Philodendron Xanadu is a perennial plant native to Brazil. Although its origins are South American, this plant is low-maintenance and is common in households around the world.
Sometimes called a winterbourn philodendron, that name is somewhat ironic considering this plant fares best in warm temperature, subtropical, and tropical climates.
While its ideal USDA planting zones are zones 10-11, this cheery plant can also manage in zone 9 with the appropriate care.
Still, the philodendron xanadu is easy to grow and maintain indoors. We’ll break down everything you need to know about growing and caring for this much-loved plant.
There are 500 varieties of philodendron recognized by the World Checklist of Selected Plant Families (WCSP).
A handful are very popular among houseplant aficionados, including the golden goddess philodendron, green dragon hybrid, and heartleaf philodendron.
The Xanadu subspecies used to be called “Winterbourn” with its origins as a wild plant in Brazil.
However, it was renamed the Philodendron Xanadu by House Plants of Australia in 1988. Thirty years later, it took on the name Thaumatophyllum Xanadu.
A smaller version of Philodendron Selloum, Xanadu is beloved for its textured leaves that grow in clumps.
Beginner plant owners and long-term home gardeners choose it for its look and easygoing nature. With just a basic understanding of what Xanadu needs to thrive, you can enjoy this beautiful plant and its benefits to your home or office space.
This cheery tropical plant gives a lovely splash of green anywhere you choose to display it. The glossy, spade-shaped leaves are wavy and soft and range from medium green to a deeper olive tint. New growth is brighter green, more towards a lime shade, then darkens as that stem and leaf develop.
The plant grows from a thick stem, with the leaves displaying at the very tip. The stems arch outwards in an elongated curve and run thinner towards the leaf than the base.
When the entire plant gets bigger, aerial roots will form on the base of the soil. These work as anchors to stabilize the plant and provide another avenue for moisture intake.
Xanadu’s leaves are multi-lobed, with up to 20 sections where the leaf splits to create an interesting texture.
The bold shape of these leaves is much of the plant’s appeal, and even new leaves assume their texture fairly quickly after unfolding from the stem.
It’s typical for the leafy bunches to stretch as far as one foot out from the roots, and Xanadu tends to grow in a horizontal more than vertical direction. Therefore, you should ensure you have a radius of a few feet around your original plant to allow it ample space to spread once it stretches large enough.
Though Xanadu can flower, it’s uncommon for it to do so as an indoor houseplant. When flowers do occur, it’s usually during summer and at nighttime. The best chance to see a flowering philodendron is in a botanical garden, where they receive optimal care to coax them to their fullest health potential.
Philodendron Xanadu Care
The enormous selection of philodendrons available means that there’s a type to suit everyone’s taste.
Fortunately, this whole plant family is inexpensive, has minimal fuss, and is easy to propagate. It’s no wonder they’re a common item on a houseplant lover’s shopping list.
Pet owners beware – the Xanadu plant contains calcium oxate crystals that are insoluble and can cause distress to your cat or dog’s digestive system.
If you believe your pet may have ingested any part of the stem, leaves, or roots, watch for telltale symptoms such as mouth swelling or vomiting. It’s a good idea to call your local vet or a poison center for the next steps.
Though philodendrons tolerate a wide range of living scenarios, there is a narrower range of conditions they will thrive in.
Philodendrons fare best in moderate to bright indirect light. Sunlight will scorch the delicate leaves, so be cautious when placing Xanadu next to a window (south- or west-facing is ideal).
The Xanadu fares better than most in low light, though the growth will be slower if it’s not exposed to enough of it.
In times of low light, such as mid-winter, expect slower growth and fewer new leaves. This will coincide with the dormancy stage, where the plant doesn’t need fertilizer or any other special care. It will revive and begin growing faster with natural seasonal fluctuations.
A philodendron doesn’t require significant space in its container, but like all plants, it needs the proper amount of room for the roots to expand as it grows. Your Xanadu’s pot should be at least a few inches wider than the area of the roots – but not much more than that. Too much extra space will hinder the drying of the soil and might lead to overwatering issues.
Terracotta, clay, and ceramic pots are best for plants in this family. These materials help prevent overwatering because their textures are more conducive to soil aeration.
As with most tropical houseplants, the Xanadu prefers to stay perpetually damp. However, don’t drench it, either. Wait until the top two inches of soil are dry, then give the plant a thorough watering.
This usually ends up being about once a week, or more if the surrounding air is dry. Rainforest plants enjoy humidity, so for optimal health, consider keeping a humidifier or mister in your Xanadu’s space. Its preferred moisture level is upwards of 40%. In general, the humidity level of a typical home is enough to satiate this plant’s thirst, so you don’t need to take special care unless your space happens to be unusually dry.
Do not oversaturate the soil, or your Xanadu will develop root rot. This can inhibit growth or even kill the plant over time. Because this particular type of plant enjoys low light, it’s easy to overwater as it doesn’t need as much to compensate for the sunlight it absorbs.
To avoid soggy soil, choose a type that is well-draining and open. A mix of peat or perlite and other raw materials such as twigs, mulch, or bark helps keep the plant’s roots from getting oversaturated.
It’s good to feed your Xanadu a liquid fertilizer every 2-4 weeks during the warm seasons when it’s growing faster. Use a water-soluble fertilizer, and consider diluting it to half strength. Too much fertilizer can burn through the roots and eventually kill the plant.
If you have the resources for it and can measure it, check the pH balance of the soil. Philodendrons prefer a pH between 5.5 and 7.5, which you can boost with organics like compost or peat. However, be sure to offset these with enough aerating materials like those listed above.
Philodendron Xanadu propagation by division is best, but you can also use stem cutting. Follow these steps to most easily propagate your plant:
- Find a portion of the stem that includes at least one node, as this is where the new growth will form.
- Use a sterile knife or scissors to cut the larger plant.
- If necessary, separate the roots of your chosen portion from the greater root ball. (They might have gotten tangled while growing.)
- Set your propagation in a cup of water, and place it in a bright area. Within a few days, tiny roots will form and reach down into the water.
- When the cutting has been separated from the mother plant for 4-6 weeks, plant it in soil and let it settle into its new home.
Other special care
Philodendrons do not require any pruning, other than the gentle removal of dead leaves. Use clean scissors and remove only the damaged part, which may or may not re-grow according to how healthy the rest of that stem and leaf remain.
Pests are not a common issue with any Philos. However, keep an eye out for erwinia, a type of bacterial disease.
Still have questions? We have answers!
Yes, Xanadu thrives indoors as long as you meet the proper requirements for its care. It can be an outdoor plant as well, but not in cold-weather climates. You might consider keeping it in a pot on the front porch or in the garden (with adequate shade) until the temperatures dip into the 50s when it will need to be brought indoors for the chilly season.
Total darkness isn’t a good idea, but this plant doesn’t require much light to be happy. Indirect sunlight is best, and you should take care to keep it away from direct sun. A room where the sun never reaches Xanadu’s pot is best, and it will still grow at a standard pace. As long as there’s some bit of light in the room, your Philo will be happy enough to thrive.
Philodendrons are some of the best plants to have in your home for cleaner air. According to NASA, there are chemicals in the air such as formaldehyde and benzene that plants will cleanse just by their presence. The larger leaves the better, as they will purify the air faster.
They can get as large as several feet tall, but only in optimal conditions. The typical Xanadu will be a modest-sized potted houseplant with stems about one foot long and definitely, won’t get any taller than it is wide. Its stems are the longest part and reach over the side of the pot to sometimes brush the floor or table that the pot rests on.
Not really. Xanadu tends to grow outwards in a fan shape rather than straight up. Though its leaves might curl around a stake or other climbing pole you give it, that won’t encourage it to grow any taller than it would naturally.
The general rule of thumb is once per week. Check to ensure the soil is completely dry before you give it more water. Certain times of the year and other factors such as location will also determine Xanadu’s water needs, which can vary from plant to plant.
Brown or yellow plant leaves always signal something out of balance. It can be a sign of disease, but most often the culprit is overwatering. If exposed to too much sunlight, that can also burn the leaves, changing their color and causing them to get dry and papery. The edges may curl or even drop off, given enough time.
After a moisture imbalance, the next problem to look for is too much light. Make sure you place the pot in a location where the leaves will only receive low light. Cold temperatures may also affect the health of the leaves, as the plant will go into dormant mode and shrivel up to preserve energy.
Sometimes, old leaves change color and die in a natural progression. If you are carefully monitoring the water, soil, and light needs of your Xanadu, chances are that the brown leaf will shrivel and take care of itself. It’s up to you whether you want to control the aesthetic by removing the dead growth or letting it fall of its own accord.
Philodendron Xanadu: A Safe Choice for Houseplant Newbies
Even if you have zero experience caring for plants, a philodendron is low-maintenance enough for a beginner to add to their home.
The gorgeous shiny leaves, long elegant stems, and small-ish size mean that the philodendron Xanadu plant will appeal to a variety of tastes and complement any decor.
A philodendron is a staple in the experienced plant owner’s collection as well. There are enough varieties that you can have several types and enjoy the individual characteristics of each.
This plant is an investment well worth the low cost and minimal energy it takes to own one.
Enjoy your gorgeous green friend with the peace of mind that it will be happy with basic care.