This post may contain affiliate links. Read the full disclosure here.
There are loads of differences between Monstera adansonii and deliciosa, such as:
- general appearance
- feeding requirements
- attitude towards pests
- care needs
BUT there are many similarities too – they are both Monstera after all.
Here’s a handy table:
|What is it?||green plant||green plant|
|Fenestrations||holes in leaves||holes and splits in leaves|
|Water requirements||water, leave to dry||same again, plz|
|Light requirements||bright, indirect||put directly into the sun (acclimate first!)|
|Humidity requirements||55%+||I dgaf tbh (but more is better)|
|Fertiliser requirements||every month, otherwise my leaves go yellow and sickly||every month, but I’ll keep it a secret|
|Fruit?||YES (but poisonous)||YES (so delicious they named me after it)|
I love both, and they both have that same great quality of being easy-care enough that a total house plant novice can keep them alive, but also being very rewarding for plant experts to grow to maturity.
Also they’re pretty cheap!*
* For now. House plants are wild, and like to keep us on our toes.
So, obviously, both deliciosa and adansonii are Monstera, but how related does that actually make them?
A botanist might hiss at me for comparing them like this, but I like to think of them as being cousins.
They’re pretty similar in certain aspects of their genetic makeup, but also…pretty different. But you know cousins – they can share blood and still look completely different.
Adansonii and deliciosa are far more closely related to one another than deliciosa and Rhapidophora tetrasperma, despite RT’s common name being mini monstera.
All three plants are in the family Araceae, but Rhapidophora tetrasperma are in the genus, er, Rhapidophora, and Monstera are in the, you guessed it, Monstera genus.
Interestingly, Monsteras hail from the Americas and Rhapidophoras are found from east Africa to the western Pacific.
Monstera deliciosa are big, invasive brutes that will grow ANYWHERE that there isn’t frost. it wouldn’t surprise me if they were on Mars. It’s bright, and there might be water – good enough for them.
Monstera adansonii, however, have a harder time in the wild.
They don’t have the strong, thick stems of deliciosa, so if the seedlings find themselves far away from a tree, they have to trail along the ground until they find one.
This leaves them more susceptible to wind breakage, rot, and being stepped on by a passing capybara.
Adansoniis are one of those plants that really struggle in the wild (and are pretty rare), but in a domestic setting really come into their own and grow prolifically – to the point where they’re actually common.
Also known as…
- Swiss cheese plant
- Mexican breadfruit plant
- Split-leaf Philodendron
- Tornelia fragrans
- Philodendron pertusum
- Philodendron anatomicum
- Monstera deliciosa var. sierrana
- Monstera deliciosa var. borsigiana
- Monstera borsigiana
- Swiss cheese plant
- Adanson’s Monstera
- Monstera monkey-mask
- Five holes plant
- Monstera pertusa
- Dracontium pertusum
- Calla dracontium
- Calla pertusa
- Philodendron pertusum
I think what happened here was that a load of botanists in the 1700s found plants at the same time, and all tried to get their name to catch on (well done Michel Adanson, you won).
It doesn’t help that they were also fighting about whether Monstera and Philodendron were the same. They were all publishing rival papers referring to them as they thought fit, although by 1860 everyone was pretty sure they were distinct genera.
In 1976 Madison and Tiffney studied seed morphology and discovered that Monstera seeds are very distinct from Philodendron ones. Final undisputable proof that they were DEFINITELY distinct genera.
Relief all round, I’m sure.
(Except most of the people who were fighting were long dead. Never mind).
If you're interested in this stuff, it's a good paper to read - imagine trying to classify Monstera in 1860 and coming across a freaking Dubia? You'd have to have a sit down. I also like how Scindapsus threw everybody because they grow in Asia except for one that turned up in South America. Also, it was written in 1977, back when Monstera minima was a Monstera, not a Rhapidophora - there doesn't seem to be much info on when this change happened, but I imagine it caused quite the ruckus.
As for both of them being called Swiss cheese plant, I have some theories.
So Monstera deliciosa was a house plant before Adansonii (because Adansonii is much rarer in the wild) and it does have holes like swiss cheese. Makes sense to call it a swiss cheese plant.
Along comes Monstera adansonii which is not only also a Monstera but ALSO looks like swiss cheese, BUT MORE SO.
They’re both called swiss cheese plants, and it makes perfect sense. It’s also very confusing.
I’m going to focus on the differences, because the similarities seem silly written down:
- holes in leaves (sometimes)
- called Monstera
I mean, who is this helping?
The differences are probably the more interesting part:
Fenestrations are the holes in the leaves. In Monstera adansonii, it’s simple – there are holes in the leaves:
Monstera deliciosa also have holes in the leaves, but also splits in the edges of the leaves, like so:
Sometimes, depending on age and environmental factors, they have no holes or splits in the leaves.
Sometimes they only have splits. Large, mature ones that have had a tonne of light can develop multiple rows on inner holes:
Sometimes Monstera adansonii don’t have holes in leaves, but it’s much less likely to happen than with Monstera deliciosa.
This word makes me cringe.
Anyways, it’s the bit of the petiole right that the top (or bottom, if you’re weird) of the leaf. The leaf’s neck, if you will.
On a Monstera adansonii, it’s no different from the rest of the petiole, and looks like this:
On a mature Monstera deliciosa, the geniculum becomes ruffled, like this:
There is some debate about different forms of Monstera deliciosa (such as borsigiana) not having a ruffled geniculum. The people at Kew say they’re all the same but in different stages of maturity, so I tend to agree with them.
There’s a LOT of dispute about this – a lot of people claim that Monstera deliciosa climb, and Monstera adansonii crawl and trail.
I think both plants WANT to climb, and can – given the correct circumstances.
The difference is that Monstera deliciosa are far more able to support themselves and find it easier to climb. Monstera adansonii can’t support its own weight and therefore is sometimes forced to crawl.
The nitty gritty of their growth pattern, such as internodal spacing and aerial root growth is remarkably similar – plants of equal sizes are usually almost identical in terms of growth pattern BUT adansonii are usually a lot smaller than deliciosa when kept as a house plant.
Monstera deliciosa leaves have the ability to grow to over a metre in length, whereas a Monstera adansonii leaf tops out at about a third of that.
Both plants have the capacity to grow FREAKING MASSIVE if they’re given the correct conditions. It’s generally said that Monstera adansonii get to a maximum of twelve feet in height, but remember that they’re a little bit more delicate than deliciosa in the wild.
If a botanical garden wanted to grow one to fifty feet there’s no botanical reason why they couldn’t.
Monstera deliciosa are another matter. They live below the canopy in their natural habitat and have to compete with much bigger plants. HOWEVER they’ve moved past that, and are now growing across the globe. In more exposed places they can grow, er, very very big.
Monstera deliciosa have more of a heart-shaped leaf, and of course can have splits in the edges of the leaves. Adansonii leaves are more of a classic oval shape.
Adansonii leaves are thinner and can be a bit more wrinkled. Monstera deliciosa leaves are thicker, more glossy, and are pretty smooth.
Okay, this is where it gets confusing and changes a LOT. Currently, Monstera adansonii are slightly cheaper than deliciosa, I think because demand is prett high for both of them, but adansonii grow a little bit quicker, and, crucially, are smaller so easier to transport.
This can change week on week – we’re at the mercy of the growers.
When it comes to variegated plants, adansonii were MUCH more expensive up until about last year (I suspect tissue culture) and now they’re only *slightly* more expensive, depending on the variegation type.
Variegated Monstera deliciosa are both common and tissue cultured, so they *should* be cheap, but won’t be until demand subsides. Variegated Adansoniis are much rarer but in lower demand, so it all kind of evens out.
Variations and variegations
- Both have an ‘albo’ variant, with white variegation (as well as a healthy number of scammers haunting Etsy). Make sure to ask for a photo of the one you’re buying and do a reverse image search, just in case
- Both also have a form with yellow variegation – here’s a yellow adansonii I found at my local garden centre:
- Both also have a mint form, with pale green variegation
- Monstera deliciosa Thai Constellation is a tissue-cultured form of variegated Monstera and has been genetically altered so it won’t revert. As far as I’m aware, there’s no equivalent for adansonii (and if there is they’re keeping it secret for now).
The care needs of Monsteras adansonii and deliciosa are broadly the same. I have care guides here:
HOWEVER there are some key differences:
As long as you acclimate it properly, Monstera deliciosa can take a LOT of bright, direct light. You’ll need to make sure it doesn’t dry out too much and if you fail to acclimate it it will burn to a crisp VERY quickly, but if you do it properly, they LOVE light.
You’ll be rewarded with big, fenestrated leaves and fast growth. The faster the grower, the smaller the internodal spacing, and the bushier your Monstera will be.
The same can’t be said for Monstera adansonii. Whilst they do enjoy bright light, I’d put them somewhere where any direct light hits them in the morning.
If they’re inside and it’s not mid-summer then they’ll most likely be fine (if acclimated properly) BUT they have much more delicate leaves than Monstera deliciosa. A bright, east-facing window is perfect.
Adansonii also LOVE a grow light, and will grow quickly under them. Monstera deliciosa are probably equally happy under them, but practically, they’re too damn big!
In an ideal world, both Adansonii and deliciosa would have about 75% humidity. They don’t *need* it, but it would not only help them grow faster (because their leaves develop faster, emerge and unfurl faster, and harden off faster) but it also helps them to develop long, aerial roots that are fuzzier than they would be in lower humidity and therefore better able to adhere to stuff.
Monstera deliciosa have much thicker leaves than adansonii, so they can live happily enough in 40% humidity and below.
Any lower than 55% humidity and adansonii struggle – their leaves can get damaged as they unfurl, and they can end up wrinkled and distorted.
It’s generally agreed that both Monstera deliciosa and adansonii are best watered and the left to dry out almost completely before watering again.
I agree with this HOWEVER if you're an underwaterer and you're trying to decide whether to get an adansonii or a deliciosa, may I suggest a deliciosa? Not only are they perfectly happy to dry out to the bone, but they won't show signs of drought in their leaves for YONKS.
Adansonii are happy to dry out, but if you’re a couple of days late with the water you’ll get curling and brown leaves.
Similarly, if you’re an overwaterer, I’d also stick with deliciosa. They’re just hardier – I assume because they have such thick roots.
It’s the same story with water quality – both are happy with tap water, depending on the quality, but Monstera are less fussy.
I would NOT give adansonii distilled water (unless you plan on doing a lot of research into the perfect fertiliser) because they’re much more particular about nutrition than deliciosa.
(If you’re using fertiliser designed for hydroponics, then use distilled water if you want, but it isn’t necessary).
Don’t get me wrong, neither are exactly fussy when it comes to watering, but deliciosa is the less fussy of the two.
Monstera deliciosa are TECHNICALLY heavier feeders than Monstera adansonii, but they won’t tell you. It takes a LONG time for nutritional deficiencies to show up the leaves. I get why people appreciate this, but I’d rather they said something.
It's that thing where not fertilising doesn't really bother them, but fertilising them really boosts their growth.
On the other hand, miss one feeding and adansonii will start spitting out what I’ve affectionately termed ‘hungry leaves’:
Entirely depends on your care style. If you’re a severe overwaterer, they’ll both do fine in terracotta. If you’re an underwaterer, keep them in their plastic nursery pots, or use ceramic.
All plants need pots with drainage holes, and Monstera are no different – thoroughly drenching them when watering will yield best results, but only if the excess water can drain away.
All Monstera like to be snug in their pots, so make sure it’s only slightly bigger than the root ball.
Monstera adansonii are at high risk from root rot if you put them in too big of a pot, and this can also happen with Monstera deliciosa if you overwater.
You'll find that even if you water your deliciosa perfectly in a too big of a pot, it'll put all its energy into root growth so it cn fill the pot, and you won't get new leaves. The upside to this is that when it's filled the pot, the leaves should grow pretty fast.
For deliciosa, I like to tailor it to my care style, so I go for a mix that’s higher in coir and perlite – just in case I forget to water.
You can do the same thing for adansonii, but I would definitely recommend putting in less coir and replacing it with a higher amount of worm castings so you don’t risk having hungry-looking leaves.
Very similar – both can be propagated from stems cuttings and root pretty easily. I have an article on propagating Monstera here which is relevant to both plants EXCEPT Monstera deliciosa are super easy to root in soil.
You absolutely can root adansonii in soil, but you’ll need to keep a closer eye on the soil, in case it dries out.
I find that Monstera deliciosa attract pests quicker (thrips just seem to be part and parcel of the plant) and they are IMPOSSIBLE to shift. On the plus side, they can tolerant the damage much better.
I’ve found that adansonii are more susceptible to other pests like mealybugs and spider mites than deliciosa, but can shake them off easier IF you catch them early. I found a thrips on my adansonii, sprayed it down and they were gone.
However if an infestation takes hold, adansonii shows damage quickly (curled, deformed leaves, black/brown spots) and the plant can die.
Again, both like to be warm (preferably 65-85oF/18-29oC), but deliciosa can tolerate colder temepratures. Frost will kill them both, pretty quickly.
If humidity is kept high, adansonii can tolerate higher temperatures than deliciosa, I assume due to the thinner leaves.
Both produce flowers and fruit, and are self-pollinating, so you don’t need to worry about having two plants and bringing in a paintbrush (or an obliging bee) or anything.
Especially since it’s very unlikely that either will flower/fruit indoors. This is true the world over, but especially true here in the UK – we just don’t have the light/warmth/humidity to convince them to procreate.
Monstera deliciosa is named after its delicious fruit, which is a delicacy in Mexico and parts of Central/South America.
Monstera adansonii also produces fruit, and I found a reddit post where one fruited BUT the general consensus is that we shouldn’t eat them. Monstera deliciosa fruit contain high amounts of oxalic acid if not perfectly ripe, which is the active ingredient in Barkeeper’s Friend – the same is likely true of adansonii fruit, so let’s not eat them, ok?
Whilst there are a few pretty clear differences between Monsteras adansonii and deliciosa, there are also many similarities.
In most cases ‘best practice’ for caring for both plants is very similar, but Monstera deliciosa is better equipped to cope if there are deviations away from the proper care.