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Philodendron Elegans Care Guide

Philodendron Elegans Care Guide

(image credit, IG: plantfilledapartment)

Finger-Leaf Philodendrons are widely grown and admired in all parts of the world. Philodendron Elegans or Skeleton Key Philodendron is a rare aroid that originates from Columbia and Brazil. This multi-lobed plant belongs to the Polytomium section of Philodendrons. It was first officially described in 1913.

This particular Philodendron needs to be planted in a peat-based mixture that efficiently drains the extra moisture. Keep it in warm environments with temperatures ranging from 50 to 86 degrees Fahrenheit (10 to 30 degrees Celsius). This plant will only thrive in medium, indirect sunlight as it cannot handle direct light.

This plant is often confused by growers with some other famous Philodendrons like Radiatum, Lancerum, and Tortum because of the pinnate foliage.

Philodendron Elegans is a slow-growing foliage plant, but the beautiful leaves are worth the wait. This hard-to-find plant, once mature, can easily reach a height of 9-16 ft.



Philodendron Elegans Plant Care



Makes sure it is potted in a free-draining mixture that holds moisture for the plant. I have grown my Elegans plant in a peat-based mixture like peat- vermiculite and peat-perlite. This plant will also thrive in coconut pith with 20% perlite or 100% soilless mediums like sphagnum moss.

For outdoor planting, this plant will thrive in USDA hardiness zones 9-10. You have to plant it in potting soil that has a pH of 5-8.



I water my Elegans plant regularly throughout the growing season. This species is sensitive to overwatering, ensure that the plant never stands in water.

You have water this plant once the soil feels dry on touching. Make sure at least 50% of the potting mixture is dry. Let the plant dry after watering; this will eliminate the risk of overwatering.



Just like many other houseplant varieties, Philodendron Elegans needs partial shade for optimum growth. Just make sure your plant receives medium, indirect sunlight.

It is necessary to protect this variety from direct sun rays as this will scorch the pinnate leaves. Sunburns will make your plant look ugly and discolored.



Philodendron Elegans will happily thrive in temperatures ranging from 50 to 86 degrees Fahrenheit (10 to 30 degrees Celsius). In growing months, make sure the temperature never drops below 59 degrees Fahrenheit (15 degrees Celsius).

In winter, this species can tolerate the lowest temperature of 50 degrees Fahrenheit (10 degrees Celsius) only anything lower might stop growth or, worse, kill your plant.



This plant requires medium humidity with good air circulation. I have kept my Philodendron Elegans in the high humidity of about 60-80 %. If your house lacks this humidity, you can utilize a humidifier that helps you maintain high humidity for several plants.



You should fertilize the Philodendron Elegans every week in the active growth season. But you can also opt for slow-release fertilizers. I have applied a slow time release fertilizer (10-5-10) thrice a year, and my plant is flourishing.



Repotting is an essential part of the plant life cycle and knowing how to repot a houseplant is important for you as a plant parent. You have to repot your Philodendron Elegans when it outgrows its original container. Follow the following steps for repotting:

  • Water your plant thoroughly 24 hours before repotting. This will reduce repotting stress.
  • Now take a sharp scissor or shears and cut the foliage to the desired stem. Focus on the stems and leaves that show signs of slow and weak growth. This is an optional step because healthy plants do not require any pruning before repotting.
  • Slightly tilt the pot and squeeze it to take out the plant. You need to do this very carefully without damaging the plant.
  • Check the roots for any discoloration and damage and trim these. Remember, healthy roots are white or light brown in color. Mushy roots indicate root rot.
  • Gently separate the roots using your fingers. You can also use scissors if the roots are tangled. Make vertical cuts across the root ball. This will open the roots and encourage new growth.
  • Now repot your Elegans in a new pot that is one or two sizes larger than the previous. I always choose a pot that is 2 inches larger in depth and diameter.
  • Water your soil again after repotting. Add water until the water comes out of the drainage holes.



Your Philodendron Elegans might require a good pruning session every few months to control the size or to encourage more leaves on the plant. Pruning becomes necessary when your plant has diseased foliage.

Take a clean, sharp pair of pruning shears and trim any leaves that are yellow, brown, or damaged in any other way. Later go for the healthy leaves if you want your Philodendron Elegans to have more growth.

Please remember that you should prune/trim the diseased leaves as soon as you notice them because these infected leaves will come in contact with healthy ones causing further damage and spread of disease.




Root Division

  • This is one of the simplest methods to propagate a Philodendron Elegans; it is closely related to repotting a houseplant. Therefore follow all the precautions recommended while repotting.
  • The first step is to collect all the necessary tools; you will need a potting mixture that contains organic, well-draining soil.
  • The next step is to collect some water and let it sit for a few hours (overnight is the best option).
  • In addition to this, you will need a sterilized pair of scissors or shears, plastic bag.
  • Now it’s time to divide your Philodendron Elegans into several new plants. Use a shovel and carefully dig the soil around the base of the plant until the roots are visible.
  • Take the plant out from the pot. Make sure you dig deep enough so that the roots are clearly visible and can be taken out easily without damage.
  • Use scissors to untangle the roots, but before that, remove the extra soil from the roots. You can either use a gentle brush or a water spray.
  • This is a perfect opportunity to check the root for any rots. Trim any mushy, damaged roots.
  • Divide the root ball into several sections. Each section should have at least one stem and leaf. If you have any difficulty dividing the root ball, take the help of sharp instruments like pruning shears.
  • Now pot each section in a separate container and add soil to help the roots settle. You can use your finger to settle the soil.
  • Moisturize each potting mixture well right after planting. Only use lukewarm water that is chlorine-free. Let the extra water drain out.
  • Place these newly transplanted pots in a well-lit location with bright, indirect sunlight and add water whenever the soil feels dry.
  • Take special care of the plants for the first few weeks as they are trying to acclimate to the new environment. You can even add fertilizer to help the plants become healthy and well-established.


Soil Propagation

Soil is the most common and successful growing medium utilized for propagating houseplants.

  • Take a small-sized terracotta or ceramic pot with drainage holes. Now prepare a potting mix based on the description in the soil section. Fill this potting mixture in your pot.
  • The next step is to choose a healthy stem from Philodendron Elegans. Make sure the stem you choose has active growth on it and consists of at least one leaf.
  • Sterilize your pruning shears/ scissors using a bleach solution or rubbing alcohol. This is the most critical step for the health of both the mother plant and cutting. Otherwise, you might end up transferring a virus or bacteria to both of them.
  • Using shears, make a sharp cut just below the node so that the cutting is at least a few inches long. Dip the end of the cut in rooting hormone because this will help it root and recover quickly.
  • Now it’s time to place your stem cutting in the soil. This is done by making a small hole in the center of the soil, place the cutting and pour some potting mixture.
  • Add some water to the plant so that the soil is thoroughly moisturized. Make sure it retains the moisture well because the cutting requires moisture to start rooting.
  • Now, wait for the cutting to show some signs of new growth and leaves. Keep it in a bright, filtered sunlight location.
  • Treat your cutting with occasional watering whenever the potting soil is dry.
  • Once your cutting produces new roots and leaves, you can transplant it to a new pot.


Water Propagation

  • Water propagation is another approach for houseplant propagation. Take a long, jar-like glass container for this species if your stems are long.
  • I always perform water-propagation in glass containers because this allows me to enjoy the growth process, especially the roots.
  • Fill the selected glass jar with chlorine-free water. I would suggest leaving the water for about 24 hours so that the chlorine can dissipate. Add a liquid fertilizer in a small quantity. This will help the plant have better growth.
  • Take the stem cuttings according to the steps discussed in the previous section.
  • Submerge the cutting in water, making sure leaves are above the water surface. You have to place the cutting in the indirect sun because direct sunlight encourages algae growth.
  • You can replace or add more water every 2-3 days or when you feel the water has evaporated.
  • Once new growth emerges, shift the cutting to the soil medium.



Philodendron Elegans exhibits individual flowers that are yellowish-green spathe. This climber even produces fruit berries.

Although it grows long spadix like inflorescence, this evergreen plant is adored for its foliage. The blooms of this plant are in a beautiful shade of red. According to the Plants of the World Online, the spathe is entirely green or greenish-pink with dark purple inside. The spathe is 6.6 inches (17 cm) in length, while the spadix is shorter 2.3 – 2.5 inches (6-6.5 cm) in size.



This epiphytic plant grows as a vine that sprawls on the ground or climbs the nearest support. This plant has unusual leaves similar to a skeleton of leaf hence the name “Skeleton Key.” These leaves are highly pinnate, large, and vary in shades of green.

With just midveins, this Philodendron has elegant and deeply cut foliage compared to others. The skeleton leaves on Philodendron Elegans can reach a maximum of 21 inches (1.75 feet) in length and 12 inches (1 foot) in width.

I have noticed that the leaf blades of my Philodendron Elegans are somewhat leathery and have a glossy sheen. The upper surface of the leaves often appears bicolored with two shades of green. The leaf veins are sunken on the upper surface, whereas roundly raised and dark on the lower side.

The young leaves differ in shape from the adult version, so do not panic if your plant does resemble the pictures you have seen. As the plant matures, the leaves will adopt their skeleton shape. The leaf structure resembles a palm frond due to the pinnate leaves.

The petioles have a spongy texture and connect the leaf blade to the main stalks. Similar to the leaves, the petiole is also green colored with a purple ring at the top.



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Philodendron Elegans (Skeleton Key 💀🔑). A plant I deem very worthy of having a photo by itself. 🌹🌿⁣ ⁣ This multi-lobed weirdo is one of my favourites to watch grow and it grows very easily. When I got it I wondered if it would have problems unfurling leaves because of the leaf shape and so many opportunities to rip or warp in so many spots, mixed with my low humidity. I’m glad it cooperates with me as it’s a bit big to stuff in my greenhouse (though I would find the room if I had to, I freaking love this thing). I remember talking to @wool.n.jungle about how bad I wanted to find one before getting this plant and I’m glad I jumped on the opportunity! (Also thanks Fiona for looking after it for the first while, forever grateful 😭🌹)⁣ ⁣ ⁣ #houseplantclub⁣ #urbanjungle ⁣ #urbanjunglebloggers ⁣ #jungalowstyle ⁣ #plants ⁣ #plantsofinstagram ⁣ #plantsmakepeoplehappy ⁣ #foliage ⁣ #indoorplants ⁣ #houseplants⁣ #interiorrewilding⁣ #lostinplantopia ⁣ #philodendron #philodendronelegans #philodendronfanatic #aroidaddicts

Ein Beitrag geteilt von Jesse and Bert (@plantfilledapartment) am


Common Problems for Philodendron Elegans

Philodendron Elegans has very few issues as a houseplant. So far, I have encountered only the two issues discussed below:


Powdery Mildew

Powdery mildew is considered one of the easiest plant diseases as the symptoms are obvious. The main indication is a white powdery substance on the leaves and stems. Although powdery mildew can infect any part of the plant, the lower leaves are the most common spot.

Do not keep your houseplants crowded as these create their own humidity, which encourages the spread of diseases like powdery mildew or down mildew. Another consideration is to improve air circulation around your plant as this reduces humidity and allows the leaves to dry well.


Sooty Mold

Sooty mold is a fungus that is initiated on the surface of leaves. It feeds on the excretion of honeydew from aphids or ants. Sooty mold is not deadly, but as it covers and blackens the plant’s leaves and roots, it is unattractive.

Controlling the insects that create the honeydew is the only way to handle sooty mold. Sooty mold may usually be cleaned from the leaves with a wet towel or sprayed away with a hose-end sprayer.

In my opinion, the best way to prevent sooty molds is to eliminate pests like spider mites, mealybugs, aphids, etc.


Other Finger-leaf Philodendrons

Philodendron Radiatum – this plant is found growing in tropical parts of Mexico. This species has highly variable leaves. It begins with full leaves, and as the plant matures, the leaves become incised.

Philodendron Tortum – this is a vining variety that has a bushy appearance. The leaves for this one also resemble palm leaves.


Tips for Growing Philodendron Elegans

  • Protect your Philodendron Elegans from frost damage.
  • Every week wipe the foliage with a slightly damp cloth to maintain the shiny look of the plant.
  • The plant becomes stressed when pests feed on the foliage. Therefore check regularly for any pest infections.
  • Once you receive your new plant, let it acclimate to the new environment and avoid repotting for 3-4 weeks.
  • Water the plant from above to make sure the whole plant receives water.
  • Let your Philodendron Elegans be slightly root-bound for healthy and fast growth as it enjoys this situation.
  • Water your Philodendron Elegans plant with room-temperature or lukewarm water.



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She’s doing well #philodendronelegans #cutting #newgrowth

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Frequently Asked Questions about Philodendron Elegans


My Philodendron Elegans is situated in a crowded corner for humidity but it is suffering from slow growth; what should I do?

Plants that are located very close to each other tend to grow poorly because of uneven distribution of light and water. It is better to keep your houseplants at some spacing for light distribution and airflow.


Does Philodendron Elegans require any support?

This plant is a climbing variety; therefore, it requires vertical support while growing as a houseplant.


How does Philodendron Elegans differ from Philodendron Radiatum?

Philodendron Elegans is smaller and has fewer divisions compared to Radiatum.


My plant is growing closely packed foliage. Is that normal?

This is due to high light. You can move to a shadier place if you don’t want your plant to grow in this pattern.


What is the difference between Philodendron Mayoi and Philodendron Elegans?

Mayoi has pale red petioles with red veins on the underside of the leaves, whereas Philodendron Elegans has dark purple rings at the connecting points of leaf blade and petioles.


Why is my Philodendron Elegans drooping?

Your plant starts drooping when it has some watering issues. You are either over or under watering your plant. You can find the real culprit by checking the soil; if dry, it’s underwatering, and if wet, it’s overwatering. The best option to avoid this is to water once the soil becomes dry.


Is it ok if I cut back my Philodendron Elegans?

This is beneficial if your plant has become leggy or takes up a lot of space. The best time to cut back the Philodendron Elegans is spring or fall.



The incised leaves and climbing nature of Philodendron Elegans makes it a favorite of many plant collectors. The draping leaves with veins create a leafy display for you.

This plant is very adaptable and survives in a wide variety of conditions as long as you maintain some warmth around it. Remember, the minimum temperature for this plant is 50 degrees Fahrenheit (10 degrees Celsius), whereas the maximum is 86 degrees Fahrenheit (30 degrees Celsius).

Other species that resemble Philodendron Elegans in terms of growth are Philodendron Tortum and Philodendron Radiatum.


Sunday 15th of November 2020

I got my elegens earlier this year. It has put out 3 new leaves since then, and each one is smaller and simpler than the previous. Each leaf should be getting bigger and more complex, but it's doing the opposite. Any advice?