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Philodendron Atabapoense Care – How To Succeed

Philodendron Atabapoense Care – How To Succeed

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Today we are discussing another beautiful houseplant, Philodendron Atabapoense.

This is a rare, climbing, and vining Philodendron. This plant is native to the Southern region of Venezuela and the Amazonian region of Brazil.

This easy-to-care plant will grow happily with minimal effort as long as you provide well-draining, moist soil, and dappled sunlight. You can also fertilize it during the active growth season to encourage leaf growth.

With more than 450 species, Philodendrons are one of the most favorite houseplant having both climbing and non-climbing varieties.

According to Clemson University, climbing Philodendrons don’t reach their maximum size until they are trained using vertical support. This is true for the Philodendron Atabapoense also.

This plant is a semi-epiphytic aroid and closely resembles the Philodendron Billietiae. The growth rate for this plant will depend on several factors; keep reading to learn how each factor of plant care will impact the Philodendron Atabapoense.

Philodendrons are air purifiers and neglect tolerant, which makes them a great addition to any indoor space like an office or living room.

Unlike other houseplants, they can survive in harsh conditions. This particular species is grown for its showy, dual-colored foliage.

Light and air humidity are the most important aspects of young Philodendron Atabapoense plant care. Everything you need to know about this plant is discussed below.



Basic plant care for Philodendron Atabapoense



Provide your Atabapoense plant with moist potting soil that is rich in organic matter. For container gardening, this plant needs excellent drainage.

If you are preparing your own potting soil, aim for an airy and fluffy mixture. The perfect, well-draining mix for any Philodendron contains the following ingredients:

Philodendron plants can grow in 100% sphagnum peat moss and other soilless mixtures like perlite or peat vermiculite.

For outdoor planting in mild climates, the most suitable USDA hardiness zones are ranging from 9b to 11. If you are in USDA hardiness zones 4a to 11, you can grow the Philodendron Atabapoense as a patio plant.

The desirable soil pH is between 6.1 to 7.3, slightly acidic to neutral.



It needs frequent watering in the growing season, whereas less water in winter. Water the Atabapoense plant once or twice a week during growing season whenever the top 2 inches of the soil surface is dry.

To water your Atabapoense plant, water deeply so that the water runs from the drainage holes. I would suggest waiting for a few minutes after watering to collect the excess water in the saucer or tray.

Empty this tray to prevent the plant from sitting in water.

This plant is highly sensitive to overwatering; therefore, you have to pay special attention to its watering needs. You can increase the drainage for your potting mix by adding a good amount of perlite or orchid bark.

I would suggest watering your plant in small amounts to avoid any overwatering stress. If your plant is suffering from droopy leaves, it is definitely craving for more water or being watered more than needed.

The only point worth mention about watering this plant is to allow the soil to dry in between waterings.



This plant needs medium sun, i.e., between 70 – 85%. Compared to other species of houseplants, Philodendrons can thrive in low to medium light conditions.

You can even grow them under grow lights. However, the most prolific growth is experienced with higher light levels.

Many expert gardeners suggest that this plant will do great in partial or dappled shade. So the general rule is to place it in bright filtered light but not full sun.

For outdoor growth, use a 40 to 70 % shade cloth to protect from any direct sunlight during peak hours. Direct light will destroy the beautiful coloration on the Atabapoense leaves.



This tropical plant loves the warmth and humidity of the greenhouse. The ideal temperature for maximum growth is 12 to 26 degrees Celsius (55 to 80 o F).

In colder zones, you will have to bring your container plant indoors for the winter months. This plant cannot withstand frost or freezing temperatures.

Avoid placing your Philodendron Atabapoense in cold drafts or near heaters. Any extreme temperature will damage your houseplant, eventually, kill it.

Understanding temperature requirements is vital because it will affect both the humidity and water needs of the Philodendron Atabapoense.

Generally, this species prefers warmer daytime temperatures and cooler night temperatures, but remember that the minimum temperature should not be less than  55 o F (12 degrees Celsius).



Like other members of the Philodendron family, this plant will thrive in the humidity of about 65 to 70% or higher. Indoor humidity levels can be easily improved by misting the foliage, grouping several plants, or using the pebble tray method. A pricey but reliable alternative to all these is a humidifier.



The first time your plant should be fertilized is right after you receive it, feed the new plant with a diluted vitamin solution.

Fertilizing is not mandatory, but unfertilized Philodendrons grow very slowly. This plant mainly needs feeding to maintain good leaf growth. Fertilize your Philodendron Atabapoense with a slow-release fertilizer 2 to 3 times in the year.

If you fertilize using a synthetic fertilizer like 20-20-20, you’ll have to apply it bi-weekly or monthly in spring, early summer, and late summer.

Or if you want to encourage leaf growth, go for 20-10-20. The synthetic fertilizer should be diluted to half strength based on the manufacturer’s recommendation or the label.

Another suitable choice is a well-balanced organic fertilizer like 1-1-1, or a nitrogen-based fertilizer like 2-1-1. You don’t have to fertilize this plant in autumn or winter.

The two points to remember about feeding your Atabapoense are that never overfertilize your Philodendron plants; this will do more damage than good. And always fertilize away from the base (at least 6″).



You have to repot the Philodendron Atabapoense every 2 to 3 years; however, replace the potting soil with a fresh batch every year in the spring season.

Philodendrons prefer loose soil as this allows for more root growth. If the soil has become compacted, it is best to repot your plant. Else the Atabapoense will become root-bound with a slower growth rate.

As an extra step, you can fertilize your repotted plant with liquid seaweed fertilizer.



Philodendrons Atabapoense is pruned to remove any damaged, dead or yellowing parts of the plant. This is important to conserve the plant’s useful energy that will be otherwise wasted in reviving these parts.

Light pruning will also encourage new growth on the plant, whereas heavy pruning can shock the plant resulting in slow growth.

I would recommend wearing gloves and sterilizing your pruning tools to prevent the spread of any fungus or disease.



Philodendron Atabapoense is hard to find and expensive species. Therefore propagation is the only way to expand your collection or to let another rare plant collector enjoy the beauty of Philodendron Atabapeonse.

I always use water propagation for rooting my stem cuttings of Philodendron plants. The steps are discussed below:

  • The first step for propagation is to sterilize your tools using isopropyl or rubbing alcohol. This is important for the protection of both the original plant and the cutting.
  • Locate a healthy stem on the Philodendron Atabapoense, use a sharp pair of scissors or knife to make a cut on the stem. The stem cutting should be 3 to 6 inches long. You should choose a cutting with at least two nodes and leaves.
  • Dip the cutting in rooting hormone for faster growth. You can prepare your own rooting hormone using apple cider vinegar.
  • Add 1 teaspoon of apple cider vinegar in 1 To 1.5 liters of water. You can use any regular apple cider vinegar for this. This is an organic, cheap rooting hormone solution without any harmful chemicals.
  • Fill a glass jar or container with room temperature, filtered water. Allow the water to sit for a few hours so that chlorine and other impurities can dissipate.
  • Submerge the bare, leafless nodes in water, and the leaves should be above the water surface to prevent rotting.
  • Place your water jar near a windowsill or on a table near the window and replace the water every 3 days. The cutting needs bright but indirect light, so place it at least 2 feet away from direct sunlight exposure.
  • Under optimum light and temperature conditions, root development will take 2 to 3 weeks, followed by new leaves. After a week or two of root development, you can transfer the cutting to a soil medium. The interesting fact is you can grow your Philodendron plant in water permanently.
  • Follow the care instructions discussed above to take care of the young Philodendron Atabapoense.

If you want to root it in soil, follow the same steps to take cuttings and use vermiculite or regular potting soil as the rooting medium. Just make sure the potting mixture is kept moist.

If you have a large mother plant, you can take more than one cuttings and propagate all of them at the same time.



This Philodendron plant rarely blooms indoors. When it does, the spathe for the Atabapoense is purplish-brown on the inside and green on the outside. However, the blooms are the most insignificant part of this plant.



The narrow, sword-shaped leaves are 3 inches wide and about 30 inches long on a mature Philodendron Atabapoense. The unique, thin leaves are deep green in color with a maroon underside. The reverse side may vary in color with shades of pale green, brown, and burgundy.

This is a fast-growing plant that is famous for producing varying leaves because of morphogenesis. This plant has a strong, well-established root system, and as a climbing plant, this species can reach a height of 4 to 8 ft.



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Common Problems for Philodendron Atabapoense

The Philodendron Atabapoense is easy to maintain because it is fungus and pest resistant. However, even the hardiest plants are vulnerable to some of the common house plant pests and diseases.

Yellowing Leaves: Improper soil moisture is the top reason for yellowing leaves on Philodendrons. Especially overwatering, so never allow the soil to remain wet or soggy.

Be wary of the fact that in winter, your plant will take longer to dry out between watering.

The humidity should be boosted using a humidifier or misting to maintain optimum growth conditions. Low light levels can also trigger the yellowing of leaves.

Sometimes leaves yellowing and dropping is a natural part of the plant’s life cycle; this is true when the lower, mature leaves are shedding.

Brown and droopy leaves: This indicates low humidity and dry soil conditions. Solve this by increasing the watering frequency and humidity around your plant.

Another reason for brown leaves is sunlight; oftentimes, Philodendrons develop brown leaves when exposed to high levels of bright light.

If your plant is located in a very bright spot with direct sunlight, immediately change its location. If your Philodendron has floppy leaves with veins popped out, it is underwatered

Poor lighting, improper soil moisture, and nutrient deficiencies, all weaken your Philodendron making it susceptible to pest infections.

Magnesium deficiency: If the leaves on your Philodendron Atabapoense have v-shaped yellow areas, it’s suffering from magnesium deficiency.

This is a rare case, but you can solve this problem by feeding your plant with an Epsom salt solution. Add 1 teaspoon of magnesium sulfate in 1 gallon of water to prepare this solution.

Most Philodendron growers have complained about root-rot on young Atabapoense plants. When your potting mix does not drain well, your plant is vulnerable to root rot.

Spider Mites: These sap-sucking insects will drain the moisture from your plant. This not only slows the overall growth of the plant but also accelerates the yellowing of leaves.

Spider mites are usually treated with neem oil or insecticide soap; you can read our detailed article about spider mites to get rid of them permanently.


Tips for an unhappy Philodendron Atabapoense

  • Philodendron Atabapoense needs ample watering to grow evenly with large, uniform leaves.
  • Bring your outdoor plant inside before the frost to protect it from freezing temperatures.
  • As an indoor houseplant, maintain a medium filtered sunlight exposure for maximum growth. Your plant will appreciate some morning and evening sun.
  • Avoid using cheap fertilizers containing heavy salts for Atabapoense because the salt buildup will damage the plant.
  • Before moving it outdoors, acclimate your plant by keeping it outside and slowly moving it into a sunny area to avoid transplant stress.
  • Make sure your Philodendron Atabapoense is located in a well-ventilated space.


Frequently asked questions


What is the main difference between Philodendron Atabapoense and Billietiae?

Many plant growers get confused between these two because their leaves resemble a lot. The main difference is that the Atabapoense has burgundy undersides, whereas Billietiae has green (or slightly rose-colored) undersides. The leaves for Billietiae point downwards but not for Philodendron Atabapoense.


When should I water the Atabapoense plant?

Fulfilling watering requirements is critical for all Philodendrons—generally, water this plant when half of the soil has dried out. However, watering habits are also affected by other factors like temperature, light, and season.


What is the best type of support for this climbing Philodendron?

Climbing Philodendrons reward you with beautiful growth when provided with vertical support. For this plant, you can either use a bamboo stick or a moist sphagnum moss pole.


What is the best propagation medium for Atabapoense, soil, or water?

Most Philodendron growers recommend water propagation, including myself. This has a higher success rate for almost all Philodendron species. But remember that you should transfer the plant to the soil as soon as the roots are sufficiently strong. This is important because water roots are weaker compared to soil roots.


What is the best alternative to provide sufficient light to my Philodendrons?

If you don’t have sufficient natural light in your area, a combination of fluorescent and incandescent lights will provide adequate light for your Philodendron.


Is this plant pet and children friendly?

Philodendron Atabapoense is toxic to pets and humans because the foliage and blooms contain a calcium oxalate crystal that is irritant to the mouth and esophagus. Therefore it is important to place it at a high location away from the reach of children and pets.


The leaves on my Philodendron Atabapoense are turning brown, what’s wrong?

Brown leaves are related to watering issues for Philodendrons. You are either letting the plant dry out too much or watering too lightly. Similarly, overwatering can also cause the leaves to turn brown because the soil will be sitting in water for too long. Pay attention to your plants watering requirements to solve this.



To conclude, you can allow the Philodendron Atabapoense to grow as a creeping plant or add support to let it grow as a climbing plant. The highlight of this Philodendron is the warm burgundy colored leaf stalks and underside of the leaves.

The green, maroon, and burgundy foliage, for this plant, will add a pop of color to any indoor environment.

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