Monstera vs Pothos: What Is The Difference?


More and more people prefer Monstera or Pothos as houseplants. Their leaves are attractive because of their beauty and uniqueness. There is real competition between these plants and so today we will compare them in as much detail as possible.

The main difference between Monstera and Pothos is that Monstera has larger leaves than Pothos. Of course, the size will vary from species to species, but in general, there is a difference in leaf size. In addition, Monstera leaves have cuts or large holes (fenestrated leaves), while Pothos perforated leaves are rare.

Also, Monstera has a more bushy shape with long leafy stems. Pothos, on the other hand, is a more vine-like plant.

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
Monstera vs Pothos
Monstera and Pothos

Leaves

Leaves are what the Monstera and Pothos put apart. The maximum size of a Monstera leaf is 50 inches long and 30 inches wide. Of course at home to achieve this size will not be possible, but still, 20 inches long and 10-15 inches wide is a size you can count on.

As for Pothos, in the wild, some leaves may also be large. There are known examples of Pothos leaves reaching 40 inches long by 18 inches wide. But under room conditions, the foliage is much smaller. Most ornamental Pothos varieties have leaves no larger than 10 inches long and 4-6 inches wide.

The second is that Pothos leaves have no holes or cuts. The leaf blade is solid and only very mature specimens growing in the wild may be slightly fenestrated.

Monstera on the other hand is much more fenestrated (perforated). Depending on the species, the leaves may be cut almost in half, such as Monstera deliciosa. Or have huge holes, such as Monstera adansonii.

Young plants usually do not have perforations, this is characteristic of more mature specimens.

Growth habit

Monstera and Pothos are climbing plants. This means that they cling to the trunks of tropical trees and grow upward. In the wild, there are specimens of both plants that are over 60 feet tall. But indoors they are usually no more than 6-10 feet tall.

The distinguishing characteristic is that Monstera is bushier. The young rosettes cling to the bark of the tree and begin to create long stems on which the huge leaves are held. From this rosette, the roots begin to grow down the trunk toward the ground. Only mature rosettes produce shoots on which new rosettes are formed.

Pothos, on the other hand, is more vine-like. Its shoots are constantly growing upward, creating more and more internodes. The leaf petioles are slightly or much shorter than those of Monstera. The result is a plant that looks more like a grape.

If you want a plant that looks more like a bush, the Monstera is a better choice. But if you want a vine or a hanging plant then Pothos is the way to go.

Sunlight

Both of these plants have approximately the same lighting requirements. This is because both Monstera and Pothos grow under the canopy of large trees and receive filtered sunlight. This continues throughout their entire lives.

For your plants to thrive you need to recreate their native environment. The best for both plants is indirect but bright sunlight. To achieve this you can place them a few feet away from a south-facing window. Placing them on the side of the window is also a good solution.

East or west windows are equally suitable for good growth. The only thing you need to avoid is a northern window, as the plants will not get enough light there. If you don’t have a place with enough light, you can install artificial light.

I also want to say at the end of the chapter that some Pothos types can tolerate direct sunlight through a window. In this case, the plant will be even busier. But be careful and accustom it to direct sun gradually.

Soil

Soil requirements are another similarity between our two plants. In fact, they can tolerate different types of soil. Thanks to their aerial roots they can get everything they need, even from the bark to which they are attached.

But you have to provide good soil for Monstera and Pothos to thrive. In general, they grow quite well in ordinary potting soil. You can also find special soil mixes for aroids on the market. This will make these plants grow even better.

If you want it to be perfect you can make your own potting soil mix. Take one part potting soil, add one part peat and one part good compost, and some perlite. Mix everything well and the potting soil is ready, but remember that both Monstera and Pothos like slightly acidic soil (pH 6.3-6.5). Avoid using very alkaline soil.

As for pots, there is a slight difference. Because Monstera is usually a bit larger than Pothos at home, it needs a bigger container.

Water

Watering both plants is very similar. They need plenty of water, but they don’t like to stay wet all the time.

In general, Monstera and Pothos should be watered once every 7 to 10 days during the growing season. But the best watering is when the soil in the pot is almost completely dry. You should check the moisture in the pot with a moisture meter or with your fingers. If the soil is dry then water the plant.

The amount of water depends on the size of the plant and can be 0.3 to 1 gallon.

During the winter dormancy period and in the fall, water very sparingly. At this time, the plant is not growing and extra water will do more harm than good.

Avoid overwatering because Monstera and Pothos do not like their roots to stay wet for long periods. For this reason, always use pots with drainage holes.

Growing conditions

As for air humidity, 65-75% humidity is preferable for Monstera and Pothos. This is the air in the tropical forests where these plants live. And in the absence of rain, they receive water through their leaves.

It is difficult to get this kind of humidity indoors, so you must install a humidifier or fogger near the plant. But if for some reason you don’t want to do this and the air around the plants is as humid as in a normal house, Monstera and Pothos can tolerate such conditions.

Both plants need a warm environment. The best growing temperature is 65°F-85°F (18°C-30°C). A few degrees below this range the plants can tolerate, but if the temperature drops below 59°F (15°C) they will hibernate. Temperatures below 50 °F (10 °C) can kill both Pothos and Monstera.

It follows that both plants will thrive under normal room conditions. But don’t place them close to heaters as well as to air conditioning, because even a brief but drastic change in temperature can leave a mark on the leaves.

Common Problems

The first common problem with Monstera and Pothos is root rot. This disease occurs due to excessive watering or through a lack of drainage holes in the pots. Symptoms are yellowing and drooping leaves. Also, the stems near the base may be brown.

To remedy the situation you will need to remove the plant from the pot and wash the roots. Next, remove the rotten roots and wash the wounds with an aqueous fungicide solution. Plant the plant in clean soil with plenty of drainage holes. Water only when the soil dries to 80-90%.

The second problem is sucking pests. These can be aphids, mealybugs, spider mites, and many others. Symptoms are yellowing of leaves and stems. Traces of insects are also noticeable.

The first thing to do is to wash the pests away with a stream of water. If this does not help then spray the plant with horticultural oil, this product works well against insects. But you have to use acaricide against the spider mite.

Fertilizer

The feeding needs of Monstera and Pothos are different.

Because Monstera is a slightly larger plant and its growth rate is a bit faster, it needs more fertilizer. I recommend fertilizing Monstera once every 1-1.5 months during the growing season. The best fertilizer would be a multi-purpose liquid fertilizer, of which there are plenty on the market. You can also find a fertilizer specifically for aroids.

Pothos is not as demanding and can only grow through the nutrients in the soil. But if you want the best results you need to fertilize 2-3 times a season from spring.

Also, you should not fertilize Monstera or Pothos in late autumn or winter. At this time of year, the plants are dormant, and fertilizing them can disrupt this.

Besides, the Monstera needs to be replanted in larger pots a little more often than the Pothos.

Toxicity

Both Monstera and Pothos are identified by the ASPCA as toxic plants. All plant parts contain calcium oxalate, which is toxic to humans, cats, dogs, and other pets.

Skin contact with the sap of these plants can irritate. If the plant parts are ingested, it may cause indigestion or vomiting.

The first thing to do is to flush the skin or stomach with water. The next step is to see a doctor.

The precautions for both plants are the same. Keep them out of the reach of children and pets.

Igor Viznyy

Hi friends, I have been growing plants for many years and love doing it. You can find more information on the page About Author.

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