Monstera plants and Philodendrons both bring a tropical jungle feel to any houseplant collection. Although these two plants come from similar areas, there are several key differences. In this article, we’ll delve into the differences between Monstera plants and Philodendrons.


The Differences Between Monstera Plants and Philodendrons

The Differences Between Monstera Plants and Philodendrons

Family & Genus

Monstera plants and Philodendrons belong to the arum family (Araceae). The Monstera genus contains approximately 60 accepted species. However, the Philodendron genus contains around 490 recognized species. It’s the second-largest genus within the Araceae family.

Native Range

Monstera plants are indigenous to tropical rainforests in Central and South America. Philodendrons also grow in these areas. However, Philodendrons inhabit a wider range of ecosystems than Monstera plants.

Philodendrons are native to tropical regions of Central America, South America, and the West Indies. Philodendrons grow anywhere from rainforests and swamps to high-elevation areas over 2000 feet above sea level.

Botanical Characteristics

Botanical Characteristics

Most varieties of Monstera plants are hemiepiphytes that rely on both terrestrial and aerial roots. While the terrestrial roots anchor the Monstera to the forest floor, the aerial roots climb nearby trees. This helps the Monstera access more sunlight.

Philodendrons are more varied than Monstera plants. Most Philodendrons are epiphytes or hemiepiphytes, although a few species are purely terrestrial plants.

Most types of Monstera can develop distinctive splits or holes – known as fenestration – on their large evergreen leaves. Philodendrons don’t develop fenestration, and most species have large lobed or heart-shaped leaves. Some Philodendron species have dramatic fern-like foliage.

Growth Expectations

Monstera plants can grow up to 65 feet tall (20 meters) in the wild if they can climb suitable trees. While some Philodendrons can also climb trees, they will rarely grow larger than 32 feet tall (10 meters) in their native habitats.

Indoor Monstera plants can grow up to 15 feet tall and 8 feet wide, depending on the species. Indoors, most Philodendrons can grow up to 13 feet long and can spread up to 3 feet wide.

Philodendrons are prolific vines that can produce up to 4 inches of new growth per week during the growing season. This means that Philodendrons grow more quickly than Monstera plants. Most Monsteras will produce 1 to 2 feet of new growth each year.

Lifespan

Monstera plants can live for over 40 years if they get the right care conditions. Most Philodendrons usually live for approximately 20 years. However, some wild Philodendrons have been known to live between 40 and 100 years.

Care Requirements

Care Requirements

Monstera plants and Philodendrons have broadly similar care requirements. However, there are some slight differences to keep in mind. Philodendrons are low-maintenance houseplants that are easy to grow, especially heartleaf philodendrons. Monstera plants can be a little more difficult to keep happy.

Sunlight

Monstera plants and Philodendrons both grow best in bright, indirect, or medium light. Typically, Monstera plants need approximately 5 to 6 hours of indirect light per day from east or south-facing windows. Monstera plants struggle in low-light conditions and won’t develop fenestration.

Philodendrons can tolerate low-light conditions but will grow more slowly. Whenever possible, give Philodendrons several hours of bright, indirect light per day from a south-facing window.

Both Philodendrons and Monstera plants can suffer from scorched leaves when exposed to intense direct sunlight.

Temperature & Humidity

Temperature & Humidity

Monstera plants and Philodendrons both need warm, stable temperatures between 65 and 85ºF (18 to 30ºC). However, they require slightly different humidity levels. Most Monstera plants need humidity levels between 60 and 80%.

Philodendrons don’t need high humidity levels to thrive. Most Philodendron species require moderate humidity levels of approximately 40%. Average household humidity levels should be fine in most cases.

If necessary, you can boost ambient humidity around Monsteras and Philodendrons using humidifiers or pebble trays. Monstera plants also benefit from regular misting, although this won’t increase humidity enough on its own.

Monstera plants will die if exposed to temperatures below 50ºF (10ºC). Philodendrons can be a bit more sensitive and will struggle if temperatures drop below 60ºF (15.5ºC). Always protect Monsteras and Philodendrons from cold or dry drafts. Air vents, open windows, or heaters, and radiators usually cause these conditions indoors.

Watering

Monstera plants and Philodendrons have similar watering requirements. During spring and summer, both species need watering whenever the top 2 inches of soil feel dry. For Monsteras, this usually means watering every 10 to 14 days. For Philodendrons, it’s best to water every 7 to 10 days.

When watering a Monstera or Philodendron, always use lukewarm or room-temperature water. This prevents temperature shock from cold water, which can damage these plants. You should also use distilled or filtered water because tap water may contain harmful chemicals like fluoride.

Soil

While Monstera plants and Philodendrons require similar soils, there is an important difference to keep in mind. Monstera plants need well-draining soils that still hold some moisture. Philodendrons need lighter, chunkier soil mixes that provide a bit more drainage.


Available Plant Types

Available Plant Types

Both Monsteras and Philodendrons offer plenty of variety for prospective owners. Both plant types come in several different cultivars or species with variable leaf types.

Monstera deliciosa and Monstera adansonii are two of the most popular Monstera varieties, with the latter being more compact. Other popular Monstera varieties include Monstera Peru and Monstera standleyana. Monstera plants can also come in variegated forms.

Philodendrons also offer plenty of variety in terms of leaf shapes. While heartleaf philodendrons are the most common, other popular varieties include Philodendron Hope Selloum and split-leaf philodendrons. There are even some variegated varieties of Philodendrons available on the market.

Split Leaf Philodendron vs Monstera – What’s the Difference?

The Split Leaf Philodendron plant is often confused with Monstera deliciosa, the Swiss Cheese plant. Both are commonly known by the name Split Leaf Philodendron and, although they do look rather similar, they are totally different plants. This confusion has become so widespread that some plant nurseries are now selling the Monstera plant incorrectly labeled as Split Leafed Philodendrons.

The differences

Monstera deliciosa – holes in the Monstera leaves don’t reach the edges. It has a climbing habit and needs support as it grows. In its natural environment, it would grow up a tree.

Monstera Deliciosa
Monstera Deliciosa

Split Leaf Philodendron – splits in the leaves run from the edges, inward. It’s also a self-heading type of plant, meaning it doesn’t need support to grow up. It supports itself with a trunk, like a tree, and generally has smaller leaves.

Split Leaf Philodendron
Split Leaf Philodendron

Price Differences Between Monstera Plants and Philodendrons

Monstera plants and Philodendrons can both vary in price. Heartleaf philodendrons and Monstera adansonii are usually the cheapest varieties. However, large, rare, or variegated cultivars of Monsteras or Philodendrons are more expensive.


Monstera Plants vs Philodendrons: Wrapping Up

Although Monstera plants and Philodendrons share some similarities, there are also differences to keep in mind. Monstera plants live longer and are usually bigger, but Philodendrons usually grow faster. Philodendrons are also more tolerant of low-light conditions and lower humidity levels than Monstera plants.


Editorial Director | Full Bio | + posts

Andrew is the Editorial Director at Petal Republic. He holds a BSc degree in Plant Sciences and has trained professionally at leading floristry schools in London and Paris. In amongst overseeing a global editorial team, Andrew's a passionate content creator around all things flowers, floral design, gardening, and houseplants.

Author

Andrew is the Editorial Director at Petal Republic. He holds a BSc degree in Plant Sciences and has trained professionally at leading floristry schools in London and Paris. In amongst overseeing a global editorial team, Andrew's a passionate content creator around all things flowers, floral design, gardening, and houseplants.

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