The Split Leaf Philodendron is one of the most stunning and reliable indoor plants from the Araceae family.
Its botanical name is Monstera deliciosa and sometimes can be used interchangeably with the Swiss Cheese Plant because they share one family and have similar care factors, yet are different.
The Split Leaf Philodendron is an easy maintenance plant with large silk-like, heart-shaped leaves so that as the plant matures, it develops a split or cut from the leaf edge to the center vein.
It prefers high humidity but is partially tolerant of most homes; hence it requires a room humidifier to boost the moisture in the air.
Below are the full details of Split Leaf Philodendron care and growing guide.
Split Leaf Philodendron Care and Growing Guide
The ideal environment for a split-leaf Philodendron gives us more hints about caring for the plant indoors.
Although it has been tried and tested in many tropical areas and seen to be a tolerant plant yet, you’ll naturally see them mainly in Southern Mexico and Central America, where it grows in tropical rainforests.
It will be hard to find the split-leaf Philodendron growing in soil in its natural habitat because only its root can be lodged in the forest floor.
Like several other tropical plants like Syngonium, other areas utilize strong aerial roots to find and hold onto taller trees.
Immediately after discovering one, they will grapple it as if they want to feast on it, clambering upwards to reach the light near the canopies.
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The split-leaf Philodendron plant cannot do well under direct sunlight, mostly because taller trees usually prevent the light from getting to it in its natural habitat; therefore, it is not accustomed to receiving direct sunlight.
In other words, just like several other varieties, extreme light conditions will cause its leaves to burn.
However, same with other houseplants, the split-leaf Philodendron requires light to grow well. In other words, it cannot be grown in a dark area like a windowless hut. That is why it does best when exposed to some indoor sun that is not excessively hot.
For the best care possible, you need to locate an area of your home that gets enough light and lacks the heat of the scorching daytime sun. Do you plan on growing them outdoors? Then, you will need to keep them in relatively shaded spots.
You can adjust the light requirements by observing how they react. If you notice that they are stretching out and getting too leggy, that means they need more sun. On the other hand, if their leaves turn yellow, there’s a need to reduce the plants’ amount of sun.
To thrive, the split-leaf Philodendron will require a moist growing medium. Therefore, you will require well-draining soil that won’t be soaked with moisture or water since excessive watering is a huge problem with these houseplants and can cause their root to wither, amongst other issues.
On the other hand, insufficient water is not an option because it will cause the plant to droop or slowly become limp.
That is why watering is perhaps considered one of the more complex care factors of the split-leaf Philodendron. Hence, you’ll need to strike an excellent balance to avoid issues.
During winter, the plant may require more water, especially in dry, humidity-deprived environments.
Humidity & Temperature
Because the split-leaf Philodendron has evolved to adapt to tropical temperatures, it won’t respond well to things that are becoming too cold during winter.
Temperature-wise, normal indoor temperatures are okay, yet it still won’t cause any scare if it is high. But, do well to avoid a frost temperature.
In other words, freezing temperatures like snow are risky to the plant and will encounter issues when it gets to 50°F (10°C).
So, they don’t like to be kept in temperatures under 55°F. Therefore, a stable temperature is very crucial. Also, sudden temperature drops can do a lot of harm even if frost doesn’t occur.
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Humidity-wise, just like several other Philodendrons, the split-leaf Philodendron enjoys humid environments, and you are required to raise the humidity levels around the plant if you live in a dry home or during dry periods.
You can mist the plant regularly like every two days in the growing season, every 3-4 days during winter) and keep it on a tray of pebbles with water, or group together more plants to increase humidity.
Split Leaf Philodendron Soil Requirements
The Split Leaf Philodendron, just like other Philodendrons, requires lightweight, well-draining, nutritious soil. It is not advisable to a soil that cannot allow passage of water (holds too much water) and is prone to compaction.
Having said this, the plant will not thrive in the all-purpose potting mix; hence you will need to find a growing media made up of orchid bark, peat, perlite, or sphagnum peat moss.
However, as previously stated in the natural habitat care factor section, the split-leaf Philodendron doesn’t naturally grow in soil but choose to hold onto and clamber upon taller plants and trees through its aerial roots; hence telling us the best medium it prefers indoors, which is something light and airy, as its roots are not used to being suffocated by healthy soil.
Several tropical indoor plant enthusiasts swear by a mixture called “5:1:1” for aroid plants like the split-leaf Philodendron. There’s a need to make it at home because it comprises five parts of pine bark, one part of perlite, and one part of sphagnum moss.
The five parts of pine bark are often used to grow bonsai trees and several types of orchids. Meanwhile, pine bark particles are quite big, which means they allow water to drain freely and are also loose, allowing roots to grow and maintaining vital oxygen pockets.
The one part of perlite has several similar features with pine bark but a smaller particle size. It occupies the open spaces vacated by the bark without becoming suffocating as potting soil, coconut coir, or peat can sometimes be.
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Then, the one part Sphagnum moss that often saves water and keeps the mix lightly moist but needs to be balanced up. The other components would drain a lot faster (more suitable for cacti), while the moss on its own would be excessively moistened.
Apart from the split-leaf Philodendron, the 5:1:1 mix can be used for several varieties of plants; therefore, it can be quite handy to have its components around.
If that seems too difficult or confusing, you can use potting soil. But, ensure you mix it with a few good fistfuls of perlite and orchid bark.
As for your planter, it’s essential that you go for something that has a drainage hole because a closed container would render all the efforts you put into choosing a well-draining soil fruitless.
Much like other philodendron varieties, you need to feed it as often as possible to achieve proper leaf growth and healthy development of your split-leaf Philodendron. As a productive grower, your split-leaf Philodendron will be happy to swallow up fertilizer.
A regular balanced indoor plant fertilizer is good to go. You can feed them with weekly liquid fertilizer twice a month or thereabout during the growing season, whereas during the winter, you can fertilize for every four weeks or thereabout. If the leaves are changing to yellow, it’s a sign you need to apply more fertilizer.
Planting (Potting & Repotting) Split Leaf Philodendron
The split-leaf Philodendron is a fertile and speedy grower, especially the climbing varieties of philodendrons; therefore, repotting may be required every year to accommodate the plant. Climbing varieties needs to be pruned to keep their size manageable.
In other words, another essential care factor for a split-leaf philodendron is repotting it every one or two years.
Meanwhile, we wouldn’t advise you to keep them in a container, as they will likely explode with growth and grow too massive to handle. To keep things manageable, go one size up at a time.
A tender split-leaf philodendron might be just fine on its own. The plant can be grown without support the moment you buy them.
Although immediately they start growing, you will discover that it will start forcing itself to vine out in search of a tree trunk, hence easily making its planter topple over.
To avoid this situation, you can use a solid plant totem or a trellis. If things start threatening to be dangerous or insecure, even with these supports helping you, you might need to turn to propagation methods to keep things under control.
Meanwhile, Self-heading philodendrons need room to grow because some specimens can achieve grandiose heights and widths, and you’ll require a pot that is very solid to stop the plant from tipping over. These varieties need repotting whenever the old pot can no longer house the plant.
How to Propagate Split Leaf Philodendron
To propagate means to cause to continue or multiply by generation or successive production. When you discover that your split-leaf Philodendron is growing too wild or uncontrollable, then there is a need to propagate. It’s very easy to multiply this species via cuttings.
You can propagate in water or soil and even utilize the air layering method if you’re not good at taking cuttings right away.
In other words, propagation of the split-leaf Philodendron can be easily achieved with the help of stem cuttings, which can be rooted easily in a glass of water, with or without using root hormone.
There’s a need to harvest cuttings when pruning your philodendron plant to manage its growth. Immediately, you discover that the roots are beginning to sprout in the glass of water; you can plant the new plant in another pot for further growth or care.
Philodendron varieties that grow upright can shoot out plantlets that can be separated and replanted.
Like some other philodendron varieties, it is not always possible to propagate the split-leaf variety by seed, as it doesn’t often grow flowers indoors. You can propagate the split-leaf Philodendron through the following methods;
1. Air Layering Method
- Soak the sphagnum moss in a very clean water for about one hour. The moisture produces a humid environment in which the fresh roots grow.
- Cut the plant stem at an upward direction, just beneath a leaf node, without severing the stem. Leaf node is the section of the stem where a leaf form. Wedge the cut open with a wooden skewer or toothpick.
- Sprinkle the rooting hormone on both sides of the cut. Tap the stem to get rid of any excess hormone powder.
- Squeeze out the sphagnum moss and pack the moss into the cut and around the stem. Use a plastic wrap to wrap the cut and then seal with tape. Care for the plant as usual until you see roots forming through the plastic.
- Separate the upper region of the plant from the rest of the main plant, leaving the roots glued to the upper region. Then, transplant into a growing pot and care for the new plant as you do the main plant.
2. Rooted Cuttings
Dampen potting soil and mix well, so the water penetrates the soil. The texture of the soil should be moistened and not soaked. If you experience dripping water from your hands as you handle the soil, squeeze to remove the excess water before filling a growing tray.
Create some holes in the soil with a dibble or pencil. Space the holes to prevent the cuttings from joining.
Cut 6-inch sections from healthy stems of the plant just beneath the aerial roots. Cut the stems at an angle with the cut edge facing the plant’s interior. Aerial roots have the looks of tiny dull thorns and generally form close to a leaf node.
Sprinkle rooting hormone onto a paper towel or paper plate, and dip the bottom 2 inches of the stem cutting into the rooting hormone. Tap the stem to remove any excess powder, then stick the cutting into the soil holes and tamp the soil around the cutting.
Cover the growing tray with the lid. If there’s no available lid, create a cover from clear plastic wrap. Wrap the plastic from the bottom of the tray to the top to form a little greenhouse. Seal the plastic at the top with tape.
Set the growing tray in a warm, bright location. Check the stem cuttings every day to watch for disease. Remove any cuttings that are affected. Continue monitoring the cuttings until the roots form.
Remove the cover from the growing tray immediately after the roots form. To check for roots, gently pull the stem and feel for resistance. Transplant the new split-leaf philodendrons into separate containers once a healthy root ball forms.
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Requirements for Propagation of Split Leaf Philodendron
For easy propagation of the split-leaf Philodendron, you will require materials like protective gloves, sharp knife or pruning shears, toothpick or wooden skewer, sphagnum moss, clear plastic wrap, tape, quality potting soil, growing tray with cover, dibble or pencil, and rooting hormone.