Philodendron Selloum Description
A philodendron selloum (philodendron bipinnatifidum), is native to South America but also grows on the east and gulf coasts of the United States. It has many common names such as Hope Selloum, Horsehead Philodendron, Lacy Tree Philodendron, Philodendron Hope Selloum, and Tree Philodendron, and is often confused with the philodendron xanadu. This is a non-climbing, tree philodendron that spreads outward rather than growing upward. When grown as an indoor plant, the easy-care, self-heading philodendron selloum takes up a lot of space, often spreading out 5ft. or more with dark green, shiny, deeply lobed leaves that can be 2ft-3ft (60-90cm) long. This plant does grow a trunk as it matures; however, the leaves do a very good job of hiding it.
Quick Tips on How to Care for a Philodendron Selloum
Bright, indirect light but no direct sun
Moist soil at all times, drier in the winter
Minimum temperature 55°F (12.8°C)
Avoid over fertilizing, feed monthly in spring, summer, and fall
Prefers high humidity
Propagate using cuttings in summer
Use a light, airy peat based soil
Philodendron Selloum Problems
Leaves turning yellow – indicates root rot due to over watering
Leaves curling – the air is too dry, too cold, or both
Soft, discolored stems or mushy leaves – caused by over watering
Brown leaf tips- check the soil since this can be the result of over or under watering
Drooping leaves – again, check the soil since this can be the result of over or under watering
Dark patches on the leaves – usually a sign of a plant disease called Bacterial Blight
If you have a large area that gets bright, indirect light, this bold, dramatic looking plant is a beautiful addition to your home. You can easily control the shape and size of the plant by cutting off some of the leaves. However, If you’re looking for a flowering plant, this one is not a good choice. It takes approximately 15–20 years for an indoor selloum to produce flowers. A philodendron selloum is a poisonous plant and toxic to small children, dogs, cats, and other pets. Read more about common houseplants that can be dangerous in my book Don’t Feed Me to Your Cat: A Guide to Poisonous Houseplants.
How much light for a philodendron selloum: Place the plant in bright indirect light but avoid direct sun. In lower light the leaves turn a darker green. Too much light or direct sun burns the leaves and causes the deep green color to fade.
How to water a philodendron selloum: Unlike other philodendrons, the selloum likes moist but not soggy soil. During the winter, water less, keeping the soil barely moist.
How to fertilize a philodendron selloum: Feed monthly during the spring, summer, and fall with a water-soluble, balanced plant food diluted to ½ the recommended strength. Too much plant food causes a salt build up in the soil and leaf burn. The leaves on a philodendron selloum turn pale green when the plant needs more fertilizer.
Best temperature for a philodendron selloum: Warm temperatures above 55°F (12.8°C). Keep these plants away from cold drafts and open doors during the winter.
Does a philodendron selloum need high humidity: This is a tree philodendron and has thinner leaves than many of its relatives. It requires a humid environment to grow well. If your home or office is very dry, especially during the in winter, place your selloum near a humidifier or sit it on a wet pebble tray.
Does a philodendron selloum flower: It takes about 15-20 years for a mature plant to flower; and it rarely flowers indoors. The pedal-less flowers are enclosed in a spathe, a modified leaf, which is often mistaken for the flower itself.
Philodendron selloum plant pests: Aphids, mealy bugs, scale, and spider mites can be a problem. If you find any of these pests, spray the entire plant with warm soapy water or the Green Solution (recipe in the Glossary). Scrape off scale with a child’s toothbrush. You can read more about these plant pests, and how to identify and treat them, in the Glossary of the website.
Philodendron selloum plant diseases: Bacterial blight, caused by the high humidity the plant prefers, causes small, very dark green blotches on the leaves that expand rapidly. Infected leaves eventually rot and die becoming quite smelly in the process. The best way to prevent bacterial blight is to keep the leaves dry at all times, avoid overhead watering, immediately remove any infected leaves. and provide good air circulation around the plant.
Best soil for a philodendron selloum: Use a rich, slightly alkaline, peat moss based soil that retains moisture but still drains quickly.
Pot size for a philodendron selloum: It’s time to move the plant to a larger pot when the roots have filled the existing pot. The new container should only be 1″-2″ wider and deeper than the previous pot. Re-potting is usually done about every two years in the spring.
How to prune a philodendron selloum: Use a sharp pruners or scissors to control the size and shape of the plant. You can remove entire leaves by cutting them off at the base of the leaf stem. Remove the lower leaves if you want to reveal the plant’s stem. Always wear gloves and long sleeved shirts when pruning and wash your hands and tools when finished. You don’t want to get the sap into your eyes, mouth, or any open cuts.
How to propagate a philodendron selloum: Propagate using stem cuttings taken from the base of the stem during the warm summer months. Read more about how to propagate a plant using stem cuttings in the Glossary of the website.
Poisonous Plant Info
Is a philodendron selloum poisonous to cats, dogs, and small children: This is is a poisonous houseplant with a level #3 toxicity. All philodendron varieties contain calcium oxalate crystals. Eating any part of the plant may cause the following symptoms: pain in the mouth, drooling (dogs & cats), and vomiting. If swelling of the lips, tongue, and airway occurs, it becomes difficult to breathe or swallow.
When a philodendron s has too much salt in the soil, usually from too much plant food or from using water that has passed through a water softener, the leaf tips turn brown and curl. Always dilute your plant food to 1/2 the recommended strength and never use water for any houseplants that has passed through a water softener. Drench the soil with some distilled water and feed your Philodendron Selloum less often.
The very dark green spots between the veins on the leaves of your philodendron selloum are caused by low room temperature. These plants like to be warm and cozy so always keep the temperature above 55°F (12.8°C) and never place the plant near an air conditioner in the summer or a door during the winter.