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Monstera vs Pothos: What Is The Difference?

Many folks are leaning towards Monstera and Pothos for indoor plants, drawn by the stunning and unique look of their leaves. It’s like there’s a friendly rivalry between the two, so let’s dive into a detailed comparison.

When it comes to what sets them apart, size really matters. Monstera is famous for its big leaves, giving it a lush, bushy appearance. On the flip side, Pothos has a penchant for spreading out, vining and climbing its way around.

Monstera vs Pothos

Monstera and Pothos

Monstera Pothos
USDA Hardiness zone 11-12 or 65– 75°F (18-23°C) 11-12 or 65– 75°F (18-23°C)
Mature height 7-66 ft (2.1-20 m) 6-40 ft (1.8-12 m)
Mature width 2′-6 ft (0.6 m-1.8 m) 2′-6 ft (0.6 m-1.8 m)
Growth rate slow-fast slow-fast
Light exposure indirect, bright indirect, bright
Soil loose, well-drained loose, well-drained
Soil pH 6.0-7.0 6.0-6.5
Watering 1-time per week 1-time per week
Diseases fungus fungus
Pests insects, mites insects, mites

Leaves

What really sets Monstera and Pothos apart are their leaves. A Monstera’s leaf can reach up to 20 inches in length and 10-15 inches across, making them quite the statement.

In contrast, Pothos can sport large leaves in their natural habitat, but indoors, they tend to be more modest in size. Typically, the leaves of decorative Pothos won’t exceed 10 inches in length and 4-6 inches in width.

Another key difference is in the texture of the leaves. Pothos leaves are whole, without any holes or splits. Monstera leaves, however, are known for their fenestration.

Depending on the variety, Monstera leaves might be deeply split, like in Monstera deliciosa, or feature large holes, as seen in Monstera adansonii. It’s worth noting that these unique leaf patterns usually develop as the plant matures.

Growth Habit

Monstera and Pothos both love to climb, using the trunks of tropical trees to reach upwards. In their natural habitats, they can soar to heights of over 60 feet. However, when brought indoors, they tend to stay within a more manageable range of 6-10 feet.

Monstera tends to have a bushier appearance. It starts as young rosettes that attach to tree bark, then grows long stems that support its large leaves.

Pothos, in contrast, embraces its vine nature. Its shoots stretch upwards, producing numerous internodes, and its leaf stems are generally shorter than those of Monstera, giving it a more vine-like look.

So, if a bushy plant is what you’re after, Monstera might be your go-to. But for those preferring vines or hanging greenery, Pothos could be the perfect match.

Sunlight

Monstera and Pothos share similar needs when it comes to light, thanks to their natural habitat beneath the canopy of towering trees where they bask in dappled sunlight. This is the kind of light they’re used to throughout their lives.

To help your plants flourish, aim to mimic their natural setting. Both do well in bright, indirect light. You can achieve this by placing them a bit away from a south-facing window or off to the side, where they won’t get direct sun.

Wrapping up this section, it’s worth noting that some Pothos varieties are quite adaptable and can handle some direct sunlight if introduced slowly. This can make the plant even lusher.

Soil

Monstera and Pothos aren’t too picky about soil, thanks to their versatile aerial roots that can extract nutrients from various sources, even just the bark they cling to.

However, to really see them thrive, providing quality soil is key. Both plants do well in standard potting mix, but they might enjoy an extra boost from special aroid blends available on the market.

When it comes to pots, there’s a small distinction. Since Monsteras tend to grow larger than Pothos when kept indoors, they’ll need a bit more space and, consequently, a larger pot to accommodate their size.

Water

Typically, you should water Monstera and Pothos when their soil feels nearly dry. Use a moisture meter or just dip your finger into the soil to check. If it feels dry, it’s time to give them a drink.

The right amount of water varies with the plant’s size, ranging from 0.3 to 1 gallon.

It’s crucial to steer clear of overwatering, as neither Monstera nor Pothos appreciate soggy roots. To help avoid this, always choose pots that have drainage holes.

Growing conditions

Monstera and Pothos flourish in humidity levels between 65-75%, mirroring the conditions of their tropical forest homes. In these environments, even without rainfall, they can absorb moisture through their leaves.

These plants also prefer warmth, thriving in temperatures between 65°F and 85°F (18°C to 30°C). They can handle slight dips below this range, but temperatures under 59°F (15°C) might cause them to go into a dormant state.

This means they usually do well in typical indoor settings. However, keep them away from direct heat sources like radiators and air conditioners, as sudden temperature changes can damage their leaves.

Common Problems

Root rot is a common issue for both Monstera and Pothos, usually due to overwatering or pots without proper drainage. Signs include yellow, wilting leaves and possibly brown stems at the base.

To fix this, take the plant out of its pot, rinse the roots, and cut away any rotten parts. Treat the cuts with a fungicidal solution, then repot in fresh, well-draining soil. Wait to water until the soil is 80-90% dry.

Another challenge is pests like aphids, mealybugs, and spider mites, which cause leaf and stem yellowing and leave visible traces on the plant.

Start by rinsing the pests off with water. If that doesn’t work, applying horticultural oil can effectively combat these invaders.