Philodendron Selloum Care (Tree Philodendron)

The massive, deeply lobed showy leaves of Philodendron Selloum, the Hope Philodendron, make it a spectacular addition to any houseplant family. Philodendron Selloum care is quite easy; thankfully, it doesn’t take much to keep this exceptional houseplant thriving.

This Philodendron Selloum Care guide will quickly have you on your way to providing the ideal home for this beautiful statement plant.

Philodendron Selloum has many common names, including Tree Philodendron, Philodendron Shangri La,  Horsehead Philodendron, Lacy Tree Philodendron, and  Philodendron bipinnatifidum.

No matter what you call it, though, this is one impressive plant. A fully matured Hope Philodendron can reach 5 feet tall with leaves averaging 2-3 feet long. You’ll want to give this houseplant lots of space to spread out to experience its full wonder.

This Philodendron grows like a tree, hence the common Tree Philodendron name.

At first, it produces stems from its central root base and looks like a bushy floor plant. But, as it matures, it develops a robust trunk-like structure.

Usually, though, you can’t even see the trunk because the leaves are so massive, they obscure it from view. Philodendron Selloum leaves are deep dark-green, glossy, and deeply lobed, giving them a lacy appearance.

As the leaves multiply, they form cascading dropping waves of green that turn any space into a lush, tropical paradise.

Hope Philodendron Origin

Hope Philodendron is native to Brazil, Bolivia, Paraguay, and Argentina. It is a tropical plant that loves the sun but also grows just fine in the shade.

While it mainly grows like a tree, Philodendron Selloum is also opportunistic and will attach itself to and climb up nearby structures and plants.

Philodendron Selloum Care

While caring for this houseplant is relatively easy, it has specific needs that are necessary for it to thrive.

As long as you provide the basic support, your Philodendron Selloum will live a long and happy life in your home.

Light

Hope Philodendron prefers high amounts of bright, indirect light as a houseplant. In its native environment, it likes full sun, but this isn’t practical for houseplant life.

Full sun causes vigorous growth, which in turn requires large amounts of water and nutrients, or it will become unbalanced.

The ideal situation for the Philodendron Selloum houseplant is a south-facing window where the light is filtered and not falling directly on the leaves.

All-day dappled sunlight is perfect. Hope Philodendron doesn’t mind some shade and will grow in dense shade as well.

However, that causes a different set of issues, including stunted growth and much darker leaves.

Hope Philodendrons grow towards the light, so it is essential to rotate your plant every week, so it doesn’t become lopsided.

Soil & Mixture

The best potting soil for Philodendron Selloum is a rich, organic, well-draining mix. It will also grow well in soilless combinations of peat-perlite or peat-vermiculite.

A potting soil mix designed for houseplants, like an orchid or succulent mix, is also a good choice.

Be sure to get a good quality mix, though, as this is the primary nutrient source for your houseplant and will affect how it grows.

Alternately, you can make your own soil mix to ensure your Philodendron is receiving everything it needs.

This recipe is our favourite: 1/3 succulent soil mix, 1/3 coconut coir, and 1/3 perlite. If you have worm castings or compost, add several handfuls of that in too.

Water

Watering your Hope Philodendron properly is extremely important. Incorrect watering is the leading cause of plant problems.

The key to watering this houseplant effectively is to always check the soil before adding water.

Philodendron Selloum likes lightly moist soil and dislikes soggy feet. It also doesn’t like being dry and is not drought tolerant.

Check the moisture level by sticking your finger into the top 1-inch of soil up to your first knuckle. If it is still slightly moist, hold off on giving your plant a drink. In general, your Hope Philodendron will need watering once a week.

Of course, this varies by climate, household temperatures, and light exposure. That’s why it is so important always to check beforehand.

When you water your Philodendron, add enough so it drains out of the bottom of the pot. Don’t let water sit in the saucer below the pot, though, as that is a leading cause of soggy feet and root rot.

During the winter months, while your plant is resting, it won’t need as much watering. Once every two or three weeks may be enough.

Again, it all depends on the climate and conditions of your home.

Temperature & Humidity

Being a tropical plant, Hope Philodendron likes warmth and humidity, and lots of it. Ideally, the temperature is above 55F, and your houseplant is away from drafts, air conditioning, or heating units which may dry it out or cause extreme temperature fluctuations.

If the humidity in your home is low, a great way to increase it is to set up a pebble tray. Fill a baking tray with pebbles, and then add water.

Place your Philodendron Selloum on top of the pebbles, being careful not to let the water touch the bottom of the pot.

This simple DIY humidifier raises levels around the plant as the water evaporates. Refill the water as needed.

Fertilizer

During the growing season (spring, summer, fall), feed your Philodendron Selloum monthly with a balanced fertilizer.

A water-soluble fertilizer diluted to half strength is recommended.

Using the fertilizer at full strength may add excess salt to the soil, which will burn the leaves and negatively affect your plant’s growth.

Use a 20-20-20 fertilizer. This number system is on every type of fertilizer and indicates nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium levels.

In this case, a 20-20-20 mix has equal amounts of all three. These three elements are the key to leaf, root, plant, and flower growth and are necessary for all plants to thrive.

Never add fertilizer in the winter when your Hope Philodendron is dormant.

Growth

The Hope Philodendron is a moderately fast-growing houseplant that will get up to 5-feet at full maturity.

In addition, the massive leaves reach up to 2-3 feet long, which means you’ll need lots of space for it to grow upwards and outwards.

If it’s growing too fast or you don’t have room for a fully matured Philodendron Selloum, it can be pruned yearly without any adverse side effects.

This Philodendron also can be trained to grow where you like it. Use stakes or ties to keep it growing upwards or in a specific direction.

Pruning

Maintenance pruning to remove dead leaves should be done regularly. Other than that, Philodendron Selloum doesn’t need pruning, except to control growth.

Some folks cut the leaves off around the bottom trunk-like stem, so it looks more like a tree.

Always use sharp, clean scissors to prune, and wear gloves, so you don’t get the sap on your hands.

Propagating

The simplest propagation method for Hope Philodendron is stem cuttings. Cut off a 4-6 inch piece of healthy stem, right beneath where a leaf connects to the stem. Always use sterilized, sharp scissors to prevent the spread of disease.

Apply a high-quality root hormone at the cut tip, and plant the stem in a container with potting soil.

Cover the container with a plastic bag, leaving a little bit open for airflow. This keeps humidity in. 

Mist the soil every day (or twice a day) to keep it consistently moist. After three weeks, very gently tug on the stem to check resistance.

If there is some, it means the roots are growing, and the plant is established. Remove the plastic bag, and continue watering to keep the soil moist.

Repotting

The Hope Selloum benefits from being repotted every 18-24 months. Repot to a vessel 2-4 inches diameter larger so the Philodendron has room to grow but won’t get overwhelmed.

When you move it to a larger pot, it will grow bigger. If you want to keep it at its current size, repot it to the same container.

Repotting is necessary because potting soil runs out of nutrients after a while. Plus, the soil becomes compacted, making it harder for the plant to absorb water.

To see if your Hope Selloum needs repotting, check the bottom of its current container to see if the roots are coming out of the drainage holes.

Repot in the spring or summer, when your plant is the strongest.

Plant Toxicity

The Hope Philodendron is a highly toxic plant. It produces a sap that causes skin irritation and swelling if it touches the mouth or eyes. Always wear gloves when handling this houseplant and keep it away from children and pets.

Common Pests, Diseases and Issues and How to Fix Them

Philodendron Selloum is quite hardy and resistant to pests, but it is susceptible to some diseases and a few common houseplant bugs.

Mealybugs, Aphids, Spider Mites

These bugs damage the leaves and, if left untreated, will defoliate your Philodendron. Use a solution of 1-liter water mixed with 1 teaspoon dish soap and spray it on the leaves. Continue regularly applying until the pests are gone.

Scale

These tiny bugs are hard to see, but you may see the honeydew residue they leave behind. Remove scale infestations with a cotton swab dipped in rubbing alcohol. Wipe down the leaves thoroughly.

Root Rot

When the soil is too soggy, roots will often rot. Root rot will eventually kill a plant; this is why proper watering is essential.

What do I do if I see small dark green blotches on the leaves?

This is bacterial blight, which is caused by a fungus that infects the plants. It causes dark spots on the leaves, which turn yellow around the edges, and it spreads rapidly.

Cut off and remove any infected leaves to prevent the blight from spreading. Then, spray a copper soap on the leaves to reduce the chances of it coming back.

Also, avoid overhead watering and make sure the leaves stay dry at all times.

Why are the leaves turning brown and curling at the tips?

This is caused by excess salt in the soil. Run distilled water through the soil to wash out the salts, and in the future, dilute the strength of the fertilizer.

Why are the leaves turning pale green?

Pale green leaves are an indication of insufficient fertilizer or too much direct light. Move the plant so it is not getting direct sunlight to see if that resolves the issue. If it doesn’t, add more fertilizer.

Common FAQS

Can I use tap water to water my Philodendron bipinnatifidum?

Yes, but it may cause a build-up of minerals. It’s best to use distilled water.

How much do they cost on average? (Please note prices in USD & GBP)

Between $15-50 USD, or ₤10-35 GBP.

The new leaves are pale, thin, and floppy; what is wrong?

This is completely normal. New leaves are always more fragile. They will thicken and darken as they mature.

What are the brown leafless growths on my Philodendrons stem?

These are natural and normal aerial roots. Aerial roots allow a plant to climb up to reach the light in its natural environment. You can leave them or prune them off.

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