Philodendron Selloum: Plant Care & How to Grow

By Andrea Beck | Updated: January 15, 2023

Scientific name

Thaumatophyllum bipinnatifidum

Common name

Philodendron Selloum



Checked by Jennifer Schutter, Certified Master Gardener

Philodendron Selloum




Slightly acidic, moist.


Indirect but bright.


Near a sunny window.




Indirect but bright.


Slightly acidic, moist.


Near a sunny window.






Indirect but bright.





Philodendron selloum (or “Tree Philodendron”) is a fantastic, bright tropical houseplant with beautiful split leaves that lightens the room.

In this guide, we’ll cover how to take care of your Philodendron selloum, the common issues that might come up, and cover its unique heat-producing flowers!

This is a fantastic plant for beginners, so if you’ve had trouble keeping an indoor plant looking vibrant in the past, you’re definitely in for a treat.

Philodendron Selloum Care Guide

History, habitat, and characteristics

Ever heard the phrase “tree-loving”? In the botanical world, this phrase is simply known as “Philodendron”. This genus of plants is made up of over 450 different species, and until recently you might count Philodendron selloum plant among them.

What’s the catch?

Well, as you might know, the science that separates plants into distinct taxonomies is always changing. And as we learn from DNA, discover new species, and reconsider those we already know, we sometimes update these. With Philodendron selloum and Philodendron bipinnatifidum, it was discovered they’re actually just one plant. So not only split-leaf, but split-species!

These Philodendron plants (along with Philodendron xanadu) were in their own subgenus known as Meconostigma. In the last decade it was discovered that this is actually its own distinct genus, and now they’ve been recategorized yet again this time as Thaumatophyllum. So the humble Philodendron selloum (also called the Tree Philodendron) is no longer ‘tree loving’ but instead Wonder Leaf (Thaumatophyllum bipinnatifidum).

We’ll refer to this plant by its original name, Philodendron selloum, throughout the article, and even though the name has updated, the plant and its care are the same!

When this tropical plant is grown indoors as a houseplant, Philodendron selloum usually grows more slowly to heights of up to 4 feet and with large, glossy leaves 6” to 12” wide. Its leaves are also known for their unique cutouts that create a striking, dappled shadow pattern when exposed to bright light.

As with many members of the Araceae family, they can release microscopic crystals of calcium oxalate upon contact with skin, so always handle carefully and keep out of reach of pets and children.

It is easy to mistake P. selloum for other varieties of philodendron, such as Philodendron Hope selloum, or P. Xanadu. While all of these varieties have large, lobed leaves that fan out into finger-like extensions, they each have their own unique characteristics.

But whether you have a Lacy Tree Philodendron or Philodendron Selloum they all have a fantastic ability to filter toxins (like Xylene or Toluene) from your air.


Philodendron selloum is an easy-to-care-for indoor houseplant that thrives in a variety of lighting conditions. It does best in bright, indirect sunlight for optimal growth, but can also tolerate low-light areas.

So how do you know if your Phileodendron Selloum is placed in the right spot?

Well, when Philodendron selloum receives the right light, it will display dark green, glossy leaves with a hint of purple or mauve. If light conditions are too low you’ll notice paler, dull leaves that are smaller and less vibrant.

Unlike a lot of indoor plants where we’ll recommend not misting or wetting the leaves, Philodendron selloum does benefit from a damp cloth or misting and wiping away any collected dirt or dust to promote optimal photosynthesis.

Lighting tips:

  • Rotate your Philoenderon selloum regularly to ensure all foliage has access to light.
  • Avoid direct sun to prevent leaf burn.
  • If the leaves become sparse and spindly, place your plant in an area with more indirect light so it doesn’t need to reach quite so far for some sun.


Consistent and appropriate watering is the major factor in keeping your Philodendron selloum happy and healthy. The best way to judge when your plant needs hydration is to feel the topsoil of the pot and see if it’s dry. If so, it’s time to water!

Underwatering is just as damaging as overwatering. If the leaves of your plant start to sag and brown spots form on the edges of leaves, it’s time to act. You’ll want to increase your watering frequency and make sure that each time you water you’re letting it drain through the holes in the bottom.

Tips for watering Philodendron selloum:

  • Feel the top few inches of soil: if they’re dry, it’s time to water
  • Water more frequently during the growing season, up to once a week (if not more frequently)

This plant does better than most with soggy soil, but don’t let it stay wet for too long.

Temperature and humidity

Philodendron selloum is a subtropical plant native to South American forest floors and it requires a specific range of temperature and humidity to stay happy and healthy. Studies have shown that mimicking the conditions of a plant’s native environment helps it to thrive, so let’s talk about how to do just that.

Temperature: Tree Philodendron likes to stay between 65-80°F (18-27°C) and can adapt to short periods of temperature outside of this range. However, prolonged exposure to these conditions may lead to wilting of the leaves and indicate that the plant needs to be moved to a warmer area. Very low temperatures must be avoided: Philodendron selloum will not survive for long if exposed to frost.

Humidity: Philodendrons are a bit pickier here and crave a much higher level of humidity than we’re usually comfortable in. In order to simulate their natural rainforest habitat, your philodendron will need a humidity level of around 50-80% – anything less than 40% really won’t cut it. Luckily, this doesn’t have to be as challenging as it may sound. To reach that level, you can invest in a humidifier or set up a simple pebble tray – just pile some rocks and water in a tray, and the stones (with greater surface area) will evaporate the water creating a makeshift greenhouse for your Philodendron selloum.


  • Keep your Philodendron selloum away from vents, fireplaces, and drafty windows.
  • Optimal humidity levels for philodendron selloum is between 50 – 75%.
  • In order to maintain desired humidity levels in the same room, use a humidifier or group houseplants together.

Soil and planting

Philodendron selloum prefers soil that is organic, slightly acidic, and consistently moist but well-draining. That’s a mouthful. In accordance with a study published by the National Academy of Science, a pH range between 5.5 and 7.5 is ideal.

Nutrient requirements must also be considered, as this plant is a heavy feeder. Liquid and chemical fertilizers are viable options, however, when using liquid fertilizers, be sure to dilute the solution to 50% of its recommended strength and apply it during spring/summer monthly.

During the fall/winter months, you can cut back the fertilizer completely.

Potting & re-potting

When it comes to finding the right pot for your Philodendron selloum, look for one with sizable drainage holes. If you notice roots on the surface, coming over the sides, or through the holes it’s time to consider repotting.

When repotting, make sure to use fresh potting soil, and only choose a pot that is 2 inches larger than the previous pot.

An ideal soil mix for Philodendron selloum includes:

  • Potting soil (not garden soil)
  • LECA: provides aeration to the soil, increased root mobility, and water retention
  • Horticultural charcoal: improves aeration, protects against overwatering

Let’s move on to our Philodendron Selloum propagation guide, and then we’ll cover the common issues that come up most frequently.

Propagation guide

Propagating a philodendron selloum is a simple process that requires just a few materials and not much time.

Stem cutting is the most popular and common way to propagate Philodendron selloum, just like most indoor plants. We’ll take a cutting from the stem, making sure that nodes are included, and then place that cutting in a growth medium ranging from peat moss, water, to LECA or even potting soil. Feel free to experiment!

Your Tree Philodendron stem cutting should be kept in a spot with bright indirect light and it should take around two weeks for the cutting to form roots. After you see the root structure form, it’s time to pot your new plant!

Materials needed:

  • Philodendron selloum stem cutting with 1-3 nodes
  • Rooting hormone (optional)
  • A container
  • Gloves
  • Sterilized shears (before + after)
  • Soil, peat moss, water, or LECA


  1. Put on gloves, and using sterilized shears, cut a stem with 1-3 nodes from the mother plant.
  2. Dip the cutting into the rooting hormone (optional).
  3. Place the cutting in your medium of choice.
  4. Water and keep the cutting in a warm, bright spot, keeping the soil consistently moist.
  5. After two weeks, the cutting should have rooted and be ready for transplanting.

(Note: If you notice aerial roots on your cutting, they’re helpful, but we’re really looking for the leaf stem node, so make sure it’s included!)

Common issues

In this section, we’ll cover the most common issues seen with Philodendron selloum, most of which are caused by water issues (soggy soil), not enough indirect light, or too much direct sun.

Philodendron Selloum’s Yellowing Leaves

Yellowing leaves on Philodendron selloum can unfortunately indicate both over & under-watering. The way to differentiate is to inspect the leaves for browning or crispiness. Crispy leaves are almost always due to underwatering. If they’re drooping, soft, and brown it’s likely you need to let that soil dry out.

Pale Green Leaves

Pale green leaves on philodendron selloum can be an indication of a lack of fertilizer or too much sunlight. Adjust your plant’s environment accordingly to guarantee optimal health – if you find your plant needs more fertilizer, choose a balanced fertilizer with macronutrients to give it all the nutrients it needs and water the plant just before applying.

Diseases and pests

These are often spotted when your plant has already been weakened, but in most cases by addressing the underlying causes [as well as the symptoms] your plant can still be restored to its previous happy ways. Prevention is best, so if you’ve had issues in the past you might consider using Neem oil as a preventative.

If despite your best efforts you’re seeing signs of bugs or fungus, let’s cover the common solutions.

Root rot

Root rot is a common issue with all houseplants, including Philodendron selloum. It’s almost always caused by extended exposure to overly moist or waterlogged soil. Symptoms include yellowing leaves, general poor appearance, and slow if any growth. If you’re noticing these:

  • Remove the plant from its pot and shake away excess soil.
  • Examine the roots for signs of browning or mushiness.
  • Clean the roots off with water.
  • Cut away any mushy roots using sterilized scissors (make sure to sterilize again with alcohol or boiling after)
  • Repot the plant in a fresh houseplant soil mix.


Aphids are small insects that often reside on the underside of leaves. To prevent them from taking hold, routinely wipe down your philodendron’s leaves with neem oil. If aphids are already present, they can be removed with a strong spray of cold water.

Spider Mites

A buildup of spider mites will result in webbing and yellow and white spots on the leaves as they feed, draining life from the plant. To combat as well as remove spider mites, refer to an in-depth guide for more information and steps.


Mealybugs are small, white, and fluffy (like a bit of fuzz) and tend to prefer the undersides of leaves. To remove, soak a cotton ball or q-tip in rubbing alcohol and wipe them off. Make sure to remove any dying/dead leaves, they tend to prefer these as an easy source of food from a plant that can’t defend itself.


That’s it for our Philodendron selloum care guide. We’ve gone through the many varieties of Tree philodendron (even if many of them aren’t even technically philodendrons anymore!), how to deal with the most common issues that come up, and how to grow a few more of your own from stem cuttings.

This is a fantastic plant for a beginner because of its tolerance for a variety of lighting and water conditions, but it does have irritating calcium oxalate crystals so be careful with handling and around pets and kids.

If you have any questions, please drop us a line and get in touch. Remember: bright, indirect light and a single in the soil will solve 90% of your issues!


How big does Philodendron Selloum get?

Outside they can easily grow more than 10 feet tall, and inside they will grow to fill your space if you let them!

How do you care for a Philodendron Selloum?

The short of it: bright indirect light, avoid direct sun, and make sure the moist soil is given an opportunity to dry out.

How do you know if your Tree Philodendron has too much plant food?

The same as if there’s excessive fertilizer, you’ll notice the leaf tips burn and get crispy around the edges. Can also be a sign of acid or salty soil.

Is there a Philodendron selloum flower?

There is! They’re quite an interesting phenomenon in that they’re thermogenic and can get pretty warm (over 100 degrees!). They last only briefly, but put a hand near one if you do discover a flower and you’ll be in for a treat.



Our Expert
Jennifer Schutter

Jennifer Schutter is a certified master gardener with over 14 years of gardening experience. Her expertise is in indoor plant propagation and home ecology.