When it comes to the Monstera, most plant lovers are familiar with the Monstera Deliciosa. An equally nice choice of houseplant is the Monstera Borsigiana, a Deliciosa subspecies. What traits do the Monstera Deliciosa and Monstera Borsigiana plants share and how are they different?
The Monstera Deliciosa and the Monstera Borsigiana similarities:
- Features a geniculum
- Needs bright, indirect light
- Should be watered when the first two inches of soil are dry
- Requires temps between 65 and 80 degrees
- Prefers acidic soil
- Grows flowers (but rarely)
- Toxic to pets and people (to a lesser degree)
Here’s how the Monstera Deliciosa and the Monstera Borsigiana differ:
- Leaf size
- Growth speed
- Climbing behavior
I’m sure you’re eager to learn even more about these two varieties of Monstera. In this extensive guide, you’ll first get to know the Monstera Deliciosa and the Monstera Borsigiana separately before I delve deep into how they’re alike and dissimilar.
Let’s get started!
What Is the Monstera Deliciosa?
When I say Monstera, if your mind automatically finishes that thought with Deliciosa, that’s because this is arguably the most common Monstera species. Up to 44 such other species or taxa exist depending on how you like to categorize plants.
The Monstera Deliciosa or Swiss cheese plant hails from southern Mexico near Panama. Breaking down its name, Monstera translates to “monstrous” and deliciosa refers to “delicious,” since this plant can sprout tasty fruit.
The reason it’s known as the Swiss cheese plant is due to its holey leaves that look like deli cheese.
The leaves have a heart-like shape with a texture that some indoor gardeners call glossy and others say is leathery. As the Monstera Deliciosa matures, its leaves will become holeyer since the plant doesn’t start out that way.
The average width of the fully mature Monstera Deliciosa is 8 feet and its standard height is 10 to 15 feet, although this plant can grow 30 feet tall in some instances.
No wonder it’s called monstrous, huh?
Indoors, you can expect more manageable sizes of about 9 feet tall when your Monstera Deliciosa is fully grown.
Although the Monstera Deliciosa is not known for its flowers, it can produce inflorescences that feature a spathe in a lovely creamy white hue. The spathe boasts a yellow-tinted spadix. The flowers themselves are velvety like the Deliciosa’s leaves.
What Is the Monstera Borsigiana?
The lesser-known subspecies of the two Monsteras I’m talking about today is the Monstera Borsigiana. The Borsigiana is naturally smaller than the Deliciosa, although I still wouldn’t necessarily say this is a small plant.
The average size of the Monstera Borsigiana leaves are 1.6 feet each, so you have to give the Borsigiana some room to fan out as it grows, just maybe height-wise instead of widthwise, as this plant likes to climb! I’ll talk more about that later, so keep reading.
The leaves of the Borsigiana develop perforations that are frond-like; no holes here! Its leaves have an appealing green hue if your Borsigiana is unvariegated.
The variegated Borsigiana will have white patches throughout its leaves that make this Monstera an even more appealing plant to grow indoors as part of your indoor garden.
In some instances, you might be able to see the Borsigiana’s flowers, which are rather tiny. It’s worth pointing out that the Borsigiana blooms more rarely indoors than outdoors though.
When blooming does happen, it will be during the plant’s active growing season in the spring and summertime.
Similarities Between the Monstera Deliciosa and Monstera Borsigiana
Given that they’re both Monstera plants, the Deliciosa and Borsigiana are alike in many ways. That’s why I thought I’d start my comparison by discussing the multitude of similarities between these two plants.
Both Feature a Geniculum
Some plant species have a geniculum, which is functional sort of like the way our knees are since it bends. It looks like a series of ruffles and is located right where your Monstera’s leaf starts.
Houseplants with a geniculum use it to move their leaves to seek out light if they’re not getting enough sun. The presence of the geniculum in a plant could prevent the symptoms that plants exhibit when they’re starved of light.
These symptoms can include color dullness, leggy stems, reduced leaf growth, and leaf drop.
Most gardening experts agree that the Monstera Deliciosa is blessed with a geniculum, but they’ve argued over whether the Borsigiana has the same. Considering that the Borsigiana is a sub-species of the Deliciosa, it’s easier to confirm the plant’s geniculum.
Monstera Deliciosa and Monstera Borsigiana Prefer Bright, Indirect Light
The Monstera Deliciosa and Borsigiana are not fans of direct sunlight for different reasons. The Deliciosa’s leaves may be large, but they’ve got large holes throughout, which makes them more fragile than other large-leaved plants. In direct sun, their leaves will scorch.
The Borsigiana doesn’t like direct light since its leaves are smaller. They can burn just as easily in a few hours of direct light.
Direct sun, if you need a definition, is unfiltered bright light that comes straight from the window and reaches your plant.
The best type of light for both Monsteras is bright, indirect light. To create an ideal amount of light for both, Deliciosa and Borsigiana, you can affix a sheer curtain to an easterly-facing window and that should shield the Deliciosa or the Borsigiana from the full brightness of the sun.
Sheer curtains will allow plenty of bright, indirect light in for your plants, while still giving you some privacy.
Between the two plants, the Borsigiana is more adaptable to different lighting, but it will still burn in direct sun. It also will become leggy in the shade.
For a complete list of indoor plants that will thrive in shaded areas, I suggest reading: Which Indoor Plants Like Shade?
Monstera Deliciosa and Monstera Borsigiana Have the Same Watering Requirements
If you’ve grown a Deliciosa before but this is your first Borsigiana (or vice-versa), the watering habits you use for one Monstera can carry over to the other. Both require you to water your plant when the first two inches of the soil have dried out.
How will you know when that happens? The only way to be sure is to roll up your sleeves and stick your fingers in the dirt. Use clean hands only. Slip a finger or two into the soil and feel for moisture. You don’t have to wriggle around in there too much; if the soil is wet, you’ll feel it.
If the soil is still wet or moist, you should refrain from watering. I’d wait another day or two and check the status of the soil again. If it’s dried out more, then it’s time to water your Monstera.
By the time the soil of your monstera becomes bone dry, more than likely, your Deliciosa or Borsigiana is exhibiting one or more common signs of being underwatered. When it comes to figuring out if your monstera is struggling due to lack of water, there are a few telltale signs.
These are all signs that your monstera needs water:
- curled leaves
- slow growth and drooping
To prevent stressing your monstera and causing , do your best to not let the soil get bone dry between watering.
Some indoor gardeners, especially new ones, think that large plants require equally large quantities of water. Yet pouring too much water into your plant’s pot can cause your Monstera to develop root rot. This disease kills the plant from its root system upward.
A Monstera with root rot will wilt, and it may have brown discoloration. Depending on the extent of the overwatering, fungus can develop on the soil as well. The roots of your Monstera will become mushy, smelly, and black as they die.
By catching root rot early enough, pruning the dead roots, and replanting your Monstera in drier soil, you can prevent root rot and save your plant. Maintaining good watering habits is also a must!
Monstera Deliciosa and Monstera Borsigiana Thrive the Same Temperature
Although they’re evergreen tropical plants, the Monstera Deliciosa and Borsigiana don’t need tropical temps. The standard room temperature environment of 65 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit is suitable for both of these plants.
Should the temperatures creep up to 80 degrees, the Borsigiana is still well within its comfort range. The Deliciosa can even handle temps up to 85 degrees, although that can be too hot for the Borsigiana.
Monstera plants do not like freezing temps, so take heed! In temperatures around 30 to 32 degrees, the leaves start to die. When the temps drop even further between 26 and 28 degrees, the stems will die as well.
Monstera Deliciosa and Monstera Borsigiana Both Prefer Acidic Soil
To prevent root rot, the Monstera needs well-draining soil, which is the standard of many houseplants. What’s not so standard is the required acidity of the Monstera’s soil, which is true of both the Borsigiana and the Deliciosa.
The acidity should be between 5.5 and 6.5. On the acidity scale, which starts from 1.0 and goes to 7.0, a Monstera’s soil is quite acidic!
If you have leftover potting mix in your garage, you might want to test its pH before planting your Monstera.
For the DIYers out there, you can easily make your own homemade potting mix for your own Monstera plants by adding:
- pine bark (four parts)
- perlite (one part)
- and coconut coir or peat moss (one part)
Monstera Deliciosa and Monstera Borsigiana Both Grow Flowers (But Rarely)
I had mentioned this earlier in my introductory sections on both the Deliciosa and the Borsigiana, but these Monsteras are perfectly capable of growing flowers. You’re not so likely to see this happen indoors; even outdoors, a flowering Monstera is a rare sight.
The Deliciosa can also grow fruit. As the fruit develops, it looks like unripe corn. Each fruit contains scales throughout and grows 10 inches long. The scales will fall off and that’s when you start to smell the Deliciosa fruit. The scent is like bananas and pineapples combined according to those who are lucky enough to get a whiff.
You can eat the fruit, which tastes like pineapple.
Monstera Deliciosa and Monstera Borsigiana are Both Toxic to Pets & People
That said, don’t get too comfy around your Monstera. The Borsigiana and Deliciosa are toxic to pets since the plant has insoluble calcium oxalates. These oxalates aren’t great for us people either, but they’re mildly toxic in humans compared to pets.
If your cat or dog ingests Monstera, they might vomit, swell up at the mouth, and drool a lot. Get your pet to the veterinarian immediately!
Differences Between the Monstera Deliciosa and the Borsigiana
These two Monstera subspecies have many of the same traits, but they’re not identical plants. Here are some differentiating factors between the Borsigiana and the Deliciosa.
This is something I talked about earlier, but I want to bring it up again here because it is one of the biggest differences between these two Monstera plants. The average width and length of the Deliciosa’s leaves are 5 feet and up when grown indoors. Outdoors, the leaves can get huge, such as 18 or 30 feet!
The Borsigiana’s average leaf size is 1.6 feet each. That’s not small compared to plants with leaves under an inch in size, but the Deliciosa has much larger leaves than the Borsigiana.
If you brought home a Monstera Deliciosa and a Borsigiana on the same day, they were the same age, and you provided all the care I explained above at the same rate, which plant would grow faster? It’s the Borsigiana, and by a large margin.
Maybe it’s trying to make up for its small size, but the Borsigiana will get growing at a much more accelerated rate than the Deliciosa. This does not mean the Borsigiana will ever outsize a Deliciosa though.
Monsteras are climbers, although some species or taxa are more naturally adept at climbing than others. For example, the Deliciosa tends to spread itself outward rather than upward, probably due to the hefty size of its leaves.
The Borsigiana, which is smaller, begins creeping right away. It might need a bit of training, but its propensity to climb as a vine seems to be better than that of the Deliciosa. Fortunately, you can train your Deliciosa to climb as well!
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