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Philodendron Mexicanum – A Complete Care Guide

Philodendron Mexicanum – A Complete Care Guide

Home gardeners looking for plants that are rare, exotic, and yet easy-maintenance should definitely grow Philodendron Mexicanum.

It is a perennial, evergreen, climbing variety perfect for apartments and offices. The plant has a stunning blend of colors with the new leaves in glossy light green while the mature ones take a deep dark green leathery shade.

Their undersides are magenta to maroon. On top of that, this is a fairly fast-growing vine given the right care. Now, why wouldn’t anyone want to grow Philodendron Mexicanum!

Before we delve into the details of Philodendron Mexicanum care it’s good to know it belongs a very large genus of plants that has more than 500 species categorized under the family Araceae and are indigenous to Mexico.

Philodendron Mexicanum care is essentially a simulation of its native growth environment as a tree-climbing epiphyte normally found in Mexico’s Chiapas region in humid rain forests at elevations of approximately 1200 meters (3700 feet).

However, it can be found all over Central America in both rain forests and dry habitats, especially in west-central Mexico. It climbs trees and drapes rocks. Armed with this information, let’s dive right in.

 

 

PHILODENDRON MEXICANUM CARE INSTRUCTIONS

SOIL

If you are looking to grow Philodendron Mexicanum in a pot, you get the best results using rich, loose potting soil that drains well and is high in organic matter.

A combination of leaf much, kitchen compost, peat, moss, and perlite makes a good base, but avoid wet, mucky or dry sandy soils.

A reliable Philodendron Mexicanum care hack is to use a ready succulent mix along with brick bits, coconut husk, orchid bark, etc. to give the roots something to bind themselves around and for additional drainage.

They like it slightly acidic to neutral with pH from 5 to 7. But don’t go crazy over this since soil acidity keeps changing rapidly.

Philodendron Mexicanum care becomes a lot easier if you live close to the equator and want to grow it outdoors straight in the ground.

Any spot that has loose soil and isn’t low-lying is a good choice. They will thrive in organic matter rich soil, so use plenty of leaf mulch, sterile compost etc. that helps the soil retain moisture.

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

 

LIGHT

Philodendron Mexicanum care involves giving it a lot of sun i.e. about 70 to 85% of exposure to natural but filtered sunlight.

Remember they grow in the understory of dense forests i.e. under the shade of taller trees that act as canopies. Don’t grow Philodendron Mexicanum directly under the sun.

An effective Philodendron Mexicanum care hack is to use a 20 to 40% shade cloth to diffuse sunlight and protect the plant from damage.

Rationing sunlight is actually is great way to trick the plant into growing faster, because they tend to “reach” for sunlight by throwing up new leaves.

When exposed to very bright sunlight they may experience leaf burn. If you want to move it outdoors to your patio or pergola, it is best to acclimate the plant to its new environment and slowly move it into a sunny area over a week or two to avoid stress.

 

WATERING

What people often get wrong with Philodendron Mexicanum care is watering. Overwatering is the most common mistake when you grow Philodendron Mexicanum and so naturally your nurseryman will tell you to dry out the soil between watering.

The fact is optimal watering level to grow Philodendron Mexicanum changes according to the time of the year, climatic zone, and growing conditions specific to you.

– If you live in the tropics and grow Philodendron Mexicanum outdoors in the ground, you can water it every other day.

– If you grow Philodendron Mexicanum 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.

Finally, in my own experience these plants love moisture and grow very lush if watered regularly.

So the best Philodendron Mexicanum care hack I can give you is to acclimatize the plant to a healthy watering schedule by gradually increasing it and cutting back if required (the leaves will turn yellow upon overwatering).

For example, you could move from a once-a-week cycle to a twice-in-10-days cycle.

And this is possible ONLY if your soil is perfectly well-draining, so make sure to get that right before you inundate your plant.

 

TEMPERATURE

The plant loves warmth and the best growth can be seen near the equator. That said, it is also seen growing at altitudes like 1900 meters above sea level where things can get a tad chilly.

You can attempt to grow Philodendron Mexicanum outside if the temperatures in your climatic zone are around 15°C in the night and around 30°C in the day.

This is sort of the ideal range to grow Philodendron Mexicanum. They don’t do well in temperatures below 12.75°C (55°F) and they are not frost tolerant.

However, if you want to grow Philodendron Mexicanum in northern zones, summer months are fine, but during colder months the temperature must never fall under 12.75°C (55°F).

In winters, you should promptly move the plant indoors always. Once it is away from frost, you can grow Philodendron Mexicanum at average indoor room temperatures.

If it’s very cold indoors they may simply stop growing or reduce in size.

Philodendron Mexicanum care tip: they don’t like abrupt changes in temperature. Acclimatize the plant if you’re introducing drastic variations.

 

HUMIDITY

Being tropical epiphytes, they ideally require about 20 to 40% air humidity during the daytime and 80 to 100% during the night.

Occasional misting is favorable for Philodendron Mexicanum care. You could try using a pebble tray filled with water but I am not a fan of this method since there’s a danger of the soil getting soggy wet from the drain holes.

My preferred methods are to use humidifiers or to huddle up several varieties of MonsterasPhilodendrons, and Pothos varieties. This helps create a warm and muggy environment around the plants that these epiphytes seem to love.

 

FERTILIZER

I grow Philodendron Mexicanum in a soil mix rich in decomposed leaf and bark matter which act as organic food for the plant.

I also use a nitrogen-rich fertilizer that helps in increasing leaf size and produces a larger, healthier plant, which is very desirable particularly if you grow Philodendron Mexicanum for the dog-eared shape.

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

I like to use fish emulsion well diluted and administered every 4 to 6 weeks giving a real boost 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 that they are slow-release and safe to use.

If you’re using chemicals just make sure that the product is high-quality, free of heavy chemicals and salts that could kill the plant. And more importantly, dilute triple X.

 

PROPAGATION

What makes Philodendron Mexicanum care even more endearing is the fact that, given the right conditions, these plants are a cinch to propagate.

Cuttings taken from the growing tips root readily in potting soil, vermiculite, or water. These methods work great to grow Philodendron Mexicanum because it’s a vining form that has pronounced growth nodes with aerial roots.

The closer the conditions are to a philodendron’s native habitat, the faster it will root. Propagating during spring and summer when the plant is in growth phase also aids the process.

Growth hormone powder in my experience isn’t really necessary to grow Philodendron Mexicanum.

Professional nurseries germinate these plants from seeds but honestly, the process isn’t exactly “idiot-proof”. In any case, cutting is the way to go if you want to grow Philodendron Mexicanum clones.

 

GROWTH

Philodendron Mexicanum care is quite easy because it’s a fairly fast-growing vine once basic requirements are satisfied.

If you want to grow Philodendron Mexicanum indoors make sure it’s not in a crowded spot or in the way of traffic.

The stem holds the leaves out around 1 to 2 feet (30 to 60 cm). The leaves can even grow up to 2 feet (60cm) long with larger back lobes measuring 1 foot (30cm) wide.

It reaches an average height of about 2 meters in two years.

Philodendron Mexicanum care doesn’t require frequent pruning since pruning doesn’t necessarily induce multiple branching.

 

POTTING

Give the plant a fairly big and heavy pot for stability. The plant does get a bit top-heavy. I do like to use terracotta containers for my philos mainly for excellent drainage and soil breathability.

This is a Philodendron Mexicanum care hack to get a fuller growth rather than the leggy growth one typically sees – grow Philodendron Mexicanum around a burlap or peat moss-covered pole, training the vine to gently wrap around the pole rather than going straight up.

Make sure the pole is placed deep inside the pot so that it’s stable and non-shaky.

 

Philodendron Mexicanum Care

Philodendron Mexicanum Care

 

PHILODENDRON MEXICANUM PROPAGATION METHODS – STEP BY STEP

It is easy and straightforward to propagate Philodendron Mexicanum from stem tip cuttings or via berries that they grow.

 

Propagate Philodendron Mexicanum from tip cuttings

  1. Choose a stem tip from a mature mother plant, ideally where aerial roots are visible
  2. Cut the stem tip with at least two leaf nodes using a pair of garden scissors.
  3. Keep a pot with a 50-50 mix of sphagnum moss and perlite that’s evenly very moist but not wringing wet.
  4. You don’t need a rooting hormone for the cuttings because they typically root quite readily.
  5. Stick in the stem with at least one node well under the soil and press down the soil for support.
  6. Keep the pot in a fairly bright spot but away from direct sun.
  7. Keep the soil moist until the cutting is established.

 

Propagate Philodendron Mexicanum in water

  1. Follow the instructions up to step 2 in the above section
  2. Select a jar at least 3 inches wide and deep enough that the nodes of the cutting are under water but the terminal leaves are out. Pro tip: If the mouth of the jar is too narrow the roots break while pulling the cutting out.
  3. Put your cutting in the jar filled with clean water.
  4. Keep in spot where there is indirect sunlight and don’t disturb the cutting
  5. New roots will sprout from the nodes submerged in water after 2 weeks.
  6. You can transfer the cutting to soil once the roots are an inch or two long.

 

Propagate Philodendron Mexicanum through air-layering

You’ll need a 6” transparent plastic bag, sphagnum moss and a few twisty ties.

  1. Choose a node with aerial roots on a strong leggy stem. Make a shallow slit no deeper that 1/4th thickness of the stem right under that node.
  2. Punch a few small holes at the bottom of your plastic bag and put a fistful of evenly moist sphagnum moss at the bottom. Cut the top end of the plastic bag such that you get flaps to roll around the stem.
  3. Now let’s get to the plant. With one palm hold the water-soaked moss in the plastic bag, against the selected aerial root node. With the free hand wrap the plastic flaps around the stem. Secure this to the stem with twisty ties making a nice wet moss cocoon for the node.
  4. Keep the moss moist by watering through the holes on the plastic.
  5. Within 2 weeks, you’ll notice that roots have grown into the moss.
  6. Remove the moss without breaking your new roots and cut the stem below the new roots separating the cutting from the mother
  7. Pot the new plant keeping the soil moist until it is well-established.

 

COMMON PROBLEMS WITH PHILODENDRON MEXICANUM

Common pests: When you grow Philodendron Mexicanum, 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.

They can easily be avoided with a routine application of insecticidal soap and neem oil once a month or as prescribed on the package.

My Philodendron Mexicanum 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. University of Florida has a detailed report on the various infections and pests and the control measures for vining philodendrons.

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.

Irregular tan patches on the leaves: This could be due to bacterial infections like sometimes seen in Philodendrons 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

 

TIPS TO KEEP PHILODENDRON MEXICANUM PROBLEM-FREE

These are some Philodendron Mexicanum care hacks that I’ve learnt over the years.
– The ideal temperature range is between 12.75°C – 26°C (55°- 80°F)

– Dappled sunlight or bright shade is the best to grow Philodendron Mexicanum.

– Avoid temperature shocks like taking it suddenly indoors or outdoors. Acclimatize the plant before moving it.

– Use a nitrogen fertilizer for increased leaf size and faster growth.

– Keep the soil evenly moist during growing months but never water logged.

– Wash the leaves regularly to prevent pests and dust accumulation. But make sure to dry out the leaves after washing.

– Provide humidity by huddling with other plants.

– Frequent watering in winters will kill the plant.

– Use a totem and spiral the vine around the totem for a bushy look.

– Remove dead leaves and branches to avoid spreading infections.

 

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS ABOUT PHILODENDRON MEXICANUM 

 

Is Philodendron Mexicanum 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.

 

Is Philodendron Mexicanum the same as Syngonium?

Both plants have a dog-eared leaf shape and often confused for each other. They belong to different species of plants and can be easily told apart by touching the leaves. Philos have a glossy leathery feel compared to the thinner, papery, non-glossy feel of a Syngonium.

 

Does Philodendron Mexicanum purify air?

You can grow Philodendron Mexicanum 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 Mexicanum 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.

 

Does misting help to grow Philodendron Mexicanum?

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.

 

Does misting help to grow Philodendron Mexicanum?

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.


 

CONCLUSION

Kids love to watch and grow Philodendron Mexicanum because the narrow pointy leaf blades with two upper appendages altogether resemble Disney’s character Pluto. And so our plant has been promptly christened Pluto!

The best thing about the Philodendron genus is that there are over 500 varieties dramatically different from each other, but they all have similar care requirements!

You can create quite a stunning collection of these plants having different colors and shapes without having to worry about what care to give for each individual kind! That’s a quality that can turn even the most reluctant person into an active gardener!

If you’re a beginner in home gardening I would encourage you to try out Marble Pothos, Philodendron Brandtianum, or Philodendron Billietiae, all of which are suited for an indoor environment.

According to Clemens College of Agriculture, these are all closely related plants. I also recommend you go through these handy houseplant tips before embarking on your green journey.

Happy indoor gardening!

 

 

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