If you are just new to the world of gardening, you may not have encountered such an interesting phenomenon as fenestration in plants. This is exactly what gives some plants an exotic (and therefore desirable by many gardeners) look. Let’s find out in more detail, what does fenestration mean and how it can tell the gardener that they made some mistakes in caring for the plant.
What Is Fenestration
Given the great popularity of Monstera, almost everyone has seen it somewhere at least once in their life. They are distinguished by characteristic cracks and holes in the leaves, which is called fenestration. It is these holes that make Monstera such an unusual and desirable plant. By the way, this feature was found in only one species in Aponogetonaceae, Aponogeton madagascariensis (Madagascar laceleaf), and a few genera in Araceae, to which the Monstera belongs.
Fenestrations can range from very small holes inside the leaf to larger crevices that appear to be dividing the leaf into several pieces. The intensity of fenestration usually depends on the age of the plant and the size of the leaf. But many gardeners are interested in the question, what are these holes in the leaves for? Let’s take a look at Monstera as an example.
Why Do Monstera Leaves Have Holes?
Several theories are explaining why holes in plant leaves appear. Let’s take a closer look at them.
To Withstand Strong Winds
This theory, like all subsequent ones, is somehow connected with the natural habitat of Monstera. As we know, hurricanes are not uncommon in the area of tropical forests. Plants have to prepare for such strong, often destructive winds, and leaves with holes help them a lot in this.
The split leaves of Monstera are believed to help minimize the effects of high winds, as leaves with holes significantly reduce the surface area exposed to strong air currents.
But this explanation does not work when you consider millions of other tropical plants without holes in the leaves, which have to survive violent hurricanes.
To Improve Access to Water
The split leaves are believed to allow water to flow down unhindered and reach the roots of the plant. This theory would make sense if tropical plants weren’t getting enough water. But as we know, rainfalls are quite common in rainforests.
Plants Receive Sunlight
The need for a lot of bright light is a more likely cause of fenestration in Monstera. Thanks to the holes in the leaves, the plant can receive more sunlight.
Why Monstera Doesn’t Fenestrate
The fenestration process is completely natural in Monstera, and its absence can cause great concern for the owners of this tropical plant. There are two main reasons for this behavior of the plant, let’s take a closer look at them.
Perhaps Your Monstera Is Still Too Young
Age is a key factor that a grower should pay attention to if Monstera leaves are not fenestrated. Do not expect the holes in the leaves of plants that are too young.
When Do Monstera Leaves Split
The fact is that Monstera fenestration does not occur until the plant is at least 2-3 years old. If you are the owner of such a young plant, then don’t worry about the lack of holes in the leaves and just give your plant time with proper care. By the way, this applies not only to Monstera. The ‘Cebu Blue’ Pothos must also grow to a certain age for its leaves to start splitting.
But what if Monstera is already significantly older than three years, but there is not a hint of fenestration? This means that you need to look for a problem in the plant care regimen.
Monstera Needs Proper Care
Fenestration is an integral part of the development of Monstera. Accordingly, the plant must be properly cared for if you want to see these leaky leaves. Make sure the plant is getting enough light, moisture, and fertilizer to fenestrate.
Tips for Stimulating Fenestration on a Monstera
Provide the Plant with the Right Amount of Light
Light is one of the most important factors contributing to the appearance of holes in the leaves of a plant. As practice shows, most Monsteras that cannot boast of beautifully leaky leaves are placed in the shade. The presence of yellowish or pale leaves is also a consequence of a lack of lighting.
Place the Monstera in a well-lit area, south- or east-facing window would be ideal. Be sure that direct sunlight does not fall on it in any way, otherwise, you risk burning the leaves of the plant.
But if you live in an environment where there is not enough natural light, then you can resort to using artificial lighting.
Don’t Forget to Water the Plant
As we said above, Monstera is a tropical plant, and, accordingly, loves water. Of course, it is quite difficult to recreate the conditions of the natural habitat of a tropical plant indoors, and there is no great need for this. Try to water the plant at least once a week, this would be enough. But if you can’t keep track of the days, then just water the plant as needed. How to understand that it’s time to water Monstera? Just touch the soil. If the topsoil seems dry, you can safely water the plant. But remember, do NOT allow the soil to completely dry out since this is bad for a tropical plant.
This plant does not need a lot of fertilizer, but it may grow better if you fertilize it during the summer and spring growing seasons. We recommend that you use a 20-20-20 balanced fertilizer every 4-6 weeks. You can also dilute the fertilizer in half to avoid over-fertilizing.
Provide Optimum Humidity and Temperature
Monstera needs high humidity, and to simulate these conditions, you can put bowls of water next to it or install a humidifier. If you have the time and desire, you can also spray the plant in the morning with room temperature water.
For temperature, try to keep the reading above 60 °F (16 °C).
Plants with holes in the leaves are truly a miracle of nature! They can be a great addition to any interior and delight not only the owner but all guests with their interesting patterns. And the best part is that such exotic plants do not require much participation in the care, it is enough to place them in suitable conditions and water them on time. But be patient, especially if you have acquired a sufficient young plant, and after 2-3 years you can have a real piece of the tropics in your room!
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