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The split-leaf philodendron is one of the most talked-about houseplants of 2021. But there’s a problem. Most people referring to this plant are actually talking about the Monstera Deliciosa, a completely different plant and not a philodendron. In fact, there are a great deal of names thrown around in this category, such as swiss-cheese plant, ceriman, Mexican breadfruit plant, and widow leaf.
Let’s clear up the confusion first – I blame the nurseries for propagating these fibs 😉- and then we can dive into how to care for all of these different and wonderful indoor plants.
Split-Leaf Philodendron vs. Monstera Plants
Monsteras are a species of evergreen cacti from Mexico and Costa Rica. The plant’s Latin name, Monstera deliciosa, refers to the tasty fruit the plant grows. Their leaves become giant, and their leaf patterns are very dramatic, with almost white variegation patterns. It is closely related to a peace lily.
Philodendrons are typically vining houseplants belonging to the same genus as the pothos. They have many cultivars, such as the Philodendron Birkin and the Philodendron Gloriosoum. The name Philodendron is Latin and means “love tree.” They don’t grow as tall or as large as a Monstera deliciosa. Instead, they grow similarly to a pothos.
What Is The Difference Between Split-Leaf Philodendron and Monstera Plants?
Both split-leaf philodendron and monstera leaves have big, fenestrated leaves, but split-leaf philodendron leaves are curlier than monstera leaves and more frond-like.
Like monstera plants, split-leaf philodendron plants are part of the Araceae family and can also grow large in the wild. Though a split-leaf philodendron is a philodendron, it is NOT a monstera.
That said, both plants grow in similar habitats and regions, so caring for a split-leaf philodendron is quite similar to caring for a monstera.
Split-Leaf Philodendron Details
The split-leaf philodendron is a big, easy-to-care-for houseplant. A split-leaf usually has leaves that can grow up to three feet tall and two feet wide.
If you’re looking for a large, low-maintenance indoor plant, then this is an excellent choice for most growers. Let’s do a deep dive into the ins and outs of growing the split-leaf philodendron, so you can decide if it’s right for you.
- Genus: Philodendron
- Scientific Family: Araceae Family
- Origin: Costa Rica, Mexico, Panama
- Mature Height: 3 Feet
- Mature Width: 2 Feet
- Distinguishing Features: Large green, frond-like, fenestrated leaves
- Home Placement: Directly Next to a Window, with Bright/Indirect Light (Not South-Facing window)
- Growth Speed: The split-leaf philodendron is a slow Grower
- Light Requirements: Split-leaf philodendron prefers bright, indirect light. Consider putting this houseplant in an east or west-facing window. If you noticed that your leaves are yellowing, it could be a sign that they’re receiving too much light.
- Watering Requirements: Keep the soil in your split-leaf philodendron moist but not overly wet. Overwatering these house plants can cause root rot and attract pathogens. You should try to mimic the rainforest floor – give this indoor plant damp conditions but don’t overdo it.
- Soil Requirements: You want a potting mix with rich peat(moss)-based soil or potting mix. The split-leaf prefers a solid base that retains moisture but also drains well. If your soil is not emptying like it should, try repotting and adding some perlite (about ⅓ of the total potting mix used).
- Temperature: 55ºF – 85ºF (12ºC – 24ºC)
- Fertilizer: A liquid houseplant fertilizer with macro-nutrients, such as a 10-10-10 NPK formulation, will work well for split-leaf philodendron. Apply monthly during the growing season.
- Humidity: Keep your humidity above 40%. An excellent way to do this is with a humidifier. Here are some of our favorites:
- Pruning: It’s only necessary to prune your split-leaf philodendron when you need to control its size or remove any dead or dying foliage.
- Propagation: To propagate split-leaf Philodendron, you can use an air laying or root cutting method. Both will take a little work from the grower, so see below for more information on the process.
- Repotting: You’ll likely need to repot every one to two years. If you’re trying to maximize the growth, you can choose a larger pot size.
- Diseases and Pests: Like most philodendrons, the split-leaf is hardy against pathogens and pests – with a few notable exceptions. Spider Mites, Aphids, and Mealybugs are all pests to look out for. Root rot and leaf tip burn can also be a problem. Common diseases (from parasitic bacteria) include Erwinia Blight and Leaf Spot. Overwatering will cause most of these issues, so water your houseplant carefully.
- Toxicity: Split-leaf Philodendron is toxic to humans, dogs, and cats due to the insoluble calcium oxalates in the leaves. This can cause oral irritation and intense burning in the tongue, lips, and mouth. It may also cause vomiting and difficulty swallowing.
Where To Buy Split-Leaf Philodendron
You can buy the split-leaf philodendron through Etsy, which is one of the best places to buy houseplants online. Here are some of the top-rated sites to buy this philodendron. You can also purchase them through Amazon.
Distinguishing Features of Split-Leaf Philodendron
The split-leaf philodendron is known for its green, fenestrated frond-like leaves. The deep indentations in the leaves are the distinguishing feature of this popular houseplant. The indentations become increasingly more profound as the plant matures.
They also have aerial roots when climbing up trees in the rainforest. They shouldn’t be as obvious when grown as an indoor plant. If you see aerial roots and don’t like them, you can cut them off without damaging the plant.
Split-leaf Philodendron Care
This beautiful houseplant is a slow/medium grower that requires little maintenance. Let’s take a more in-depth look at what it takes to make it grow.
Potting and Repotting
A simple terracotta pot with draining holes will work well for this houseplant. It’s best to repot your split-leaf once every year or two. If you see roots beginning to grow out of the pot, it may be a sign that you need to move your plant to a different pot.
A day before repotting this indoor plant, water the soil, making it easier to remove the plant.
If the roots are tightly packed, take a clean pruning tool and make a few cuts on the roots to help loosen them. This will help encourage new growth.
If you’re trying to beef up this plant’s overall size, you should move to a larger container when repotting.
Once you’ve transplanted your split-leaf philodendron, water the soil until it drips out of the draining holes.
A split-leaf philodendron will do well with a houseplant potting mix. Since water is typically considered the biggest trigger for Philodendron diseases, you want to make sure you have a growing medium that drains water well.
Here are some of our favorite potting mixes for houseplants:
If you’re looking to make your own potting mix, a good combination is 1/3 potting soil, 1/3 perlite, and 1/3 peat moss.
How Often Should You Water A Split-Leaf Philodendron?
You should water your split-leaf philodendron once every 7-10 days—water the soil no more than 25%-30% of the gross soil volume. The water should drip out of the pot’s drainage holes. Keep the soil damp but not excessively wet. If your leaves become discolored or yellow, it could be a sign that you’re watering too much. Too much watering can cause a slew of diseases and root rot.
What Kind Of Light Does A Split-Leaf Philodendron Need?
Philodendrons are native to tropical areas. Because of this, you may think that they need direct sunlight, but that isn’t the case. Split-leaf philodendron grows along rainforest floors, beneath the canopy of trees. So at best, they’re receiving indirect light.
The key is to place your plant in a place where it can receive bright indirect light, but not direct sun. A good option is to put your houseplant in an east or west-facing window.
If you see scorch marks on the leaves, it could be a sign that you need to move your plant or lower a blind. It could also be a sign of dry air, so read our section on humidity, as well.
Philodendrons are natives of rainforests and other tropical areas, meaning they thrive in high humidity. At a minimum, you should give your split-leaf philodendron 40% humidity, but higher is better.
Here are some hygrometer options for testing humidity at home:
If your split-leaf philodendron isn’t getting enough humidity, it can limit new growth and cause brown leaf tips.
There are a few ways to increase the humidity in your home. One is to simply spray your houseplant with a spray bottle. A more consistent and hands-off way to improve the humidity is through a humidifier. Here are some of our top picks for houseplants:
Can Split-Leaf Philodendron Live Inside?
The split-leaf philodendron can live inside but may need more room than your average houseplant. Assuming you can keep the humidity around this plant medium to high, you should be able to grow your split-leaf philodendron inside with no problems.
Are Split-Leaf Philodendrons Poisonous?
This popular houseplant is poisonous to humans, dogs, and cats when ingested due to the leaves’ calcium oxalate. Fortunately, symptoms are usually mild, such as swelling and burning of lips, tongue, and throat, vomiting, difficulty swallowing, or diarrhea. If a pet or human has ingested part of the split-leaf philodendron, do the following:
- Human ingestion
- Call poison control at (800) 222-1222
- Pet ingestion
- Call (855) 764-7661 ($59 incident fee applies)
Troubleshooting Your Split-Leaf Philodendron
Split-leaf philodendron is a reasonably hardy houseplant, but it’s not invincible to some pests. You’ll need to watch out for infestations of mealybugs, spider mites, and aphids. If you notice pests attacking this popular houseplant, you should act immediately, either with insecticidal sprays or with an at-home brew.
Useful Split-Leaf Philodendron Pesticides
- Insecticidal Soap Organic Miticide
- Bonide – Insect Control Systemic Granules
- Ready-to-Use Insect Spray
At-Home Pesticide Instructions
If you’re interested in brewing a pesticide from the comfort of your home, we found a recipe you can try. That said, they likely won’t be as effective as the store-bought options.
- Spray bottle
- 1/2 ounce pure neem oil
- 1/2 teaspoon mild liquid soap
- 2 quarts warm water
Put your ingredients into the spray bottle. Use the straw of the water bottle to stir the mixture slowly. Spray on your plants that are affected by these plants every few days.
There are several reasons your leaves could be yellow. The most common cause is that you’re overwatering your plant. See our watering recommendations above. Other possibilities could be that they’re not receiving enough light or humidity or that pests have stressed the plant. Start by assessing the water levels and work your way down this list.
Drooping Leaves and Brown Edges
If your split-leaf philodendron develops brown spots or edges, it may be a sign that your home is lacking enough humidity. An excellent way to fix this problem is by adding a humidifier near your houseplant.
If it’s not the humidity, scorched edges could be a sign that your plant is receiving too much light. Move the split-leaf to a place with bright indirect light.
Propagating Split-Leaf Philodendron
There are two common ways to propagate a split-leaf philodendron: air layering and rooted cuttings.
Start by soaking sphagnum moss for at least an hour in clean water. The moisture within the sphagnum moss will provide a humid environment that enables your new split-leaf cutting to grow.
Cut the plant stem at an upward angle below the leaf node. The leaf node is the section of the stem that the leaf forms. Take a toothpick and stick the tip gently in the end of the stem. Move it back and forth to open the cut further.
We recommend you use a growth hormone, such as these:
- Miracle-Gro FastRoot Dry Powder Rooting Hormone
- HousePlant Propagation Promoter & Rooting Hormone
- Gardentech Rootboost Rooting Hormone
Sprinkle the rooting hormone on the cut. Tap the stem to clear residual powder from the stem. Pack the sphagnum moss into the cut, as well as around the stem.
Use plastic wrap to wrap the stem and seal with tape. Once the roots start to appear, transplant the new split-leaf philodendron into a pot.
To propagate with root cuttings, start by soaking your potting soil. You should aim for the soil to be damp but not soaked. After preparing the dirt, squeeze out any excess water before putting it in a growing tray. Use a pencil to make holes in the tray.
Underneath the aerial roots, you should get cuttings that are at or around six inches. Cut the stems at an angle, making the start of the cut on the side closest to the base of the plant.
Put your rooting hormone powder on a paper plate. Dip the bottom two inches of your cutting into the hormone powder. Gently shake or tap the stem so that any of the extra growth hormone shakes off. Place the plant in the soil where it can root and press the soil around the plant.
Cover the planting soil with a lid. If you don’t have a lid handy, use transparent plastic wrap as a substitute. You should wrap the plastic wrap around the bottom of the tray so that humidity cannot escape. In this way, you’re creating a miniature greenhouse for the houseplant.
Place the tray in a sunny location, which will help roots develop. Inspect the cuttings daily for mold and disease. Remove all plants infected by disease or other pathogens.
Pull the cover from the tray as soon as the roots develop. To search for roots, give the cutting a small (and very gentle) tug. If roots are present, you should feel the resistance. Transplant the new split-leaf philodendrons into separate containers once the initial roots develop.
Final Thoughts On The Split-Leaf Philodendron
While this is a different plant than the swiss cheese plant/monstera plant, the split-leaf philodendron is still a beautiful houseplant that’s easy to grow and care for. As long as you keep the humidity, water, and light needs in mind, growing this indoor plant is a breeze.
Have you raised the Split-Leaf Philodendron? We want to see it! Send pictures to firstname.lastname@example.org, and we may feature them in this article!