In the midst of the houseplant craze, the demand for large, leafy plants has surged. The likes of the ever-popular Monstera and the towering Fiddle Leaf Fig have captured the hearts of plant enthusiasts. But if you’re looking for something a bit different, there’s a new contender in town – The Split Leaf Philodendron.
These plants are no longer confined to outdoor gardens; they’ve found their way into the hearts of indoor plant lovers. Split Leaf Philodendrons are robust and adaptable, thriving in both indoor and outdoor environments as long as they are in the right hardiness zone with suitable growing conditions.
Split Leaf Philodendrons Plant Overview
Plant Type: Houseplant
Species: Thaumatophyllum bipinnatifidum
Native Area: South America
Height: 6 feet
Watering Requirements: Moderate
Pests & Diseases: Spider mites, mealybug, scale
Exposure: Bright indirect light to full sun
Soil Type: Airy and well-draining
Hardiness Zone: 8-11
What Is It Split Leaf Philodendron?
Don’t be misled by common names; they can be quite confusing. Split Leaf Philodendrons are often mistaken for Monstera deliciosa and are even called Swiss Cheese Plants. These plants have multiple botanical names that are sometimes used interchangeably and with different genera.
First and foremost, Split Leaf Philodendrons are not the same as Monstera. The common name “Swiss Cheese Plant” is typically attributed to Monstera deliciosa but is occasionally used for the Split Leaf Philodendron, even though they are distinct plants. To make things more perplexing, some also call Monsteras “Split Leaf Philodendrons.”
In this naming chaos, the scientific name is your best friend. According to Kew Plants of the World Online, the scientific name for Split Leaf Philodendrons is Thaumatophyllum bipinnatifidum. They belong to the Thaumatophyllum genus, not the Philodendron genus. However, you may still find them labeled as Philodendron bipinnatifidum and Philodendron selloum in nurseries and online stores.
The crucial point to remember is that Split Leaf Philodendrons are not a variety of philodendron, despite their visual similarities to Monsteras.
Split Leaf Philodendron History
Split Leaf Philodendrons have been under scrutiny for many years. Heinrich Wilhelm Schott, a Philodendron enthusiast, classified Philodendron bipinnatifidum and Philodendron selloum as two distinct plants in the 19th century. However, recent research has shown that these plants are genetically very similar, with only slight anatomical differences that do not justify treating them as two separate species. Therefore, Philodendron bipinnatifidum became known as Thaumatophyllum bipinnatifidum in online databases from 2019 and onwards.
These magnificent plants thrive in tropical rainforests in South America, primarily in Brazil, Argentina, Paraguay, and Bolivia. They have also ventured north into Central American forests in Belize. In their native habitats, they can grow over 10 feet tall and just as wide. These plants have the unique ability to attach themselves to trees for support.
Split Leaf Philodendron Characteristics
The Split Leaf Philodendron stands out with its deep green leaves that develop splits at the sides, giving them a distinctive ruffled texture. These leaves can grow to over 3 feet in length under the right conditions.
The plant is supported by a substantial central stem, and the leaf stems are thick and sturdy, making them great for decorative purposes. When grown indoors, they can reach a maximum height of around 6 feet. One key feature that distinguishes them from Monsteras is that Split Leaf Philodendrons have slits in the sides of their leaves, not holes.
Whether you’re growing them indoors or outdoors, it’s crucial to start with a healthy plant. When purchasing one, check for signs of growth issues, pests, and diseases. Avoid introducing these problems to your garden or home. Also, make sure you’ve got a genuine Split Leaf Philodendron, not a Monstera, as their care requirements differ slightly.
If you plan to keep your plant indoors, it’s best to keep it in the pot it came in for a few months before repotting. If you want to move it to a more decorative pot, follow the same repotting instructions. For outdoor planting, choose a plant acclimatized to outdoor conditions or provide dappled shade if planting in full sun.
How to Grow Split Leaf Philodendron
To ensure the healthy growth of your Split Leaf Philodendron, pay attention to their environmental needs. This includes providing the right amount of light, selecting a split-leaf friendly soil type, watering appropriately, and maintaining the right pH balance in your fertilizer.
Split Leaf Philodendrons are adaptable plants suitable for a range of lighting conditions. When grown indoors, they prefer bright indirect light throughout the day and can even tolerate some direct morning sun. In their native habitats, they often grow in full sun, but indoor-grown specimens may not handle full sun well. If you have a bright, sunny spot in your home, introduce the plant to direct sunlight gradually.
These plants enjoy moist but not waterlogged soil. Water young plants when the top inch of soil is dry, and for larger plants, let the top 2-3 inches of soil dry out before watering again. Avoid strict watering schedules and monitor soil moisture regularly to prevent over or underwatering.
Use well-draining soil for your Split Leaf Philodendron. Standard houseplant soil mixes work well, but if you prefer making your mix, combine two parts potting soil, one part perlite, and one part coconut coir. This mixture provides good drainage and aeration while retaining enough moisture.
Temperature and Humidity
These plants thrive in warm temperatures between 65°F and 80°F and high humidity levels between 60% and 70%. Avoid exposing them to temperatures below 50°F, as it can damage the plant. Maintain consistent indoor temperatures and humidity levels to keep your plant healthy.
While Split Leaf Philodendrons don’t always require fertilizer, if you decide to use it, do so in the spring or summer. Choose a balanced houseplant fertilizer and follow the instructions provided. Fertilizing ensures your plant receives the necessary nutrients for healthy growth.
In conclusion, Split Leaf Philodendrons are captivating plants that can thrive both indoors and outdoors with the right care. By understanding their specific requirements for light, soil, water, and environmental conditions, you can enjoy a thriving and lush Split Leaf Philodendron in your home or garden. These fascinating plants, often confused with Monsteras, bring a touch of the tropical rainforest to your living space, making them an excellent addition to any plant lover’s collection.