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Philodendron Xanadu: How to Grow and Care

Philodendron Xanadu, now more correctly named Thaumatophyllum Xanadu, is a perennial derived from a plant species native to Brazil. Formerly known as ‘Winterbourn’, it was given its present name, ‘Xanadu’ when trademarked in the US in 1988.

Although its origins are South American, this plant is relatively low-maintenance. It can be grown outdoors in USDA zones 9-11, but is most commonly grown as a houseplant in temperate climate zones.

Philodendron Xanadu

Identifying Philodendron Xanadu

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. 


Though philodendrons tolerate a wide range of living scenarios, there is a narrower range of conditions they will thrive in. It is important to think about light, temperatures, humidity, and soil when choosing where to grow this plant. 

One other thing to note when deciding where to grow this plant is that it can be toxic to both people and pets. 

On the plus side, however, 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.


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. 


Xanadu thrives indoors at normal room temperatures as long as you meet the other 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. 


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. 

Soil/ Potting Mix

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.

These Philodendrons prefer a pH between 5.5 and 7.5, which you can boost with organics like compost. However, be sure to offset these with enough aerating materials like those listed above.


Philodendron Xanadu is very easy to care for – even for beginners.


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. 

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. 


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. 

Potting and Repotting

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 waterlogging. 


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.


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. 

Pests and Problems

Pests are not a common issue with any Philos. However, keep an eye out for erwinia , a type of bacterial disease. 

Brown or yellow plant leaves always signal a problem with your plants. 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.