Why Do Monstera Leaves Split? And How To Encourage That

If you step into any stylish home or office, and you’re likely to see a Monstera gracing the space with its lush, tropical vibes.

This iconic plant, with its large, glossy leaves punctuated by unique splits and holes, has become a favorite modern decor.

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But have you ever stopped to wonder why Monstera leaves split?

Or perhaps you’re seeking ways to encourage this unique growth pattern.

Today, we look into the reasons behind the split leaves and provide practical tips on how to help your own Monstera achieve its full, split-leaf glory.

Why Do Monstera Leaves Split? And How To Encourage That - 1600X900

What Is It Called When Monstera Leaves Split?

When Monstera leaves start to develop their characteristic splits and holes, this process is scientifically referred to as fenestration.

The term “fenestration” comes from the Latin word ‘fenestra’ which means ‘window’ or ‘opening’.

It’s a fitting term considering the splits and holes in Monstera leaves indeed create window-like openings.

Fenestration is not unique to Monstera deliciosa alone.

It’s a phenomenon observed in several species of climbing plants that grow in tropical rainforests.

The development of fenestrations is an evolutionary adaptation that helps these plants maximize their light absorption and withstand the heavy rain and wind typical of their natural habitats.

In the case of Monstera deliciosa, fenestration is also what makes them so visually appealing and popular in the world of indoor gardening.

Why Do Monstera Leaves Split?

Monsteras are famous for its distinctive fenestrations—those fascinating splits and holes that give the plant its trademark appearance.

But these striking features aren’t just for aesthetics; they play a crucial role in the plant’s survival in its natural habitat.

Giant green leaf of Monstera deliciosa, close-up

Monstera deliciosa hails from the tropical rainforests of Central and South America.

In these dense, humid jungles, the competition for sunlight is fierce.

The Monstera plant has evolved a unique strategy to maximize its exposure to light.

The splits in the leaves, known as fenestrations, allow sunlight to filter through to the lower leaves and stem, helping the plant photosynthesize more efficiently.

In addition, these fenestrations reduce the plant’s resistance to heavy tropical winds, allowing them to pass through the leaves rather than tearing them.

How to Encourage Leaf Splitting in Your Monstera

If you’re a Monstera parent hoping to encourage the iconic split-leaf growth, there are a few key conditions you need to replicate:

Light

Monstera deliciosa, being native to the rainforests of Central and South America, is accustomed to a habitat with high tree canopies that diffuse the sunlight.

In this environment, the plant experiences bright, but indirect light.

To mimic these conditions in your home, place your Monstera near a window where it can enjoy a good amount of natural light.

However, be sure to shield it from the harsh, direct rays of the sun.

If your window is south-facing and receives intense sunlight, consider using a sheer curtain to filter the light.

You can also place your Monstera a few feet away from the window to prevent the leaves from getting scorched.

Humidity

In its native habitat, the Monstera is accustomed to a humid environment.

To replicate these conditions, consider placing your plant in a naturally humid room, such as a bathroom or kitchen.

Humidifoer for plants

If these locations are not feasible, there are other ways to increase the humidity level around your plant.

One method is to place your Monstera on a humidity tray—a tray filled with water and pebbles, where the water evaporates to create a humid microclimate around your plant.

Alternatively, you can use a room humidifier or regularly mist your plant with water.

Maturity

Fenestrations or leaf splits in Monstera plants are a sign of maturity. In nature, these plants start as small seedlings with solid leaves.

As they climb taller trees and get closer to the light source, the leaves start to develop splits and holes.

In a domestic setting, a young Monstera plant might have entirely solid leaves.

Over time, as the plant grows and matures, the new leaves will start to develop fenestrations.

The wait will be well worth it when your Monstera starts producing its iconic split leaves.

Nutrition

Just like all living beings, Monstera plants need the right nutrition to thrive.

A well-draining soil is essential to prevent water-logging and root rot.

Consider a potting mix with peat moss or coco coir, perlite, and a bit of compost or worm castings for added nutrition.

hand-holding-coconut-coir

During the growing season—typically spring and summer—supplement the plant’s nutrition with a balanced, water-soluble fertilizer.

Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for dosage, and remember that it’s usually better to under-fertilize than to over-fertilize.

Check out this Monstera plant food on Amazon.

How Many Years Does It Take For Monstera Leaves To Split?

There isn’t a one-size-fits-all answer. This developmental process can vary greatly depending on the plant’s growing conditions and overall health.

In general, however, you can expect a Monstera deliciosa to begin developing fenestrations or split leaves around its third year of growth.

It’s important to remember that this timeline can be influenced by factors such as the quality of care the plant receives and the environment in which it grows.

Adequate light, humidity, and nutrition, as discussed earlier, all play a critical role in the plant’s growth and maturity.

A well-cared-for Monstera may start exhibiting fenestrations slightly earlier, while one in less-than-ideal conditions might take longer.

With Time and Care, Watch Your Monstera Transform

By mimicking the Monstera’s natural habitat and providing it with the conditions it needs to thrive, you can encourage the development of those iconic split leaves.

With time, care, and patience, you can watch your Monstera transform, developing its unique, show-stopping foliage that’s sure to be the centerpiece of any room.

Enjoy the process of learning and growing with your Monstera!

And for more Monstera care tips, check out these other articles below:

12 Reasons Why Your Monstera’s Leaves Are Curling: Unveiling Common Culprits

From Basic To Extraordinary: Advanced Care Tips For Monstera Enthusiasts