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Which is Better: Monstera or Split Leaf Philodendron?

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The confusion between Monstera and split-leaf Philodendron comes as no surprise. There are similarities in their appearance. Secondly, split-leaf philodendron is generally used as a synonym for the Monstera deliciosa and the Philodendron bipinnatifidum.

Then, to add further confusion, in 2018, the P. bipinnatifidum gets added to a separate genus, Thaumatophyllum. So our split-leaf Philodendron is (for some) the Thaumatophyllum bipinnatifidum (global acceptance pending).

The philodendron genus got its name from the combined Greek words phileo (to love) and dendron (tree) for its tree-climbing affinity. However, the Philodendron is not a vine, but it has been reclassified to the thaumatophyllym genus.

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There are approximately 21 species in the genus Thaumatophyllum. They were previously found in the subgenus Meconostigma genus Philodendron but were transferred to Thaumatophyllum in 2018.

Like me, I’m pretty sure you have little intention of joining either of the sides of the struggle for plant naming rights. Suffice it to say that the Monstera is misnamed if referred to as a split-leaf philodendron. Below are the essential differences (and similarities) between the two plants. We can agree – both gorgeous evergreen plants present particularly well indoors.

Botanical Name:Thaumatophyllum bipinnatifidumMonstera deliciosa
Common Name:Philodendron BipinnafitidumTarovine
Other Synonyms:Horsehead philodendron   Split-leaf Philodendron Selloum Tree Philodendron Fiddle-leaf philodendron
Panda plant

Split-leaf Philodendron
Custard plant
fruit salad plant
Indian ivy
Mexican breadfruit
Swiss cheese plant
Type: Broadleaf evergreen treeVine
Native To:South AmericaMexico, Central America
Zones:9 to 1110 to 12
Height:10 to 15-feet30 to 70-feet
Spread:10 to 15-feet6 to 10-feet
LeavesPinnately lobedHighly diverse Entirely wholePinnately lobedPerforatedPerforated becoming pinnate
Bloom Time:Seasonal BloomerRarely Flowers Indoors
Bloom Description:The white spadix and white spatheThe light-green spadix and white spathe
Light Requirement:Part ShadePart Shade
Water Needs:MediumMedium
Flower:Showy – but doesn’t flower indoorsShowy – but doesn’t flower indoors
Feature:Winter InterestWinter Interest

Both garden plants require sub-tropical temperatures and will grow in Zones 10 and 11. The Philodendron can withstand cooler temperatures (Zone 9), and the Monstera prefers warmer climates (Zone 12).

Split-leaf Philodendron

The split-leaf Philodendron is a large, semi-woody shrub with large deeply-pinnated, particularly glossy, evergreen leaves. The leaves can grow to 3 feet long and rise from the top of the stem on long petioles in a rosette-fan configuration. When the plant is still young, it fans long-stemmed large wavy-margined leaves.

Being a species in the Araceae family, the white flowers resemble miniature arum lilies with a purplish red spathe. Like the Monstera, the split-leaf Philodendron rarely flowers as an indoor plant.

The split-leaf Philodendron is endemic in Paraguay and the southeastern regions of Brazil. In its natural habitat, the crown leaves drop off, forming a trunk that can be 6-inches in diameter – hence the name tree philodendron.

The plant can reach up to 15 feet tall in its natural habitat, but it’s uncommon for indoor container plants to grow much higher than 5 feet. These are hardy plants and can, with proper care, live for more than 20 years – they only reach maturity after ten years.

The naming, bipinnatifidum, originates from the root Latin word pinna – feather. Pinnatifid is an adjective describing a cleft with mirrored characteristics on either side. Imagine a leaf with multiple feather-like features on either side – bipinnatifid.

In addition to being famous as an outdoor garden plant, the split-leaf Philodendron also makes a lovely houseplant. They have huge, heart-shaped leaves that look like they belong in a rainforest.

Your home will have an exotic feel to it with this addition. Split Leaf’s glossy, deep-lobed green leaves are an excellent choice for those looking for an eye-catching plant.

When it comes to caring for split-leaf Philodendron, it’s a breeze. It prefers moist conditions but can withstand dry ones. Split Leaf is a hardy plant that needs no special attention from gardeners.

Split-leaf Philodendron is a popular choice for indoor and outdoor use because of its positive attributes. Consider an indoor philodendron if your climate doesn’t allow one to thrive outside. It will soon become one of your most prized houseplants.

  • Evergreen
  • Cold Hardy
  • Great Container Or House Plant
  • Huge Tropical Leaves


Ralph Waldo Emerson

Taking Care of a Philodendron Bipinnatifidum (Thaumatophyllum Bipinnatifidum)

The following are the most important things to keep in mind when taking care of your split-leaf Philodendron:

  • Overwatering will harm this tropical plant, so be careful.
  • It thrives in a well-lit area but prefers indirect light.
  • To avoid salt and mineral build-ups in the soil, do not overfeed the philodendron bipinnatifidum.
  • If left unchecked, it will quickly grow to a width of 4 feet and a height of 5 feet. Choose a location where it will have plenty of room to expand.

See below if you’d like to learn more about split-leaf philodendron care.

Light Requirements for Split-Leaf Philodendron

Bright, indirect light is ideal for split-leaf Philodendron growth. A room facing south or west in your house is ideal for this plant. This thaumatophyllum, like most tropical plants, requires at least six hours of sunlight a day for healthy growth, but it is particularly vulnerable to direct sunlight. Please don’t put it too close to the window to avoid scorching the leaves!

Split-leaf Philodendron is a somewhat shade-tolerant species. Because of this, if its home is too dark, you may notice that the plant grows slower and produces fewer leaves.

The split-leaf Philodendron will turn its leaves to face the light like a sunflower resulting in an asymmetrical shape, with most of the plant’s growth concentrated on the light side. Rotate your Thaumatophyllum at least once a week to ensure that the leaves are evenly spaced and displayed.

Thaumatophyllum Philodendron Temperature Preferences

Split-leaf Philodendron does best in a temperature range of 64°F to 77°F. When it’s warm outside, aim for 70 degrees, but don’t stress if it’s only 60 degrees Fahrenheit inside (winter).

The leaves of split-leaf Philodendrons can fall off if the temperature changes or there is a draft. As a result, avoid putting it near a heater, air conditioner, or radiator.

Thaumatophyllum Philodendron Water Requirements

Although split-leaf Philodendron is intolerant of prolonged drought, it is also vulnerable to over-watering. Keep the soil moist but do not let the plant get wet feet to avoid fungal problems.

To keep your split-leaf Philodendron healthy in the spring and summer, soak it well every other week and then reduce the watering frequency in the fall and winter.

Split-leaf Philodendron is extremely sensitive to mineral build-up in the soil. If possible, use rainwater or even distilled water in place of the municipal supply. Hard water will cause the Thaumatophyllum to get yellow spots and brown edges.

Split-leaf Philodendron needs a humidity of 75 percent – much higher than average indoor levels. A wet pebble tray can boost levels. However, using a humidifier will be the best solution for mature plants. You can also mist the leaves daily, but remember that this practice could spread pathogens.

Fertilizing Your Split-Leaf Philodendron

Apply a monthly dose of diluted liquid organic fertilizer to your split-leaf Philodendron during the spring and summer. When in doubt, underfeeding your Thaumatophyllum is always preferable.

Organic material like a good compost or tea is ideal for growing Thaumatophyllum bipinnatifidum. If you want to grow this plant successfully, avoid using a fertilizer with a pH that is too acidic or too alkaline. To get the best soil mix for Thaumatophyllum bipinnatifidum, use equal parts compost, perlite, and coir.

Repotting Your Thaumatophyllum Philodendron

Your new house friend develops fast. Repotting is generally every two years for the first six years. A good indicator is if the roots emerge from the container’s drainage holes at the bottom of the container. During early spring, allow your Thaumatophyllum bipinnatifidum to recover from the trauma throughout the growing season. Use terracotta pots as they allow the roots to breathe and water better.

You must repot into a soil rich in organic matter and fungi organisms and is well-drained. A mixture of equal parts of perlite, coconut coir, and compost is advisable.

Pruning Your Thaumatophyllum Bipinnatifidum

Wear gardening gloves and avoid touching your eyes, mouth, or nose while pruning your Thaumatophyllum bipinnatifidum. Calcium oxalate crystals in the sap of this plant can irritate the skin. Remember to clean your tools after you’ve also finished using them.

The best time to prune Thaumatophyllum bipinnatifidum is in spring when the plant can grow new leaves following a trim. Cut the leaves at the stem’s base with a sharp knife. If the aerial roots become too large and unruly, you can cut them back.

Growing Thaumatophyllum Bipinnatifidum Outdoors

Outdoor perennial Thaumatophyllum bipinnatifidum can be grown in tropical and subtropical climates or Zones 9 to 11. It can be planted directly in the ground or kept outdoors in a container.

It’s best to avoid placing Philodendron bipinnatifidum in direct sunlight when growing it in the garden because it needs only six hours of light each day to thrive. If the leaves receive too much sunlight, they will turn yellow and develop brown, sunburned edges.



Is Thaumatophyllum Bipinnatifidum Toxic?

Toxic to both humans and animals, Thaumatophyllum bipinnatifidum is a noxious weed. Calcium oxalate crystals are formed in the leaves and stems, which can cause skin irritations—the risk of ingestion or contact with the mouth and throat increases. As a result, symptoms such as swelling, fever, coughing, and extreme discomfort may be experienced.

Thaumatophyllum bipinnatifidum sap is toxic, so keeping it out of the reach of pets and children at all times is especially important to keep in mind in the case of outdoor plants, as it can be more challenging to keep an eye on the plant.

Propagating Thaumatophyllum Bipinnatifidum

Stem cuttings are an easy way to multiply Thaumatophyllum bipinnatifidum. Rooting them can be accomplished with either soil or water. Many houseplant cuttings thrive in soil, but the Thaumatophyllum Philodendron exception. Cuttings are best rooted in water instead of soil as root rot is more likely to occur when cuttings are rooted in the ground.

When the plant is propagated in water, it is easier to see the new roots. Check the bottom of the cutting to see if decay affects it, and save it before it’s too late. You can use whatever medium you prefer if you’re a seasoned gardener with several propagated plants.

Thaumatophyllum Bipinnatifidum Problems

Thaumatophyllum bipinnatifidum is quite resilient, but opportunistic diseases and pests are summarized below:


Thaumatophyllum bipinnatifidum is susceptible to attacks from spider mites, aphids, mealybugs, and scale. Effective compost tea is the healthiest approach to building a natural defense for all your plants. If you can, make some actively aerated compost tea (AACT) for this purpose.

For more detail, check out my post covering Caring for Monstera (Swiss cheese plant). A weekly application will cover your leaves with microorganisms able to defend your plant. Using pesticides will also solve that problem and create a new one – soil without microorganisms can defend your plant and release nutrients.

Yellow leaves

Yellow leaves signify that your plant is in distress and that there is too little water or light, root binding, or depleted soil. Take an inch or two of soil from the top and replace it with good aerobic compost as a first response. If there is no marked improvement in a month, consider repotting the soil if you have not done so in the past year.

Brown leaves

Browning edges indicate mineral poisoning, usually a salt build-up. Brown spots are bacterial infections that will be solved using diluted EM® or AACT. Cut back on feeding and allow the pot to dry between watering.

Monstera Deliciosa

Image of a monstera deliciosa

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  • White Colored Spathe Flowers

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Other plants that look similar

So we have established that these plants are different but look the same. A third variety is a mini monstera, Monstera Minima, or Rhaphidophora Tetrasperma this is neither a true Monstera or Philodendron.

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Love Monstera? So Do I; check Out Other Articles I wrote On Them?

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Monstera leaves have no holes

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How To Know What Monstera-Varieties You Have

Four ways monstera can be propagated

Monstera pinnatipartita the ultimate care guide

Monstera Albo The Ultimate Care Guide

Is the variegated Monstera Price Justified?

How To Repot Monstera Using A Moss Pole

How to Propagate Monstera Deliciosa Successfully


Like birds of a feather, the Monstera Deliciosa and the split-leaf Philodendron look alike but are different plants. Both need the same things, but the Monstera is a vine, and the Thaumatophyllum Bipinnatifidum is a tree (eventually). As an indoor presentation, the Monstera Deliciosa has height and order, dark green leaves, and is a beautiful plant.

The split-leaf Philodendron is very similar, except it looks more like an explosion of leaves – beautiful as it is too. Both provide an indoor environment with a sense of the exotic, leaving you feeling like a Macaw parrot might fly out.

Well, folks, I trust that cleared that topic and added some value. If you would like to keep up to date with news, offers, and opportunities to simplify Gardening, use the short form below, share your email, and we’ll keep you current.

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