Why Do Monsteras Have Holes?

Why Do Monsteras Have Holes?

There’s something captivating about the Monstera plant that draws us in. It’s either the lush green foliage or the distinct pattern of holes and splits in its leaves.

But have you ever wondered why Monsteras have holes? These tropical beauties have become increasingly popular in recent years, gracing everything from Instagram feeds to trendy cafes. 

And while they may look like they were designed purely for aesthetic appeal, there’s a fascinating reason behind their unique leaf structure. 

Join me on a journey into the world of botany to answer the question, “Why do Monsteras have holes?”

Why Does Monstera Deliciosa Have Holes?

The holes serve to optimize photosynthesis, allowing for maximum absorption of sunlight. The holes enhance wind resistance in the plant, reducing the chance of damage from harsh outdoor conditions. Lastly, the holes help the plant absorb more water during heavy rainfall, making it more resilient during drought.

The Science of Monstera Leaf Holes: a Look at the Anatomy?

The science behind these holes is fascinating and involves the plant’s evolutionary history and unique adaptations.

Monstera deliciosa is native to the forest floor of South and Central America, where it evolved to grow under the dense canopies of other plants. 

The holes in its leaves are an adaptation to help the plant survive in low-light conditions by allowing more light to pass through to the lower parts of the plant.

The holes also serve as a way for the plant to conserve water. The leaves are large and broad, and the holes allow air to flow through the leaf, reducing water loss through transpiration.

Another interesting aspect of monstera leaf holes is their pattern. The holes tend to form along the natural lines of the leaf, which is thought to be a result of the way the plant grows. 

Monstera deliciosa is a heart-shaped green leaves vine that climbs trees and other plants in its natural habitat.

As it grows, it needs to maximize its exposure to bright light while minimizing its wind resistance.

Why Do Monsteras Have Holes?

Why Monstera Leaves Have Holes?

Monstera leaves, commonly known as Swiss cheese plants, are easily recognizable thanks to the holes in their leaves. But why do Monstera have these holes?

The holes in Monstera leaves are perfectly adapted for helping the plant survive. They are essential in: 

1. Optimize photosynthesis

Photosynthesis is the process by which plants convert sunlight into energy in the form of glucose.  The more sunlight a plant can absorb, the more energy it can produce. 

However, not all leaves on a plant can receive equal amounts of sunlight, especially if they are shaded by the upper leaves.

The holes allow sunlight to penetrate inside the leaves, where more chloroplasts are made. This optimizes photosynthesis and allows the Monstera to produce more energy for growth and development.

The fenestrations in Monstera leaves also help to regulate the amount of light that reaches the plant.

If a Monstera plant is exposed to too much direct sunlight, its leaves can become damaged. 

The natural leaf holes help reduce the intensity of sunlight that reaches the lower leaves, protecting the plant from damage and allowing it to thrive in various light conditions.

2. Improved wind resistance

When the wind blows, it creates a lot of force on the leaves of a plant. This causes damage or even uproots the entire plant. 

The holes in the Monstera leaves allow wind to pass through them easily, reducing the wind’s force on the plant.

The holes also help reduce the leaf’s surface area, which means there is less area for the wind to push against.

This makes the plant more aerodynamic, allowing it to sway with the wind rather than being knocked over.

Why Do Monsteras Have Holes

3. Absorb more water

The fenestrations create a larger surface area for the leaves, allowing more water to be absorbed.

When water is applied to the soil, it travels through the roots and into the plant’s stem. 

From there, the water travels through the veins in the leaves and is absorbed by the fenestrations.

The leaf fenestration allows for increased air circulation, which helps to prevent the leaves from becoming waterlogged. 

The increased air circulation created by the fenestrations helps improve the plant’s overall health.

It allows more oxygen to reach the roots, promoting root growth and preventing root rot.

Factors That Lead to Holes in Monstera Plants

There are several factors that contribute to the development of fenestrations in the heart shaped leaves of Monstera plants. These factors include plant age, light, and proper plant care. 

Understanding these factors can help you take better care of your Monstera plants and promote the growth of healthy and attractive leaves.

1. Proper plant care

Proper plant care helps to produce fenestrated leaves in Monstera plants. 

Proper watering, humidity, and fertilization are essential factors that form fenestrations. 

Water your Monstera plant once the top layer of soil has slightly dried out. High humidity environments are ideal for Monstera plants, promoting healthy growth and development. 

Also, remember that a balanced fertilizer provides the plant with essential nutrients that the soil may not contain.

Provide your Monstera plant with the correct amount of light, water, humidity, and nutrients to encourage the growth and development of well-defined fenestrated leaves. 

2. Plant’s age

As a Monstera plant age, it develops more fenestrations or holes in its leaves. The development of fenestrations is a natural process that occurs over time as the plant matures.

Young plants have leaves with little to no fenestrations. However, as the plant grows and matures, it will produce leaves with larger fenestrations.

Another reason for the development of fenestrations in older Monstera plants is related to genetics.

Monstera plants have a natural variability in the development of their leaves, which can result in some plants producing more fenestrated leaves than others.

3. Natural sunlight

Factors That Lead to Holes in Monstera Plants

Monstera deliciosa plants require bright, indirect light to promote healthy growth and development.

Exposure to the right amount of sunlight helps to produce well-defined fenestrations in their leaves.

The leaves of the Monstera plant contain chlorophyll, which is the pigment that enables photosynthesis to occur.

When the leaves receive adequate sunlight, the plant produces more energy.

This energy is used to create new cells and promote growth. As the plant grows, it develops new leaves with more defined fenestrations than older ones.

Why Doesn’t My Monstera Have Holes?

There could be several reasons why your Monstera plant does not have holes or fenestrations. One of the most common reasons is that the plant may be too young. 

Monstera plants begin to develop fenestrations once they reach a certain maturity level, which can take several years.

Insufficient light may also be another reason. Monstera plants require bright, indirect light to promote healthy growth and development.

They may not produce well-defined fenestrations in their leaves if they do not receive enough light.

Remember, house plants require proper watering, humidity, and fertilization to maintain their health and promote growth.

If the plant does not receive the correct amount of water, humidity, or nutrients, it may not develop fenestrations in its leaves.

Additionally, showy indoor plants may not develop fenestrations if they do not receive enough air circulation or are kept in a cramped or crowded environment. 

Proper air circulation is essential for the healthy growth of these evergreen plants, and they should be kept in a spacious area that allows for good airflow.

Factors That Lead to Holes in Monstera Plants


Why are Monstera leaves small?

Monstera leaves are small due to a process called etiolation. This is when the plant doesn’t receive enough light, causing its leaves to stay small and thin as it attempts to reach out in search of more light. Without adequate lighting, Monstera plants cannot survive and grow effectively.

Will Monstera leaves develop holes later?

Some varieties naturally develop holes as they mature, while others may not. Older leaves are more likely to develop holes. Different types of Monstera plants grow and change at different speeds. Some varieties could take a few months to a few years to develop holes.

Should I cut Monstera leaves without holes?

No. Avoid cutting Monstera leaves. If your Monstera plant has leaves without holes and you want to encourage more holes, there are other steps you can take. Ensure that your plant receives the appropriate amount of light and humidity to thrive. Also, provide your Monstera with bright, indirect light and a humid environment to encourage fenestrations.

What are the holes in Monstera called?

The holes in Monstera are called fenestrations. These holes are a unique feature that helps the plant to thrive in its natural environment by providing specialized gas exchange. The size, shape, and number of these holes depend on the species and age of the individual Monstera plant.

Other tropical plants with holes in leaves?

1. Philodendron bipinnatifidum
2. Alocasia macrorrhiza
3. Xanthosoma sagittifolium
4. Caladium bicolor


You now know why Monstera plants are so special regarding their leaves with holes. Not only do they look attractive, but the holes also help them survive in their natural habitats by allowing air and light to penetrate the foliage. 

Beyond surviving, Monsteras can thrive thanks to the extra airflow and photosynthesis from more sunlight exposure. 

So the next time you see a Monstera with its distinct holes, know that they are more than just an aesthetic. They’re a sign of strength and resilience.

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