When Do Monstera Leaves Split? (And How to Encourage It)

When do Monstera leaves split? This is a very common question I get asked by many plant owners. Of course, that’s because Monstera plants are revered for their unique and stunning leaf fenestrations. The confusing this is the timing when these holes appear.

When do Monstera leaves split? Monstera leaves split when the plant matures. This usually takes 2 to 3 years. Therefore, you can expect the plant’s leaves to start splitting any time when the plant reaches 2 years old or beyond.

If it doesn’t split, then it means that it is not getting the proper care it wants.

What are Monstera Leaf Splits?

Monstera leaf splits are technically knowns as Monstera fenestrations. Simply put, they are the holes or separations you see on the leaves of Monstera plants.

This is what makes Monstera plants very unique as most varieties have some kind of leaf fenestration or split.

More importantly, these Monstera leaf splits naturally happen for these plants. And they look beautiful and produce some kind of gorgeous patterns that make the plant’s foliage stunning.

Another thing to be aware of is that if you get a baby Monstera plant, you’ll notice that its leaves don’t have any splits yet. But don’t worry because the fenestrations will develop over time as long as you take care of the plant properly.

 

When Do Monstera Leaves Split?

Monstera leaves split only after the plant matures. This means that the plant needs to reach 2 to 3 years old before it begins developing splits on its leaves.

If you obtain a Monstera plant before it reaches the age of 2 or 3 years old, you’ll notice that its leaves are shaped like a heart. More importantly, they are full and have no holes or splits yet.

However, don’t worry or stress about it because young Monstera plant leaves don’t split until later on. Therefore, if you get a juvenile plant, you’ll need to be patient and wait for the plant to mature.

Another aspect to consider is the plant’s happiness.

A happy plant is a healthy plant. Basically, plants are happy when they get all the things they need. This includes the sufficient light, water, the right kind of soil, nutrients, temperature and humidity.

In the right environment with proper care, the Monstera leaves split when the plant comes of age.

 

Why Do Monstera Leaves Split?

Monstera leaf splits or fenestrations have developed as part of the plant’s evolution. These holes have developed over time to help the plant adapt, survive and thrive through the generations.

Monstera are native to Central and South America. More specifically in tropical rainforests. Monstera can grow to over 8 feet tall in their native environments.

Also, their leaves become very prominent, growing to over 2 feet wide in many cases.

As they mature, monstera leaves split due to four main reasons.

 

Monstera Leaves have Holes to Allow the Sun to Pass Through

Since Monstera plants get large and dense as they get older, the large leaves on the top tend to block out the sun or any light from reaching the lower leaves.

As a way to help itself out and balance the light exposure, its leaves split. The holes allow some light to pass through so that the bottom leaves are able to get sufficient light.

 

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Young Monstera Plants Leaves Don’t Split to Help Them Absorb More Light

On the other hand, younger Monstera plant leaves are not as large nor as impressive yet. Therefore, their leaves don’t need to split since all the leaves get sufficient light.

But as the plant matures and the leaves get bigger and bigger, they begin to block more and more light. This is why Monster leaf splits only begin to develop when the plant is older, and its leaves begin to get larger in size.

Typically, Monstera leaf fenestrations begin to appear then the plant is 2 to 3 years of age. You can also help it along by providing it with bright, indirect light.

 

Monstera Fenestrations Allow Air and Wind to Pass Through

Large leaves may look beautiful to the human eye. However, they do have some drawbacks.

One example is the wind. Large leaves get pulled by the winds and can easily rip when there are strong winds.

So over time, Monstera leaves split or grow holes to make it more aerodynamic. This way the wind has somewhere to flow and won’t carry entire leaves along with it. This keeps the leaves safe from wind damage or ripping.

 

Monstera Leaf Splits Improve Foliage Drainage

Another issue that comes with large foliage is that they can hold a lot of water. Depending on the shape of the leaf and its contours, the small bumps and recesses allow water to pool on the leaves.

Unfortunately, standing water is bad for foliage as it encourages bacterial and fungal infections. This can cause leaf diseases. The excess moisture also tends to attract pests especially fungus gnats.

Once the pooled water drops into the soil, they can create small puddles of water there as well. As the plant becomes bushier, more and more of these puddles can form which keep the soil wet. Thus, increasing the risk of root rot.

Monstera leaf splits and holes allow water to pass through. They also improve drainage so that moisture easily slides off the leaves. Doing so prevents leaves from staying wet for long periods of time.

 

Why Won’t My Monstera Leaves Split?

In most cases, the reason why your Monstera leaves won’t split is because it is still too young. Most Monstera leaves will begin splitting at the age of 2, although some a little bit earlier and others a little bit later.

Therefore, if the plant is still a juvenile, its leaves will stay whole. Thus, you just need to be patient.

Monstera leaves split and develop holes for a reason. That it to help the plant stay healthy. When the leaves are still small there is no reason for the leaf fenestration.

Thus, leaf splits usually begin after foliage get to about 5 to 6 inches. This is when it starts seeing the benefits of the fenestrations.

The second reason why your Monstera does not have holes is that it is not getting optimal care. Make sure that it is getting bright, indirect sunlight and good humidity. From experience, both are very important if you want the leaves to split.

 

How to Encourage Monstera Leaves to Split

The two most important factors in encouraging your Monstera leaves to split are:

  1. Wait for it to mature (ages 2 to 3 years old)
  2. Give it proper care and an environment similar to its native habitat

Once the plant reaches the age to develop fenestrations, proper care will allow it to grow faster. And a faster growing Monstera will develop leaf splits faster as well.

Here are ways to encourage your Monstera leaves to split.

  • Proper lighting – light is the number one thing to encourage houseplant growth. Because light is not as abundant indoors compared to outdoors, it is important to make sure your plant gets enough sunlight. Make sure it receives bright, indirect sun daily.
  • Humidity – Monstera grow at their best when humidity is kept between 60% and 80%. This is also where they produce more leaves and larger, lusher ones at that.
  • Watering – Monstera like slightly most soil especially during the warmer months. However, it is prone to overwatering and root rot. Therefore, watch out for overwatering but also never allow the soil to get completely dry.
  • Support – give your Monstera pole or something similar as a support to climb on. Allowing the plant to climb not only lets it grow faster and bigger, it also helps the leaves split earlier.
  • Fertilizer – while the plant does not need a lot of fertilizer, you need to make sure it gets all the nutrients it needs to stay healthy. This will allow it to grow optimally and produce fenestrations.

 

How Often Does a Monstera Grow New Leaves?

Most Monstera will grow into good-sized plants. And they are known for their large fenestrated leaves.

Given proper care and ideal living conditions, a young Monstera will produce new leaves every 4 to 6 weeks. And as it gets bigger, you’ll see it produce leaves more frequently.

As such, make sure to give your Monstera enough room to grow. It is a vining plant that likes to climb. Thus, setting up a moss pole or similar vertical structure to let the plant go up on will help it get bigger, grow faster and produce more leaves. This also allows it to develop larger, more lush foliage.

The new leaves will grow out of the vines from nodes. Nodes are the small nibs or bumps that you’ll notice if you run your fingers through the plant’s stems.

These are where new leaves sprout from. When you propagate your Monstera, you’ll also want to include these nodes as that’s where the new roots will grow from.

Therefore, the nodes are a very important part of your Monstera’s growth and development.

It is also worth noting that you may notice Monstera leaf curl when new leaves develop. This is a natural process and nothing to be alarmed or worry about. As they grow, they will unfurl on their own.

 

How Do You Encourage Monstera Growth?

To encourage your Monstera to grow, it is important to give it a healthy living environment. This means to simulate or recreate something similar to its natural habitat, that of a tropical rainforest.

This will allow it to grow fastest and stay healthy. If you’re able to do this, you’ll see your Monstera get bigger, produce more leaves and larger foliage as well.

Here are ways to encourage Monstera growth.

  • Keep the plant in bright, indirect light – the plant thrives in bright, indirect or filtered light. Make sure to give it sufficient lighting. Avoid too much or too little light.
  • Avoid overwatering – Monstera are susceptible to overwatering and root rot. So, although it needs moisture, it is important to wait until part of the soil dries before adding more water. In general, the plant only needs watering every 1 to 2 weeks.
  • Maintain humidity of 40% and higher – tropical rainforests are warm and humid. Monstera enjoy high humidity of between 60% and 80% although it will be happy as long as you keep humidity at 40% and higher.
  • Apply fertilizer – fertilizer will supply your Monstera with the proper nutrients to grow optimally. This includes nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, magnesium and calcium all of which the plant needs. However, avoid overfeeding it.
  • Give it a pole to climb on – in their natural habitat, Monstera cling onto larger plants and trees and climb on them. This allows it to get higher up in order to receive more sun exposure. Thus, giving it a moss pole or some kind of climbing structure helps it grow faster.

 

How Do You Know if Your Monstera is Happy?

The simplest way to tell if your Monstera is happy is to look at it. A happy monstera will grow big, have lots of large leaves with fenestrations. It will also continue to grow and produce more foliage.

Keep in mind that these plants can get very big in the wild. So, good size and thickness means it is happily growing and is healthy.

Here are some other ways to tell that your Monstera is happy.

  • Your Monstera should get taller and wider. This is how it naturally grows. It will grow vertically which is why a support helps a lot. And as the leaves get bigger and bushier, they extend outwards to the sides.
  • Lush leaves and good color. Most Monstera have dark green leaves. Therefore, you want them to maintain this vibrant color. However, there some Monstera varieties with variegations and other patterns. The important thing is that their leaves look bright and vibrant. On the other hand, discoloration including yellow, brown, or pale leaves are not good signs. Dry, soft, crunchy, brittle or dull looking leaves also mean something isn’t going well.

Leaves should keep growing. This means that the current leaves should get bigger and have fenestrations. Additionally, the plant should continue to produce new foliage. If new leaf growth stops, it is a sign that something is happening or the plant is not happy with something.

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