Split Leaf Philodendron vs Monstera: Key Differences (with Pictures)

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This article will tell you all you need to know about the Split Leaf Philodendron and Monstera plants.

Keep reading to discover:

  • The similarities between the two plants
  • An overview of the Monstera plant
  • An overview of the Split Leaf Philodendron
  • The differences between the two plants

Split Leaf Philodendron vs Monstera: Are They the Same Plant?

Although these tropical plants look identical, they’re markedly different from each other.

For starters, both plants are not even the same species. This can be confusing even for the average plant lover since the Monstera and Philodendron share many similarities between them.

Consequently, this warrants a deeper look into these varieties. Let’s first understand the similarities between these two plants.

Similarities: Split Leaf Philodendron Vs. Monstera



The Philodendron and Monstera plants belong to the Araceae family, hence the similarities. The Araceae family, commonly referred to as arums or aroids, comprises more than 3000 plant species, including the popular peace lily and alocasia varieties.

All Araceae family plants share a feature: the shape of the flower. It’s called a spadix and resembles a fleshy, spear-shaped stem. The flower is typically surrounded by the spathe, a modified leaf, which can have different colors and shapes depending on the species.


Split-leaf philodendron plant (Thaumatophyllum bipinnatifidum) garden plant in Brazil.

The Split Leaf Philodendron and Monstera are tropical plants commonly found in the West Indies and Americas. While the former is a South American native, mostly found in Brazil, the latter is native to Mexico.

They are climbing plants, displaying an epiphyte growth pattern. Epiphytes are plants that grow on other plants using aerial roots, either for support or for better nutrition.

Being incredibly versatile and resilient greens, they can grow in soil and various environments, such as swamps, roadsides, and even urban landscaping.


Split Leaf Philodendron and Monstera are incredibly diverse plants and show increased variance in leaf size, shape, color, and pattern. In fact, they’re very easy to hybridize, and horticulturists regularly produce hybridized plant varieties to encourage leaf features like fenestration and variegation.

It was not uncommon for botanists to misidentify these identical species in the past. Monstera plants were often classified as Philodendrons, which is why many houseplant retailers use the terms interchangeably today.

What is a Monstera?

Monstera Deliciosa furit

The Monstera plant is scientifically known as the Monstera deliciosa and belongs to the Monstera genus. As part of the Arales order, there are more than 40 different types of the Monstera plant.

The Swiss cheese plant is arguably the most famous nickname for the plant due to its iconic heart-shaped leaves, which have many holes in them. Of course, this is where the name comes from.

However, it should not be confused with the Monstera adansonii, a variety that is also commonly called the Swiss cheese plant.

The Monstera plant produces fruit that is commonly used in salads. It’s rich in vitamin C and is said to taste like a mix of mangoes, bananas, pineapples, and passionfruit.

Popular Examples of Monsteras

Monstera Adansonii in macrame plant hanger.

Here are some popular examples from over 40 different varieties of the Monstera plant:

  • Monstera siltepecana
  • Monstera deliciosa
  • Monstera adansonii
  • Monstera dubia
  • Monstera borsigiana
  • Monstera lechleriana
  • Monstera esqueleto

These types differ in sizes, colors, and other variants. Overall, the Monstera is an evergreen plant that produces delicious fruit when grown in outdoor environments.

What Is a Split Leaf Philodendron?

Philodendron Xanadu on black wall, beside pathway

The scientific name for the Split Leaf Philodendron is Thaumatophyllum bipinnatifidum, although it was formerly known as Philodendron selloum.

The name Philodendron roughly translates to “love tree,” a common nickname for the plant due to its heart-shaped leaves.

Although most Philodendron species are characterized by trailing vines, true Split Leaf Philodendrons are not.

The Split Leaf Philodendron has deeply lobed leaves which are not smooth, round, or as distinctively heart-shaped as Monstera leaves.

Popular Examples of Split Leaf Philodendrons

By 2015, 489 Split Leaf Philodendron varieties had been identified and distinguished. A few of them are:

  • Philodendron Brasil
  • Philodendron Xanadu
  • Philodendron Micans
  • Philodendron Pink Princess
  • Philodendron Pertusum

The rarest known Split Leaf Philodendron is the Philodendron Spiritus Sancti, and with only a few known kinds of these plants in the wild, it is considered an endangered species.

Key Differences between Split Leaf Philodendron and Monstera Deliciosa

Some species of split leaf philodendron and Monstera deliciosa might look similar, but they have some essential differences that can help you tell them apart.

While the key difference lies in the genetic makeup of these plants, there are simpler ways to tell a Split Leaf Philodendron from a Monstera plant. Understanding these identification markers will help you identify the plants based on the shape, size, and growth pattern of their leaves.

Leaf Size

Thaumatophyllum bipinnatifidum

The Split Leaf Philodendron has large leaves, but they don’t compare to the enormous leaves of the Monstera plant. Although they reach similar heights of around 3 feet tall, the Split Leaf Philodendron’s leaves are much narrower than their Monstera counterparts, at only a foot wide.

The Monstera plant is famous for its large leaves, which can grow to outlandish sizes. The massive and glossy leaves can reach up to 3 feet long and are considerably wider – about 2 feet – than those of the Philodendron.

Young Monstera plants start with smaller leaves, which develop rapidly as the younglings enter the vegetative growth phase. On average, they require about 3 years to reach the maximum leaf size.

However, it is also worth noting that indoor Monstera plants will not always produce outlandishly large leaves, nor will they grow too large. This is because of indoor environmental conditions that can stunt plant growth. However, they’re still big enough to fill up an empty corner and assert their presence in a room.

Leaf Shape and Texture 

Monstera delicious mature leaf

Both Split Leaf Philodendrons and Monstera plants have similar-looking, heart-shaped leaves. Although they possess the same likeness, that’s where the similarity stops.

Monstera leaves differ from Philodendron leaves in terms of texture and how they split from the stem.

Split Leaf Philodendrons are markedly different from Monstera plants in terms of fenestration, which means they don’t have any holes. Their leaves entirely split from the stem to form slender, leafy fingers. Regardless of the plant’s age, these are the only gaps that it will have throughout its life. They will not develop any holes on the leaves.

Split Leaf Philodendrons have falling cataphylls, structures that fall off once the plant matures.

On the other hand, the Monstera plant has large leaves, which are smooth, flat, and shiny. Their distinct fenestration helps the plants stand out, and the leaf-hole pattern can increase in frequency as the plant ages.

The genetic cause for these holes has not yet been determined, although scientists suggest it could be an adaptive trait to shelter the plant from hurricanes or to better survive in poor light conditions in dense rainforests.

Furthermore, Monstera leaves are not protected by falling cataphylls but rather permanent ones; forcefully removing them can damage the plant stem.

Fenestration is how you can recognize the difference between the Split Leaf Philodendron vs. Monstera.

Growth Patterns and Adaptation

Philodendron bipinnatifidum , tapered leaf tip Heart-shaped concave cone The trunk has air roots. Popular to be planted to decorate the garden.

Although the Monstera and Philodendron plants look similar, they follow distinctly different growing patterns and possess different adaptations.

The Philodendron plant grows horizontally. Its propagation is extremely rapid, and the plant can double in height in no time. In its native habitat and under the right conditions, Split Leaf Philodendrons can grow up to 15 feet wide.

Hence, the potted Philodendrons must be repotted after a year or two. A true Split Leaf Philodendron also does not bear any fruit, although some species produce poisonous and inedible fruit.

Another difference between the Split Leaf and Monstera plants is that the latter bear delicious fruits. When it comes to adaptations, the Monstera plant is native to rainforests and is an excellent climber. It scales the forest trees using aerial roots to get water and nutrients from the host trees, while the increased height allows better access to sunlight.

Monsteras also don’t exhibit excessive growth rates and only add about two feet to their height per year.

Philodendron vs Monstera: Care Requirements

Whether you’re growing them indoors or outdoors, both plants have different requirements due to the difference in plant adaptation and growth patterns. The light, soil, water, and fertilizer requirements are discussed for both below:


Philodendron xanadu outiside

Philodendron leaves thrive in low but direct sunlight. The leaves can grow quite large with distinct perforations minus the splits. If you subject a Philodendron plant to intense sunlight, it can develop large leaves, making it look all the more appealing.

For indoor plants, it is a good idea to place the pot in the sun or near a window, where it can receive the most indirect sunlight. You should ensure they’re not kept in the dark, or the plant will slowly die.

On the other hand, the Swiss cheese plant requires indirect sunlight, so placing it close to an east or south-facing window is a great idea. It will continue to grow in dark conditions, but the plant requires 8 hours of indirect sunlight for optimal growth.

Prolonged exposure to direct sunlight can scorch the foliage, causing a condition known as sunscald. Therefore, it’s imperative to shelter the Monstera plant, providing it with ample shade to escape direct sunlight.

Ideal Temperatures and Climate conditions

Misting monstera

Both tropical plants have similar climate needs. They thrive in warm conditions, moderate temperatures, and higher humidity levels. The indoor variants of both plants will grow well at room temperature, provided they are kept away from air conditioners and natural drafts.

The Split Leaf Philodendrons and the Monstera Deliciosa can tolerate 50% humidity levels but will grow best when the humidity levels are above 60%.

These plants love humid, jungle-like environments. Therefore, they grow extremely well when placed near humidifiers with 60%-80% humidity.

Philodendrons thrive in USDA zones 9 to 11, and Monsteras grow best in USDA zones 10 to 12.


Even though a Split Leaf Philodendron favors moist soil, overwatering may end up causing root rot. Therefore, it’s best to choose well-draining soil when preparing a garden bed or planting them in pots.

When the topsoil becomes slightly dry, thoroughly water the plant and wait for the soil to fully absorb the water. Water consumption varies between indoor and outdoor plants, so finding the right balance is essential.

The climbing nature of Monsteras requires the soil to dry between waterings. Only water your Monstera when the topsoil has completely dried out. This technique prevents root rot and multiple other issues.

Remove the indoor plants from their decorative pot covers before watering and let them fully drain before returning them to the pot. Doing this will prevent stagnation.


repotting mostera

Philodendrons thrive in a well-draining alkalinized soil. High salt and acidity levels can turn Philodendron leaves brown or yellow. A nutrient-rich potting mix and filtered water prevent salt from building up in your soil.

On the other hand, Monsteras are typically unbothered by soil conditions. The soil only needs to be well-draining. Potted Monsteras should have plenty of drainage holes for soil aeration and good drainage.


Like all other plants, a little dose of nutrients does wonders for these plants. The difference in fertilization depends on the frequency of fertilization for each plant. A balanced liquid fertilizer helps boost leaf growth when applied once every few weeks.

Philodendrons show the best growth with once-a-month fertilization during the growing season and might struggle without this nourishment.

Fertilizing these plants more often is not recommended since you run the risk of burning their roots.

The Monstera plant is categorized as a medium feeder, meaning it requires moderate fertilizing like the Philodendron. Although its fertilizing requirements are not high, and overfeeding can damage the plant, malnutrition also poses certain risks, such as:

  • Stunted plant growth
  • Holes in leaves, which are not caused by fenestration.
  • Necrosis; means cell death and is identified by the rotting of living tissue.
  • Chlorosis, or yellowing of leaves

Plants of the Monstera genus require an all-purpose, high-quality, balanced, liquid houseplant fertilizer with a 10-10-10 NPK (nitrogen:phosphorous: potassium) ratio. Though Monstera plants do not bloom indoors, you can use a higher ratio of phosphorous to encourage the process.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are Monstera deliciosa and Swiss cheese plants the same?

Close up of leaves of monstera plant

Some Monstera species, like Monstera deliciosa and Monstera adansonii, are called Swiss cheese plants because of the holes in the leaves that resemble the holes in Swiss cheese.

However, young Swiss cheese plants do not have holes in them. These holes gradually appear as the plant matures and fenestration starts to happen. Aging plants sometimes won’t have holes due to poor light, little moisture, or a lack of nutrients.

What is the difference between Monstera and Monstera deliciosa?

Monstera and Monstera deliciosa are different species of the same family. Monstera deliciosa is the scientific name for the plant of the genus Monstera. It is a Mexican tropical plant famous for its huge leaves and tasty fruit. The leaves of Monsteras are pale white in color, while the leaves of a Monstera deliciosa are deep green.

Is Split Leaf Philodendron The Same As Monstera?

Split Leaf Philodendron and Monstera have different genera but come from the same family. Monstera is Latin for abnormally large and broad, making it the perfect name for this plant with oversized leaves. The plant can grow up to 10 to 15 feet in height, and its leaves can grow up to 35 inches. Fenestration means the leaves will grow holes as they grow up, distinguishing them from the Split Leaf Philodendrons.

The Greek word Philo means to love, and dendron means tree. Philodendron refers to plants with heart-shaped leaves, which split at the stem to form leafy fingers.

How can you tell between Monstera deliciosa and Split Leaf Philodendron?

Monstera Deliciosa leaves

The color, size, shape, and style of the leaves show the most difference between Monstera deliciosa and Split Leaf Philodendron plants.

Philodendrons have small, split leaves shaped like feathers, while Monsteras have nearly round, heart-shaped leaves that have holes due to fenestration.

Philodendrons can have multiple colors, while the Monstera deliciosa plants have a bright green color.

Final Thoughts

The names Split Leaf Philodendron and Monstera are used interchangeably because plant nursery employees, plant bloggers, and gardeners use the terms interchangeably. This is mainly due to how these plants were classified in the past. However, once you’ve understood the key differences between the two species, it becomes easy to determine which plant you’re dealing with.

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