split leaf philodendron

How to Grow and Care for Split Leaf Philodendron (Thaumatophyllum bipinnatifidum)

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The split leaf philodendron checks all the right boxes for indoor gardeners who want a large, low-maintenance houseplant. These easy aroids thrive both indoors and out and are effective at greening our homes and creating a more tropical and exotic atmosphere. 

Read this article to learn how to grow your own split leaf philodendron indoors. 

What is a Split Leaf Philodendron?

The split leaf philodendron is frequently confused with another popular evergreen aroid known as the delicious monster (Monstera deliciosa). Admittedly, the two do look similar and have much the same needs but they are completely different species. 

The true split-leaf philodendron is also known as P. selloum or P. bipinnatifidum and commonly referred to as Tree philodendron. To make matters just a little more complicated, the scientific name has recently changed (as of 2018) to Thaumatophyllum bipinnatifidum. 

It is an evergreen plant that is widespread in the central parts of South America. It grows to about 15 feet (4.5m) tall in nature but is easy to keep to a manageable size indoors. Even so, it is too large for a windowsill or bookcase and will work best if grown on the floor for the long run. 

Does Split Leaf Philodendron Bloom?

The Philodendron bipinnatifidum and Philodendron selloum plants rarely bloom, although a mature healthy plant might surprise you with an interesting inflorescence consisting of a green to burgundy spathe and a cream white spadix.

Is Split Leaf Philodendron Toxic?

This plant, like many others in its family, is considered toxic to both humans and animals. That doesn’t mean it isn’t a safe plant to grow in your home, however, it just means certain precautions are necessary. 

The toxic properties of this plant are a result of crystalline compounds in the plant tissues known as calcium oxalates. These crystals are highly irritating and dangerous if swallowed or if they come into contact with the eyes. They can even irritate the skin of some individuals. 

To be safe, keep this plant away from animals, children, or anyone that might want to take a bite!

How to Care for Split Leaf Philodendron

Now that you know what the split-leaf philodendron is, it’s time to get into the nitty-gritty of growing and caring for these wonderful plants. Read on for in-depth information when it comes to caring for philodendron.

How much sunlight does Split Leaf Philodendron need?

This plant likes plenty of light, but should not be grown in direct sunlight. Place it in a well-lit area of the home near a west, east or north-facing window. 

How Often Should I Water Split Leaf Philodendron?

Although they are fairly hardy plants, they are not considered drought-tolerant. They require moist, rather than wet or dry conditions. Monitor the moisture levels of your plant’s growing medium and water it through when it has almost dried out. 

What is the Optimum Temperature and Humidity for Split Leaf Philodendron?

These plants enjoy warm conditions and the typical indoor temperature range suits them perfectly. They do not tolerate frost, and although they may survive and resprout, the above-ground parts of this plant will die back in freezing conditions. 

They do not appear to be affected by the relatively dry conditions in most homes, although they will probably benefit from increased humidity.

What is the Best Growing/Potting Media for Split Leaf Philodendron?

Good drainage is the most important consideration when selecting a potting media for your split leaf philodendron. These plants also enjoy plenty of aeration to the roots, so avoid fine-textured soils. 

The ideal potting mix will contain a good amount of organic material for nutrients, chunky components like orchid bark to create air spaces, and materials like perlite, pumice, or sand to improve drainage. 

Does Split Leaf Philodendron Need Fertilizer?

These plants will benefit from fertilizer, but they are forgiving in this regard and do not require a strict feeding routine. Their needs will vary depending on the nutrient availability in their growing medium and their growth rate. 

A light application of a general-purpose balanced fertilizer once every month or two can be beneficial. During the cooler months, they should not be fertilized if they are not actively growing. 

Does Split Leaf Philodendron need Pruning?

Apart from removing old and unhealthy leaves from time to time, these plants do not require much pruning. Leaves should be cut off close to the stem using a sharp, sterilized implement. They are very tolerant of pruning and can survive being cut back hard if drastic size reduction is necessary. 

Common Pests and Diseases of Split Leaf Philodendron

Most of the issues seen in these plants relate to inappropriate light and water provision. Yellowing leaves are a common sign of overwatering while leaves with dry brown edges could signal a lack of water and humidity. Weak, leggy growth will result from a lack of light while exposure to strong direct sunlight can scorch the foliage.

H. bipinnatifidum is not particularly prone to any pest infestations but should be monitored for common pests like aphids, scale, mealybugs, and spider mites. 

How to Propagate Split Leaf Philodendron

Split leaf philodendrons are easy to propagate by stem cuttings. They can also be divided at the root when repotting. Complete plantlets can be planted directly into soil while stem cuttings that include a few nodes and aerial roots can be rooted in water or soil.  

Check our other article to learn more about large leaf philodendrons.

*Image by [email protected]/depositphotos


Reference list

Sakuragui, C. M., Calazans, L. S. B., de Oliveira, L. L., de Morais, E. B., Benko-Iseppon, A. M., Vasconcelos, S., Schrago, C. E. G. & Mayo, S. J.  Recognition of the genus Thaumatophyllum Schott −formerly Philodendron subg. Meconostigma (Araceae) −based on molecular and morphological evidence

North Carolina State Extension. Thaumatophyllum Bipinnatifidum


Tulane University. Oxalate Plant Poisoning



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