Monstera Fenestration – Why Your Monstera Leaves Not Splitting & How to Fix It

Monstera rank among the most popular houseplants around. All you need to do is check Instagram and you’ll quickly see many growers posting photos of their Monster plants. Part of what makes Monsteras very popular are the splits or holes in its leaves which not many plants have.

Monstera fenestrations are the splits or holes in its leaves. Once the plant matures by age of 2 or 3 years old, it will begin to develop leaf fenestrations.

However, it also needs proper care to do so. Therefore, if your plant is old enough its leaves are not splitting, you’ll want to check if it gets proper lighting.

What are Monstera Fenestrations?

Monstera fenestrations or the holes and splits that make the plant unique. In the case of Monstera plants these holes naturally grown in very visually appealing way.

Thus, they holds not only make them distinctive, it also makes them look gorgeous. This is why you’ll see Instagram littered with lots of Monstera plant owners posting photos of these lovely varieties.

That said, it is important to note that Monstera fenestrations can vary from small holes to large splits on the sides of the leaves.

Therefore, you’ll see some Monstera varieties with small or big holes in the middle of their leaves. And there are those with cuts or splits on only on the sides of their foliage.

What makes these fenestrations beautiful is their variation. In fact, you’ll likely never see two exact same looking holes of splits on any Monstera plant.

Finally, how many holes or splits a plant has depends on a number of factors. These include the age of the plant, its variety and the size of the leaf. The kind of care and its living environment also affect how big and how many fenestrations the plant will eventually have.

Therefore, try to not to compare your plant’s fenestrations with those of other plants.

 

Why Do Monstera Have Fenestrations (Splits or Holes)?

For us, Monstera fenestrations add to the uniqueness and beauty of the plant. However, for the plant these holes and splits have developed as the plant has adapted to their environment.

It has done so as it evolved through the decades. And it keeps doing so primarily to live more efficiently and stay healthy.

This is why you’ll see other plants have leaf fenestrations as well. Two examples are some varieties of Pothos and Philodendron. But if you look at their fenestrations, they’re distinctively different from that of the Monstera.

Why?

Because the holes and splits develop based on the plant’s needs.

Therefore, a lot depends on its strengths and weaknesses. How and what the fenestrations look like will also depend a lot of the kind of environment they grow in.

Monsteras grow in tropical rainforests. There they live under the canopy of larger trees and plants. Thus, its living conditions play a large role in its evolution and development of fenestrations.

 

Strong Winds

Monsteras have large leaves. While these look stunning, they work against the plant when strong winds come.

Being native to rainforests, the plant experiences hurricanes and storms that blow strong gusts of wind. When this happens, its large, wide leaves act like parachutes catching all the wind pressure.

When the wind is too strong, it can blow the plant away or rip its leaves.

To reduce the potential damage due to strong winds. It has developed fenestrations. These holes allow the strongest gusts of wind to pass through putting less pressure on the foliage and the plant.

In doing so, the plant is able to protect itself from harm.

 

Improve Water Availability

The fenestrations also help with water access.

If you’ve seen a mature Monstera, you know that it can grow tall and wide. Additionally, its large leaves tend to cover the entire plant.

The problem is that as it gets bushier, the upper leaves will block water access to the lower leaves and the roots. This is due to their size.

So, even if it rains a lot inf the rainforest, the lower foliage and roots will receive much less water.

Thanks to its splits and holes, water is able to pass through the upper leaf layers down the bottom leaves and the roots.

Another thing that the fenestrations help with is to enlarge the surface area of the leaves. The splits and holes allow the leaves to spread out wider so it can catch more water from the rain.

 

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Drainage

Another function of the fenestrations is to improve drainage.

Monsteras like moist environments. This is thanks to their native habitat where it rains many times a day.

However, they are also prone to overwatering or standing water. Both its leaves are roots are susceptible to this.

When they’re left wet for long periods of time, problems happen. Roots can develop root rot. Meanwhile, the leaves become prone to infections and pests.

To help prevent this from happening, the holes and splits on your Monstera’s leaves help water quickly drain from the leaves. This way, the leaves get their fill of moisture but don’t end up staying wet for long periods of time.

 

Better Light Absorption

Finally, there’s improved light absorption. The fenestrations function very similar to how they do for water access.

The holes and splits int eh leaves allow more sunlight to reach the bottom leaves. Similarly, it lets each leaf cover more surface area in order to collect more light from the sun.

 

Reasons Why Your Monstera Leaves are Not Splitting

Now that you know why Monsteras have fenestrations, you might get worried if your plant does not have holes or splits yet.

But don’t.

There’s always a reason why a Monstera’s leaves are not splitting. And in almost all cases, it comes down to two causes.

 

Its Age (It is Not Old Enough)

Age is usually the main reason why your Monstera does not have leaf splits. Fenestrations usually start showing up one the plant reaches 2 or 3 years old.

As such, it needs to mature before you start seeing holes or splits on its leaves.

If you have a young plant or one that you just propagated a few months ago, it won’t have any fenestrations because the plant hasn’t come of age yet.

Therefore, patience is the number one thing you need to practice as far as this goes.

However, if your plant has passed 2 or years of age and it still does not have any leaf splits, then it is time to turn your attention to plant care.

 

Plant Care (It is Not Happy)

A mature Monstera plant will begin developing splits on its leaves once it gets to the age of 2 or 3 years old. But if your plant has reached this age or is older, and it does not have fenestrations, it means it is not getting the care it desires.

Monsteras are generally resilient plants that are easy to care for. Thus, they give you quite a bit of leeway to make mistakes and they’ll still do fine.

However, if its needs are not all met, they may not develop leaf splits.

The most common reason that a mature Monstera plant does not have fenestrations is lighting. Either it is getting too much light or too little light. Often, it is the later.

Monstera thrive in bright, indirect light indoors and partial shade outdoors. They need light for photosynthesis. This is how it creates its own energy to support its growth.

This is why if you keep the plant in low light, it grows slower. Also, it will likely have fewer, smaller leaves as well. Similarly, lack of light can prevent its leaves from splitting. Or if they do, you’ll only have small holes appear.

Therefore, the first thing to consider is lighting.

In addition to light, check your watering routine. Monstera need sufficient water to stay healthy. Without it, it will grow slowly or stop growing altogether.

However, make sure that you are not overwatering your plant as this leads to more problems.

 

How to Encourage Monstera Fenestration

Now that you know why your Monstera leaves are not splitting, it is time to learn how to encourage it to develop more holes or fenestrations.

The first thing to make sure is that the plant is old enough. If your Monstera is not mature and has not reached 2 years old yet, no matter what you do, its leaves won’t split.

Therefore, if you have a juvenile monstera plant, the best thing to do is be patient and allow it to grow.

That said, if your plant is 2 years or older and it have no fenestrations or very small or few splits, here’s how to encourage it.

 

Give it Sufficient Bright Light

Check to make sure the your Monstera is getting bright, indirect light. Avoid low light conditions.

The best spot for it indoors is near an east or north east facing window. This will give your plant lots of morning sunshine which is gentle. Therefore, it gets the light it needs without the risk of sunburn.

Also keep in mind that Monstera need 8 to 10 hours of light per day. Therefore, if you’re giving it sufficient light intensity, also make sure that duration is long enough.

In case your home’s windows are not getting enough light from the sun, don’t worry. You can supplement the natural light with artificial lighting.

Note that grow lights don’t cover the entire color spectrum like the sun does. Therefore, your Monstera will need 12-14 hours of grow light exposure per day.

 

Make Sure it Gets Proper Watering

Since monsteras are native to the rainforest, they get a good amount of water. This means that you also need to make sure you meet its watering requirements.

In general, Monstera need watering about once a week. However, you’ll need to water more regularly during summer when the temperature gets hot. Similarly, make sure to cut back on watering come wintertime.

Thus, I don’t recommend using a fixed watering schedule for your Monstera.

Instead, I prefer to feel the soil and let the plant tell me whether it needs more water or not.

The best way to do this is to check the soil before you add more water. You can do so by sticking your finger into the soil down to about 2 inches.

If the soil at this depth is wet, wait a couple of days and check again.

Only water when the soil is dry up to at least the top 2 inches.

With my Monsteras, I like to be more conservative since some of them are quite expensive. So, I wait until the soil is dry halfway down (50% of the pot).

This ensures that I will never overwater my plants.

Alternatively, you can likewise use a moisture meter if you prefer to rely on gadgets. Just stick the probe into the soil and see what the device’s reading tells you.

 

Fertilize Your Monstera Plant as Needed

Monstera benefit from fertilizer. It helps them grow faster and produce more lush leaves.

Like water, moderation is the key with fertilizing your Monstera.

Too much fertilizer can damage its roots. Lack of fertilizer can lead to nutrient deficiencies or slow growth.

While the latter is more for the reason for lack of fenestrations, the former is the worse of the two. Overfertilizing can ultimately damage and destroy your plant. So, avoid it at all costs.

For optimum growth, give your Monstera an application of balanced, water-soluble fertilizer once a month during its growing season. If you live in a tropical region, this is usually all year round as there’s sunshine. But if you live somewhere with snow in winter, don’t feed the plant during fall and winter as it won’t need it.

 

Avoid Extreme Temperatures

Temperature is another important part of caring for your Monstera. Because it is a tropical plant, it enjoys warm, humid conditions.

More importantly, it is used to living somewhere with sunshine and warm, balmy weather all year round. This is why it grows very well indoors.

Its ideal temperature range is between 65 and 85 degrees Fahrenheit. This also happens to be the range at which most homes keep their thermostat since humans are most comfortable at these levels as well.

That said, keep your plant away from the cold. Try to avoid leaving it in temperatures below 60 degrees Fahrenheit as its growth starts to slow down there.

 

Give it Enough Humidity

When it comes to humidity, Monsteras prefer 60% to 80% humidity to optimal growth. Fortunately, it can tolerate humidity of 40% or higher.

However, try to avoid going lower than that as the conditions become less than ideal.

When humidity drops too low, it reduces the chances of leaf splits. More importantly, the leaves can dry out and you’ll see brown, crispy leaf tips and edges that easily crumble upon touch.

 

Prune Old Leaves

Pruning is a good way to encourage growth in your Monstera. In fact, many growers will intentionally choose the spots where they prune as doing so helps that section of the plant get bushier.

This way, they’re able to shape the plant and manicure its looks.

The best time to prune is during spring and early summer.

When pruning, make sure that you sterilize your cutting tool before making any cuts. This will ensure the blade or scissors don’t carry any pathogens that can introduce infection to your plant.

 

Regular Check for Pests and Diseases

Another thing to make sure that is that your plant does not have pests or diseases. Any time your plant is under stress, it will become weak and growth will slow or stop.

In many cases, the plant will show signs of trouble including leaf discoloration, drooping, wilting or something else.

Because it will focus more of its energy in dealing with the problem that’s happening, you’ll see fewer new leaves and the chances of leaf splits also decreases.

More importantly, pests and disease can seriously damage your plant. The longer you let them linger, the more destruction they can cause.

Therefore, it is good practice to regular inspect your plant for pests and disease. If you spot any, immediately isolate the plant and treat it.

 

Consider Repotting

Repotting is something you’ll usually need to do every 2 to 3 years with your Monstera.

This is because the plant will outgrow its current container.

When it does growth slows down. Therefore, it affects the development of new leaves and fenestrations as well.

Therefore, by repotting it, you let the plant continue growing and encourage leaf spits to occur.

That said, avoid repotting just for the sake of repotting. The plant only needs repotting when it gets root bound. And you’ll see this as its roots start coming out from the holes at the bottom of the container.

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