When Do Monstera Leaves Split?

Closeup photo of monstera plant in a pebbled pot

Monstera is a stunning tropical plant with attractive leaf fenestration, which gives it the name Swiss cheese plant. Owners of this indoor plant often wonder, "when do monster leaves split?" With proper care, the simple answer is that Monstera leaves split when the plant is 2 to 3 years old, but there is more to this plant splitting than just time. 


Monstera is sometimes called the Swiss cheese plant because of its fenestrated foliage, which provides a slew of benefits to the plant itself. If you have a Monstera that isn't splitting, you may be asking yourself if this is normal or something you should be concerned about, and just when do Monstera leaves split? The simple answer is when the Monstera plants reach two to three years old. However, there are a lot of factors to take into consideration to promote Monstera leaf splitting. 


What do we mean by splits?

Monstera plant placed beside a white wall

Baby Monstera has heart-shaped leaves that are intact without holes or splits. As the plant ages, its dark green leaves will continue to grow and enlarge in size. When the plant is old enough, it will grow new leaves with splits. While it may be alarming to see your Monstera plants suddenly producing leaves with holes, these splits are a good thing that shows the plant is happy and healthy.  


Why do Monstera leaves split?

Closeup photo of green Monstera leaf splits

While the fenestration leaves of the Monstera plant are attractive, the plant didn't create those iconic holes in its leaves just to enhance its beauty. The reason why do Monstera leaves split is an interesting one. The truth is, Monstera leaves start to split because of evolution.


Monstera's split leaves evolved to let the sun through.

The leaves of the Monstera plant can reach 2 feet wide, and these large leaves can easily block the sun from the leaves growing lower on the plant. When the lower leaves cannot get enough sunlight, these plants won't receive proper nutrients, and the health and growth of Monstera plants are negatively affected. Thankfully, evolution got involved in fixing this issue, and the plants began to develop holes in their leaves. These holes allow sunlight to shine through the plant and down to the lower leaves.


Splits in the leaves create needed drainage.

Splits in the green monstera leaves

The Monstera's fenestrated leaves provide good drainage to the Monstera deliciosa. The holes in the leaves do more than just allow light to pass through. They also provide proper drainage for the plant. Plants with large leaves, such as those found on the Monstera, can hold standing water, causing wet leaves, which creates the ideal environment for fungi and bacteria to grow. Both of which can increase the chance of root rot. The holes in its leaves prevent water from pooling up and causing a slew of problems.


Monstera leaves allow air to pass through.

Top view of watered monstera leaves

Another benefit of these holes is that it allows wind to pass through the large leaves without damaging the plant freely. This means that after a rainfall, the air won't be blocked from the lower leaves that have yet to produce fenestration, and they will be able to dry in a timely manner.


Why younger monstera leaves may not be split?

Hand holding monstera plant in a white pot

While it can be alarming to see a young Monstera plant without fenestration, it is completely normal for the younger houseplants not to have those iconic holes in their leaves. Young plant leaves may not split until they reach widths closer to their adult counterparts. This is because they need to reach a significant width, which will block out sunlight from the lower leaves before the splitting begins to form. Monstera leaves splitting typically occurs after the plant reaches 2 to 3 years.


Why won't my Monstera leaves split?

Monstera plant on a white pot beside a wooden chair

One of the main reasons why your monster leaves won't split is because it is too young. This plant needs to be about 2 to 3 years old before its leaves start to develop their signature holes. Since the reason for the splitting is due to evolution, the young Monstera will need to develop larger leaves before it needs to produce fenestrations. The older the plant is, the faster it will grow fenestrated leaves.

If a mature Monstera is not splitting, it is a sign that the plant is not receiving the same level of care that it would in its natural habitat. Not providing enough light, bad soil drainage, and poor nutrition can result in Monstera not splitting. If your mature Monstera isn't splitting, try giving it more sunlight. Besides age, a lack of sunlight is a leading cause of the Monstera not splitting. 


How do you encourage Monstera growth?

Monstera plant in a white pot placed on stairways

Monstera is native to the tropical forests in Southern Mexico and boasts an impressive 45 species in its genus. The Monstera is considered an invasive species in some areas, but it has become a favorite among the wide array of indoor tropical plants. This popular houseplant and its holey leaves will thrive in your home if you provide it with an environment that mimics its natural habitat. So the answer to how to get Monstera leaves to split is to provide the optimal growing environment, which includes an abundance of bright indirect light, damp soil, and good nutrients.


Sunlight

Green monstera plant with sunlight shade

Monstera thrives in bright and indirect sunlight, and too much shade will stunt its growth. With that said, however, you can give it too much light. Direct sunlight can scorch its leaves. A good general rule of thumb is to place the Monstera near a north-facing windowsill. Another option is to place the plant behind a sheer curtain to filter bright sunlight. Whether you choose a light that is indirect or filtered direct light, the plant receives the correct amount of light for the Monstera split.


Water

One rose gold pitcher beside three rose golden plant pots

Monstera will need water whenever the soil starts to dry out, typically once a week. You can test the dryness of the soil by inserting your finger an inch or so into the soil. If it feels dry, the plant needs water. Keep in mind, however, that you can overwater the plant. Overwatering increases the chance of root rot while also causing its leaves to turn yellow. Consider implementing a watering routine where you check the soil dryness once a week on the same day at the same time. This will help ensure you are regularly monitoring the dryness of the soil.


Fertilizer

Woman holding a plastic container with compost fertilizer

Another way to encourage Monstera's growth is with good nutrients. This tropical plant thrives in soils with high levels of magnesium. However, it does require a balanced growing medium that contains nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. One of the best ways to provide Monstera with the nutrients it needs for good growth is to use compost. Consider using a kitchen composter like Lomi to convert organic waste into nutrient-rich dirt good for your houseplants.

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How often does a Monstera grow new leaves?

Green monstera leaves placed beside on a white wall

While it can vary greatly when the Monstera plants grow new leaves, a good general rule of thumb is every four to six weeks for young plants. Mature Monstera, however, will sprout new leaves much more frequently. With proper care, the monstera will usually develop splits for the first time after several smaller leaves have developed on one stem. If you find a monstera with large split leaves but no baby monstera leaves, that plant is probably taken from a top cutting. This type of propagation gives the new plant a jump start. 


What causes Monstera leaves to split?

Green Monstera leaf plant during daytime

Split leaves in a Monstera plant occur when the plant is healthy and cared for properly. Keep in mind that an existing Monstera leaf won't grow new splits. So, if you see tears or cracks in a mature leaf, it is probably structural damage. With that said, it is not uncommon for its leaves to crack during the unfurling process. This is especially true if the humidity level isn't high enough.


Age

The age of the plant is one of the most important aspects as to whether or not its leaves will split. The downside is that you cannot encourage the plant to age faster and simply wait until it reaches 2 to 3 years old.


Light

Monstera leaves illuminated with LED purple lights

Providing indirect or filtered bright light is vital for not only the health of the plant but for it to grow split leaves. The leaves won't develop those desirable splits without adequate light, and the Monstera can experience poor growth. In fact, not receiving enough natural light is one of the main culprits of a mature plant not developing leaf splits.


General care

Woman spraying Monstera plants

An unhealthy Monstera plant will have poor growth and prevent the plant from producing its elegant leaf fenestration. To ensure your Monstera has the optimal growing conditions, you only need to water it when the soil is dry, provide bright indirect light, and humidity. 


Do all Monstera leaves split?

Person holding a pot of variegated monstera

Monstera deliciosa and Monstera adansonii are two of the most popular species in this genus, and they both feature those characteristic holes in the plant's leaves. But you may be wondering, "do all Monstera leaves split?" A few species in the Monstera genus do not produce leaves with splits. Monstera standleyana and Monstera peru are two such examples. These species of the Monstera genus won't grow fenestrated leaves.


Final thoughts on when do Monstera leaves split

When healthy, the monstera leaves splitting will generally begin when the plant is 2 to 3 years old. However, age isn't the only factor, and you will need to ensure the plant has the proper care to encourage leaf splitting. While water and light are vital to the health of this plant, so is good nutrition. Fertilization is often overlooked in indoor gardens, which is a shame since it directly affects the overall health and well-being of all plants. Thankfully, Lomi can help provide high-quality fertilizer with their kitchen composter, turning food waste into nutrient-rich dirt.