Monstera plants are probably most famous for their fenestrations – the holes in their leaves that give them that classic, distinctive shape and iconic look. These fenestrations are part of what has made these plants so popular, but if your plant hasn’t developed them, you might be left wondering, why does my Monstera not have holes?
There are a few factors that will affect whether your plant develops these fenestrations, and one of them is age; Monsteras do not grow holes in their leaves until they are around three years old. If an older Monstera isn’t producing holes, it is likely because it is lacking sunlight, nutrients, or humidity. You will need to take steps to resolve these issues.
Why Do Monsteras Produce Leaf Fenestrations?
There are quite a few theories about why Monstera plants produce leaf fenestrations, and disputes about this subject have been going on for some time.
Some people say that they produce fenestrations to help keep their leaves cool, while others suggest that the splits allow rain to pass through the leaves and reach the plants’ roots, so Monsteras get enough to drink. The splits also reduce wind resistance, meaning the plant is less likely to get damaged if a strong wind picks up.
However, the most commonly accepted theory about the fenestrations says that they are designed to help the plant capture more light. The leaves can have a large surface area that will soak up any rays filtering from the canopy above, while still allowing some light to fall onto the lower leaves.
This theory has been reinforced by studies showing that the Monstera does get more light when it splits its leaves, and the sunlight is indeed limited in a Monstera’s natural rainforest environment. The adaptation may therefore help the plant to get the energy it needs.
Why Isn’t My Monstera Creating Fenestrations?
If your Monstera isn’t producing leaf fenestrations, you might be worried about the health of your plant, but there are a few simple explanations for this. The first may be that your plant simply isn’t old enough yet, while other explanations could be found in the plant’s environment.
Reason One: Age
Young Monsteras do not produce leaf fenestrations – in the early stages of their life, Monsteras will simply focus on their upward growth. There is little reason for it to make the fenestrations if the current theory is correct.
If the leaves split to allow more light to get to the plant’s lower leaves, this is only an advantage to plants that have a lot of height. When your Monstera is small, the higher leaves will not be significantly shading out the lower ones, so there is no reason for the plant to produce the leaf holes.
As your plant gets bigger and gains height, the leaves should start to develop holes so that they don’t block as much light from the lower leaves, but this will usually only start happening when the plant is two or three years old.
An immature Monstera will not produce holes in its leaves, so you’ll need to wait patiently if you have a young plant – you will see the classic holey leaves after a few years, and there’s nothing you can do to speed up their development.
However, if your plant is old enough and isn’t producing fenestrations, something is wrong, so let’s look at what this could be.
Reason Two: Lack Of Sunlight
Often, if your Monstera isn’t producing any fenestrations, it’s because it isn’t getting enough light. The plant will only grow fenestrations if they are going to give it an advantage – but if the light is so limited that it won’t reach the lower leaves anyway, there is no point.
Your Monstera will instead focus on growing long stems to get its leaves as close as possible to the sun, and this will result in leggy, long tendrils and limited growth. The plant will only put out leaves where it can maximize on the available light, and it will produce smooth, complete leaves without holes.
These will shade lower leaves, but will more effectively grab what light is available, so they are a better option for a Monstera that is growing in a shady spot.
If this is happening, you should make an effort to increase the amount of light that your Monstera has access to. You can do this by moving it closer to a window (but be careful not to let a lot of direct sunlight hit its leaves or they will burn), or by installing a grow lamp. This will supplement the natural light and help your plant to grow.
You are more likely to need a grow lamp for your plant in the winter, when the plant will be getting less natural sunlight. As the weather changes in fall, try moving your Monstera closer to the nearest window and consider getting a grow lamp for it.
You can use the grow lamp to ensure the plant continues to grow healthily throughout the darker winter months, but remember to turn it off at night, as plants also need a period of darkness.
Be aware that your Monstera probably will grow more slowly in the winter, and may turn dormant for a while. This is nothing to worry about; it will reenter its growth phase when the spring comes and should start growing vigorously again at this point.
Reason Three: Lack Of Nutrients
If your plant doesn’t have enough nutrients in the soil, it may also struggle to produce healthy foliage, and this might result in a lack of fenestrations. If the plant can’t access the nutrients it needs to build new leaves, it will not produce large, healthy foliage.
You don’t need to fertilize a Monstera too regularly, but during the growing season, it will benefit from being fed, and this should encourage leaf growth with fenestrations.
You can fertilize your Monstera every two to four weeks during its growing season, and this should give it all the food that it needs to grow healthy, rich foliage. If you don’t fertilize the plant enough, its growth will slow down and the leaves may not form properly.
Check when you last fed it, and give it some organic fertilizer if necessary. This should promote lots of healthy growth.
Adding compost to your plant’s container will also help; you can simply put a handful or two on the surface of the plant’s soil occasionally and water it in.
The water will wash the nutrients down to the roots and feed them, and this is particularly good for Monsteras that have not been repotted for some time.
Reason Four: Dry Air
Monsteras are native to rainforests, and they need a reasonably humid environment to form properly shaped healthy leaves. These plants prefer humidity levels between 60 and 80 percent, and most homes are too dry for them.
Although Monsteras will tolerate some dry air, they prefer to be kept moist, and you might find that your plant struggles to grow healthy foliage if the air conditions are too dry. Try misting the plant from time to time to boost the humidity.
You can do this using a plant mister. Simply spray the soil and the leaves a couple of times a week, or more often in really dry weather. You can also try leaving the bathroom door open after you’ve taken a shower, or standing your plant in the bathroom.
Electric humidifiers will also help to keep your plant damp and encourage it to produce healthy, holey leaves. Dry air may lead to stunted, malformed growth.
Will Leaves Develop Holes Later?
Once a Monstera leaf has grown and unfurled, it will not produce fenestrations if it doesn’t have any. These form as part of the leaf’s growth, and leaves do not split once they have unfurled. If a leaf grows without holes, it will never have them.
You can prune off leaves that don’t have holes if you choose to, but you should only do this if the plant has plenty of other good growth to support it. You should also investigate why the leaves are growing without holes so you can fix the issue and ensure that the rest of the plant’s foliage grows properly.
If you are going to prune off leaves, use sterile shears to cut them away so that there is no risk of introducing infections to the plant.
Do Bigger Monsteras Have Bigger Fenestrations?
As your Monstera grows, it will produce bigger leaves, and the fenestrations will grow accordingly. The plant’s smallest leaves will generally only have small holes, but the large leaves can have huge splits in them.
A mature Monstera usually has larger fenestrations than a young plant, and you can sometimes guess a plant’s age from the size of its leaves and holes.
The size of the fenestrations will also depend on the variety of Monstera that you have, as some produce larger holes than others.
For example, the Monstera obliqua may have holes that almost entirely fill its leaves and sometimes appears to have more fenestrations than it has greenery. A Monstera xanthospatha, by contrast, usually has smaller holes in its leaves. A Monstera deliciosa tends to have large splits that run from the edge of the leaf to near the center.
You should be aware of the normal fenestrations that your variety of Monstera has. Monstera deliciosa is probably the most common variety, but there are many other kinds, and all have different leaf fenestrations.
Do I Need A Moss Pole?
Growing your Monstera up a moss pole may help it to produce fenestrations because it will encourage it to grow tall. Without a pole or some other structure to climb up, the plant will not gain much height, and will often end up sprawled in a mess on the floor.
This will prevent it from growing proper fenestrations and will likely stunt its overall growth, so having a support is an important part of keeping your plant’s foliage both healthy and holey.
Monstera plants will not produce holes in their leaves if the conditions are not right for them. They need enough light, humidity, and nutrients, and they also need to be around three years old. If your plant is mature enough but isn’t producing fenestrations, check out what’s going wrong with its environment.