Monstera plants have unique fenestrations, or perforations, that offers an exotic look. The word fenestration is noticeably similar to the Latin phrase ‘fenestrare’, which means ‘provided with openings. There are a few theories that explain why Monstera plants grow their foliage this way. The most common theory suggests that the fenestrations help the leaves in high winds.
It is also believed that fenestration helps absorb more sunlight and cool the plant. They may protect the plant from grazing animals by camouflaging it. The splits indicate that the plant is in a healthy state. Regardless of the theories, we can all agree the splits and holes make the Monstera plant look distinguished.
How to Get Monstera Leaves to Split
There are several things you can do to encourage Monstera plants to split. Let’s take a look at the steps you can take to encourage split leaves.
Step 1: Choose the Right Time to Plant or Propagate Your Monstera Plant
The best time to plant or propagate your Monstera plant is in the growing season, usually the spring months. They will be more likely to recover from root stress and start to split leaves. If you want to split, do it in early spring or late winter.
Before splitting the Monstera, make sure it is well-hydrated. Give the roots a good soak until the water starts draining out of the pot.
Step 2: Cutting Monstera Leaves
Before cutting your Monstera plant, make sure you have a sterilized knife or scissor so as not to contaminate the parent or the cuttings. Clean the knife thoroughly with isopropyl alcohol before using it on the plant. Make the cut directly below the aerial roots or a node.
Step 3: Plant the New Monstera Leaves
The next step is to give each individual plant a new home. Always use a clean pot to prevent the spread of bacteria or fungi. The new pot should have good drainage that is about 2 to 4 inches wider than the new plant’s roots.
Use well-drained, humus-rich soil that has a pH range of about 5.5 to 7 for strong growth (monitor this with a pH kit).
Water the new plants and provide them with plenty of bright light for strong growth. Wait until a month has passed so that you can start fertilizing the plant for new growth and encourage recovery.
It will take some time for the plant’s roots to adjust to the new pot. You will need lots of patience to continue parenting your baby Monstera.
Step 4: Find a Windy Spot for Baby Monstera Plants
Fully mature Monstera leaves split to let the air pass through them. Otherwise, the massive span of the leaves could knock the leaves off the plant. To prevent this from happening, the plant creates holes in its monstrous foliage to allow the air through.
This is why the ideal place to trick the plant into recreating this foliage is to place them in a windy area of your house. This could be the patio, balcony, or garden. Just make the plant safe from harsh sunlight. Once the leaves start to split, you can bring the plant back to its original location.
Step 5: Provide the Baby Monstera with Ideal Growth Conditions
The closer you can stick to the plant’s native habitat, the faster its leaves will grow and produce those gorgeous fenestrations. There are a few steps you can take to accelerate your Monstera’s growth.
Monstera plants are native to the tropical rainforests of Mexico and are used to being in conditions where the sun is beaming intense radiation on them. Be careful not to provide too much sunlight because it will scorch the leaves and burn them. On the other hand, too much shade will stunt the plant’s growth.
To be on the safe side, try to provide your Monstera leaves with about 4,000 lux (4,00 footcandles) for maximum growth. You may place your Monstera in a north-facing window to receive bright indirect light from the sun. Another idea is to place them behind a curtain that can filter direct sunlight.
Monstera plants grow best in household temperatures of between 70-85℉. While they can survive the lows of 50℉, they won’t grow as well. It is necessary to keep the plants away from any heat sources and vents, including windows and doors. Exposure to temperatures under 50℉ and above 85℉ will result in stunted growth and prevent the fenestration of leaves.
Frost, in particular, is deadly to Monstera plants because it can cause cellular damage. Cold damage is often irreversible. If you planted them outside, bring your Monstera deliciosa indoors in the colder months.
Water the Monstera
You should water your Monstera plant once the top inch or so of the soil has completely dried. This usually happens once a week. Your watering routine should not be written in stone, though! You must wait until the topsoil is dry before watering the plant. Overwatering will hurt your Monsteras and lead to root rot. But before it gets to that stage, your plant’s leaves will turn yellow.
Fertilize Your Monstera Leaves
Finally, you should provide your Monstera leaves with fertilizer to encourage new leaves. Monstera plants thrive on soil that is high in magnesium. In addition, the fertilizer should have an NPK ratio of 3-1-2.
These macronutrients are vital for your baby Monstera’s roots, stems, and leaves. They also lead to the characteristic holes you want to see no Monstera leaves. You can add fertilizers once a month to your baby Monstera.
Humidity for Monstera Leaves
Monstera deliciosa plants prefer humidity levels of between 60% to 80%. At this range, the leaves of Monstera plants will absorb moisture from the air. This will give them those large leaves and produce fenestrations.
Consider misting your Monstera plants every day or invest in a humidifier. Although a humidifier is a bit expensive, it will ensure the environment is kept at the ideal humidity. Failing to provide the ideal humidity levels may result in the plant’s death. Use a hygrometer to monitor the environment’s humidity levels.
Pests and Diseases
Spider mites and scales are not good for your Monstera leaves. Always inspect the roots for signs of an infestation and take remedial actions to remove pests. You may shower the plant with a deluge of water to knock the pests off the foliage. In more severe cases of infestations, you may have to use essential oils like neem oil.
The latter is good at drowning out these pests and killing their eggs before they have a chance of hatching. You can also use insecticidal soap to neutralize the pests. Your baby Monstera plants will have elevated levels of stress and need to be nursed back to health.
Be extra gentle with the plants by taking care of all the factors responsible for growth, such as Monstera plant food, watering, lighting, humidity, and acidity levels.
Step 6: It’s a Waiting Game
If your Monstera plant is still young, you must give it time to mature. A young Monstera plant has heart-shaped leaves that don’t look anything like a mature Monstera. You must provide the plant with ideal care conditions to grow, including the right amount of water, lighting, and a tad bit of fertilizer to help the Monstera grow and develop gorgeous foliage.
It’s easy to look at someone else’s Monstera plants with massive foliage and feel discouraged. But those plants are likely to be several years old. You cannot rush the growth process.
How long does it take for a Monstera leaf to split?
Monstera plants need about 2 to 3 years for them to develop fenestrated leaves. This makes sense when you take the plant’s survival in the wild into account. Smaller leaves have no reason to split their leaves because the risk of animal grazing and high winds is relatively low.
However, once the leaves achieve a width of at least five or six inches, their surface area becomes vulnerable to high winds. This is the ideal time for them to form those fenestrated leaves. Most Monstera plants grow new leaves every four to six weeks.
However, it may be time to worry if your mature Monstera isn’t splitting. It is a definitive sign that you may not be providing the plant with ideal care conditions. Try to increase sunlight, observe the roots for root rot, adjust the watering frequency, introduce fertilizer, improve the humidity levels, and monitor the pH level.
Your plant may also be vulnerable to bacterial and fungal infections that would prevent new growth. Pests are a major threat to baby Monsteras and can result in stunted growth. Inspect the leaves for signs of pests. Use neem oil to ward off any pest infestation and kill their eggs.
It may be difficult to troubleshoot the exact problem with your Monstera if you’re still new to the hobby. Create a bullet list of problems that could be affecting your Monstera plants. Strike them off one by one until you find the culprit.
How do you get more slits in Monstera?
It all boils down to how good you are at recreating the plant’s natural habitat. If you want more slits in your Monstera, you should provide them with the ideal growth conditions, as discussed earlier. Provide proper nutrients to your Monstera plant to encourage larger leaves and splitting.
Why does my Monstera not have slits?
There are a few reasons why your Monstera leaves are not splitting. Perhaps the plant is still a juvenile. If you just purchased a young Monstera plant without holes in the leaves, you will have to wait for another two to three years for the leaves to split. Wait until the width of the leaves has reached about six inches to see splits.
Although it is possible that your Monstera plant isn’t splitting because it is still young, there could be other main factors at play. The most common is not providing the ideal growing conditions for the Monstera plant. For best results, you should mimic the plant’s native habitat.
So there you have it, an in-depth look at how you can get your Monstera plants to produce fenestrated leaves. The journey almost always starts by planting a baby Monstera and taking exceptionally good care of it for about three years until the leaves start to split. However, you can cut this journey short by going for a mature Monstera plant.
If you don’t want to wait a few years for baby Monstera leaves to fully mature, you may want to plant a mature plant. Note that younger monstera plants are often cheaper, while mature varieties are up to 10 times more expensive.
Let us know how you got your Monstera leaves to start splitting!
My name is Daniel Elrod, and I have been houseplant love ever since I was 17. I love how much joy they bring to any room in the home. I’ve always been amazed at how a few pots of flowing leaves can turn a drab and sterile office into an inviting place where people love to work at.