How to Care for Philodendron Selloum (Tree Philodendron)

philodendron selloum care

The Philodendron Selloum has many nicknames. It is known as the Philodendron Hope, Split-leaf Philodendron, Tree Philodendron, and Philodendron Bipinnatifidum. While it might not be the rarest or most sought-after Philodendron, it is a staple plant that any indoor and outdoor plant lover should consider adding to their collection. 

This plant can produce massive, show-stopping leaves with multiple deep lobes. The Philodendron Selloum is a very hardy plant that can survive and even sometimes thrive through harsh weather conditions. I recommend this plant to both beginner and seasoned plant collectors. 

All About Philodendron Selloum

The Selloum is originally from South America and has recently been classified into the Thaumatophyllum family. So now all the nicknames it’s been given aren’t scientifically correct. The plant’s name is now Thaumatophyllum Bipinnatifidum

philodendron selloum leaves

The leaves can grow to quite an impressive size, reaching about 1.5m in length. The leaves are glossy green with many fingers, which gives it the name Split Leaf Philodendron.

The Philodendron Selloum can grow quite tall, but it is not a climbing plant – instead, it has a large “trunk” that forms as the plant grows, and old leaves fall with a canopy-like top. 

philodendron selloum trunk and aerial roots
Philodendron Selloum grows a tree-like trunk and aerial roots that grow towards the ground to anchor it as it grows. It sheds its lower leaves along the way, revealing its trunk covered in “scars” that almost look like eyes.

While this plant is an excellent addition to any indoor collection, you also may want to consider planting it in your garden. Growing outside in suitable climates like parts of Florida, this plant can reach its full potential and live up to its nickname, the Tree Philodendron

LightMedium – bright indirect light 
WateringWhen the top 3cm of the soil is dry
Soil mixChunky Aroid mix
PotPlastic with drainage holes
18 – 27 °C 
RepottingEvery 1-2 Years
PestsIt can be susceptible to spider mites if the plant is unhealthy.
PropagationCuttings or pup removal
FertilizationOnce every 3-4 weeks (spring/summer) or yearly with a slow-release fertilizer

Light Requirements 

philodendron selloum light requirements

Like most tropical plants, the Philodendron Selloum prefers to be in bright, indirect light. These are the ideal conditions to help this plant grow, but I have seen them survive in a dark corner. They won’t grow as quickly and as big in these conditions, but if you are looking for a plant to fill a space in a dark area, this may be a great choice. 

The Philodendron Selloum can also grow in direct sunlight, but the leaves will need to acclimate first. Once summer comes along, you will notice the leaves that grew in winter will yellow and die off, but the new leaves that emerge will be fully sun tolerant and grow very well. It is a negligent plant parent’s dream. 

Temperature & Humidity 

Like most tropical plants, the Philodendron Selloum thrives between 18°C and 27°C. However, it can handle temperatures lower than that.

In the area where I live, temperatures in the winter can drop as low as 0°C in the evenings. Even in these conditions, the Philodendron Selloum will survive. The leaves may die off and reduce in size, but the plant will make it through rough winters, even outdoors. Many people use them as garden plants in my country. 

philodendron selloum outside
Philodendron Selloum outside – California, USA.

In terms of humidity, you will want to try and replicate the natural environment of the jungle. The Philodendron Selloum enjoys humidity above 60%. Still, they will survive and grow in humidity below 30% if they are acclimated to these harsher conditions. If you have a humidifier running in your plant room, placing this plant right next to it isn’t necessary. Save that space for more finicky plants like Anthuriums.

If your Philodendron Selloum is in cold and dry conditions, you may notice some older leaves turning yellow, going crispy on the edges, and dying. But don’t worry, as it loses a leaf, a new one will soon take place. The Philodendron Selloum loses old leaves quite often, leaving its stem bare. This gives it its tree-like appearance and is nothing to worry about.


Finding the correct watering schedule for your Philodendron Selloum is key to keeping it growing strong. As mentioned before, this plant is very hardy, which also applies to its watering schedule.

I recommend watering it every 7 – 10 days during summer and every 10 – 14 days during winter. You’ll know it’s time to water when the top layer of soil is dry. Stick your finger into the soil as far as your first knuckle. If your finger comes out dry, then it’s time to water.

The Philodendron Selloum can handle being under-watered. If the plant goes for long periods without being watered, you may notice the older leaves dying off faster than usual. But overall, the plant will be okay.

However, as with all potted indoor plants, I would still be cautious of root rot. If you water your plant too frequently, it will cause the plant’s roots to begin to rot, and as a result, the plant may die if too many of the roots die.

Soil & Potting

As with most tropical plants, I recommend planting them in a well-draining soil mix. My recipe is: 

  • 30% perlite
  • 30% pumice/ volcanic rock/Leca
  • 30% coco chips and small bark chips
  • 10% fine coco coir or peat moss

If you’d like to reduce your plant maintenance, add an extra scoop or two of peat moss. This will increase water retention and, as a result, reduce how often you will need to water this plant, as it can handle more water-retentive soil than other indoor plants.

FURTHER READING: Make Your Own Soil Mix For Aroids (4 Effective DIY Recipes)

I recommend a clear plastic plant pot with lots of drainage holes placed inside a decorative ceramic post for most indoor plants. This helps you keep an eye on your plant’s root system and is easy to up-size when it is time to repot your plant. 


The Philodendron Selloum is not a heavy feeder, so you don’t need to worry about following a fertilizing schedule. I recommend sprinkling a slow-release fertilizer such as Osmocote on top of its soil to keep it happy every now and then.

Alternatively, you can give it a liquid fertilizer every 4 weeks when watering. Follow the instructions on your chosen liquid fertilizer to avoid root burn. 

Growth Rate & Repotting

Your Philodendron Selloum is a fast grower and will shed leaves quite frequently. This is completely normal for this plant. As it pushes out new leaves, it will kill off one of its oldest leaves, so don’t panic when you see a leaf starting to turn yellow.

You can cut off the leaf once it has turned completely yellow. I usually wait for the leaf to die and fall off completely. This is beneficial because you are not prematurely taking away nutrients and water from the plant.

I always recommend repotting your indoor plants at least once a year. This will help prevent your plant from becoming root-bound, and repotting will reintroduce good minerals back to the plant.

If you feel like your Philodendron Selloum is root-bound and needs a bigger pot, I recommend repotting it into a pot that is 2.5cm bigger than its current pot. 


The Philodendron Selloum is not easy to propagate, but it is possible.

The easiest and safest way to propagate this plant is to wait for it to create pups. Pups are small versions of the plant that start to grow at the bottom of the plant. Wait for the smaller plant to grow 2 or 3 leaves, remove it from the soil, and repot it into a small pot. This method of propagation can safely be done when repotting the mother plant. 

The other method of propagation is via stem cutting. I do not recommend this method as you will need to make a top cutting of the plant, which may stunt its growth. If you would like to try this method, follow these steps: 

  1. Locate a sizeable aerial root. 
  2. With a sterile blade, make a cut just below the aerial root. 
  3. Remove the top cutting and repot it into a well-draining plastic pot. You will need to keep an eye on it for stem rot, and it may take some time before the plant becomes established. 

Common Problems & Troubleshooting


philodendron selloum spider mites

Unfortunately, the Philodendron Selloum is a spider mite magnet. You might have spider mite damage if you notice many small yellow dots on your leaves. Take a closer look at your leaves, and if you notice tiny red and white bugs moving around and webs between the fingers of your leaves, then you have spider mites. 

I suggest finding a pesticide with the primary ingredient being Bifenthrin and spraying it on the leaves every 3 days until all the spider mites have died. You could also use neem oil if you prefer a natural approach.

Yellowing leaves

It is completely normal for the Philodendron Selloum to lose a leaf every month or so. If you see one or two yellow leaves on your plant, don’t worry your plant is okay. However, if you see most of your leaves are yellow, your plant may suffer from root rot. 

Take your plant out of its pot and check the roots for root rot. Roots should be white/cream, but if they are brown and squishy, you will need to remove the dead roots and repot the Selloum in a smaller pot.

Brown tips

philodendron selloum care

Brown tips on the leaves may indicate low humidity or underwatering. Moving your plant closer to your humidifier and increasing how often you water it. 

Yellow spots towards the center of the leaves

This is an indicator that the plant is going through seasonal changes. A drop in temperature will cause yellow spotting. Do not worry; this is the normal process of the Philodendron Selloum. The newer leaves will come out just fine and will be acclimated to the cooler temperatures. 

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