Published on May 11, 2020

A big fluffy plant can make a difference in any space—even if you don’t have a massive collection of greenery, just one large option can give your home an indoor jungle vibe. You might normally go for a monstera or a banana leaf plant, but there’s an unsung hero you should consider instead: the Philodendron Xanadu.

According to Kristin McLaughlin, founder of Brooklyn plant shop and care service Soft Opening, this tropical species is both a houseplant and a landscaping plant. Native to Brazil, it’s used often in yard design in warmer places like Florida, as it can’t stand temperatures below 50 degrees. Philodendron Xanadu is known for its big rippled leaves and sturdy structure, which make it a beginner-friendly buy. There are lots of different Philodendrons, the most similar to the Xanadu being the Hope Selloum. But McLaughlin recommends the former as a heartier option: “It has a more interesting structure, and as the leaves get older, they get more beautiful, going from light green to dark,” she says. “The Hope Selloum does the same, but it’s flimsier.” That said, no plant is 100 percent foolproof—so read on for McLaughlin’s advice on how to help your Xanadu flourish.

Philodendron Xanadu outsidePin It
Courtesy of Exotic Nurseries & Landscaping

How much light does it need?

If you’re planting it outdoors, it likes to have some shade, but inside, it needs a good amount of natural light. Bright, indirect sunlight is ideal—it shouldn’t get directly hit for more than 3 hours a day. To make sure that the plant can absorb all the light it needs, periodically (once a week or so), wipe down the leaves with a damp cloth to get rid of any dust.

How often should I water it?

If your home is particularly dry (especially if you have an erratic radiator), a humidifier can help ensure this plant stays happy. McLaughlin also recommends giving any plants that aren’t looking their best a steam bath about once a month—just bring them all into the bathroom, run the shower at its hottest temperature to create steam, and close any doors and windows for an hour (you don’t have to keep the water running this full time).

How should I pot it?

The Philodendron Xanadu doesn’t need a lot of extra space in its planter—while it spreads horizontally when planted outdoors, inside, it grows upward, shooting out aerial roots that grow outside of the soil. A pot that’s the same size as the one the plant was grown in, or one that’s one to two inches larger, works just fine. According to McLaughlin, it’s okay if the plant outgrows its planter a little bit—you’ll just want to refresh its soil with a nutrient-rich potting mix once a year so it can get all of its necessary vitamins. 

Your care kit:

See more plant stories:
The Best Houseplant for Your Myers-Briggs Type
The Essential Houseplants Every Domino Reader Has in Their Home
Is This the It Plant of 2020?

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