The Swiss Cheese Plant is a name that is used for two different species of the same Araceae family: The Monstera deliciosa and the split-leaf philodendron. There has been a lot of confusion about which is which, and while the title was first given to split-leaf philodendron, the Monstera plant has been called by the same title and even called the split-leaf philodendron at the time.
This article will discuss the similarities and differences between the Swiss Cheese and Monstera plants to clarify the confusion.
What are Swiss Cheese Plants?
The Swiss Cheese Plant, or the split-leaf philodendron, is a vining plant species that belongs to the Araceae family and is native to the tropical rainforest in Central and South America. The name “philodendron” loosely translates to “love plant” or “Love Tree,” given to the plant because of its heart shapes leaves.
Due to its characteristics, many people confuse the swiss cheese plant with the Monstera deliciosa plant. However, true split-leaf philodendron, the Thaumathophyllym Bipinnatifidum (Philodendron selloum), is not the same plant as a Monstera.
What is the Monstera Deliciosa?
The genus Monstera consists of more than 48 flowering plants that belong to the same aroid family as the swiss cheese plant. Monstera is a tropical plant found in the rainforest of Central and South America, along with some of the surrounding islands.
The name “Monstera” is taken from the Latin word “monstrum,” which translates to “monster,” a name given to the Monstera deliciosa for its enormous height and monster-like appearance.
Monstera species commonly grown as houseplants include the Monstera deliciosa, Monstera epipremnoides, Monstera adansonii, Monstera obliqua, and Monstera siltepecana.
Despite being different, the Monstera deliciosa is often referred to as the Swiss Cheese Plant because the two share many similarities.
Similarities Between the Swiss Cheese Plant and Monstera
The characteristics the two species share are one of the main reasons why so many people confuse the two.
One of the reasons that they are confused about each other is because they are found in the same place in the wild. As mentioned before, both the swiss cheese plant and the Monstera deliciosa are tropical plants native to the rainforest of South and Central America, found in areas such as Mexico, Columbia, Panama, and Peru.
These plants grow on the rainforest ground and upward on trees once they start maturing.
The Swiss Cheese plant and Monstera deliciosa belong to the arum family and possess aerial roots. These adventitious roots grow on the rainforest floor, spreading out to locate a structure to grow on, such as a tree trunk or moss pole.
The aerial root anchors the plant to the support surface, absorbing water and nutrients from the surrounding air.
It’s challenging to differentiate the two at first glance; the leaves of the two plants look the same, especially as a young plant. Both plants have large heart-shaped leaves that can confuse plant owners on which is which.
Adding to their shape, both have split leaves. The two species developed splits in the leaves as an adaptive feature to survive the strong winds of tropical rainforests.
The Monstera deliciosa plant contains oxalic acid, while the split-leaf philodendron contains calcium oxalate crystals, which are toxic to humans and pets. On contact, the sap of these plants may irritate the skin and eye. The sap can irritate the mouth and throat and lead to intestinal problems and vomiting if ingested.
Disease and Pests
The swiss cheese plant and Monstera deliciosa are victims of the same diseases and pests that feed on the plants until they die.
One of the plants’ common diseases is root rot, caused by a fungal infection that causes the roots to deteriorate and the leaves to turn yellow with brown spots. However, the disease can be treated if it has not spread to the stem by using antifungal soap, cutting off diseased parts, and transferring the plant to new soil and a new pot.
One common pest the plants are susceptible to is the spider mite, which leads to yellowing leaves. You can check the parts of the plant for signs of infestation and treat them using pesticide sprays and keeping them away from most houseplants.
Many call both species the swiss cheese plant or the split-leaf dendron because they care for them the same way. Some of the similar care conditions of the Swiss cheese plant and the Monstera deliciosa are mentioned below.
In their native habitat, both plants are accustomed to receiving bright indirect light. This is because they are covered by the forest canopy of large trees and only receive filtered light that passes through the canopy.
Generally, around ten hours of indirect sunlight is sufficient to make them flourish. You can also place the two species in direct sunlight during the early hours of the day when the sun is not as harsh.
However, it would be best if you were careful. Direct sunlight can burn the leaves and even lead to death. One indication that your swiss cheese plant is receiving too much direct light is when you see brown leaves on the plant.
The two spit leaf species do not require a lot of water and generally grow well when watered once every two weeks during the growing periods of summer. However, it would be best if you were careful when watering them. Overwatering can lead to diseases such as root rot, and underwatering can result in wilting and cause yellow leaves.
A suitable method is to check the top inches of the soil with your fingertip before watering them. Also, ensure that your pot has drainage holes at the bottom.
Temperature and Humidity
As tropical plants, the two prefer high humidity and temperature indoors. Generally, a temperature between 60 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit and a humidity level of 30%-50% is good for plants. You can increase humidity using a humidifier indoors, misting the leaves, or clustering the many houseplants you own.
Both species prefer well-aerated soil with a slightly acidic pH of 5-7 for the growth of a healthy plant. You can choose a well-draining potting soil such as peat moss or orchid bark and add coco coir to the pot to allow the roots to develop freely. Additionally, adding sphagnum moss to peat-based soil can improve the growth of the roots.
Repotting and Propagation
The swiss cheese plant and Monstera deliciosa are fast growers, and you will need to repot them every few weeks when they are growing and every two or three years after they have matured. Pot them in a bigger clay pot for better growth.
Additionally, you can propagate the two plants similarly by using stem cuttings for new growth. Cut the stem of the winning plants at the node (the brown obtruding part where the stem elongated from) and make sure that at least one leaf is on the cutting.
Place the stem cutting in water for two to three weeks until new roots emerge, and then shift the cutting to the soil.
Differences between the Swiss Cheese Plant and Monstera
Despite being called the same name and their similar characteristics, there are many differences between the Swiss Cheese Plant and Monstera that help plant enthusiasts tell the two species apart.
One of the most significant differences between the two species is their size at maturity. Monstera deliciosa grows taller than the philodendron, reaching up to 70 feet tall in its natural habitat and around 20 feet tall as indoor plants. On the other hand, the Swiss cheese plant reaches about 15 feet tall in its natural habitat and about eight feet wide. As houseplants, they average at around three feet tall.
Another way to tell the two species apart is by closely looking at the leaves. Deliciosa heart-shaped leaves are larger and develop holes and split, with the split going from the midrib to the leaf blade. Swiss cheese plant leaves are lobed, and the splits begin in the middle of the leaf blade and rib and move towards the leaf blade. Additionally, the leaf does not have any fenestrations. Finally, Monstera leaves are shiny and smooth, while the philodendron has leathery leaves.
The stem of the Monstera is thinner, around three inches in diameter. On the other hand, the stem of the philodendron is thicker, measuring around eight inches in diameter, and has a more woody vine.
Swiss cheese plants and Monstera deliciosa are hemi-epiphytic, which means they can grow in the soil and on trees. However, the deliciosa grows higher and bigger than the split-leaf philodendron. The swiss cheese plant grows horizontally as trailing vines rather than the upward growth of the Monstera, which is exhibited to reach the sunlight.
Flowers and Fruit
A few months after it matures, the deliciosa is known for its beautiful cream-colored flower covered by a spade. The flower then matures into an edible fruit that tastes like a mix of pineapples and bananas. However, do not expect a flower or fruit of the plant indoors. The swiss cheese plant, however, does not produce any flowers or fruits in its lifetime.
Important to know
Once you know how to differentiate the swiss cheese plant and Monstera deliciosa, you need to know which one is right for you. Both species have specific pros and cons, making it difficult to choose, but we can help.
The split-leaf philodendrons are easier to find than the deliciosa. The deliciosa isn’t extremely rare but is less commonly found in local nurseries. Additionally, the Monstera plant requires a lot of space to grow and requires more attention than the split-leaf philodendron, which is more easygoing.
However, Monstera grows quicker than the split leaf and is much more beautiful due to its characteristic fenestrations and glossy appearance, making it the perfect houseplant for interior design.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. What is the Difference between Monstera Adansonii and Swiss Cheese?
At first look, Monstera adansonii has many more perforations than most Monstera and is smaller than the Swiss cheese plant. Monstera adansonii is also called a swiss cheese vine for its growth. However, Monstera adansonii is extremely rare.
2. Is Split Leaf Philodendron Swiss cheese a Monstera?
No. Philodendron is another genus of the Aroideae family that is different from the Monstera genus.
My name is Daniel Elrod, and I have been houseplant love ever since I was 17. I love how much joy they bring to any room in the home. I’ve always been amazed at how a few pots of flowing leaves can turn a drab and sterile office into an inviting place where people love to work at.