Philodendron Xanadu Plant Care (Thaumatophyllum)


Philodendron Xanadu (Thaumatophyllum) in terracotta planter in front of white wall

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Philodendrons, including the Xanadu, regularly top the lists of the most popular houseplant species, which inspires many plant lovers to purchase their own philodendron Xanadu. If you’re new to growing and learning how to care for a philodendron Xanadu, it’s important to know how to keep this philodendron variety happy and thriving, but how do you care for a philodendron Xanadu?

Here’s how to care for a philodendron Xanadu:

  • Water when the top two inches of soil are dry 
  • Provide medium, indirect light 
  • Use well-draining potting soil with organic matter for aeration 
  • Put the plant in a ceramic pot 
  • Set the thermostat between 65 and 85 degrees and no lower than 55 
  • Fertilize every two to four weeks throughout the active growing season 
  • Prune with shears or by pinching off leaf overgrowths 

Whether you’ve grown other philodendron varieties before or this is your first philodendron of any kind, there’s plenty of useful information I’ll share ahead. You’ll learn all the basics, like how often to water your Xanadu, what kind of soil it needs, and even how often to prune it.

Let’s get started! 

Philodendron Xanadu Overview

First thing’s first, what is a philodendron Xanadu and what makes it different from other types of philodendrons?

The philodendron Xanadu or Thaumatophyllum xanadu belongs to the Araceae family. Growing natively in Brazil, the Xanadu is distinct compared to the standard philodendron due to the shape of its leaves. 

Rather than feature tropical-looking, frond-like leaves, the philodendron Xanadu has smaller leaves with more defined curvature and lobes, between 15 and 20 of them per leaf.

The houseplant that’s sometimes referred to as the Winterbourn grows wide but not very tall, with an average width of between three and five feet. Its height is around two to four feet.

The leaves of a Xanadu can grow quite sizable though, so you must give this plant plenty of room if fyou’re growing it indoors. The average width of this plant’s pretty leaves is seven to 14 inches, and the leaves can grow up to 18 inches long in some instances! 

If you read my recent plant care guide on the mother of thousands, you’ll remember how I mentioned that houseplant is toxic. It’s the same case for the philodendron Xanadu and all philodendrons, really.

Consider growing your Xanadu in a place away from where your pets and young children can get to it. Always wash your hands thoroughly after handling it and consider wearing gloves when planting it or repotting it.

Caring for the Philodendron Xanadu

Now that you’re acquainted with the unique philodendron variety that is the Xanadu, let’s delve deeper into this plants specific care. If you’ve grown philodendrons in the past, a few of the same care facets apply for the Xanadu, but not all. 

Watering a Philodendron Xanadu

Determining when to water a plant is one of the most important parts of keeping it healthy. For the philodendron Xanadu as with any other houseplant, I recommend the fingertip test. 

Using clean hands, plunk a finger two inches deep into the soil of your plant’s pot and feel around in there. You’ll know it’s time to water your Xanadu when its soil is dry at that depth. Ideally, you don’t want to let the soil get bone dry, as then your houseplant is surely being underwatered.

An underwatered philodendron will wilt. Its leaves can begin to curl and twist while the edges become brown and crispy to the touch. All along, your Xanadu isn’t growing at its regular pace, which, when prolonged, can affect the size of your plant.

What if you put your finger in the Xanadu’s soil but it feels moist or semi-moist? This is a sign not to water the plant yet. You should wait for another day or two and then do the soil test again. The soil will likely be drier then.

When the time comes to water the philodendron Xanadu, use a lot of water at once. The soil should be wet but not oversaturated, and yes, there is a difference.

When water begins coursing out of the drainage holes in the plant’s pot, you’ve watered the Xanadu enough.

This watering method can leave the Xanadu prone to root rot if you’re not doing the fingertip test. Root rot is a plant disease that overwhelms the roots with water to the point of death.

Healthy plants receive oxygen and water in about equal measure, but when you water a plant too much, it can’t get enough air. 

Your Xanadu will tell you if it’s being overwatered, as its distinct leaves will begin to turn yellow. Behind the scenes, the roots are becoming mushy and black. 

Removing the dead roots with clean pruning shears can save the plant provided there are more white, firm roots (which are healthy roots) than black ones. Yet if most or all the roots are black, your plant will more than likely not survive. 

The Best Lighting for a Philodendron Xanadu

Here’s an area where the Xanadu differentiates itself from other philodendron varieties. Philodendron xanadu require more sunlight than the philodendrons you’ve grown in the past.

The best lighting conditions for the Xanadu are medium, indirect light. 

Let’s unpack that a little bit.


Medium light is light that comes from westerly or easterly-facing windows. The sunlight still enters the room, but not directly enough that the plant receives the full strength of the light. 

Indirect light is light that’s diffused through something before reaching the plant, usually a curtain. You could even position a larger plant over your smaller one, with the larger plant taking the brunt of the sunlight. Just make sure that plant you place in front of the smaller plant likes direct light! 

Here are reasons to NOT put your philodendron xanadu in front of Southerly or northerly facing Windows:

Southerly-facing windows will bathe your Xanadu in far too much sunlight, so avoid these. If the leaves of your philodendron xanadu are turning yellow it’s most likely because you’ve given it too much light.

Too much light will cause yellow patches and spots as well as brown tips that will look burned and even brittle.

Northerly-facing windows are just as bad but in a completely different way. Philodendron Xanadu’s won’t get enough sunlight when placed in front of a North facing window.

REMEMBER: This particular philodendron variety is more picky about it;s light than most other philodendron


How to Know if your Xanadu is Receiving the Correct Amount of light?

When your philodendron xanadu is receiving the right amount of light it won’t need pruning because it will naturally grow compact and close to itself. You won’t see any leggy spots sprouting out above other parts of the plant.

The color of your xanadu will be a healthy green throughout the entire plant and won’t have any yellow spots on its leaves. The tips of the leaves will be green and tender, basically healthy feeling. The tips of the leaves won’t appear brown or burned looking.

How to Know if your Xanadu is Receiving To Little or Too Much Light?

When this philodendron variety lacks sunlight, it will get long and leggy. The stems become elongated because they’re trying to stretch towards the light, which causes them to grow more than the leaves. In other words, the leaves become spread out from each other 

As I’ve mentioned, should the Xanadu get too much light, its leaves will begin to fry. The browning and crispiness can get confusing, as these are the signs of underwatering.

Yet a Xanadu that’s spent too much time in direct sun will also lose most of its color, which doesn’t happen if you underwater your plant. 

Best Type of Potting Soil for a Philodendron Xanadu

Since you’re supposed to water the Xanadu until it’s nearly soaking, above all else, its soil must be well-draining. 

The standard potting soil you can find at any gardening supply store will suffice for this plant. Adding aerating organic materials is a good idea, as this will prevent compaction that can trap water within the soil and lead to root rot. 

Perlite is among the best amendments for a Xanadu. This volcanic glass can encourage more adequate water drainage while also aerating the soil.

If your plant’s soil has begun to compact, which can happen with time, try adding a bit of gypsum. The mineral will allow compacted soil to breathe.

Avoid vermiculite and peat moss or sphagnum. Although these amendments will make your Xanadu’s soil airier, both vermiculite and peat moss will also increase water retention.

Since there’s already enough water in your plant’s pot at any one time, the longer it remains, the higher the risk of root rot

The Best Type of Pot for a Philodendron Xanadu

One of the most fun parts of growing a plant is choosing its pot. Since a pot is a plant’s home, you want it to look good, but you have to consider more than just the pot’s appearance as you shop for your plants new home.

Some pot materials are very porous and will absorb water quickly. Others are nonporous and allow for water retention.

Ideally you’ll want a pot or planter that’s in between for your philodendron Xanadu.

That’s why I recommend a ceramic pot for growing a philodendron xanadu indoors.

Ceramic is porous on its own, but not to the extent of terracotta. That clay material in terracotta pots leeches water out of a pot.

That’s great for many indoor plants but using a terracotta pot for your Xanadu would mean you’d be watering it all the time, which would put it at a much higher risk of root rot.

Most ceramic pots you see online or at your favorite gardening supply store will be glazed. This is what you want.

The layer of glaze reduces the porous qualities of the pot somewhat. Your Xanadu’s ceramic pot won’t leech water out immediately, but the water won’t remain in the pot for too long either.

Ceramic pots tend to be quite heavy and not particularly durable. Be careful when handling ceramic pots, they chip and even completely break apart much easier than you’d think they would.

If you don’t have access to a ceramic pot, a sealed or glazed terracotta can work, as can a terracotta pot with a plastic liner.

These features prevent the terracotta from absorbing water too quickly. 

The Ideal Temperature and Humidity for a Philodendron Xanadu

Although Brazil is generally a warm climate, there’s no need to adjust your thermostat at home for the Xanadu. A room temperature environment will suit this plant just fine, as it prefers temperatures over 65 degrees Fahrenheit.

If you leave your Xanadu plant outside all day on a warm summer’s day (and it’s shielded from direct sun, of course), even if the temperatures climb into the mid-80s, that’s still within this plant’s comfort zone. 

Just don’t push the Xanadu too much further.

Plants can succumb to heat stress if the temperatures begin climbing uncomfortably high. The leaves can end up burnt and the plant will wilt and likely stop its growth. 

Bringing your plant into a cooler area is best. Make sure you water the plant too to help it recover its moisture loss.

How Cold is Too Cold for a Philodendron Xanadu?

The lowest temperature the philodendron Xanadu can withstand is between 45 and 55 degrees. Cold shock and freezing temperatures can kill your plants even if their exposed for a short time.

Keep in mind that what’s cold to a plant might not necessarily be considered cold to a person.

For a cold-shocked plant, you again want to move it to more optimal conditions. You also want to water it. I know, that seems strange, right?

Yet, if your plant almost froze, it lost moisture on a tissue level, so watering your plant once it’s in a warmer temperature is really the best course of action.

In these situations, it’s best to pour the water on the plant slowly and only use the water as a means to warm up the plant and its roots. This isn’t a normal watering so consider using much less water to help your plant acclimate. 

What about the preferred humidity levels of the Xanadu? The average household relative humidity is fine, but if you can increase the humidity via a humidifier, the xanadu will often reward you by growing faster.

Best Type of Fertilizer for a Philodendron Xanadu

The best type of fertilizer for the philodendron Xanadu is a balanced fertilizer that’s water-soluble.

A “balanced” fertilizer refers to a fertilizer with equal quantities of the three primary nutrients found in commercial fertilizers: Nitrogen, Phosphorus, and Potassium.

The way to tell if the fertilizer you’re considering using on your plant is a balanced fertilizer is by looking for the 3 sets of numbers on the fertilizer’s package. A balanced fertilizer’s three numbers are roughly the same, such as 10-10-10.

For an example: The box or container of balanced fertilizer would read 5-5-5 or 20-20-20

Never apply full-strength fertilizer to the Xanadu’s pot. Dilute it with water to half-strength.

How Often to Fertilize a Philodendron Xanadu

Fertilize your philodendron xanadu once every two weeks, You can continue this schedule into the autumn if your Xanadu is still actively growing. 

Although philodendrons don’t necessarily stop growing throughout the year, you’ll see the most growth as the weather turns warm in the spring and into the summer.

Fertilizing your Xanadu between spring and summer will encourage even more lush foliage.

Pruning a Philodendron Xanadu 

When it comes to pruning a philodendron Xanadu, normally it will stay a tidy, reasonable size on it’s own and not need to be pruned, especially if you follow the care instructions as laid out in this guide.

Yet some situations will call for pruning a xanadu, such as if your plant wasn’t getting enough light and it became leggy due to stretching towards the light

Likewise, if the Xanadu had too much time in the sun and now its leaf edges are brown or crispy, you can also remove that damage through pruning. 

Depending on what you want to remove, your pruning method will vary. For dead leaf ends, you’ll need pruning shears to remove these. Snip along the affected area and leave as much green as you can. 

When you’re done pruning, disinfect the shears with isopropyl alcohol that contains 70 to 100 percent alcohol. This prevents the spread of plant diseases to the rest of your indoor garden.

For legginess and other overgrowths, pinch the stem where the growth has occurred and it should come right off.

Fred Zimmer

I'm a lover of plants, animals, photography, & people, not necessarily in that order. Currently, I'm focused on photographing indoor plants & chachkies. I write & rewrite articles about creating an environment where indoor plants can thrive. I'm good at listening to music but bad at shopping to muzak.

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