The spade-leaf Philodendron is relatively rare in Europe. But especially in the USA, it enjoys great popularity among philodendron lovers. That is not the least due to the easy care and the impressive leaves.
Origin of Philodendron domesticum
Philodendron domesticum, like many other Philodendron species, originates from the South American rainforests. There it grows in the shelter of large trees.
However, it has also been sighted in Singapore, Togo and the Cook Islands.
In our country this Philodendron is also known as spade-leaf Philodendron and burgundy Philodendron.
It belongs to the Arum family (Araceae).
Appearance and distinguishing features
The most striking feature on this Philodendron is the leaves. They can grow up to 24 inches long and 10 inches wide. They resemble elongated hearts.
Their shape also gives them the name spade-leaf Philodendron.
The leaves themselves are a rich green with a slight sheen. Young leaves are light green and shine more intensely.
If you want more texture and pattern to the leaves, you can go for the variegata variety. Here the leaves have yellowish to creamy white patterns and areas.
Philodendron domesticum, like many other Philodendron species, is a climber. Therefore it forms strong shoots. If you do not provide climbing help, they hang and form a creeping growth.
The shoots and petioles are darker and contrast with the leaves. That is how it got the name Burgundy Philodendron.
In nature, the Philodendron can grow up to 10 feet high. In the apartment, it usually remains smaller. The limit here is 7.2 feet to 8.2 feet.
Like many philodendrons, Philodendron domesticum forms a flower consisting of a bracts and a white bulb.
The involucre resembles the shape of an 8. It is green on the outside. Inside it is cream-colored towards the tip. Towards the cob it is reddish in color.
Especially with indoor philodendrons a flower is a real rarity. Often it takes more than 20 years until flowers are formed.
Here you can find a picture of the flower.
After successful fertilization a berry is formed. After ripening it falls to the ground where new philodendrons germinate from the seeds.
Other forms and variations
- Philodendron domesticum Variegata – yellow to white variegation of the leaves, partly whole leaf half
- Philodendron domesticum „Lemon Lime“ – bright yellow-green leaves
Especially Philodendron domesticum Variegata is considered a real rarity. This is clearly noticeable in the price: already young plants cost up to $644.
All parts of the spade leaf philodendron contain calcium oxalate crystals. These serve as protection against predators.
The needle-shaped crystals cause skin irritation when they come in contact with the skin. If they are consumed, severe salivation, vomiting, diarrhea, and difficulty swallowing may occur.
In addition to the obvious symptoms, gastrointestinal bleeding and kidney damage may occur.
Therefore, the houseplant should be kept out of reach of children and pets.
If parts of the plant have been consumed, I advise seeking medical attention.
If your pet has consumed part of the plant, see a veterinarian.
In both cases, taking a sample of the plant with you may be helpful.
The optimal location of the spade-leaf Philodendron
A good location can not only support growth. It also acts as a preventative for pests and diseases.
The location should have temperatures between 55 °F and 81 °F all year round. Temperatures above 81 °F can cause stress, but are tolerated.
Worse, however, are temperatures that are too low. Already from 50 °F the houseplant grows slower. Drafts are also a problem. Therefore, you should make sure that you keep enough distance to doors and air conditioners.
Bright, indirect sunlight is ideal for rapid growth. However, the exotic plant also copes well with partial shade. Direct sunlight can cause burns on the leaves. Therefore, south and west windows are particularly suitable.
Due to its natural habitat, Philodendron domesticum has a preference for increased humidity. For vigorous growth, I therefore recommend a humidity of 60% +. However, this is difficult to achieve in the apartment and can promote mold.
Therefore, 40% + is sufficient in the apartment. The easiest way to achieve this is to use a humidifier.
If the humidity falls below 40% for a longer period of time, brown leaf tips and leaf edges can be the result.
Because of the humidity, the Philodendron is suitable for rooms such as the kitchen and a bright bathroom.
If you wish, you can put the Philodendron outside during the summer months. For this, the temperature should be constantly above 59 °F.
Choose a sheltered location in partial shade to accustom the leaves to sunlight. After that you can place it in a brighter place.
If the temperature drops below 59 °F at night, it is time to bring the exotic back indoors or into the conservatory.
Overwintering Philodendron domesticum
As a tropical plant, Philodendron domesticum is not frost hardy. First damage occurs already at temperatures around 41 °F.
During overwintering in a bright and warm place, fertilizing should be stopped. Watering is also reduced.
During this time it is important to keep an eye on the humidity. If it is too low or the houseplant is too close to a radiator, the leaf tips and edges may turn brown.
Watering the Burgundy Philodendron
As with many other philodendron species, “less is more” applies to the spade leaf philodendron.
If wetness accumulates at the roots, they tend to rot quickly. Root rot is the result. In this condition, the plant is difficult to save.
Therefore, I advise to use a pot with drainage holes. Water that collects in the pot after watering should be poured away.
Watering is always done when the substrate has dried on the surface.
In summer, this is often the case after about a week. In winter, however, it can take two to three weeks.
Fertilize a spade leaf philodendron
Since the Burgundy philodendron grows quite quickly, it needs increasing amounts of nutrients. After repotting, it receives these through the substrate. After that, you can support its growth with fertilizer.
Depending on preference, a No products found. or a slow-release fertilizer can be used. At the beginning, liquid fertilizer is administered in half doses. Fertilize about every three to four weeks from spring to fall.
During the winter months, metabolism and growth slow down. Therefore, fertilizer is not applied during this time.
The perfect substrate for the spade leaf philodendron
As a climbing plant, the exotic prefers a loose but rich substrate. This allows air to reach the roots and they have enough space to spread easily.
A large proportion of organic components is advantageous! A slightly acidic pH between 5.0 and 7.5 is optimal.
It is important that the moisture is not bound too long. Otherwise, root rot can quickly occur.
Popular mixtures are:
- Peat & Perlite
- Peat & Sphagnum Moss
- Peat & vermiculite
Often lava granules or sand are mixed in to improve drainage.
For Philodendrons and Monsteras I use the aroid mix recepie.
Repot a burgundy philodendron
Over time, the spade leaf philodendron grows, consuming the nutrients contained in the substrate. Both of these are reasons why the Philodendron needs to be repotted regularly.
As a rule of thumb, repot when Philodendron domesticum doubles in size or has not been repotted in a year. Another good indicator is the roots. As soon as they grow through the drainage holes, repot.
The new pot should be about an inch larger in diameter than the previous pot. A good time to repot is in the spring.
How to repot:
- Take the new pot (about an inch more in diameter than the current pot).
- Fill the pot a little less than halfway with substrate.
- Carefully remove Philodendron domesticum from the current pot.
- Remove loose old substrate and loosen the roots a bit.
- Place the houseplant in the new pot and fill it evenly with substrate (keep the same height as the previous pot).
- Now just water it and you’re done!
If you don’t want your Burgundy philodendron to grow much taller, you can proceed similarly to the instructions above. Instead of a new pot, however, use the previous pot again.
After removing the plant from the pot, remove the old substrate as before. Then shorten the long roots by a maximum of ¼ of their length.
This way Philodendron domesticum will put more energy into growing new roots than into new shoots and leaves. This way you can keep your houseplant from getting bigger for a longer period of time.
Pruning a spade leaf philodendron
Balanced care also includes removing dead and diseased leaves. These can be removed throughout the year.
Spring is best for pruning or topiary. Some Burgundy Philodendron owners prune their plant back to achieve bushy growth.
For the pruning itself, I advise reaching for a clean, sharp blade. This way you’ll prevent bruising and infection of the wound. Since the sap causes skin irritation, you should wear gloves while pruning.
Propagating Philodendron domesticum
The propagation of Philodendron domesticum is comparatively easy. You have the possibility to propagate cuttings in water and substrate.
For both methods you need a cutting with at least one leaf node and several leaves. Remove the lowest leaves, which would otherwise stand in the water or substrate.
Propagation in substrate
After the steps just discussed, it is now time to put the cutting into growing medium. If you wish, you can apply No products found. beforehand to speed up the process.
Moisten the growing medium and place the cutting in a warm place with indirect sunlight. From now on, keep the substrate evenly moist. High humidity is an advantage.
Both can be easily achieved and controlled with the help of a seed tray*. Alternatively, you can also use a transparent film. To avoid mold, ventilate once a day to ensure air exchange.
After three to four weeks, enough roots will have formed to stabilize the cutting.
As soon as new shoots can sprout it is time to repot the young plant. From this point on, the care is no different from the care of the mother plant.
Propagation in water
Instead of soil, this method involves placing the cutting in a glass of lukewarm water.
Then the glass is placed in a warm place with indirect sunlight. Once a week, the water is changed to prevent algae growth.
After two to three weeks the first roots should be visible. As soon as these are about one inch long, the cutting can be placed in substrate.
From now on it will be cared for like the mother plant.
Propagation by mossing
Mossing is a good method of propagation if you want to propagate a part of the plant while it is still on the mother plant.
For this method, you look for a leaf node. From this node the roots will grow. Then you attach moist potting soil or moist sphagnum moss around the leaf node. I prefer a foil.
However, I have also seen people using cups.
The moss or soil must now be kept moist. Mossing off can be a long process. Sometimes roots show up after a few weeks, sometimes it takes months.
Once sufficient roots have formed, the shoot is cut below the roots. Then the young plant is placed in substrate and cared for like the mother plant.
Diseases, pests and care mistakes of Philodendron domesticum
Diseases and pests rarely occur in the burgundy Philodendron. Often, care errors are the cause, should the houseplant not do so well.
Philodendron domesticum has disease only in rare cases. Often they occur only when something is wrong with the care. In any case, you should isolate the plant to prevent it from spreading.
Powdery mildew can occur when Burgundy philodendron is damp and shaded in a room without air circulation.
Infested leaves should be removed. Additionally, try to improve the location. Often this is enough to cause the first improvements.
If mildew persists, I advise you to use a No products found..
Fire blight is a bacterial infection with Erwinia amylovora. It often occurs in summer under warm and humid conditions. In philodendrons, the petioles and base are often affected.
Affected areas first ooze milky, later yellow to brown mucus. It is often recognized by a fishy odor in the home.
Previously, they manifest as yellow to brown soft spots.
In most cases, infection leads to the demise of the Philodendron. However, you can try to save the plant by reducing the water supply and humidity and fertilizing only in moderation. Infested parts of the plant should be removed.
Pseudomonas leaf spot
Pseudomonas leaf spots are also bacteria. Most often the leaves are affected. Black-edged lesions with brown or yellow spots form on them.
To prevent spreading, you should not rinse the Philodendron. Instead, remove affected leaves and also apply a copper-based fungicide.
Xanthomonas leaf spot
Infection with the Xanthomonas bacterium is rare in our area. The bacterium attacks wounds on the leaves. The leaves first turn yellow before they fall off.
For reproduction, the bacterium requires temperatures between 68 °F and 91 °F as well as very high humidity.
Affected plant parts should be removed.
Pests are also rarely seen on the Philodendron. If the plant is infested, it is usually aphids or mealybugs. If you discover an infestation, you should first isolate the plant.
Aphids come in a wide variety of colors. Mostly they are green or almost black. But there are also yellow, red and white species.
They grow up to 2 mm in size and usually appear in groups. The groups prefer to sit on young shoots or under leaves. These turn yellow quite quickly and curl up.
In case of a heavy infestation, the leaves may also drop.
To prevent an infestation, a suitable location with increased humidity helps.
Small infestations can be brought under control by repeated rinsing. For medium to large infestations, home remedies such as neem oil* can be used.
Alternatively, treatment with a No products found. or natural enemies such as No products found. is also possible.
Smear lice / mealybugs
You can recognize mealybugs by their white and woolly hairs. They usually sit in leaf axils and under leaves.
Here, too, you can take preventive measures. For example, the pests are less able to survive if there is increased humidity and the houseplant is in a place that is suitable for them.
If the infestation is small, it is often sufficient to wipe them off with a cloth soaked in alcohol. If the infestation is larger, home remedies or No products found. can be used.
A suitable home remedy is a mixture of 1 L water, 15 ml spirit and another 15 ml soft soap. The home remedy is sprayed on the plant every two to three days.
In case of a pest infestation, it is always important to find out what caused the infestation. Based on these findings, you should then adjust the environment of the plant. Otherwise, it is only a matter of time before the next infestation occurs.
Often care errors are the cause of yellow leaves or other symptoms. In the following I will describe the most common symptoms, explain their cause and give you advice on how to get rid of them.
Yellow leaves can have different causes.
If the substrate is too wet, they can be a sign of root rot. In this case you should put the plant into fresh substrate as soon as possible and remove rotting roots.
If the substrate is dry, it may indicate a lack of water. Regular watering will help in this case.
Direct sunlight can also be a trigger. Try to place the plant so that it receives bright but indirect sunlight.
However, yellow leaves also occur when your spade leaf philodendron lacks nothing. Sooner or later, the houseplant will shed its oldest leaves. Instead, new young leaves grow on the shoots.
Brown leaf edges or leaf tips
If the leaf tips or edges turn brown, this is usually due to insufficient humidity. This should be around 40%.
Brown leaves indicate a severe lack of water or too much exposure to sunlight. Try to keep the substrate moist and water it as soon as it has dried on the surface.
Also try to avoid direct sunlight. Bright, indirect light is optimal.
I’ll answer your questions!
Is Philodendron domesticum poisonous?
Yes, the sap of Philodendron domesticum contains calcium oxalate crystals, which can cause skin irritation and internal injuries.
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