The Majestic Split Leaf Philodendron

The Split Leaf Philodendron, scientifically known as Philodendron bipinnatifidum, is a magnificent house plant that belongs to the Araceae family. With its captivating and stunning foliage, this plant is sure to make a dramatic impact in any space. Despite its tropical origins and preference for high humidity, the Split Leaf Philodendron is surprisingly adaptable and can thrive in most homes with just a little care.

A Striking Presence

This tree-like shrub starts with sturdy, upright stems in its youth, which gradually develop a sprawling nature as it matures. The plant’s width can eventually reach twice its height, necessitating ample space for it to spread out. Consider providing support by staking up the plant to prevent any toppling.

The foliage of the Split Leaf Philodendron is truly a sight to behold. When young, the heart-shaped leaves are deeply indented, and as they grow, they develop even deeper cuts. Some varieties even boast wavy margins, adding an extra touch of elegance. It’s worth noting that the large leaves tend to accumulate dust, so be sure to gently wipe them with a damp cloth to keep them clean and vibrant.

Year-Round Care

If you find yourself wondering when to repot your Split Leaf Philodendron, spring or early summer is the perfect time. Repotting should be done when the roots have filled the pot, which usually happens every couple of years. Use a container with drainage holes to prevent root rot, and as the plant grows larger and potentially top-heavy, consider using a heavy container to keep it stable and secure.

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Aerial roots may appear near the base of the plant, and while they can be pruned without harming the plant, it’s often better to tuck them back into the pot or coil them on top of the soil. These roots add an intriguing characteristic to the overall appearance of the plant.

Keep an eye out for any bugs that may be bothering your Split Leaf Philodendron. New plant growth can attract aphids, resulting in yellow specks and crinkled leaves. If you notice an infestation, it’s important to address it promptly to protect the health and beauty of your plant.

Varieties and Buying Tips

While the Split Leaf Philodendron is commonly referred to as P. selloum, some named varieties make excellent house plants. ‘Xanadu’ philodendron, for example, is a newer cultivar with smaller leaves compared to the species, and it only grows to about 3 ft (90 cm) wide. ‘Hope’ is a vigorous, full-sized hybrid, while ‘German Selloum’ boasts finely cut leaves with wavy lobes.

It’s essential to note that there is a similar-looking plant that shares the same common name, the Swiss Cheese Plant, which is actually Monstera deliciosa and not a philodendron.

Care Tips for the Split Leaf Philodendron

To ensure your Split Leaf Philodendron flourishes, follow these essential care tips:

  • Origin: Brazil
  • Height: Indoors, it can reach up to 6 ft (1.8 m), depending on the variety.
  • Light: Moderate to bright light is ideal. Avoid direct sun, as it can cause brown scorch marks on the leaves.
  • Water: Keep the soil moist during spring and fall. Allow the surface to dry out between waterings in winter. Overwatering can result in yellow leaves.
  • Humidity: With a preference for relative humidity above 40%, misting the foliage occasionally is recommended. If your home tends to be dry, using a cool-mist room humidifier can help increase the moisture in the air surrounding the plant. Dry air may cause brown leaf tips.
  • Temperature: Ideally, the average to warm temperature range of 65-80°F/18-27°C suits the Split Leaf Philodendron year-round. It can tolerate a low of 60°F/16°C in winter.
  • Soil: Opt for a peat moss-based potting mix.
  • Fertilizer: Feed monthly during spring and fall using a balanced (such as 10-10-10 NPK) water-soluble fertilizer, diluted by half. Insufficient nutrients can result in stunted growth and small leaves.
  • Propagation: Division is the recommended method. Cut through the thick roots with a serrated knife and pot up the separate plants.
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For more information on the Split Leaf Philodendron and other houseplants, visit the Ames Farm Center.