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Philodendron Martianum – #1 Care Hacks

Philodendron Martianum – #1 Care Hacks

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By now you know that my favourite part of the outdoor garden is north east side where I have my aroid grove.

A monstrous specimen of Swiss Cheese Plant creeps up the house. A canopy of Anthurium Plowmanii sits atop the garden wall. An elephant-eared giant philo grows against the north wall.

Several other varieties huddle up creating a mini tropical Amazonian paradise. You can almost imagine an alpaca trotting about these plants.

Amongst these, I grow Philodendron martianum, a magnificent Brazilian ground dweller with fat and chubby petioles and deep green lustrous long leaves.

The leaves are stiff, leathery and well-formed. They hold out in a beautiful rosette formation like a big bouquet of leaves.

Martianum also goes by some interesting names like Flask Philodendron or Fat Boy because of the super thick petioles.

If you grow Philodendron martianum long enough this self-header (not a climber) will produce mind-blowing monocot inflorescences.

The spathe is like a hooded cup. Creamy-white at the top and deep blood red down the throat. The white spadix sticks out of this blood red centre like vanilla ice in red-wine. Pure love.

Read on for some handy Philodendron martianum care tips.


How Not To Kill Your Philodendron Martianum




Philodendron martianum care requires highly epiphytic conditions even when it’s grown terrestrially i.e. high in chunky organic matter, very little soil substrate and well-draining.

If you want to grow Philodendron martianum in a pot, you get the best results by using orchid bark, charcoal, peat and Perlite. Brick bits and gravel can also be added to encourage fast drainage.

Mixing sand is a good way to improve drainage if you grow Philodendron martianum in the ground. They will thrive in organic matter rich soil, so use plenty of leaf mulch and sterile compost. This also helps the soil retain moisture.

Pro tip: use a raised spot like the mound of a tree to grow Philodendron martianum – this way the landscape will allow for natural draining of excess water.



The species occurs in the understory of rainforest in Brazil, often completely underground under a thick layer of leaf cover throwing out those big leaves through the debris. That is how the plant is adapted to low light conditions making Philodendron martianum care easy for indoor growing.

That said, they really grow much bigger in long light exposure. To create ideal Philodendron martianum care conditions give it 70-85% of filtered sunlight. If you grow Philodendron martianum indoors in a container, give it an east windowside or a west window side spot.

If you want to grow Philodendron martianum outdoors then a 20-40% shade cloth may be needed. I grow Philodendron martianum under the shade of a big tree in my garden and it’s been doing great.

If you live in the northern zones, it is best to grow Philodendron martianum it in a pot. You can bring them indoors and put them under fluorescent lights in winter months.



One important aspect of Philodendron martianum care is watering. The chubby swollen petioles and the thick leaves of this plant indicate succulence. The petioles store water and starch for the dry spells.

It would be a fatal mistake to over water our Fat Boy. The plant is incredibly susceptible to root rot. Watch out for any sign of yellowing along the leaf edge.

Overwatering isn’t just a function of water but also soil – which you can read up about in the above section.

I water just deeply to moisten the whole mix – that’s about once-a-week to once-in-10-days depending on where you live and the humidity conditions there. The watering cue is to let the soil dry out completely before watering.



Philodendron martianum care is dictated by its Brazilian origins. Unlike other philos, it actually tolerates a wide temperature range of 15 to 35°C (60 to 95°F).

However, since their natural habitat is seaside forests they prefer moderate weather. The ideal range to grow Philodendron martianum is narrow 20 to 22°C range (68 to 71°F).

It doesn’t do well in temperatures below 15°C (60°F). In winters, you should promptly move the plant indoors always, as they are very chill sensitive.

Once it is away from frost and safely indoors, you can grow Philodendron martianum at comfortable indoor room temperatues and in lower light conditions. If it’s very cold indoors they may simply stop growing or reduce in size.



As with all tropical plants a humid environment is good to grow Philodendron martianum.

They love being misted and it helps them stay fresh and clean. You can even give the leaves a sponge wipe to make them 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 use humidifiers to give your Philodendron martianum the right environment through dry months.

That said, you can grow Philodendron martianum in low humidity conditions as well as long as optimum moisture is maintained. Like I said before, they have “ideal” conditions but they are quite tolerant and forgiving.



I grow Philodendron martianum in a rich organic soil mix. That is all it needs. The succulence takes care of the plant by storing nutrients.

If you want to get it a little extra fertilization, there are a few things you can do and a few precautions you need top take.

For potted Philodendron martianum care, you can schedule a routine dose of balanced organic fertilizer which you can pick up from your local store.

Something like a fish emulsion well diluted and administered every 4 to 6 weeks gives a real boost to the growth. This is to be used only in the growing months. Remember to cut back on feeding the plant in winters.

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 like a 1-1-1 or a 10-10-10. You should thin down the concentration of the fertilizer to a third of the prescribed level.

Excessive fertilization curls the tip of the leaves and even kills the plant.

If you’re propagating, your juvenile Philodendron martianum care will need fertilization. If left unfertilized they tend to grow very slowly. Use a triple diluted solution for young plants once the roots are well established.

Pro-tip: Use only very good quality balanced foliage fertilizers. Heavy salts in cheaper fertilizers will damage the roots and possibly kill the plant.



Philodendron martianum are aroids i.e. plants that reproduce through monocotyledonous inflorescence that come with a spathe and spadix. The spadix contains male, female and sterile flowers.

When the female flowers are mature they become receptive to pollen from the male flowers.

According to the University of Florida, nurserymen propagate self-heading philodendrons from seeds or through tissue culture.

Both of these techniques are not feasible for home-growers. At one time Philodendron martianum was both rare and expensive but due to the use of “tissue culture” in propagation of Philodendron martianum used by nurseries, it has become common.

Tissue cultured plants don’t often achieve the size nor beauty of a wild collected specimen due to the chemical processes used in their cloning.

There are some propagation methods suitable for home growers that I’ve shared in detailed steps below.



This plant is a terrestrial epiphyte. It grows on the forest floors often on fallen trees. The best way to grow Philodendron martianum in the ground.

It grows pretty large with the leaf blades growing to foot long or bigger. The plants reaches a height of about 80cms to a meter.

Because of their rosette formation they take up plenty of lateral space. This is the only disadvantage of growing them indoors.

You can grow Philodendron martianum pretty well as container plants too. It is not a particularly fast grower and it is not pruned.



For patio and indoors you should grow Philodendron martianum in fairly large pots. These plants have strong root structures and need room to spread out.

For ideal Philodendron martianum care, a 10″ (25cm) diameter, 10″ (25cm) deep container is a good size to start off. Use very well aerated soil as described in the soil section.

If the roots get to breathe you can grow Philodendron martianum more reliably. Repot about once in two years or when the plant gets too big for its pot.

Philodendron martianum care tip: Since the plant roots need to dry out between waterings, using a netted pot with an equal size liner helps you examine the roots before watering if need be. This is particularly useful for juvenile plants.

The mature plants need a heavy base. You can opt for terracotta planters that are excellent for moisture management.



The first rule of Philodendron martianum 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 martianum from basal branches

  • The mother plant will branch out at the base and the new branch will throw root towards the soil.
  • Once the roots are established you can carefully cut the branch off the main plant.
  • Plant this in a separate pot with a 50-50 mix of peat and Perlite
  • You’ll know if the roots are established if they are firmly fixed in the soil when you tug at them.


Propagate Philodendron martianum through root division

This is a reliable method but I warn you, it’ll destroy the look of your plant. I would recommend it only if your Philodendron martianum has outgrown its container and the roots emerge from the drainage holes or over the sides of the pot.

  • Wait until the start of summers to remove the entire plant from its planter.
  • Gently separate the root system until you see the thick stem at the centre.
  • Make a note of how many divisions you’d like. For an average size plant you should end up with 3 to 4 divisions.
  • Make sure each division has at least a couple of leaves.
  • With a super-sharp garden knife cut through the thick stem and separate each section out along with a good portion of the root ball.
  • Rest them for a day or two for the cut to callous before you plant in individual pots.
  • Feed them with very dilute good quality fertilizer until the plant picks up and stabilizes.




Sudden wilting of leaves or yellowing

This typically happens due to a root rot caused due to over watering or due to a fungal infection of the roots.

Root rot usually results from a soil mix that does not drain quickly or overly frequent watering. 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.


Irregular tan patches on the leaves

This could be due to a bacterial infections like sometimes seen in Philodendron martianum 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.


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 feel soggy it could be sign of overwatering.

Pale color: Leaves lacking the characteristic dark green color is typically a straightforward indicator of poor lighting. You should move your plant to a brighter spot.


Common pests

When you grow Philodendron martianum, pests and insects are not something to worry about.

The common pests of this plant species include aphids, moths (worms), fungus gnats, mealybugs, scales, shore flies and thrips.

The best control measure is a routine application of insectidal soap and neem oil once a month or as prescribed on the package.

My Philodendron martianum 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.



These are some hacks for Philodendron martianum care that I’ve learnt over the years.

  • Due to succulence Philodendron martianum care requires intermittent dryness
  • The perfect temperature range is between 20°C – 22°C (68°- 71°F)
  • Indirect sunlight is the best to grow Philodendron martianum.
  • Avoid temperature shocks like taking it suddenly indoors or outdoors. Acclimatize the plant before moving it.
  • Wash the leaves regularly to prevent pests and dust accumulation. But make sure to dry out the leaves after washing.
  • High humidity promotes lush growth and shiny foliage, so it is a good idea to mist the plant regularly.
  • Grow Philodendron martianum in a big planter with loose soil or better straight in the ground.
  • Repotting is ideally done in spring, before the plant begins active new growth.
  • Remove the dead leaves and branches to avoid spreading infections.




Is Philodendron martianum pet-friendly?

ASPCA reports that philodendron is toxic to dogs and cats. The 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.


Does Philodendron martianum purify air?

You can grow Philodendron martianum for their air purifying properties. These plants help in removing common household toxins from the air, like formaldehyde making it a healthy addition for your space.

The NASA studies on indoor pollution done in 1989 recommends 15 to 18 plants in 6 to 8-inch- diameter containers to clean the air in an average 1,800 square foot house.


Can you grow Philodendron martianum 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 enthusiaists


Does misting Philodendron martianum help?

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.


Philodendron martianum is quite forgiving with beginners and busy folks. Due to its succulence it can take a bit of neglect. The real danger with this plant is water-logging which you must avoid under any circumstance.

The best thing about growing philos is that there over 500 varieties and each one looks dramatically different from the other; but, would have identical care requirements! So, you can have a stunning display of colours and shapes without having to worry about what care to give for each kind! That’s a quality that can turn even the most reluctant person into an active gardener!

I would encourage you to try out Marble Pothos, Philodendron Brandtianum or Philodendron Billietiae, all of which are suited for an indoor environment.

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