(image credit, IG: tropicalplantsparadise)
If you are a plant connoisseur like us, this plant will get you excited. The Philodendron lupinum offers you insight into what life actually looks like on tropical forests’ damp grounds.
For Philodendron lupinum care keep temperatures between 55°- 80°F (12-27°C). As a growth medium use either an orchid bark, and perlite mix with potting soil. Alternatively, keep your plant in 100% Spaghnum Moss. Water thoroughly when watering and grow this Philodendron in bright indirect light. Use a balanced fertilizer that contains calcium and magnesium. Keep humidity above 60%.
This ever-changing and truly primal plant showcases interesting adaptations that Anthurium-like plants have developed for thriving in low light, extremely humid conditions.
It is a hemiepiphyte, which means it starts its life up in the canopy and slowly takes its roots to the ground.
This is why this Philodendron shapeshifts as it matures, initially putting out small rounded leaves that turn into glossy, corrugated leaves that reach up to 20 inches in size.
These leaves are also velvety to the touch, which is an exciting feature developed so that the tiny hairs would catch and refract more light than its glossy counterparts.
The undersides of the leaves are also a darker, maroon color. This is thought to be an additional light-catching adaptation, as the light is reflected from the darker colored bottom cells and goes back through the photosynthesizing cells above.
Although the life of a Philodendron lupinum in the wild seems complicated, they are thought to be low maintenance plants that adapt well to life indoors, just like most philodendrons. So let’s get into the plant care specifics and what you have to do to keep your Philodendron lupinum alive and thriving.
Philodendron Lupinum Plant Care
Give your Philodendron lupinum a well-draining soil mix. You can mix one part of regular growers mix, one part orchid bark, and one part perlite. This should give your plant light and airy medium to grow into that will still retain some water but not suffocate the roots.
You can also opt for a 100% moss growing medium, Philodendrons seem to thrive in that, and it gives you the flexibility in planting it in other ways than in a pot, like fixing it onto a piece of tree bark or in a glass jar. Another option is a mix of half peat moss and half vermiculite.
Whichever way you go, just be mindful that Philodendrons are pretty drought resistant, so they don’t need a medium that will retain water for a long time.
Roots that grow in a wet environment with little oxygen for a long time can suffer from root rot, and this will show in the growth and overall look of your plant.
As houseplants were gaining popularity in the 1950s when people started decorating their city apartments with live plants, it became clear that some were more adaptable to low light environments than others.
Some of those turned out to be philodendrons, and while the Philodendron lupinum was probably not very common in homes then, it can be the right plant for you if you are looking for something that will not require ample bright light.
A bathroom would be perfect for it, considering it is also pretty humid, but you can also put it in a corner somewhere further away from a window than most plants would tolerate. Do not expose your Philodendron lupinum to direct bright light as it will get sunburns.
The Philodendron lupinum is pretty drought tolerant, so you don’t have to have the strictest or most frequent watering schedule.
Remember, Philodendrons were perfect for offices; even if nobody were there for a while, the plants would still make it. Regular watering is preferable, but it bounces back pretty fast if you forget.
Water it as much as you do with your other philodendrons, but when you do, give it a thorough watering. Make sure the soil is evenly moist through and through, and let the water run through the drainage holes.
You can also water your Philodendron lupinum from the bottom; this will make for stronger roots that reach further down in the pot and no fungal issues at the top of the soil.
Philodendrons are tropical plants, so don’t expect them to like the cold. They will do well in temperatures between 55°- 80°F (12-27°C), easily achievable in most homes.
It is not frost resistant, so those living in temperate climates should take them indoors if they otherwise keep them outside. It will also wilt in temperatures much over 80 degrees.
They are not very capricious as far as drafts are concerned, but no plant likes sudden temperature changes, so keep them away from heat sources and overly drafty spaces.
If you look at your Philodendron lupinum up close and touch it, you will notice it has a velvety feel to the leaves. These tiny little hairs are believed to have a few functions, one of which is moisture-wicking.
Similar to what you can observe in the feathers of ducks, the hairs on the plant’s young leaves make it so that bigger drops of water roll down them, and water doesn’t stagnate on the leaf in direct contact with plant tissue.
If you’ve been reading Plantophiles for a while, you might already know water on leaves can cause mold and other issues.
This fantastic and hairy adaptation that shows us the Philodendron lupinum is used to high humidity conditions. However, according to other plant collectors, this Philodendron adapts quite well to average indoor humidity.
The key here seems to be a gradual change, meaning that if you bought your Philodendron from a very humid greenhouse, it would have a hard time getting used to 40-50% humidity in your home right away and vice versa.
I keep all my Philodendron plants at a humidity above 60% and they thrive. The Philodendron Lupinum is no exception in this regard.
Feed your Philodendron lupinum with a balanced liquid fertilizer that must contain calcium and magnesium. Calcium and magnesium are both essential nutrients for your philodendron, the lack of which causes pale leaves.
Dilute the fertilizer to half it’s strength and feed your Philodendron once monthly and even less in the winter. I like to water my philodendrons first and then add the fertilizer after to avoid fertilizer burn.
Philodendrons are notably easy to propagate. You can propagate them by stem cuttings and then put the cuttings in either water or sphagnum moss, and they will most probably take root.
In my experience, they also adapt to soil and push out new growth pretty quickly after potting them, so they are perfect for beginners that want to multiply their plants from one season to another.
Here are all the steps you should follow to propagate your Philodendron lupinum:
- Choose a healthy and not overly old branch. Make sure it is free of pests.
- The cutting should have at least one node and one leaf, but you can go as big or as small as you want, as long as you are removing less than 30% of the original plant.
- If you opt for many one node-one leaf cuttings, cut the branch up into appropriate pieces so that the leaf is still connected to the node and the node is intact. If you opt for the longer branch cutting, remove the cutting’s bottom leaves to reveal the node.
- Put the cuttings into the water in such a way that the node is completely submerged. If you are propagating in sphagnum, wrap the node in sphagnum moss.
- Now you wait for the roots to be well developed and about a couple of inches long.
- From this point, you either repot this cutting in fresh soil or keep it in sphagnum moss indefinitely. The plant will do well either way. In my experience, such resilient plants are already putting out new growth four weeks in.
The growth cycle of this plant is fascinating. As a young plant, it has smaller, rounded, velvety leaves. As it reaches maturity, the leaves change shape, shed the hair, and become big and shiny.
Either way, your Philodendron lupinum is a vining plant, so a vital part of its growth and development depends on its support system. To reach full maturity, they need to be attached to a moss pole, and we recommend giving them one right from the start.
I love Philodendrons and other epiphytic plants because they give you the freedom of potting them in so many different ways. They can be planted in a plastic or terracotta pot, they can be attached to tree bark and be part of a green wall, and they can even thrive in just sphagnum moss in a glass container.
As far as the frequency of repotting, you can expect your Philodendron lupinum to need a bigger shoe size every couple of years, but don’t sweat it as long as you do not see roots peeking from the drainage holes on the bottom of the pot.
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Common Problems with Philodendron lupinum
Philodendron plants are susceptible to attack from several insect pests, including aphids, mealybugs, and scale. Let’s go over what you can do to protect your plants from them and get rid of them if they appear.
Aphids are little bright green bugs that bather in bunches where your plants’ flesh is the softest. Under the leaves, at the nodes, and especially around new growth, they attack in great numbers and damage your plant.
To get rid of them, hose them off with water, and do an insecticidal treatment on your plant. You can either go for a good lather with insecticidal soap and a subsequent spray with neem oil or choose a good brand at the store.
Mealybugs are very common pests, especially on Philodendrons. If you spot them early enough and there are still just a few of them, you can remove them individually with a q-tip dipped in alcohol.
They look like little white cotton balls, but despite their cute appearance they feed on the sap of your plant, and they can cause a lot of damage if the infestation goes unchecked. If there are already lots I suggest you shower them off your plant, or even better hose them off outside if that is possible, and then so an insecticidal treatment of some sort.
Either go with less toxic options like Neem oil or choose a well-reviewed brand from the store.
If you notice little brown shells on your plant that you can remove with your fingernail, these little nasties are known as scale. The outer shell is just a layer of protection, while underneath, a little bugger is feasting on your plant.
These often go unnoticed on plants like philodendrons and pothos because they can sometimes resemble very young aerial roots and they hang around the same places as well, on the stem and at the nodes. Unfortunately, scale is resistant to most kinds of insecticides you can buy in stores.
Even if the solution might be working initially, they quickly develop resistance and come back in even bigger numbers. That is why acting early is crucial; you are forced to remove them one by one mechanically.
Armed with rubbing alcohol, some q-tips, a toothbrush, and your fingernails (or some kind of scraping device), scour your plant for scale and kill them with the alcohol q-tip as you manage to lift them off the stem.
Dislodge it and then take it off with the q-tip. The alcohol will kill the insect, but it has to come into direct contact with it.
After that, consider doing repeated neem oil treatments to deter future feeders.
Tips to keep your Philodendron lupinum problem-free
- Give it a good moss pole for support
- If possible, give it a humid environment, otherwise, slowly acclimate it to dry air
- Feed it once a month with liquid fertilizer
- Give it regular neem oil treatments to avoid pests
- Plant it in well-draining, light soil
Frequently asked questions about Philodendron lupinum
Why are the bottom leaves on my Philodendron lupinum yellowing?
The bottom leaves becoming yellow and wilting can be a consequence of overwatering or underwatering. If you have been watering your Philodendron lupinum generously, maybe ease off for a while. Alternatively, if you haven’t been watering it as much as you should, the yellow leaves might be a sign of thirst, and you should give your plant a good soak and mind its warnings like droopy leaves that tell you when you should absolutely water it.
I see damp, dark spots on the leaves of my Philodendron lupinum. What is this?
Damp, dark spots on your plant’s leaves, unfortunately, mean bacterial leaf spot has attacked your plant. If it’s only local, chop the affected plant part away. If the whole plant is infected, there is nothing you can do. Either way, isolate the plant right away, so it doesn’t spread to your other plants.
Why is the shape of the leaves on my Philodendron lupinum changing?
The Philodendron lupinum shapeshifts as it matures. If you see the smaller, rounder, velvet leaves morphing into bigger, irregularly shaped shiny leaves, this is entirely normal.
Overall the Philodendron lupinum is a plant that will never cease to amaze you. If you are bored with the regular Philodendrons and you are looking for something a little wilder, this ever-evolving low maintenance plant might be just what you need.
Observe it through its dynamic life cycle and learn about its origins to completely appreciate how special it is.
If you are fascinated by the Philodendron lupinum, check out our article on the Anthurium metallicum, I think you might like it!
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Daniel has been a plant enthusiast for over 20 years. He owns hundreds of houseplants and prepares for the chili growing seasons yearly with great anticipation. His favorite plants are plant species in the Araceae family, such as Monstera, Philodendron, and Anthurium. He also loves gardening and is growing hot peppers, tomatoes, and many more vegetables.
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