Split leaf philodendron and Monstera deliciosa, also known as the Swiss Cheese Plant, can look similar even for seasoned plant owners. But these two indoor plants are different, and each belongs to a different genus within the Araceae plant family.
So when shopping for indoor plants, it will help to know the various distinguishing characteristics of each plant to help eliminate any confusion.
This split leaf philodendron vs Monstera deliciosa write-up compares the two plants to make it easy to identify each.
You will find a detailed rundown of the similarities and differences between split-leaf philodendron and Swiss cheese. This article will also provide the care information for each plant.
Split Leaf Philodendron Vs Monstera
The main difference between the two plants is in their leaves. The Split Leaf Philodendron has large, deeply lobed leaves that are divided into multiple sections. The Monstera’s leaves, on the other hand, are heart-shaped, have more pointed tips, and lack any deep lobing.
About Split Leaf Philodendron
The split-leaf philodendron is a large indoor plant with deeply lobed leaves with no fenestrations. Fenestrations are holes present in the leaves of different types of Monstera plants.
The missing holes in the leaves of a split-leaf philodendron are among the key distinguishing aspects that set it apart from the Monstera deliciosa and many other types of the Monstera houseplant.
Like Monstera, the split-leaf philodendron belongs to the Araceae family. However, it is a member of a different plant genus and species known as Thaumatophyllum and bipinnatifidum, respectively.
Therefore, the plant’s scientific name is Thaumatophyllum bipinnatifidum. It produces large, deeply lobed leaves and can grow up to 1.5 meters tall.
While split leaf philodendron produces large tentacle-like aerial roots, it is not a vining plant. It grows upright and can grab a moss pole with its aerial roots for support, but it does not produce actual vines.
The plant is native to various South American countries, including Brazil, Argentina, and Paraguay.
How to identify split-leaf Philodendron
The split-leaf philodendron has a distinctive appearance that should make identifying it relatively easy. More specifically, observe the following features to identify a split-leaf philodendron plant.
- The split leaf philodendron leaves should be large, with a leathery texture and no fenestration.
- The plant should also have cataphylls. These are modified leaves that protect the newly emerging leaves by surrounding them.
- The stem of the split-leaf philodendron is another standout feature to observe. The stalk will sometimes become sinuous and move up supporting elements, but they are not true vining plants.
What is Monstera Deliciosa?
Monstera, commonly referred to as the Swiss cheese plant, is a tropical plant belonging to the Monstera genus.
It is primarily a flowering plant, even though the plant will only bloom when outside or in optimal growth conditions characterized by bright indirect sunlight.
Monstera deliciosa is native to Mexico. Here, it is famous for its unique leaves and fruit, which gives it the deliciosa moniker.
More than 40 varieties of this plant exist, even though the differences between some varieties are negligible, making most of them difficult to tell apart.
Monstera deliciosa can grow in water and high humidity conditions. It produces green, healthy leaves when these conditions are met.
The leaves usually have holes that allow wind and rain to pass through without damaging their large profile.
Other monstera species that have holes are M. amydrium medium, M. Adansonii, M Subpinnata, M. standleyana, M lechleriana, and M. acuminata.
How to identify Monstera deliciosa
While both Monstera deliciosa and split-leaf philodendrons have large split leaves, they are easy to tell apart. The Monstera leaf will have fenestrations, which are not present on the split-leaf philodendron leaf.
Additionally, Monstera deliciosa leaves are larger. The plant is also generally bigger than split-leaf philodendron, with a maximum height of about 10 feet.
On the other hand, the philodendron plant often only grows to about four to six feet in height.
Here are some of the things you can observe to determine if a plant is a Monstera deliciosa.
- Look for holes in the leaves. The holes are termed as fenestrations that Monstera plants and some other species develop as they grow.
- The Monstera leaves are neatly patterned and shiny, growing to a length of about three feet.
- While Monstera plants also have cataphylls protecting new emerging leaves, the features remain intact even after the leaves have matured. Notice the cataphylls typically drop off once their work is complete and the leaf is mature enough.
- A Monstera plant will also produce vines that climb on supporting elements.
Here’s a guide on how Monstera deliciosa compares to Rhaphidophora tetrasperma. Read to learn more about the similarities and differences between these two popular houseplants.
Split Leaf Philodendron Vs Monstera Side-by-Side Comparison
Monstera deliciosa and split-leaf philodendron plants are incredibly popular, with shared characteristics that make it challenging for some people to tell them apart.
Both plants are tropical, with large, shiny green leaves. However, a closer look allows you to notice several differences that can help you identify each one correctly.
Split Leaf Philodendron Vs Monstera: Differences
You may notice the size difference immediately after you study the Swiss cheese and split-leaf philodendron side by side.
You should also be able to see the lack of fenestrations on the leaves of one and not the other. However, those are just a few differences noticeable on the surface.
Here is a detailed comparison of the two indoor plants.
Different varieties of the Monstera plant have distinctive holes in their leaves. These holes may be missing on new plant leaves but form as they age.
This characteristic is termed fenestration and is only present in the Monstera and not the split-leaf philodendron plant.
However, both plants have deeply lobed leaves, with philodendrons having serrated areas around the edge of the leaves. On the other hand, Monstera leaves have consistently smooth edges that give them a more uniform look.
While the philodendron leaves have no fenestration, they have pinnation. This means the lobbed leaves have a feather-like arrangement with multi-divided fingers emanating from either side of each leaf’s common axis.
This form gives the leaf a ruffled appearance. The Monstera leaf also has pinnation, but it is smoother with no serrated areas around the edges, making it appear less dramatic.
However, it has perforated leaves that set it apart from the philodendron plant.
Notice that pinnation describes the arrangement of the leafy fingers in a feather-like pattern on both sides of a common axis or the stem. Fenestration, on the other hand, refers to circular or irregularly-shaped holes on a perforated leaf.
2. Plant size
The size is one of the primary and most noticeable distinguishing features of adult Monstera deliciosa and philodendrons.
A Monstera plant is generally larger and taller than a split-leaf philodendron. Its leaves are relatively larger and look more imposing when they are mature.
You can expect philodendrons to grow wider than they do taller. They typically achieve approximately four to six feet in height and about three to four feet in width.
Other than being bigger overall, the Monstera plant also has a more apparent size. Its enormous glossy leaves can easily reach a length of approximately three feet and a width of about two feet.
In contrast, split-leaf philodendron sizes can vary significantly, but the plant is generally smaller than a Monstera regardless of the variety.
3. The size, texture, and shape of the plant leaves
As already mentioned, Monstera deliciosa has larger leaves when they are mature, giving the plant an imposing form.
The glossy leaves can easily reach approximately two feet wide and three feet long. These leaves typically start off smaller when the plant is younger but get increasingly bigger as the Monstera deliciosa ages.
Split-leaf philodendron leaves can reach about one foot wide and hardly two feet long, smaller than its Monstera cousin.
Both Monstera deliciosa and the philodendron have deeply lobed leaves. However, because the philodendron plant’s leaves are relatively smaller, the lobed leaflets occur more closely together than Monstera leaf lobes.
The philodendron leaves also tend to have noticeable serrations around the edges, while Monstera leaves are smooth around the edges.
The massive Monstera plant leaves are famous for their glossy texture. The fenestrated leaves’ smoothness gives them a shine that can significantly brighten up a space.
On the other hand, the philodendron plant leaves tend to have a leathery feel and a more ruffled appearance.
4. Leaf color and appearance
While both of these tropical houseplants are green with no variegation, they are different shades of green.
Monstera deliciosa has solid green leaves that are smooth and conspicuous.
The leaves on split-leaf philodendrons are dark green, with a healthy-looking appearance. Unlike the smooth Monstera leaves, the philodendron leaves have a leathery texture and a ruffled look.
5. Growing habits
Split-leaf philodendrons are generally growing faster than their Monstera cousins. They can grow as much as four feet per year. This is almost double the estimated two-feet-per-year growth rate for Monstera plants.
While they do not form vines for climbing, they have aerial roots that they can use to attach themselves to supporting elements like a moss pole.
The fast growth rate of split leaf philodendron means it can double its height in less time. Since the plant grows both at the shoot and at the root, you will need to repot it more often to avoid outgrowing its container and becoming root bound.
Monstera deliciosa grows at a slower pace than philodendron. Its climbing habit is a natural adaptation to access brighter sunlight better.
In contrast, philodendrons tend to grow horizontally in their natural habitats. When potted as a houseplant, the plant will still try to emulate that growth habit.
The vines on Monsteras also require support for the plant to achieve its optimal growth potential.
While you can support your split-leaf philodendron, the choice is optional since philodendrons have long, sturdy stalks that provide the needed support.
6. Fruit production
Most indoor plant owners do not know that Monstera deliciosa produces delicious fruit because the plant mostly doesn’t reach its optimum growth inside pots.
When fully grown, Monstera produces a greenish-white oblong berry with an edible core.
The fleshy, edible part of the fruit has a sweet taste. However, it is essential to let the fruit ripe before consuming it.
Eating an unripe Monstera fruit can cause negative reactions, including a burning sensation in the mouth.
In contrast, split-leaf philodendron produces no fruit. However, the plant can produce flowers when it reaches its full maturity, which can take a staggering 16 years.
7. Plant origin
While both Monstera deliciosa and the philodendron are tropical plants, they are originally from different parts of South America.
Monstera deliciosa is native to the tropical rainforests in Mexico and Central America.
On the other hand, split-leaf philodendron is native to the rainforests in Brazil, Bolivia, and Argentina.
Split Leaf Philodendron Vs Monstera: Similarities
Now that you know how the two tropical rainforest plants differ from one another, it is time to look at the similarities.
Like all tropical rainforest plants, Monstera deliciosa and split-leaf philodendrons have toxic salts in their sap that can be poisonous to pets and kids when ingested.
The toxins in these plants’ saps can cause symptoms such as inflammation of the throat tissue, dizziness, and nausea. For pets such as dogs and cats, ingesting the plant’s sap can be fatal.
So you will want to keep pets and small children away from the indoor plant regardless of which one you choose.
You also need to wear protective hand gloves when handling the plants to minimize the risk of poisoning.
2. Aerial roots
Both the philodendron and Monstera plants develop aerial roots for clinging to support elements. While the philodendron plant will not produce actual vines, it will have aerial roots that can cling to something like a moss pole.
On the other hand, Monstera produces vines, which encourage upward climbing. In its natural habitat, the plant will use its long, tentacle-like aerial roots to cling to nearby tree trunks and branches.
This applies to both plant types. But in home environments, each plant will experience limited growth.
The philodendron plant may not require support, but it will still produce aerial roots resembling tentacles.
3. Light preference
Split-leaf philodendron prefers bright, indirect sunlight. So do Monstera plants. Both plants can tolerate some direct sunlight, but this exposure should last up to just a few hours a day.
Prolonged exposure will lead to accelerated transpiration, and subsequent wilting as the heart-shaped leaves lose more water than they obtain from the soil.
Their broad leaves mean they have a wider surface area for losing water. So if you keep the plant in the sun for longer, it may lose too much water and die.
A common sign that your plant is losing too much water due to direct sunlight exposure is the leaves turning pale green or yellow. If this happens, transfer the potted plant to a more shaded part of the room.
While both plants prefer indirect sunlight, your Monstera deliciosa may require brighter sunlight than the philodendron. That is why the plant is usually placed closer to a window.
More importantly, ensure you cover the window with sheer curtains to filter the sunlight for your plant.
Monstera and philodendron plants require moist soil, but they do not like their roots sitting in wet environments for long periods.
This means you must water your plant consistently and allow the soil to dry before adding more water.
This strategy helps ensure the roots obtain the moisture but have enough breathing room before another watering episode.
A good strategy is to ensure at least two inches of the soil’s top layer is dry each time you water the plant.
And when adding water, keep it gentle and slow to ensure no dry pockets remain in the soil.
5. Temperature and humidity preference
Because these are tropical plants, they prefer warm environments consistent with their native tropical climates.
The temperature around the plant will influence its watering needs, growth, and overall health.
The place should be warm but not too hot to scorch the plant. So consider keeping your Monstera plant in temperatures between 65 and 85 degrees Fahrenheit for optimal growth.
If you have a philodendron plant instead, the ideal temperature range is between 65 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit.
Of course, both plants can tolerate lower temperatures, especially during chilly winter months. However, ensure you keep the plant in a temperature-regulated environment during such cold seasons, as they will not tolerate a dip below 55 degrees Fahrenheit.
Both Monstera deliciosa and split-leaf philodendron are native to climates with high humidity, so you will need to replicate this at home.
The plants prefer humid air, with humidity levels above 44%. High humidity helps keep the plant from losing too much water to the surrounding atmosphere through transpiration.
6. Soil type preference
The best way to ensure your split leaf philodendron or Monstera deliciosa does not stay in wet soil for prolonged periods is to grow them in well-drained soil.
Both plants prefer soil types loaded with plenty of organic matter. A mixture of sand and perlite is usually perfect for philodendrons.
You could also consider using LECA balls to improve the drainage of your philodendron plant soil. LECA (lightweight expanded clay aggregate) refers to little clay balls that can significantly improve the drainage of your potting mix.
For Monstera, peat moss is typically preferred. Whatever the case, ensure the pot where you grow your plant has drainage holes to release excess water and avoid excessive moisture.
7. Fertilizer preference
Both plants do well in soils with a lot of organic fertilizer. Still, you can add a balanced nitrogen fertilizer at half-strength about twice a month in the warm spring and summer months to promote accelerated growth and healthy leaves.
Do not add fertilizer in the chilly winter months, as growth is significantly reduced. But if you must fertilize the plant in winter, do it only once a month for both the Monstera and philodendron plants.
Monstera, in particular, does not require fertilizer to survive. However, adding a suitable fertilizer can promote its health and growth.
Pruning is part of the care and maintenance practices recommended for both philodendron and Monstera plants.
Split-leaf philodendrons can grow pretty fast, so you may want to trim the plant, starting with damaged or dead leaves.
Pruning helps encourage new, healthier growth in both Monstera and split-leaf philodendron and keeps the plant visually pleasing.
The practice also helps eliminate energy wastage into damaged or dead leaves that no longer contribute to photosynthesis.
Is Split Leaf Philodendron The Same As Monstera?
No, split-leaf philodendron and Monstera deliciosa are different plants belonging to different genera, even though they both belong to the same plant family.
How to Care for Split-leaf Philodendrons Vs Monstera
- Keep both plants in a rich and well-drained potting mix.
- Water the plants regularly with moderate amounts of water, waiting until the top layer of the soil has dried before adding water to avoid root rot.
- Subject both plants to adequate amounts of bright, indirect sunlight daily.
- Fertilize your philodendron selloum plant about once every month with a nitrogen-rich organic fertilizer for better growth. Monstera can do with or without similar fertilizer.
- Repot your split-leaf philodendron about once every one to two years and Monstera about once every two to three years.
Related Read: Monstera Leaf Splitting Time Lapse
What does a split-leaf Philodendron look like?
The split-leaf philodendron has large, glossy green leaves with no perforations or fenestration, unlike Monstera deliciosa. Instead, the plan has distinctive splits in the edges of their leaves, making them look like leafy fingers.
Is a Swiss cheese plant a Philodendron or Monstera?
The Swiss cheese plant is the name commonly used to refer to Monstera deliciosa, a tropical plant with massive, glossy, dark green leaves.
Is Monstera Burle Marx Flame the same as split-leaf Philodendron?
No, Monstera Burle Marx Flame is not the same as split leaf Philodendron. Monstera Burle Marx Flame has uniquely elongated leaves with a flame-like pattern that distinguishes it from other species in the genus.
Split Leaf Philodendron Vs Monstera–Recap
While Monstera deliciosa and split-leaf philodendron may look alike at first glance, the two plants are significantly different if you look closely.
The perforations on the Monstera leaves that are not present on the philodendron leaves should be an immediate differentiator.
Additionally, the philodendron leaves appear more ruffled than Monstera leaves, which are massive but smooth in appearance.
It’s also worth noting that there are other indoor plants that are frequently mistaken for each other, such as:
- Lemon Lime Philodendron and Neon Pothos.
- Philodendron Dark Lord and Majesty
- Philodendron Black Knight and Black Cardinal
- Rhaphidophora Cryptantha Vs Monstera Dubia
While these plants share some similarities, they have distinct differences that can make a big difference in terms of care and maintenance.
By understanding the unique features of each plant, you can choose the one that’s best suited for your indoor space.