Plant Profile: Philodendron xanadu

This tropical evergreen is a perfect addition to any well-lit home. Its upright growth and bushy foliage, lush up any dull empty corner or wall.
Previously called Philodendron Winterbourn, it was rechristened ‘xanadu’ by the Houseplants of Australia in 1988.
Since becoming the plant of 1988 in Australia, its popularity has grown, and can be found in most houseplant lovers homes now.

How to care for your Philodendron xanadu


This plant prefers bright indirect light, but also grows well with a bit of direct morning sun. If you notice the leaves are browning/crisping, move your plant away from the sun.


Not a plant that demands weekly watering, but as with most plants, this will depend on location, wind, temperature etc. Water thoroughly at every watering, and only water when the top 1 inch of soil is dry. Test this with your knuckle or finger, by sticking it into the soil – if soil sticks to your finger, wait with watering for another day or two. Always remove water from the sous coupe / water dish, to avoid reabsorption of salts or root rot.


These plants require a well draining soil or potting mix. They can grow in 100% sphagnum moss, but do well in a peat moss /perlite mix. As a general rule-of-thumb, to check if your soil is well-draining – water thoroughly and count the seconds it takes for the water to run through the drainage holes. If it’s longer than 15 seconds, the soil is either too compact or moisture retaining. Make amendments accordingly.


Always choose a pot that has holes for drainage. Use whichever pot you’d like, but keep in mind that plastic will retain moisture and terracotta will wick it away – this will change the watering requirements.


Use a balanced liquid fertiliser (NPK 20-20-20) every month during spring and summer months. A fertiliser with additional micronutrients is recommended.


Propagation can be done by division, where a smaller plant is removed from the mother plant and then transplanted into soil or water.

General Problems

Yellowing – This is normal with older leaves. Let it yellow and fall off or snip it off.
Browning – This could be due to burning from direct sunlight – move it further away from sunlight.
Leggy – The stems will elongate and the plant will lose its compact/bushy appearance. This is due to a lack of light, so move it closer to the window or light source.
Pests – The most common pests are mealy bugs, aphids and spider mites. See my blog post on pest control.
Over/Under watering – Leaves will look droopy. Leaves will quickly resume their perky nature once the problem is fixed.
Toxicity – Toxic to cats and dogs if ingested.