What is the difference between the Philodendron selloum vs. Xanadu?
Both are similar looking plants that are exotic and will catch anyone’s attention. They are easy to care for at home as well.
So, which one is better if you can only choose one?
In this article I’ll discuss in detail the similarities and differences of these two plants.
Philodendron selloum vs. Xanadu differ from their size, form and leaf shapes.
The philodendron selloum is the much bigger plant with larger leaves and will grow upwards and look more like a tree. It will eventually develop a trunk as well.
Meanwhile, the philodendron xanadu is still a good sized plant reaching 4-5 feet high. But it smaller than the selloum and develop smaller leaves as well. The plant also grows sidewards or outwards more.
That said, both plants have large, deeply lobed leaves.
Differences Between Philodendron Selloum and Xanadu
Leaf Size and Appearance
Both the philodendron selloum and Xanadu are deeply lobed leaves.
They belong to a group of philodendron plants called the finger philodendrons because of the shape of their leaves.
While their foliage start out with less deep cuts, these indentations eventually get deeper as the leaves mature up to the point where they look like several fingers due to how separated the sections of become.
Both are broadleaf evergreens as well. So, you can enjoy their lovely foliage all year round.
This is one unique feature that both plants have.
And it is often the point of confusion because of how similar they look.
That said, if you look closely at the leaves of the philodendron xanadu and selloum, you’ll notice a few things.
They are different in:
- Look of the fingers
The philodendron selloum ranks among the largest leaves in the Philodendron genus. Its leaves can grow to 4 to 5 feet in length, and they will get wide as well.
The splits in the leaves also less uniform compared to the philodendron Xanadu. And as the leaves get bigger, they become wavier.
The philodendron selloum features dark green leaves that are attached to long, smooth petioles. Its stems are green colored as well.
If you run your fingers through the leaves, you’ll notice they have a slippery and smooth texture to go with their glossy appearance.
On the side of the philodendron Xanadu, what you’ll see are smaller leaves.
The size difference between the two plants is considerable since the Xanadu’s leaves get to about 12 to 18 inches. That’s 1 to 1.5 foot long compared to the philodendron selloum’s 4 to 5 feet length.
The philodendron xanadu’s leaves do reach 7 to 14 inches wide as well.
This makes it a good sized plant for most indoor spaces.
The plant’s leaves are likewise glossy and deeply lobed. They have a green color and are attached to long petioles. But they do have a more leathery texture.
If you look at the stem of the philodendron Xanadu, you’ll likewise notice that they reddish or burgundy in color.
Finally, as the two plants mature, one thing you’ll notice is that the philodendron selloum will become woody at its based.
It will develop a brown, woody bark and a thick trunk over time.
This is not the case with the philodendron Xanadu.
The simplest way to tell the difference between the philodendron xanadu and selloum is from their size.
The philodendron selloum is by far the bigger plant.
It can grow to about 6 to 10 feet high and 6 to 8 feet wide. Although, if you keep it outside and it receives ideal tropical climate conditions, it could grow bigger as well.
I’ve seen a couple that were closer to 12 feet tall and between 12 to 15 feet wide.
Its size and ability to get bushy especially outdoors is the reason why its nickname is the Tree Philodendron. It has the ability to grow to the size of a tree.
Although, if you trim it and regularly prune it, you can manage its size and make it look more like a shrub instead.
On the other hand, the philodendron xanadu is a smaller plant relative to the philodendron selloum.
But it will still grow to a good size reaching between 3 to 5 feet tall and 3 to 5 feet wide.
The good news is that it is easy to care for and you can easily prune the longer stems to keep it in a clump.
Growth Habit and Growth Rate
Another difference between the philodendron selloum and Xanadu is their growing habit.
The philodendron xanadu being a smaller plant will grow more like a shrub if you let it get full and bushy.
I love it when it achieves this look. Although, I’ve likewise seen some growers keep it neater and less thick.
That said, the philodendron xanadu is a mounding plant that’s good is spreading. It will get dense making it a great plant to cover an area of your yard like shrubs do.
Indoors, it usually won’t get as full or thick. But its shrub-like habit makes it a lovely exotic addition in your home interior décor.
On the other hand, the philodendron selloum is a multi-stemmed plant with large leaves.
The biggest difference here is that the Selloum will start out looking like a shrub with separate stems. But as it gets bigger, it will grow more like a mini tree indoors.
Outdoors, it has the ability to grow much like a tree if you do not trim it to limit its size.
If you have both the philodendron selloum and Xanadu in pots and put them side by side, you’ll likewise notice that the Xanadu tends to grow more sideways with its stems extending outwards.
Meanwhile, the philodendron selloum will stay somewhat closer to the center and grow more upwards.
Similarly, while both plants are fast growers, many will consider the philodendron xanadu more of a medium to fast grower while the selloum has a faster growth rate.
The philodendron xanadu are selloum are both flowering plants. But they are not known for their blooms.
In part, it is because their flowers do not bloom when the plant is grown indoors.
They have a better chance (but still quite low) of flowering when grown outdoors. The best chance of seeing their flowers is when both philodendrons are kept in their native tropical rainforest habitats.
So, in that sense the two plants are similar.
But when they do produce flowers, the blooms of the philodendron xanadu and selloum are different as well.
The flowers of the philodendron selloum come in the form of a spadix. These blooms are white in color.
Thus, what you get are small spadix with no petals growing inside spathes.
Similarly, the flowers of the philodendron xanadu also come in the form of spadix. These are usually 3 to 6 inches long with a darker spathe.
The flowers themselves have a cream and tan color combined with some light burgundy and white. This makes it a bit showier than those of the philodendron selloum.
That said, neither of the two plants have impressive inflorescence.
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Another slight difference between the two plants is the soil mix they grow in.
The philodendron selloum thrives in rich soil that is slightly alkaline. It also likes soil that retains a bit of moisture. Although, good drainage is still important.
That’s because the plant, like other philodendrons is still susceptible to overwatering.
The philodendron xanadu also requires well-draining soil.
But for this plant good drainage is essential.
You can use a combination of potting soil with peat and perlite to achieve this.
Similarities Between Philodendron Selloum and Xanadu
Leaf Color and Deep Cuts
The most obvious similarity between the philodendron xanadu vs selloum are their leaves.
They have similar green colors and very deep cuts making the edges of the leaves look like fingers.
These two features are what make the two plants look very much alike especially if you don’t take a few minutes to closely observe the slight differences.
And because both plants have large leaves with fingers, it is easy to confuse the two plants.
Another similar trait that the philodendron selloum and Xanadu have is that they thrive in locations with plenty of light.
However, you do want to watch the brightness and intensity of the light.
That’s because as much they as they’ll grow faster in well-let areas, they have a limit on how strong a light they can withstand.
Both plants enjoy and grow best in bright, indirect light indoors. You can give them filtered or dappled light as well.
Outdoors, they prefer partial shade.
In both cases, these lighting conditions provide the plants with lots of light. But they do not put the plants under direct sunlight.
That’s because more than 2 to 3 hours of strong, intense, direct sunlight can eventually burn their leaves.
It is worth noting that of the two plants, the Philodendron Xanadu prefers more light than the Selloum.
In fact, the philodendron selloum can tolerate deeper shaded areas that have only 2 hours or so of indirect sunlight.
In addition to avoiding too much intense light, it is also important to avoid locations that have little light.
When there is lack of light, both he philodendron xanadu and selloum will grow towards the light.
They do so to try to get as much illumination as they can.
Unfortunately, when this happens, the plants become leggy, which is an ugly look for them. It is also unhealthy.
Furthermore, the plant will become imbalanced at it will bend or reach towards the side where the light is coming from.
To prevent this, rotate the plants every few weeks so all sides grow evenly.
The philodendron selloum and philodendron xanadu are both tropical plants. As such, they enjoy warm weather typically between 65 to 85 degrees Fahrenheit.
And they are hardy in USDA Hardiness Zones 9b to 11a.
This means that they are better off as houseplants in the colder regions.
Therefore, if you live under USDA Zone 9b or somewhere there is frost or freezing conditions during winter, make sure to bring both plant indoors and keep them somewhere warm.
The cannot tolerate the cold and are not frost hardy.
Similarly, they like humidity.
Ideally try to keep then where humidity stays between 50% and 70%. This is where they will grow their best.
That’s because they are native to tropical rainforests, where the air has a lot of moisture.
Unfortunately, this is not the same conditions you’ll find in most homes.
That said, both the philodendron selloum and Xanadu have fairly good tolerance to average humidity.
Therefore, as long as humidity stays at 40% and above (sometimes a bit lower will do), the plants will grow happily.
You do want to avoid very low humidity or dry air.
This can cause the leaves to get dry and turn brown.
Despite their size, exotic looks and uniqueness, these two plants are actually easy to care for. They are tough and resilient. Plus, they adapt very well to home conditions.
The one big weakness that both plants have is too much water.
So, overwatering is the one thing you want to avoid at all costs.
While both plants need water, giving them too much too often will cause their roots to drown or sit in excess moisture.
This is when they become susceptible to root rot.
Thus, it is best to ensure 3 things.
- Allow the soil to dry between waterings. This means do not water too often or more than what the plant needs.
- Make sure that the soil mix you use has good drainage.
- Choose pots with sufficient drainage, i.e. drainage holes at the bottom.
Often, it is the watering too frequently that causes moisture issues.
As such, always wait until the soil is dry at least the top 2-3 inches before adding more water.
The last thing worth mentioning is that both plants are toxic.
This is very important to keep in mind especially if you have young children, dogs or cats that run around the house or your backyard.
If they accidentally ingest any part of the plant, it can cause mouth and oral cavity irritation, breathing problems, nausea, vomiting and many other side effects.
Make sure to immediately call your pediatrician or vet in case your child or pets consume the leaves or other parts of either plant.
Like other philodendron plants, the xanadu and selloum both contain calcium oxalates which are released when the leaves or stems are ingested.
This is what makes the plants dangerous to eat, chew or swallow.