As the name suggests, everything about this pant is mammoth. The first reason why anyone would choose to grow Philodendron giganteum is to add volume to space or fill out a gap in the garden with foliage.
The Philodendron giganteum belongs to the Araceae family according to the Colorado State University.
The leaves are a rich lustrous green fanning out into huge elephant-ear shapes as the plant gets older, often as big as two feet long (60cm).
Given the right conditions, the whole plant itself can grow very quickly into several feet tall.
This isn’t a delicate accent plant, it’s a filler. Lush green and gorgeous, I would recommend that you grow Philodendron giganteum to give volume to fairly large empty space, whether indoors or outdoors, so that you get the best out of this fellow.
Before we dive into Philodendron giganteum care, you need to learn a bit about its origins.
There are several opinions out there on this matter but I go by USDA which says they are indigenous to the Caribbean islands.
Thus, I grow Philodendron Giganteum as I would, a tropical house plant and it works great.
Philodendron giganteum care simply involves simulating a tropical environment providing plenty of warmth, bright light, and moisture.
How to identify a Philodendron giganteum
It helps to know how to identify a Philodendron giganteum because there are a few different large philodendron varieties out there with different care requirements.
Often nurseries simply label them “Giant Philo” without telling you which one!
Without further do, Philodendron giganteum has rich green heart-shaped leaves, which are whole and not pinnated.
The underside of the leaves has a pronounced midrib with veins spreading out to the edges, all of which come to life when light falls on them.
Although many common philodendron varieties are distinctly vine-like, Philodendron giganteum is quite like a self-header in my experience i.e. its leaf stalks are stacked up so close together that the stem is not visible until some of the lower (older) leaves fall off.
Let’s now dive right into this detailed Philodendron giganteum care guide. I’ll be giving you some handy tips on how to grow Philodendron giganteum to its fullest potential.
Table of Contents
Philodendron giganteum Care Guide
An easy option is to buy a cactus or succulent mix and add perlite and peat moss to it. Also make sure you throw in several clumps of organic matter like brick bits, coconut husk, bark etc. because the roots love to wrap themselves around them.
Philodendron giganteum care becomes a lot easier if you’re looking to grow them outdoors straight in the ground.
Any spot that has quick-draining soil is good enough. They will thrive in organic matter rich soil, so use plenty of leaf mulch and sterile compost etc. that helps the soil retain moisture.
Pro tip: use a raised spot along the edge of your yard or the mound of a tree to grow Philodendron giganteum – this way the landscape will allow for natural draining of excess water.
Philodendron giganteum requires 70-85% sunlight. Just by looking at the leaves, you can guess nature’s intentions with respect to Philodendron giganteum care.
The leaves are rich green which means they need plenty of light to produce all that chlorophyll and expansive which indicates the plant’s adaptation to the paucity of light being under the canopy of large tropical trees and hence a lot of cool shade.
Simply mimic this – low filtered sunlight – and your Giant Philo will look glorious.
If you want to grow Philodendron giganteum indoors, it can tolerate shade but will lose some color in the leaves and demonstrate a slowdown in growth. They get bigger faster in semi-bright filtered light. They don’t do well in direct sunlight as the sun burns the foliage.
If you live in cold zones, it is best to grow Philodendron giganteum indoors in a pot. You can put them under fluorescent lights in the winter months.
The only confusing element in Philodendron giganteum care it watering. When buying the plant some nurserymen will tell you to dry out the soil between watering.
In my own experience, these plants love moisture. The optimal Philodendron giganteum care changes according to time of the year, climatic zone and your specific growing conditions.
If you live in the tropics and grow Philodendron giganteum outdoors in the ground, you can water it every other day.
If you grow Philodendron giganteum in a pot that’s well-draining as explained above, let the top couple of inches dry out before you drench again.
This is during the growing months i.e. spring and summer. In the fall and winter, you can cut back on watering but don’t let the plant fall short of moisture as a general rule.
If you live in colder zones – indoors in a pot is the safest way. Light watering about twice a week in summers and very minimal watering in winters is the way to go.
Philodendron giganteum care is dictated by its tropical nature. It loves warmth and the best growth can be seen near the equator.
The best temperature range is between 55 – 80 degrees Fahrenheit (13-27 degrees Celcius).
However, anyone can enjoy growing this plant provided you make sure that it is kept at room temperature for most of the day and the temperature never falls under 55 degrees Fahrenheit (13 degrees Celsius).
In winter, you should keep the plant indoors always.
As with all tropical plants a humid environment is good to grow Philodendron giganteum. They love being misted and it helps them stay fresh and clean.
Keep humidity above 60% for the best results in terms of growth and plant health.
You can even give the leathery leaves a sponge bath to make their leaves look fresh and shiny. Mist them as often as 3 or 4 times a week in winters if your indoor humidity is very low.
You can even use humidifiers to give your Philodendron giganteum the right environment through dry months.
I grow Philodendron giganteum in a soil mix rich in organic manure and don’t believe it needs a lot of additional fertilization.
It is a plant that responds well to regular feeding, no doubt, but decomposed leaf and bark matter mixed with rich soil acts as organic food for the plant.
If you’re growing the plant in a pot, your bi-monthly Philodendron giganteum care schedule could include a balanced organic fertilizer which you can pick up from your local store.
This is to be used only in the growing months. Remember you must stop feeding the plant completely in winters. The winter Philodendron giganteum care must be limited to just moisture management.
The reason I prefer organic feed over chemical fertilizers, particularly for aroids like philodendrons is because they are slow-release and safe to use. If you’re using a chemical fertilizer
I would recommend you go for a balanced liquid foliage boosting one. This allows you to cut down the concentration more easily. You should thin down the concentration of the fertilizer to half the prescribed level. Excessive fertilization curls the tip of the leaves and even kills the plant.
Philodendron giganteum is not the easiest plant to propagate, unfortunately. Climbing philodendrons are easy to propagate from stem cuttings in water.
But for self-headers such as Philodendron giganteum, the methods are more complex and usually not feasible for home gardeners.
There are ways and workaround. If you’re lucky, your Philodendron giganteum will throw out plantlets that can be potted separately once they gain some size.
Read on for a step-by-step guide on how to propagate and grow Philodendron giganteum.
Different growing methods for Philodendron giganteum
Being a self-header means you can grow Philodendron giganteum in a pot or the ground for a very long time before it starts to climb.
When the plant is small you can grow Philodendron giganteum on a tabletop in a small size pot and as it gets larger you could move to the floor but eventually you should aim to plant it straight in the ground for maximum aesthetic impact from its largeness.
Philodendron giganteum care doesn’t ask for regular pruning.
Just trim out any discolored leaves, stems and dead aerial roots with sharp garden scissors for a clean look.
Since this plant is a self-header with big leaves it naturally grows into a bushy voluminous shape with just a few leaves.
It is advisable to prune Philodendron giganteum only if they are very mature plants that have sprung multiple terminals.
Potting a Philodendron giganteum
You can grow Philodendron giganteum in a cramped pot because they are very happy being root-bound.
The roots of this plant develop well and tend you grow tightly around big clump like stones or brick bits or bark.
You will see them creeping out of the drain holes. You need to repot them only when they get top-heavy and the roots fill the existing pot – remove the plant along with the root ball and move it to a larger pot.
For larger plants repotting may be required only once in 2-3 years. Repotting should be confined to spring and summer months.
How to propagate Philodendron giganteum – Step by Step Instructions
Nurserymen propagate self-heading philodendrons from seeds or through tissue culture. Both of these techniques are mostly not feasible for home-growers.
I am going to share what is working for me. The first rule of Philodendron giganteum care during propagation is that you should do it ONLY in the growing season when the weather is relatively warm and humidity is moderate to high. Spring is the ideal time.
Propagate Philodendron giganteum from plantlets
1. If you have a mature Philodendron giganteum growing in your collection, you can look for little plantlets at the soil-end of the plant where the stem is visible after the old leaves fall off.
2. One of the nodes would pop a plantlet.
3. You can wait for the plantlet to grow big until its stem is visible which could take anywhere between a month to several months depending on the growth environment.
4. Sometimes the plantlet grows aerial roots.
5. Then you can use an air-layering technique (described below) to grow the roots even further.
6. After the roots are long enough you can plant them in soil.
Normally your plant dictates whether you can propagate it like this or not and how soon.
How to air-layer your Philodendron giganteum
1. You’ll need a 6” transparent plastic bag, sphagnum moss and a few twisty ties.
2. Look for small aerial root projections in your older leaf nodes at the base of the plant.
3. Punch a few small holes at the bottom of your plastic bag and put a fistful of wet sphagnum moss at the bottom.
4. Cut the top end of the plastic bag such that you get flaps to roll around a stem.
5. Now let’s get to the plant. With one palm hold the water-soaked moss in the plastic bag, against the aerial root on the stem without breaking the root.
With the freehand wrap the plastic flaps around the stem. Secure this bag of moss to the stem with twisty ties making a nice wet moss cocoon for the roots to grow into.
6. Make sure your peat moss cocoon doesn’t slip off the root node.
7. Keep the moss moist by watering through the holes on the plastic.
8. After a couple of weeks, you’ll notice that roots have grown into the moss.
9. Remove the plastic and the moss carefully without breaking your new roots.
10. With a sharp garden scissors cut the stem below the new roots and separate the cutting.
11. Pot the cutting using the guidelines given in the section on ideal soil for Philodendron giganteum care.
12. Keep the cutting in shade and keep the soil moist until the new plant is well-established.
13. Continue Philodendron giganteum care are as usual for the mother plant.
14. Pro tip: for better chances of success do this for multiple nodes at one time so that at least one of them catches root.
Philodendron giganteum propagation from basal branches
1. Once again, your plant dictates whether you can propagate it like this or not.
2. The mother plant will branch out at the base and the new branch will throw root towards the soil.
3. Once the roots are established you can carefully cut the branch off the main plant.
4. You’ll know if the roots are established if they are firmly fixed in the soil when you tug at them.
Common Problems with Philodendron giganteum
Irregular tan patches on the leaves
This could be due to bacterial infections like sometimes seen in Philodendron giganteum such as Erwinia blight or Pseudomonas leaf spot.
You can tell if the infection is bacterial from the typical disagreeable smell the plant emanates. The disease normally affects smaller plants and appears to be less severe on large plants grown in the ground.
This bacterial infection needs moisture to spread. First of all, isolate the plant from all other plants in your garden, cut away the affected leaves, minimizing watering and stop misting the plant, keep the leaves dry or allow them to dry very quickly in order to control spreading.
Bactericides are typically not needed.
Dark patches on the leaf
This could be due to cold draft exposure. Cut off the damaged leaves and move your plant to a warmer location.
Sudden wilting of leaves or yellowing: This typically happens due to a root rot caused due to overwatering or due to a fungal infection of the roots. Check the base of the plant immediately. I would salvage a few cuttings and try to propagate them separately in a fresh pot with sterile well-draining soil.
Yellow leaves / brown leaves
If you notice the edges getting brown and dry then you’re underwatering. If the leaves turn yellow and the soil feels soggy it could be a sign of overwatering.
Leaves lacking the characteristic dark green color is typically a straightforward indicator of poor lighting. You should move your plant to a brighter spot
When you grow Philodendron giganteum, pests and insects are not something to worry about.
The best control measure is a routine application of insecticidal soap and neem oil once a month or as prescribed on the package.
My Philodendron giganteum care routine for pest control includes washing down the leaves with a water jet once a week when I water the plant and wiping them dry.
Severe infestations require more detailed treatment typically involving chemicals.
Tips to keep Philodendron giganteum problem-free
These are some hacks for Philodendron giganteum care that I’ve learnt over the years.
1. Keep room temperature above 70°F (21°C) for most of the day and at all circumstances above 55°F (13°C).
2. Indirect or dappled sunlight is the best lighting to grow Philodendron giganteum
3. Philodendron giganteum does better with a liquid fertilizer over a solid one. Keep it organic.
4. Keep the soil evenly moist during growing months.
5. Wash the leaves regularly to prevent pests and dust accumulation. But make sure to dry out the leaves after washing.
6. High humidity promotes lush growth and shiny foliage, so it is a good idea to mist the plant regularly.
7. Grow Philodendron giganteum in a compact planter.
8. If you grow Philodendron giganteum in a pot make sure the pot is made of a heave material like ceramic. The plant get top heavy and tends topple.
9. Repotting is ideally done in spring, before the plant begins active new growth.
10. Philodendron giganteum is well suited for outdoor planting if the climate allows it.
11. Grow Philodendron giganteum on a raised platform or a relatively higher part of your yard. This not only allows for better drainage it also for the leaves to expand freely.
If you’re a sucker for large leafy tropicals like me you should go ahead and grow Philodendron giganteum.
The real joy of growing Philodendron giganteum is in watching the glossy younger leaves unfurl and grow into large bright green giants, even bigger than the older leaves.
This happens if you grow it outdoors in a large pot or the ground. Technically, you could grow Philodendron giganteum in a pot for indoor use.
But there are other types of philodendrons better suited to this environment which you could explore.
I encourage you to read about Philodendron Brandtianum or Philodendron Billietiae on our website, both of which are better suited for an indoor environment. Happy growing!
Frequently asked questions about Philodendron giganteum
Is Philodendron giganteum toxic to cats?
This plant is toxic to dogs and cats. This plant contains insoluble calcium oxalate crystals similar to other plants in the Araceae family.
Chewing or biting into this plant will release these crystals causing tissue penetration and irritation the mouth and GI tract.
Pets that consume any part of the plant may exhibit vomiting, pawing at the mouth, lack of appetite, and drooling.
Can you grow Philodendron giganteum from seeds?
Technically, yes. But this needs the plant to flower and when grown indoor in pots they rarely flower.
The seeds have limited longevity unless it is properly processed and vacuum packed.
This is usually the method adopted by professional nursery growers and not by home garden enthusiasts.
How do I make Philodendron giganteum look fuller?
This type of self-heading philodendron doesn’t take to well to pruning.
The way to make it look fuller is by giving it sufficient foliage inducing fertilizer.
Also, Philodendron giganteum is a big leaved plant and just a few leaves can fill up space.
Should you mist Philodendron giganteum?
Periodically showering the plant with water and applying insecticidal soap will help keep pests at bay.
Besides, philodendrons are tropical plants, so higher humidity will promote lush growth and shiny foliage.
Just watch out for bacterial infections which spread due to moisture.