Monstera vs. Pothos: Key Differences and Similarities

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If you’re looking to learn more about Monstera and Pothos plants, you’ve come to the right place. Read on to discover:

  • The key differences between Monstera and Pothos
  • The similarities between the two plants
  • What you need to know about each plant’s care guidelines

And more!

What are Monstera Plants?

Monsteras are species of evergreen vines and shrubs native to Central America. These moderate-growth houseplants can give your homes and offices an exotic natural touch.

But what’s so special about Monstera? Their huge glossy leaves feature natural splits and perforations! People also call them Swiss Cheese Plants because of the natural cheese-like holes on their leaves.

There are several species and varieties of Monstera, the most popular ones being Deliciosa and Adansonii. Although capable of flowering and producing edible fruits, it’s very rare for them to do so indoors.

Monstera Variegata

What are Pothos Plants?

Pothos are vining plants native to Southeastern Asia that make great indoor plants because of their hardy nature. They aren’t high maintenance and do not easily die at the slightest negligence, making them a popular houseplant choice.

People sometimes confuse Pothos with Philodendrons because of their strikingly similar features.

Marbleized leaves are the key feature of Pothos. In fact, those exotic creamy yellow splashes on their leaves are the main reason Pothos has become an instant favorite of a houseplant lover.

They are also called Devil’s Ivy because they don’t die easily and stay green even when kept in the dark. Other popular names for them are the silver vine, taro vine, and money plant.

Similarities between Pothos and Monstera

Same Taxonomic Family

Monsteras and Pothos are from the same aroid plant family named Araceae. However, they both have different taxonomic ranks.

Monstera is a genus consisting of several species and varieties, like Adansonii, Mini Monstera, Deliciosa, and Variegata. On the other hand, Pothos is a species that belongs to the genus of Epipremnum Schott – tongavine. Since Monstera and Pothos belong to the Araceae family, many of their features and growing needs are similar.

Root System

Pothos and Monsteras have aerial roots (roots that grow above the ground). They use aerial roots to climb and absorb nutrients and moisture from the atmosphere.

Pothos’ aerial roots look like thick nubs, with just one root extending from a node. On Monsteras, they look like sticks that start greenish but turn brown with age.

Trailing Nature


Monsteras are vining plants that love to trail over the pot or climb on a stake or trellis. Pothos also have a similar trailing nature.

These plants trail to soak up as much sunlight as possible, reaching about sixty feet in the wild and around ten feet indoors. For people with compact homes, careful pruning in early spring helps control the growth of these houseplants.

Sunlight Requirements

The healthy growth of an indoor plant largely depends on how well you meet its sunlight needs.

Pothos and Monsteras are both tropical plants. Forests are their natural habitats; they trail and climb over trees to reach the canopy for sunlight. Hence, they grow the best when exposed to enough filtered sunlight indoors too.

The Origin of Pothos is linked to the South Pacific, and they thrive well in hardiness zones 10 to 12. The same hardiness zones work the best for Monsteras too. They love temperatures within the range of 65 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit.

You shouldn’t put both Pothos and Monsteras in the face of direct sunlight; otherwise, their leaves will damage and burn. However, exposing them to direct light once a year helps them grow bushy.

The best area to place these plants is near a south-facing window. These windows receive more sunlight than north-facing windows that barely get any. But you might have to put curtains or sheers on the window to save your plant from too much direct sunlight.

But what if you live in an area that doesn’t get enough light? In such cases, artificial lights can satisfy the sunlight needs of your houseplants.

Monstera Adansonii

Soil Requirements

Do you know vining plants like Monstera and Pothos have roots that grow above the ground? These aerial roots help them cling onto other plants or support poles, absorbing nutrients from them.

They don’t have the support of other plants when you grow these plants indoors. Therefore, they largely depend on potting soil for nourishment. You must ensure they get the right mix of nutrients through their soil.

Monsteras and Pothos prefer well-draining and loose soils. Soil that doesn’t drain well keeps the roots of these plants drowned in water, leading to root rot.

The pH levels must be in neutral or acidic ranges for the plant to thrive well. You can either visit a nursery to get a suitable potting mix for these plants or make one on your own.

You can add peat, perlite, and compost to make a suitable potting mix for Pothos. But for Monsteras, peat should be the main element in the potting soil. The pot for species with a moderate growth rate shouldn’t be too large but spacious enough to support bushy growth.

Watering Habits

The watering tips for both the Monstera and Pothos are the same. When watering, you must moisten the soil until the excess water drains out of the pot through drainage holes.

The next watering session must be held after the soil has slightly dried out from the last time you watered it. This usually means a gap of one or two weeks between each watering session in the growing season. In winter, these plants need even less water than in spring.

Remember, excessive watering harms these two plants more than under-watering. Their roots start to rot if submerged in water for too long. But this doesn’t mean you let the soil stay dry, because under-watering leads to browning, shriveling, and drooping leaves.


Appropriate Humidity Levels

Both Pothos and Monsteras are most comfortable in areas with high humidity because they originate from tropical regions surrounded by canopies.

The best way to grow these plants indoors is to recreate their natural living conditions as closely as possible. They thrive the best in environments with average temperatures of 65°F to 85°F.

Want to keep the air humidity levels high for your Monsteras or Pothos? You can install a humidifier in your room or keep the plants in an already humid area. But remember that direct heat can burn their leaves; don’t put them too near a heater or other direct heat sources.


Both Pothos and Monstera are toxic for humans and animals because they contain calcium oxalate. It is a toxic substance that causes vomiting, indigestion, kidney stones, and other health problems if ingested.

If you or a pet mistakenly ingests any parts of the two plants, you must consult a doctor immediately and get your stomachs flushed with water. Don’t forget to wash your hands whenever you come into contact with the plant parts, and keep kids and pets away from them.

Differences between Pothos and Monstera

Now, let’s look at factors that make Pothos and Monsteras different from each other. The key to telling these plants apart is their leaves.


Leaf Sizes

A very clear difference between Monstera and Pothos is their leaf size. Although the size varies from species to species, Monstera leaves are much larger than Pothos leaves.

Each Monstera leaf in the wild can grow 50 inches long and about 30 inches wide. On the other hand, the Pothos leaf reaches around 40 and 18 inches in width when growing in similar conditions.

Although these plants do not grow so huge indoors, the leaves of Monstera still end up bigger than the leaves of Pothos. A Monstera plant grown indoors can be about 20 inches long and 15 inches wide, while a leaf from Pothos can reach around 10 inches in length and 6 inches in width.

Hence, you can easily tell these plants apart by looking at their leaves’ size.


Leaf Structures

Not everyone can estimate leaf sizes correctly unless they actually measure them with tape! But don’t worry, leaf sizes are not the only way to tell Monsteras and a Devil’s Ivy apart. A much clearer difference between both is the structure of their leaves.

Monstera leaves feature natural fenestrations and splits through their surface. Their fenestrations look like holes in a piece of Swiss cheese, and the splits look like neat cuts made with a scissor. In contrast, leaves from Pothos leaf do not develop any holes or splits unless growing in the wild or attacked by pests.

However, this difference doesn’t work for young plants of Monstera species. Their leaves naturally grow holes and split, but only after they mature. So, look for a difference in leaf structures only if your Monstera is mature.

Growth Habits


Although Pothos and Monstera are climbing plants, they have different growth habits. Species of Monstera grow much bushier than Pothos.

Monsteras grow bushier because of the young rosettes they develop in the wild. These rosettes attach to trees and produce stems where leaves grow. They also develop roots that extend from the tree toward the ground. These roots mature and produce new rosettes, leading to the growth of even more leaves.

Instead of growing upwards and downwards, Pothos is a vine-like plant that grows only upward. The new shoots grow towards the Sun and produce more internodes. This makes them a great hanging plant for your garden!

Moreover, Pothos leaves are smaller, so they don’t take up as much space as Monstera.

Fertilization Requirements

Ordinary potting soil doesn’t have enough nutrition to boost houseplants’ growth, making fertilizer a must.

Monsteras grow bigger and faster than Pothos, which means they soak up the nutrients in the soil more quickly. Hence, you will need more fertilizer for a Monstera plant than Pothos. They also need more frequent repotting than Pothos. Why? Because faster growth and large sizes make them more likely to get root-bound.

Fertilizing Monstera every month during the growing season ensures healthy growth. You can use any balanced liquid fertilizer in the market for this purpose. Pothos are not heavy feeders like Monsteras, but you still need to fertilize them twice a growing season.

Both plants don’t require any fertilizer in late autumn or winter. They are dormant in those seasons, and fertilization can lead to leaf burn or root rot.

Frequently Asked Questions

 Is a Monstera a Pothos?

No – Although Monstera and Pothos plants belong to the same family of Araceae, they have separate genera.

Monstera Variegata

What’s the difference between Pothos and Monstera?

Monsteras have larger leaves than Pothos plants. Moreover, Pothos do not feature any fenestrations or splits when grown indoors, unlike Monstera, which develops splits and Swiss Cheese-like holes when they mature.

Their growing habits also differ significantly. While Monstera is an evergreen climbing plant that can grow quite bushy, Pothos grow upward more like a vine. Also, Monstera requires more fertilizer than Pothos because of their larger structure and faster growth.

What is the difference between Monstera and Split-Leaf Philodendron?

Confusion between species of both Monstera and Philodendron arises because of the overlap between their names.

People use the name ‘Split-leaf philodendron’ for several plants in the Araceae family, including Monsteras. But it’s important to note that the philodendron genus differs from Monstera. Plants in both categories have leaves of different sizes and structures.

The Philodendron leaf is smaller with more splits and fewer fenestrations than Monsteras. Moreover, the philodendron leaf shape is feather-like, unlike Monstera with its round and heart-shaped leaves.