How to Grow and Care for a Philodendron Xanadu Plant

Updated: 09 Sep, 2023


Philodendron xanadu (Thaumatophyllum xanadu), a magnificent choice for those seeking a sizable, tropical houseplant to adorn their living space. Hailing from Brazil, this native beauty boasts an uncomplicated cultivation process and luxuriant foliage. Its distinguishing features include grand, multi-lobed leaves and a dense, bushy growth pattern.

Recent taxonomic revisions in 2018 led to the reclassification of the philodendron xanadu, along with several of its philodendron counterparts, into the newly established Thaumatophyllum genus. Despite this change, it’s imperative to note that the xanadu retains its status as potentially harmful to both pets and humans if ingested, underscoring the importance of caution, particularly in households with young children or furry companions.

Often mistaken for its close kin, the philodendron selloum (Thaumatophyllum selloum), the xanadu exhibits subtle distinctions that set them apart. While both feature generously lobed leaves, their growth habits diverge significantly. The philodendron selloum, also recognized as philodendron bipinnatifidum, assumes a climbing demeanor, developing a robust trunk and sizable aerial roots with age.

On the other hand, the xanadu maintains a more compact, shrub-like form, eschewing climbing tendencies. Moreover, the selloum achieves greater stature, potentially reaching several meters in height, while the xanadu typically attains a maximum of around five feet. Lastly, although both species are renowned for their voluminous foliage, the xanadu presents slightly smaller and narrower leaves compared to the selloum, though their shapes bear a striking resemblance.

Common Name Philodendron xanadu, Philodendron ‘Winterbourn’ 
Botanical Name Thaumatophyllum xanadu 
Family Araceae 
Plant Type Perennial 
Mature Size 4-5 ft. tall (indoors); 4-5 ft. wide (indoors) 
Sun Exposure Partial 
Soil Type Moist but well-draining 
Soil pH Acidic, neutral 
Bloom Time Spring, summer 
Flower Color Green 
Hardiness Zones 9-11, USDA  
Native Area South America
Toxicity Toxic to pets, toxic to humans1

What is a Xanadu plant?

The Xanadu plant, scientifically known as Thaumatophyllum xanadu, is a popular tropical houseplant. It is native to Brazil and is known for its striking appearance. The plant features large, deeply lobed leaves that give it a lush and vibrant appearance. It has a bushy growth habit, making it an attractive addition to indoor gardens.

One of the interesting features of the Xanadu plant is its ability to adapt to a variety of indoor environments. It thrives in bright, indirect light but can also tolerate lower light conditions, making it a versatile choice for different areas in your home.

However, it’s important to note that the Xanadu plant is considered toxic if ingested, so it should be kept out of reach of pets and small children.

Philodendron Xanadu Care

Philodendron xanadu, also known as Thaumatophyllum xanadu, is a popular tropical houseplant known for its lush foliage and relatively easy care requirements. Here are some essential tips to ensure your Philodendron xanadu thrives:


  • Thrives in bright, indirect light but can tolerate some dappled sunlight. Avoid harsh, direct sunlight which can scorch its leaves.
  • Can adapt to lower light conditions, but growth may be slower.


  • Prefers temperatures between 65-75°F (18-24°C). It can tolerate slightly cooler temperatures but should be protected from frost.


  • Allow the top inch of the soil to dry out before watering. Ensure the pot has drainage holes to prevent waterlogging.
  • Water thoroughly, allowing excess water to drain away. Empty the saucer beneath the pot if there is excess water after watering.


  • Appreciates higher humidity levels, but can adapt to average household humidity. Mist the leaves occasionally or use a humidifier, especially in dry climates.


  • Use a well-draining, peat-based potting mix. Adding perlite or orchid bark can improve aeration and drainage.


  • During the growing season (spring and summer), feed with a balanced, water-soluble fertilizer every 4-6 weeks. Reduce or eliminate feeding in the fall and winter.


  • Repot when the plant becomes root-bound or outgrows its container, typically every 2-3 years. Spring is the best time for repotting.


  • Trim dead or damaged leaves with clean, sharp scissors or pruning shears. This helps maintain the plant’s health and appearance.

Pests and Diseases:

  • Keep an eye out for common houseplant pests like spider mites, mealybugs, and aphids. Insecticidal soap or neem oil can help control infestations.
  • Ensure good air circulation to prevent fungal issues.


  • Like many philodendrons, the xanadu is toxic if ingested. Keep it out of reach of pets and children.


  • Provide support, such as stakes or a trellis, if your xanadu grows tall and needs additional stability.


  • Can be propagated through division or stem cuttings in the spring or early summer.

Potting and Repotting Philodendron Xanadu

Potting and repotting Philodendron xanadu is crucial for ensuring its optimal growth and health. Here are the steps to follow:


  • Selecting the Right Pot: Start with a well-draining pot that is slightly larger than the current one. Ensure it has drainage holes at the bottom to prevent waterlogging.

  • Preparing the Pot: Place a layer of small stones or broken pottery at the bottom of the pot to aid drainage.

  • Choosing the Soil: Philodendron xanadu thrives in a rich, well-aerated potting mix. A combination of regular potting soil, perlite, and orchid bark works well.

  • Transplanting: Gently remove the plant from its current pot, being careful not to damage the roots. If the roots are tightly bound, you can gently loosen them.

  • Placing in the New Pot: Position the plant in the center of the new pot, making sure it sits at the same level it was in the previous pot.

  • Filling with Soil: Add the prepared potting mix around the plant, ensuring it’s evenly distributed and gently press down to secure the plant.

  • Watering: Give the plant a thorough watering to settle the soil and hydrate the roots. Allow excess water to drain out.

  • Placement: Find a suitable spot for your Philodendron xanadu. It prefers bright, indirect light but can tolerate some shade.


  • Signs for Repotting: It’s time to repot if the plant has outgrown its current container, the roots are visibly crowded, or the soil has become depleted of nutrients.

  • Choosing the Right Time: Spring or early summer is the best time for repotting, as the plant is in its active growth phase.

  • Follow Potting Steps: Follow the same steps as potting, but this time, you may need to gently trim any excessively long or damaged roots before placing it in the new pot.

  • Be Gentle: Take care not to disturb the root system excessively, as this could cause stress to the plant.

  • Monitor After Repotting: Keep an eye on your Philodendron xanadu after repotting to ensure it adjusts well. Water sparingly in the first few weeks to allow the roots to settle.

Common Problems With Philodendron Xanadu

Philodendron xanadu is a hardy plant, but it can still encounter some issues. Here are common problems and how to address them:

Yellowing Leaves:

  • Cause: Overwatering, underwatering, or nutrient deficiency.
  • Solution: Adjust your watering routine and ensure the plant is receiving adequate light. Consider fertilizing with a balanced, water-soluble fertilizer.

Brown Tips on Leaves:

  • Cause: Dry air, underwatering, or fluoride in water.
  • Solution: Increase humidity around the plant, water consistently, and consider using distilled or filtered water. Trim off the brown tips.

Drooping Leaves:

  • Cause: Underwatering or overwatering.
  • Solution: Check the moisture level in the soil. Adjust your watering schedule accordingly, making sure the pot has drainage holes.

Leggy Growth or Sparse Foliage:

  • Cause: Inadequate light.
  • Solution: Place the plant in a spot with bright, indirect light. Consider rotating it occasionally to promote even growth.

Pests (e.g., Spider Mites, Aphids):

  • Cause: Infestations can occur due to poor plant hygiene or bringing in infested plants.
  • Solution: Isolate the affected plant, and treat with insecticidal soap or neem oil. Clean the leaves regularly to prevent further infestations.

Root Rot:

  • Cause: Overwatering or poorly draining soil.
  • Solution: Allow the soil to dry out and improve drainage. Trim off any rotted roots and repot the plant in fresh, well-draining soil.

Wilting Leaves:

  • Cause: Underwatering, root issues, or temperature stress.
  • Solution: Check the soil moisture and adjust watering as needed. Ensure the plant is not exposed to extreme temperature fluctuations.

Pests (e.g., Mealybugs, Scale Insects):

  • Cause: These pests can be introduced from infested plants or carried in by pests from outdoors.
  • Solution: Remove the pests manually with a cotton swab dipped in alcohol. Use insecticidal soap for larger infestations.

Leaf Spot Diseases:

  • Cause: Fungal or bacterial infections, often due to overwatering or high humidity.
  • Solution: Trim off affected leaves, improve ventilation, and avoid overhead watering. Use a fungicidal spray if necessary.

Insufficient Growth:

  • Cause: Lack of nutrients or inadequate light.
  • Solution: Fertilize with a balanced, water-soluble fertilizer during the growing season. Ensure the plant receives sufficient, indirect light.

Common Pests and Plant Diseases

Philodendron xanadu is generally a resilient plant, but like any other, it can be susceptible to certain pests and diseases. Here are some common issues you may encounter:

Common Pests:

  • Spider Mites: These tiny arachnids can create fine webs on the leaves. They suck sap from the plant, causing yellowing and wilting.

  • Aphids: These small, soft-bodied insects cluster on new growth, feeding on the plant’s sap. They can cause distorted growth and a sticky residue called honeydew.

  • Mealybugs: Mealybugs are small, white, cotton-like insects that congregate on the undersides of leaves and stems. They also feed on sap, causing stunted growth and yellowing.

  • Scale Insects: These pests attach themselves to the plant and feed on its sap. They appear as small, raised bumps on leaves and stems.

  • Fungus Gnats: These are small, dark flies that lay their eggs in the soil. The larvae feed on the roots, potentially causing damage to the plant.

Common Diseases:

  • Root Rot: This is caused by overwatering or poorly draining soil. It leads to the decay of the plant’s roots, resulting in wilting, yellowing, and overall decline.

  • Leaf Spot: Leaf spot diseases are caused by various fungi and bacteria. They manifest as dark spots or lesions on the leaves, often surrounded by a yellow halo.

  • Powdery Mildew: This fungal disease appears as a white, powdery substance on the leaves. It can hinder photosynthesis and weaken the plant.

  • Bacterial Blight: Characterized by brown, water-soaked lesions on leaves, this bacterial disease can spread rapidly, especially in humid conditions.

  • Viral Diseases: These are less common but can cause a range of symptoms including mottled or distorted leaves, stunted growth, and overall weakness.

Prevention and Treatment:

  • Quarantine New Plants: Before introducing a new plant, inspect it thoroughly to ensure it’s pest and disease-free.

  • Maintain Good Hygiene: Regularly clean the plant’s leaves with a damp cloth to remove dust and debris.

  • Proper Watering: Avoid overwatering and ensure the pot has proper drainage to prevent root rot.
  • Natural Predators: Introduce beneficial insects like ladybugs or predatory mites to control pest populations.

  • Fungicides and Insecticidal Soaps: Use these treatments as a last resort if pests or diseases become severe.

How do I choose the right location for my Xanadu plant?

Xanadu plants thrive in bright, indirect light. They can tolerate some shade, but avoid placing them in direct sunlight as it can scorch their leaves. A well-lit spot, such as near a north-facing window or in a room with filtered light, is ideal.

What type of soil should I use for my Xanadu plant?

A well-draining, peat-based potting mix works best for Xanadu plants. Ensure the soil is rich in organic matter and provides good aeration for healthy root development.

How often should I water my Xanadu plant?

Allow the top inch of soil to dry out before watering. Be sure to water thoroughly, allowing excess water to drain from the bottom of the pot. Empty the saucer under the pot if there’s standing water to prevent root rot.

What is the ideal temperature range for a Xanadu plant?

Xanadu plants prefer temperatures between 65-75°F (18-24°C) during the day and slightly cooler temperatures at night. They can tolerate occasional drops in temperature, but it’s best to avoid prolonged exposure to cold drafts.

How often should I fertilize my Xanadu plant?

During the growing season (spring and summer), feed your Xanadu plant once a month with a balanced, water-soluble fertilizer. Reduce or halt feeding in the fall and winter when growth slows down.

Can I prune my Xanadu plant?

Yes, you can trim and prune your Xanadu plant to maintain its shape and remove any dead or damaged leaves. Use clean, sharp scissors or pruning shears to make clean cuts.

Is the Xanadu plant toxic to pets or humans?

Yes, the Xanadu plant is considered toxic if ingested. Keep it out of reach of pets and children, and be cautious when handling it.

Does the Xanadu plant require repotting?

Repot your Xanadu plant when it becomes root-bound or outgrows its current container, typically every 2-3 years. Choose a pot that is 1-2 inches larger in diameter than the current one.


The Philodendron xanadu stands as a captivating choice for those seeking a striking, tropical houseplant. Its lush foliage and straightforward cultivation make it an excellent addition to any home. Despite its recent reclassification into the Thaumatophyllum genus, it remains essential to be aware of its potential toxicity to both pets and humans if consumed.

Distinguishing it from its close relative, the philodendron selloum, is crucial for plant enthusiasts. The xanadu’s compact, bushy growth habit sets it apart from the selloum’s climbing nature and robust trunk development. Additionally, the xanadu’s smaller, narrower leaves, while similar in shape, serve as a distinguishing feature from the selloum.

Ultimately, whether you’re an experienced gardener or a novice plant enthusiast, the Philodendron xanadu promises to bring a touch of tropical elegance to your living space. With proper care and attention, this Brazilian native will flourish and provide an aesthetic focal point for years to come.

Mary Lloyster

Mary Lloyster

Mary, the ultimate oracle of indoor gardening! With years of experience and a flourishing indoor expo, Mary has become our go-to expert for all things related to house plants and indoor gardening. Despite her background in Political Science, Mary has discovered a delightful way to blend her full-time job with a touch of relaxation through indoor gardening. Now, she eagerly shares her wisdom and experiences with our readers on a daily basis. If you have any inquiries about house plants, indoor gardening techniques, or caring tips, don't hesitate to leave a comment for Mary in the designated section below!

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