When Do Monstera Leaves Split?

Any image of a monstera plant on the internet will usually show a large, luscious plant with large leaves riddled with holes and splits. The baby monstera you purchased from your local store may look entirely different but do not despair.  All of this will change with time and with the right living conditions for the plant. Bear in mind that the large plants you see with hundreds of fenestrations are possibly decades old.

Generally speaking, monstera leaves tend to start splitting and forming holes as the plant matures (usually between one and three years of age). As the plant matures, the leaves become larger and begin to have more splits with more holes (fenestrations).

The best thing you can do for your deliciosa monstera to start showing fenestrations is to simply give it some time. With sufficient time, and the right amount of care (including light, fertilizer, and water) your prized houseplant will soon boast enviable fenestrations.

When Do Monstera Leaves Split?

Monstera Leaves

You will notice that young monstera plants tend to have small, heart-shaped leaves that look entirely different from the large, holey leaves that can be seen on the more mature plants. This is simply a matter of the age and maturity of the plant itself.

As the plant starts to age, the leaves start to become bigger, and the fenestrations (referring to both the splits of the leaves as well as the holes) start to form. This is because the upper leaves need to grow wider than the normal plant leaves below before splitting of the leaves becomes necessary.

The age of the plant, the speed at which it grows, and the light conditions available to the plant will ultimately cause the leaves to start splitting.  Fenestrations typically start to occur on new leaves after around five or six leaves have already formed on the same stem.

It’s important to remember that the way the new leaf looks as it starts to unfurl is the way it will look throughout its life. The fenestrations do not occur after the leaf has unfurled, contrary to popular opinion, and this will become obvious once you start to see new leaves unfurling with fenestrations already present.

After the plant has aged beyond 3 years and as it ages into becoming decades old, the monstera will start to grow enormous leaves with additional fenestrations within the existing splits. While this is more typical of the monstera present in the wild, it is possible for this to occur with a well looked-after houseplant that has sufficient light, nutrients, and space to grow.

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Why Do Monstera Leaves Split?

Large Monstera Leaves

Monstera leaves have evolved to split for several reasons, and this has occurred as a result of the living conditions in which the plant is typically found in nature.

Because monstera are found on the forest floor and attach themselves to trees in order to start growing upwards, they have adapted unique characteristics that allow them to capitalize on the available light in the humid areas beneath the canopies of forest trees.

The fenestrations in monstera leaves were believed to be an evolutionary adaptation that allowed light to filter through to the lower levels of the plant. With the leaves being so large, if there were no fenestrations, very little light would be able to filter through to the lower parts of the plant, and this would, in turn, hinder the potential for photosynthesis.

Because younger monstera plants have much smaller leaves, the fenestrations become far less necessary. This is because the smaller leaves will not prevent light from reaching the leaves below. Therefore, the fenestrations are not necessary in order to allow sunlight to reach the lower leaves.

Another presumed reason for the presence of fenestrations is the management of water for the plants. Again, this has a lot to do with the size of the leaves. Because the leaves of the monstera are so large, without fenestrations, they would potentially allow for water to sit and accumulate on their surface.

Water sitting on the surface of the leaves is a sure way to cause issues such as mold, fungus, and rot, ultimately affecting the health of the plant in a highly negative way. Because of the fenestrations, water is able to move off of the leaves and down towards the nodes and the roots of the plant where the water is needed.

The fenestrations in this regard essentially serve as channels to bring water to the parts of the plant that it is most needed.

The fenestrations in monstera leaves are also purported to exist for the purposes of air management. Again, due to the size of the leaves, solid leaves at these proportions would essentially act as sails in the event of strong winds, causing the plants to topple over or become significantly damaged, with the leaves being torn in the wind.

The fenestrations allow air to pass through the leaves without causing damage to the leaves and the rest of the plant.

How To Encourage Your Monstera Leaves To Split

Monstera Leaves

While nature is going to take its course and you cannot force your monstera to produce fenestrations before it is ready, there are certain measures you can take to ensure the best possible living conditions for the plant, thus ensuring that it grows healthily, quickly, and ultimately produces beautiful fenestrations within the shortest possible time frame.

It’s important to attempt to recreate the plant’s natural habitat as far as possible. This will ensure a healthier plant with more growth and ultimately more fenestrations in a shorter timeframe. Bear in mind that the quicker the plant grows, the sooner it will form its fenestrations.

Firstly, the main reason your monstera leaves haven’t split yet could simply be a matter of time. If the plant is younger than one year, it will most likely not have any fenestrations for a while yet. All you can do in this instance is wait a while.

The light conditions in which your monstera is living will play a major role in terms of its fenestration-producing capabilities. Ensure that your monstera is placed in an area with sufficient light. This should be indirect light, however, as too much direct sun on the monstera will cause the leaves to become burned.

The amount of water your plant receives will make a major difference in its overall health and, resultantly, its ability to form fenestrations. Ensure that the plant receives sufficient water throughout the year, and ensure that you do not overwater the plant as this will cause more harm than underwatering.

Fertilizer is another essential component to healthy plant growth, and so this should be applied with some regularity (approximately every 6 weeks). Using the correct fertilizer will also ensure optimal health for the plant.

By ensuring that the plant has sufficient support to grow upwards, you are also mimicking its natural habitat, and thus ensuring a healthy and happy plant. Without proper support, there will be undue pressure on the drooping trunks, and the plant will have less energy to expend on its upwards growth and production of fenestrations.

Other possible interventions include pruning the lower leaves of the plant to promote upper leaf growth, as well as moving the plant to a larger space where it will be able to grow uninhibited by obstructions.

Read more: Overwatered Monstera


Something that goes with the territory of owning houseplants is having to learn to be patient. Because monstera leaves can take a number of years to start splitting and forming any sort of fenestrations, you will simply have to wait.

The plant will develop its highly desirable fenestrations only when it is ready. However, you can ensure that the plant has the ultimate living conditions that will encourage fast and healthy growth throughout its lifetime. A healthy plant with a steady growth pattern will ultimately produce fenestrations within a shorter time period than one that lacks light, nutrients, and general care. At the end of the day, you cannot rush nature, so give the plant your best care, and give it time to do what it needs to do whenever it is ready.