So you’re the proud owner of a new Monstera – congratulations! This houseplant is renowned for its incredibly unique leaves that you probably can’t wait to experience for yourself.
But as you look at your brand new plant and its solid, heart-shaped leaves, you couldn’t be blamed for wondering just when do Monstera leaves split. After all, how long do you have to wait before getting that famous Monstera look?!
Well, like most things in the indoor plant world, patience is going to be key here. So keep reading to find out just when you can expect this to happen, how to get your Monstera leaves to split and what to do if they just, well, don’t.
When do Monstera leaves split?
Monstera leaves do not begin splitting until the Monstera plant is mature, which typically occurs when they are between two to three years old, although timing will depend on whether they have prime living conditions. Before then, young and juvenile plants typically produce solid green, heart-shaped leaves.
Monsteras are popular tropical houseplants prized for their striking foliage. Monstera leaves have holes and splits giving rise to their common name of the Swiss Cheese Plant. But, young immature plants aren’t likely to show signs of splitting of the leaves just yet.
Some Monstera varieties, like Monstera dubia, develop splits when the vine breaks through the canopy and into the light. In practical terms, Monstera dubia does not produce splits until it reaches a height of six feet or more, so you may want to consider a Monstera moss pole to help it reach its full potential upwards. Similarly, pruning or trimming this Monstera variety to keep it small will prevent it from producing split leaves.
Related: How Long Do Monsteras Take To Grow (and How to Speed It Up)?
How long does it take a Monstera to mature?
Under ideal growing conditions, Monstera plants mature in two to three years. Plants grown in less than ideal conditions, such as too little light, poor potting soil or lack of consistent watering may take longer to mature. But with proper care and patience, you will soon be rewarded with the intricate cut designs Monstera plants are known for.
Most Monstera varieties, like Monstera Deliciosa, Variegata Monstera Deliciosa, and Thai Constellation Monstera can be expected to reach maturity in two to three years, but some may take longer. Monsteras known as shingle plants, like Monstera dubia, may produce immature leaves throughout their lifespan if they are pruned to maintain a manageable size for indoor growing.
How do I get my Monstera leaves to split?
There is no secret way to force Monstera leaves to split other than providing your Monstera plant with everything it needs to grow and thrive. Like other plants, they require proper light, adequate water, sufficient nutrients and the right temperature and humidity to flourish.
Meeting their growing needs will help your Monsteras grow to maturity. At this point, your plant will begin to progress through the various Monstera fenestration stages, which is when they will begin to produce leaves with the dramatic holes and splits they are known for.
Monsteras require bright, indirect light for several hours a day, but they cannot tolerate the direct rays from the sun. You can find out more about meeting your Monstera’s light requirements in our article on this point but, in brief, try to place your Monstera plant in a location that receives indirect light from a sunny window.
This means either placing your Monstera several feet from the window or hanging sheer curtains in the window to filter the light. Trees or structures outside the window may filter the light enough to avoid the use of curtains inside.
To check whether the light is just right for your Monstera in a specific spot, hold your hand (with your fingers spread) about 12 inches above your Monstera plant. Observe the shadow cast from the sun. A dark, dense shadow with distinct edges indicates direct sunlight and is likely to be too bright for your Monstera.
A faint or no shadow means your Monstera isn’t receiving enough light. A light-colored shadow with blurred edges is ideal.
Variegated Monstera varieties need more light than solid green plants because the variegated portion of the leaf lacks the chlorophyll needed to use the sun’s rays to produce energy for the plant. But, even variegated Monsteras will suffer in direct sun.
Use your plant’s health as a guide to proving the correct amount of light. Faded or a lack of variegation often indicates your variegated Monstera needs more light. Alternatively, if your Monstera leaves are drooping, it may mean your Monstera plant is getting too much light.
Monsteras are native to the forest floor in tropical forests where they receive plenty of water, but that doesn’t mean they like soggy soil. These plants prefer evenly-moist soil that never dries out completely.
This means, when it comes to how often to water your Monstera plant, the answer is whenever the soil feels dry to the touch 1 to 2 inches below the surface of the soil. The soil in the bottom half of the pot should not be allowed to dry out completely.
Monitor the soil closely to develop a watering routine that meets the needs of your specific Monstera plant. Keep in mind that how much water your Monstera plant needs depends on its size, rate of growth and time of year.
As a rule, Monsteras are actively growing from spring until fall and then rest for the winter months. They may need watering once or twice a week in the summer. When growth slows in the winter, your Monstera may thrive with watering once or twice a month.
Always check the moisture level in the soil before watering your Monstera as its needs can change quickly, due to environmental conditions. Similarly, if you notice your Monstera leaves turning yellow or even your Monstera developing black spots (neither of which are obviously ideal when you’re waiting for your Monstera leaves to split instead…), double check that you’re not accidentally over or under watering your plant.
When it comes to the best soil for Monsteras, these plants need loose soil that drains well to prevent their roots from sitting in soggy soil. Not only does soggy soil prevent your plant’s roots from getting the oxygen they need, but it can also lead to root rot as well. Monsteras are susceptible to root rot and will succumb quickly to this devastating disease.
All-purpose potting soil is too dense for Monsteras and should be avoided. Instead, use a good aroid soil, or make your own, for your Monstera plants.
There are several recipes for making your own Monstera soil. All contain a combination of peat moss, bark (or pine fines), potting soil and perlite. Cornell Farms recommends a mixture of 4 parts bark, 3 parts potting soil, 2 parts peat moss and one part perlite.
Premixed aroid soil can be purchased nearly anywhere plants and plant supplies are sold. Look for a reputable brand if you choose to buy premixed soil for your Monsteras.
All plants need nutrients to grow and your Monstera plant is no exception. While plants absorb oxygen, carbon and hydrogen from the air and water, other nutrients, like Nitrogen, Phosphorus and Potassium come from the soil.
That means you will need to fertilize your Monstera plants with a balanced plant fertilizer to keep them healthy.
How often your Monstera plant needs to be fertilized depends on its growth and the time of year. Feed your Monstera once to twice a month from spring until fall when it is actively growing but withhold fertilizer through the fall and winter to let the plant rest. You can then resume fertilizing your Monstera plant in the spring when active growth begins.
There’s also a chance that the soil in your Monstera’s pot is perfectly fine but the pot itself is too small. The result of this can be that you may have a root bound Monstera that’s not able to fully absorb those nutrients. In that case, it’s important to take steps to fix that as soon as you can, including that this may just be when to repot your Monstera.
Monsteras are sensitive to changes in temperature and do best in temperatures between 60 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit (around 15 to 26 degrees Celsius). Temperatures outside this range can slow your plant’s growth and affect its health. Likewise, sudden changes in temperature from heating or AC vents can cause stress to your Monstera plants.
Avoid areas with either hot or cold drafts and maintain a consistent temperature in the room to help your Monstera plant flourish.
Monstera plants thrive in warm, humid conditions which likely means you need to increase the humidity level in your home to keep them happy. They prefer humidity levels between 60 and 90 percent.
Some simple tricks to increase the humidity levels around your Monstera plants are with pebble trays filled with water, grouping plants together or by using a humidifier.
Some prefer to mist their Monstera plants, but this is not a permanent solution for raising the humidity levels around the plants as the effects of misting dissipate quickly. However, misting the moss or bark on your totem does help to keep the roots moist and boost growth in Monsteras.
What causes Monstera leaves to split?
The splits and holes in Monstera leaves, called fenestrations, are a natural adaptation of Monstera plants growing in the wild. It is thought that the holes in Monstera leaves developed to disperse water, to prevent damage from winds and to allow light to continue through the upper leaves and reach the lower ones.
When rain falls on the leaves it flows through the holes wetting the soil and roots of the plant while keeping leaves relatively dry. High winds blow through the holes leaving the leaves undamaged by the wind.
As houseplants, Monstera leaves split because it is a natural part of their development.
(And these holes also have another purpose: helping you to tell the difference between the split leaf philodendron vs Monstera! Which you may have even accidentally confused yourself before…)
Why are my Monstera leaves not splitting?
If your Monstera leaves aren’t splitting, it’s possible that your plant is still too young, as Monstera leaves don’t split until the plant is mature. Alternatively, older plants whose leaves haven’t split may need more attention to their growing conditions. Improving lighting, watering and general plant care can spur them to produce leaves with fenestrations.
Keep in mind that young or juvenile Monstera leaves are typically solid green without fenestrations or, in the case of Monstera Dubia, until it reaches a height of 6 feet or more. As such, if your plant hasn’t reached that point, some patience should do the trick.
However, if you know your plant should be old enough but you still find yourself asking, “Why won’t my Monstera split?” check that you are providing your Monstera with the growing conditions it needs to thrive.
Why are some Monstera leaves not splitting?
Each leaf on a Monstera plant is unique with its own pattern or splits or holes. Sometimes that means some leaves on the plant do not split as expected. If your Monstera plant is otherwise healthy and growing well, a few leaves that do not split is not a concern.
Some types of Monstera split at different times of their lifecycles. For example, some, like the Monstera siltepecana, will wait until they’re quite mature before starting to split. This means that if you have a relatively young Monstera, you might want to check whether it’s simply a case of having to wait until your plant is a bit older before those long-awaited splits appear.
Do all Monstera leaves split?
Not all types of Monstera have leaves that split and some are less inclined to do so but can eventually, like Monstera dubia. That said, most varieties produce at least some deep-cut splits in the leaves. Some, like Monstera adansonii, even produce leaves with very large holes in them.
Each Monstera variety will produce a specific type and pattern of fenestrations. Not all Monstera leaves have splits (for example, the Monstera tuberculata won’t fenestrate no matter how well it’s treated), but Monstera leaves always split if the variety sports split leaves.
Do Monstera leaves split after propagation?
If you root a Monstera leaf with splits, the new plant will also have splits. However, if you propagate an immature leaf that has not split yet, you will need to wait for the new plant to mature before you can enjoy its dramatic split leaves.
Related: Can You Propagate Monstera Without a Node?
Do Monstera leaves split after unfurling?
Mature Monstera plants produce split leaves, but don’t expect existing leaves to suddenly develop new splits, cuts or holes. The splits and holes in a Monstera leaf develop on new leaves before they unfurl. While the leaf grows larger and the holes and splits enlarge, too, the pattern is already set.
If you look closely at new leaves when they begin to unfurl, you will see their splits and holes have already developed.
Do Monstera leaves split as they grow?
The pattern of splits and holes in individual leaves becomes more defined and may enlarge as the leaf grows. But a new Monstera leaf will have already split before it unfurled. The fenestrations in Monstera leaves do not change significantly as the individual leaf grows.
Remember no two leaves are alike and some will have more splits or holes than others. They’re basically the snowflakes of the plant world!
What are the splits in Monstera leaves called?
The delicate lacy or frilly pattern of cuts, splits and holes in a Monstera leaf are called fenestrations. It comes from the Latin word fenestra meaning an opening or window.
The size, shape and type of fenestration on your Monstera plant is largely genetic and depends on the variety of Monstera. But it is easy to see why these intricate patterns are called fenestrations as they provide tiny openings or windows on the leaf to allow rain and wind to flow through them.