Do you want to give your home a lush tropical vibe? Then you probably want the iconic wide split-leaf plant that we constantly see on Instagram and themed digital art online. After all, other than the palm leaf and the pineapple, this wide leaf is iconic and just as beautiful (if not more so).
There are two plants that particularly produce such leaves. There are the Rhaphidophora tetrasperma and the Monstera deliciosa. Though they look alike, there are various factors that differentiate both of them一This article is about Rhaphidophora Tetrasperma vs Monstera Deliciosa, we would highlight the differences between the two plants.
Aside from that, we are also going to answer the most frequently asked questions at the end of the article to provide further classification.
Allow us to start by providing a quick profile on both plants, beginning with the Rhaphidophora tetrasperma. This evergreen vining plant is endemic to certain parts of Asia such as Malaysia and Southern Thailand. In the U.S., you may even find them naturally growing in Hawaii.
This plant is referred to in various names, depending on where you are located. One of the most popular term for it, though, is the “love tree” because of its heart-shaped leaves. Another popular name is “Mini Monstera” because of the similarities it shares with its plant cousin, the Monstera.
Speaking of the Monstera deliciosa, this plant comes from the tropical forests of Central America. It is an epiphyte. This means that it thieves by growing on other plants and relies on getting the nutrients it needs from the air rather than from the soil.
Other names for the Monstera include the Fruit Salad plant and Swiss Cheese plant. If you’re wondering whether the plants you see on social media are a Monstera or a Rhaphidophora, then they’re most probably Monstera plants.
Rhaphidophora Tetrasperma vs Monstera Deliciosa
As mentioned, there are various factors that both tie and differentiate them from each other. We’ll discuss what these are below:
Both of these plants belong to the Araceae family. It is a big family of plants that includes 114 genera and almost 4000 species of flowering plants.
This is the reason why their leaves look very similar to each other. It is important to understand, however, that the Araceae family can further be divided into subfamilies and genera.
The Love Tree is a member of the Araceae Juss, Rhaphidophora genus while the Swiss Cheese plant is a member of the Araceae Arums, Monstera Adans genus.
This makes them cousins rather than siblings. Unfortunately, this also means that they can be quite challenging to distinguish from each other, especially to the untrained eye.
The easiest way to tell them apart, is of course, to look at their leaves. Indeed, both of them have split, heart-shaped leaves, but they do have differences. The most apparent is its size. The Monstera deliciosa has leaves that can reach up to two feet long. Meanwhile, the Rhaphidophora tetrasperma can only grow leaves up to a foot long.
The color of their leaves is different as well. Monstera leaves are darker and glossier, meanwhile, Rhaphidophora leaves come in a lighter shade of green with a more matte texture.
Those who are more discerning will also notice Monstera leaves with round holes in their middle part. Rhaphidophoras don’t have those.
We understand that these characteristics may not be apparent for younger plants. Fortunately, their leaflets look quite different. Rhaphidophoras will already have splits and holes even whilst young. On the other hand, Monstera leaflets won’t show these nuances yet.
Another simple way to recognize them from each other, especially for more mature plants, is their size. There’s a reason why Rhaphidophoras are called Mini Monsteras. That’s because Rhaphidophoras are generally smaller. In their ideal environment, their average height only reaches up to five feet tall, while Monsteras can literally grow monstrously tall. Their average height is around eight feet tall, but in the wild, they can even reach up to 20 meters (or an impressive 65 feet!).
Flowers and Fruits
As we have mentioned above, both of these plants can flower. However, Monsteras take their time. In fact, most indoor Monsteras don’t even flower at all. But when they do, they can also produce edible fruits.
Meanwhile, Rhaphidophoras can also flower, but regardless of how long you wait, they won’t produce any fruits.
If there’s one factor that might convince you to go for another, that would be care. Honestly, they don’t really have a lot of differences when it comes to care requirements. Since both of them come from tropical environments, they will both love bright, yet indirect light and moisture.
While they will require thorough watering sessions, just remember that overwatering either of them can result to root rot. Hence, you need to make sure that they are planted in moisture-retaining yet well-draining soil and containers.
As for their temperature requirements, the ideal range would be between 55 to 85°F. However, you’ll be surprised by how fast they can adapt to varying in-home temperatures.
Finally, take note that Monsteras grow slower than Rhaphidophoras and as such will require just a little bit more care along the way. Because of this, your Rhaphidophora will also need to be repotted more frequently, while your Monstera probably won’t even need to be repotted at all. Even so, both of them are still low maintenance compared to other plants.
Another factor that can make or break one’s decision is cost. Monsteras are significantly more expensive compared to Rhaphidophoras but the actual price will still vary according to your location, your preferred plant size, and available variegations.
Hand in hand with plant cost is propagation or the ease of reproducing these plants on your own. Both the Mini Monstera and actual Monstera can be propagated through stem cuttings. Just choose a healthy stem with a few leaf nodes on them, let the cut wounds dry a bit, and place them on either water or moistened soil.
Both plants will probably take a few weeks to grow a new root system, but since they root easily, you probably won’t need to use a rooting hormone anymore. At the very least, we never needed one in our own experience.
Spider mites are usually drawn to both plants. They are pests that feed on a leaf’s nutrients, but since they’re so small, it can take a while for anyone to notice an infestation happening. The first signs are tiny spots forming on the leaves of your plants. It will take a while for them to kill an entire plant, but leaving it unresolved can ruin your tropical beauties, starting with the browning, curling, and death of their leaves.
Before you reach for your chemical pesticide, you should know that spider mites can develop resistance from them. To make matters worse, you can even kill the beneficial insects that prey on them.
Instead, we recommend pruning the infected leaves as soon as possible. Dispose of them immediately to prevent cross-contamination. Then give your plant a good bath using quality insecticidal soap.
Finally, these plants also vary in toxicity. Rhaphidophoras contain toxic compounds that can prove harmful to both humans and pets. Hence, we recommend placing them in a spot where they can’t be easily accessed by small children and pets.
Meanwhile, the fruit of your Monstera is, as mentioned above, edible. However, unripe fruits and other parts of the plant can still pose health risks when ingested, especially in large amounts.
Rhaphidophora Tetrasperma vs Monstera Deliciosa FAQs
Now that you have a general idea of how to tell these plants from each other, allow us to answer the following questions that can potentially help you out further:
Is Philodendron Monstera the same as Monstera deliciosa?
Another plant that can be confused with the Monstera deliciosa is the Split-Leaf Philodendron (or the Philodendron bipinnatifidum). This alone, already tells you that they are two different plants that belong to different families and genera.
The problem is, Monstera plants are sometimes referred to as Philodendron monstera or even Split-Leaf philodendrons. This is where the confusion starts.
We recommend getting your plants from a source you trust, first to avoid confusion, and second, to make sure that you’re really getting the plant you want.
How can you tell the difference between Tetrasperma and Monstera?
There are various factors that set these plants apart. Check out the quick comparison guide we’ve shared above for more information.
Is Rhaphidophora Tetrasperma a Monstera?
No, it’s not. They are both from the Araceae family, but they belong to different subfamilies and genera. This is the reason why they look almost similar to each other, but not quite.
Telling the Rhaphidophora Tetrasperma and Monstera Deliciosa Apart
There are times when plants (especially those belonging to the same family) can look strikingly similar that they almost look indistinguishable from each other. Such is the case between the Rhaphidophora tetrasperma and Monstera deliciosa.
Fortunately, there are visible cues that can help you tell them apart. With enough knowledge and practice, we are confident that you’ll be able to recognize which is which soon enough. We hope that this quick comparison guide helps you in doing so. Happy planting!