Monstera: The Hole Story in Splits
One of the most pretty and inherently stylish houseplants that'll effortlessly uplift any space is the Monstera Deliciosa. This tropical indoor plant has garnered a massive fan following as the "Swiss Cheese Plant" or the "Split-Leaf Philodendron".
The reason these plants are so popular is that they produce beautiful heart-shaped leaves, with unrivalled hole patterns and splits on the edges. It's one of the most rewarding pleasures of having a Monstera plant in your home. Proud Monstera parents will instantly and delightfully agree. But are you one of those anxious plant parents whose Monstera is having trouble growing that iconic, split-leaf foliage? Relax! Just be patient and let it evolve into its final form!
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Stages in Splitting of Monstera Deliciosa Leaf
What do we mean by final form? Well, the Monstera deliciosa achieves its ultimate hole-y and split-leaf structure in stages. As the plant matures, the leaves develop more and more fenestration. "Fenestration" is a classy word that is used to describe the splits and holes. They're the spaces in the leaves that should have been there, but are missing!
The Monstera reaches fenestration milestones in this sequence:
Solid Heart Leaf
A young Monstera looks like a different plant altogether! It has solid, heart-shaped leaves like any other typical Philodendron plant species at it’s young age. There are no splits or holes.
The Monstera first starts to show cuts along the edges of its leaves. The shape of each individual leaf remains the same. Only void spaces appear in rows.
Primary Midrib Holes
The leaves start having tissue necrosis, or death of the tissues, leading to the formation of holes on them. The holes develop in parallel lines along the midrib .
Secondary Midrib Holes
The first series of holes are soon followed by another line of holes parallel to the lateral veins of the leaves.
Tertiary Midrib Holes
The final set of hole develops the closest to the midrib of the leaf, marking the final maturity of the Monstera leaf. This entire process takes almost 4-6 years and patience is a virtue that is well rewarded and tested. At Leafy Island we provide Monstera Deliciosa that are ripe for developing their primary midrib holes. Bring home a lush green Monstera Deliciosa today.
What Causes the Monstera to Create Splits and Holes?
Now you know how the Monstera's leaves develop gradually into the graceful spectacle you're so familiar with. But why do the leaves have splits and holes in the first place? There are multiple theories and speculations surrounding the perforated leaves of the M. deliciosa plant. The prominent ones include
- Survival in low light,
- Adaptation to rainwater
- Defense against strong winds
The most credible theory, we believe, is that the fenestrations appear to allow light to travel through the leaves and reach the ones below. Monsteras grow in dense rainforests, starting out at the base of huge trees, where light is scarce and filtered. At first, it unfurls robust, heart-shaped leaves (without holes) to capture as much light as possible. When the plant shoots upward, the leaves at the bottom become shaded by the huge leaves above. With sunlight trickling down only in narrow streaks and specks, the Monstera decides to produce the fenestrations (yeah, it sounds cool!). Fenestrated leaves catch and let through more sunlight. Believe it!
Whether it's because of the natural lighting conditions or the exposure to wind and rainfall, all of it points toward only one verdict. Monstera leaves have splits and holes to help the plant grow in size and strength.
Real Photos from Leafy Island Customers :)
How can you ensure your Monstera gets splits? Some tips and good practices.
Let's focus on your Monstera now. We know you hung on for this part! It's clear that if your Monstera is young, you really can't do much. The splits will come as the result of a carefully played waiting game. Your Monstera should eventually develop beautiful holes and splits on its own when it's 2-3 years old. Oh what wouldn't you give to see those precious perforated leaves...
Well, there are some things you can do to encourage your Monstera to get more defined and attractive fenestrations.
Place it in a spot that receives bright indirect light. Move your plant near the window or in the balcony (in a shaded corner) where it can see the sky. If you still can't find a bright spot in your home, invest in a good grow light.
While light is undoubtedly the most deciding factor in leaf-splitting, water also plays a pivotal role. Make sure the amount and frequency of watering is right.
Monsteras are more than capable of flourishing on their own. However, the absence of fenestration in mature leaves may indicate a lack of nutrition. Fertilise, especially during spring and summer to give your monstera an added boost!
Rerun the basics
With bright, filtered sunlight, regular water, and adequate nutrients, you’ll have a beautiful Monstera! Don't worry, your plant will guide you. It'll show you signs if it wants something. Just look out for them and do your best to provide.
The bottom line is - try to recreate your plant's natural habitat, as closely as you can. The plant will grow healthier and produce the much-coveted splits, just like it does in the wild.
A split ending!
If you have your heart set on a fully fledged Monstera with the sumptuous split-leaf pattern, then absolutely go for it!
If you want to grow your own Monstera, pick up a baby. Caring for it with your own hands and watching its amazing transformation brings pride and joy of a different kind.
Good luck with the 'hole' process!
If you have any questions about your Monstera plants, you can chat with our Plant Experts to assist you with the same! (PS. you can reach out to our Plant Experts for pretty much any query related to your plants 😉)
Looking to add to your Plants collection? Check out our Free Plant Picker Quiz for some super-smart recommendations.
Author: Siddharth Sharma
About the Author: Siddharth is a budding economics enthusiast and fervent admirer of the written word. He would love to see the world filled with innovative ventures and restore it's pristine habitats to their once dignified glory. When he's not writing, you can find him whipping up a delectable, wholesome meal. Siddharth is also a devoted plant parent and feels blessed to call Jaipur home.
The article is vetted by Leafy Island Botanist.