Few plants can match Monstera’s popularity in homes and social media like Pinterest and Instagram.
The plant’s perforated and split leaves are mainly to thank for this unparalleled reputation. But Monstera leaves won’t always be perforated.
If you have one or more of these tropical plants at home or in your office, you must have noticed the leaves lacking these holes better referred to as fenestrations in some stages. So, when do Monstera leaves split?
This article looks at Monstera fenestrations, including the various types available. More specifically, you will learn the following:
- The various stages of Monstera Fenestrations
- Why, how, and when Monstera leaves split
- How to encourage your Monstera leaves to split
- How to tell when your Monstera is happy
Let’s dive right in.
When Do Monstera Leaves Split?
Monstera leaves split after 2-3 years. In case your Monstera isn’t showing any signs of splitting, don’t worry; it just hasn’t reached the right age yet. Provide your monstera with plenty of indirect sunlight, the right amount of water, and medium fertilizer to help it reach maturity-it will split and develop holes.
Knowing when your Monstera is likely to develop fenestrations on its leaves can help you avoid thinking there’s something you are not doing right.
If your Monstera leaves have no fenestrations, the first thing to do is consider if the plant is more than three years old or less. If it is yet to reach three years of age, you should be a little more patient.
However, if it is older than three years old and its leaves are yet to split, you will need to use the tips and tricks discussed later in this write-up to encourage the leaves to split.
What are Splits on Monstera Leaves?
Splits on Monstera leaves are precisely what the term suggests: separations. As Monstera leaves grow, they split on both sides, ending up with several leafy fingers on the opposite ends of the midrib.
This process of the Monstera leaf blade dividing into a split leaf structure over time is referred to as splitting. The gaps between the many leaflets forming on either side of the leaf’s midrib are the splits.
A young Monstera plant leaf will typically not have these splits. However, they develop over time, hence the question: when do Monstera leaves split?
In addition to these splits, Monstera leaves also develop several holes as they age. These holes and the splits on the Monstera leaves are called fenestrations. They constitute the overall makeup of a Monstera leaf that gives it its distinctive beauty.
Types of Monstera fenestrations
A Monstera can have double or triple fenestrations on its leaves. A double fenestration Monstera has leaves with two large holes.
On the other hand, your Monstera has triple fenestration when its leaves have three large holes or windows.
Both of these Monstera varieties are beautiful and cherished for their distinctive leaf shapes and patterns.
Why do Monstera Leaves Split?
Various theories exist that explain the possible reasons why Monstera leaves develop fenestrations. While the phenomenon remains a mystery, the following reasons can help make some sense of it.
1. To allow light to reach the lower leaves
Monstera plants require bright indirect sunlight to thrive. Since the plant’s leaves can get pretty large, the ones on top can block the sunlight, preventing them from reaching the bottom leaves.
Therefore, these tropical plants typically develop fenestrations to permit sunlight to travel through the leaves and reach the lower leaves. This can help distribute the light better as the leaves get densely packed while their numbers increase.
So Monstera’s split leaves evolved to allow the sun through as a form of adaptation.
Notice that plant leaves require sunlight to make their chlorophyll, which they use to manufacture their food. So the fenestrations play a key role in promoting the survival of the plant.
2. To create necessary drainage
Fenestrations create spaces where rainwater and precipitation can pass to reach the ground instead of pooling on the leaves.
Notice that Monstera deliciosa can grow massive leaves that, without holes and gaps, can act as large plates that collect water.
Unfortunately, water pooling on the plant leaves is undesirable since plants don’t like having their leaves wet for long periods.
Prolonged wetness of the plant leaves can breed bacterial and fungal infections, eventually damaging the plant leaves.
Allowing the rain through easily also means it can reach the soil so the roots can absorb it for the nourishment of the plant.
3. To make the plant more resilient to the wind
Split leaves with holes allow moving air to pass through more easily. The reduced surface area means less resistance when the wind is blowing. This can help prevent the wind from tearing and damaging the leaves or breaking the Monstera’s stem.
The large Swiss cheese plant leaves have large surface areas. In their natural habitat, where wind can be strong, the plant leaves will have a bigger contact point, which can disadvantage it against powerful moving air.
Splitting reduces this contact point, allowing strong wings to blow through the leaves without resistance.
This reduces the likelihood of the wind ripping the leaves apart.
Monstera Fenestrations Stages
The splitting and formation of holes in the leaves of Monstera plants do not happen overnight. Instead, the entire process happens gradually over time.
Here is the sequence that fenestration follows:
Stage 1: Solid heart-shaped leaves emerge
When the Monstera leaf first emerges, it is slid-shaped with no holes or splits on its blade.
Stage 2: Leaves develop slits on the edges
Fenestrations begin with minor cuts appearing along the leaves edges. Meanwhile, each leaf retains its shape throughout the process.
Stage 3: Initial midrib holes appear
After the leaf blades have split from the edges, holes develop near the midrib. These holes do not connect to the edge. Instead, they are just perforations on the blade near the leaf’s midrib.
These holes develop in matching lines along the Monstera leaves’ midribs.
Stage 4: Secondary midrib holes appear
The secondary midrib holes are a set of holes that develop on a line parallel to the leaves’ lateral veins.
Stage 5: Tertiary midrib holes appear
The last stage of fenestration involves the appearance of a final set of holes developing closest to the midrib of your Monstera’s leaf. The tropical plant usually undergoes this fenestration stage when its leaves are fully mature.
How do Monstera Leaves Split?
Monstera leaves split in terms of age, light, and overall care. These three things directly influence fenestration.
Monsteras require lots of bright, indirect sunlight to form fenestrations. The light provides the energy that promotes splitting and the formation of holes all over the plant’s leaves.
Therefore, if your plant becomes of age and the light reaching its leaves remains inadequate, you can expect to see no perforations or splitting. Bright indirect light must be present to trigger the fenestrations.
This will usually start with the leaves growing large and deep green. They will also appear leathery and healthy before fenestrations begin.
If your plant looks droopy with yellowing or browning leaves, it may not form any splits or holes in the leaves.
But you can correct this situation by bringing the plant closer to an east-facing window to give it lots of indirect sunlight. Alternatively, you could buy and use grow lights to promote the formation of these beautiful fenestrations.
Monstera plant leaves typically start splitting and developing perforations when the houseplant reaches two to three years old.
This means you must be patient with your Monstera if fenestrations are your main reason for becoming a Monstera plant owner.
The patience eventually pays off once the plant reaches the right age. Otherwise, there is nothing you can do to influence the process and make the plant leaves fenestrated before they come of age.
You may also want to know how long do monsteras live and gather finer details about their age.
3. Overall care
How well you look after your Monstera influences its fenestration. First, you must identify a place within your room or home with good access to bright indirect sunlight.
Once you have identified such a spot, put your plant there and water it frequently while monitoring its health. The plant must get the right supply of nutrients, water, and sunlight to fenestrate.
As long as you give it these requirements, it will grow into a healthy adult Monstera and reward you with beautiful perforations and leaf splits.
Why are my Monstera Leaves not Splitting?
Splitting typically occurs once a Monstera plant has reached a certain age, often two to three years. If your Monstera leaves are not splitting, the chances are that it has not reached the age where its leaves form fenestrations.
Alternatively, the plant may not be getting enough sunlight. Monstera requires bright indirect sunlight to form fenestrations.
How to Encourage Monstera Leaves to Split
Monstera leaves will naturally form perforations once they reach the right age. However, the environment must mimic the plant’s natural habitat as much as possible for the leaves to split and have holes.
If your mature Monstera plant doesn’t seem to form fenestrations, you can make the following adjustments to encourage splitting.
i. Give them adequate indirect sunlight
Your Monstera requires bright, indirect sunlight as a precondition to developing fenestrations. So if the leaves remain solid-shaped after reaching two to three years old, the plant may be getting less sunlight than it is happy with.
Consider moving such a Monstera plant closer to a window with sheer curtains to filter the light.
ii. Feed them with fertilizers
Like any plant, Monsteras require essential nutrients and macronutrients to thrive. More specifically, Monstera plants do best in magnesium-rich soils. They also require high nitrogen levels to promote green leaf development.
If the soil does not have a good balance of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium, your Monstera will be unlikely to develop holes and splits on the leaves.
But this is easy to fix. Simply apply a fertilizer with a balanced NPK ratio, such as a 20-20-20 liquid fertilizer, for optimal results.
iii. Water them properly
Plants obtain nutrients from the soil and transport them around their bodies. This process requires water to act as the medium, so ensure you provide enough for your houseplant.
However, Monstera plants do not like their roots staying in wet soil for long. Therefore, ensure the pot has enough drainage holes, and you allow the soil to dry out before adding water. This should be approximately every one to two weeks.
iii. Support them with stakes
Staking your Monstera encourages it to grow vertically and reach for light better. This will promote the development of healthier, broader leaves with more fenestrations.
How do You Know if Monstera is Happy?
A happy Monstera plant will drop some hints to let you know when your care strategy is working. Some of the main hints include the following.
- Dark green leaves
- Both vertical and horizontal growth
- Steady growth, about one to two inches per year
- Broad leaves
- Fenestrations on the leaves
Should I Cut off Leaves to Help my Monstera Grow Splits?
Yes, pruning typically helps Monstera grow healthier leaves and develop fenestrations. Just make sure you do not cut the healthier leaves at the top. Instead, target the lower, discolored leaves when pruning.
How Often Does a Monstera Grow New Leaves?
Monstera generally develops new leaves approximately after every four to six weeks when young. When the plant matures, it may produce new leaves more frequently, even though the exact frequency may vary significantly based on the conditions around the plant.
Do Monstera leaves split before or after unfurling?
Monstera leaves split before unfurling. After unfurling, the plant will no longer split or create any holes in the leaves. You should be able to see the fenestrated patterns in your Monstera’s leaves before it begins to unfurl.
How long does it take for a Monstera to fenestrate?
Monstera plants generally take two to three years to start putting out fenestrated leaves. This timeline can vary from plant to plant, so you can expect your Monstera to fenestrate sooner or later than the stipulated time.
Do Monstera leaves split as they grow?
Yes, Monstera leaves split as they grow, often after they reach about two to three years of age. This splitting, however, depends on good lighting, water, and the nutrients the plant gets from the soil.
Do all Monstera leaves split?
No. Baby Monstera plants typically don’t put out fenestrated leaves. Only mature Monstera deliciosa leaves that are approximately two to three years old usually produce fenestrations. Some mature leaves may also fail to split or develop beautiful perforations if they don’t get enough lighting.
If you love fenestrated Monstera leaves, you can buy the plant that already has perforated leaves. However, if you choose to buy a younger Monstera, be ready to wait at least two years for fenestrations to form.
So, when do Monstera leaves spit? We hope this article helped answer this question for you.
As long as your Monstera gets enough indirect light, water, and nutrients, it should split and develop perforations in two to three years.
We hope you enjoyed this tutorial. Let us know your thoughts in the comments.