The Anabolic Split Leaf
Philodendron bipinnatifidum

A Tropical Houseplant on Steroids!

The split leaf Philodendron bipinnatifidum (syn. selloum) is a self-heading, trunk-forming tree type which can grow to a height and spread of 15x5 feet.

This ain't your grandmother's houseplant.

Buy a Split Leaf Philodendron
from: Nature Hills Nursery, Inc.

Lacy tree Philodendron picture.

Lacy tree Philodendron picture showing trunk and roots.

This image shows you about how tall one of these plants can get without support.

This particular plant is located in Altamonte Springs, Fl (zone 9) where Philodendron selloum will not reach its ultimate height.

In a warmer climate, the plant could be expected to double in size using a nearby tree or building to lean on. Without support, taller plants will fall over or break.

Split leaf Philodendron leaf image.

A new leaf emerges from its sheath.

Mature leaves will be approximately 1.5 feet wide and 2 feet long and cut into a dozen segments on each side of the midrib.

The saddle-shaped leaves can be cut and used in flower arrangements. If you treat the cut foliage with glycerin, it will last a long time.

Split leaf Philodendron in full sun.

Split leaf Philodendron in sun.

P. selloum growing in shade.

The foliage of plants sited in full sun will be bright green with some yellowing.

The leaves of plants grown in shade are darker and do not turn yellow.

Philodendron bipinnatifidum is nothing if not adaptable.

It will happily grow in any exposure. Site it according to how you want it to behave.

If you want dark green shiny leaves, plant it in the shade.

If you want bright green leaves and don't mind the yellowing, put it in the sun.

If you want a shrub, plant it away from anything it might be tempted to use for support. If it's height you desire, place it beside a tree.

Split leaf Philodendron massed outside a restaurant.

P. selloum plants massed outside a restaurant.

Mature plants can bloom although I have never seen flowers on mine or any others here in Central Florida.

The large white blooms exude a lovely fragrance at night.

Split Leaf Philodendron Roots

Split leaf Philodendron roots.

Philodendron selloum does not like to keep all its roots buried in the soil. It continually sends out aerial roots which it uses for support.

It will do this whether planted in a pot or in the ground. If these bother you, remove them. It won't hurt the plant.

Cut Leaf Philodendron Care

Split leaf Philodendron Split leaf Philodendron "hair" growing out of a clay head at Congo River, a miniature golf course in Central Florida.

Philodendron bipinnatifidum hails from the shady jungles of Central and South America, a climate which--like Florida's--alternates between deluge and drought.

Needless to say, this plant is well adapted to life in the sunshine state.

It flourishes in inland locations but I have also seen it growing on the coast though not right on the dunes.

It is hardy at least into zone 8 as I have seen it growing, in the open ground, in coastal Georgia.

The split leaf Philodendron growing in the shade in my backyard thrives on nothing but natural rainfall and the handful of Millorganite I throw at it once or twice each growing season.

It is evergreen in my zone 9a yard. In colder areas, it may freeze to the ground but will reemerge in the spring.

Propagation: The easiest way to get more of these bodacious beauties is to look for offsets around mature plants. Dig these up and move them.

Cut Leaf Philodendron Houseplant Care

Split leaf Philodendron in a pot.

When growing P. bipinnatifidum indoors, it is best to give it good light but no direct sun. It is not picky about temperature or humidity but the more humid the air around it is, the more lushly will it grow.

Keep the soil evenly moist and feed bimonthly.

There are pros and cons to growing a cut leaf Philodendron as a house plant:

The pros:

  1. Its bold, dramatic foliage will give a tropical or even Jurassic look to any room.

  2. It is easy to care for. Just about unkillable.

The cons:

  1. Its eventual size. This thing is more of a roommate than a houseplant.

    If you start with a small plant, you will be able to keep it in a 10-12 inch pot for a few years. Eventually, Phil is going to demand a bigger pot.

  2. The broken stems bleed a sap which will stain fabric and can cause contact dermatitis in sensitive people.

  3. The leaves will become dusty and need to be rinsed off occasionally. This can be accomplished by setting the plant outside in the shade during warm weather and letting the rain wash it or by carting it into the shower.

Fortunately, Phil has a little brother:

Dwarf Philodendron selloum 'Xanadu'

Philodendron 'Xanadu' image.

Philodendron 'Xanadu' is a dwarf seedling of the much larger split leaf Philodendron selloum. Of the 2, 'Xanadu' is the superior houseplant. If you like the large, tropical foliage of P. selloum but lack space, 3 foot tall, bushy 'Xanadu' is the answer.

Before we part, let me also introduce you to Phil's beautiful sister:

Philodendron giganteum

Philodendron giganteum growing at Leu Gardens.

You can see from her impressive size that she too is a juicer.

Philodendron giganteum leaf.
Giant Philodendron trunk picture.

P. giganteum's Trunk

The giant Philodendron's leaves differ from those of P. selloum in that they are a much darker green and uncut.

They are also more elongated and a bit wider.

The trunk is where the family resemblance is most noticeable.

The big leaf Philodendron in this photo has both split and entire leaves. This is a perfect example of the normal variation in leaf structure among the large leaf Philodendrons.

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Your plant guides,

Selina and Tiny