Philodendron Xanadu Upkeep

Philodendron Xanadu are quite an attractive plant when you see them in their pots. When you put them in the ground and let them grow, they start to look and act quite a bit different. It’s then that we have to maintain them to look as attractive as they did in the pot.

Philodendron Xanadu are a Philodendron, which is a genus of plants that can’t really support themselves, so they have roots to do that for them. Some are climbers while the Xanadu is more like Philodendron selloum; a shrub with a soft trunk that sends off long distance aerial roots to maintain that support.


When in full sun by themselves they tend to for a dense series of trunks and will grow up to 1m x 1m. This is probably the best situation for them; planted by themselves. Maintenance then only involves once in a while cleaning out the dead leaves stuck between the trunks and the roots.

If they are under other shrubs they will tend to bend toward the light. Their stems

will also extend out longer distances, and so will their roots. The stems will often over grow the garden edge or start to compete with neighbouring plants and affect their growth. Also leaves from the Xanadus and surrounding plants will get trapped in the network of branches and roots, and if visible can be very unsightly.


I have seen them used once as a lush garden edge, but when they grew larger, the leaves tended to grow over the grass edge, making it hard to maintain with the whipper snipper. The trick here is to plant them no closer than 0.7m to the edge.

Recently a client looking at this situation wanted to get rid of them completely for this reason. We decided first to clean them up, and see what the result would be. First was to get rid of any stems or trunks that we didn’t want. Next was the network of roots. Xanadus and Philodendron selloum have an exaggerated amount of roots. The trick is to cut out as many roots as possible to leave it still supporting itself. The cut should be done flush against the stem and then chase the root to where it enters the ground and cut it off flush there.


If you leave roots cut in a slovenly manner, then you are still leaving a network of plant material for leaves to get trapped in.

Last trick is to pick out all the dead Xanadu leaves. The reason is they look unsightly and don’t decompose quickly, whereas other smaller leaves can easily disappear unnoticed with the mulch.

Once we have completed these steps you will notice a really nice looking garden again. While the ground space is clear, you should also take advantage of the situation and mulch the area before they fill the gaps again.

A handy tip for the stems that we cut off. Make sure you cut them off with at least a piece of root still attached. That way you can replant them in the garden or in a pot. Be sure to water them as well.

26 thoughts on “Philodendron Xanadu Upkeep

  • Great advice, helped me to position and maintain my Xanadus correctly. Bits & pieces with roots that I had to remove while planting went back into the propagation area, as I’d like to have more of this great landscaping plant.

    We also have a monstrous 15 year old “Philodendron whatever” at the beginning of the staircase to our verandah, which I intutively maintained the right way in the past. We were close to chopping it down, as my wife didn’t like the look, but then I went into it, pruned it a bit to shape and tidied it up. Now we both love our 2 metre high garden veteran.

    Thank for the hints, just keep them coming !

  • We have a Zanadu which has spread and I want to cut out a couple of branches. Can I cut a reasonable length and replant or does it need to have a root on the end of the branch. Thanks.

  • I have just been given some of these plants, and have put them in pots. Altho watering them each day, the existing leaves are browning . Should I cut these all back for new re growth, and how low?

    • Your pots are very dry Dunk them in a bucket of water and keep the water up to them afterwards otherwise the same thing will happen again

  • In a commercial setting I have a bed if xanadu, breath is not an issue but height is, they are in a low light area in front of a large window with lettering that my client would like to remain visible but the xanadu is beginning to grow to tall. How do I prune or cut them back without it looking like I have craters. I have been told by one nurseryman that removing the offenders is about my only option but this is the entry way and was hoping to avoid large open spots. Thanks for any suggestions

    • Basically every now and then you have to cut something that will leave an area open for a little while. Either cut it and wait for it to grow back or cut of the offender, clean it up leave roots on it only about 5cm and then replant it on the same spot but a lower height and look after it for a few weeks

  • I am the onsite manager of a townhouse comlex. There are 46 townhouses. ‘Xanadus’ has been planted in all courtyards, in front of the airconditioning units! Their roots sysrem are growing through the air conditioner causing issues. I would like to have them removed completely. The courtyards are the responsibility of the tenant so the zanadus will not be maintained properly, plus it is a major job.

  • Hi Paul.

    I have large areas of Xanadus growing. One area in particular has very yellow leaves. Are they lacking in any particular nutrient? Maybe a hard prune will help!


    • water is always a good thing. My bet is that they are up against a building under protected under some eaves.

    • It’s a while since the post I didn’t see your post. I think I can see that people are getting confused about the idea of a Xanadu. It is a small species of Philodendron. If it has small leaves for a Xanadu then they must be miniscule for a Philodendron. If you want big leaves just buy a normal Philodendron. Philodendron selloum

  • Hi i love this Philodendron Xanadu plant in my backyard but now its getting leggy can you please suggested how to trip it and looks bushy not tall and ugly.

  • I’m after a “dwarf” Xanadu which is much more manageable than the large one. Is this correct, or is there only one variety?

      • Hi Paul,
        Do Xanadu roots seek out water?
        We have a garden bed 7.5mL x 1mW which contain 11 Xanadu’s and we’ve noticed the soft roots running along the edge of the concrete pool.
        Can the roots cause any damage to the pool?
        Thanks for any advice.

  • Last year I planted a potted plant my mother in law didn’t want. This year, its popping up giant leaves and long stems and, it turns out to be a philodendron xandus! It has three leaves and a large system of roots. At least a foot tall soft stem. How do I take a piece off to put in a pot to bring indoors? Thank you for any help you can give!!

    • Large leaves are not a Xanadu. Xanadu is a dwarf form of Philodendron. If you want to get another plant make sure you cut the tip with some roots attached and place it in the ground. The lower part will then sen out some lateral branches

  • Hi Paul, my Aunty is moving and has given 6 very mature Xanadu. We want to transplant them with success to our garden. There is lots of roots and we are not entirely share we should cut them. Can you provide advice for transplanting with care?

  • Could u please tell me if I’ve cut back my xanadus and I’m going to replant my of cuts how long can they be out of soil. Should k put the in a bucket of water ?

  • Hi Paul,
    so I have 2 Xanadu’s under my Dwarf Magnolia and they are doing pretty well. I would like them to either spread or propogate but I’m not sure exactly how to do this. Cutting the center Tip is one thing I’ve read here, and cutting a leaf with some root on it is another. I understand about cutting the center out, but I do not see any way to cut a leaf and leave root attached. Mine all shoot out from a central area, no root anywhere near. And is it OK to remove the trailing shoots they put out?

    Thanks in Advance

  • Hi Paul. I have well established Xanadu and they have grown quite tall and spread across the foot path. I haven’t always been successful in pruning the woody trunks. Most times they just stop at that point and eventually rot back from the cut. Any pointers / tips to pruning?

  • Hi Paul, We have a garden bed which is between our driveway and walkway about 1200mm wide. We put a number of the Xanadus in this garden bed as they are low maintenance in a 4 x 2 pattern. The issue is that they are now getting too big. I see in your article it suggests planting 700mm away from the edge (a bit too late for me now).

    I guess my only choice now (without pulling them out) is to prune them as they go over the walkway and driveway. Im curious to know if I prunet it back below the leaves. Does it regrow back into a leaf (i.e. from the stem). Also am I correct in just pruning back.

  • I have an indoor Zanadu the type you don’t need to water for a month and prefers to be out of sunlight. It has dark marks on the stems not on the leaves. It’s quite a unique and very attractive plant. How do I take care of these black marks.

  • On one of my outdoor Xanadu plants all the leaves have dropped off one ‘branch’ and I’m left with just a stub. Should I cut it off or will leaves grow back?

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