If you’re thinking about buying or already have a split-leaf philodendron, you’re on the right track!
It simply has everything you could wish for in a houseplant. It’s easy to care for, fast-growing, and has jaw-dropping foliage. I could spend hours admiring the glossy, lush leaves with their remarkable slashed margins.
Continue reading to learn more about split-leaf philodendron care guidelines, common problems, and more!
Get To Know Split-Leaf Philodendrons
If you’re a curious plant enthusiast who enjoys learning about plants’ history, let me satisfy that side of you. I’ll start by taking you on a quick tour of the life of split-leaf philodendrons!
These beauties were previously known as Philodendron bipinnatifidum, but they’re recognized now as Thaumatophyllum bipinnatifidum. If you knew how to pronounce their botanical names, bravo; if you didn’t,
like most of us, you can call them by their common names:
- Tree philodendron
- Lacy tree philodendron
- Saddle leaf philodendron
Contrary to popular belief, a split-leaf philodendron isn’t the same as a monstera. Both have remarkable split foliage and are members of the Araceae family, but they belong to different genera.
Do you know what’s even more surprising? A tree philodendron technically doesn’t belong to philodendrons. That’s why its botanical name was changed to Thaumatophyllum, the genus closest to it.
Moving on from the plant’s naming shenanigans to its origins. Split-leaf philodendrons are native to South America, where you can find them growing naturally in countries like Brazil, Argentina, and Paraguay.
In fact, the Brazilian variety has a stem that looks like a woody trunk, thus the common nickname “tree philodendron”!
This tropical plant can grow quite large in its natural habitat, reaching heights of up to 10-15 ft. That’s why you’ll most probably find it clinging to a nearby tree. As it matures, it develops aerial roots that allow it to climb up structures to support its weight and receive more sunlight.
As a houseplant, a split-leaf philodendron won’t grow as large, but it can grow to 6 ft. tall. That said, it’ll still require a relatively large space to expand indoors.
Although it’s a tree-like shrub with strong stems when young, it becomes decumbent as it ages.
Wrapping up this tour by mentioning one more intriguing fact. This species was used in traditional medical practices before it became famous for its stunning ornamental foliage.
Studies showed that the split-leaf philodendron stems have antinociceptive and anti-inflammatory properties. It truly is the gift that keeps on giving!
Split-Leaf Philodendron Care Instructions
Believe it or not, this good-looking plant doesn’t require much attention; it’s extremely low maintenance and forgiving.
There are six major factors to consider when growing tree philodendrons to make sure they develop in the right form and are healthy:
Split-leaf philodendrons prefer filtered shade or bright indirect sunlight. Keep them out of direct sunlight so they don’t develop a sunburn, which will cause their leaves to yellow and wilt.
This species can tolerate low-light conditions occasionally but not for prolonged periods. Keeping it in an area with insufficient sunlight for a long time slows its growth rate dramatically and causes it to become leggy.
Try to choose a location that provides light from several angles to ensure that your bushy plant grows symmetrically. To explain, if only one side of your plant receives light, the other side will appear to be leaning over, and the growth rate will be incompatible.
If you don’t have such a spot, you can simply rotate the plant’s pot a quarter turn every time you water it.
There’s no set watering schedule for this plant. Tree philodendrons will just appreciate it if their soil is kept moist. This means that whenever the topsoil is dry, you should hydrate the plant; it’s as simple as that!
However, there’s a fine line between keeping the soil moist and waterlogging it. To explain, if you constantly water the plant without checking the topsoil, you may overwater it, which can lead to serious problems.
Overwatering causes oversaturation of the soil, which inhibits the roots’ ability to absorb water and nutrients. When the root system fails to do so, eventually, the plant dies.
Always run a small test on your houseplant before watering it to ensure that doesn’t happen. Poke your finger into the soil and if you feel that the top 1-2 inches are dry, go ahead and hydrate it; if not, postpone the watering.
Split-leaf philodendrons favor warm climates due to their tropical nature. They can withstand temperatures ranging from 65-75° F. Yet, they don’t do well in cold climates, particularly when the temperature drops below 50° F.
To combat the cold, this species will go dormant in the winter. However, the harsh weather can get to them and cause a cold shock. This is a plant phenomenon in which the leaves begin to yellow and droop.
Humidity plays a major role in helping this lush plant reach its full potential. That’s why you should boost the moisture levels in its surroundings to get the amazingly shiny, evergreen flair of its foliage.
Fortunately, there are several things you can do to provide your tree philodendron with the humidity it needs. One of the easiest methods is to place a humidifier in its growing environment. Alternatively, fill a spray bottle with water and frequently mist the plant’s leaves.
Yet, my favorite humidity hack is placing the plant’s pot on a pebble tray. I like this method because the trays are super simple to make and add to the natural aesthetic of plants.
This species thrives in light, well-drained soil that’s closer to alkaline pH levels as it can’t tolerate acidity. The majority of commercial houseplant soils are compatible with split-leaf philodendrons. Just make sure to choose one that’s high in organic matter, such as coco coir.
In case you didn’t know, organic matter works wonders for your houseplants’ growth. It primarily enhances the texture of the soil and its ability to absorb nutrients, which in return, improves the plant’s health.
Split Leaf Philodendron Fertilizer
When fertilizing a split leaf philodendron, use a balanced liquid fertilizer with an N-P-K ratio of 20-20-20.
It’s best to apply the fertilizer monthly in spring and summer when the plant is actively growing. In autumn and winter, reduce fertilizing to every other month.
If you’re not sure if your plant needs fertilizer, it’s best to err on the side of caution and skip a few weeks. Always follow package instructions when applying any type of fertilizer.
Poorly timed or over-fertilization can be damaging to your split leaf philodendron, so always use the correct amount and frequency.
Propagating Split Leaf Philodendron
Nothing beats the thrill of growing doppelgangers of your favorite houseplant! I even find propagating plants and gifting their new growth to our loved ones to be an extremely thoughtful gesture.
Split-leaf philodendrons are propagated via the stem cuttings technique. Here are its four main steps:
Step 1: Take Stem Cuttings
- Remember to sterilize any tools you use to cut the stem, whether it’s a knife, scissors, or pruning shears.
- Simply soak your cutting tool in a disinfectant to kill pathogens that could harm your plant.
- Afterward, choose a healthy stem and cut a 6-inch part of it with an angle, ideally 45°.
- Cut just below the node, which is where the leaf branches off from the main stem.
Step 2: Prepare Potting Soil
Soilless potting mixes, such as those made of vermiculite and coco coir, are ideal for propagation.
This type of soil will provide a cleaner and healthier environment for your cuttings to grow in. They’re also typically light and loose, allowing for oxygen to circulate properly which aids in root development.
After selecting your mix, place it in the plant pot and spritz it with water until damp. Then, using a pen or something similar, make holes in the soil to serve as the foundation for your cuttings.
Step 3: Plant Cuttings
It’s time to introduce your precious cuttings to their new home!
- Put the end of the stem in the hole you made, while holding it upright.
- After that, gently tuck the soil around it to secure it in place.
- Since we’re growing a tropical plant, we’ll give it a slight twist to encourage growth.
- As you now know, split-leaf philodendrons thrive in humidity.
- Place the pot in a plastic bag and loosely tie it up to help trap all moisture.
Step 4: Check for Roots
In general, the roots will be sufficiently formed after three weeks. To see if your propagation is succeeding, gently lift the stem from time to time to look for signs of rooting.
When you pull the stems and feel resistance, that’s when you’ll know that the roots are fully developed. At this stage, you can move new growth to a larger pot with fresh soil.
Common Issues With Split-Leaf Philodendrons
Don’t worry, this houseplant has dramatic looks but not a dramatic attitude! In other words, it won’t give you a hard time when caring for it.
Yet, there are a couple of common problems that split-leaf philodendron owners have encountered. Here they are so you can better avoid them:
The emerald green color of tree phildondran’s showy leaves adds to their allure. Brown doesn’t complement it. In fact, browning edges point to a problem.
The first culprit is a lack of humidity. This can cause the leaf tips to discolor and become dry or crisp. Moreover, if a split-leaf philodendron has been thirsty for a long time, the margins will turn brown.
All you have to do is keep your plant on a healthy watering schedule, and the foliage will be as vibrant as it should be.
Root rot is just a bad omen for plants. It happens to houseplants that prefer damp soils when their owners overdo the watering.
You see, root rot is a potentially fatal disease that spreads from the root system to the entire plant. It usually happens as a result of overwatering, which is why you should always stick to the watering test mentioned above.
The following signs can help you in identifying this disease:
- Constantly wet soil
- Foul odor
- Mushy, black roots
Split-Leaf Philodendrons Toxicity
If you have a furry friend at home, be cautious because split-leaf philodendrons are toxic to pets. Consuming or simply biting into this plant can be a nightmare for them.
The plant’s toxicity is due to the calcium oxalate crystals found in its parts. They’re basically insoluble needle-like crystals that erupt out of their place when your pet sinks its teeth into the leaf.
Pets may exhibit toxicity symptoms such as:
- Swollen gums and tongue
- Pawing at the mouth
- Loss of appetite
It goes without saying that if you have a baby, you should keep a close eye on him around this evergreen. This is particularly vital if your little one is in his mouthing stage.
Split Leaf Philodendron Care Outside
When caring for a split leaf philodendron outdoors, there are some additional considerations that need to be taken into account.
First, the plant needs slightly more shade than when grown indoors. Be sure to select an area with partial to full shade and protection from direct sunlight.
Also, make sure the soil drains well; split leaf philodendrons do not like wet feet. Water regularly and deeply, but allow the soil to dry out between waterings.
Fertilize monthly with a balanced liquid fertilizer according to package instructions. The plant may need more frequent fertilizing in the spring and summer when it is actively growing.
Prune away any dead or damaged leaves as needed. Finally, inspect the plant regularly for pests. If you notice any signs of an infestation, treat it promptly with an appropriate insecticide or remove affected leaves.
With proper care, your split leaf philodendron should thrive outdoors!
If you were unconvinced before, I believe you’ve changed your mind after seeing how simple split-leaf philodendron care guidelines are!
Now I’ll give you a final tip to keep your tree philodendron looking as fresh and lush as possible. That is, repot it every 2-4 years in new soil.
To clarify, if you don’t hydrate your plant with filtered water, salt accumulations in the soil will almost certainly occur, dehydrating the plant.