Monstera is a beautiful plant species that are popularly grown as indoor plants. One of the reasons for their popularity is their unique leaves characterized by splits and fenestration.
However, plant owners often worry about their Monstera not splitting. Below is a complete guide to Monstera split leaves and what you can do to encourage Monstera growth.
A Brief Introduction to the Monstera Plant
The genus Monstera is part of the Araceae plant family and is commonly found in tropical forests of South and Central America. The tropical plant is known for its large leaves with splits and fenestration, earning them the title “swiss cheese plant.”
There are 48 invasive species in the Monstera genus, the most popular being the Monstera deliciosa. These plants are popularly grown as house plants due to their aesthetic value.
However, they require proper care to grow to the full extent of their ability, and often plant owners get worried that they are doing something wrong.
One of the main reasons for the worry is when they can’t see any splits in their Monstera leaves. However, there are several reasons, some of which will be discussed later.
What is a Monstera Leaf Split, Exactly?
As young plants, the Monstera heart-shaped leaves are intact and do not show any holes or splits. These light green leaves grow and produce fenestrations, which are cuts that go from the midrib of the leave to the leaf blade.
Fully mature green leaves will support several splits at both sides of the mid-rib, making the leaf look like flaps. Since most Monstera, such as Monstera deliciosa, have abnormally large leaves, these splits look even more extensive, making it seem like new leaves are growing out of the leaf. Hence, you don’t see cartoon characters using Monstera leaves as parachutes.
When Do Monstera Leaves Split?
Jumping to the main question, when do Monstera leaves split? Generally, Monstera leaves split when they are mature enough. For the Monstera deliciosa, this type of Monstera plant usually occurs when the plant is two to three years old.
As juvenile plants, the baby Monstera supports heart-shaped leaves, which tend to grow quickly. Once the Monstera plant reaches maturity, the heart-shaped leaves start to spit and support fenestrations.
For some Monstera plants, it is common for leaves to not produce any splits for up to three years. Once they can, they will start growing splits from the bottom up, followed by holes in the leaves.
While there is little to a Christmas miracle that can help the Monstera leaves split before the plant matures, several things can delay the splitting of the leaves.
The swiss cheese plant is relatively sensitive regarding its care guidelines, and if not done correctly, you might not see any splits.
Why do Monstera Leaves Split?
Fenestrated leaves are a characteristic feature of the Monstera plant. However, these splits aren’t there for aesthetic purposes. While they look beautiful, they provide many practical benefits to the plants.
Monstera’s split leaves evolved to protect the plant. The Monstera plant developed these splits as an adaption to survive the harsh environment of its natural habitat. Below are three main reasons why the splits benefit the plant.
1. To Let the Sunlight Pass Through
The Monstera deliciosa has enormous leaves that measure 18 inches across indoors and are much larger in their natural habitat. The upper leaves can block any filtered sunlight that comes their way, making the younger Monstera leaves unable to get any light.
Without light, the leaves that do not photosynthesize become an unnecessary burden, causing stunted growth which can eventually lead to the death of the plant. Hence, the Monstera developed these splits to let the light pass and reach lower.
2. To Get Good Drainage
Another reason the Monstera plants develop splits and holes is to prevent water from stagnating on the leaves, which can promote the growth of fungi and other pathogenic organisms on the wet leaves.
The splits and holes in the leaves allow the water to pass through and fall on the floor, where it can be absorbed by the roots, as nature intended. Therefore, the leaves create needed drainage.
3. To Prevent Damage from Strong Winds
A rainforest can not be called such without heavy rain and strong winds. The problem with this is that Monstera leaves can buckle under the pressure of the winds causing the stems to snap.
To prevent this, Monstera came up with an ingenious idea if you can’t beat them, let them pass. The wind passes through the splits without damaging the leaf in any way.
Why Do My Monstera Leaves NOT Have Splits?
Some plant enthusiasts are frustrated by the lack of splits on their Monstera leaves and tend to worry about their Monstera plants never developing leaf splits. However, there are some ways you can ensure that your Monstera develops fenestrations.
If your Monstera leaves are not growing any splits even after reaching maturity, there might be several reasons for that.
Age and Type of Monstera Plant
As we said before, Monstera only develops split leaves once they are mature. The Monstera plant reaches maturity at the age of two or three.
This is because the adaptive feature only needs to develop once the Monstera is big enough to block sunlight. Hence, if your Monstera is a few months old or is still under three years, give it enough time to grow.
Not all Monstera grow split leaves. Of the ones that do, the Monstera deliciosa is the most common. With more than 48 species in the genus, you can expect them all to have different characteristics.
Species like the Monstera tuberculate do not develop any fenestrations, while species like the Monstera adansonii or the Monstera esqueleto only develop holes but not complete splits.
Hence, before you worry about your Monstera not developing fenestrations, check if you have the species of Monstera that typically develops them.
As tropical plants, Monstera species are accustomed to bright filtered light that passes from the forest canopy. Hence, Monstera does well in bright indirect light when grown as an indoor plant.
This is also why Monstera develops aerial roots and grows on trees, allowing them to get as much light as possible.
One of the reasons that your Monstera leaves do not have splits might be that they are not receiving enough light.
Like all plants, Monstera requires tons of bright light. One way to ensure it receives the right amount of light is to put it near a window so it receives plenty of bright indirect sunlight.
You can also place your Monstera in direct sunlight when the sun isn’t so harsh, such as in the early morning. Generally, the Monstera plant requires eight to ten hours of indirect light to grow well. However, be careful not to put it in bright direct light as it may cause the leaves to burn.
In their native habitat, the plants crawl on the forest floor to get plenty of water. However, that does not mean that it prefers soggy soil. Generally, as houseplants, Monstera does well if you water them once every week during the growing months of summer and spring and twice a week in the winter.
One reason your Monstera splits are delayed is that the plant is either receiving too much water or not receiving enough of it, which can hinder the plant’s growth.
Too much water can lead to root rot, while too little causes wilting and dehydration. Hence, you must pay attention to your watering routine.
One way to reduce Monstera watering is to check the top inches of the soil to see if it is dry. Moreover, make sure that your plant pot has appropriate drainage holes.
Temperature and Humidity
Monstera thrives in temperatures above 50 degrees Fahrenheit and humidity above 50%. Without these specific conditions, Monstera shows stunted growth, which can hinder its ability to produce splits.
You can place the Monstera plant in a warm and humid house area near the bathroom or kitchen. To ensure it receives enough moisture and humidity, you can mist the plant regularly or use a pebble tray with water and place it under the pot.
The soil is essential in whether your Monstera plant will develop splits and how soon it can. Monstera deliciosa prefers well-aerated soil with appropriate drainage for its roots to grow well. The healthier the roots, the healthier the Monstera.
Generally, using a potting mix can help improve your Monstera deliciosa’s growth. Moreover, if your Monster can use a little boost in growing, you can add liquid fertilizer to the soil.
Monstera deliciosa is epiphytic in nature, which means it can grow on trees. The aerial roots of the aroid plant latch onto the surface of tree barks and help the plant grow upward. This stimulates the growth of leaves and the Monstera stem.
If you do not see splits in your mature Monstera deliciosa, try giving it something to climb on. You can use a sphagnum moss pole or a coco coir pole to attach Monstera vines and let the plant climb. However, you must keep the Monstera hydrated and ensure it has enough nutrients to stimulate growth.
Damage to the Monstera Plants
Damage is one of the main things preventing your mature plants from developing splits. This damage can occur in several ways.
- The roots may be damaged when repotting the Monstera in a bigger pot, causing the plant to lack water and nutrients, which inhibits growth.
- The stem may be damaged, which prevents nutrients and water from reaching the leaves.
- The plant is infected by diseases such as root rot which slowly kills the Monstera.
- The plant is infested with pests such as spider mites that eat away at the plant.
If the plant is damaged, you must first locate the source of the damage. If the damage was because of wear and tear due to something you did, you can cut off the damaged part and wait for the plant to fix itself.
You can treat the plant with antifungal or antibacterial soap if it is diseased. Similarly, you can treat the plant with pesticidal soap or neem oil if it is infested. Report the Monstera in new soil after you have treated it.
Will Monstera Leaves Split After Unfurling?
While mature Monstera plants develop splits, an existing Monstera leaf will not do so. Hence, if you noticed your Monstera deliciosa not producing fenestrated leaves and took the necessary measures, do not expect to see the enormous existing leaves suddenly split up.
The splits and holes develop on the new leaf before they unfurl. Therefore, there is no way for Monstera leaves to split after unfurling. The information on the number of fenestrations is pre-engineered into the leaf.
If the unfurling leaves do not have splits or are small in size, you should know that the plant is under some kind of stress and take appropriate measures to ensure healthy growth. Once the plants grow split Monstera leaves, you can prune some older ones or wait for them to fall off naturally.
How Often Do Monstera Grow New Leaves?
A baby Monstera deliciosa plant sprouts new leaves every four to six weeks. However, the rate of new leaf growth speeds up as the plant grows older.
Since the Monstera is vining plants, they stretch and grow new leaves from their nodes. The nodes are full of pluripotent cells that mature and grow quickly.
As the vine grows, more nodes develop, and more leaves emerge. Hence, you do not have to worry about whether it’s too late for your Monstera deliciosa to develop fenestrations.
How Do You Know If Your Monstera is Happy?
The best way to tell if your Monstera is happy is to look for fenestration on the leaves. If your mature Monstera has holes and splits in the leaves, you can rest assured that it is ecstatic to grow so well. However, there are different ways to tell if a young Monstera is happy:
- It has dark green leaves. If the plant has yellow leaves or is browning at the edge, your Monstera is far from happy.
- You see new leaves every few weeks.
- The plant grows horizontally and stretches upwards.
Monstera plants are the epitome of houseplants that can improve the aesthetic of your homes. However, with great power comes great responsibility.
Hence, you must ensure that you take proper care of the Monstera and nurture it to show its full potential by ensuring that the Monstera leaf splits.
1. How Can I Make Monstera Leaves Split?
Making the Monstera leaves split isn’t as difficult as you might think. You can encourage a monstera leaf to split by providing adequate light, water, nutrients, and humidity levels.
2. What Causes the Monstera Leaves to Split?
Monstera’s split leaves evolved as an adaptive feature. The harsh winds, scarce sunlight, and stagnating water caused the Monstera leaves to split to ensure their safety.
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.