Philodendron selloum blooms!

  Tall Philodendron selloum plant
My Philodendron selloum plants, which like the Monstera deliciosa are commonly known as split-leaf philodendrons, are nine or ten feet tall, with leaves about two feet long. We planted them out in a shady area as small inexpensive houseplants from Target in 1994. They're never really frozen back, though we live in zone 9a, perhaps because of the protective wooden fence at the north and west sides, and our house to the east. When they were small, we tossed blankets over them when a hard freeze was predicted, but that has obviously been impossible for many years now. If we ever get a freeze again, the plants will be damaged, but should grow back from their roots.

The leaves are big. It doesn't look much like the same houseplant grown genteely indoors in small pots up north. Note how the leaf in the picture at the bottom of this entry dwarfs the 12 inch ruler placed on top of it. Quarter-inch-thick roots run down from all levels of the plants trunk to reach the ground and give additional support. The sap is said to give a poison-ivy-like rash to sensitive individuals, but fortunately my poison-ivy-sensitive husband has had no problems in pruning.

blooming Philodendron selloum The big surprise came just a few days ago. We'd never noticed blooms on this plant before. (Only the larger one is blooming.) The spadix was over six inches long. The next morning it retreated back again into its spathe, the surrounding sheath, but then a new bloom came forth next to it.

The flowers of the Philodendron selloum are reported in the scientific literature to be thermogenic, which means heat-producing. In Brazil, the spadix may maintain temperatures around 38°C (100°F) in ambient air temperatures as low as 4°C (39°F). When I touched one of our flowers, though, it was not significantly warmer than our ambient temperature of about 75°F. There was no noticeable perfume from the flower.

This is such an impressive plant. Each leaf stem is about two inches in diameter. The blooms are five feet off the ground. I am always surprised to see what a small and demure houseplant the Philodendron selloum can be. Grown outdoors in a warm climate, it certainly is not.

leaf of Philodendron selloum

Posted: Sat - May 6, 2006 at 08:16 AM