Even those who have a lot of experience with many types of plants can often have trouble telling the difference between a split-leaf Philodendron and a Monstera Deliciosa. While these two plants may look a lot alike, they have many differences that can help you tell them apart.
In this article, we are going to take a close look at both the Split Leaf Philodendron and the Monstera Deliciosa and break down what exactly they both are, how they are similar, and where you will notice a difference.
Although you may often see the Split Leaf Philodendron listed as another name for the Monstera Deliciosa, or vice versa, these aren’t similar at all. They do belong to the same Araceae family, which also includes over 3,700 other members, making it a pretty large species.
Each tropical plant is originally found in North and South America and the West Indies.
Both the Split Leaf and the Monsterta share similar-looking foliage with split leaves, which is one of the reasons they can be difficult to tell apart.
Another similarity between the two is the maintenance and care they receive. You can easily treat both as indoor plants or as a house plant using the same processes.
In nature, you will often see these plants attaching themselves to trees using aerial root and maintaining their nutritional and O2 needs by taking them directly from their host. However, they also can thrive in soil and will be seen in swamp areas and even on the side of the road.
Because of the unique diversity of these two plants, they are easily mistaken for one another frequently, even by those who work with them daily, meaning you can purchase a plant, and it won’t even be what you think it is.
If getting the right plant is important to you, there are many ways you can identify these plants by looking for specific features and characteristics of both.
The best way to find the differences is by understanding what each plant really is. Here are some ways to identify the difference between a Monstera Deliciosa and A Split Leaf Philodendron.
The tropical green plant has long left with splits cutting through and spotting holes in between (think swiss cheese). These M Deliciosa leaves are large and long and can reach up to 10 feet tall, with leaves stretching over three feet wide.
The Monstera’s unique jagged “finger-like” leaf edges really make this plant stand out and are only separated by tiny spaces, which is unusual for this species.
Another unique feature of this plant is the “knee” shape of the leaves that allow the plants to follow the sun in order for the fruit the bear can grow.
These guys also have a protective leaf layer that is known to cover their baby leaves, keeping the same as they grow big enough to thrive on their own. Often these adult leaves will fall off and die, but the Monstera keeps its entire life.
The Split Leaf Philodendron also has green, luscious, heart-shaped leaves that like to grow on trees, but this plant’s leaves are considerably smaller than the ones on a Monstera Deliciosa and do not sport the same holes, either.
While this Philodendron plant does use its aerial roots to attach it to its host to hydrate and absorb nutrients like its counterpart, this guy likes to grow horizontally rather than vertically and its width will often be twice the size of its height, averaging out about three feet tall.
This plant is easy to identify by its multiple shades of greens and even yellows, making it look different from the always evergreen Monstera.
Because these plants originate from basically the same location and environment, the care required for the two are nearly identical, especially if you are planning on putting the plants in your home.
Both are great options for decorating the home and can make a beautiful addition to any room.
Because the plants originated in the tropics, they require plenty of indirect lighting, making them perfect for the windowsill. They also require some form of humidity, preferably a humidifier or a quick spritz of water every now and then.
Both of these plants require moist, well-draining soil that is never soaked, as they are susceptible to root rot, which can kill them.
It is also important to note that both plants are extremely toxic to humans and animals because they contain a chemical called non-soluble calcium oxalate crystals. This chemical can cause irritation and swelling to the mouth and throat if ingested, painful irritation to the nasal passages if closely inhaled, and it can irritate the eyes and skin.
There are three main ways that will quickly help you identify whether you are working with a Split Leaf Philodendron or a Monstera Deliciosa.
- Leaves – A Split Leaf has greenish-yellow heart-shaped leaves, and the Monstera has dark green, fenestrated leaves, with holes cut into them. The leaves on the Monstera are also significantly bigger.
- How they grow – While the Split Leaf will grow horizontally, spreading itself across its host, the Monstera grows upward, reaching 10-plus feet. In a pot, the Split Leaf will be the crawling plant that hangs nicely from a pot.
- Fruit – The Monstera plant produces fruit that offers a tropical flavor and aroma when ripe, while the Split Leaf Plant does not produce any fruit at all.
As you can tell, these plants may look alike at first glance. However, there are many different ways to tell them apart quickly. Although you can’t go wrong purchasing either option, one can be a little more costly than the other due to its rarity, and you never want to overpay for the wrong plant.