How To Propagate A Xanadu Plant (Step by Step Guide)

philodendron Xanadu plant

Propagating Xanadu plants is a cinch when you know how! They are commonly known as Philodendron Xanadu or Winterbourn plants, and are natives of the tropics.

To propagate them successfully, it’s not surprising that we need to replicate their natural growing conditions. Before you start dreaming of your own indoor jungle, however, do you know how to propagate a Xanadu plant successfully?

There are two simple ways to propagate Xanadu plants – by using a root cutting or a stem cutting. Simply follow the simple steps I’ve listed below, and you should be able to increase your plant family.

If you have taken root cuttings before, you may decide to try the stem method. Conversely, if you have taken stem cuttings, root division can be an interesting new experience! I advise you to read through both lists to prepare yourself before taking your cuttings.

Pre-surgery preparation!

Both root separation and stem cuttings require some surgery! Make sure you have the following items to hand.

For water propagating a stem cutting, you’ll need:

  • Scissors
  • A sharp knife
  • Newspaper or a bag to collect debris
  • Water
  • A clean glass container such as a jam jar

For soil propagating a stem cutting, you’ll need:

  • Scissors
  • A sharp knife
  • Newspaper or a bag to collect debris
  • Water
  • A freshly cleaned container with ample space for growth
  • Stones or gravel
  • Compost or soil

For a root cutting, you’ll need:

  • Scissors
  • A sharp knife
  • Newspaper or a bag to collect debris
  • Water
  • A freshly cleaned container with ample space for growth.
  • Stones or gravel
  • Compost or soil
  • Dechlorinated water

Useful tip:

Pre-washed jam jars or spice jars are perfect for water propagating.

How do I dechlorinate water?

Either collect rainwater or simply use tap water and leave it overnight in an uncovered container. However, do be mindful of leaving large, uncovered water containers where unsteady toddlers or pets can wander.

Outdoors, avoid placing containers under trees where bird poop or falling leaves may contaminate the water.

By dechlorinating, you’re simply keeping your Xanadu safe from any nasty additives in the water that arrives out of your faucets.

While it’s considered safe to water plants straight from the faucet most of the time, it’s best to help propagate the Xanadu with as fresh H2O as you can.

Ok, let’s get going!

How to propagate philodendron Xanadu by the root

Xanadu plant with tools and pots ready to be propagated

Here are some easy steps for dividing your Xanadu plant by root separation. Although a little more preparation is involved, this can save time preparing pots later.

If you have previously divided plants by the roots, you will know it requires delicate handling. Rough handling can be the end of otherwise potentially strong cuttings.

Here are a few ‘don’ts’ you’ll want to keep in mind:

  1. Don’t tap the side of your pot or shake it to loosen the soil.
  2. Don’t pull out your plant from its container by wrapping fingers or hands around the base of the plant and pulling!
  3. Don’t poke around the base of the plant with hard, sharp objects.
  4. Don’t take a guess and stab at the base of the plant with a trowel to lift out the plant with stabbing or slicing movements.

And here are some ‘dos’!

  1. Do allow the surface of your existing container holding your Xanadu to dry out for a couple of days. You’ll want the surface and at least a couple of inches of soil to be powdery.
  2. Do use your fingers or a small indoor gardening tool (or even a tablespoon) to gently remove some soil or compost near the pot’s rim. Do not attempt to remove the soil or growth medium near the center of the plant yet.
  3. Turn the pot if it’s small enough. Alternatively, walk around the pot for larger specimens.
  4. Take your time. Keep a lookout for any roots becoming exposed. If your Xanadu was becoming pot bound, you might come across aerial roots above the compost surface or cramped roots just beneath. Aerial roots are delicate, and we want to avoid snapping them.

Depending on the size of the plant and the size of pot you are working with, you aim to extract a manageable plant. Small pots may be rolled on their side and turned slowly to gently free up some roots and material inside the pot. Please remember to do this slowly to lessen the stress on your plant.

If your precious plant is still resisting your efforts, you can use a couple of alternative techniques.

  • First, if you manage to place the pot safely on its side, you can use the end of a pen or paintbrush through the drainage holes to gently loosen more medium from the bottom.
  • If your plant is still firm in staying put, it’s time to get a knife! Yes, this sounds extreme, but it can be a smooth operation. Simply place the blade between the inner edge of the pot and glide it around until the plant is free.

If you’re starting to wonder whether your plant is actively working against you to stay in the pot – it’s time for extreme measures!

  • Wedge several lollipop sticks between the inner edge of smaller pots and the growth medium. Slide them sideways and then replace two on opposing sides with knives and lift!
  • If you have a large pair of slim-blade BBQ tongs, you can extract trapped plants slowly using a slight, squeezing movement.
  • Alternatively, you can use salad servers or kitchen forks to gently tease impacted soil and roots away from the edges of a container. To be effective, you will need to work around the whole plant.

Useful tip:

Some large Xanadu plants can reach four to five feet – and four feet in diameter. If you need to lift a bigger specimen, ask someone to help. By taking some weight and supporting the integrity of the stems and root system, you will do less damage.

Before you start, make sure to prepare the new pots. It’s best to do this before taking your cuttings to avoid leaving them out in the air too long, which can stress them out.

Prepare your new pots with stones or gravel at the bottom. You should then have covered the stones or gravel with at least two inches of soil or compost. You will also need a container of more soil or compost, ready to pack in around the cuttings.

Steps for root division – the operation

  1. Tap away or rinse off residue soil and compost, and allow residue to fall onto newspaper or old bags.
  2. Check for damaged or rotting roots. Make clean cuts to separate them if necessary.
  3. Select the stems you wish to retain from above the roots as part of the parent plant. Normally, the central part of the plant is the strongest, and it’s usually best to keep this part intact as the parent plant.
  4. Once you’ve taken the cutting you want to propagate, make sure you repot the parent plant as quickly as possible.
  5. Select root sections that join identifiable sections of the parent plant. Working from the outside in, take the smaller ones first. Some may be easy to nudge away from larger attachments, and others may require some invasive surgery. It’s important to save as many healthy roots as possible. Don’t worry if you have to sacrifice some low-set leaves as long as you are careful to leave a few.
  6. Place your new cuttings either in water or in your pre-dressed pots while you work. Then, you can plant up the cuttings one by one.
  7. To ensure they are viable, you may want to leave one or two rooted cuttings in water for up to two days. Do not place them in direct sunlight, and remember to dechlorinate more water for future use.

How to propagate a Xanadu plant by the stem

hand touching the leaf of a Xanadu plant

Prefer to propagate your Xanadu via the stem? No worries – the operation is a little bit different to taking up roots, but still highly effective in helping your plants go further.

Taking cuttings directly from the stem takes a steady hand and a practiced eye. But once you’ve got the hang of water propagation, it’s incredibly easy. The hardest part is not going crazy and growing your own jungle!

Useful tip:

If you happen to discover a suddenly snapped stem, don’t write it off! Neaten off the snapped stem with a clean-cut and pop the stem in a clear glass in some fresh dechlorinated water on a well-lit windowsill or outdoors in a shady spot. Fingers crossed, your rescue attempt will be rewarded with some new roots and a baby plant!

Steps for stem propagation – the operation

  1. Take a good look at the stems of your plant. We aim to surgically remove stems for propagation without destroying the visually pleasing appearance of the parent plant.
  2. Ideally, make the cut above a node on the stem. Doing this means there will be a natural distance between leaves and roots.
  3. Remove any sickly-looking or damaged leaves. Even bare stem cuttings can    root.
  4. Ensure the stems are intact and healthy. Rinse off any debris, then place them directly in the prepared water jars.

Useful tip:

You can gather your glass rooting containers together in an empty window box for cuttings to root in a group. Keeping them grouped means they are easy to maneuver and top up with water. They do benefit from daylight passing through the water at some point. Remember not to ‘cook’ them by placing them by direct sunlight or a radiator!

Don’t be anxious if any leaves wilt or even fall off. Recovery and rooting takes time – be patient and keep the water fresh and contaminate-free. Your cutting may still pull through! The stems might die if they dry out or the water becomes contaminated.

There’s an alternative way to root stems, of course! You can try sinking them directly into a growth medium, if you feel the water method isn’t taking.

  1. Moistened soil in a warm, humid atmosphere may prompt root growth. Check these stems once or ideally twice per week.
  2. Keep them out of direct sun, but in a well-lit area.
  3. Don’t forget to water them, and adding a little dash of nitrogen liquid fertilizer may spur them on.

It can be hard, but do be patient! Stem cuttings can take several days to stabilize and even longer to recover from the shock!

Aftercare of your propagated Xanadu – things to look out for

Philodendrons are – thankfully for many of us houseplant lovers – fairly easy to look after, and won’t require much intensive care. Ideal in the shade or semi-shaded indoor spaces, they can grow quite large – so, be sure to make plenty of space for your new growths if you’re getting into the propagation game.

Mature Xanadu plants do flower, but only usually when living outdoors. Even so, it can take over a decade before they flower at all – so don’t be surprised if your Xanadu remains ‘barren’ for time to come – you’re honestly doing your best.

Ideally, feed your Xanadu plants once a month off-season and fortnightly during their growing season from late spring to the end of summer/early autumn.

If you plan your propagation carefully, you can have a number of plants ready to give as gifts for birthdays or other events. These plants are popular for spacious houses.

They are architecturally interesting and great for humid bathrooms, too – so don’t be afraid to give your washroom or shower area a little bit more of a green touch.

Xanadu plants are also revered nowadays as great plants to purify the air! The more we propagate, the more we can improve our environment – and if you’re particularly sensitive to certain allergens, they may even help to clean your breathing space.

There’s a lot to love about Xanadu plants – there are few greens you can add to your home that are even half as dramatic! They make for fantastic centerpieces and focal points, and with a little care and attention, they are really easy to propagate. Give the guide above a go and see how many you can split off!