The fenestrations that are a trademark of the Swiss cheese plant are not dissimilar from those of the Rhaphidophora Tetrasperma. Being certain of which houseplant is in your care is critical, and that’s exactly what I’ll explain ahead.
What are the differences between the Monstera Deliciosa and the Rhaphidophora Tetrasperma? Here are the differences between the Monstera Deliciosa and the Rhaphidophora Tetrasperma:
- Monstera is bigger
- Rhaphidophora has smaller leaves
- Monstera grows slower
- Rhaphidophora needs less frequent fertilizing
- Monstera requires less water
- Rhaphidophora is lower-cost
- Monstera might grow flowers
In this guide, I’ll expound more on each of the differences between the Rhaphidophora Tetrasperma and the Swiss cheese plant or Monstera Deliciosa. By the time you’re done reading, you’ll clearly know how to differentiate these two houseplants!
7 Key Differences Between the Monstera Deliciosa and the Rhaphidophora Tetrasperma
With an estimated 391,000 different vascular plant species currently identified (not all of which are houseplants, of course), being confused over the Monstera Deliciosa and Rhaphidophora Tetrasperma is perfectly natural.
To the untrained eye, these two plant species are like twins, but there are some distinguishing features that set them apart. Per the intro, let’s discuss those features now.
Monstera Deliciosa Is Bigger
The first way to be sure which of these two houseplant species you own is to dust off your flexible measuring tape.
The Monstera Deliciosa is a stately, impressively-sized plant with widths of around eight feet and heights of 10 to 15 feet. Yes, that’s when growing the plant indoors.
Now, I must mention that these numbers pertain to mature Swiss cheese plants only. I’ll talk later about the growth rate of the Monstera Deliciosa, but it will take several years for this plant to be considered mature.
The Rhaphidophora Tetrasperma grows vines that can extend four or five feet. Its height is capped at 12 feet. There’s a reason this houseplant species is called the Mini Monstera!
Again, this size estimate is for mature Rhaphidophora Tetrasperma plants only.
Rhaphidophora Tetrasperma Has Smaller Leaves
What if your plant is still very young? You can’t tell yet how large it will get, so you can’t use the above numbers as a guideline.
That’s okay. I’ve only scratched the surface in how you can tell the Rhaphidophora Tetrasperma apart from the Monstera Deliciosa.
The next method is to examine the leaves. You’re not necessarily looking for differences in fenestrations or leaf holes.
Instead, just look at the size of the leaves.
If yours is a Rhaphidophora Tetrasperma, then its leaves will be quite a deal smaller. You don’t even need a real Monstera in the room to compare the leaf size.
Just look at a picture of a Monstera on this blog and you’ll see that the Rhaphidophora Tetrasperma has much, much smaller leaves.
I should note though that a very young Monstera Deliciosa that’s still growing into its leaves might make this method a bit more difficult. For more mature plants though, this is a quick and easy way to confirm which houseplant species you own.
Monstera Deliciosa Grows Slower
The third difference between these two fenestrated houseplants is their rate of growth.
The Rhaphidophora Tetrasperma is quite a fast grower. Every season (note, not year), your Mini Monstera could expand by six to 12 feet. Its vines do best when they can latch onto something, be that a trellis or chicken wire.
The Monstera Deliciosa grows much more slowly by comparison. Each year, it adds one to two feet to its large size. That’s why I said earlier that it takes several years for the Monstera to reach maturity.
If you don’t stake your houseplant, then the Monstera will grow width-wise rather than height-wise.
Rhaphidophora Tetrasperma Needs Less Frequent Fertilizing
The most important reason to confirm whether your houseplant is a Monstera Deliciosa or a Rhaphidophora Tetrasperma is that these two houseplants don’t have identical care requirements.
Do they need similar care? Yes. Yet there exist enough differences that you must take heed.
One of the biggest care differences is fertilizing. Both houseplants need fertilizer, of course, but at very different rates.
Feed the Rhaphidophora Tetrasperma a slow-release fertilizer. This product should last for three to four months, so there’s no need to top off fertilizer any sooner than that.
Like many houseplants, the Rhaphidophora Tetrasperma plant’s active growing season begins in the spring, so you might only have to fertilize it once or twice per season. That’s quite convenient!
Some indoor gardeners use liquid fertilizer on their Rhaphidophora Tetrasperma plants. In that case, then you would have to apply the fertilizer monthly. Liquid fertilizer does not feed the plant nutrients gradually like a slow-release fertilizer does.
However, I’d say to start with a slow-release fertilizer rather than a liquid one as you get used to growing the Rhaphidophora Tetrasperma.
The reason? This plant is especially susceptible to fertilizer burn, which occurs when you overdo it on the fertilizer.
The symptoms of fertilizer burn aren’t always immediate and can sometimes take 48 hours or weeks to appear. Your Rhaphidophora Tetrasperma plant’s leaves will wither, and they could become discolored too, turning brown or yellow.
What about the Monstera Deliciosa’s fertilizer requirements? This plant is fine being fed liquid fertilizer about monthly.
Don’t choose just any fertilizer though. The product should have a 3-1-2 ratio of nitrogen to phosphorus to potassium.
Monstera Deliciosa Requires Less Water
Another area of care that you don’t want to confuse is how much water these two fenestrated houseplants need.
The Monstera Deliciosa, despite being the larger plant, does not require as much water compared to the Rhaphidophora Tetrasperma.
Maintain some soil moisture for the Swiss cheese plant, but then let most of that moisture absorb from the soil before watering again. If the first two or four inches of the plant’s soil are dry, then it’s time to water.
How will you know how dry the soil is? Through the fingertip test, of course.
The Rhaphidophora Tetrasperma, on the other hand, prefers more moisture in its pot. When that moisture starts to dry out, you can water it again.
Monstera is sensitive to standing water, so taking your Rhaphidophora Tetrasperma watering habits and applying them to the Swiss cheese plant could cause your houseplant to develop root rot.
Likewise, watering the Rhaphidophora Tetrasperma like you do the Monstera will leave it starving for more hydration. The plant’s appealing fenestrated leaves will wilt or turn yellow.
Rhaphidophora Tetrasperma Costs Less to Own
As a caveat, I want to note that the price of any houseplant varies depending on where you buy the plant from.
That said, I have noticed that the Monstera Deliciosa is often quite a bit more expensive than the Rhaphidophora Tetrasperma.
This is true of a lot of plants compared to the Swiss cheese plant though. A Monstera can cost upwards of $5,000, but that’s not common.
It does make sense that you’d pay more for a Monstera than a Rhaphidophora Tetrasperma. There’s more plant to the Monstera Deliciosa than the Mini Monstera. Usually, when you buy a bigger versus smaller version of a product, the larger one is costlier.
The Monstera Deliciosa also has the name recognition to jack up its price.
In some cases, rarer plants like the Rhaphidophora Tetrasperma could go for more money, but since this plant species don’t look all that different from the full-sized Monstera, the OG reigns supreme.
Monstera Deliciosa Might Flower, Rhaphidophora Tetrasperma Does Not
If your houseplant is growing flowers, then you can be sure it’s happy. You’re getting all facets of its care right, including those I didn’t talk about such as lighting and temperature.
The Swiss cheese plant is much more known for its fenestrations than it flowers, but it can have both!
You won’t see this unless the Monstera lives in conditions close to those found in its native home, which is southern Mexico’s tropical forests. The flowers the Monstera grows are large and white, resembling a peace lily flower.
If your Monstera ever blooms, be sure to take lots of photos. You can then brag to all your gardening buddies!
It doesn’t matter how well you care for the Rhaphidophora Tetrasperma. This houseplant will never sprout flowers.
That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t prioritize its care, but you won’t be rewarded with pretty, white blooms. A healthy houseplant is enough though, right?
Monstera Deliciosa vs. Rhaphidophora Tetrasperma – Which Houseplant Is Right for You?
Now that you understand that the Rhaphidophora Tetrasperma and Monstera Deliciosa are not exactly two sides of the same coin, it’s time to decide which one you should bring home.
Here are some considerations to mull over as you make your decision.
How Much Space You Have Available
Although neither of these plants are windowsill-friendly, if all you have is a tiny corner of your cubicle or apartment living room for a houseplant, then I’d suggest the Rhaphidophora Tetrasperma over the Monstera Deliciosa.
You can enjoy the same tropical feel of the Swiss cheese plant but in a much smaller size when you choose the Rhaphidophora Tetrasperma.
How Much Time You Can Dedicate to Plant Care
Everyone is busy these days, but varying degrees of busy. The Rhaphidophora Tetrasperma requires a little more hands-off care, so it might suit your lifestyle.
If you use slow-release fertilizer, then you won’t have to feed the Mini Monstera fertilizer again for months. The plant also likes a bit of extra water.
How Patient You Are
When you bring a houseplant home, if you’re expecting to see results instantly, or near instantly, then the Monstera Deliciosa is probably not the right pick for you. This plant grows so slowly that it will take years before it blossoms to its full size.
The Rhaphidophora Tetrasperma is more your speed – quite literally!