Let’s talk about fenestration, or to put more simply, why on earth are there holes and splits in my plants?
Well, let’s start with what fenestration means. To put it simply, it is referencing holes and splits in the foliage. It comes from the Latin word ‘fenestratus’ which means “provided with openings”. I should also note now that fenestration and perforation are usually used interchangeably. But for ease of teaching, I’ll stick with fenestration.
It is not 100% known and understood why fenestration occurs in some plants and not others. Why some epiphytic plants fenestrate and some don’t has confused scientists, plant-enthusiasts, and my brain for quite some time. There are some theories for some plants so let’s have a little dive. Are you ready?
Let’s talk Monsteras. Probably the first plant you think of when you think of fenestrations in the leaves. They are totally famous for it. Some people believe that the foliage splits to allow for sun and water to reach the lower leaves and ultimately the soil/roots. When grown in the wild, they are epiphytic (grows on other things (like trees for instance)), and if the leaves continue to grow larger (as they get more sun), the root system would be ultimately sacrificed. Are you with me so far? Great!
Let’s take a leap and jump over to other plants like a Bird of Paradise. These leaves are so blooming gorgeous and large and beautiful and then they split. I mean, they are still gorgeous and large and beautiful. But why do they split? Scientists believe another reason for fenestration is to allow for wind to pass through without damaging the plant. Although, some might say that this is damaging the plant (it’s not because it’s completely normal). It’s the plants defence system against winds and it’s proving to be a very popular and desired protection that is sought after with plant enthusiasts now.
So there you have it folks, the shortest, briefest explanation of what-on-earth fenestration is and why it may possibly occur. Because of the desirability of fenestrations in the plant-lovers world today, the biggest piece of advice I could give you to promote and maintain fenestration is to mimic the natural state the plant would grow in. Think adequate light, enough water, and if that still isn’t working, don’t forget to fertilise!