If you love large-leaved philodendrons with heart-shaped leaves, you’ve come to the right place with Philodendron plowmanii! This rarity makes up for its relatively slow growth with its unique variegations and reasonable care.
In this post, you’ll learn how to care for the Philodendron plowmanii.
Philodendron plowmanii is, contrary to what is often claimed, a wild plant, not a cultivar. It originates from Ecuador and Peru. There it grows on the ground and partly on plants if the light allows it.
It is, therefore, a hemiepiphyte – a plant that grows part of its life on the ground and another as an epiphyte (perching plant) on other plants.
The natives of Bajo Quimiriki (Peru) use the stem of the rainforest plant for anemia (lack of blood). Therefore, it is considered a medicinal plant by them. You should not eat it as it is poisonous and irritates mucous membranes. As a philodendron, it belongs to the arum family. P. plowmanii gets its name from the US botanist Timothy Charles Plowman.
Appearance and Characteristics
The creeping growth of the Philodendron is particularly striking. One shoot can reach a length of up to 8 feet. However, due to the slow growth, it takes several years to get this length.
On the shoot, grow the stunning leaves. These are large and heart-shaped. Despite their size, they are pretty thin and have a leathery texture. Their dark green leaf surfaces are adorned with various shades of green to cream. Depending on the specimen and the incidence of light, they can also appear silvery.
Deep leaf veins run through the leaf surfaces. Here, the central veins are very prominent, while the veins branching from them are inconspicuous. The leaves themselves can reach a diameter of more than 16 inches.
The petioles also have a distinctive feature. On their sides, there are tiny wavy wings, almost like frills. These are in relation to the leaf size. Thus, if the leaves grow larger over time, the wings also grow more prominent.
A flower occurs in the apartment very rarely and only under optimal conditions. When a flower is formed, it consists of two parts. On the one hand, it has the spadix, which is typical for the arum family. The other part is the typical spatha, which covers the yellowish spadix. The bracts are light green and may develop a reddish tinge with time.
The color of the cob can vary. Thus, reddish and purple cobs have already been observed.
The flower itself has no fragrance. That can cause it to get lost in the crowd if you have a more extensive collection of plants.
If the flower has been successfully pollinated, it will form small berries on the cob in the coming months. These berries contain seeds, which can be used for propagation.
Other forms and hybrids of Philodendron plowmanii
- Philodendron plowmanii Round Form
The Round Form is a form that produces much rounder leaves.
- Philodendron plowmanii Narrow Form (Dark Form; Black Face)
This variant of the Plowmanii has significantly longer and narrower leaves. Depending on the specimen, the leaf veins are much darker than the conventional form. Therefore, it is also called Black Face or Dark Form.
- Philodendron plowmanii ‘Citrus’
Philodendron plowmanii var. ‘Citrus’ is characterized by light green leaves with many white spots. The petioles are also light green.
- Philodendron plowmanii variegated
Philodendron plowmanii variegated or Philodendron plowmanii variegata are specimens with white variegation on the leaves. The variegation is not stable. This form is challenging to find and has a correspondingly high price.
- Philodendron plowmanii x Tenue
This hybrid consisting of Philodendron plowmanii and Philodendron tenue is characterized by lighter leaf areas and longer leaves with deeper veins.
Differences between Philodendron plowmanii and Philodendron mamei
Because of their close resemblance, Philodendron plowmanii and Philodendron mamei are often confused. Even though they appear almost identical at first glance, there are still a few differences.
For example, P. mamei has a silver variegation, while P. plowmanii has various shades of green. P. mamei has deeper-branched leaf veins. The main veins are also closer together and somewhat shallower.
There are also differences in the petioles. While P. plowmanii has like frills on the petioles, P. mamei has only slight, smooth elevations.
The most obvious difference, however, is in growth. Although both Philodendrons are creeping Philodendrons, Philodendron mamei begins climbing when given a climbing aid.
Location of Philodendron plowmanii
Before we get into details like temperature and light conditions, the location should meet a few general things. The location should not be close to doors or frequently opened windows. That will help you avoid drafts.
It would help if you also tried to keep a distance from radiators. If they are in operation, they produce dry air, which can damage the leaves in the long run.
Bright, indirect light is optimal for the houseplant. But even in the partial shade, it still shows growth, even if not as fast. You can tell that it is too dark by the long, thin shoots that grow towards the light.
Avoiding direct sunlight in midday and afternoon is best because it can burn the leaves. Morning and evening sun, on the other hand, will make the Philodendron happy!
During the summer months, you can put your Philodendron outside as soon as the temperatures allow it. Please place it in a shadier location first so it can slowly get used to the sun. Even after the acclimation period, I do not recommend putting it in direct sunlight.
Since the Philodendron plowmanii is a tropical plant, it prefers increased humidity. That should be above 60%. If it falls below 50%, cosmetic damage, such as brown leaf tips and slower growth, may occur.
To ensure healthy growth, the temperature should always be between 57 °F and 86 °F. If it falls below 57 °F for a more extended period, the metabolism slows down, and depending on the temperature, damage to the plant can occur. The best growth could be observed between 68 °F and 77 °F.
Overwintering Philodendron plowmanii
Often the houseplant can be overwintered in its location. That depends on how much light reaches the plant in winter and whether heaters operate nearby.
During overwintering, temperatures may drop to as low as 57 °F. Try to maintain humidity levels. In this article, you will learn how to counteract dry heating air.
The metabolism slows down due to shorter days. As a result, watering and fertilizing will be less frequent. Wait to water until the top inch of the substrate has dried.
Fertilizing can be reduced to about one dose a month.
Watering the Philodendron plowmanii
Preferably, the Philodendron plowmanii loves evenly moist substrate. However, this is very difficult to implement without passive hydroponics. Therefore, I recommend letting the top inch of the substrate dry out before each watering. You can quickly check this with a stick or your finger.
Insert the stick or finger about one inch deep into the substrate. If there is soil on the finger or stick after pulling it out of the substrate, it is still moist enough. Therefore, perform the test again in a few days. If no soil is found, you can water the houseplant.
When watering, be sure to water thoroughly. You should water until water runs out of the drainage holes. Let the water drain out, and then put the pot back.
Make sure that no water accumulates in the saucer or pot itself. That will quickly lead to root rot. You can find more on this topic in the care mistakes at the end of the article.
Fertilize Philodendron plowmanii
Due to its slow growth, the Plowmanii needs fewer nutrients than other philodendrons. Therefore, it is sufficient to provide it with No products found. or No products found. every two to four weeks during the growth phase.
In winter, fertilizing is reduced to once a month.
The perfect substrate for Philodendron plowmanii
Like many other tropical plants, the P. plowmanii prefers a rather acidic soil. The pH of the substrate should therefore be between 4.5 and 6.0.
An airy and structurally stable substrate is optimal. Since the roots quickly begin to rot when wet, it must have good drainage.
The most suitable substrate for arum plants is the aroid substrate mix. If you want to create your own mix, I recommend our big substrate article. There you will find the properties of all conventional and popular ingredients!
Generally speaking, you’ll need to repot your Plowmanii about annually when it’s a young plant. Once it has reached a certain size, the interval stretches to two to three years.
However, you shouldn’t repot your houseplant just because the interval is over. Instead, watch for the following signs:
- Growth beyond the pot
If your Philodendron starts to creep beyond the edge of the pot, it’s time to change the pot! My tip: use an elongated pot. This will allow the shoot to grow longer before you have to change the pot again.
- Roots grow out of the drainage holes
When the roots reach the drainage holes, they have completely rooted the pot. However, before you start repotting, I recommend looking at the root system. If the roots are not yet around the edge of the pot, you can wait a while before repotting.
- Slow growth
Slow growth can be a sign that the pot has become too small. Therefore, check the root ball. If it fills the pot completely, it is time to repot!
There’s little you need to pay attention to when repotting itself. Carefully take the houseplant out of its pot. Then carefully remove the old substrate. At the same time, you can check the health of the root ball.
If you find dead or broken roots, I recommend you to remove them.
Then take a new, slightly larger pot and plant the Philodendron in a fresh substrate in the planter. Hit the pot from time to time. That will allow the substrate to wrap itself around the roots.
After repotting, you only need to water the plant, and it’s done!
A topiary is not necessary for the Philodendron plowmanii. However, you should always remove diseased and dead leaves. Use a sharp and clean blade for this. This will prevent infection and bruising.
Propagating Philodendron plowmanii
If you want to propagate your Philodendron plowmanii, you have two ways to do it: seeds and cuttings. Cuttings are the much more reliable and quicker propagation method here.
Propagation by seeds takes quite a long time. If the seeds are not fresh, the germination rate is much lower. If you still want to try it, you will find instructions below.
Propagation by cuttings
Before you cut a cutting, you should check if your plant is suitable for cuttings. Each cutting should have one leaf and at least one dormant eye. If the latter is missing, the cutting will not be able to sprout new growth.
If the cutting already has (air) roots, this makes the propagation process much easier.
Your Philodendron meets the requirements? Then we can move on! Next, you’ll need the proper tools. I recommend using a sharp and clean blade. This way you can avoid possible infections of the cut wounds. Do not use household scissors for cutting. They will bruise the plant.
You should also start thinking about the medium in which your cutting will be planted. If you have an organic substrate in mind, I recommend using Sphagnum moss. If you want to put it in a mineral substrate mix, I recommend rooting it in water or perlite.
Do you have everything? Then we can start!
- Choose the cuttings
Even before you start cutting, select the spots where you want to cut. For larger plants, it can be helpful to mark the spots with tape.
- Cut the cuttings
- After you have planned the cuts, the time has come to do the actual cutting. Sanitize your blade and then make a smooth cut. To keep the cut area as small as possible, the cut should be made at a 90° angle to the shoot. Disinfect the blade after each cut.
Always cut between two leaf nodes. This will keep the leaves and dormant eyes undamaged.
- Treatment of the cut surfaces
It is usually sufficient to let the cut surface air dry for about an hour. However, if you wish, you can also apply a No products found., cinnamon, or activated charcoal to the cut while it is still wet as a preventative measure.
The fungicide and cinnamon protect against fungal diseases, while activated charcoal has an antibacterial effect.
Once the cut surface has dried, the cutting can be placed in a medium of your choice.
- Suitable growing media and locations
- You are spoiled for choice when it comes to growing media. I like to use perlite and sphagnum moss. You can also use growing soil or water. Place the cutting in a medium of your choice and keep it moist.
With perlite you have the possibility to create a small water reservoir at the bottom of the container. This will keep the medium evenly moist on its own. If you use water, make sure the leaf is not in the water. Change the water weekly.
Place the cutting in a bright place without direct sunlight. The temperature should be around 72 °F. After a few weeks you should be able to see roots. As soon as they are one to two inches long, you can repot the cutting.
To accelerate root growth, you can place the cutting on a heating mat. It can also help to increase the humidity. For this you can simply put a transparent bag over the cutting. Open it every few days to prevent mold.
Propagation by seed
Propagating Philodendron plowmanii by seed is only recommended if you have a lot of time and fresh seeds. Otherwise I rather advise you against this method. You still want to try it? Then proceed as follows:
- Prepare the seeds
To facilitate germination, I recommend placing the seeds in warm water for 24 hours. This way they soak up some water.
- Sowing the seeds
- After the seeds are prepared, place them about 0.5 inch deep in growing soil, sphagnum moss or coco soil. Moisten the substrate of your choice and keep it evenly moist from now on. A high humidity supports the germination. You can achieve this with a transparent bag or a seed tray.
Place the seeds in a warm and bright place without direct sunlight. The temperature should be around 72 °F. If you can’t find a suitable beach location, you can also use a heating mat to raise and maintain the temperature.
After one month at the earliest, the seeds will begin to germinate. However, it can take much longer.
- Repot the seedlings
As soon as the seedlings are about one inche tall you have the possibility to put them into their own small pots. However, first accustom them to the lower humidity if it has been very high before.
Diseases, pests, and care mistakes
Philodendron plowmanii is very hardy when it comes to diseases. One exception is root rot. You can find more information about it in the care mistakes.
Aphids come in many different colors. However, the most common colors are green, yellow, and black. They are mainly found on the shoots and under the leaves.
Signs of an infestation are yellow leaves or even brown spots on the leaves.
If you discover an infestation, you can counteract it with neem oil or even No products found..
You can recognize mealybugs by their striking color. They can be white to pink, and their carapace resembles wool-like threads. Signs of infestation are curling and yellow leaves.
Woolly aphids prefer to sit under leaves and in leaf axils.
You can remove the little animals with a cotton pad dipped in spirit if you discover an infestation. If the infestation is more significant, I recommend using No products found..
Often care mistakes are the cause when the health of your Philodendron plowmanii deteriorates. You can find the most common care mistakes here.
If the leaves of the Philodendron plowmanii become yellow, this can have different reasons:
- It is one of the oldest leaves, which naturally wither.
- The Philodendron has not received enough water. The yellow leaf is a reaction to drought stress.
- The opposite is also possible. The Philodendron has received too much water, and the roots are beginning to rot. Here’s how to save your plant in case of root rot.
Brown leaves are the next stage from yellow leaves. All yellow leaves (unless caused by nutrient deficiency) become brown leaves. Therefore, their causes are the same as those of yellow leaves.
Brown leaf tips and leaf edges
If the humidity is too low, it may damage leaves cosmetically. That manifests itself as brown leaf tips and brown leaf margins. This damage is irreparable. Learn how to increase humidity for plants here.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is the Philodendron plowmanii poisonous?
Yes, all parts of Philodendron plowmanii are poisonous. They contain calcium oxalate crystals, which can irritate mucous membranes and damage the digestive tract. Therefore, you should place this houseplant out of reach of children and pets.
If a piece of the plant has been consumed, I recommend taking part of the plant to the (veterinary) doctor.
Do not miss out!
Use as a medicinal plant
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