Pothos vs. Monstera

Written by Em Casalena
Updated: March 11, 2023
© A-Z-Animals.com
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More than ever before, houseplant enthusiasts are choosing to take on the challenge of growing large monstera and pothos plants as indoor houseplants. Their leaves are appealing because of their beauty and originality compared to other similar houseplants on the market today. Although there is a sort of rivalry between these plants, they are actually completely distinct species that coexist very well in the same areas due to their similar care requirements.

Their leaf sizes are the primary distinctions between monstera and pothos plants. Species will naturally vary in size, but overall, there is a notable difference in leaf size as the monstera will grow massive leaves while pothos leaves will stay relatively small. Additionally, the monstera plant has a bushier form and long, leafy stems. The pothos is more of a vine-like plant that prefers climbing along surfaces.

In this guide, we’ll compare these two houseplant powerhouses and take a look at their biggest differences and similarities. We’ll also break down some helpful tips for growing either of these plants in your home, so you can decide which plant is right for the amount of effort you want to put into caring for them.

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Comparing Pothos vs. Monstera

ClassificationEpipremnum aureumMonstera deliciosa
Alternative NamesDevil’s Ivy, Hunter’s Rove, Money PlantSwiss Cheese Plant, Split-Leaf Philodendron
OriginSoutheastern AsiaCentral America
DescriptionA tropical evergreen vining plant known for its thick and waxy heart-shaped leaves.A tropical flowering plant known for its massive overall size and particularly large fan-like leaves.
Growth TipsAlways keep pothos plants in warm locations with plenty of humidity in addition to regular watering.Provide monstera plants with peat-filled well-draining soil to avoid root rot.
Interesting FeaturesPothos climb via aerial roots and can grow quite long when planted near trellises or other structures.These plants can grow to be over a whopping 70 feet tall if left to their own devices.

The Key Differences Between Pothos and Monstera

As mentioned earlier, the main difference between these plants comes down to size. The monstera plant has significantly larger leaves, which they are well-known for. Just as well, monstera plants tend to be bushier while pothos prefers to vine and climb.

There are other key differences as well. The monstera plant grows significantly larger or taller than the pothos plant at about seven to a whopping 66 feet tall, with some specimens in the wild reaching 70 feet! Pothos, on the other hand, tends to grow between six and 40 feet at a maximum.

With all of these differences in mind, there are many similarities between these plants as well. Both can grow in USDA hardiness zones 11 through 12 and do well in a temperature range of 65 to 75 degrees F. While their heights vary significantly, they both have similar maximum mature widths of two to six feet. They both have very varied growth rates that can either be slow or quite fast, depending on their care. Both the monstera and pothos require bright, indirect sunlight to thrive and grow best in aerated well-draining soil with a pH of around 6.0. Just as well, these plants have similar watering needs, are both susceptible to fungal diseases, and can be negatively affected by mites and similar pests.

closeup large monstera acuminata plant
Monstera plants (pictured) are known for their large, hole-filled leaves that are much larger than pothos leaves.

©Pandu Aji Wirawan/Shutterstock.com

Pothos vs. Monstera: Classification

Pothos plants are classified as Epipremnum aureum. They are part of the Pothos genus and the Araceae plant family. Monstera plants are classified as Monstera deliciosa. They are part of the Monstera genus and, similar to pothos, are part of the Araceae plant family. Both of these plants share the same plant family and are considered tropical plants. As members of the Araceae or “arum” family, pothos and monstera plants are related to calla lilies, taro, skunk cabbage, and starchwort.

Pothos vs. Monstera: Description

The Solomon Islands native plant Epipremnum aureum, also known as golden pothos or devil’s ivy, is a climbing or trailing vine that produces a large number of leaves with golden, pale green, or white veining and variegation. The pothos plant can easily grow up to 40 feet in length and climbs trees via aerial rootlets (which are roots that don’t grow in soil) in its natural habitat in southeastern Asia. It also acts as a ground cover in the wild as well.

Young plants have heart-shaped, waxy, green leaves that reach up to four inches long with yellow or white variegation. However, the leaves on huge, mature vines grow significantly larger (up to 30 inches) and have deeper lobes. The plant has philodendron-like characteristics, as they are closely related. If consumed, this plant is toxic to pets and children. Small berries typically follow tiny blooms on mature pothos in the wild. On indoor plants, flowers and berries are rarely seen.

Native to Central America, Monstera deliciosa is also known as split-leaf philodendron or the swiss cheese plant. It is an evergreen perennial shrub or vine that is most notable for its long aerial roots that look like ropes and its huge hole-covered leaves on thick plant stalks. It will impressively grow up to 70 feet into trees in its native tropical habitat, covering the trunks with leaves that are between one and three feet long. Indoor plants are normally grown between six and eight feet tall. 

This plant’s mature leaves are enormous, lustrous, deep green, and noticeably sliced and perforated. Young leaves often don’t have the trademark “sliced” look and are tiny. Arum-like blooms with a spadix up to 10 inches and a white spathe are produced by mature monstera plants. Flowers give place to a fruit that is edible and has a taste similar to pineapple and banana. However, indoor plants hardly ever bear fruit or blossom, similar to pothos. The plant’s lower aerial roots can be rooted into the ground to provide it with nutrition. Aerial roots on the plant’s higher portions can be cut off or tied to a climbing pole.

Pothos vs. Monstera: Uses

Pothos are used first and foremost as beginner-friendly houseplants. One of the most simple plants to grow, pothos thrives in poor conditions and is quite tolerant of neglect. These plants can help to remove unpleasant odors in one’s home while also purifying the air of formaldehyde, benzene, and carbon monoxide. Pothos has also been found to help reduce eye strain in individuals who need to look at screens throughout the day.

Monstera is mainly grown as a decorative houseplant. In some places, it is quite popular as an outdoor plant. Like the pothos, the monstera also has the ability to clean the air and improve air humidity. Its fruit is low in fat and high in protein, vitamin B, calcium, and phosphorus, but if it is not fully ripe, it can be toxic to consume. The monstera plant can also treat a variety of illnesses and health issues, including arthritis and stings from snakes or insects.

Tropical 'Epipremnum Aureum Marble Queen' pothos house plant with white variegation in natural basket flower pot on table
Pothos plants (pictured) are popular houseplants due to their manageable vines and ease of care.


Pothos vs. Monstera: Origin

Pothos plants are native to southeastern Asia. They have also been found in islands in French Polynesia as well. Some species of pothos have been found in New Guinea and Australia as well.

Monstera plants are native to Central America. Specifically, they are found in abundance in the tropical forests around central and southern Mexico all the way to Panama. Since it has been discovered, it has been introduced to places like Hawaii and the Society islands where it has become somewhat invasive.

Pothos vs. Monstera: How to Grow

Pothos may be grown indoors relatively easily without too much maintenance. Pothos isn’t fussy about anything, although it thrives in potting soil that is high in nutrients. Although it may tolerate low lighting, most pothos varieties like indirect, bright sunlight. It will thrive best close to a sunny window, but not right in front of it because too much sunlight can burn the leaves. Although the pothos plant won’t be able to handle very wet soil, it really does enjoy its water when it can get it, so make sure to water it well at least once per week. Pothos plants prefer infrequent fertilization treatments, usually once per month. This will keep the vines growing nice and robust and the leaves a deep shade of green.

Monstera plants are similarly easy to grow. Apply a balanced fertilizer to monstera plants three or four times a year, and the plant might reach a height of 10 feet or more indoors. Choose a deep container with plenty of drainage holes if it will be used as a houseplant. This evergreen plant requires bright and indirect light with consistent temperatures of 65 to 75 degrees F. In the warmer months, too much direct sunshine will cause burning on its leaves. Monstera needs peat-based potting soil when it is grown in a pot. Sandy, loamy, and hefty clay soils with an acidic or neutral pH are good for use for outdoor monstera plants.

Repotting a pothos plant
Pothos (pictured) grow best indoors when occasionally repotted once every year or so.


Pothos vs. Monstera: Special Features

People from the Indian subcontinent, China, Taiwan, Thailand, and some other Southeast Asian nations refer to the pothos plant as the “money plant” from time to time. Many people think that keeping potted pothos in their homes will bring them luck, attract money, or attract good chi.

Monstera deliciosa bears very flavorful fruit in the wild. It has a strawberry, mango, and pineapple flavor profile, though the fruit itself has quite a unique flavor. Monstera deliciosa gets its name from the fact that its fruit is so tasty.

The pothos plant is known as “devil’s ivy” because it is virtually unkillable. It is exceedingly uncommon for plants to be able to survive low light levels without losing much of their color. You’ll find the pothos consistently included in lists of “no light” plants, though it is worth noting that this plant does need some sunlight to survive.

The monstera’s native environment is the tropical rainforests of Central America. The huge monstera leaves are better able to survive strong winds and rain because they have holes in them, which allow the elements and even debris to flow through without harming the plant.

While pothos and monstera are very different plants, they are both beloved by the houseplant community. They can both grow quite large and very showy, making them perfect as centerpieces for any home. They also have similar growth requirements, so growing them together is actually quite easy. Why not pick both of these plants to grow in your home for a tropical, relaxing vibe?

Want to learn more about the eye-catching pothos houseplant? Check out our in-depth guide to everything you need to know about pothos!

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Pothos vs Monstera
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About the Author

I'm a lover of all things sustainability, from urban farming to not killing houseplants. I love carnivorous plants, indigenous crops, and air-cleansing indoor plants. My area of expertise lies in urban farming and conscious living. A proud Southwest Institute of Healing Arts graduate and certified Urban Farming instructor.

FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) 

What is the difference between pothos and monstera?

They are completely different species of plants. Monstera plants have significantly larger leaves than pothos, and they both have very different growing habits and care needs.

What genus is pothos part of?

Pothos plants are part of the genus Epipremnum.

What genus is monstera part of?

Monstera plants are part of the genus Monstera.

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