You’re happy to have a split-leaf philodendron, but you’re worried about the leaves that are starting to turn brown.
Split-leaf philodendrons are fast-growing, easy-to-care-for houseplants that are often mistaken for Monstera deliciosa but are just as lovely.
When cared for properly, they grow bright, tiny flutes of new leaves every few weeks.
When those beautiful leaves turn yellow, it can be scary for plant parents, especially if they don’t know why.
Don’t worry if this sounds like you and your favourite city, Philadelphia!
For a start, see how to take care of a split-leaf philodendron. If you know the basics, this article will help you figure out why the leaves on your philodendron are turning yellow and what you can do to make the plant healthy again.
You’ll also learn a few tips and tricks for taking care of this jungle dweller so it doesn’t get any more discoloured.
Split-leaf philodendron: yellow leaves
There are a lot of different things that can cause non-deciduous plants to lose their leaves.
So, before you decide what to do about the yellowing of the leaves on your split-leaf philodendron, you should do some research to find out why the leaves are turning yellow.
Some yellow leaves on a philodendron are a normal part of the plant’s life cycle, but you should stay away from other yellow leaves.
Yellowing leaves could be caused by normal shedding and regrowth, too much or too little water, poor environmental conditions, insect infestation, root rot, or a lack of food. Here’s what you need to know about each one:
1. Normal shedding and regrowth
Like other plants, the split-leaf philodendron has to lose some leaves before it can grow new ones. A plant can only spend so much energy growing, and keeping old, damaged leaves around takes energy away from making new leaves.
Take a deep and long breath! Let your valuable split-leaf philodendron go through the natural process of losing its leaves. “If it’s still green, it’s still alive,” said one of our experts.
After the old leaves fall off, your plant will keep growing healthy new leaves. After the dead leaves fall off, it might grow even faster!
2. Over- or underwatering
Fellip Gallegos, a plant lover and employee at Christy, planted two.
Some plants can handle being overwatered or underwatered, but split-leaf philodendrons need to be watered in a very specific way. If you water your philly too much, the leaves might turn yellow.
If nothing is done, yellow leaves may get brown spots and get soft and limp (think old bananas). If you overwater your split-leaf philodendron, the roots may rot, and the leaves turning yellow will be the least of your problems.
But a philodendron that doesn’t get enough water might also turn yellow. If the plant doesn’t get enough water, its leaves may turn yellow, then brown, and then fall off.
So, how can you tell the difference between a philodendron that has too much water and one that has too little?
It is very easy to tell if your philodendron has had too much or too little water.
Underwatered Split-Leaf Philodendron
The plant’s leaves are hard, and the soil is dry.
- Give your plant a lot of water. The best way to do this is to water it from the drainage tray or put it in your kitchen sink, which should be 2 inches deep with water.
- Let any extra water drain away.
Overwatered Split-Leaf Philodendron
Your plant’s leaves are yellow (caused by mild overwatering), brown, and mushy (caused by severe overwatering), and the soil is full of water.
- For mild to moderate overwatering, you can just leave your plant alone and let the extra rainwater drain out of the soil.
- If your split-leaf philodendron has been watered too much, put it in a new pot with new soil. Before you move your philodendron, look for rotting roots and cut off any that you find.
- Only water the soil when it’s dry to a depth of 2 inches.
3. Low humidity
Philodendrons like a lot of moisture in the air, which is usually between 60 and 70%. If the yellow leaves on your split-leaf philodendron are dry, it could be because of how humid your home is.
If you think that low humidity is hurting your plant, give your split-leaf philodendron’s leaves a little water once or twice a day.
If the leaves perk up because of the extra moisture, buy a room humidifier to add more moisture to the air and cut down on how often you have to mist.
4. Too much or too little light
Don’t forget that your favourite plants need light to grow. Outside, split-leaf philodendrons like indirect light and a little bit of shade.
Yellowing leaves could mean that your Philadelphia isn’t getting enough food, which means it isn’t getting enough light.
When the tips of the leaves die and get crispy, this is another sign that your plant is not getting enough light.
The plant clinic on Reddit says that too much watering can cause yellow spots, but too much direct sunlight can cause brown spots.
On the other hand, too much light may be bad for you. If the leaves on your Philadelphia tree are turning yellow and developing burn spots, it is getting too much sun.
If the tips of your philodendron’s leaves are crispy and the leaves are yellow, it needs more bright light.
Move it nearer to a window, but not so close that it gets direct sunlight all day long. If it has spots where the sun has burned it, move it away from the window or put up a sheer curtain to protect it.
You can also use an indoor grow lamp to change how much light your philodendron gets if your room doesn’t get enough natural light or if the light changes a lot during the year. Try putting your pots in different places to see where your lettuce grows best.
If you think your plant has bugs, look for yellowing around the edges of the sick leaves and spots where the bugs may have eaten. Spider mites make webs that are almost impossible to see, but you might be able to see them if you wet them briefly.
Pests can hurt your plant in many ways that aren’t always obvious. Because of this, different pests need different solutions.
Spraying your plant with a weak solution of white vinegar and water is a good way to keep insects away and get rid of small problems without using chemicals.
Pests can be kept away from plants by mixing a teaspoon of neem oil with a gallon of water and pouring it into the soil around the plant.
6. Root rot
Pythium root rot can happen in split-leaf philodendrons if they are overwatered too much or for too long. If you don’t treat this fungus, it could stop your plant from growing, make its leaves droop, and even kill it.
If your philodendron is dying from root rot, the leaves will turn yellow and then brown, but they won’t fall off like they do when the plant sheds its leaves for the season.
Dig some dirt away from your plant’s roots to make sure it’s suffering from root rot. You have root rot if the roots are brown or black, soft, or “peely” and sensitive.
Root rot can be fixed if you find it early enough. Your philodendron might be saved if you dig it up and throw away the dirt. Run clean water over the roots and cut off any that are brown, dark, or soft. To keep your plant from getting worse, repot it in new soil that drains well.
7. Poor soil nutrition
Chlorosis, which makes leaves turn yellow, could be to blame for the yellowing of Philodendron leaves. The lack of nutrients in the soil is what causes this disease. Chlorosis makes the veins of your philodendron’s leaves look like v-shaped yellow lines.
To add more magnesium to your soil, mix a teaspoon of Epsom salts (magnesium sulphate) into a gallon of water. Don’t take too much of this vitamin. Don’t water too much; just enough to keep the soil moist.
If the yellowing keeps going on, the soil might not have enough iron. A store-bought fertilizer like Ironite can be used to make up for the lack of iron in the soil.
Caring for your split-leaf philodendron
When it comes to caring for houseplants, it’s always better to prevent problems than to fix them.
Most of the problems discussed in this article can be avoided with enough care. If you stay on top of whatever is making the leaves on your plant turn yellow, you can stop it from happening again.
Like other houseplants, your split-leaf philodendron will be happiest and healthiest if you give it conditions that are most like those in its native home.
Plants that grow in tropical climates, like phillies, like it when it is warm. Here are some tips on how to take care of your split-leaf philodendron so it does well:
In general, a peaty, soil-based potting mix is best for split-leaf philodendrons. We talked to a plant expert who suggested that you make your own philodendron potting mix.
Give them a trellis or post to climb on because, without support or trimming, their long leaves tend to fall over or grow sideways. To keep them from getting rootbound, which they hate, they need to be replanted every year or so.
If you want to keep your plant in its original pot but can’t bring yourself to cut it back, take cuttings of the philodendron and grow them in vases.
You know that it can be hard to figure out how much water split-leaf philodendrons need. Overwatering is a bad idea because it can cause waterlogging and damage to the roots.
On the other hand, if you don’t give your plant enough water, it might grow more slowly than usual or even wilt and die. Use the right watering plan to keep your philodendron from getting too much or too little water.
When you water your plant, use the right-sized watering can and make sure the soil is completely wet.
You can water your philly either from the bottom until the top of the soil is moist or from the top until water runs out of the drainage holes in the bottom (by pouring water into your pot tray or laying your plant in a sink with the outer pot removed to water). Between waterings, let the soil dry out a bit, but not all the way.
Instead of estimating how much and how often to water your split-leaf philodendron, make it a habit to water it regularly once you know how much and how often to do so.
Remember to water less in the fall and winter, when there is less light and plants grow more slowly.
Bright indirect light
Philodendrons with split leaves do best in bright, but not direct, sunlight. Try putting your plant in front of a large window with a sheer curtain or just outside a window’s sunbeam.
If there isn’t enough sunlight, new leaves might grow without their holes, and too much direct sunlight could cause a sunburn. Make changes as needed from one season to the next.
Don’t put fertilizer on a plant that looks sick. If the leaves on your philodendron are still yellow, don’t feed it yet. Once you’ve fixed the problem and your plant is once again doing well, start or keep fertilizing it regularly from spring to fall.