How to Care for Tree Philodendron (Philodendron Selloum or Thaumatophyllum Bipinnatifidum)

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In this article, we will provide pertinent information about the Tree Philodendron family, its toxicity, cultivation care, and much more. If you want to know more or start growing this wonderful plant, check it out below!

The Tree Philodendron plant is an evergreen, climbing houseplant native to the tropical rainforests of southeastern Brazil. Originally called Philodendron Bipinnatifidum, it was grouped with other philodendrons.

However, in 2018, a group of scientists realized that these plants were genetically different from the philodendrons they were originally grouped with. Therefore, they classified them as Thaumatophyllum Bipinnatifidum, similar to Philodendron Xanadu, which was later changed to Thaumatophyllum Xanadu.

Today, the common names for this plant are the Tree Philodendron, the Philodendron Selloum, the lacy tree philodendron, the head philodendron, and the comb leaf philodendron. It is characterized by large, lobed, and drooping leaves, slightly ruffled and with a waxy appearance, of an intense green color, which grow on long stems.

What makes this plant so stylish are its leaves, which appear to be handmade due to their different shape. Furthermore, they have vibrant colors and, because they are large, they occupy the space of any garden with great elegance, especially if they are superimposed on something.

These Philodendrons also have long trunks with aerial roots and characteristic lobed leaves of bright green color. Because of this, It is sometimes mistaken for Philodendron Xanadu (Thaumatophyllum Xanadu) and Monstera Deliciosa.

In their natural habitat, Selloums can reach heights and widths of 10 to 15 feet, thriving in the rainforests of South America. Due to their tropical character, they are used as indoor and greenhouse plants. They are delicate plants that require constant care but are very grateful for providing beautiful and decorative foliage.

Philodendron Selloum is not a climbing plant but prefers to grow in large areas, on the ground. It goes very well in pots, containers, or even planted in the ground, with free space being essential for it to develop optimally.

Selloums are also suitable for outdoor cultivation in USDA zones nine through eleven. They can withstand strong winds, making them a resilient choice for windy conditions. As the plant ages, a woody stem develops, and bottom leaves drop, giving it a unique appearance. If the plant becomes too large, pruning is a viable solution.

Basic info

Common NamesTree Philodendron, Philodendron Selloum, Lacy Tree Philodendron, Head Philodendron, Comb Leaf Philodendron
Scientific NameThaumatophyllum bipinnatifidum
OriginsSouth-eastern Brazil
Leaf TypeEvergreen
Leaf ColourGreen
Flowering ColorWhite, Purple
Width at Maturity10 – 15 feet
Height at Maturity10 – 15 feet
ExposurePartial Shade
Pet FriendlyNon-Pet Friendly

Flowering period

Selloums typically take 15 to 20 years to produce flowers, and indoor plants may not flower at all. Achieving the right conditions with humidity, water, soil, and light increases the chances of flowering.

The flowers of the Tree Philodendron do not have great ornamental importance, as they are not attractive and are small. Female or male flowers can be found, arranged on a central axis known as a spadix. Normally, the plant flowers in summer, due to the greater humidity in the air and the level of sun it receives.

The flowers, which do not usually appear on plants grown at home, are large, white, and similar to those of Spathiphyllum or peace lily. So, just because you have one, do not expect yours to flower indoors. They need to have the right conditions met with humidity, water, soil, and light, and then maybe just maybe yours may begin to flower one day.

The fruits of the plant are arranged in the same way, which are aggregated berries, closely arranged together on the spathe. The fruits come to life in the summer period too, usually between December and February.

Philodendron selloum (Tree philodendron) care

Typically, these plants are native to South America, specifically in the rainforests of the region. To ensure the optimal well-being of your plant, it is advantageous to recreate its natural habitat as closely as possible. Here are the care requirements for the tree philodendron:

Light Requirements

The Philodendron demonstrates resilience in well-lit expositions without direct sunlight, thriving even under artificial light and in shaded areas. The management of key environmental factors such as humidity, water, soil, and light significantly enhances the likelihood of flowering.

Careful attention to light levels is paramount to prevent desiccation in locations with intense sun and heat. Cultivating Philodendron bipinnatifidum in semi-shade or semi-light is advisable to maintain a vibrant green tone, with the utilization of shading screens to regulate sunlight intensity.

In essence, the plant requires a sufficient amount of sunlight, resembling conditions found in the canopy of a tree. While established plants can tolerate brief periods of direct sunlight, younger ones may suffer from bleaching and burning. Artificial grow lights, particularly LEDs, are effective in providing the necessary light.

Placing the plant near a south-facing window necessitates protective measures such as curtains or blinds to shield it from direct sunlight, ensuring optimal growth. It is imperative to avoid low light conditions, as they can lead to poor growth and leaf loss, with a heightened risk of rot.


A recommended watering schedule involves providing these plants with lime-free water every four days during spring and summer, coupled with regular leaf spraying every two days.

The frequency of watering should be adjusted based on temperature variations; on warmer and more humid days, watering 1 to 2 times a week is advisable, while on colder and drier days, 2 to 3 times a week is suitable. Ensuring that water does not accumulate in the dish, especially for potted plants, is crucial to prevent root rot and discourage the breeding of mosquitoes.

These plants are substantial water consumers and thrive in high-humidity conditions. Well-draining soil is essential, mimicking the conditions of their natural habitat, where they receive ample rain. Therefore, nutrient-rich soil that drains efficiently is vital, promoting healthy root function.

Temperature and Humidity

Philodendron bipinnatifidum, adapted to a tropical and subtropical climate, exhibits versatility in accommodating different temperatures. In colder and cloudier regions, placing the plant in full sun is recommended to meet its sunlight requirements. Conversely, in warmer locations with prolonged sun exposure, full sun exposure may hinder growth, causing leaf yellowing.

Maintaining an optimal balance between ambient humidity and water levels is crucial. While the plant thrives in humidity due to its native Brazilian origin, excessive levels can saturate the substrate, negatively impacting the plant. Additionally, it is not tolerant of intense winds or frost.

For smaller species, placing them in pots in bathrooms with conducive humidity levels is a practical tip.


As for the substrate, this plant needs soil that drains well. You can use a good potting mix like the one for cacti and succulents because it has lots of sand. If you want to make your own mix, you can use organic compost, pumice or perlite, and horticultural-grade sand.

You can add a couple of handfuls of compost to help with drainage. Horticultural-grade sand is great because it lets water pass through easily, preventing water from getting stuck in the soil.


a commercial indoor plant substrate or a blend of coarse sand, garden soil, and heather land is suitable. Transplantation is recommended in spring, particularly when the pot size becomes restrictive.

Biweekly fertilization with mineral fertilizer during spring and summer is recommended, with a slight shift in autumn towards powdered organic fertilizer added to the soil surface. Foliar fertilizers, such as organic compost and mineral fertilizer NPK 10-10-10, applied every two months, contribute to enhanced plant development.

Care must be taken to regulate and moderate fertilizer use, with increased volumes during the summer, coinciding with flowering and fruiting periods.

When considering fertilizer application, particularly for well-lit environments, regular fertilization is essential to support heightened plant growth. Monthly feeding with an organic general all-purpose fertilizer, diluted by half, is recommended from late April to late August.

When should Tree Philodendron be repotted?

You can change the pot of Philodendron Selloum whenever the plant wants more space, that is when the roots fill the available space in the container. The process is very simple, just filling the other pot with soil and moving the plant, being careful not to hurt its roots.

It is important to note that carrying out this procedure during the resting vegetative state period can cause it to wither, not returning to its healthy state.

How to Propagate Tree Philodendron (Selloum)

This plant reproduces through seeds, which develop in the spadix via pollination between its flowers with different sexes. During summer, this natural process takes place, depositing seeds in the soil where they germinate.

The method of propagation through seedlings varies across different species of Philodendron bipinnatifidum, and further details on this are provided below.

Alternatively, propagation can be achieved through artificial means, such as making cuttings or leaves.

This straightforward process involves cutting the stem into 8-centimeter sections. These cuttings are then placed in a pot filled with moistened peat, coarse sand, or perlite, facilitating root development. Subsequently, the cuttings are exposed to sunlight for growth.

After approximately one month, the cuttings will have rooted and are ready for planting in a pot or securing to trunks with nylon. Adequate fertilization at the initial stages is crucial for the plant’s healthy and robust growth.

Cut leaves, when placed in a glass of water, can endure for an extended period. Regular water changes, at least once a week, maintain their freshness.

While these plants might not propagate as easily as monsteras, it’s not impossible. It’s normal for some leaves, especially smaller ones, to wither, and these can be easily removed. In case they resist, using sanitized scissors to trim them flush with the base without harming the plant is recommended.

Cleaning and Pests

Like all indoor plants, Philodendron Selloum is susceptible to various pests, with common invaders including spider mites, aphids, and mealybugs which can infest the plant, causing damage to leaves and hindering its overall health.

Fortunately, with all the pests that the tree philodendron faces, a simple remedy involves spraying it with neem oil or rinsing it thoroughly with water using a garden hose or detachable showerhead.

Additionally, this plant does struggle some with scale, so you may actually have to prune back the infected areas rather aggressively. The large, showy leaves can also attract dust, requiring periodic cleaning with a solution of lemon juice and warm water.

Is Philodendron Bipinnatifidum (Tree Philodendron) Toxic?

Like most indoor plants, One of the most concerning characteristics of these plants is their toxicity, primarily attributed to the presence of calcium oxalate in the leaves.

If you have kids or pets, especially those who like to chew on things, exercise caution. The sap produced by the plant is toxic, and handling it without gloves or ingesting it can lead to allergic reactions including excessive saliva, irritation, and respiratory difficulties, or even severe illness, potentially fatal.


What is the common name for tree philodendron?

The common name for the tree philodendron is Philodendron Selloum or Thaumatophyllum bipinnatifidum.

Is tree philodendron an indoor plant?

Yes, tree philodendron (Philodendron Selloum) is commonly grown as an indoor plant. It thrives in indoor environments, making it a popular choice for homes and offices.

What is special about Philodendron?

Philodendron is known for its attractive, large, deeply lobed leaves and its adaptability to various indoor conditions. It is prized for its ornamental value and is often chosen for its low maintenance requirements.

What is the tree philodendron habitat?

Tree philodendron is native to the rainforests of South America, specifically found in Brazil and Paraguay. In its natural habitat, it thrives in warm, humid conditions with filtered sunlight.

What is the use of tree philodendron?

Tree philodendron is primarily used as an ornamental plant for its aesthetic appeal. It is cultivated for interior landscaping, adding greenery to indoor spaces, and contributing to a tropical ambiance.

Does Philodendron Selloum like sun or shade?

Philodendron Selloum prefers bright, indirect light but can tolerate lower light conditions. It is best to avoid direct sunlight, as this may scorch its leaves.

How much light does Philodendron Selloum need?

Philodendron Selloum thrives in medium to bright, indirect light. It can adapt to lower light conditions but may exhibit slower growth.

Is a Thaumatophyllum the same as a philodendron?

Yes, Thaumatophyllum is a genus that includes various plants, and Philodendron is a part of this genus. Thaumatophyllum bipinnatifidum was formerly classified as Philodendron Selloum.

What is the common name for Thaumatophyllum bipinnatifidum?

The common name for Thaumatophyllum bipinnatifidum is tree philodendron or lacy tree philodendron.

What are the types of Thaumatophyllum?

Thaumatophyllum encompasses a diverse array of species, each exhibiting unique characteristics. Some notable members of the Thaumatophyllum genus include:

  • Thaumatophyllum adamantinum
  • Thaumatophyllum brasiliense
  • Thaumatophyllum corcovadense
  • Thaumatophyllum dardanianum
  • Thaumatophyllum leal-costae
  • Thaumatophyllum lundii
  • Thaumatophyllum mello-barretoanum
  • Thaumatophyllum paludicola
  • Thaumatophyllum petraeum
  • Thaumatophyllum saxicola
  • Thaumatophyllum solimoesense
  • Thaumatophyllum speciosum
  • Thaumatophyllum spruceanum
  • Thaumatophyllum stenolobum
  • Thaumatophyllum tweedieanum
  • Thaumatophyllum uliginosum
  • Thaumatophyllum undulatum
  • Thaumatophyllum venezuelense
  • Thaumatophyllum williamsii
  • Thaumatophyllum xanadu

What are the leaves of the Thaumatophyllum bipinnatifidum?

The leaves of Thaumatophyllum bipinnatifidum are large, deeply lobed, and pinnately compound, giving them an elegant and tropical appearance. The distinctive foliage is a key feature of this plant.

Well, guys, that’s really all I wanted to say on this plant. If you have any kind of questions or concerns, please leave them in the comments section and let me know if you’ve ever had any kind of success or failures with this plant.

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