Monstera Deliciosa vs. Philodendron Bipinnatifidum (Key Differences and Similarities)

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People often confuse the Monstera deliciosa for the split-leaf philodendron, while most think they’re the same plant. However, the two are different plants that differ greatly from one another. Even if you search online, you must be careful not to mix the two.

Here, we discuss the similarities and differences between Monstera deliciosa and split-leaf philodendrons to ensure you know which one you’re looking at.

Monstera Deliciosa Origin

Monstera Deliciosa in the Living Room

The Monstera genus consists of 48 plant species that belong to the Araceae family. The arum family is known for its characteristically large leaves and fenestrations. These plants are indigenous to tropical regions of Central and South America. Some of the popular species include the Monstera adansonii and the deliciosa

The deliciosa is a common plant species that is often called the Swiss cheese plant. Monstera comes from the Latin word for monsters, while deliciosa means exquisite.

The deliciosa, also called the Mexican breadfruit plant because of its fruit, is considered a regional delicacy in the regions it is found. The delicious fruit is one of the reasons for the plant’s popularity.

Philodendron Bipinnatifidum Origin

Philodendron Bipinnatifidum Leaf

Split-leaf philodendrons are part of the Thaumatophyllum genus of the same Araceae family as Monstera plants. This is one of the reasons they share many similarities. These hardy plants are found in the tropical rainforests of Central and South America and regions like Hawaii.

Split leaf philodendron is also called the love tree due to its heart-shaped leaves. Split leaf philodendrons are vining plants, much like some of the Monstera plants. However, a true split-leaf philodendron also called the Thaumatophyllum bipinnatifidum) does not produce trailing vines and has a trunk-like woody stem and lobed leaves.

Monstera Deliciosa vs. Philodendron Bipinnatifidum: Similarities

Philodendron Bipinnatifidum Leaf Close Up

Despite having significant knowledge of plants, plant enthusiasts often mix the deliciosa and split-leaf philodendron. However, their lack of knowledge is not theirs to blame. Many plant nurseries and online shops also use the names interchangeably, which adds to the confusion.

There are many reasons why the two plants are considered the same. The main reason is that they share the same growth conditions. Some similarities between the Monstera deliciosa and the split-leaf philodendron are mentioned below.

Soil

Aroid plants such as the Monstera deliciosa and the split-leaf philodendron prefer well-aerated soil that retains moisture. However, you must use well-draining soil to avoid overwatering the plant.

Moreover, these plants prefer slightly acidic soil, with pH levels around 5.0 to 5.7. These plants do not prefer compact soil and generally do well in a loamy soil. Therefore, you must use something other than garden soil for these plants. You can buy a commercially available potting mix made specifically for aroid plants. Moreover, you can also add peat moss to the soil to improve its water-retaining abilities and coconut coir to improve drainage as coco coir improve aeration.

Humidity

The split-leaf philodendron and Monstera deliciosa are accustomed to high humidity levels in their natural habitat. The tropical rainforests of South and Central America are known for their humidity. Hence, these plants prefer a humidity level of more than 50%.

However, if you want to provide optimal humidity levels, you must reach around 80%. The Monstera deliciosa plants and the split-leaf philodendrons have aerial roots that grow from the main stem.

These aerial roots help anchor the plants to a structure. However, the aerial root can also absorb moisture from the air. Therefore, humidity is one of the biggest growth conditions of the two plants.

You can use a humidifier or a pebble tray filled with water to ensure appropriate humidity levels. Alternatively, you can cluster the Monstera plants and the split-leaf philodendrons so they can create their mini tropical forest.

Sunlight

In their natural environment, the aroid plants crawl on the forest floor until they find forest trees to latch on to. Then, the plant grows upwards to absorb as much light as possible.

Monstera plants and split-leaf philodendrons are accustomed to bright filtered light that passes from the forest canopy above. Over time, these plants adapted to the environment to do well in little light.

Now, the plant cannot tolerate bright direct sunlight. Typically, you can put these plants in bright indirect sunlight for six to eight hours. You can also use grow lights to grow these plants inside.

Place the Monstera and the split-leaf philodendron in a room with plenty of bright light. You can put these plants in front of a west or east-facing window.

Temperature

Tropical climates have warmer climates. Therefore, these plants do well in temperatures of around 60-80 degrees Fahrenheit that replicates their native habitat. You can even increase the temperature to 90 degrees Fahrenheit for healthy growth.

The Monstera and split-leaf philodendron do not tolerate frost. These plants enter a dormancy phase in the winter, where they stop growing. If you live in USDA zones 10 to 12, you can grow these plants at room temperature. However, outside these zones, you must be careful.

Toxicity

The deliciosa and split-leaf philodendron are toxic to humans and pets. These plants contain calcium oxalate in their sap.

The sap can cause irritation and rash if it comes in contact with the skin or eye. The sap can lead to diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, stomachache, and more if ingested.

Therefore, handling these plants carefully is important, especially if you are pruning them. Keep the plants away from children and pets.

Common Pests

Spider mites, mealy bugs, and thrips are some of the most common pests that attack most tropical plants. These pests are commonly found in gardens and can spread quickly from one plant to the other.

The pests suck the food of the tropical plant until the plants die before moving on to the next one. These pests are small and difficult to see with the naked eye.

Pruning

One of the main similarities between the two tropical plants is their size. They can grow to about 10 to 15 feet tall as indoor plants. While the growth is fast in young plants, they can grow around one or two feet a year as the plant ages.

It is essential to prune these plants regularly to prevent them from getting too big and messy.

When pruning, use sterile pruning shears or a sterile blade. Cut the leaves at the top from below the stalk. Wear gloves while you prune the plants to avoid contact with their toxic sap.

Propagation

After pruning the Monstera or the split-leaf philodendron, you can propagate them from their cuttings.

Cut the stem from the nodes and place the stem cuttings in soil or water. After a few weeks, you will notice new roots sprouting from the cutting. You will see a new leaf growing and unfurling after a couple of months.

Split Leaf Philodendron vs. Monstera: Differences

Monstera Deliciosa in Pink Background

Despite their many similarities in care conditions, there are significant differences between the Monstera and philodendron bipinnatifidum that can help tell the two plants apart.

Below are some of the main ways to tell the two plants apart.

Taxonomy

While the two plants are found in tropical regions of America, they have different taxonomies.

The Philodendron bipinnatifidum is a vining plant in South America, commonly called the split-leaf philodendron. The name combines the Greek words Philo, which means love, and dendron, which means tree. The plant belongs to the genus Thaumatphyllum. Other names of the split-leaf philodendron include:

  • Horsehead philodendron
  • Selloum tree
  • Panda plant
  • Tree philodendron

The deliciosa plant belongs to the genus Monstera and is an evergreen plant found in Central America and the regions of Mexico. Monstera varieties have different characteristics, with variegated varieties being the rarest. Other names of the hardy plant include:

  • Swiss Cheese Plant
  • Mexican Breadfruit plant
  • Swizz cheese vine
  • Window leaf

Growing Habits

One of the biggest differences between the split-leaf philodendron vs. Monstera is their growth habit.

The deliciosa grows large and tall, reaching around 15 feet as a plant indoors. The height of the Monstera is almost twice that of the width. Moreover, the deliciosa produces seasonal fruits and starts flowering once it matures.

The Monstera has thinner stems, around 3.1 inches in width and appear less woody than the split leaf. However, The leaf size is much greater in philodendron varieties.

Unlike Monstera, the split-leaf philodendron grows long vines and spreads horizontally. The width of the split-leaf plant is almost twice its height. Moreover, the split-leaf plant can take almost 15 years to flower.

The split-leaf philodendron experiences a faster growth rate than the Monstera. Given its vining nature, the split-leaf Monstera can grow around 15 feet and must be repotted every two years once it reaches maturity.

On the other hand, the Monstera plant experiences a slower growth rate and only grows around one or two feet yearly.

Leaf Shape

Philodendron Bipinnatifidum

One of the biggest ways to differentiate between the deliciosa and split-leaf philodendron is by looking at the leaf shape.

The split-leaf philodendron plants support small heart-shaped leaves that develop deep cuts. The leaves have a shiny appearance and a smooth texture. Moreover, the split leaf philodendron leaves are smaller and more round, with fewer splits than the Monstera.

The deliciosa supports large, dark green leaves on a juvenile Monstera but mature leaves get lighter, although not much. The leaves appear heart-shaped when young but get broader the more they grow. Monstera leaves split from the midrib to the leaf blade, and the large leaf supports around five to six splits, making them look like leafy fingers.

Leaf Appearance

If you want to tell the two plants apart with a single look, look for fenestrations on the mature leaf. Baby Monstera plants do not support fenestration but develop these characteristics as they mature. These holes appear closer to the Monstera leaf midrib.

Fenestrations are small holes on the Swiss cheese plant that allow wind to pass through. These holes are an adaptive feature of the Monstera that helps it survive the windy climate of tropical regions.

The Monstera develops a dramatic split leaf pattern. In contrast, the philodendron split leaves do not have any fenestrations.

Monstera leaves appear simple and smooth and have a deep green color. The deep green glossy leaves shine in the light. In contrast, the split leaf philodendron leaves appear more textured than smooth, and the deeply lobed leaves split due to tearing.

Petiole

Another major difference between the two plants is their petioles. Petioles are leaf stalks that help keep the leaf upright and toward the light.

The Monstera petiole is a few feet long and is connected to a geniculum. The geniculum is a knee-like joint that helps the leaves move.

On the other hand, the split-leaf philodendron plant has shorter and thicker petioles and does not have a geniculum. Moreover, some species of philodendron have a fuzzy petiole.

Fruits and Flowers

In the wild, the deliciosa produces flowers during the growing season of spring. The flowers are covered by a boat-shaped spathe that is cream white. Over time, the flower matures into a fruit that looks like an elongated pineapple.

On the other hand, the split-leaf philodendron very rarely flowers and does not grow fruit.

Dry Leaves

One of the biggest differences between the Monstera plant and split-leaf philodendrons is the latter produces cataphylls.

The cataphylls are small leaves that protect the new leaves as they grow. When the cataphyll matures, it will dry out, and the dry leaves will fall off the plant.

The Monstera does not feature a cataphyll. The older leaves tend to dry out but may remain on the plant, so pruning them yourself is essential.

Philodendron Bipinnatifidum Leaf Close Up

Frequently Asked Questions

Are Philodendrons and Monsteras the same?

No, the philodendrons and the Monsteras are different plants. They belong to the same arum family but are parts of different genres and have different differentiating characteristics.

Is Philodendron Bipinnatifidum the same as Selloum?

Botanists used to record two plants that appeared similar; the philodendron bipinnatifidum and the philodendron selloum. However, it was later discovered that these two plants are the same. Now, the names are used interchangeably.