Monstera plants and Snake plants are two of the most popular and beloved types of houseplants. However, the two species are very different. In this article, we’ll take a look at the differences between Monstera plants and Snake plants.
Family & Genus
The Monstera genus contains approximately 60 species of evergreen vines from the arum family (Araceae). Snake plants (Dracaena trifasciata) are evergreen succulents from the asparagus family (Asparagaceae).
Although Monstera plants and Snake plants are both classed as tropical species, they grow in different habitats. Monstera plants are indigenous to tropical rainforests throughout Central and South America. Snake plants inhabit arid, rocky areas across tropical regions of West Africa.
Monstera plants and Snake plants have very different botanical characteristics. Monstera plants are climbing evergreen vines that are classed as hemiepiphytes. While a Monstera plant’s main roots anchor it to the forest floor, its aerial roots climb nearby trees.
Most species of Monstera plants produce large evergreen leaves with distinctive holes and splits known as fenestration. Some varieties of Monstera plants have massive leaves that grow up to 35 inches long.
Meanwhile, Snake plants have spiky dark green succulent leaves with horizontal bands and yellow-green edges. These blade-like leaves can grow up to 6 feet tall in the right conditions. Different types of Snake plants have different patterns and growth shapes.
Further reader: can monstera plant roots grow in water?
In their native habitat, Monstera plants can climb up to 65 feet tall (20 meters) using their aerial roots. Some types of Monstera plants, like Monstera adansonii, can trail up to 13 feet long. Even in the best conditions, Snake plants will rarely grow higher than 6 feet tall in the wild.
Indoors, Monstera plants such as Monstera deliciosa will reach approximately 10 to 15 feet high – depending on the variety. Species like Monstera adansonii are ideal if you want a smaller, more manageable Monstera plant. Snake plants reach approximately 4 feet tall indoors.
Most Monstera plants have a faster growth rate than Snake plants. Monstera plants generally add approximately 1 to 2 feet of new growth annually. Snake plants are slower growers and usually add between 2 and 12 inches of new growth per year.
Monstera plants have longer average lifespans than Snake plants. Some types of Monstera plants can live up to 40 years when given the proper care. However, Snake plants are still pretty long-lived. Snake plants can live for approximately 10 to 25 years if they receive optimal care.
Monstera Plants vs Snake Plants: Care Requirements
Even though Monstera plants and Snake plants come from tropical climates, their indoor care requirements are very different. As succulents, Snake plants are extremely low-maintenance houseplants and are pretty easy to care for. Monstera plants can be a little more demanding when it comes to indoor care.
Snake plants come from arid, rocky habitats, meaning they can handle more light exposure than Monstera plants. Typically, snake plants need approximately 8 hours of bright, indirect light daily, ideally from a south-facing window. Snake plants also tolerate low-light conditions better than Monstera plants, although this isn’t recommended for long periods.
Monstera plants also thrive in bright, indirect light. However, they only require about 5 to 6 hours of sunlight per day. Monstera plants will struggle in low-light conditions, producing smaller leaves without any fenestration.
Neither of these plant species likes intense direct light as these conditions can burn vulnerable leaves.
Temperature & Humidity
Although Monstera plants and Snake plants both need warm temperatures, they have very different humidity requirements. Both species prefer temperatures between 65 and 85ºF (18 to 30ºC). Monstera plants will struggle if temperatures drop below 50ºF (10ºC) while Snake plants don’t like temperatures below 60ºF (15.5ºC).
Monstera plants come from tropical rainforest habitats with warm, humid conditions. Most Monstera plants need humidity levels between 60 and 80%. That said, some Monstera species come from cooler cloud forest habitats with humidity levels as low as 40%.
Snake plants thrive in arid habitats and need low humidity levels between 30 and 50%. Average household humidity should be fine for Snake plants. By contrast, Monstera plants require humidifiers or pebble trays to provide the proper humidity levels.
Monstera plants and Snake plants also have different water requirements. Monstera plants are used to sudden rainforest downpours, so they need watering more frequently. Water Monstera plants every 10 to 14 days or whenever the top 2 inches of soil feel dry.
Meanwhile, Snake plants come from arid, rocky habitats – making them highly drought-tolerant. Snake plants should be watered every 2 to 3 weeks in the summer. Snake plants are vulnerable to overwatering, so allow about 2/3 of the soil to dry before watering.
Monstera plants and Snake plants require slightly different types of soil. Monstera plants require well-draining soils that can still hold some moisture. However, Snake plants need loose, well-draining soils. This helps protect Snake plants from overwatering.
Monstera Plants vs Snake Plants: Available Plant Types
Both Monstera plants and Snake plants offer plenty of variety, although Monstera plants are more varied than Snake plants. Different Monstera species, such as Monstera Peru and Monstera standleyana have different types of leaves. Monstera plants also come in variegated varieties.
Most types of Snake plants reach similar sizes but can grow in slightly different ways. Sansevieria ‘Moonshine’ has silver-green leaves, while Sansevieria cylindrica has rounded leaves.
Generally, Monstera plants are more expensive than Snake plants due to their larger size. Variegated Monstera cultivars tend to be the most costly types of Monstera plants. Monstera adansonii is usually the cheapest Monstera variety. Snake plants tend to be reasonably affordable, although unusual varieties can be expensive.
Monstera plants and Snake plants are very different in several ways. Most types of Monstera plants are native to warm, humid rainforests, while Snake plants come from arid, rocky areas of tropical West Africa. Snake plants are usually easier to care for than Monstera plants. Snake plants require more sunlight but less water than Monstera plants. If you’re looking to add both to your collection, I think snake plants still make excellent companion plants for Monstera.
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.