Splitting Up

Plants are our favorite subject. We hang air plants in the shower and on walls.  We plant indoor gardens and outdoor gardens and we also use plants to keep mosquitoes away.

We’ve talked before about the many ways that bouquets and houseplants are good for you. I’ve also mentioned the challenges of living with a husband that doesn’t love big, overflowing houseplants as much as me. Today I’m back with another houseplant post, because they really are good for you, and because this is another easy compromise for plant lovers living with the plant “eh”-ers.

The plant in the crosshairs this time? A split-leaf philodendron.

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We had a beautiful split-leaf that came from my parents’ house last summer; it was outgrowing its welcome there, but looked fantastic on our porch. When it was time to bring the plant in for winter, Calder put his foot down (truthfully, with a 4-foot diameter, the plant was too big for our house too). I started looking for other options, and ended up taking the plant to work. The moment I walked in with the plant, a co-worker asked if we could put it in our common suite. The suite has no windows, but plenty of florescent light.  I wasn’t sure how well it would do, since I had read that they need plenty of direct sunlight, but over the past six months, the plant has thrived. Has it found its forever home?!

About a month after moving the plant, I saw an online photo of a bedroom that had two split-leaf stalks in a vase. The homeowner said she bought the leaves at her florist and that they would last for at least a few weeks in water. I never thought of putting just foliage in a vase, yet the large split-leaf stalks looked so dramatic and neat, having lost their unruly character that Calder doesn’t appreciate.

That was a long-winded introduction to tell you that I cut some leaves, stuck them in a vase, and had a wonderful piece of the split-leaf decorating our bedroom!

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Of course I couldn’t stop there. The biologist in me thought it would be fun to try rooting the plant. Propagation requires a stem that is cut just below an aerial root. *A QUICK UPDATE – we received a comment that the aerial root doesn’t have to be present. You just have to cute below a node (where the new roots will start to grow) for successful propagation.*

I’ve read that you can plant this cutting directly in potting soil, but I put my cutting in a vase and watched the roots grow! Once I had the healthy root mass you see in these photographs, I planted the cutting in potting soil. In the photo below, you see the single stalk on the left, a freshly cut stalk with an aerial root for propagation in the middle, and on the right is a large cutting that had multiple aerial roots and grew that fresh greenish-white root system over a the past couple of months.

So, I think this is it, we’re splitting up. I’m moving, and the split-leaf is staying in PA, but with these cuttings I’ll always have a little Phil (adendron) in my life.

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19 thoughts on “Splitting Up

  1. I also love the look of one or two of these leaves in a vase. I was brought to your blog by the fact that my philodendron is growing at an alarming rate, so the cuttings-to-vase idea might just be the way to go!

    • They grow like weeds, right?! Cuttings are a sweet little housewarming gift too! Let us know if you do some cuttings; we’d love to hear how it went 🙂

  2. I’ve had this split leaf philodendron for many years.Its moved back and forth from my daughter’s house for years. I recently moved it back home and it sits regally on my screened porch.The problem with ‘Phillis’ is her leaves are loosing their green…what can I do? I’ve repotted her, since she WAS severely rootbound.

    • Hi Brenda,

      That’s a great question, and a problem that I think burdens many plant owners at one time or another. In our experience, the combination of both moving the plant to a new location and repotting it (even though you’re doing something good!), may result in a slight bit of stress that’s causing the plant to lose a few leaves while it’s putting energy into some new root growth and maintenance on other leaves. You could also check the type of light it’s getting. Since you’ve had this plant for years, it sounds like you know what it likes best (bright, but indirect light), and you may even have it in a location where you put it before. Philodendrons don’t like direct sunlight – if this is a location where you’ve had the plant in the past, is there a chance that something changed that it’s now getting more (or much less) light than before? Are there different window coverings or a change in the vegetation outside (maybe a shade-tree came down)? Those are all things to check. And lastly, when you repotted it, is it still getting good drainage? If you feel like the light and water conditions are correct, then I would recommend letting it alone for a couple of weeks to see if it settles in to its new pot and location. Best of luck!

  3. Out of curiosity, did the stem you but in the bedroom vase in water ever root, or like any cut flower/foliage, live for a brief time and then die? I have one in a pot and the leaves span 4 feet across, OMG! It’s way too big for the house and no one to fuss about it, but, my living room doesn’t even have furniture it it, just plants and ever September when I bring them in off the porch for the winter, the room grows ever smaller. I am forced to divide it and root the cuttings. I hate to just throw a living organism away, plant or spider, (spiders I capture and release outside). I’m weird that way, but the issue is, even if I divide the plant, I have no room for the cuttings in terms of floor space and they are much to large to hang in a basket from my indoor plant pergola I built last summer. I’d sale or even give away if I knew of another plant lover that would appreciate it. UGH! What to do! I enjoyed the blog. Thanks.

    • Hi Scarlette! I never got any roots on the single stem that I cut, but had a lot of success every time I’ve tried rooting one that had an aerial root attached. I would love to see your philodendron with the huge leaves (we’ll have to work on adding a photo feature in the comments, thanks for the idea). I know what you mean about not wanting to throw away any living things. Every one in our family is the same way, in fact, just this summer I was at our mom’s house and every free bit of space on her windowsills was filled with small aloe plants that she had split from a larger pot. We’re also in the habit of putting every jade leaf that falls into soil to root, and then we end up with so many jades! Best of luck with your plants, your living room sounds magical!

  4. i think i left my comment on the wrong page, i was trying to figure out your blog.

    Anyway, i have this split leaf, and we left it out for 3 months thinking it was dead, but two shoots came up.

    they are pretty big, the old central plant is shrinking away. we want to try and re-root these offshoots… can i email a picture for your advice on where to cut them off?

  5. I have one leaf with a stem in a vase with water. It’s been there for months and no roots. Will it root if I put it in soil? Is there still hope that I can grow a plant from this leaf?

    Thanks,
    Jess

    • Hi Jess,

      It sounds like you may have a stem without an aerial root. If you look at the bottom left photo in the post (the one showing the three different cutting ends), does yours look like the one on the far left? Or does it look like the one in the middle (with a brown root sticking out)? If it doesn’t have that aerial root, then I don’t think you’re going to have any success propagating it. If it does have the aerial root, then I’m stumped. Putting it in soil may work (maybe it’s missing some essential nutrients that it’ll be able to get from the soil). Although, if that’s the case, you may also be able to put a little bit of houseplant fertilizer in the water and get the same results. Best of luck!

  6. Did the single stem cutting produce any roots? My split leaf is growing rather wide and I was hoping to just cut a few of the stems that are sticking straight off – but i don’t want to waste them!

    • Hi Savannah,

      Our single stem never produced any roots, but it was a beautiful cutting that lasted for a long time (I would change the water once in a while). I enjoyed having that cutting in a vase and moving it around the house to different places that I thought could use a bit of life. While it eventually ended up in the compost, I still really enjoyed it in the vase. You could also use some as greenery in a larger vase of flowers (but this greenery didn’t have to travel by plane to get to your market!). Good luck with yours!

  7. That’s actually a Monstera deliciosa, not a Philodendron at all. A lot of people, and places, incorrectly label them. A real split leaf Philodendron has much different looking leaves

    • Thank you! But now we’re really confused… when we google search split leaf Philodendron and Monstera deliciosa, similar pictures come up. We have some learning/investigating to do.

    • Hi Emily,

      Thanks for the question, I didn’t have to do anything to get those aerial roots to start growing. The cuttings shown in this post came from a very (very) large parent plant. There were aerial leaves growing out of many stems, and we didn’t do anything to encourage that. And then, as explained in the post, I just picked a few good stalks with the aerial roots to cut, put in water, and the new root system started to grow. Best of luck!

  8. It isn’t true that you need to cut it below the aerial root to get new roots. New roots can grow from any node. You need to cut below the node and put it in water. Two modes are better than one. Three is best.

    The aerial roots have nothing to do with getting a monstera to take root. I’ve roots plenty in water, and none have had air roots.

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