The splits or holes on the Monstera plant are called fenestrations and they’re the signature feature of these plants. When the plants are still young, their heart-shaped leaves are intact.
Fenestrations appear only later, when the plant and its leaves start to mature. It’s difficult to narrow down the exact time when the leaves on your monstera will split. But one thing is certain — it won’t happen before 2 or 3 years of age.
Therefore, you must be patient and while you wait for leaves to split, do what you can to take good care of your monstera plant.
Below, I’ve covered the reasons why fenestrations appear on monstera leaves and why the leaves on some monstera plants will simply refuse to split.
Why do Monstera Leaves Split?
There are a couple of interesting theories that explain the splits on monstera plant leaves. The reasons have to do with how the plant evolved to survive in its natural habitat.
Fenestrations on monstera plants actually help the plant to grow bigger and stronger as they climb onto the trunks of trees.
Here’s why monstera leaves split and why that benefits them in the rainforests where they grow:
The climbing pattern of monstera plants and the aerial roots they shoot out are needed so that the plant can reach as much light as possible from under the canopy of trees.
The plant’s leaves have evolved to split so as to allow light to reach all the leaves of the plant, even those situated lower.
Therefore, in an attempt to get as much light as possible to all parts of the plant, the monstera leaves split and fenestrations appear.
Admittedly there isn’t much wind in the rainforest, under the tree canopy where monstera plants have their natural habitat.
Still, botanists believe that split leaves can make this plant adaptable to windy conditions. It’s also one of the reasons why it’s considered an invasive species in some areas where it’s grown.
Because of the split leaves, the plant isn’t knocked over by winds, being able to adapt to harsher conditions, if need be.
Exposed to heavy rains, the monstera has evolved to keep rain off its leaves as much as possible and divert it to its nodes and roots.
Constantly wet leaves mean all kinds of trouble for foliage plants — rotting, fungal and bacterial leaf diseases.
These diseases can be easily prevented if water is not allowed to sit on the leaves. Hence the fenestrations.
Therefore, split monstera leaves are just a response to the frequent rain the plant is exposed to in the rainforest and how the plant adapted to prevent diseases that would affect its resilience.
Why is My Monstera’s Leaf Not Splitting?
If you’re waiting for your monstera plant to start having fenestrations of its leaves, but they’re simply not coming through, there are a couple of reasons why that may happen:
– The plant is simply too young
Because split leaves usually only appear when the plant is mature enough, that is, only after 2 or 3 years, you should not expect a young plant to already have fenestrations.
The huge monstera plants you see on social media sites are very likely much older plants that had plenty of time to develop and grow.
Therefore, if you’re otherwise taking good care of your monstera, simply be patient and the fenestrations will appear.
– Your monstera is not getting enough light
Low light conditions will not promote the healthy growth of your monstera. Too little light can cause the leaves to grow smaller, making the plant unable to produce fenestrations.
While monstera plants can adapt to low light conditions, lack of enough light will cause growth disturbances including leggy growth.
Give your monstera plant bright, indirect light. Move it near a sunny window, where it can get plenty of light, or better yet, move it outdoors. Don’t expose it to strong, direct light as that too can damage its leaves.
– Nutritional or care deficiencies
Monsteras don’t require frequent feeding, but a weak fertilizing given monthly during the growing season can help the plant to produce larger and healthier leaves.
Lack of adequate watering and lack of humidity can also adversely affect how the plant develops and how big its leaves get.
Encourage Splitting of Monstera Leaves
If you’re eager for your monstera to grow, you can create optimum conditions for it to mature faster.
While you can’t significantly speed up the aging and maturing of monstera plants before they can naturally produce fenestrations, there are ways you can stimulate better growth and splitting of leaves:
- Offer optimum light levels to prevent growth delays
- Water regularly without overwatering
- Make sure your monstera is planted in a fast-draining potting medium
- Check humidity levels and increase humidity when the air is too dry
- Feed once a month with a highly diluted general purpose fertilizer
- Prune smaller, bottom leaves to promote the growth of upper leaves
- Stake your monstera so as to encourage its climbing pattern and offer it support
- Move to a place with enough space for it to grow big and develop
Don’t expect your monstera to produce fenestrations in the early stages of their lives. While the plant is young, it simply doesn’t have the resources to grow big, sizable leaves.
As it matures and gains some height and spread, it will produce larger leaves that will start to split. Follow these tips to offer your monstera plants all it needs to grow and mature.
Stimulating fenestrations of monstera leaves takes patience and care. Once the plant is mature enough and it has been receiving adequate light, water, and humidity, fenestrations will appear naturally.
While the monstera plant you grow indoors is no longer exposed to the elements that caused its split leaves, fenestrations are still the signature mark of a beautiful and healthy monstera plant.
With enough space and energy to grow large leaves, your monstera will have picture-perfect splits. But for that to happen, light, watering, humidity and occasional feeding are essential.