Both Monstera and Philodendron are beautiful houseplants with some noticeable similarities. Because of this, most people are often confused and find it challenging to differentiate between Philodendron vs Monstera.
The major difference between these two beautiful plants is that while both plants have split leaves, the holes in the leaf of mature monstera leaves are fenestrations, while those of a philodendron are not.
Also, Monstera has long-lobed leaves with elongated holes, while philodendrons have deep cut leaves with no holes.
Read on as this post highlights more significant differences between these two beautiful plants.
What is Philodendron?
Even non-gardeners should be familiar with the term Philodendron. Philodendrons make popular houseplants and can be found in almost all spaces indoors.
This plant is native to Central America and the Caribbean and is found mainly in damp spots like swamps and river banks.
The plant is popularly known for its climbing nature and can be seen clambering over other plants or climbing the trunks of trees, which adds up to the fact that the term Philodendron means "tree-loving."
The Philodendron can climb over other plants and trees with the aid of its strong aerial root. The plant also has long trailing stems that can grow to between 10 and 20 ft. long.
In terms of description, the heart-shaped glossy leaved plant is beautiful! The Philodendron has a long leaf stalk with acutely pointed leaf tips.
The leaves look almost transparent when new, but they quickly become deep green as they grow to maturity. The plant rarely flowers indoors, but it is somewhat common to see spathes of white flowers appear in mature Philodendrons outdoors.
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What is Monstera?
The Monstera is also a common houseplant. This plant has southern Mexican origin, and it's popularly called the Swiss cheese plant probably because it has holey leaves that look like deli cheese.
The leaves in Monstera are heart-shaped with a leathery or glossy texture. Although it loses these attributes as it matures, the leaves will start to have more holes.
Monstera can grow up to 10 to 15 feet and, even in some rare instances, can grow 30 feet tall. Monstera rarely blooms, especially when housed indoors, however in the spring and summer season, the plant can produce flowers that feature a spathe in a lovely creamy white hue.
Philodendron Vs Monstera
As mentioned, Monstera and Philodendron share striking similarities that confuse even experienced gardeners.
Before now, these plants were thought to be of the same species, although with a different genus. It was later discovered that while both plants belong to the Araceae family, they belong to different species.
How Is Philodendron Different from Monstera?
As mentioned, the major differences between these two beautiful houseplants are that monstera leaves are big and have fenestrations, while Philodendron doesn’t have fenestrations on the leaf surface.
That said, below are ways for you to differentiate between both plants:
1. Monsteras Leaves Are Fenestrated While Philodendrons Leaves Are Not
As already mentioned, Monsteras leaves are fenestrated while philodendrons leaves are not. You might wonder, what exactly are fenestration? Fenestration is a technical term for plants making holes or clear parts in their leaves.
Fenestration occurs naturally in some species of plants like Monstera and helps cool the plant by producing turbulence around the leaf. In appearance, the spilt in-between the leaves in Philodendron might be seen as fenestration, but that is not the case.
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2. Monstera Can Climb Trees While Philodendron Cannot
As mentioned, Philodendron can climb over other plants and trees with the aid of its strong aerial root, but this does not apply to true split-leaf Philodendrons, which share certain similarities with Monstera.
Monsteras are known for their huge aerial roots that enable them to cling to trees.
3. Monstera Bloom and Produces Fruits while Philodendron Cannot
This is true for some species of monstera species like Monstera deliciosa that produces tasty large fruits. Most fruit lovers enjoy these fruits, which have a taste comparable to a blend of banana and pineapples.
Also, most monstera species bloom around mid-summer for a period of about two to three months. None of this applies to Philodendron, which rarely blooms and never produces fruits.
4. Monstera Grows Vertically while Philodendron Grows Horizontally
As already mentioned, Monstera has strong aerial roots that enable it clings to trees and branches. The spilt-leaf philodendron roots are not so strong; thus, they grow by spreading over surfaces.
5. Philodendron Has Smaller Leaves While Monstera Has Bigger Leaves
Generally, most philodendron species have smaller leaves that easily distinguish them from the leaves of other trees. Some species, such as the Philodendron Brazil, have visible bright green markings on the leaf surfaces.
Monstera leaves are bigger with fenestration in them. For instance, monstera leaf size is about 1m in length and width, while Philodendron is relatively small compared to it.
6. Monstera Has a More Prominent Size When Compared to Philodendron
Another telltale difference between these two beautiful plants is in their size. Apart from having larger leaves, Monstera can reach a height ranging up to 10 ft while the smaller sized Philodendron rarely grows taller than a meter in height.
Most species of Philodendron can grow at most about three feet.
7. Monstera Have Stubborn Cataphylls
Most plants have cataphylls – these are protective leaves that protect young leaves as they emerge. Philodendrons and Monstera are not different.
However, in Philodendrons, the cataphyll usually dries out and falls off, while Monstera usually retains their cataphyll for the rest of their life.
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Similarities Between Philodendron and Monstera
Philodendron and Monstera share certain similarities. What do these two beautiful plants have in common? Well, let's find out.
1. Both Monstera and Philodendron Belong to the Araceae family
As mentioned, these two plants belong to the same family - a group commonly known under the name of ‘aroids’ or ‘arums.' The Araceae family is a large one that contains almost 3,750 species (Philodendron and Monstera belongs in different species).
Plants in the Araceae family have a common feature: a similar shape of flower called 'spadix,' which resembles a fleshy, spear-like stem.
2. Both Philodendron and Monstera Have Same Origins
Monstera and Philodendron are both tropical plants originating from the Americas and West Indies. Plants from these origins display an epiphyte growth habit due to aerial roots that enable them to cling to trees.
However, in the case of the spilt-leaf Philodendron, they don't have such strong aerial roots. Thus, they have a more horizontal growth pattern.
3. Both Philodendron and Monstera are Diverse Plants
Both plants come in a wide variety of leaf sizes, shapes, patterns, and coloring. They also hybridize easily. Thus, new varieties and cultivars from Philodendron and Monstera are constantly being released on the market.
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