Young monstera plants have small heart-shaped leaves with no fenestrations or perforations. But the mature plants develop gigantic leaves which are darker in color and have fenestrations.
As a monstera deliciosa grows and matures, you can expect split leaves and leaf fenestration.
A monstera plant with slower growth and no split leaves indicates that the plant is not happy and isn’t thriving.
Why Monstera Has Splits or Fenestrations?
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Many plant owners wonder why their monstera deliciosa does not have split leaves. The simple answer is that the plant develops fenestrations when it is two to three years old.
The Swiss cheese plant is a specie of tropical plant, and botanists have different claims as to why they have fenestrated leaves. Some believe that leaf fenestrations provide greater water and sunlight amounts to the plant roots. Others claim that leaf holes of monstera plants protect them against strong winds that can otherwise damage the leaves.
Withstand Strong Winds
Some researchers claim that monstera plants create leaf holes to protect themselves against strong winds and hurricanes.
Monstera’s leaves are gigantic in size, and thus, they develop fenestrated leaves to allow wind and heavy rainfall to pass through the holes. A fenestrated leaf has a lesser chance of being torn in half than those leaves with no holes in them.
Leaf Fenestrations Improve Access to Water
Others believe that the monstera leaves split to allow wind and water to come in contact with their roots. This adaptive function in Monstera deliciosa increases the amount of water uptake at the plant’s roots.
However, many biologists think that this theory is invalid as tropical rainforests already get enough rainfall, so a fenestrated leaf doesn’t contribute much to providing more water to this tropical plant.
The Light Theory
Some biologists also suggest that the monstera leaves have holes in them to allow them to capture small amounts of sunlight while growing as understory plants.
The modified leaf splits and holes contribute to the bigger size of leaves, thus allowing them to cover a larger area and capture more sunlight in tropical rainforests as they grow on the forest floor.
How Long Does It Take for Monstera Leaves to Split?
Not all monstera leaves have leaf holes. If you have recently brought home a young monstera, do not expect it to start developing leaf holes right away.
What Do Young Monstera Leaves Look Like?
A young monstera plant will have smaller leaves, aerial roots, and fewer nodes. The lack of fenestration doesn’t indicate that you do not have a healthy monstera. Younger plants also have lighter green leaves as compared to mature monstera leaves.
However, if you buy a monstera plant that already has fenestrations, then your plant will take 4 to 6 weeks to grow new leaves that are fenestrated too.
When to Expect Your Monstera’s Fenestrations?
The monstera plant achieves fenestrated leaves when it is given the right amount of sunlight, humidity, water, and fertilization. Furthermore, age is an important factor taken into account.
Monstera leaves split when the plant is between 2 to 3 years of age. Monstera leaves may also not split until the plant is at least 3ft in height. So if you have brought home a young monstera plant with solid leaves and no fenestrations, you will have to wait at least 2 years for the leaves to develop splits and holes.
All monstera leaves fenestrate. So if your plant is not showing a fenestrated leaf pattern even after reaching a particular age and height, it is time to pay attention to its growing requirements and any factors that are inhibiting its growth and preventing fenestrations.
Why Your Monstera Leaves Aren’t Splitting?
Sometimes monstera plants can be stubborn and do not grow even a single fenestrated leaf.
So what should you do if the monstera leaves are not splitting? Find out the reason behind this abnormal behavior of your plant.
Reasons for Monstera Leaves Not Splitting
The lack of fenestrations in your monstera leaves can be due to three major reasons; your plant is still too young, it isn’t receiving proper growing conditions, and it needs more sunlight. Let’s discuss these factors one by one.
Reason 1: Your Monstera Plant Is Still Too Young
You need to give your monstera plants time to grow and mature to display split leaves. A young monstera has solid and heart-shaped leaves with no holes in them. It wouldn’t develop perforations until it has reached at least 2 years of age.
Reason 2: Monstera Needs Proper Growing Conditions
If the monstera leaves fail to split even after 3 years, it is time to pay attention to its care regimen.
Monstera thrives in its natural habitat under the rainforest canopy. These plants love warm climates and humidity, a decent amount of watering, and gentle and natural light.
Ensure that your monstera leaves split by providing it with appropriate fertilization during the spring and summer months, enough bright light, and water your monstera regularly for optimum plant’s growth.
Reason 3: Your Monstera Leaves Split When It Receives Lots of Indirect Light
Bright and indirect light is what makes monstera leaves split and grow big. If you want to grow striking and fenestrated monstera plants, then you need to give them proper sunlight.
Put your plants in front of a south or east-facing window that doesn’t receive direct sunlight. Monstera leaves split only when they are receiving at least 6 to 8 hours of light per day.
If a small monstera is not growing and developing split leaves, then it means it needs more light.
Alternatively, you can use a grow light to supplement the required light for your indoor monstera.
5 Tips to Encourage Fenestration in Monstera
Monstera thrives indoors if you provide them with the right light and growing conditions.
From giving your plant more sunlight, repotting it, giving it enough water, feeding it nutrients with good fertilizers, and using grow lights, here are 5 tips that will help you make sure that your monstera leaves split.
Monstera leaves splits and holes are majorly affected by sunlight. Your plants will survive in low light, but they will never develop splits and holes unless you provide them with a mild morning sun for at least an hour or two.
More sunlight means more fenestrations. Enough light will not only ensure that the plants are developing perforations but also that they are growing well.
Monstera leaves are large in size, and not every leaf can receive sunlight, especially the lower ones.
Help your monstera leaves split and carry out enough photosynthesis by placing it near a south, east or west-facing window.
Just make sure that the sunlight is not too harsh, as it can cause burned leaves.
Repot Your Monstera Plants
In their natural habitat, monstera is used to grow on forest floors and have organic and well-draining soil. So no doubt that repotting monstera will encourage the plant to develop splits and holes.
Ensure that you are giving your monstera plant a light and rich well draining potting mix. Feed your plant with compost in its potting soil every month during its growing season.
If a mature split leaf philodendron fails to develop fenestrations, then repot it with fresh soil in a pot one size larger than the previous one.
Fresh soil introduces fresh nutrients to your plant and also reduces the chances of bacterial contamination, thus encouraging its growth and leaf perforations.
Give Your Plant Enough Water
Monstera leaves split when it receives proper moisture through their soil. Water your monstera deliciosa plant once a week when the top inch of its soil is dry.
We do not recommend overwatering your monstera deliciosa as it can lead to root rot and prevent or delay leaf fenestration.
After watering your plant, let the water drain out, and then empty the monstera’s saucer immediately. Adequate watering will greatly improve the growth and perforation of your monstera deliciosa plants.
Feed Your Monstera Deliciosa With a Fertilizer
Your monstera leaves split when they are provided with a good quality fertilizer in its growing season.
Fertilize your monstera deliciosa every two weeks for excellent shoot and root growth but not in winter, as it is a dormant period.
A monstera grown in good water-soluble fertilizer will always receive proper nutrients and display a healthy split leaf pattern.
A Grow Light Can Be Useful When Natural Light Isn’t Enough
It is difficult to provide proper sunlight to indoor plants, and the monstera genus grows into towering plant species that need lots of sunlight to grow and develop fenestrations.
You can encourage monstera fenestration by introducing a grow light, especially in winter months.
Monstera thrives under 10 to 12 hours of bright and indirect light every day.
So if you cannot provide this amount of light to your plant, then add a grow light above it and see how it will start forming bigger and much more beautiful fenestrated leaves.
Appropriate Humidity Levels
A lack of humidity also contributes to poor monstera fenestration.
Like other plants that are native to humid and warm climates, monstera varieties will not develop fenestrations if it is not receiving adequate humidity levels.
Monstera fenestration requires around 60 to 70% humidity levels. To provide this level of moisture and humidity to your plants, you can introduce a humidifier or pebble tray.
Alternatively, you can put your monstera in a well-lit bathroom where it will have access to both sunlight and humidity.
Do Monstera Leaves Split and Develop Fenestrations After Unfurling?
Monstera fenestration is not related to the time it takes for the leaves to unfurl. If your monstera leaf has developed fenestrations, you should be able to see the splits and holes even before the leaf starts to unfurl.
The unfurling process can take anywhere from one to seven weeks to complete. The major factors that affect the unfurling stage are humidity and sunlight levels.
You should not expect your monstera leaf to develop fenestrations or grow larger in size after it unfurls. Its whole development takes place before the unraveling process, including the fenestrations.
Additional Care Tips for Your Monstera
If you want to grow deep green and large, fenestrated leaves on your monstera plant, you need to learn additional tips to take care of it.
· Rotate your indoor monstera plant after some time so that every leaf receives the proper amount of sunlight on all sides.
· Clean your monstera leaves as the large leaf surface and its perforations can attract lots of dust.
· Push the aerial roots of your Swiss cheese plant into the potting soil so that the plant can receive more nutrients and develop fenestrations.
· Monstera fenestration benefits from regular pruning. Pruning encourages the plants to develop new growth and has healthy leaf fenestrations.
· A moss pole will encourage your monstera to climb upwards and look vibrant and healthy.
· New monstera leaves are bright green in appearance. But when they receive proper sunlight, they will eventually turn into a dark green color.
Monstera Fenestration: What Are the Different Stages?
There are five characteristic stages that mark the whole monstera fenestration process.
Stage 1 – Solid Heart Shaped Leaf of a Young Plant
A young monstera has solid heart-shaped leaves that have no splits and holes.
Stage 2 – Appearance of Side Slits
The plant will start showing slits along its leaves’ outer edges. However, the shape of the leaves remains undisturbed.
Stage 3 – Appearance of Holes Alongside The Splits
The monstera leaf will start showing midrib holes alongside the side splits.
Stage 4 – Secondary Line of Holes
Another series of holes start forming parallel to the lateral veins of monstera leaves.
Stage 5 – Tertiary Series of Holes
This is the final stage of fenestration in which holes start forming closest to the midrib of monstera leaves.
Fenestration is an important process that shows how well a monstera plant is growing.
It is also a process that is highly affected by many growing conditions, and even the slightest neglect in its care regimen can affect the development of splits and holes in your monstera leaves.
So take care of its nutrients, moisture, humidity, and sunlight requirements, and watch how your monstera plants will develop large and fenestrated leaves that will reward you for your patience and dedication towards your plant’s care.