The split leaf philodendron

Split-Leaf Philodendron

Botanical Name: Philodendron bipinnatifidum

Split-leaf philodendron is another dependable house plant from the Araceae family. It also happens to be one of the most captivating.

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Few houseplants make a huge impact like this one. This jungle giant is surprisingly easy to please indoors. Although it prefers high humidity, split-leaf philodendron is fairly tolerant of most homes. Use a room humidifier, if you need to boost the moisture in the air.

This stunning philodendron plant is a tree-like shrub. Young plants have sturdy, upright stems, which tend to lie horizontally as the plant ages. They eventually sprawl to become twice as wide as they are tall, so give your house plant plenty of room to spread out. You may want to stake up your plant to provide support.

The foliage is stunning. When young, the glossy, heart-shaped leaves are deeply indented, and become more deeply cut as they grow. Some varieties of split-leaf philodendron have wavy margins. Big leaves are dust-catchers. To clean them, gently wipe the leaves with a damp cloth.

Year-Round Care

Wondering whether to repot? Pot up in spring or early summer when the roots fill the pot, usually every couple years. Use a container with drainage holes to prevent root rot. Once the plant gets big (top-heavy), it’s a good idea to use a heavy container to prevent it from toppling.

What do you do with aerial roots? Long aerial roots may appear near the base of the plant. You can cut off a few with pruners without hurting this plant. Better yet, tuck them back into the pot or coil them on top of the soil.

Something bugging your plant? New plant growth may attract aphids, which can cause yellow specks and crinkled leaves. Treat any infestation immediately.

Varieties and Buying Tips

This plant is also known as P. selloum and may be sold under that name.

A few named varieties make good house plants. ‘Xanadu’ philodendron is a newer cultivar with smaller leaves than the species and only grows to 3 ft (90 cm) wide. ‘Hope’ is a vigorous, full-sized hybrid. ‘German Selloum’ has finely cut leaves with wavy lobes.

Looking for this look-alike? There is a similar-looking plant that goes by the same common name. Swiss Cheese Plant isn’t a philodendron at all — it is Monstera deliciosa.

Split-Leaf Philodendron Care Tips

Origin: Brazil

Height: To 6 ft (1.8 m) indoors, depending on variety

Light: Moderate to bright light. No direct sun, which can cause brown scorch marks on the leaves.

Water: Keep soil moist spring through fall. Allow surface to dry out between waterings in winter. Yellow leaves are caused by overwatering.

Humidity: This rainforest native prefers relative humidity above 40%. Mist foliage occasionally. If your home is really dry, use a cool-mist room humidifier to boost moisture in the air around it. Brown leaf tips may be caused by dry air.

Temperature: Average to warm 65-80°F/18-27°C year-round. Split-leaf philodendron will tolerate a low of 60°F/16°C in winter.

Soil: Peat moss-based potting mix.

Fertilizer: Feed monthly spring through fall with a balanced (such as 10-10-10 npk) water-soluble fertilizer diluted by half. Lack of nutrients may cause little or no growth and small leaves.

Propagation: Division. Cut through the thick roots with a serrated knife and pot up the plants separately.

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Split Leaf Elephant Ear Plant: What Is A Selloum Philodendron

A great indoor plant for colder climates and a stunning landscape element for sub-tropical gardens, Philodendron selloum, is an easy plant to grow. You get a lot of plant for minimal effort, as it will grow into a large shrub or small tree with large, decorative leaves and requires little care. Read on to learn more about these “split-leaf” philodendron plants

What is a Selloum Philodendron?

Philodendron selloum is also known as split-leaf philodendron and split-leaf elephant ear. It belongs to the group of philodendron plants that are among the most common of houseplants for their ability thrive and still be ignored. A green thumb is generally not required to grow philodendrons successfully, in other words.

Split-leaf philodendron plants grow quite large, up to ten feet (3 meters) high and 15 feet (4.5 meters) wide. This type of philodendron grows a tree-like trunk, but the overall growth habit is more like a large shrub.

The real standout feature of split-leaf elephant ear philodendron is the foliage. The leaves are large and a dark, glossy green. They have deep lobes, hence the name “split-leaf,” and can be up to three feet (one meter) long. These plants will grow a simple flower, but not for a decade or more after planting.

Split-Leaf Philodendron Care

Growing this philodendron indoors is easy as long as you give it a large enough container and size up as it grows. It will need a spot with indirect light and regular watering to thrive.

Outdoors split-leaf philodendron is hardy in zones 8b through 11. It prefers to have rich soil that stays moist but doesn’t flood or have standing water. It likes full sun, but it will also grow well in partial shade and indirect light. Keep the soil moist.

The split-leaf variety of philodendron is a stunning plant that makes a great foundation planting in a warm garden, but that also does well in containers. It can be the centerpiece of a room or add a tropical element poolside.

How to Take Care of the Glossy Split-leaf Philodendron Plant

Planting this glossy big-leafed plant in your garden will impart a tropical rainforest feel to your home. We mention useful tips to grow and take care of a split-leaf philodendron.


The Split-leaf philodendron contains oxalic acid which makes it poisonous. Hence extra care must be taken to keep pets and small children away from it so that they do not ingest its leaves. Also its ripe fruit may be an irritant for skin-sensitive people.

This dense foliage has its origin in the Central America from Southern Mexico to Panama. It’s also known as Swiss cheese plant, or Window leaf (Monstera deliciosa). It shares a common name like the genus Philodendron and belongs to the Araceae family. It has glossy, leathery, heart-shaped, big monstrous leaves that have deep slits in them which can grow up to 18″ wide on foot-long leafstalks.

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Some species and cultivars like the ‘M. obliqua’, ‘Variegata’, and ‘Albovariegata’ have smaller leaves respectively. In its natural habitat, these plants are aerial vines that cling to the tree branches and create a dense canopy over the area. They can grow up to 70 feet high or more. These plants produce an edible fruit known as Cerimans or Monsteras that look like green cob of corn with hexagonal kernels and have a high content of potassium and Vitamin C. It can be poisonous when unripe but is a tasty tropical delight after ripening. It tastes like a combination of mango, banana, and pineapple and is used to flavor drinks and ice-creams. The hardiness zone for this plant is USDA Zones 10 – 11. It was first cultivated out of its natural habitat in England in 1752; from then on it has become one of the favorite plants to be grown at home. Here are some useful tips to take care of this particular plant.

Factors Essential for Plantation and Growth

✦ Growing this plant from seeds is generally not preferred because it’s a long and time-consuming process. The seeds need a temperature of 75-80° F for germination, and must be kept moist for at least 15-30 days.

✦ While planting indoor choose a location where it gets filtered sunlight and a room day temperature of 75 to 85 °F, and a night temperature of 65 to 70 °F. Give them a good amount of space to grow, as they have the tendency to grow 10 feet tall. Choose a south-facing room or a room that reflects the sunlight.

✦ It requires well-drained soil, hence water it every 7 to 10 days, and avoid splashing the leaves with water. Let excess water drain away from the pot.

✦ Fertilize the plant during its growing season that is from February to October every two to three weeks. Follow the instructions on the fertilizer package for better results.

✦ While growing this plant, re-potting it from time to time is necessary, and the best time to do this is during spring. Choose a pot that has drain holes at the bottom, and it must be 2 inches larger than the current pot. Mix one part perlite and two parts potting soil. Place the plant into the pot by holding its base. Check if the top of the root ball is 3 inches from the top of the pot and add or remove extra soil accordingly. Then add perlite, compost, and potting soil till its 2 inches from top of the pot. Place a tray below the pot and water the plant till excess water drains out, fertilize at regular intervals from spring to fall for better results.

✦ While planting outdoor give them rich soil mix, with lots of room for their roots to grow and spread. Their natural trait is to grow aerial roots hence providing them with a solid base is necessary. It could be a tree bark or strong, moss-covered support sunk. Tying them up with a fishing or nylon thread will give them the needed support and flexibility without snapping.

Pruning Tips

* While pruning this plant wear a pair of protective gloves as the plant may cause skin irritation.

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✦ The leaves ‘sweat’ if the soil is overmoist hence do not water them too much as it might cause root rot. Place them in a well-filtered sunlit area to avoid wilting and drying of the lower leaves.

✦ Clean the leaves occasionally by gently wiping them with a wet cloth as big leaves tend to get dusty.

✦ Cut excess aerial roots away or train them to grow on the moss support without crowding too much.

✦ Routinely examine the plant for scabby and dark parts and remove the infected parts immediately.

✦ Roots emerging from the base of the plant must be tucked back into the soil.

Prevention of Pests and Diseases

✦ Split-leaf philodendrons are healthy low-maintenance plants, but keep a regular watch for pests such as mealy bugs, scale and spider mites. Cleaning the plant leaves regularly with a soft, damp cloth prevents these pest attacks and keeps the plant healthy.

These evergreen tropical plants are excellent container-grown ornamental plants ideal for decorating a summer deck or an indoor room.

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Healthy Houseplants

Although it rarely fruits indoors, M. deliciosa lives up to its name by producing a cone-like fruit, which is actually an unripened flower spike. The fruit matures in a little over a year, and the taste is described as a combination of banana, pineapple and mango. It should only be eaten when ripe; unripe fruit will cause irritation to the mouth and throat. To have luck growing the split-leaf philodendron, keep the following tips in mind:

Growing location for split-leaf philodendron

Place in a medium to bright location, but out of direct sun. Bright, filtered light is best. Plants in lower light tend to produce smaller leaves without splits or holes.


When it’s content, M. deliciosa is a big drinker. Water with lukewarm water as soon as the soil approaches dryness. De-mineralized or rainwater is best.

Training split-leaf philodendron

The split-leaf philodendron has cordlike aerial roots that emerge from the base of the plant. In its native habitat, it uses these roots to climb trees and absorb nutrients. These aerial roots can be trained to climb a support, such as a spaghnum moss pole, or they can be directed into the soil. When there is an excess amount, you may cut some of them away.

You can find moss poles at the nursery or make your own by wrapping sphagnum moss around a wooden dowel and securing the moss in place with nylon thread or fishing line. Stick the pole in the center of the pot, being careful not to disturb roots. Water the plant from the top of the pole. This will keep the pole moist, and the aerial roots will absorb the moisture. If this is not possible, spray the pole with water, and water the plant base.


Feed the split-leaf philodendron once a month with a dilute solution of a liquid organic fertilizer. Water or spray the moss pole with the fertilizer solution and water the plant base.

Repotting Monstera deliciosa

Repot younger M. deliciosa plants yearly and top-dress more mature specimens once they’ve reached the desired size. Use an organic soil-based potting medium that retains moisture.

Provide humidity

Although it is a jungle plant, split-leaf philodendron does tolerate dry air better than many plants. If your home’s humidity level is especially low, however, place the plant over a humidity tray. They also enjoy misting.

Pests on split-leaf philodendron

They aren’t common on split-leaf philodendrons, but watch for pests such as mealy bugs, scale and spider mites. Washing plant leaves regularly with a soft, damp cloth helps prevent these unwanted diners and keeps plants healthy overall.

Monstera and Split-Leaf Philodendron: Is There a Difference Between the Two?

In the world we live in, millennials have rediscovered houseplants. One plant has become especially famous—or at least Instagram-famous. It’s immediately evocative of a tropical rainforest: huge, dark green, waxy leaves, with interesting perforations in them that don’t even imply poor care. This is Monstera deliciosa. Or is it a split-leaf philodendron?

Image zoom Image courtesy of Adobe Stock. Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

The monstera, as it’s often called, is tropically native to Mexico, where it’s mainly prized for its fruit (hence the scientific name). But it also thrives as a houseplant: It doesn’t need much water, tolerates medium amounts of sunlight, and can grow impressively large.

This is also a plant with a wide variety of names, many referring to its tasty fruit (“fruit salad plant,” “monster fruit”) and some to its leaves. Those leaves, in the right environment, develop holes. “Swiss cheese plant” is one monstera nickname that references to those holes. Another is split-leaf philodendron.

Philodendrons are a pretty large genus of flowering plants; if you’re into gardening, you’re probably familiar with some of its members, like the peace lily. But the monstera is not, technically speaking, a philodendron at all.

Both the monstera and true philodendrons are part of the arum family, a much larger group of plants that also includes the ever-popular pothos, one of the world’s prettiest and easiest houseplants. These plants are all pretty similar: They have similar water and light needs, they come from roughly the same climate, and they contain calcium oxalate, which makes them toxic to both humans and pets. Many of these plants have interesting leaf shapes, with lacy fingers, broad lobes, heart-shaped leaves, or bright pink veins. The monstera certainly looks and acts like a philodendron, even though it isn’t classified as one.

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This is where it gets complicated. There are two true species of philodendron that also go by the name split-leaf philodendron: Philodendron bipinnatifidum and Philodendron selloum. These plants are both completely different plants than monstera, but go by the same nickname in some cases. No wonder we’re confused!

Plant naming can be tricky, with plants having totally different names depending on where you are or who’s describing them. Common plant names can even differ by region and generation. You might want to start brushing up on your Latin names!

Gardening FAQ

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

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