Botanical name: Thaumatophyllum bipinnatifidum
Synonyms: Philodendron selloum, Philodendron bipinnatifidum
Lace Tree Philodendron also called Horsehead Philodendron is an easy to grow non-climbing large houseplant which is most impressive in a large space. It is native to South America; Brazil, Bolivia, Argentina and Paraguay. In their tropical natural habitat, they are known for their ease in covering land mass and typically spread out their tree-like trunk from between 8-10 ft. The leaves are simple, large, deeply lobed, ruffle-edged and are usually drooping. These leaves can grow up to 2 ft long and are attached to long smooth petioles about 2 ft long. They are dark green in color. The trunk is relatively thick and woody with characteristic "eye-drop" leaf scars. The plant produces aerial roots from the stems and these root have an important part to play. Push them into the soil to provide moisture for upper leaves. Flowers rarely appear under room conditions. According to a study carried out by NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration), Philodendron selloum was found to remove common VOCs specifically trichloethylene.
One common variant of Lacy Tree Philodendron is Philodendron bipinnatifidum Hope also called Thaumatophyllum bipinnatifidum Hope which is a shorter plant, maturing at the height of about 4 ft. Its leaves are slightly smaller about 1.5 ft long, smooth-edged and more solid, attached to 1.5 ft long petioles. Another common variant of Lace Tree Philodendron is Philodendron bipinnatifidum Xanadu also called Thaumatophyllum bipinnatifidum Xanandu which has a mounding growth habit. A look-alike plant but quite different from Lacy Tree Philodendron is Monstera deliciosa (Swiss Cheese Plant) whose leaves have holes rather than the seperated lobes in Lacy Tree Philodendron.
Lace Tree Philodendron prefers moderate to bright light. Keep it away from direct sunlight as direct sunlight may cause scorching. Learn how to ensure your plant receives the correct light in this guide on understanding light for houseplants.
Water Lace Tree Philodendron thoroughly during the growing season while allowing the top 2 in. of soil to dry a little between waterings. Reduce watering during the cold period. Avoid waterlogging as it can lead to rotting. Learn more on how to water houseplants.
Lace Tree Philodendron prefers average warmth with a minimum of 150C. Learn more on temperature for houseplants.
Lace Tree Philodendron prefers a humid environment. However the plant can withstand dry air. Keep the air moist through out the growing period by frequent misting of the leaves or by surrounding the pot with wet moss or by placing the pot on a wet pebble tray to raise humidity. Occasionally clean the leaves by damp-wiping to get rid of dust and to discourage pest infestation.
Feed Lace Tree Philodendron every 4 weeks during the growing season with a balanced water-soluble fertilizer. Withhold feeding during the cold season. Learn more on how to feed houseplants.
Repot Lace Tree Philodendron every 2-3 years during the growing period. Use a pot which is 1 size larger and loose free-draining soil that is rich in organic matter. Ensure the pot has a drainage hole to prevent waterlogging. Use a heavy container with a drainage hole as the plant can become top-heavy.
Pruning Lace Tree Philodendron involves removal of yellow and dead leaves to maintain the plant neat and tidy. Cut back leggy stems at the beginning of the growing season to rejuvenate growth. Find out more on how to prune houseplants.
Lace Tree Philodendron can be propagated during the growing season from stem cuttings.
Propagation of Lace Tree Philodendron from stem cuttings
Take a stem cutting about 4-5 in. long. Insert the cutting in moist soil, place in a warm shaded place and maintain the soil moist until new growth has emerged. Allow the new Lace Tree Philodendron to be well established before transplanting.
Overwatering Lace Tree Philodendron is the reason if many leaves are affected and there are signs of wilting and rotting but if there is no wilting and rotting, underfeeding is the problem. If only lower leaves are affected and have dark spots and new leaves are dark and small; underwatering is the reason. If leaves are pale colored and have straw-colored patches the problem is too much sunlight.
As the lower leaves of Lace Tree Philodendron age they fall leaving a bare stem with a crown of leaves at the top. If the leaves turn brown and dry before they fall then high temperature is the cause.
The reason for rotting stems in Lace Tree Philodendron is the fungal stem-rot disease which is promoted by high moisture and too little warmth. You can save the plant by repotting and keeping the soil dry and warm.
The reason for leaves with brown papery tips and edges in Lace Tree Philodendron is dry air or the plant may be pot-bound. Mist the leaves and repot in a larger-sized pot.
Too little light is the cause as Lace Tree Philodendron will not thrive in deep shade; move the plant to a more brighter spot.
If the soil is too wet, Lace Tree Philodendron will respond with leaves weeping at the edges. Allow the top 2 in. of soil to dry out between waterings and reduce frequency of watering.
Lace Tree Philodendron (Philodendron selloum) is toxic to both humans and pets. The plant contains Calcium oxalate. In ingested it causes burning and swelling in the mouth and throat, vomiting, diarrhea and abdominal pains. Keep this plant from the reach of children and pets.