Split leaf philodendron is a large leaved plant commonly grown indoors. It requires warm temperatures that preclude most gardeners from having this spectacular specimen in their home landscape. The leaves drop off the lower part of the stem as it grows giving the plant a vine-like appearance when it is old. Without pruning it may grow 40 feet tall with a thick cane-like stem 6 inches in diameter.
The leaves are the standout on this plant and may be up to 3 feet long with deep margins and glossy green color. The plant grows as a large shrub but develops a long stem as the plant becomes older. The plant is native to Paraguay and southeastern Brazil. When grown outdoors in tropical climates the split leaf philodendron produces a long purple spathe as an inflorescence. Split leaf philodendron can be grown outdoors in United States Department of Agriculture zones 9 to 11.
Split leaf philodendron is one of the hardiest of the genus, however, it is frost tender and will experience cold damage. Cold damage may be limited to just the leaves which will darken and die back or the stem may be affected. In the worst scenario the roots are burned by the cold but you may not know if they plant will survive for many weeks. Remove damaged foliage at the trunk. The trunk doesn't have to be cut back unless it is obvious that there was terminal damage. Wait until three to four weeks into spring for re-sprouting and then cut off any part that isn't producing foliage.
Split leaf philodendron is a common houseplant and accepts indoor cultivation with ease. However, the plant's large potential size means it is constantly growing out of its pot. The solution is to prune the roots. The plant should be removed from its container and the excess soil gently brushed off the root ball. Then the side roots are removed with sharp pruners. Remove any roots that have wound around the root ball. Fluff up the remaining roots and plant the philodendron in fresh soil. Give it good water and care for the next few weeks while it reestablishes. You can cut off the aerial roots the plant produces if they are bothersome.
The stems on this plant can grow extremely long and require pruning especially in the home.The stem should be cut back to a growth node. The thick stem is divided into sections that are part of the growth process. Each section is divided by a ridge. When pruning the stem is cut back to one of these section divisions. Severe pruning like this should only be done in early spring when the plant is not actively growing.
Bonnie Grant began writing professionally in 1990. She has been published on various websites, specializing in garden-related instructional articles. Grant recently earned a Bachelor of Arts in business management with a hospitality focus from South Seattle Community College.