Split Leaf Philodendron: Everything you Need to Know
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Growing indoor plants has become a rather popular hobby lately. And it’s almost an integral part of interior design. In this article, we’re zoning in on one particular plant that has been all the buzz lately, the Split Leaf Philodendron. So, if you’re unsure about its care, propagation, and more, this article will give you all the answers you need.
Origin and Overview
The Split Leaf Philodendron is known by many names: Philodendron Bipinnatifidum, Philodendron Pygmaeum, and Arum Pinnatifidum. But it isn’t the Monstera Deliciosa despite the similarities it shares with the Monstera Deliciosa varieties in shape.
Split Leaf Philodendrons are native to the tropical areas in Central America. And you can still find the plant in the rainforests and forests of Argentina, Brazil, Bolivia, and Paraguay. It was also introduced into Belize.
In its birthplace, indigenous tribes used the plant’s yellow or white berries for food and medicine. They also used its roots for crafting and binding.
Additionally, it belongs to the Arcacea family and is one of the most popular houseplants. That’s understandable when you consider how low-maintenance, fast-growing, and photogenic it is. So, the Split Leaf Philodendron makes for the ideal plant for beginners to grow.
As for aesthetics, the plant’s dense foliage can add a jungle-esque touch to any room. Just picture huge glossy, dark green leaves and deep splits. Then, picture that plant growing 4 feet in your house and 30 feet in the wild. Not to mention, the Split Leaf Philodendron is an evergreen shrub, so it’ll maintain its color and livelihood throughout the year.
- While young, this houseplant has a dense, bushy shape, but as it grows, it wants to vine out.
- Height at shipping is approximately 24-inches tall, measured from the bottom of the pot to the top of the plant. Ships in a 10-inch diameter décor pot.
- Grow Monstera in medium, indirect light for the best growth and enjoy!
- Water Monstera with approximately 2-3 cups of water about once a week. Adjust as needed for your environment.
- Monstera may be the perfect houseplant for you if you're looking to create a big, bold, tropical feel.
Split Leaf Philodendron Care
Let’s cover what probably matters the most to you: Split Leaf Philodendron Care.
Split Leaf Philodendrons grow under tropical canopies in their natural habitat, so you should simulate those light conditions. To illustrate, if you want to provide your Split Leaf Philodendron with the needed care, place it in a spot with bright light in the summer and direct sunlight in the winter. If no direct sun exposure is available, indirect light works too.
Otherwise, growing Split Leaf Philodendrons under fluorescent or artificial light isn’t recommended because their leaves won’t flourish into stunning leaf perforations. They’ll still survive, though.
Tip: To decide whether the lighting conditions are appropriate for your plant, observe how it’s responding to the light. So, if it’s stretching out, it needs more direct sunlight. If it’s growing yellow leaves, it requires less exposure to bright light.
The Split Leaf Philodendron grows best in moist growing mediums. It doesn’t require too much water and goes days without it. Depending on your climate and environment, it might go 10 days without watering. And you can tell that your plant needs to be watered if the top 2 inches of the soil are dry. So, stick your fingers 2 inches deep into the soil to check.
But note that the plant may need more water in winter, especially if you live in a dry environment with low humidity levels. Also, you want well-draining soil so that your plant doesn’t soak in water.
As for the method of watering, make sure you’re watering the Split Leaf Philodendron thoroughly, including its moss support sunk. And check that the water is getting to the soil at the bottom of the pot. This way, it isn’t too dry.
If the water is draining from the pot’s bottom, you’re probably doing it right. Then, you can drain any excess water in the tray holding the pot or container.
Tip: If your plant is “sweating”, that’s a clear indication that you’re overwatering it. So, decrease the amount of water you’re giving it to avoid developing root rot. Alternatively, if it’s drooping, you probably aren’t giving it enough water.
Since Split Leaf Philodendrons are native to rainforests, they thrive in warm temperatures and humid environments. During the day, a temperature of 75 to 85 degrees F. is great. However, anything under 55 F. is too low. As for nighttime, the temperature shouldn’t be under 65 degrees F. To meet these conditions, put your plant close to a window that’s facing south.
As for humidity, it shouldn’t go under 40% if you don’t want your plants’ tips to turn brown in a dry medium. And if you live somewhere dry with low humidity, misting your plant constantly can go a long way and give you that high humidity level. You can do that once every 2 days in the growing season and once every 3 to 4 days in winter.
Other ways of increasing the humidity in the medium are surrounding your Split Leaf Philodendron with more plants. This is helpful because plants conduct transpiration, thus releasing the moisture from their leaves and increasing the humidity.
In addition, pebble trays can be helpful as well. Merely fill them up with water and 1 inch of pebbles, but don’t let the water reach the pot’s level. This way, water will evaporate, creating moisture. Also, if you already have a dehumidifier, it can provide the Split Leaf Philodendron with the needed care and humidity.
The main requirements in a Split Leaf Philodendron soil are a rich soil full of nutrients and good drainage. A lightweight soil is also preferable. For drainage, perlite and grit can help. Furthermore, sphagnum moss-covered support sunks can moisturize and support the aerial roots.
Undoubtedly, you can opt for a regular peat-moss-based mix. However, if you want to put together your potting mix, add 1 third of each of the following ingredients:
- Perlite or grit
- Regular houseplant mix
Additionally, we’d advise against any impermeable soil or a soil that holds too much water. So, an all-purpose potting mix isn’t going to work for this plant.
Tip: Typically, Split Leaf Philodendron plants don’t need a fertilizer. But you can use a water-soluble fertilizer 4 times a week for optimal growth; that’s during the growing season. Once every 4 weeks during winter will be sufficient.
We recommend using a large pot with plenty of soil to make room for the plant’s growing roots when potting. This way, your plant matures and grows magnificent leaves. To assess if you have a big enough pot, see how well the root ball fits in it. And note that there should be 2 to 3 inches of soil surrounding the roots from all directions if they’re to grow.
Furthermore, expect that Split Leaf Philodendron plants will need to be re-potted due to their fast growth. This should happen every year, preferably during spring.
And that’s especially the case for the climbing varieties. Self-heading Philodendrons also grow significantly in width and height. And they need sturdy pots so that such mature plant varieties don’t tip over, constantly requiring bigger pots.
Split Leaf Philodendron Propagation
There are several methods to propagate Split Leaf Philodendrons as you’ll see.
Using seeds isn’t always an option because your Split Leaf Philodendron may not grow flowers. But if it does, you can use them to propagate the plant with these steps:
- During spring, sow the seed, and keep it close to the pot’s surface.
- Water the plant thoroughly, and put it in a propagator. If that isn’t available, covering the pot with a plastic bag till germination will do. This should seal the moisture.
- Keep your seeds at a steady temperature of 66 to 75F.
- Remove the plastic bag when seedlings become visible. If they’re in a propagator, take them out.
- Put your baby plant or plants in individual pots once they each grow two sets of leaves.
Stem cutting is by far the best way to propagate Split Leaf Philodendrons. You can do it in both soil and water. So, here’s how you can cut these stems.
- During spring, cut off the stem of the main plant above the node, and ensure that the cut section holds no less than 3 nodes and a leaf. You can use a sterile and a pair of scissors or a sharp knife.
- Trim your cutting below the lowest node.
- Plant the cutting in a potting compost or a jar of clean water that goes over the nodes.
- Water the cutting thoroughly.
- Like before, you can cover it with a plastic bag or put it into a propagator. Also, sticks can ensure that plastic bags remain lifted over the stem cuttings.
- Place your stem cuttings somewhere warm that doesn’t get direct sunlight. And make sure the soil is damp.
- If you look through the drainage holes, you’ll see the roots towards the bottom of the pot. If it’s propagated in water, you can remove the stem once the new roots start growing and pot up the new plant.
Tip: Some Split Leaf Philodendron varieties that grow upwards may develop plantlets, which you can remove and replant.
Split Leaf Philodendron Pruning
Since it grows fast, the Split Leaf Philodendron plant can quickly get out of hand without pruning. Typically, the ideal time for pruning is early spring and late winter. As for removing yellowing leaves and dead, diseased, and damaged growth, you can do that to the Split Leaf Philodendron plant regularly.
Luckily, it’s relatively easy to prune these plants when they grow too big. Merely use sharp and sanitized scissors to cut off some healthy stems at the point where the leaf node and stems meet. Also, try to get rid of leaves towards the bottom of the plant and close to the soil.
Common Problems With Split Leaf Philodendrons
Some bacterial diseases that might infect Split Leaf Philodendron varieties include:
Spider mites are very common houseplant pests. They’re minute creatures that resemble white specks. And they can make the leaves of your Split Leaf Philodendron turn yellow and have holes.
So, inspect your Split Leaf Philodendron plant for infestations. If there are any, you’ll find them on the underside of leaves around the stem. And they’re usually suspended from the silk webs they spin. If that’s the case, you can apply insecticidal soap to leaves and a systemic pesticide to the root system.
Other common houseplant pests are scales. These shell-like parasites remain still on the leaves’ underside, feeding on the sap of your plant. So, they can leave your Split Leaf Philodendron sick, which is why checking your plant for scales is just as important as inspecting it for pests. And you can treat it in the same manner too.
As we’ve briefly alluded to, Philodendron plants placed in waterlogged soil for a prolonged period will develop diseases, mainly root rot. And you can tell by the dark brown splotches. So, avoid overwatering your plant to prevent root rot.
But if there are any, get your Split Leaf Philodendron out of the pot, and inspect its root ball. Once confirmed for rot, use a soft brush or your fingers. And brush as much of the soil away from the roots. Then, trim any black and brown roots with a sharp knife or scissors and sterile.
The goal is only to keep cream and white roots. Then, finally, you can put the Split Leaf Philodendron in a clean pot with fresh soil.
Is Split-Leaf Philodendron the Same as Monstera?
Despite their similarities in appearance, the Split Leaf Philodendron and Monstera Deliciosa, known as the Swiss Cheese plant, are different plants. But people and even sellers often confuse the Philodendron for the Monstera Deliciosa.
Where the Split Leaf Philodendron’s leaves have deep splits, the Monstera Deliciosa has holes. Also, the latter is a self-heading plant, so it can grow upright. But the Monstera Deliciosa, a vining plant with aerial roots, requires support to climb.
How Big Does a Split-Leaf Philodendron Get?
There have been different numbers thrown around when it comes to this plant’s size. However, we’d expect its size to grow up to 4 feet indoors and grow up to 30 feet in the wild.
Are Split Leaf Philodendrons Toxic Plants?
Yes, Philodendron varieties are overall toxic to people and pets, including cats and dogs. That’s due to the high oxalic acid crystal content of such plants, which can irritate mucous membranes and result in digestive issues. So, keep these Philodendrons away from children and pets.
Ultimately, a Split Leaf Philodendron is a great indoor plant for many reasons. It’s easy to care for, has impressively fast growth, and more.
With bright natural light, moist soil that contains nutrients, and warm and humid weather, these plants are content. Not to mention, the plant’s pruning is easy, and you can propagate it with seeds or cutting stems. So, there’s no reason not to add this beauty to your collection of plants.