Split leaf philodendron vs monstera deliciosa

Now, I don’t know about you, there are many times throughout the year when I get the overwhelming feeling to purchase a brand new houseplant to add to my ever-growing collection. There are, quite simply, so many different varieties to choose from, however, many of us are now flirting with the idea of purchasing those big green beautiful ones with holes in the leaves. So I have taken two of my favorites and made a comparison – Let’s look at the Split leaf philodendron and the Monstera deliciosa:

Split leaf philodendron vs monstera deliciosa snippet image

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Split leaf philodendron vs monstera deliciosa

The most notable distinction between the split-leaf philodendron and Monstera is the shape and size of their leaves, as well as the type of splits that develop. The leaves of a Monstera plant are rounder than those of a philodendron, and the splits on philodendron leaves don’t reach the edges.

philodendron plant

Key differences between the two

Although they may look alike at first glance, you can easily tell the difference between these two plants if you take a closer look. By examining the size and shape of the leaves, as well as how each plant grows, you will be able to identify them without too much trouble:

Leaf Size

The most appealing quality of the Monstera is their large, glossy leaves. In the wild, these leaves can grow up to 3 feet long and 2 feet wide – though your houseplant will most definitely be smaller. When the plant is younger, its leaves are much smaller but they do start to increase in size as it ages. Indoor Monsteras don’t usually achieve such large leaves because the conditions in most homes are not ideal. However, they will be able to fill up a corner with ease.

Leaves on a split-leaf philodendron are usually smaller and rounder than those on a Monstera. Although the philodendron leaf width does not grow to the enormous size of the monstera (the leaf size generally only reaches 1 foot wide), the length of the plant is pretty similar.

Types of holes

So the leaves in a Monstera plant are rather unique and the holes that form are known because of “Fenestration. Fenestration is defined as: “an opening in a wall or leaf, typically one surrounded by lacy or branching structures.” This simply means that the holes are there from the start and they don’t develop over time. The pattern of fenestration is what makes the Monstera so interesting to look at.

The splits on philodendron leaves, on the other hand, do not have this unique feature. Instead, they tend to form over time as the plant matures and develops. These splits, known as “sinuses“, can vary in size and shape. They might be small and insignificant or large enough that they almost reach the edge of the leaf.

Where they come from

Both the split-leaf philodendron and Monstera are native to tropical regions and enjoy warm, humid conditions. The split-leaf philodendron is originally native to rainforests of Central America from southern Mexico to Panama. As for the Monstera, it is native to Mexico, Panama, and Colombia.

Fruit they produce

The Monstera deliciosa fruit is delicious and can be eaten, however, the rest of the plant is poisonous. The fruit is typically only seen when Monstera grows in its natural habitat. A split-leaf philodendron cannot produce fruit.

Flowers they produce

The split-leaf philodendron produces flowers that are small and greenish-white in color. They typically bloom in the spring or summer.

The flowers on a Monstera plant are much more difficult to spot because they are hidden by a boat-shaped spathe. If you do happen to see one, you’ll notice that they are small and white with a yellow center.

Are they toxic?

Both unripe fruit and other parts of the Monstera deliciosa plant contain oxalic acid, which is poisonous. The split-leaf philodendron also has the dangerous toxin calcium oxalate. Therefore, it’s important to keep both plants away from pets and children.

leaf shape

Are Monstera related to philodendron?

Most people think that the Monstera and philodendron plants are related, but they actually come from different genera. Both plants belong to the Araceae family, but the Monstera is in the Monstera genus – the philodendron is in the Philodendron genus. Even though these two plants look similar, there are some key differences between them which I have mentioned in the earlier parts of this article.

How can you tell if a plant is a Monstera?

So let’s break this down a little more as I know a lot of people run into difficulty trying to differentiate the two plants. As I mentioned before, it’s really tricky to tell an obvious difference by just glancing at the leaves. You have to take a bit more time and really analyse what you’re looking at:

  • Leaves – monsteras are truly unique because they have large green glossy leaves that, when growing in the wild, can grow to a width as large as 3 feet. They are nicknamed the “Swiss cheese plant” because each leaf has that hole-like characteristic because of fenestration. These holes go to the edges of the leaf, unlike the split-leaf philodendron that doesn’t.
  • Holes – The Monstera is unique in that its leaves have tiny, symmetrical holes called fenestration. At first, the boundaries are obvious and don’t reach the edge however, over time as the plant matures, these edges will gradually erode and stretch until they eventually reach the leaf’s edge.
  • Habitat – Monsteras grow in the wild in hot, humid climates such as rainforests. Indoors, they will be happy in a warm room with high humidity and can reach as tall as 8 feet.
  • Roots – The Monstera has roots that look like tentacles that cling to neighboring trees and branches. As the roots reach for the light in the forest canopy, they thicken and become disorderly. These are not visible on a split phlox philodendron.
  • Flowers – While it is unusual to see blossoms on houseplants, they are creamy-white clusters that appear from an erect, pulpy stem.
  • Fruit – The fruit of a monstera is not often seen as the plant has to be in its natural habitat to produce it. The fruit is oblong, green, and resembles an ear of corn. It is edible when ripe and tastes like a cross between pineapple and banana.
  • Leaf joints –Monstera leaves have a clear elbow or knee-like joint called the ‘pulvinus’ or ‘geniculum’. The hinged pulvinus helps the leaf move during windy weather and as it grows towards the sun.
heart shaped leaves

Which one to buy out of Monstera vs split leaf philodendron?

This question really comes down to one thing… It’s usually quite tricky to locate a true Monstera plant for sale, whereas split-leaf philodendrons are far easier to find. I have found in my experience that a lot of garden centres, nurseries and garden blogs often confuse the two plants (admittedly it’s a very easy mistake to make). If you are gunning for a Monstera, you have to be prepared to put in the leg work to try and find one.

If you are lucky enough to find a Monstera, when you bring it home you need to make sure you give it enough space as they don’t do very well growing in crowded areas with other houseplants. The ideal location for your Monstera is in a bright area where it can receive some indirect sunlight. If you notice that the leaves of your plant are drooping or beginning to yellow, move it to a sunnier spot to keep its rare and fragile leaves healthy.

The split-leaf philodendron is a lot easier to look after but it is sensitive to overwatering. When watering your plant, make sure you wait 7-10 days before adding any more water. These philodendrons like to dry out in between waterings.

So, if you’re looking for a plant with big, beautiful leaves that will make a real statement in your home, then the split-leaf philodendron (in my opinion) is probably the way to go. However, if you’re after something a little different and you’re willing to put in the time to track one down, then a Monstera could be the perfect choice for you.

split leaves

Health benefits of each plant

So the split-leaf philodendron doesn’t produce any fruit. And while both plants have a calming effect from an aesthetic viewpoint, they are also very good at purifying the air. As Monstera produces fruit, this, of course, is an obvious advantage… so let’s take a closer look at this.

The monstera’s fruit tastes like a combination of pineapple, coconut, and banana when ripe – a real treat for those who enjoy strong tropical flavors. Now, these sorts of flavors are perfect in things like smoothies, jams, salads, syrups and even sauces. The fruit is high in vitamin C and potassium, low in calories, and some say it’s helpful for arthritis which makes it a healthy choice.

There are a few drawbacks to monstera fruit… Some people have reported that it can cause stomach problems such as cramps, diarrhoea and gas so it may be worth trying small pieces of the fruit at a time just to see how your body reacts to it. One thing to note is this fruit only grows on wild monstera, it would be extremely rare to see it growing on your houseplant!

If you want to learn about how to propagate Monstera then have a read of an article I wrote that covers this in detail

tropical plants have tropical flavors


So hopefully this article has given you more insight as to how to tell the difference between split-leaf philodendron and the monstera deliciosa. Let’s summarise what we have learnt:

  • Monstera leaves are rounder than philodendron leaves
  • The splits in philodendron leaves don’t go all the way to the edges
  • In the wild, Monstera leaves can grow to a width of 3 feet whereas split leaf philodendron only grows to a width of 2 feet
  • The length of both the plants are very similar
  • The split-leaf philodendron and Monstera come from South American countries
  • Monsteras produce fruit and split-leaf philodendron don’t
  • The unripe fruit of the Monstera and remaining parts of the plant are toxic – the split-leaf philodendron is toxic in its entirety.
calling them the same plant is an easy mistake to make

People Also Ask

Is split leaf philodendron same as Monstera?

No, it is not. As we have seen, there are some key differences between the two plants which include the shape of their leaves, how deeply the splits go and even where they originate from.

Is a Monstera a type of philodendron?

The plant known as the philodendron is not actually a member of the genus Philodendron, despite its common name. It was formerly classified in that genus but is now placed in the same family (Araceae).

How long can a split-leaf philodendron live?

The average lifespan of a split-leaf philodendron is around 10 years. However, with the proper care, your plant could live for much longer.

philodendron selloum can live 10 years

Why is my split-leaf philodendron not splitting?

The younger the plant is, the more fenestrated leaves it will have. The absence of Monstera splitting in a mature Monstera indicates that it isn’t receiving the same level of care as it would in its natural habitat.

How big will a split-leaf philodendron get?

The split-leaf philodendron can grow to be quite large, up to ten feet tall and fifteen feet wide. Even though it has a tree-like trunk, it resembles more of a shrub in its overall growth habit.

Can I put my split-leaf philodendron outside?

They can be placed outside during the summer months as long as they are brought back inside before the first frost. They will not tolerate any cold temperatures and should not be exposed to any drafts.

split-leaf philodendron outside

How long does it take to go from monstera to split?

Your monstera should thrive and eventually produce those gorgeous fissures and cracks on its own when it’s 2-3 years old provided that it has enough light, water, and fertilizer.

How long do Monstera plants live?

The longest-living species of the genus is Monstera, which can live up to 40 years and are considered heirloom plants.

Do Monsteras go into shock after repotting?

Many Monsteras go through a state of shock after being transplanted. This is customary and happens to numerous plants to some capacity once they have been relocated.

split-leaf philodendron repotting
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Oliver Wright
Oliver Wright

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