

Many fanatical (and newbie) gardeners usually confuse monstera with split-leaf philodendron houseplants. They often use these terms interchangeably. 

Besides that, some local plant shops tend to mislabel monstera with a split-leaf philodendron. It has now become a rampant issue, and many houseplant enthusiasts are seeking answers. 

Some plant care blogs and forum threads claim monstera and split-leaf philodendron plants are the same. But this is not true at all. 

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So, what is the main difference between monstera and split-leaf philodendron plants? A mature monstera plant has leaves with fenestrations, while philodendron leaves have deep cuts and no holes. 

Keep in mind that a juvenile monstera leaves lack fenestration. It can be challenging when trying to tell the difference between a monstera and a philodendron houseplant. 

Monstera and philodendron plants have similar sets of features that bring confusion when trying to identify them. You need to pay maximum attention to avoid making mistakes during identification. 

This article provides a detailed insight on how to tell the difference between philodendron and monstera in a tabular form. Take time to read through it and get to learn how to identify these houseplants with ease. 

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Comparison Table (Monstera vs Philodendron)

Basic Terms MonsteraPhilodendron 
Description It is a houseplant grown for fruit production in Mexico. It is a trailing vine known for its heart-shaped leaves. 
Plant Size Grow taller with climbing vines. True philodendrons do not climb. Suitable for a hanging basket.
Leaf Size Giant leaves Small heart leaves 
Plant AdaptationNeed more indirect sunlight to encourage fenestration.Need less sunlight to avoid leaves from scorching. 
Fruits ProductionProduce fruits Do not produce fruits
Holes on Leaves Fenestration Deep cut holes 
Plant Varieties ExampleMonstera adasonii. Green heartleaf philodendron
Leaf Texture Glossy leaves texture.Leathery leaves texture. 
Cost Super expensive.Quite affordable. 
Rarity Quite rare.Readily available.

What is Monstera?

It is a climbing tropical plant that originated from Mexico and Central America. This climbing plant is also known as the Swiss Cheese plant due to the holes in the leaves. 

Monstera plants are grown to produce fruits that are edible. The plant grows taller and large to adapt to the rainforest condition.

The Swiss Cheese plant has aerial roots that cling on tree trunks and stems while climbing. The large leaves are fenestrated to help in capturing scattered sun rays in their natural habitat.

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What Is Philodendron?

The split-leaf philodendron is a trailing plant that belongs to the Araceae family. The genus and species of the plant are Thaumatophyllum and bipinnatifidum respectively.

Both the genus and species name made it difficult to name the plant. It is the reason why it is also known as Philodendron bipinnatifidum, arum pinnatifidum, and philodendron pygmaeum.

Philodendron originated from Brazil, Argentina, Bolivia, and Paraguay. Philodendron arum plays a crucial role in the culture of these countries. 

The roots of arum are used for tying while the white berries as food and medicine in Brazil and Paraguay. The plant has a unique appearance. 

This shrub has sleek long leaves with deep cuts. The plant can grow up to 3.5m in height and 5m wide. It is the best option for hanging baskets. 

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Main Differences between Monstera and Philodendron

Monsteras and philodendrons have close related features. Identifying these plants in their natural habitat can be challenging for newbie gardeners. 

Below are crucial features consider when telling the difference between monstera and philodendron before buying:

Plant Size

Monsteras have a prominent size when compared to philodendron plants. Monstera plants can grow up to 10ft tall. The leaf length and width are about 1m. 

Philodendrons do not grow taller than a meter in height. The houseplant is super shorter than monstera plants. The plant grows up to 3ft but there are some varieties taller. 

Leaf Shape

Monsteras have large evergreen leaves that are highly conspicuous. Mature monstera leaves have spaces that leave the veins intact. Fenestration is the main feature to help identify monstera plants. 

Philodendrons have small heart-shaped leaves with deep cuts. Some philodendron varieties have vibrant leaf colors and unique shapes. The unique color hues make the plant ideal for hanging baskets. 

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Fruit Production

Monsteras produce edible fruits commonly used as medicine and food. These fruits are commonly consumed by people in Brazil, Argentina, Paraguay, and Mexico. 

Philodendrons do not produce fruits regardless of generating flowers. But the plant plays a crucial role in the culture of people in Brazil and Paraguay. 

Plant Adaption

Monstera and philodendron have some close similarities in their adaptation. They both grow from the soil and trees. 

But monsteras grow taller and larger when compared to philodendrons. Keep in mind that monstera produces seasonal flowers and fruits. 

Philodendrons have long vine-like stalks that get attached to the growing surfaces. Besides that, philodendrons prefer growing horizontally rather than vertically. 

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Similarities between Monstera and Philodendron

  1. Both are tropical plants. 
  2. Both are excellent indoor plants. 
  3. Both belong to the same family. 
  4. Both are easy to grow and maintain at home. 
  5. Both have leaves with holes. 

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Frequently Asked Questions

Is a Monstera a Philodendron? 

Not really. But monstera and philodendron belong to the same Araceae family. Keep in mind that monstera and philodendron belong to different species. Thus, they cannot pollinate among each other. 

Is Monstera Adansonii a Philodendron?

No. Monstera Adansonii belongs to different species. Besides that, this monstera variation has leaves with fenestration which is absent in philodendrons. 

Are Monstera and Philodendron the Same?

No. But these plants belong to a large family. Philodendron is closely related to pothos than monstera plants. 

Philodendrons are easier to grow and trail down into containers, unlike monsteras.  It is the reason why philodendrons are ideal for hanging baskets. 

Is Monstera the Same as Swiss Cheese Plant?

Absolutely. The Swiss Cheese Plant is an alternative name for monstera plants. Monstera is a name used due to its large size. 

Is Split Leaf Philodendron the Same as Monstera?

Not really. Split-leaf philodendrons prefer to grow horizontally and monsteras grow vertically. Besides that, split-leaf philodendrons have small heart-shaped leaves with deep cuts and monsteras have large leaves with fenestrations. 

Are Swiss Cheese Plants Related to Philodendron?

Yes. These houseplants belong to the same large family. But they are from different species. The different species happen to be the reason behind their differences. 

How Can You Tell If a Monstera is a Philodendron?

Monsteras have aerial roots that attach to the growing surfaces. These plants also experience vertical growth. Monsteras have large leaves with fenestrations. 

Philodendrons have small heart-shaped leaves and prefer to grow horizontally. The philodendron leaves have deep cuttings. 

Are these Houseplants Toxic to Your Cats or Dogs?

Absolutely. When pets or children ingest these plants, it can cause stomach problems. The leaves of these plants contain substances that cause stomach issues. But the roots and fruits from monstera are edible by humans alone.  

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In Conclusion

Monsteras and philodendrons belong to one large family. The species is what makes these plants stand apart. But telling the difference base on physical appearance can be challenging. 

The main difference between monstera and philodendron is based on leaf size, shape, and fenestration. Monsteras have fenestrations while philodendron lack fenestrations. 

Keep in mind that juvenile monstera leaves lack fenestration. The leaf size and height can help to tell the difference between monstera and philodendron. 

I recommend using the pictures shown in this article to help tell the differences between split-leaf philodendron and monstera. 

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