The evergreen climber Philodendron serpens is quirky, even for a Philodendron plant.
To care for this quirky plant, you need bright indirect light and well-draining soil. The soil should always be moist but never saturated. Humidity is a key aspect of a lush Philodendron.
The heart-shaped leaves of the Philodendron serpens have deep veins that stand out. And every single leaf of this plant is unique. You’ll never see two exactly alike.
The leafstalks (also known as the petioles) have brown and gray hairs covering them.
The Philodendron serpens is tough. It takes a lot to kill one of these plants. It can take most plant pests, plant diseases, and even unkind conditions.
It takes a long time for the plant to feel the effects. Keep in mind, though the plant is tough, it isn’t immortal.
Charles Plumier introduced these Philodendrons to Europe in the 16th century. This introduction created their popularity among plant lovers outside of the rainforest.
The Philodendron serpens is the perfect gift for anyone. It doesn’t matter if you have a green thumb or you’re a known plant killer.
This is our guide to caring for the Philodendron serpens plant. You’ll learn how much water your plant needs and what pests you have to be on the lookout for.
- 1 Philodendron Serpens Plant Care
- 2 Philodendron Serpens Propagation Steps
- 3 Common Problems with the Philodendron Serpens
- 4 Tips for an Unhappy Philodendron Serpens
- 5 Varieties of Philodendrons
- 6 Philodendron Serpens FAQ
- 7 Conclusion
Philodendron Serpens Plant Care
Well-draining soil is a must for a Philodendron serpens plant. Well-draining soil sits in the middle of the soil extremes.
This type of soil allows excess water to drain right on through. When you water your Philodendron, any extra water will flow through the soil to the bottom.
You don’t have to worry about the soil retaining all that water.
It helps to have a plant pot with drainage holes so the extra water can fall all the way through. It won’t sit at the bottom of the soil for too long.
Over-watering is one of the easiest things to do to any plant. It’s also the easiest way to harm or even kill any plant.
Well-draining soil still holds onto enough moisture so your plant can grow and live.
Under-watering takes longer to hurt a Philodendron. But a dehydrated Philodendron plant can prove to be as fatal as an over-watered one.
For a thriving plant, try adding some perlite to the soil if it doesn’t already contain the material. The perlite allows air to reach the soil easier.
We promise, your Philodendron will thank you later.
A Philodendron serpens plant needs bright but indirect sunlight. This is the same type of light it would receive in the areas that the plant originates from.
In these hot climates, the plant would get bright sunlight blaring in its’ vicinity. But the plant is always shaded by trees and larger plants from direct sunlight.
Direct light scorches the leaves of all Philodendron plants. It can also cause the leaves to become discolored.
To get indirect light, place your Philodendron in either a north or east-facing window.
Make sure you rotate the plant throughout the day. This is so the entire plant gets the sun it needs.
The Philodendron serpens plant needs moist soil to thrive. But you want to stay away from drenched soil.
Over-watering your plant can have dire consequences. This can cause bacterial infections, it can attract plant pests, and it can cause root rot.
According to the University of Maryland, over-watering blocks oxygen from getting into the soil.
Without enough oxygen, the plant can’t absorb any of the water with its’ roots.
This leads to root rot. When root rot starts, it spreads fast. Once all the roots of a plant are rotten, the plant isn’t going to survive. There’s no saving it at this point.
Before you water your Philodendron serpens, you want to ensure the first two inches of soil are dry. This helps prevent saturating the plant’s soil.
To make sure the plant is ready for you to water, you can check with your finger. Place your finger into the soil, up to your biggest knuckle. This will be about two inches deep.
When the soil is dry down to your fingertip, it’s time to water the plant. But if the soil is still moist at your fingertip, you’ll want to hold off on watering it.
During the summer months, you’ll need to water the Philodendron more often. The hot heat absorbs all that needed moisture.
During the winter months, you’ll notice that you’re watering the plant less often. The cold weather helps the soil hold moisture.
Philodendron serpens plants aren’t fans of cold temperatures. Be very careful to avoid freezing temperatures or any frost forming on the plant’s leaves.
During the day, your Philodendron needs to be in temperatures ranging from 70F (21C) to 85F (29C).
At night, the plant can stand temperatures ranging from 65F (18C) to 69F (21C).
Humidity is important when growing a healthy and lush Philodendron serpens. This is because the plant originates from hot environments, like in South America.
Now, humidity isn’t a must for this plant. But it will make a huge difference in your plant’s health. A decent amount of humidity will keep your Philodendron happy.
Most homes can’t create the high humidity your plant needs on their own. You have to create it for your plant. On the bright side, it’s super easy to do.
The easiest way to create humidity in the room of your Philodendron serpens is by using a humidifier.
The cheapest and best option is the pebble tray method though. For this method, all you need is a tray, pebbles, and water.
You start by filling the tray to the very top with pebbles. Once that’s done, you can fill the tray with water.
The water should be right below the pebbles. Avoid covering the pebbles. All you have to do now is to set the plant pot on top of the pebbles.
The water will evaporate. This creates the high humidity that your plant is craving.
You should fertilize your Philodendron serpens around three times a year. But if the plant’s health is declining or it’s growing very slow, feel free to fertilize it a little more often.
Make sure you avoid over-fertilizing the plant. This causes high amounts of salt to build up into the soil, causing fertilizer burn.
Two types of fertilizers work well with this Philodendron plant.
You can use the beaded form of slow-release fertilizer. Or you can use an all-purpose liquid fertilizer.
To propagate a Philodendron serpens plant, you have two options.
You can propagate using stem cuttings and soil. Or you can propagate the plant using the air layering method.
Keep reading to find which one is easiest for you.
The Philodendron serpens can grow up to 12 inches in height.
But these plants grow much larger in width. They can grow to be up to five feet in width.
It’s important to set your Philodendron serpens plant in an area where it has room to expand.
Potting a Philodendron serpens plant is simple. It’s like potting and re-potting most other Philodendron plants.
When you see the roots of the plant stretching out of the drainage holes of the plant pot, you know it’s time to re-pot it. You want to avoid the roots balling or clumping up.
When you do decide to re-pot your Philodendron plant, use a pot that’s only a bit bigger than the one you’re already using.
If you get a plant pot that’s too big, the roots feel overwhelmed with all that extra room. Stressed roots can lead to plant pests and several plant diseases.
The best time of year to go through the re-potting process is late spring or early summer.
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Philodendron Serpens Propagation Steps
The best time of the year to propagate your Philodendron serpens is springtime. March is the optimal month.
First, we’re going to go over propagating this Philodendron through stem cuttings. This is the easiest method.
Then we’ll discuss propagating it through the air layering method.
Propagation using stem cuttings
You need a high-quality Philodendron serpens stem cutting before you get started propagating. A good stem cutting will be between two and four inches in length. You should cut right below a leaf node and should have at least two leaves still attached to it.
To get this stem cutting, you need a pair of sterilized pruning shears. You can sterilize your pruning shears using isopropyl alcohol. Once you have sterilized the shears, you can go ahead and make the cut.
It’s important to cure your stem cutting before you plant it. Curing means giving the cut end a chance to callous over. This calloused end makes it easier for the stem cutting to take root. To cure the stem cutting, leave it out for at least a week in a warm environment.
While you’re waiting for your stem cutting to cure, you need to get everything ready to plant it. You need a plant pot with drainage holes to allow excess water to drain through. Since this Philodendron is a climber, you may want to get a mossy pole ready. You’ll set this mossy pole into the soil. However, you won’t need the pole right away.
Once the stem cutting is finished curing, you can plant it. Use your finger to make a hole about two inches deep into the soil. This should be big enough to sit the stem cutting into. Then you need to pack the soil around the cutting.
Not all stem cuttings can stand up on their own. That’s okay. You can use a straw to hold it up until it can do it alone. The straw should be partially beneath the soil and it needs to also be a bit taller than the stem cutting. All you need to do is tie the stem cutting to the straw.
The hard part is over. All that’s left to do is to care for it like you would a matured Philodendron serpens plant. You’ll water it as needed and make sure it gets the appropriate amount of light.
Propagation using the air layering technique
The air layering propagation method is a lot different than the standard method. The first step you need to take is to wound the stem of the original Philodendron serpens plant.
You should create this wound towards the top of the plant so you can easily remove it when it’s time. To wound the stem, you’ll need a sterilized knife.
You can sterilize it with isopropyl alcohol. Once you sterilize the knife, you can go ahead and make the wound. The wound should be about two inches in length and two inches in depth.
To hold the wound open, you’re going to need a toothpick. Position the toothpick so it will hold it open enough for the sphagnum peat-moss.
Once the toothpick is through the wound, it’s time to add a handful of sphagnum peat-moss. The peat-moss needs to be moist so it’ll stay stuck to the stem for at least a few minutes. Rub the peat-moss across the wound you created. If you want to speed up the rooting process, this is the time to add a hormone rooting compound. But this isn’t required.
If the sphagnum peat-moss won’t stay stuck to the wound long enough for you to accomplish anything, don’t fret. You can tie a string around the wound and the rest of the stem. This should help.
Now, take plastic wrap and wrap it around the wound and stem. You want the plastic wrap tight enough to keep the sphagnum peat-moss in place. But you don’t want it so tight that the peat-moss can’t breathe. Use duct tape to hold the plastic wrap on the stem. It’s going to be on there for a while and you want it to stay the entire time.
It takes time for the sphagnum peat-moss to root. While you’re waiting, you can go ahead and get everything ready. You need a plant pot with drainage holes that allow water to drain.
Use the right type of soil to keep your new plant healthy. You can be a few steps ahead if you add a mossy pole for the Philodendron to wrap around as it grows. But it takes a long time for your plant to reach the right size for this.
In a month or so, you’ll start to see roots growing from the sphagnum peat-moss. Once the roots hit at least three inches in length, you can remove the wound from the original plant. To cut the new growing plant, you need a sterilized knife. Make sure you cut a few inches below the peat-moss wound. You’re going to plant this end in the soil.
It’s time to remove the plastic wrap from your new stem cutting. Be careful during this process so you don’t damage the new roots.
It’s time to plant your new Philodendron serpens plant. The roots need to be under the soil all the way.
All that’s left is to care for the new plant as you would care for the original plant. Water it and make sure it gets enough sunlight. Check the plant often for pests or diseases.
Common Problems with the Philodendron Serpens
Plant pests are a nuisance that you may have to deal with when caring for your Philodendron serpens.
Pests don’t come from miles away to find this Philodendron. But if they come in contact with the plant, an infestation will begin.
The most common bug infestations in the Philodendron serpens plant is from mealybugs.
Mealybugs are strange pests. They’re soft-bodied but they’re covered in a cotton-like substance. This substance works as a piece of armor for them.
You can tell a mealybug infestation easily. You’ll notice the cotton-like substance all over your plant.
The pest’s favorite place to hide is underneath the leaves.
Mealybugs feed on the sap inside a plant. They pierce through the veins on the leaves to suck this sap out.
The sap is important for your plant. It contains the nutrients your plant absorbs from the soil as well as the water absorbed.
Mealybugs are annoying but it’s a thrip infestation that you should be concerned about.
Thrips are tiny bugs that resemble thread all over your Philodendron serpens. They have wings but they can’t fly very far.
Like mealybugs, thrips feed on the sap of a plant.
The problem with thrips is that they breed fast. Before you know it, there are hundreds of thrip mouths attacking your plant.
All these mouths are stealing your Philodendron plant’s sap. The more sap that’s gone, the harder it is for your plant to go through photosynthesis.
This can lead to the death of your Philodendron serpens plant.
Photosynthesis is a process that helps feed a plant and helps the plant thrive.
The best way to treat plant pests is by using the all-natural oil neem oil. This oil suffocates plant pests and kills them right away.
Tips for an Unhappy Philodendron Serpens
The Philodendron serpens plant is tough and resilient. So, you won’t have too many complications while caring for one.
This is always a major bonus, especially if you have a busy life and can’t always tend to your plants.
But now and then you might come across a few small issues with your Philodendron serpens.
Your Philodendron Serpens’ Leaves are Turning Pale Yellow
A Philodendron serpens with pale yellow leaves is being over-watered. You should always be wary of how much water you’re using when you water your plant.
As long as the plant’s roots are fine, you can remedy over-watering. You need to water the plant less.
Before you water the Philodendron, test its’ soil. Stick your finger in the soil up to your knuckle. This is about two inches deep.
If the soil is dry all around your finger, it’s time to water the Philodendron serpens. But if the soil is still moist, hold off on watering it.
You can also test how wet the soil is by picking up the plant pot.
When there’s too much moisture in the soil you can tell by the weight. It’s going to feel heavier than it usually would.
When the soil is too saturated, you may have to switch out the soil. You don’t want your plant’s roots sitting in saturated soil for a long time.
Your Philodendron Serpens Have Necrotic Spots
Necrotic spots on a Philodendron serpens is a sign of Bacterial Leaf Spot.
Bacterial Leaf Spot is a plant disease caused by nasty bacteria. The biggest cause of Leaf Spot happens to be over-watering.
If your plant is exposed to this disease for a long time, it can die. It can even be fatal to the tough Philodendron serpens plant.
The only way to get rid of Bacterial Leaf Spot is by removing the infected leaves. These are the leaves with those oozing necrotic spots.
This stops the infection from spreading to the rest of the plant.
Your Philodendron Serpens’ Leaves are Curling
When your Philodendron serpens’ leaves start curling, you may be over-fertilizing it.
As we mentioned earlier, over-fertilizing a plant causes a build-up of soluble salt. The salt will burn up the roots of the plant.
To fix this situation, you have to change out your Philodendron’s soil. Fertilize your plant less and make sure you flush the soil now and then.
Varieties of Philodendrons
We’re going to check out some of the best Philodendron species out there. There are so many great species, it gets hard to pick favorites.
Each Philodendron has its’ unique features. Check out these cool Philodendron species.
You can find the Philodendron brasil plant in a variegated breed. These plants have gorgeous green and yellow leaves. It’s perfect for a hanging basket in a closed-in porch.
This plant is for the pink lover. Yes, there is pink in the leaves. This is where it gets its’ nickname “The Pink Princess”.
The Philodendron gloriosum plant grows rather large in height. This includes the leaves. The white veins on the green leaves bring out a wonderful contrast.
This Philodendron plant originates from Ecuador. The heart-shaped leaves are thick and have a fun leather-like texture to the touch.
The Philodendron plant is beautiful. It will stand out in any home, no matter which room you place it. The leaves change colors as the plant grows. They change into a shiny white or gray.
Philodendron Serpens FAQ
Can I use tap water to water my Philodendron serpens?
Yes, you can use water to water your Philodendron serpens. But you need to sit the water out overnight. This allows any chlorine in the water to dissipate.
Is it true that Philodendron serpens purify the air?
Yes, Philodendron serpens plants purify the air around them. They purify the air by absorbing toxins. The toxins are filtered from the air and healthier air is then released.
The Philodendron serpens is a funky plant with its hairy stem and heart-shaped leaves. We love this plant.
You don’t need to be a pro to care for the Philodendron. Our plant care guide will walk you through everything you need to know.