Q. I have an indoor splitleaf philodendron that sometimes makes new leaves with no splits. Is there a way to encourage these leaves to split?
The leaves of splitleaf philodendron, Monstera deliciosa, change in appearance as the plant matures. Young plants have leaves that may be entirely unbroken. As they develop, they acquire the characteristic perforations and split edges. Additionally, the interesting leaf perforations won't develop if the light is too low.
Immature Monsteras are sometimes sold as Philodendron pertusum (not a valid name).
Monstera is not a true philodendron but a closely related species. Other common names are Swiss cheese plant, ceriman, and Mexican breadfruit.The shiny leaves of a mature M. deliciosa grow up to 18 inches across and have 12-inch-long stalks. They are heart-shaped, deeply incised from the edges almost to the central vein, and perforated in the remaining sections. This breaking up of the leaf area helps these plants withstand tropical winds (another common name is hurricane plant).
As a houseplant they make a dramatic statement, whether young or as mature plants that need to be supported on stout canes or poles. Healthy specimens can grow to 10-15 feet and 6-8 feet across. Moss-covered poles that simulate the bark of trees in the wild help the plants climb, aiding in their healthful growth.
Plants can be placed in direct sunlight in winter and in bright filtered light the rest of the year. In temperatures above 70°F, place pots on trays of damp pebbles for increased humidity. Water sparingly, barely moistening the potting mixture and allowing the top third to dry out before watering again. Each spring, move plants into pots one size larger until maximum convenient pot size is reached (after that point, top dress, removing a few inches of old potting mixture and replacing with fresh). Keep the leaves clean with frequent damp sponge cleaning/wiping. Train aerial roots on a moss-covered pole or stick. Or train into the soil.
For tips on a variety of gardening topics, see our Plant Information Guides.
- Courtesy of NYBG Plant Information Service