If you’re looking for show-stopping houseplants that can bring the jungle to you, consider the philodendrons.
These plants are native to South American rainforests and feature large, glossy leaves, air-cleaning abilities, and sometimes even a climbing habit.
One of the more rare and beautiful species of philodendron is the Philodendron melanochrysum x verrucosum–also known as the Philodendron Splendid.
Its two-foot-long leaves are even larger than those of other philodendrons, with a velvety texture and glowing leaf veins that can grab and hold your attention from across the room.
Philodendrons are native to a wide range of habitats throughout equatorial South America and in the West Indies.
Philodendrons (of which there are many, many species, including the Philodendron Splendid) are found in:
- Tropical forests
Even at high altitudes, you’ll see Philodendrons thriving.
Western sources first recorded Philodendrons in 1644 by a German explorer named Gerog Macgraff. But it was the French botanist Charles Plumier who first collected and classified philodendrons into a genus of their own.
How Do Philodendrons Grow?
These plants have a growth pattern that is fairly unusual to us, but is very common in the nutrient-rich environment of the rainforest.
“Philodendron” means “tree-loving”, and their seeds sprout and begin growing in the tree canopy, tucked away in the crook of a branch.
The seedling sends leaves up towards the light- and the vining types can grow up to ten feet tall!
The plant eventually uses the energy obtained from the light with photosynthesis to send roots down towards the soil, where it can obtain nutrients.
This type of growth pattern–known in botany as ”epiphytic”–is part of what makes philodendrons good houseplants.
Here’s a photo of an epiphyte growing on the trunk of an enormous rainforest tree:
They are accustomed to growing in the partial shade of a tree’s canopy and to going without regular nutrient input for long stretches of time.
The Philodendron Splendid is unique amongst philodendrons due to its large, spear-shaped leaves. Each leaf can grow to be up to one foot wide and two feet long, covered in a soft velvety fuzz.
Striking vascular veins glow in a lighter shade of emerald against dark green leaves.
Philodendron Splendid is also a vining philodendron. This means that over time its big, beautiful leaves will climb over whatever structure you provide it, filling space with its lush (and air-filtering!) foliage.
Where to Buy Philodendron Splendid
Although Philodendrons in general are easy to find, the Philodendron Splendid is a fairly rare and unusual hybrid. Finding one can indeed be an act of persistence.
Here are a few of the best specialty plant purveyors who occasionally bring Philodendron Splendid into their stock:
Care Requirements for Philodendron Splendid
Philodendrons are not too fussy about their care, but there are some good guidelines to follow to make sure that your Philodendron Splendid thrives:
Pot Size and Type
You can determine the right size pot for any houseplant in two ways:
- Measure the plant’s height from the soil line to the top of its tallest leaf. Divide that number by 3, and the result, in inches, is a good estimate of ideal pot diameter.
- Or, choose a pot that is only slightly bigger than the root ball of the Philodendron. This helps keep the plant from growing too fast, and also prevents excess soil not occupied by roots from becoming waterlogged.
It’s vitally important to choose a pot that both drains well, so that the roots don’t rot from too much wetness, and has some way to collect excess water, so that your house doesn’t become a casualty of your passion for plants.
Consider a pot with an attached saucer, or place your pot on a separate plastic saucer. You can also place a plastic pot with drainage holes inside of a larger, more decorative metal or ceramic one with a solid bottom.
The Philodendron Splendid enjoys moderate light, especially during the summer.
An ideal place for it is by an east-facing window, which will give it strong light in the morning, more filtered light throughout the day, and protect it from the intense light of the western sky in the afternoon.
Allow at least the first inch of soil in the container to dry out between waterings.
Depending on the dryness and temperature of your home environment, this might mean watering once a week or twice a week. During the cooler winter months, you’ll probably be able to go longer between waterings.
Until you know the general timeframe it takes to dry out, always use your finger to manually check the soil for dryness.
Remember: Over- and under-watering are the main causes of early mortality in houseplants.
RELATED: A self-watering planter can help take some of the guesswork out of keeping your Philodendron Splendid’s soil moist. Check out our post on 17 Best Self-Watering Planters to see our favorites!
As tropical plants, Philodendrons prefer temperatures around 80 degrees Fahrenheit, and if your summers get even warmer than that, all the better!
Philodendrons can handle dips down to 60 degrees Fahrenheit in the winter. But don’t keep a Philodendron sitting on a cold floor in wintertime, as chilled roots will lead to stress.
Adequate humidity is important to all houseplants but particularly with tropical plants, as they replace some of their water through the surface of their leaves.
Without enough humidity, leaves will get browned edges and may even begin to crumble and crack, like the photo shows:
There are a few things you can do to make sure that your Philodendron Splendid receives enough humidity for its beautiful leaves to be at their best:
- Keep it in the kitchen or bathroom, which tend to have more running water than other rooms in the house.
- Avoid placing it near a heat or A/C register, as that air is typically very very dry.
- Group it with other houseplants: As their leaves transpire the moisture from their roots through their leaves, they can create their own little pocket of humidity.
- Place a bowl of water near the plant or plants.
- Keep your plant or plants on a tray lined with pebbles and filled halfway with water. Change the water regularly to keep gnats at bay.
- Run a humidifier in the room with your houseplants, especially during the winter. If you need some shopping suggestion, stop by our post on 7 Best Plant Humidifiers!
Caution: Do not try to humidify Philodendron Splendid by misting. Its velvety leaves take longer to dry, and that dampness can create disease problems.
Fertilize a Philodendron Splendid monthly year-round.
Use a liquid fertilizer that has a high nitrogen content as well as some good micronutrients, like Espoma Indoor Plant Food.
This will make sure that its stunning foliage is able to grow vigorously.
Plan to repot your Philodendrons each year in spring. Repotting a houseplant replaces the depleted potting soil in the container with fresh soil that has enough nutrients and organic matter to help it continue growing.
You can repot into the same container with fresh soil, or pot up into a slighter larger container to account for more root growth.
You can tell that it is time for a repotting when:
- Your plant displays very little new growth
- Roots begin poking out of the drainage holes
- The plant is always thirsty for water despite regular waterings
- You can see white salt deposits forming on the surface of the soil
To repot your Philodendron Splendid without damaging its splendor, follow these steps:
Step 1. Water your plant well a few days ahead of repotting, then just before you remove it from its pot in order to lubricate it.
Step 2. Tap the pot lightly on all sides to loosen the adhesion between the soil and the pot. Lay the pot on its side and jiggle the plant free, poking it from the bottom through the drainage holes if you need to.
NEVER pull on the main stem to get it out of the pot; that will only end in tears.
Step 3. Take a look at your roots. Use sanitized shears or scissors to snip off any dead, dying, or particularly aggressive roots. But don’t remove more than a quarter of the root system at one time.
Step 4. Line the bottom of your container with an inch of fresh potting soil. Use soil that’s already damp, and add more to the bottom if you need to bring the plant up higher.
Place the plant in the pot, and fill the space around its sides with more damp, fresh potting soil, tamping down if you need to with a pencil eraser or chopstick.
Leave at least a half inch of space between the top of the soil and the rim of the pot. Knock the pot against a firm surface to help all the soil particles settle in.
Step 5. Don’t water for at least a couple of days after repotting. This will give the roots time to close off any places where you have cut them, and will trigger uninjured roots to spread out and look for water.
Step 6. About a week after repotting, check for any spaces between the soil and the pot and add more potting soil if necessary.
Potential Problems with Philodendron Splendid
As a group, Philodendrons are low-maintenance houseplants that aren’t especially prone to problems.
But there are a few issues that may crop up occasionally:
Leaf Discoloration Problems
Generally speaking, discoloration of mature leaves or pale new growth on a Philodendron Splendid is the result of stress from a few different potential factors.
- Cold temperatures
- Too much light
- Not enough nutrients
- Over- or under-watering
But keep in mind that your Philodendron will occasionally drop leaves as part of a natural shedding process.
If one or two leaves are going yellow and falling off, that’s probably what’s happening.
But if most of the leaves on the plant, including new growth, are going yellow all at once, that’s likely stress. Address any of the above factors to try and mitigate it.
Sometimes leaf discoloration happens because of an infestation of pests, in which case there are a few extra things to check for.
Aphids and mealybugs both sometimes bother Philodendrons.
This photo shows aphids on the left and mealybugs on the right:
If you find either of these on your Philodendron Splendid, make sure to check any other houseplants you have for bugs, too.
With aphids, the new growth will have a rumpled appearance and will have yellow specks. To get rid of them, rinse the plant well, using your fingers to swipe clean the underside of each leaf. Then spray each leaf with insecticidal soap.
Mealybugs create cottony white deposits on the leaves or stems. Pick these off with tweezers or with a cotton ball dipped in rubbing alcohol. Check back in the next few days and repeat if necessary.
Philodendron Splendid, like other houseplants, is vulnerable to fungi.
Fungal spores use enzymes to penetrate plant cells, feeding on them until maturity when they will release a new generation of spores. Fungus on a Philodendron can cause leaf spot or root rot.
If you see spots on your leaves and you have ruled out aphids or mealybugs as the cause, it’s probably fungus.
Remove the affected leaf using a sanitized cutting tool, and keep the leaves dry going forward.
Root rot is harder to diagnose since the roots are buried in the pot. Roots affected by fungus are brown and mushy, and they can’t absorb the nutrients your plant needs to live.
It’s almost impossible to cure root rot, so prevention here is key.
When repotting your Philodendron, use sanitized tools and uncontaminated potting soil. Avoid overwatering, especially in cold temperatures, which creates the waterlogged conditions that fungus loves.
And if your plant dies from root rot, make sure to thoroughly disinfect the pot that it lived in before planting it with something else.
If disease has overtaken your Philodendron, you may still be able to salvage a healthy cutting and propagate it.
How to Propagate Philodendron Splendid
You can propagate Philodendron Splendid by stem cuttings.
This means taking a cutting off the plant from below a leaf node and placing the cut end in a growing medium. Specialized cells grow new roots from the cutting and turn it into an independent plant.
We’ll break down this process step by step to keep it simple:
Step 1. Wash your hands and any containers or tools you’ll be using. Fill the containers with a seed starting mix. Poke a hole in the soil with a chopstick or pencil; this is where you’ll place the cutting.
Step 2. Using a sterilized pair of scissors, cut off a stem just below a node, which is the place where the bottom of a leaf joins with the main stem.
Step 3. Remove all the leaves except for the top two or three.
Step 4. Dip the cut end into powdered rooting hormone, then place it in to the soil.
Step 5. Use your pointer and thumbs to lightly “pinch” the soil in around the stem.
Step 6. Place the potted cutting in a humidity chamber and then put it in a spot where it receive filtered but not direct sunlight.
The humidity chamber can be a plastic bag around the whole container, held up inside by chopsticks placed into the soil; or you can cut the bottom off a plastic gallon or two-liter bottle and place it over the pot with the cap off.
Step 7. For the first two weeks, mist the cutting each morning. In warm weather, check it in the afternoon, too. The goal is to keep the soil moist but not wet.
Step 8. In the third week, remove the humidity dome but keep misting daily. Toss any cuttings that are dead or dying. If any of the cuttings have new growth, move them a little closer to the light, and give them a bit of liquid fertilizer.
Step 9. You should have established cuttings in four weeks, but sometimes it takes up to two months.
If the cutting is putting out new leaves, and offers a little resistance when you gently tug on the stem, that means it has at least some roots and you can probably switch to regular watering instead of misting soon.
Frequently Asked Questions about Philodendron Splendid
Philodendrons are poisonous to pets, and if your furry friends ingest some, we refer to the Poison Pet Helpline. The sap of the plant can also cause skin irritation for some people, so wear long sleeves and gloves when repotting if you find it bothering you.
You bet. Philodendrons are pretty vigorous, but you can control its growth by keeping it in a smaller pot and by pinching off new growth.
Feeding your Philodendron monthly with a balanced fertilizer will help it grow, while inspecting it regularly for pests or fungus will protect it from health setbacks. If your Philodendron is particularly slow to grow, try giving it more light or increased humidity.
Pretty much indefinitely. Some people have had their Philodendrons for decades. Providing proper care–good watering habits, adequate light and humidity, regular fertilizer–will help your Philodendron live for a long time. And if it ever begins to die, you can always propagate it from a cutting!
This isn’t necessary, as a Philodendron will naturally shed some leaves every once in a while. But you can remove leaves that it has started to shed, or leaves affected by leaf spot or insect pests. And you can always trim back some stems in order to control growth.
Philodendron Splendid does like slightly acidic soil, so a light application of coffee grounds every once in a while is fine.
However, a research study indicated that the caffeine in coffee beans is a way for coffee trees to slow the growth of other plants that might cause competition.
So don’t pour brewed coffee onto your plant, and don’t apply too many grounds at once. Use moderation, and you should be fine.
The Philodendron Splendid is a magnificent hybrid of an already popular houseplant species!
Following the basic steps that we outlined here will enable it to thrive and fill your home with its striking foliage.
Are you lucky enough to be a plant parent to a Philodendron Splendid, or is it on your wishlist? Let us know in the comments!
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