(image credits, IG: rexandplantfriends)
On today’s menu: the Philodendron cordatum, a rare philodendron not many people know about.
Before we get into it, I would like to mention that the Philodendron cordatum is often mistaken for the Philodendron hederaceum, which is why you can find contradictory care information on most plant care websites.
Let us be the first to present the most accurate care guide that will help you care for your Philodendron cordatum the best way possible.
Native to Southeastern coastal Brazil, this Philodendron has big bright green leaves that are heart-shaped but have lighter veining and a more rugged look than its hederaceum cousin.
Philodendron cordatum care can be summarized as follows. It will do well in bright indirect light and you will need to provide lots of humidity (around 70 to 80%). Keep temperatures in the range between 65° and 80° degrees Fahrenheit (18° – 27° C). Water frequently and thoroughly until water flows out of the drainage holes. In terms of the potting mix a mix of one part peat and one part sphagnum, as well as half a part perlite and wood bark, has proven to be a well-draining mix. Fertilize every 2-3 weeks in Spring and Summer using an organic fertilizer.
Keep on reading if you want to learn more about how to care for Philodendron cordatum
- 1 Philodendron Cordatum Care Guide
- 2 Common Problems with Philodendron cordatum
- 3 Tips to keep your Philodendron cordatum problem-free
- 4 Frequently asked questions about Philodendron cordatum
- 5 Conclusion
Philodendron Cordatum Care Guide
The Philodendron cordatum will enjoy a well-draining, light, and chunky soil.
Here is a recipe you can use:
- One part peat
- One part sphagnum
- Half part perlite
- Half part wood bark
The above combination should be airy enough for an epiphyte, but feel free to adjust the consistency as you are mixing.
You can always add more perlite if you tend to overwater your plants. It will let the water drain through the soil so that it doesn’t get soggy and congested.
Although root rot is not such a significant problem in this plant’s case, you can never be too careful.
You can’t go wrong if you put your Philodendron cordatum in bright indirect light.
These are the best possible lighting conditions, and it will grow vigorously and happily if you manage to do it.
Ideally, keep it either in an east-facing window or further away from a south-facing window. Whichever way you go, make sure it is not exposed to direct sunlight, especially not in the middle of the day.
Sunburns look awful on any plant, and it will be the same for this beautiful big leaved Philodendron.
You might read care guides that say it tolerates low light on other websites. Be careful; this mostly applies to the P. hederaceum.
The Philodendron cordatum will not fare very well in low light, and you will notice the leaves getting dull and sad, which is a sign it needs more light.
Philodendrons like water, so you can be generous with this one too. Water your Philodendron cordatum thoroughly, ensuring you are evenly moistening the soil to the bottom of the pot.
You can do this by watering until the water comes out of the drainage holes once or twice.
I usually gather all of my Philodendrons once a week and put them in the shower. There I water them, shower them well and let them drain.
After about half an hour, I return them to their usual places.
If you can, try to water the Philodendron cordatum with distilled, rain, or aquarium water.
Pay special attention to this, especially if you live somewhere where the water is hard. By watering with tap water, you will cause mineral buildup in the soil, and it will soon show in the foliage.
The Philodendron cordatum will feel it’s best in temperatures between 65° and 80° degrees Fahrenheit (18° – 27° C).
It will also expect a night drop in temperatures down to 55° F (13° C). Pretty much what you would expect from a tropical plant.
Consequently, it is not a winter resistant plant, and you should mind where you put it and how you treat it as summer nears to an end, and temperatures start to drop.
You should also try to keep it away from drafts and heat sources, just to be safe.
True to its tropical habitat, the Philodendron cordatum will enjoy high humidity. You shouldn’t expect it to do as well as most mainstream Philodendrons with average indoor humidity.
If you genuinely want it to thrive, a greenhouse or at the very least a proper humidifier will be necessary.
Of course, I know this is not an option for most people, but don’t throw in the towel just yet.
I figured the best place for such plants is the bathroom, where they can enjoy the humidity of your showers.
Otherwise, you can always try with pebble trays and daily misting, which should also make a difference if you are diligent.
The Philodendron cordatum will like to be fertilized with a gentle fertilizer every two weeks. I always recommend organic fertilizers as they are gentle, and there are fewer chances of fertilizer burn.
Regular liquid fertilizers that you find in nurseries will be adequate as well, as long as you dilute it to half it’s strength.
A good practice to adopt is to always fertilize after watering, especially with synthetic fertilizers. It’s a good way to avoid fertilizer burn.
As the growing season nears to an end, you should fertilize less. The plant is going to rest, so it won’t need as much feeding. Once a month or less will be perfect.
This Philodendron can be propagated by stem cuttings. It’s the easiest way, and it also has the highest chances of success.
The process is straightforward and the same you would do with any other vining Philodendron or Pothos.
If you are not familiar with it yet, here is a step by step process you can follow for a successful Philodendron cordatum propagation:
- Pick a healthy branch that is neither very young nor very old. Make sure it is healthy and pest free.
- The cutting can be as big or as small as you want, but the necessary minimum is at least one node and one leaf.
I choose a long branch and then chop it up in single node and leaf couples. Alternatively, you can opt for longer ones if you want them to be bigger.
Either way, make sure you are not removing more than 30% of the mother plant.
- Once you got your cuttings sorted, prepare the growing medium. You can propagate in water, in soil, or sphagnum moss. All are good options, and the process is basically the same.
- Make sure the node is in contact with the medium entirely, so if it is soil or sphagnum, be extra careful to cover the entire node.
If it is water, make sure that it is submerged at all times.
Also, make sure the leaves are not in contact with the medium to prevent rotting.
- Keep this cutting in a warm and bright place.
- You can cover it with a plastic bag to increase humidity, but remember to open it every few days and air it out.
- After a couple of weeks, a few inches of well-developed roots should be there. Once they do, your cutting can be transferred to its regular pot.
- Keep the soil evenly moist the first week after planting, and keep a watchful eye for pests and diseases as new plants are extra susceptible to trouble like that.
The Philodendron cordatum can climb up to 50 feet up a tree with leaves spanning 3 feet in length and a foot in width in its natural habitat. We seldom see such huge specimens indoors.
This is partly because it is difficult to give them enough humidity for them to thrive. Indoors and in most homes, they should grow with a moss pole or some kind of wooden support.
Potting is not very particular with the Philodendron cordatum either. Repot only when necessary.
Check every year and repot when the roots start peeking out of the drainage holes on the bottom of the pot. You can also give it a new change of soil if you notice the soil’s quality is becoming poorer.
When you want to increase the pot’s size, don’t go more than 2 inches up in size. This is necessary to avoid suffocating the roots with too much water.
Excess soil around the plant and a pot that is too big are a sure-fire way of inviting root rot into your life.
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Common Problems with Philodendron cordatum
Your Philodendron cordatum is going to be bothered by the usual suspects like spider mites, aphids, and mealybugs. The most you can do to protect your plant is to strive to keep it healthy.
A healthy plant is less of a treat for pests and diseases. Furthermore, I recommend regularly treating your plants with Neem oil to deter visitors from feeding in the first place.
But, if you already have a bug issue on your hands, here’s what you can do:
You usually notice spider mites when the leaves are yellowing and drooping. When you look closer, their fine webs give them away.
They are small, light-colored spider-like bugs that can do quite some damage in a relatively short period. I lost a couple of plants to spider mites before I learned how to deal with them effectively.
My advice? Change the environment. I figured this out by isolating my spider mite-infested Calathea in the bathroom. All of the mites seemed to disappear in a couple of days before I even had a chance to buy an insecticide.
Spider mites love hot and dry environments, so put them in a dark, humid, and colder place, and they will give up. Follow up with regular neem oil treatments, and you should be good.
Aphids are light green insects that gather at the nodes and new growth of your plants and feed on your plant’s sap. They usually come in great numbers but don’t let them scare you.
In my experience, they are pretty easy to get rid of, especially if you are keeping your plant indoors. Simply hose the aphids off or shower them off your plant and do it every couple of days until they are gone.
If they persist, you can opt for an insecticidal soap treatment.
Mealybugs are also sap feeders, but they look like tiny cute cotton balls. Don’t get too sentimental, though.
You should remove them one by one mechanically with a q-tip dipped in alcohol. The alcohol will kill the insect on contact.
It is best to do it this way and spot them early before you have a significant infestation on your hands and you have to use insecticides.
Tips to keep your Philodendron cordatum problem-free
- Give it well-draining and light soil
- Water well once a week
- Fertilize it every two weeks
- Put it in bright indirect light
- Keep it away from drafts and heat sources
Frequently asked questions about Philodendron cordatum
Is the Philodendron cordatum safe for children and pets?
Like most Philodendrons, it’s not and should be kept away from children and pets. It contains insoluble calcium oxalates that can cause irritation upon skin contact or ingestion.
Why is my Philodendron cordatum’s leaves yellowing?
If the leaves are getting soft and yellow, the most probable cause is overwatering. If the leaves are dry to the touch or have dry tips, then it is underwatering. Think about your watering routine in the last week or two and change it accordingly.
Can the Philodendron cordatum live in low light?
The Philodendron cordatum is not a low light plant, so no. You will need to provide bright indirect light for it to thrive.
If you can afford to shell out the price for this rare species, the Philodendron cordatum will be an impressive addition to your houseplant collection. Its maintenance is pretty standard except for the high humidity needs.
Consequently, it’s the right choice for a first rare plant for someone who feels like they have mastered the basics of plant care. Are you looking for something even more exotic?
Check out our article on the Philodendron Patriciae. I bet you will like it!
Marcel runs the place around here. He has a deep passion for houseplants & gardening and is constantly on the lookout for yet another special plant to add to his arsenal of houseplants, succulents & cacti.
Marcel is also the founder of Iseli International Commerce, a sole proprietorship company that publishes a variety of websites and online magazines.