The genus Monstera Adans. comprises many different species and several varieties that belong to the arum family (Araceae), also known as aroids. Native to the region stretching from Mexico to Guatemala, these plants are found globally in tropical and subtropical regions. Once established, they become epiphytic, climbing up sturdy trees for support as they seemingly clamber towards the sky.
Monstera deliciosa is one of the best-known plants in the world. It is sold alongside other types of Monstera, including M. Borsigiana, which some outlets label a species. The differences described include the leaf size, thickness of the stem, and sometimes even foliage color. In reality, M. borsigiana is a synonym for M. Deliciosa.
What is Monstera Deliciosa?
Monstera deliciosa was originally found in Mexico in 1832 by Wilhelm Friedrich von Karwinsky, who sent a specimen to Munich in Germany. Kew Gardens calls it Monstera deliciosa Liebm. It is named after Frederik Michael Liebmann, a Danish botanist who found more specimens in Mexico eight years later and sent them to the botanic gardens in Copenhagen and Berlin.
Today, Monstera deliciosa is the most popular and widely grown Monstera plant in the world. It also has many names including Swiss Cheese Plant (because of the holes in its leaves), Mexican Breadfruit, Split-leaf Philodendron, and Delicious Monster.
The plant starts life in the ground, but as soon as it makes contact with a sturdy tree or some other support, it starts climbing. It produces long aerial roots that get nutrients from the air, rainwater, and, at the base of the plant, from the soil.
In case of confusion, we need to mention that Monstera deliciosa isn’t a philodendron, even though it is often labeled one. This can be very confusing for amateur gardeners with no real interest in scientific labels.
A simple explanation is that Philodendron also belongs to the Araceae family. And, in the 19th century, when plant collectors were intent on collecting new species in distant lands, they named plants as they saw fit!
What is Borsigiana?
Monstera borsigiana and Monstera deliciosa var. Borsigiana is two of six accepted synonyms for the true deliciosa. Others are M. deliciosa var. Sierrana, M. lennea, M. tacanaensis, and Philodendron anatomicum.
A German botanist, Karl Heinrich Emil Kock came up with a broad classification of Monstera in 1856. Six years later he described M. Borsigiana using a plant collected in Mexico and cultivated in the park of a German villa.
So it wasn’t comparing apples with apples – or rather Monstera with Monstera. One was in the wild and the other was cultivated, and in varied environments, differences can be great.
But M. borsigiana grows in the same environments and same manner as the true deliciosa.
Then another German botanist, Heinrich Gustav Adolf Engler Monstera borsigiana had been confused with M. deliciosa and named their difference, which we’ll list in the next section. Just a few years later, he and a colleague downgraded M. deliciosa to a variety, M. deliciosa var. borsigiana (one of the synonyms).
If you’re confused, don’t worry. Michael Madison, who revised the taxonomy of Monstera in 1977, talks about the “chaotic application names” for plants in the 19th century. Even though taxonomists follow his direction, many horticulturists don’t bother.
What’s important is that when you buy a Monstera plant, you know what you’re getting, whatever the supplier chooses to call it. If you can’t see the plant at a shop, make sure you see a picture of the plant you plan to buy.
How do you tell the difference between monstera deliciosa and borsigiana?
A clear difference between deliciosa and borsigiana is their names. There are, though, also typical physical differences that plant sellers highlight when they market the two Monsteras.
Another is price. There is a theory that borsigiana is cheaper.
If you do some research, you’ll find that the expensive plants are those that are variegated. The more interesting the variegations, the more you’re going to have to pay.
The University of Connecticut has some great pix of Monstera deliciosa that show what true deliciosa looks like in a natural environment. You can see beautiful, huge, green leaves on a plant stretching to the sky in a domestic location.
Also, you’ll find both deliciosa and borsigiana varieties that have the most amazing variations.
But, let’s look at the descriptions of Monstera deliciosa and borsigiana Madison and Engler to see what they offer.
In his new 1977 classification, Madison describes M. deliciosa as having relatively short petiole sheaths. This is the structure at the base of the leaf that protects the stem.
Leaves are normally more than half the length of the petiole, although, in large leaves, the sheath is about one-sixth of the total petiole length.
The younger, smaller leaves grow flat and the petioles, which is where the stem meets the leaf, are longer than the leaf blades.
Axillary buds aren’t pronounced and look more like swellings on the stem of the plant.
The leaf blades have astrosclereids that are drawn out to form star-like bodies. The roots feature trichosclereids, which are hard, needlelike branched cells formed to protect the plant from herbivores looking for food underground.
The plant produces berries that are twice the width and seeds that are twice as heavy as those of other species. And it can flower wherever it grows, on the ground, on rocks, or when it clings to trees.
Koch’s much earlier description of the borsigiana Monstera plant highlights what he recognized as differences. Remember that the plant he was referring to was a cultivated specimen.
He describes narrower, high-climbing stems with smooth petioles. These have smaller leaf blades with much fewer perforations. The flowers are also smaller.
A few years later, a British botanist, William Botting Hemsley, said he couldn’t tell the difference between deliciosa and borsigiana.
This is in keeping with the theory that the smaller leaves and quicker growth rate of borsigiana relate to plants grown indoors, rather than in the wild.
Typical Differences Highlighted by Plant Sellers
The most common differences between deliciosa and borsigiana that plant sellers highlight relate to the thickness of the stem, leaf size, and the type and number of splits and holes in the leaves.
They also mention ruffles on the edge of the leaf stalk (petiole), which they say only deliciosa has. This is where the leaf starts at the top of the stem, and it’s called the geniculum.
These differences are primarily due to the age of the plant but are also sometimes a result of growing conditions. For instance, an older Monstera will be more likely to have distinctive ruffles.
Monstera Deliciosa and Borsigiana Care
Monstera deliciosa and bosigniana are known to grow up to 70 feet tall in their natural environment. But if you grow them in your garden, they won’t get much taller than 6-8 feet.
They also make great pot plants, and their growth will be determined by the container you grow your Monstera plants in.
Whether you are growing them in the garden or in pots, there are some basic guidelines you should follow to ensure you produce healthy plants.
If you are growing your Monstera plants in the garden you need light, sandy, or medium loam-type soil that has a neutral or acid pH. Generally, it will do well in most moderately moist soil conditions as long as it is well-drained.
If you decide to grow it in a container, use good quality potting soil and put stones or pebbles on the base of the pot to aid drainage.
Temperature & Light
Monstera plants prefer bright, indirect sunlight that won’t burn the foliage. Maintain the temperature at between 65 and 75℉.
Monstera needs to be watered regularly unless it’s getting water from the sky. Water every couple of weeks during the growing season.
If you’re watering manually, make sure the water doesn’t build up in containers. The best approach is to allow the soil to dry out a little between waterings.
In its natural environment, Monstera doesn’t need any additional fertilizer at all. But, if you’re growing these plants in your garden, it makes sense to feed the plants with a balanced liquid fertilizer every few weeks.
You can trim the stems and leaves of Monstera plants. You can also trim the aerial roots if you need to.
But, if possible, rather tuck the roots back into the pot.
Monstera plants are so popular, many people like the idea of linking to amazon.com. You may, of course, buy your plants from Amazon. But you can also sign up for an affiliate advertising program designed to promote Montsera plants.
If you’ve never done this before you’ll need to do a bit of research in terms of their services lic, and other ways to earn advertising fees or rewards. Look out for a program an affiliate advertising site offers and weigh up your opportunities.
There’s no doubt that if you like a product, advertising and linking to the product so you can earn money is a brilliant option.
If you can show that you know the differences and/or similarities between different Monstera plants, you’ll already have a head start to get advertising fees by advertising. Good luck.