Monstera plants and Pothos plants are some of the most popular and well-known houseplants on the market. But although both of these plants are sold as tropical houseplants, there are some key differences between them. In this article, we’ll explore the primary differences between Monstera plants and Pothos plants.
The Differences Between Monstera Plants and Pothos Plants
Family & Genus
Although Monstera and Pothos plants both belong to the arum family (Araceae), they each belong to a different genus. The Monstera genus contains approximately 60 species. However, most houseplants sold as “Pothos” don’t actually belong to the Pothos genus. Instead, they come from either the Epipremnum or Scindapsus genus.
Monstera and Pothos plants are both native to tropical habitats but come from different parts of the world. Golden pothos (Epipremnum aureum) is endemic to the island of Moorea in French Polynesia. Meanwhile, Monstera plants are native to tropical rainforests in Central and South America.
Monstera plants and Pothos plants are both climbing evergreen vines. Both plants use aerial roots to attach themselves to trees or shrubs. And both plants are hemiepiphytes, which means they also require soil for their roots.
Further reader: can monstera plant roots grow in water?
However, Monstera and Pothos plants have different leaves. Monstera leaves are much larger and can be up to 35 inches long. Many types of Monstera plants also display fenestration or holes on their leaves, which Pothos plants don’t have.
Pothos plants have smaller leaves that are usually heart-shaped. Both Monstera and Pothos plants can come in variegated forms.
Height and Size
Monstera plants and Pothos plants can reach a similar size in the wild. When allowed to climb, both species can reach approximately 65 feet tall (20 meters). However, these plants have different size expectations when grown indoors.
Monstera plants can grow between 10 and 15 feet tall indoors when given the right conditions. Monstera specimens may also spread up to 8 feet wide. However, some species, like Monstera adansonii, may reach a smaller size.
When grown indoors, Pothos plants can grow up to 30 feet long if given enough space. However, they tend to be grown as trailing plants indoors. Unlike Monstera plants, there isn’t a huge variation in mature size for different types of Pothos plants.
Monstera plants and Pothos plants also have different expected lifespans. Monstera plants can live for up to 40 years if they receive the correct care. Pothos plants have shorter lifespans and usually last between 5 and 10 years when grown indoors. Again, this depends on providing the Pothos with the right growing conditions.
Monstera Plants vs Pothos Plants: Care Requirements
Although they grow in similar conditions in the wild, Monstera plants and Pothos plants have slightly different care requirements indoors. Pothos plants are nearly always easier to care for than Monstera plants. Some Pothos varieties, such as golden pothos, have a reputation for being almost unkillable.
Both Monstera plants and Pothos plants grow best in bright, indirect light. East or south-facing windows are generally best for both types of plants. Neither of these plants can handle bright, direct, or intense sunlight for long periods.
However, Pothos plants can generally tolerate low-light conditions much better than Monstera plants. This makes Pothos plants a bit more versatile and easier to care for with regards to light requirements.
Temperature & Humidity
Monstera plants and Pothos plants have somewhat similar temperature and humidity requirements. Both species require warm, humid conditions that replicate tropical habitats. Both Monstera and Pothos plants do best when temperatures are between 65 and 85ºF (18 to 30ºC). Both species will suffer badly if temperatures drop below 50ºF (10ºC).
Pothos plants and Monstera plants prefer humidity levels between 60 and 80%. However, some species of Monstera and Pothos plants can handle slightly lower humidity levels. These species can still grow reasonably well if humidity levels stay above 40%.
Generally, Pothos plants can be a bit more forgiving than Monstera plants regarding temperature and humidity levels.
Although Pothos plants and Monstera plants have similar soil and fertilizer requirements, their water requirements are slightly different. Pothos plants can tolerate longer periods without watering than Monstera plants can. Monstera plants need watering whenever the top 2 inches of soil feel dry.
Meanwhile, Pothos plants can be watered whenever the top 2 or 3 inches of soil are dry. This means that Pothos plants are a bit more drought-tolerant than Monstera plants.
Available Plant Types
Whether you want a Monstera plant or a Pothos plant, both species offer plenty of variety. However, Monstera plants provide a bit more variety than Pothos plants.
Most different types of Pothos plants reach a similar size. The main difference is the foliage color. Golden pothos has beautiful two-tone green leaves, while Marble Queen Pothos plants have variegated foliage. Meanwhile, Neon Pothos plants have vibrant bright green leaves.
Different types of Monstera plants offer different leaf types. The most popular species, Monstera deliciosa, has huge fenestrated leaves that also come in variegated forms. Meanwhile, Monstera adansonii is a smaller variety with holes in its leaves. Other types of Monstera include Monstera Peru and Monstera standleyana.
Pothos plants usually tend to be cheaper than Monstera plants, although Monstera adansonii can be in a similar price range. This is likely because Pothos plants are easier to care for. Monstera plants are usually larger when sold as houseplants, making them more expensive. Variegated varieties of both plants are more expensive than non-variegated cultivars.
Monstera Plants vs Pothos Plants: Wrapping Up
Monstera plants and Pothos plants are both sold as tropical houseplants. However, these plants originate in different parts of the world. Although their care requirements are similar, Pothos plants are easier to look after than Monstera plants. Pothos plants also grow faster than Monstera plants, although Monstera plants have longer lifespans. Houseplant enthusiasts may also find more variety with Monstera plants. Either way, I feel pothos plants make excellent companion plants for Monstera.