Why Do Monstera Leaves Have Holes

The Swiss cheese plant (genus Monstera, shown in the image) gets its name from the up to a dozen holes that can be found on each of its leaves. But why would these plants, which live in the shadows of American rainforests, restrict the amount of leaf area they require to absorb sunlight? Missing components may enable the plants to catch light more consistently in erratic conditions, according to new computer simulations. Sunlight specks pass sporadically and seldom through the canopy into the tropical understory. Without having to use additional energy or resources to generate additional leaf area, the holes allow leaves to cover larger areas. In turn, this might increase the plant’s capacity to capture sunflecks, according to research published in The American Naturalist’s February issue. Future research can test this hypothesis using light sensor grids with holes to see if they can indeed capture the same number of sunflecks as grids without holes.

Why do some Monstera leaf holes exist when none do in others?

Young leaves typically lack cuts. When mature leaves are devoid of fenestration, it may be a sign that there is insufficient light, too little moisture, nutrition, or air temperature.

Why are there no holes in my new Monstera leaf?

The absence of holes in the leaves of your young plant may indicate that it is premature and needs to mature more. If it doesn’t split spontaneously, there could not be enough sunshine. Place it where it will receive bright, indirect light. Additionally, you ought to establish a regular and consistent watering routine. You may also encourage the formation of holes in your Monstera Deliciosa by removing older leaves or using a fertilizer that is balanced.

When Monstera has holes, what does that mean?

The evergreen tropical vines or shrubs known as monsteras are indigenous to Central America. They are one of just a few aroids that yield edible fruit, especially M. deliciosa, and they are a member of the aroid family Araceae. They hardly ever bloom or bear edible fruit inside, though.

The Monstera may be recognized as the “a Swiss cheese factory The moniker comes from the monstera plant’s well-known natural leaf holes. The scientific name for plants that produce holes or distinct areas in their leaves is “leaf fenestration is a common phenomenon not just in monsteras. Other reasons why plants like Haworthias and Lithops have acquired leaf fenestrations include the fact that these plants’ translucent leaf tips help them survive when covered by the periodic sand and dust storms that are native to their native South Africa.

How and why monsteras make leaf holes is a topic of discussion and conjecture. Some people have hypothesized that Monsteras make holes in their leaves to withstand hurricane winds. Plants that produce bird of paradise break their leaves to let wind through as well. Others claim that they have openings that make it easier for water to reach their roots. Since they are epiphytic and do not have much touch with the earth as they grow, this is true.

You could say that the “hole theories” are flawed.

The evidence is insufficient to warrant a complete adaption. The majority of tropical plants, if not all of them, would have the same or related adaptations if the adaptation was to withstand hurricane winds. As an alternative, many tropical plants have full leaves that don’t easily snap. There is no necessity, even though the holes may allow water to reach the roots more freely. Tropical rainforests with practically daily rainfall are home to monsteras. The roots will eventually receive enough water. Why else would Monsteras make holes if it weren’t for the wind, the water, or both?

According to Christopher Muir at Indiana University, the reason why Monsteras have evolved holes is because of the lighting circumstances. This is the prevailing hypothesis at the moment. Monsteras develop in a semi-epiphytic manner from the forest floor, climbing trees and other structures to gain access to more light. Understory plants in these types of woods can only survive by catching sunflecks, or tiny sunshine beams, that penetrate the canopy. The same amount of leaf can cover a larger area by altering the leaf structure to include holes. Because more area is covered, there is a higher chance of catching a sunfleck even though some may fall through the perforations and be missed.

A complete leaf and a fenestrated leaf will perform similarly under excellent lighting conditions. The fenestrated leaf does receive more sunlight than an unfenestrated leaf when there are scattered bright sunflecks and understory circumstances. This is useful, though, only if the plant’s rate of growth calls for it. It becomes advantageous to make the most of all the sunflecks because more mature monsteras develop faster.

Now that we are aware of the function of holes, or at the very least the why, let’s learn how to enable fenestration in your monstera. The distinctive feature of a holey leaf should be sought out. Just let it develop. With time and growth, monsteras develop fenestrated leaves. The shape of the plant’s leaves varies as it ages, just like other aroids. When Monsteras are young, their leaves resemble those of other aroid plants, including the Philodendron’s heart-shaped green leaves. Fenestration, which refers to the beginning of new leaves that have holes, starts when Monsteras reach a height of around three feet. Trimming off the older, smaller leaves that grow from the base encourages the plant to generate larger leaves and makes fenestration easier, according to our research. Give it a go!

Should I remove the holes from Monstera leaves?

Scientists have various hypotheses regarding why the leaves produce fenestrations, but the exact cause is unknown. The most well-known characteristic is that they split as they ripen to permit light to reach the plant’s lower leaves. Without the splits, the monsteras’ climbing growth tendency would force upper leaves to shade lower leaves, potentially slowing growth and harming the plant as a whole.

According to a different hypothesis, fenestration permits rain to trickle between the leaves rather than collecting on the surface. Split leaves would prevent rain from gathering on the huge leaves and allow water to reach the ground’s roots more easily because plants normally don’t appreciate having continually moist leaves.

The final major hypothesis postulates that the monstera’s fenestrations increase the plant’s wind resistance. However, this explanation is the least popular of the three because monsteras don’t typically reside in open spaces. The widespread view is that fenestrated leaves are an adaptation that helps a monstera plant thrive in its native habitat, regardless of whether monstera leaves split as a result of one of these causes or all of them.

Do I need to spray my Monstera?

Monstera Deliciosas may tolerate low to high levels of indirect, dappled light. Their leaves may burn and scorch if exposed to direct sunlight for an extended period of time. Low light conditions will inhibit growth.

Make sure your Variegated Monstera Deliciosa gets enough of bright indirect light if you have one.


You should spritz your Monstera Deliciosa frequently and water it once a week. In the winter, when you may only need to water your plant every two weeks, let the soil dry up in between waterings.


Because Monstera Deliciosa prefers a humid atmosphere, we advise often wetting its leaves. To boost the humidity of the air around your plant, you might also place it close to other plants.

Additional care information

From a stem and leaf cutting, you may quickly reproduce your monstera deliciosa in water. Make sure to make the cut just below a stem node.

The Monstera Deliciosa’s huge leaves are readily covered in dust over time. Use a moist towel to routinely wipe them.


Yellowing leaves may indicate that your Monstera Deliciosa has experienced moisture shock or has received too much light.

Browning leaves are a sign that your plant has been receiving insufficient light or has been exposed to low humidity.

How frequently should Monstera be watered?

Monstera deliciosa and Monstera adansonii are the two varieties of Monstera that are grown as indoor plants. In addition to having entirely enclosed leaf holes, Monstera adansonii differs from M. deliciosa by having longer, tapering leaves. Leaf holes on Monstera deliciosa eventually mature, move toward the edge, and then open up.

Though they hardly ever flower or produce edible fruit inside, they are one of the few aroids that produce edible fruit, especially Monstera deliciosa, which is a member of the Araceae, the Aroid Family. Although the indigenous peoples of Central America had been familiar with monsteras for a very long time, the botanical community only became publicly aware of them in the early 20th century, like many aroids.

thrives in direct light that is bright to medium. Although it cannot tolerate strong, direct sunlight, it can become accustomed to it.

Water every one to two weeks, letting the soil dry out in between applications. In brighter light, water more frequently, and in less-bright light, less frequently. Pro tip: Water that has been filtered or set out overnight before use is beneficial for monsteras.

Although normal room humidity will do, humid circumstances are preferred. Use a fine-mist mister or humidifier to increase the humidity level in the room.

Most houseplants enjoy temperatures between 65F and 85F. (18C-30C). It’s ideal to keep the temperature above 60F. (15C).

Use a potting mix that drains effectively. As needed, include elements like perlite or lava rocks to improve soil aeration.

The Monstera is a calm and often pest-free plant. Treat pests as soon as they show up by wiping down the plant frequently and weekly applications of a natural insecticide like neem oil.

SYMPTOM: Edges of leaves that are turning brown and crunchy. CAUSE: Overwatered, thirsty, or high salt buildup

How long does it take for holes to appear in a Monstera leaf?

Before the leaves of this plant begin to develop the recognizable holes, they need to be between two and three years old. The baby Monstera will need to grow bigger leaves before it has to produce fenestrations because the reason for the splitting is related to evolution.

How do grow lights affect Monsteras?

Make sure your Monstera plant receives adequate light if you want it to develop fenestrations and grow. It won’t continue to grow and may even wilt if it doesn’t get enough artificial or natural light.

10 to 12 hours a day of bright, indirect lighting are necessary for monstera to flourish. Grow lights should be used to provide light for your Monstera plant during the winter months when there is little sunlight or when the space is too gloomy.

This article will help you choose the best grow lights for your Monstera plant so you can maintain its health and happiness by advising you on what to look for when purchasing a grow light.

Option 1: Wait

Depending on how young and little your monstera plant is, you might just need to give it some time.

Young monsteras almost resemble a distinct plant because of their sturdy, heart-shaped leaves. Your monstera should grow and finally form those lovely holes and splits on its own when it is between two and three years old with adequate light, the proper quantity of water, and a little fertilizer. Be tolerant!

Option 2: More light!

This is typically the most crucial thing you can do to encourage your monstera leaves to split. However, without plenty of bright, indirect sunlight, monsteras won’t grow much or produce many splits (or numerous rows of splits), even though they can survive in reduced light. Your monstera leaves might not split even if you follow all other instructions to the letter without the proper light.

If you buy a mature monstera with split leaves, lower light may work, especially if you don’t want it to grow much bigger and take over your house (since monsteras often do!).

However, you’ll need good lighting if you have a young plant that you want to observe develop and flourish. The best windows are those that face east or south, while north can still be used. Just be extremely careful around windows that face west since they often receive a lot of direct, scorching afternoon light that might burn the leaves.

Don’t worry if your home lacks excellent illumination. A grow light can always be used as a supplement. To replace greenhouse-style lights that you may get from nurseries, you can either purchase ready-made grow lights or install grow bulbs in standard light fixtures.

Allow Bright, Indirect Sunlight Exposure

Among all the elements that support fenestration on a monstera, light is at the top of the list.

The majority of Monstera plants I’ve come across that don’t fenestrate are frequently planted in a dimly lit, shaded section of the home.

Why do my cheese plant’s holes not exist?

According to study by a US scientist, the plants’ well-known hole-riddled leaves enable them to collect sunlight more frequently, helping them to live in dark rainforests.

According to the BBC Nature, they are typically grown as house plants but can also be found in the wild from southern Mexico to Colombia.

One is that by allowing the wind to pass through, the holes in the leaves help the plants withstand hurricane gusts. Another benefit is that they enable better temperature control or water to reach the roots of the plants.

Some have hypothesized that the holes conceal the plants from herbivores in some way.

Christopher Muir’s research at the University of Indiana in Bloomington, US, led to the hypothesis that the holes are a result of the plants’ adaptation to their rainforest environment.

Monstera deliciosa, a species of Swiss cheese plant, resides in the gloomy tropical rainforest understory. In order to photosynthesise for energy, it depends on collecting erratic shafts of sunlight known as “sunflecks.”

Muir compared leaves with and without holes using mathematical models because he doubted that the sunflecks could account for the peculiar leaf forms.

He discovered that the same amount of sunlight has an equal positive impact on both leaf forms.

A leaf with holes will miss some sunlight because it filters through them, but solid leaves with the same surface area actually occupy less space, which limits their availability to sunshine.

According to Muir’s simulations, a leaf with the same surface area but numerous holes would come into touch with sunlight more frequently since it occupies more space.

He proposed that by maintaining this consistency, the changing leaf form becomes more dependable, reducing stress on the plant and increasing its chances of survival.

However, Muir asserts that immature Swiss cheese plants don’t require holes in their leaves.

At different times during its life cycle, the monstera deliciosa grows in a different way. It is an epiphyte, sometimes known as an air plant.

Young plants are located closer to the forest floor, where sunlight penetration is lower. Muir predicted that because the light in this area is of poor quality, holes do not help the plant.

The plant only becomes higher as it ages, reaching areas of the understorey with more sunflecks.

The leaves then get bigger, get holes, and are held away from the trunk so they have a greater chance of getting the sunshine they need to thrive.