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When Do Monstera Leaves Split? Won’t Split {Try This}

When do Monstera Leaves split
Tony ONeill Showing the Double fenestrations on a Monstera Thai Constellation

Most Monstera will naturally start producing split leaves at 2 to 3 years old, providing the ideal growing conditions are met. However, this can be expedited by taking a cutting or clone, which can produce fenestrations in as little as 6 months.

Why do Monstera leaves split?

The Monstera is a tropical Epiphyte that grows on other plants’ surfaces. In its natural habitat, mature Monstera climbed tall trees, producing fenestrated leaves as it grows, allowing the winds to pass through the large leaves. It also allows enough light to pass through the leaf fenestrations to the lower leaves below.

What do we mean by splits?

Monstera splits are a distinctive feature observed in certain species of the Monstera genus, including the Monstera deliciosa and Monstera Adansonii. As the age of the plant increases and matures, its leaves change from heart-shaped leaves to larger leaves that develop unique splits or holes. These are the desirable ones and are beautiful leaves.

Monstera Deliciosa showing the splits in its leaves

What causes the leaves to split on Monstera?

Various factors cause monstera leaves to split. Apart from age that we already discussed, plant care is vital. You must give your Monstera houseplant adequate indirect light to grow new leaves. If there is not enough light in your room, then light should be supplemented with grow lights. It is important to note that you should do this gradually and look for signs of stress, especially if your plant is used to lower light conditions. 

The medium or soil in which your baby Monstera lives is a factor in controlling the root system. This will encourage Monstera to grow fenestrated leaves even in a young plant. I use a chunky soilless growing medium for my monstera. It ensures three things.

  1. The plant gets enough moisture to push out new leaves
  2. It prevents overwatering, which can cause root rot.
  3. ensures there is plenty of aeration around the roots for strong growth

All of the above factors in the medium you use are important to the plant’s health, which will cause your Monstera to produce fenestrations.

Fenestration is the true holes that they produce in the center of the leaves between the veins that don’t reach the leaf margin.

The National Gardening Assocciation 

Why do Monstera leaves have holes? (secondary fenestrations)

As the Monstera plant matures, Monstera leaves may develop holes. These are leaves with splits and secondary holes in the leaves. My Thai Constellation, a variegated Monstera, has these holes. These secondary fenestrations on Monstera are beautiful and desirable, making your tropical plant more appealing.  

Monstera plants, indigenous to tropical rainforests, exhibit a unique feature known as fenestrations, or holes, in their leaves. This adaptation is believed to have developed due to the limited sunlight penetrating the dense forest canopy.

The fenestrations enable more sunlight to reach lower leaves, and by decreasing the leaf’s surface area, they may lessen potential damage from heavy rain or wind. Furthermore, these splits could help the plant gather rain or dew drops more effectively. 

Close up of a Monstera Thai Constellation  with double fenestration

When will my Monstera leaves split? 

At 2 or 3 years old healthy Monstera will start to mature from a young Monstera and grow new leaves that unfurl, and the plant’s leaf will have small splits. This is the first sign your Monstera is old enough to start to develop splits. Following leaves on an indoor plant will grow larger, and your Monstera will split. 

If growing in low light conditions, you would be better to change the plant to a new location with bright light; It allows light to get to all the leaves and feed the energy the plant requires; it also has the added bonus of tricking the monstera into thinking it is pushing through a canopy like in the wild where there is much more light.

It is important to note that dark green leaves will utilize much more light than variegated leaves, and the latter is much more susceptible to too much light.

Tony O'Neill with a Monstera Deliciosa

Why is my Monstera not splitting?

There are many reasons your Monstera is not splitting and only producing leaves without holes. 

  1. The plant itself is still young and only produces baby leaves.
  2. You are not providing your Monstera does not get enough sunlight.
  3. Leaves on your Monstera don’t grow big as the Monstera plants grow, as they are allowed to sprawl rather than climb.
  4. The growing medium that the root system grows in does not allow for enough air and moisture (Root Bound)
the heart shaped leaves of a young Monstera

What to do if a Monsteras leaves won’t split? 

If you want your Monstera Plant to have holes and splits, you need to ensure your plant has healthy growth; any signs of yellow leaves or crisping leaves could be a sign of root rot, preventing your Monstera from producing fenestrations. Light, Water, fertilization and support are other reasons you are growing leaves that aren’t splitting.

This includes providing adequate light to replicate its natural, tropical environment, ensuring an appropriate watering routine to maintain moisture levels, incorporating fertilization to supplement its nutritional needs, and offering physical support to mimic its natural growth habits. These factors could potentially influence the foliage’s development and its ability to exhibit the characteristic openings,

How to encourage Monstera leaves to split?

We would all love our favorite Monstera leaves to grow huge and have the splits and holes we all desire. By ensuring your Monstera is placed in the appropriate light levels, Given enough warmth, the correct amount of water and a moss pole or some other form of support structure, then there should be no reason you cannot get your Monstera leaves to split.

Monstera Adansonii with large leaves and holes climbing a moss pole

What are the splits in monstera leaves called?

The splits in Monstera leaves are called Fenestrations. A Monstera may have single or double fenestrations and holes in its leaves. 

These fenestrations, unique to certain flora like Monstera, add to the distinct aesthetic of the plant and serve a significant function. Native to the dense tropical rainforests, these plants have adapted over time to optimize their exposure to sunlight.

Fenestrations allow more sunlight to reach the lower foliage and promote efficient moisture absorption. This intricate design of foliage with fenestrations enhances the survival and growth of the plant in diverse environments. 

Also, the level of fenestration may vary in a plant, with younger ones typically having solid leaves while mature ones develop more fenestrations over time. This transformation is a spectacular natural process, often appreciated by flora enthusiasts.

Do all Monstera plant varieties have split leaves?

Not all Varieties of Monstera leaves will appear with holes, such as the Monstera standleyana and Monstera spruceana. Even if this plant reaches decades old, it would not produce split leaves. 

Tony O'Neill with a Monstera Standleyana

Here is a list that is not exhaustive of Monstera that leaves will split on.

  1. Monstera deliciosa
  2. Monstera adansonii
  3. Monstera obliqua
  4. Monstera dubia
  5. Monstera pinnatipartita
  6. Monstera siltepecana
  7. Monstera subpinnata
  8. Monstera lechleriana

The video below will explain when, why, what and where of Monstera fenestrations.

Check out this video for more information

Final Thoughts

When you take good care of your plants and allow them to grow and mature, the leaf size will increase, and your Monstera leaves start to split naturally. Remember, Monstera grow large, and the plant can reach 15 feet tall. They must grow new splits to allow sunlight to pass through their new leaves. 

Light and humidity play a part in this growth, and if humidity is a factor, then you can spray wet leaves to help raise it.  I hope that this article has provided you with everything you need to know.