The Philodendron verrucosum x melanochrysum, better known as the Philodendron Splendid, is a hybrid plant. It is originally found in the swamps, forests and riverbanks of South America and the West Indies.
This is the biggest of the philodendron species which belongs to the Aracae family of plants. It has large green leaves that have brightly visible green or white veins running from its midrib to the edge of the leaf. And here’s how you take care of it to help it reach its maximum potential.
The first type of philodendrons was recorded in 1644 by Gerog Macgraff, a German explorer. But they were classified as the genus philodendron by Charles Plumier, a French botanist. The pattern of their growth is similar to plants that grow in rainforests with rich nutrients. But there are some peculiarities in the way it grows.
For instance, the seeds of this tree are often found in the crooks of their branches in the canopy. The plant, even in its vine form, can grow up to 10 feet in height and the seedling tends to grow in the direction of the light. It uses this light for photosynthesis that then allows it to grow roots into the soil where they gather nutrients for the tree’s growth.
This type of growth pattern is called epiphytic which means that it grows on the surface of another plant. This is one of the reasons philodendrons are considered to be good houseplants.
Another reason is that this is one good-looking plant thanks to its leaves which are heart-shaped. Since it is organically a tropical tree, here’s what you need to know to take good care of it.
As mentioned earlier, this is an epiphyte. So, at least initially, it does not need heavy or rich soil. This means any type of potting soil with a small addition of vermiculite or perlite will work.
All you need to check for is that the soil has good drainage. The soil must also be airy and light, which makes it easy for all the extra moisture to leave, keeping the pot from getting saturated.
Since the potting mix itself is light, the flow of air is not something to worry about. The roots of this plant remain healthy as long as there is a good deal of balance between the air and water it gets.
So, if you happen to use heavy soil, the moisture will get trapped inside the plant and the roots will rot. That starts with the tips of the root that cannot absorb any water or nutrients because they are suffocating. So eventually, it affects the entire plant which will die.
These plants like to have moderate light in the summer season. So, if you are getting one as a houseplant, you might want to place it near an east-facing window. This will give the plant an adequate amount of morning light which is filtered and not too strong. But you can also place them near a north- or northeast-facing window which keeps the sunlight levels under control.
And if you are looking for filtered light, you might even place these trees near a well-lit west- or south-facing window and draw the blinds to make sure the light isn’t direct and intense.
In this case, you can also keep the plant a little away from the window. That works for a distance of 3-7 feet and it is what makes this plant a great fit even in an apartment that does not receive a lot of sunlight.
Failing that, it is helpful to know that the plant also grows well enough in indirect light. Since they are originally from a habitat where they grow under large trees and plants, they can handle a little bit of healthy shade.
That is also the reason why they are so bad with prolonged exposure to intense and/or direct sunlight. If this happens, the leaves which are the most exciting feature of this plant start to look burnt.
You can also try using growth lights in case the rooms are very dark. But remember to keep the bulbs about 4-6 feet away from the leaves to avoid any discoloration or burning.
This hybrid plant grows well when the soil is moist. So, you must make sure there is a schedule that gets you to water the plant often enough. Now, when we say moist, it means that the top inch of the soil in the pot must be dry before you water the plant again.
This depends on the temperature inside the house where the plant is placed. So, accordingly, your schedule might need you to water the plant about once or twice in a week. Obviously, that changes in the winter when the gap between the watering sessions will get wider.
To create this watering schedule, you might have to observe the plant to see how long it takes for the top inch of the soil to dry out. You can check this following the most common method which is to stick your finger in the soil to see how dry it is.
But be mindful as to not end up giving it too much or too little water. That, in general, is often the cause for many houseplants to die earlier than they are meant to. In this particular plant, you must be careful even in terms of how you water the plant.
Watering it overhead, which wets the whole plant, is not recommended because it can easily lead to disease in the foliage. So, you must pour the water directly onto the soil so that it can be absorbed into it and reach the roots as soon as possible.
But on the other hand, you should also make sure that the amount of water is managed well because if the soil gets soggy or muddy, the plant will experience problems like root rot.
It’s not enough to give it light and water. This plant needs to be fertilized all through the year if you want it to grow well with some exceptions of course. Let’s take a look at those details.
The philodendron splendid tree grows best when it is given a liquid fertilizer that is high in nitrogen because it helps the growth of leaves in plants in general. The presence of some micronutrients is also highly encouraged for the optimal growth of its beautiful leaves.
In the summer months, the tree must be given fertilizer on a monthly basis. But depending on the nature of the fall season in your region, you can stop giving it fertilizer entirely. The same is applicable for the winter months.
Since this is a houseplant, you want to make sure that you don’t give it too much fertilizer. So, monitor its growth carefully in the months that you do feed it excess nitrogen.
This is originally a tropical plant so naturally, it prefers a little bit of warmth. Apart from its looks and ease of growth, this is another region these plants are good for indoor growing.
Now, tropical temperatures typically mean these plants can handle up to 80 degrees Fahrenheit in the summer. But if it gets warmer than that in your region, that is not such a bad thing.
This plant grows its best when it is kept in the 55-80 degrees temperature range. The assumption is that the temperature is towards the lower end of that window at dawn and dusk and towards the higher end in the afternoon.
They also grow well when there isn’t too much fluctuation in the temperature of the room. So, if there is air conditioning in the room, you might want to keep the plant away from it. The same logic applies to windows that allow a cool breeze into the house.
And in the winter, these plants can handle the dip in mercury up to 60 degrees Fahrenheit. All you need to make sure is that the flooring is not too cold in the winter because this can cause stress in the roots and hinder the growth of the plant.
Now, while we have been talking about how great this is for indoor growing, if you live in USDA zones 9-11, you can actually grow the plant outside the house too. But make sure that it is not exposed to very cold weather because this is not a frost-hardy plant and does not do well in snowy winters. In that situation, you might want to put the plant back in a container and bring it inside the house to protect it from the frost.
Along with temperature control, you must also make sure that the plant is getting enough humidity. It is a big part of helping a houseplant that is originally from a tropical region grow well. This is because these plants use up some of the water on the surface of their leaves for survival purposes.
If the leaves are deprived of that humidity, they start to turn brown near the edges. You might also notice some cracks and crumbles as a result. This happens because their original habitat, the rainforests, are popularly very humid as a result of the short but frequent rains that those regions experience. So, even though the rainwater evaporates, the air stays humid which keeps plants like this one alive and kicking.
The ideal level of humidity for this plant is about 60 percent. This is when it grows at its best. But it’s not a bad thing if the room you place it in has average levels of humidity. Just make sure that the levels don’t fall below 40 percent and it should be fine.
The best way to go about finding out something like this is to check the average humidity in your region before you get the plant. This will help you gauge the levels of humidity in the room and will help you make a decision on whether you need a pebble tray or a humidifier.
A humidifier lets you control the room more effectively because you can change the amount of humidity in the room with ease. But a pebble tray is easier to manage and brings up the humidity up to 60-70 percent with virtually no maintenance. A pebble tray only needs to be flat and be wider than the plant container’s base. But you have to make sure that the container stands on the pebbles so that the bottom does not get wet and soggy. This way, the water that evaporates from the tray keeps the immediate area around the plant humid. If you need to keep the entire room humid, a humidifier is the better option.
This is particularly true if you live in regions that experience extreme summers and winters. You can also use a hygrometer to figure this out. This way, you can know the more specific details of the house or room instead of getting approximations from Google weather.
Apart from these two options, you can do a few more things to keep the plant humid.
⦁ Kitchen and bathroom areas in a house have more humidity than the rest of the house. So, like in real estate, this is a location situation.
⦁ As mentioned before, keep it away from heaters and air conditioners if the weather is making the room very dry.
⦁ You can also place it near other plants inside the house to make sure that all of them together can create a zone of humidity.
⦁ Keep a bowl filled with water near the philodendron plant. But make sure the water is changed regularly so that you don’t risk attracting gnats and other insects.
But while you take these shortcuts, remember not to mist the leaves because if they stay damp that can cause diseases.
The best way to propagate this plant is by using the cuttings of the stem. So, you need to cut them from under the leaf nodes. After that, you must keep the ends of the cuts in a growth medium which will enable new roots to grow. In time, this will result in a new plant. Let’s look at how to do this in steps.
⦁ Step 1: Clean the container, tools and your hands before you get started.
⦁ Step 2: Get a seed starting mix and the fill the pot with it.
⦁ Step 3: Make a hole in the soil with a pencil or a chopstick to place the stem cutting.
⦁ Step 4: Take a pair of scissors and cut a stem from under a leaf node. This is the place where the main stem ends and the leaf begins.
⦁ Step 5: Keep 2-3 leaves and remove the rest of them from the stem.
⦁ Step 6: Place the stem cutting in the soil after dipping it in a rooting hormone.
⦁ Step 7: Pinch the soil surrounding the stem.
⦁ Step 8: Make sure the humidity and sunlight around the new plantation is ideal. You can make a humidity chamber by placing a plastic bag around the entire pot. Hold it up using the chopsticks or pencils used to make a hole in the soil. You can do the same by cutting off the bottom of a water bottle and removing the cap.
⦁ Step 9: Mist the stem cuttings every morning for the first two weeks. If the room is warmer than required, you can do it once again in the afternoon. Make sure the soil is moist enough but never wet.
⦁ Step 10: After the first two weeks, remove your humidity chamber but continue to mist the plant. If there are any stem cuttings that might be dying, remove them. If you notice new growth, take them closer to the light and add a little liquid fertilizer.
⦁ Step 11: In about four weeks, the cuttings are likely to be established. But if not, be patient. This can take up to a couple of months to happen depending on the plant’s immediate weather conditions.
Check the stem to see if there are some roots. In that case, you can start watering the plant on a regular basis instead of just misting it. You can find out if there are roots in case you see new leaves growing with a small bit of resistance.
Repotting is best done in spring for this plant. When it is time, you need to remove the existing potting soil and get a new batch. This makes sure that the plant will get the required nutrients and continue to grow. You can keep the same container or move it to a larger one to accommodate good growth of the roots.
The way you determine that it is time to repot the plant is when you
⦁ Don’t see a lot of new growth
⦁ Start seeing the roots grow out of the drainage holes of the pot
⦁ Notice that the plant needs more water than usual
⦁ See salt deposits in while color accumulating on the top soil
Now, it is important to get this job done without causing stress or shock to the plant. Before we get into the step-by-step process of repotting, here’s what you need to know.
These plants grow quite quickly which means you might have to repot them once every year or two. Luckily, the process does not take too much time because you need to check the root ball and the bottom of the plant when you water it.
It is normal to want to repot any plant into a bigger pot. In that case, you must keep the growth gradual which is about 1-2 inches bigger than the existing pot size. This might get tedious but it is healthy for the plant.
You must also remember that the amount of soil and the size of the pot must be proportional. This makes sure that the soil isn’t wet for too long and helps you avoid root rot. It will also cause stress and attract pests that will cause diseases.
Now, here is how you repot a philodendron splendid without damaging the existing plant.
⦁ Step 1: Make sure the plant is watered well for a few days before you repot it. This will also keep the pot lubricated.
⦁ Step 2: Ensure the soil is not sticking to the pot by tapping on the surface of the pot from all sides.
⦁ Step 3: Jiggle the plant after laying it on its side and poke it to make sure the drainage holes serve their purpose. Make sure to avoid the main stem while you do this because it might get pulled out if you are violent with the shaking.
⦁ Step 4: Look at the roots and make sure any rotting or dying roots are removed by about a quarter of an inch, maximum, before you proceed any further. This must be done with tools that have been sanitized.
⦁ Step 5: Place some fresh soil at the bottom of the pot. This soil should be damp.
⦁ Step 6: Stick the plant ball in the new pot and fill the rest of it with the new potting soil. Push the soil down if required to make sure the soil stays down but don’t suffocate the roots. You can fill up the pot up to the top but leave an inch between the rim and the top of the soil.
⦁ Step 7: Don’t give the plant any water for a couple of days to make sure the cuttings on the roots have time to establish themselves. If you give them water, the plant will get injured while the roots are spreading out.
⦁ Step 8: Check for any gaps between the pot and the soil a week after the exercise and do as required.
Problems with Philodendron Splendid
As mentioned before, these plants don’t need a whole lot of maintenance if the lighting, watering and humidity is taken care of. As such, they don’t attract a lot of problems. But you must be on the lookout for these issues anyway. Take a look.
The plant is quite prone to fungal infections. When it does get infected, you will notice that the plant cells get breached and the fungi feed on them until there are new spores at the time of maturity. Then the new bunch of fungal spores will feed on the plant some more and lead to leaf spotting or root rot.
If you see these spots on the plant, you must first check and see if it is the work of mealybugs or aphids. If they are not the cause then you can safely assume that this is the work of fungi.
Get a sanitized tool and remove the leaves that have been affected by the infection. And in the future, make sure that the leaves are kept dry.
If you are dealing with root rot, things can get a little trickier because this one is hard to recognize. Typically, the root that is buried in the pot will be mushy and brown. This will make them unable to absorb any nutrients and the entire plant starts to get affected. There is no solution for this problem so you need to focus on prevention.
What you can do during repotting is to keep the soil uncontaminated and the tools clean. Root rot is also a possibility if you are watering the plant too much in the winter. In case you are not able to save the plant from root rot and it dies, you must make sure that the pot is thoroughly disinfected before you plant another life in it.
Sometimes, you might be able to save some stem cuttings and propagate the plant.
Apart from fungal infections, mealybugs and aphids are a threat to these plants. In fact, if they find their way to your philodendron splendid, it is a good time to check the other plants in the house for bugs too.
Aphids will turn the new growth on your plant into a yellow color with a rumpled look. This means it is time to rinse your plant by swiping the bottom of every leaf clearly with your fingers. Following that, you must use an insecticidal soap and spray it on every leaf.
If you are dealing with mealybugs, you will see white spots on the stems and leaves. You must remove these with clean tweezers or cotton balls that have been thoroughly sanitized (you can use alcohol for the cotton balls). You might have to repeat this process once again in a few days to make sure they are all gone and none have returned.
If you start to notice that the leaves of your mature plant are discolored or the new leaves on the plant are pale, you can assume that the plant is experiencing stress because of
⦁ A drop in the temperature
⦁ Excess sunlight
⦁ Not enough nutrition
⦁ Too much or too little water
But it might also be possible that the plant is naturally shedding. That is the case when you see just a couple of leaves turning yellow and dropping off. So, keep track of this with the calendar.
It is an unusual issue when you see that the new leaves on the plant are all turning yellow and falling off at the same time. It could also be due to pests but you know what to do in that case.
The philodendron splendid is fairly easy to take care of. You need a little bit of light, the right watering schedule according to the weather and about 60-80 percent humidity to make sure the plant survives. Check them for pests and diseases once in a while and you are good to go.