Monstera or Swiss Cheese Plants are best known for their large, exotic, split leaves. These splits, called fenestrations, make them unique and stunning to look at. It is also why many Monsteras have an expensive price tag. However, in some cases, you may notice that your Monstera does not have these holes or splits. So, what gives?
Why are your Monstera leaves not splitting? If you notice that your Monstera leaves are not splitting, there are two common reasons why.
It is either too young or it is not getting enough light. That said, there are other reasons as well including the weather, your watering routine and feeding schedule.
Reasons for Monstera Leaves Not Splitting
Monstera are best known for their large, fenestrated leaves. This is what makes them stunningly beautiful. It is also what makes them unique. As a result, many Monstera varieties are very expensive.
However, in some cases, you may not see leaf splits in your Monstera.
So why is your monstera leaves not splitting?
Your Monstera leaves don’t have fenestrations or splits because it is likely not old enough or it is not getting the proper care it needs.
Leaves usually being to develop splits or holes when the plant is 2 years old. But it also needs sufficiently lighting, watering and fertilizer to develop fenestrations.
Therefore, once your Monstera is past the age of 3 or around 3 years of age and still does not have splits on its leaves, it means something is not right with its care.
Fortunately, by fixing this issue or issues, it will start to grow fenestrations after.
Your Monstera Might Be Too Young
Age is usually the single most important factor for Monstera leaves not splitting. That’s because before a certain age, the plant’s leaves are not meant to have holes.
As such, if you get a young or juvenile Monstera plants, it will not have fenestrations. Instead, you have to wait until it comes of age.
This age is usually 2 years old. Once it reaches this age and its leaves start getting bigger, the plant will naturally start developing splits of holes on its leaves.
That said, it needs proper care to achieve this.
This means that if your plant is past 3 years old and its leaves have not split, make sure to check its living environment and care.
Otherwise, if you have a young plant, you’ll need to be patient and wait for your Monstera to mature. Then it will develop fenestrations.
Lack of Light
Once your Monstera comes of age and it still does not have splits, it is time to reassess its care.
The first thing to check is lighting.
Monstera plants need sufficient lighting to grow and produce leaves with fenestrations. That’s because it collects light for photosynthesis, which is the process by which it creates its own energy to support its health and growth.
This means that lack of light slows down its overall growth. It also means it affects it health.
Ideally, Monstera need bright, indirect light when grown indoors. Outdoors, partial shade is best.
Additionally, it is important for the plant to get at least 8 to 10 hours of sunlight daily.
When it comes to light, both intensity and duration are important. Therefore, if your Monstera leaves are not splitting, check these two factors first.
In my experience, this is usually where the problem lies.
Another important thing to keep in mind is to avoid both extremes.
- Too much light – this usually means a few things, direct sunlight and very strong, intense light. You want to avoid both. Monstera cannot tolerate long hours of direct sun day in and day out. They also cannot withstand its harsh rays especially those during mid-day and summer which are the hottest times.
- Too little light – Monstera can tolerate low light. But only up to a certain point. However, in low light, it does not grow as fast or as big. Low light also hinders its ability to develop leaf splits.
If you don’t have lots of natural light access from your windows, you can supplement sunlight with artificial lights.
Monstera are tropical plants. This means they are native to regions of the world that are close to the equator.
More importantly, it means they are used to consistently warm, sunny weather or 365 days of sunshine each year.
This is where they grow best.
As such, if you live somewhere with four seasons, you’ll notice that the plant’s growth slows down as the weather gets colder during the tail-end of the year.
It is also because of this that you won’t see many leaves grow during the colder, darker months. And when your Monstera does produce leaves, they will be smaller and have few or no holes.
This in in large part due to the lack of light. But the cooler temperature also is a factor since Monsteras are not as comfortable in cold weather the low light as they are in warm, sunny environments.
That said, this is not a problem and it normal. All you need to do is wait for the warmer months to come and it will resolve itself. However, if the plant still not have leaf splits during the summer months, go through the other reasons in the list to find a solution.
Like all plants, Monstera need water. However, they are also susceptible to overwatering.
Therefore, it is important to find the balance between the two.
In most cases, your Monstera needs to be watered once a week. But you will need to adjust your watering schedule due to summer and winter.
- In summer, the hot weather causes soil to dry faster. So you’ll likely end up watering 2 or 3 times a week.
- In winter, the cold weather and lack of sunshine means soil stays wet longer. Therefore, to avoid overwatering and root rot, you need to scale back on watering to once every 2 or 3 weeks.
The important thing here is to avoid letting the soil go completely dry. But also avoid watering too often that the soil becomes wet and soggy.
Of the two, the latter is more dangerous because if the roots end up sitting in water for long periods of time, they will eventually succumb to root rot.
Thus, the best way to know when to water your plant is to stick your finger into the soil down to a depth of 2 inches. If the soil is wet or feels moist at that depth, wait a couple of days and test the soil again.
Only water when the soil at that depth is completely dry.
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- Monstera Fenestration – Why Your Monstera Leaves Not Splitting & How to Fix It
- Monstera Leaves Curling – Reasons and How to Fix Them
- Monstera Root Rot Symptoms, Diagnosis and Treatment
- Thrips on Monstera – Symptoms, Causes & Treatment
- When Do Monstera Leaves Split? (And How to Encourage It)
When Do Monstera Leaves Split?
Monstera leaves split by the time the plant reaches 2 or 3 years old. Therefore, if you have a young plant, don’t expect its leaves to develop holes until then.
Juvenile Monstera plants will have solid, heart-shaped leaves with not splits or holes. Instead, they will naturally develop these fenestrations once they come of age.
Thus, don’t worry if your plant is still young. All it needs is time before the leaf splits start happening.
Your goal is to take good care of the plant and keep it healthy. So, when the time comes, you’ll see the leaves get bigger and produce lots of splits.
Why Do Monstera Leaves Have Splits (Fenestrations or Holes)?
Monstera leaves developed splits or fenestrations as they adapted to their environment through the decades. So, while we like the holes in their leaves because they look unique and beautiful, the fenestrations are actually more functional for the plant.
Allow Strong Winds to Pass Through
Monstera are known for their large leaves. While beautiful, the size of their leaves become windbreakers. Like sails their leaves trap with winds and bear the brunt of the airflow.
Unfortunately, when the wind gets too strong, the leaves will eventually rip. This damages the plant. It can also cause many leaves to rip at the same time.
This is the same reason why you see billboards get ripped up by strong winds during hurricanes.
So, in order for the plant to “defend” itself from strong winds, the holes developed to make Monsteras more “aerodynamic”.
Thanks to the holes, the leaves take less wind resistance since most of the air can pass through the holes. In doing so, their leaves don’t get ripped or torn up from strong winds.
Improve Water Access
But having splits on its leaves, Monstera are able to absorb more water. That’s because the holes allow the leaves to spread out and cover a wider surface area. This allows the plant to catch more water.
Another reason for the holes on the leaves it so let the lower leaves and roots get water.
As monsteras get bigger and bushier, the top leaves will cover the bottom leaves and the soil. So when it rains, the lower leaves and roots are more deprived of water.
So, the holes allow water to get through to the bottom leaves and drip down to the roots. This ensures that the roots get access to water in wild.
Another important reason why Monstera leaf splits help with water is drainage.
Monstera plants need water. But they have problems with standing water.
Water that pools in the leaves increases the chance of fungal infections. As such, while they do need hydration, it is important that the water does not linger or pool.
The holes make sure that water drains quickly to avoid this.
Get More Sunlight
Sunlight absorption and access is very similar to that of water.
The leaf splits in Monstera plants allow its foliage to cover a larger surface area to collect more light. But they also allow some light pass through so the bottom leaves get access to the light for balanced.
What to Do If Your Monstera Leaves Won’t Split
If your Monstera is old enough but its leaves won’t split, don’t worry. All it means is the plant is not getting optimal care. Simply put, it needs something that you’re not giving it, yet.
Therefore, it is your job to figure out what it wants. Once you give it what it is looking for, you’ll see your Monstera leaves split.
Here is how you can make sure your Monstera leaves split.
Make Sure It Gets Bright, Indirect Sunlight
Bright, indirect light is one of the most important factors for Monstera growth. And it is a big requirement if you want fenestrations in its leaves.
From experience, lack of light is usually a problem when Monstera leaves don’t split. Therefore, check for these 2 things:
- The plant is located where it receives 8 to 10 hours of light daily.
- It is getting bright, indirect light. Avoid direct sunlight. Also, keep it away from low light if you want fenestrations. Excess light will burn the leaves. Low light will slow growth and prevent splits from developing.
The best locations are in an east or west facing windows. You can likewise keep it in a southern exposure but be wary of the mid-day sun.
If you keep near a south or west facing window make sure you filter the light or distance the plant at least 3 feet from the window so the sun’s rays don’t hit the leaves.
Avoid a northern exposure if you want to encourage Monstera leaf splits.
In case you live in an apartment or your home’s windows don’t get enough natural light, use artificial lights. Grow lights work just fine.
But with grow lights, you need to provide 12 to 14 hours of exposure daily. Also, make sure to distance the plant far enough from the bulbs as these emit heat which can burn its leaves.
Give it Consistent Water (But Avoid Overwatering)
On average, Monstera need watering once every 7 days. However, make sure to adjust your watering schedule based on the time of year.
If you live somewhere with perpetual sunshine, this is less of a problem since the weather does not fluctuate dramatically between the seasons.
But if you have very hot summers and freezing winters, make sure to adjust your watering routine.
Soil dries much faster during hot, sunny weather. This is why you’ll usually need to water 2 or 3 times a week during the warmer months.
More importantly, cut back on water during the winter since watering too frequently can lead to overwatering. This is because soil takes much longer to dry then due to the cold weather.
To make sure, always check the soil before adding water.
Wait until the top 2 inches of soil is completely dry before watering the plant. Alternatively, you can use a moisture meter.
Give it Enough Nutrients
Like other houseplants, Monstera need nutrients.
Applying the right amount of fertilizer helps your Monstera grow faster and produce more leaves with fenestrations.
But be careful not to overfeed the plant as too much fertilizer can be toxic. As such, this does more harm than good.
For optimal growth, give your Monstera a balanced water soluble fertilizer once a month during its growing season (spring and summer). Dilute the dose by 50% to avoid overconcentration.
Since the plant’s growth slows down as the weather gets colder, you don’t need to feed the plant during fall and winter.
Keep it in Ideal Temperature and Humidity
Monstera are native to tropical regions. This means they are most comfortable in warm to hot, humid environments. And it is here where they grow the fastest as well.
To encourage Monstera leaf splits, it is a good idea to provide it with the climate conditions it is used to. Your Monstera’s
- Ideal temperature is between 60 to 85 degrees Fahrenheit. Avoid leaving it in areas where temperature tends to drop under 60 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Ideal humidity is between 60% to 80%. It will tolerate a minimum of 40% humidity as well. Therefore, keep room humidity above 40% as much as possible.
Repot When it Gets Root Bound
If you want fenestrations, it is important to give the plant room to grow.
Growth allows the plant to get bigger, produce more leaves and larger leaves as well. Doing so encourage leaf splits.
As such, once the plant gets root bound, repot it to a larger plant. This gives it the go signal to grow bigger.
The simplest way to tell when the plant is root bound is to check the holes at the bottom of the plant. If you see roots coming out from these holes, it means they’re looking for more space because they need it.
Thus, it is time to repot.
When repotting, choose a container that is about 2 or 3 inches wider in diameter than your current pot. Avoid the temptation of going bigger than this just to reduce how often you need to repot in the future.
Overpotting increases the risk of overwatering, which can lead to root rot. Therefore, it does more harm than good.
How Often Does a Monstera Grow New Leaves?
A healthy Monstera plant will grow new leaves every 4 to 6 weeks. Therefore, you can expect new growth around every month or so.
Note that it can grow faster or slower than that depending on the living environment it is in.
For example, plants that get more light tend to grow faster than those in low light. Similarly, Monstera that are given a support like a moss pole, tend to grow faster and end up taller than those that don’t have something to climb on.
Similarly, humidity can affect its growth. Ideal humidity for Monstera is between 60% and 80%. And if you keep air moisture at this level, you’ll see your Monstera grow faster and produce more leaves (larger ones too).
There’s also fertilizer. Monstera can survive without added nutrients. But if you compare one that is given proper amounts of fertilizer regularly to a plant that is unfertilized, you’ll notice a significant difference in their size, growth rate and how often they grow new leaves.
The key here is the keep the plant happy and healthy.
By simulating its natural habitat (tropical rainforest) as closely as possible, you’ll be able to give it the ideal living conditions it desires. This will keep it healthy and happy.