Philodendron Selloum vs. Xanadu: How to Identify Key Differences

When you think of Philodendrons, you may think of climbing and vining species like the popular Heartleaf Philodendron. But this genus of almost 500 species contains epiphyte, hemiepiphyte, and terrestrial plants. 

Philodendron Selloum and Philodendron Xanadu are both considered hemiepiphytes, so instead of climbing, they prefer to grow upward and outward like a tree. This makes them a much more manageable houseplant for gardeners who don’t have the equipment or green thumb to handle a climber. 

Because of their similar tree-like growth habits, these two Philodendrons are often mixed up. Philodendron Selloum can grow 6 feet (2 m) tall and 6 feet (2 m) wide, grows upwards like a tree, and has light green leaves with shallow lobes. Philodendron Xanadu can grow up to 4 feet (1.2 m) tall and 4 feet (1.2 m) wide, grows wide like a bush, and has dark green leaves with deep lobes.

Let’s go into more detail about these differences so you can confidently identify these two plants!

Philodendron Xanadu vs. Philodendron Selloum 


Philodendron Xanadu is on the smaller side, with a maximum height between 2 to 4 feet (60 to 120 cm). Its leaves prefer to grow outward rather than upward, giving the plant a maximum width of 3 to 4 feet (90 to 121 cm). 

Philodendron Selloum on the other hand grows much larger, with an impressive maximum height of 12 feet (3.6 m) tall outdoors. A typical height for a potted indoor Selloum is closer to 6 feet (1.8 m). As a fairly large plant, it should be no surprise that the foliage can also reach a width of 6 feet (2 m). 

So from this, we can see that Philodendron Xanadu is the shorter of the two. Philodendron Selloum on the other hand grows much taller, and wider. Given their size, these plants would do best in a floor pot so they have lots of space to spread out without the risk of falling over. 

Growth Habits 

Although these two plants look very similar in their youth, their growth habits change as they mature. 

Philodendron Xanadu leaves tend to grow closer together as the plant matures. The leaves form tight clumps and give the plant a dense, bushy appearance. These bushy leaves are supported by a thick trunk, like a small tree!

Philodendron Selloum can take up a lot of space if allowed to. It tends to grow upward with long-reaching stems that branch off from a thick tree trunk. Its large floppy leaves fan outward, very similar to Monstera Deliciosa. This plant’s resemblance to a tree is the reason why it is also sometimes called “Tree Philodendron”. 

Leaf Shape 

Philo Selloum
Leaf shape is probably the biggest differentiator between these two plants. Philodendron Xanadu has deeply lobed leaves, almost like a palm. Each leaf has about 15-20 lobes and can reach up to 1.5 feet (45 cm) long. Its leaves have a dark green color and are smooth and glossy.

Philodendron Selloum leaves on the other hand have more shallow lobes, similar to an oak leaf. They’re shiny as well but have more of a light green color. Philodendron Selloum leaves can reach a maximum length of 3 to 4 feet (90 to 121 cm). This is more than double the size of Philodendron Xanadu leaves! 

How Do I Make Selloum Grow More Leaves?

Philodendrons are generally regarded as fast growers. Plants in this genus generally require high levels of water and a nutrient-rich soil to provide energy for their growth.

Philodendron Selloum prefers consistently wet soil, so regular watering is a must. You can water this plant when the first inch of soil is dry.

This plant also prefers a loose peat-based soil that is rich in nutrients and provides plenty of aeration for drainage. You can also fertilize your plant once a month in the spring and summer with a 20-20-20 liquid fertilizer

The proper water, soil, and fertilizer will help your Philodendron Selloum grow those big showy leaves that make it so popular.

Can Selloum Take Full Sun?

Since Philodendron Selloum naturally grows under the rainforest canopy, it doesn’t need as much sunlight as you’d think. In the rainforest these plants receive dabbles of sunlight through the trees, and so their leaves are not designed to withstand direct sun. 

Instead, you can provide your Philodendron Selloum and Xanadu with regular, indirect sunlight. It’s best to place these plants in an east-facing window. Or, keep them in a corner or the middle of a room with south-facing windows. A sheer curtain over a window can also help soften the sunlight if necessary. 

How Do You Keep a Philodendron Xanadu Small?

Philodendron Xanadu naturally prefers to grow short and bushy rather than tall. But as a Philodendron, this plant is very robust and can take over a space it’s allowed to. If you like the look of a dense, bushy Philodendron Xanadu, here are some steps you can take to keep that foliage under control. 

First of all, always ensure your plant has plenty of indirect light. If there’s insufficient light in the room, your plant may begin to reach toward the light and become leggy. Leggy plants have long stems which make the plant taller. If you find your plant has gotten leggy, you can cut back the longer stems at the base.

You can also increase the humidity around your plant to encourage more growth, which can lead to a bushier plant. 

Why Did My Xanadu Turn Brown?

There are generally two reasons why leaves turn brown: underwatering or overwatering. 

If the leaf tips are brown and crispy, the likely culprit is underwatering. The leaf tips are the last part of the leaf to receive water. So when water is limited, the stem and lower part of the leaves get water first, leaving the ends to dry up

If the entire leaf has turned brown, overwatering is likely the issue. If your Philodendron receives too much water without proper drainage, the roots will begin to suffocate and rot. Rotten roots can’t take in any water, so the leaves suffer from a lack of nutrients. Generally, the leaves will turn yellow first, then become brown over time. 


What is the Most Rare Philodendron?

Pink Princess
With almost 500 species in this genus, there are bound to be a few rare varieties. One of the most sought-after rare Philodendrons is the Philodendron “Pink Princess”. This picture-perfect plant has shiny heart-shaped leaves with bright pink variegation. The pink variegation is rare and doesn’t always show up in propagated plants, hence the high price tag. 

Another rare Philodendron that comes to mind is the Philodendron “Spiritus Sancti”. The rareness of this plant comes from the fact that it is an endangered species. It is native to the Brazilian state Espirito Santo, where very few of them still exist in the wild.

Are There Different Types of Xanadu?

If you like the look of Philodendron Xanadu, you’ll be pleased to know that this plant comes in a few different varieties. Some growers offer a dwarf version, which reaches a maximum height of 2 to 3 feet (60-90 cm). There are also several variegated forms, such as Xanadu “Gold Lime”, which has bright green leaves. There is also a Xanadu “Yellow Compact” which has lemon-lime colored leaves and is also a dwarf cultivar. 

Philodendron Radiatum vs. Selloum

Philodendron Radiatum is another species within this genus that has large shiny green leaves with deep lobes. It’s sometimes confused with Philodendron Selloum and Philodendron Xanadu. The main difference between them is actually in the way they grow.Philodendron Radiatum is a climbing plant that starts its life as an epiphyte growing on trees and begins to display hemiepiphyte traits as it matures. 

As a houseplant, Philodendron Radiatum requires a trellis or moss pole to support its climbing growth habits. In ideal growing conditions, it can reach up to 10 feet (3 m) tall. 


If you love the lush look of Philodendrons but can’t stay on top of their climbing growth habits, one of these tree-like Philodendrons might be right for you. Although they look similar, Philodendron Selloum and Philodendron Xanadu have some major differences that might sway which species you choose for your home. 

Philodendron Selloum can reach heights of 6 feet indoors, with a similar 6-foot leaf spread. Its leaves can reach up to 4 feet long and are lobed and bright green. Philodendron Xanadu is a more compact plant that reaches a maximum height of only 4 feet. Its foliage is dense and bushy and its leaves have dramatic deep lobes similar to a palm.