What is the difference? – A PUZZLE

Are you planning to add some great greenery to your home, but don’t know which one to choose?

Philodendrons are a popular plant family – they aren’t too picky and immediately give your home a tropical vibe.

If you’re hesitating between a Philodendron Selloum and a Philodendron Xanadu, you’ve come to the right place.

Philodendrons are native to South America, where they grow to enormous sizes in tropical rainforests.

Imagine growing in partial shade under taller plants, in high humidity, its roots partly in rich soil, partly outdoors, seeking support to grow towards the light.

The main difference is that Philodendron selloum has lance-shaped leaf forms that proudly grow upwards like a tree. On the other hand, Philodendron Xanadu tends to have flatter and less wavy leaves. Xanadu takes up more width to show off its slightly lobed leaves.

Either will add a fascinating artistic touch to your home or garden and can grow to be very tall if given enough love and space. Read on to find out how to tell these big players apart.


Differences between Philodendron Selloum and Xanadu

The easiest way to tell Philodendron Selloum and Xanadu apart is by their size. The Selloum can reach 3.6 m in height, with leaves up to 1.5 m each.

Hence the nickname Tree Selloum. The Xanadu variety grows more in a bushy formation, with much smaller leaves, which are even more lobed.

Philodendron Selloum has larger leaves

Philodendron Selloum vs.  Xanadu leavesPhilodendron Selloum vs. Xanadu leaves

Philodendron Selloum and Xanadu have deeply lobed leaves that spread almost like fingers. Its leaves usually hang down.

Philodendron Selloum can produce the largest leaves in this plant family. They can be up to 1.5m long and cling to the trunk with long smooth stems.

Where the Selloum opted for size, the Philodendron Xanadu opted for beauty. The leaves are glossy and have symmetrical lobes up to 40 cm (16 in) long and 30 cm (12 in) wide.

These plants are distinguished by the arrangement of their leaves: Philodendron Selloum rolls up its leaves in a spiral, adding new ones to the trunk as it grows. Philodendron Xanadu has an alternate build, which looks more random.

height and structure

Philodendron Selloum gets BIG when given water, fertilizer and plenty of indirect light – up to 3.6m tall and 4.5m wide. Philodendron Selloum can grow to the height of a tree in the wild, earning it the nickname Tree Philodendron. Don’t worry, it is unlikely to become a tree in indoor conditions.

Philodendron Xanadu is smaller and grows in clumps up to 1.5m high and 2m wide. If the clog gets too big for your home, it’s easy to shrink it down. Be sure to wear gloves and wash your gear afterwards.

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Well-drained soil is important for Philodendron Xanadu. The best is a potting mix with peat moss, perlite and compost.

However, Philodendron Selloum likes rich, slightly alkaline soil that retains moisture.

Philodendron Selloum versus Xanadu Philodendron Selloum versus Xanadu

Similarities Between Philodendron Selloum and Xanadu

As parts of the same genus, these plants are more alike than they are different. Below are the most interesting similarities, along with more information on how to care for them.

leaf coloring

Both produce green leaves that stay green all year round. Color intensity varies with lighting conditions. Some, but not all, Philodendron Xanadu leaves have a red pith.

no flowers

Unfortunately, neither will produce flowers indoors. Just a clump of lush green foliage.

To reproduce, older Philodendron Selloum and Xanadu (15-20 years) can produce what is often called a flower, but botanists say not: a protective bract surrounding a phallic-shaped spadix. The bract of Xanadu is red.

This ‘flower’ is open for 2 days, during which time hopefully a Cyclocephala beetle will pollinate it. Even crazier: To make sure the “flower” is warm enough to stay clean and attract only the good bugs, the plant burns stored fatty tissue with the same metabolism as a little cat.

growth habit

Both species tend to grow long when placed too far from a light source. Turn the plant every 3 weeks to make sure it grows evenly on all sides.

You may find an aerial root trying to escape from the pot. Selloum and Xanadu use them in the wild to grow towards the light and ground themselves as they seek out sunlight.

not too bright

Neither Philodendron Selloum nor Xanadu will be happy in the sun. Direct light will scorch its beautiful leaves.

Like many plants, they thrive in bright, indirect spaces. Philodendron Xanadu is popular because it rather likes a shady spot, which cannot be said for all tropical plants.

They both grow towards the light if placed in a bit too dark a place. This creates a “stalk-shaped” plant, whose leaves look like hands reaching out to the light.

If you don’t have a lighter spot, rotate the pot every month to make sure the plant doesn’t grow crooked.

When placed in an area with too much light, both types of Philodendron appear to have lighter, slightly bleached leaves.

For a “full” looking bush with dark green foliage, play around and move it around every month until you find the perfect spot in your home!

heat and humidity

Think jungle: Selloum and Xanadu thrive in temperatures ranging from 18°C ​​to 85°F (29°C).

They both like humid environments, ideally above 40%. In air-conditioned or heated rooms, consider a humidifier


Philodendrons are surprisingly easy to care for, as long as you keep their native jungle in mind. Philodendron Xanadu is particularly susceptible to root rot, so make sure you have drainage holes in your pots. †

Water them once a week in the summer and once every two weeks in the winter. If the soil seems dry, water generously until the water runs out of the drainage hole.


It is only in spring and summer that the plant goes into winter dormancy and needs fewer nutrients.

Both liquid and powdered fertilizers are fine, but be careful not to overfeed. The leaves usually turn a lighter green when the plant needs more fertilizer.

Plagues and diseases

Neither species is particularly vulnerable to pests. Watch for mites, aphids and scale insects.

Philodendron Selloum and Xanadu can fall victim to fire blight, which causes small dark green spots on their leaves. Xanadu is prone to root rot.


Both species are poisonous to animals and humans, causing stomach pain and breathing difficulties. Direct skin contact with the sap may be irritating.

When transplanting or pruning Selloum or Xanadu, be sure to wear protective gloves and wash any equipment you may have used.

Eating them is guaranteed to give you a hard time, so make sure kids and pets can’t reach them.

What’s in a name?

philodendron selloum Philodendron Xanadu
USDA hardiness zone 8B-11 10 – 11
Scientific name Thaumatophyllum / Philodendron bipinnatifidum Thaumatophyllum / Philodendron ‘Xanadu’
adult size 6 to 12 feet (1.8 to 3.6 m) 5 feet (1.5m)
adult width 10 to 15 feet (3 to 4.5 m) 7 feet (2m)
Rate of growth Quick Quick
Habit At the top Out
Light requirement: Of course, indirectly. Medium indirect light.
the type of soil Rich soil that retains moisture. well-drained soil rich in organic matter
soil pH 6.1 – 7.8 5.6 – 7.5
Water frequency: 1 time per week in summer, 1 time every 2 weeks in winter 1 time per week in summer, 1 time every 2 weeks in winter
harmful red spider mites (water with warm soapy water) Aphids and scale insects are the main culprits. Also spiders in dry air.
Diseases Bacterial blight: small dark green spots. If so, keep the leaves dry and cut off the affected leaves. leaf spot disease. rotten root

Philodendron Selloum vs Xanadu at a glance

Selloum and Xanadu were once Philodendrons, part of the subgenus Meconostigma of the family Araceae, one of the three subgenera of the genus Philodendron.

However, in 2018, both species were reclassified into their own genus Thaumatophyllum, which roughly translates to “Miracle Leaf.”

What suits you so well! As both are still commonly called philodendrons, I named them that.

But that’s not all: Xanadu was named after an Australian grower. I guess they were big fans of Australian singer Olivia Newton-John.

However, a few years later it was registered as ‘Winterbourne’. The 1988 patent has expired, so it is no longer a trademark: it can be propagated.

Some argue that it was never a cultivated plant, but simply grew from seeds harvested from a wild plant in Brazil and claimed to be a new invention in 1983.

Philodendron selloum also has a history of color names. Its real name is Thaumatophyllum. bipinnatifidumnot seal.

When botanists realized that Selloum and Bipinnatifidum were the same plants, they took the name first published in the literature. He has several nicknames, such as Hope Selloum and Tree Selloum.

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