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Philodendron Selloum – How to Re-pot

Question:

This plant came from my Grandmother’s funeral over 25 years ago. My Mother has had it all this time, but due to her health has had to hand it down to me. While I have a numerous amount of houseplants, I don’t know exactly what this is – Mom just calls it a Philodendron, and I have not been able to definitively identify it. I believe it needs to be transplanted, but it had all these air roots, and I don’t want to damage the plant. I would be heartbroken if I lost it. The leaves range in size, but are usually around 8in long and about the same in width. I think the dirt that my Mom has it in is just that – dirt. I may be giving it too much light, as well. PLEASE help me!

Answer:

Thanks for the photo. Your plant is a Philodendron selloum. It typically has one main stem out of which leaf stems grow. The main stem also produces many aerial roots. In nature, these roots attach to nearby damp soil and wet tree bark for support and to help absorb water on the surface. These roots don’t normally grow underground. When potted, these aerial roots serve no horticultural purpose. Most people cut them off because they otherwise wander out of the pot and look rather messy. The working rots are in the soil and out of sight.

Older plants should not be transplanted or repotted. It appears that yours has suffered only from inadequate watering and perhaps not enough light. In the photo, the location appears to provide plenty of light. I suggest that you water it thoroughly as soon as the top inch of soil feels dry. You may need to use a fork to loosen the top inch of soil if it has gotten hard from lack of water. Loosening the soil will allow the water to better penetrate into the root zone where the water is needed.

I am sure that under your good care you will soon see improvement in your Selloum’s condition.