Leaves splitting can be part of the growing process in some plants (e.g., the Swiss Cheese plant) or come about as the result of a problem in the plant’s environment that causes slits in the plant’s leaves.
When splits appear as a natural result of the plant maturing, they’re called fenestrations. When splits aren’t the result of a plant maturing, they’re very likely the consequence of physical damage or an environmental issue.
Although the pothos plants we grow indoors usually have intact leaves, many pothos plants grown in their natural habitat will produce fenestrations once they’ve matured.
Below, I will give you an overview of all the possible causes of split leaves in pothos plants and advice on how to manage this phenomenon.
Why do Pothos Leaves Split?
There are a few reasons why splitting can be noticed on pothos leaves including:
– Natural consequence of plant maturing
The pothos plants we grow indoors don’t usually have fenestrations or slits in their leaves, that’s because it can take a long time for the plant to mature.
Some varieties can produce them naturally sooner if the leaves are large enough or mature enough.
I’ve seen two pothos varieties that have produced slits in their leaves after about 6-7 years — they are the Hawaiian pothos and the Cebu Blue Pothos.
But these were kept in excellent conditions and were trained to grow upwards on a pole, which incidentally helps the plant grow bigger leaves than if it’s just left to hang from a hanging basket.
Since fenestration is natural and it isn’t caused by something you did, you can enjoy this new look of your pothos plants without any further interference.
– Lack of humidity
Pothos enjoy elevated levels of humidity much like in their natural habitat, where they grow as understory plants.
Although they’re known to adapt to average indoor humidity levels, a dry environment can cause leaf splitting.
After a while, you’ll also notice browning of the edges of the split, which are calluses as a result of the splits becoming sealed.
What you need to do if you see this happening is to either move the plant to a more humid location (e.g. kitchen or bathroom), or simply increase humidity levels around the plant.
Using a humidity tray or a humidifier are the most efficient ways to elevate humidity levels.
– Physical damage
Another common cause of split leaves in pothos plants is physical damage, which can be caused by the plant falling off a shelf or a cat scratching the leaves, tearing the leaves with its claws.
Leaves that have split because of a lack of humidity or leaves that have been damaged because of a pet will not heal. The slits and tears will remain, and brown calluses will mark the location of the tears.
If you’re bothered by their appearance, you can remove damaged leaves. The pothos will not regrow these leaves but will grow new leaves instead.
When do Pothos Leaves Split?
It depends. Some pothos plants may take over 15 years to mature, others will mature much faster, so it’s really a waiting game to see when your pothos will produce fenestrations.
Mind you, small pothos leaves will not produce fenestrations, so first, you’ll need to make sure your pothos is well nurtured so it can grow large leaves that will naturally split.
Also, as I mentioned, you’ll have better luck achieving larger leaves, when you train the plant to grow upwards on a pole, rather than have its stems dangle downwards. This is how pothos plants grow in the wild, climbing on the trunk of trees towards the light.
How to Make Pothos Grow Bigger Leaves?
Aside from helping them to climb on a moss pole, there are other ways to increase the size of your pothos leaves:
- Pruning back the plant regularly, which stimulates thicker growth and larger leaves
- Learning how to correctly water the plant to avoid overwatering, which can cause root rot
- Providing plenty of indirect, bright light to stimulate plant growth and leaf development
- Repotting the plant when it gets too large for its container and refreshing the potting mix
- Planting in well-draining potting media to prevent root rot issues
- Protecting the plant from temperature extremes such as cold drafts or excessive heat
- Ensuring optimal humidity levels
- Fertilizing the plant once a month during the growing season
- Treating pests and diseases as soon as they emerge.
All these things will contribute to healthy foliage growth and plant development, paving the way for bigger leaves in your pothos.
How to Make Pothos Grow Faster?
A faster growing pothos won’t necessarily mean larger leaves. If the plant grows too fast, stems can be weaker and leaves smaller.
What you should aim for is to sustain the plant’s normal growth pattern of around 12 inches per month by providing it with nurturing and ideal conditions.
A few of the best things you can do to help the growth of your pothos is the following:
- Allow exposure to bright, indirect light throughout the day
- Ensure correct watering and fertilizing — both overwatering and over-feeding can stunt the growth of your pothos
- Prune back small sections of the stem to stimulate bushier and faster growth.
Why Do Pothos Stems Splitting?
Just like with leaf splitting, stem splitting can also be caused by a number of reasons:
- Lack of humidity (increase humidity)
- Overwatering (If the stems are also turning brown, it means you have been overwatering your plant.)
- Direct light exposure (avoid direct light exposure)
- Underwatering (increase watering)
- Sometimes, the stems may split at the site of new shoots or leaves forming. This is normal.
If you notice tears in the leaves of your pothos, they’re most likely caused by low humidity or physical damage to the plant.
If your pothos produce fenestrations, congratulations! You’ve managed to nurture a pothos plant into maturity and help it grow large enough leaves that split much like the leaves of a Monstera plant.
Therefore, splits can happen naturally, especially if your pothos is a mature, well-established plant with large leaves.