Planting this glossy big-leafed plant in your garden will impart a tropical rainforest feel to your home. We mention useful tips to grow and take care of a split-leaf philodendron.
The Split-leaf philodendron contains oxalic acid which makes it poisonous. Hence extra care must be taken to keep pets and small children away from it so that they do not ingest its leaves. Also its ripe fruit may be an irritant for skin-sensitive people.
This dense foliage has its origin in the Central America from Southern Mexico to Panama. It’s also known as Swiss cheese plant, or Window leaf (Monstera deliciosa). It shares a common name like the genus Philodendron and belongs to the Araceae family. It has glossy, leathery, heart-shaped, big monstrous leaves that have deep slits in them which can grow up to 18″ wide on foot-long leafstalks.
Some species and cultivars like the ‘M. obliqua’, ‘Variegata’, and ‘Albovariegata’ have smaller leaves respectively. In its natural habitat, these plants are aerial vines that cling to the tree branches and create a dense canopy over the area. They can grow up to 70 feet high or more. These plants produce an edible fruit known as Cerimans or Monsteras that look like green cob of corn with hexagonal kernels and have a high content of potassium and Vitamin C. It can be poisonous when unripe but is a tasty tropical delight after ripening. It tastes like a combination of mango, banana, and pineapple and is used to flavor drinks and ice-creams. The hardiness zone for this plant is USDA Zones 10 – 11. It was first cultivated out of its natural habitat in England in 1752; from then on it has become one of the favorite plants to be grown at home. Here are some useful tips to take care of this particular plant.
Factors Essential for Plantation and Growth
✦ Growing this plant from seeds is generally not preferred because it’s a long and time-consuming process. The seeds need a temperature of 75-80° F for germination, and must be kept moist for at least 15-30 days.
✦ While planting indoor choose a location where it gets filtered sunlight and a room day temperature of 75 to 85 °F, and a night temperature of 65 to 70 °F. Give them a good amount of space to grow, as they have the tendency to grow 10 feet tall. Choose a south-facing room or a room that reflects the sunlight.
✦ It requires well-drained soil, hence water it every 7 to 10 days, and avoid splashing the leaves with water. Let excess water drain away from the pot.
✦ Fertilize the plant during its growing season that is from February to October every two to three weeks. Follow the instructions on the fertilizer package for better results.
✦ While growing this plant, re-potting it from time to time is necessary, and the best time to do this is during spring. Choose a pot that has drain holes at the bottom, and it must be 2 inches larger than the current pot. Mix one part perlite and two parts potting soil. Place the plant into the pot by holding its base. Check if the top of the root ball is 3 inches from the top of the pot and add or remove extra soil accordingly. Then add perlite, compost, and potting soil till its 2 inches from top of the pot. Place a tray below the pot and water the plant till excess water drains out, fertilize at regular intervals from spring to fall for better results.
✦ While planting outdoor give them rich soil mix, with lots of room for their roots to grow and spread. Their natural trait is to grow aerial roots hence providing them with a solid base is necessary. It could be a tree bark or strong, moss-covered support sunk. Tying them up with a fishing or nylon thread will give them the needed support and flexibility without snapping.
* While pruning this plant wear a pair of protective gloves as the plant may cause skin irritation.
✦ The leaves ‘sweat’ if the soil is overmoist hence do not water them too much as it might cause root rot. Place them in a well-filtered sunlit area to avoid wilting and drying of the lower leaves.
✦ Clean the leaves occasionally by gently wiping them with a wet cloth as big leaves tend to get dusty.
✦ Cut excess aerial roots away or train them to grow on the moss support without crowding too much.
✦ Routinely examine the plant for scabby and dark parts and remove the infected parts immediately.
✦ Roots emerging from the base of the plant must be tucked back into the soil.
Prevention of Pests and Diseases
✦ Split-leaf philodendrons are healthy low-maintenance plants, but keep a regular watch for pests such as mealy bugs, scale and spider mites. Cleaning the plant leaves regularly with a soft, damp cloth prevents these pest attacks and keeps the plant healthy.
These evergreen tropical plants are excellent container-grown ornamental plants ideal for decorating a summer deck or an indoor room.