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Philodendron squamiferum

philodendron squamiferum, houseplant, houseplants
philodendron squamiferum, houseplant, houseplants

Philodendron squamiferum, known for its distinctive hairy stems and lush foliage, is a unique addition to the Philodendron family, captivating plant enthusiasts with its exotic appearance and adaptability as a houseplant.

Philodendron squamiferum: An In-depth Look

Philodendron squamiferum is notable for its long, red stems covered in soft, hair-like structures, known as pubescence, which give the plant an unusual tactile quality. The leaves are large, lobed, and deeply dissected, resembling oak leaves, and can grow quite large, adding to the plant’s dramatic appearance.

Native: Native to the tropical rainforests of South America, particularly French Guiana, Suriname, and northern Brazil, Philodendron squamiferum thrives in warm, humid environments. It is typically found in the understory of the forest, where it climbs trees by attaching itself with aerial roots, seeking light and space to expand. Philodendrons belong to the arum family (Araceae), along with Zantedeschia (Calla Lily), Caladium (Angel Wing), Monstera (Swiss Cheese Plant), or Colocasia (Elephant Ear).

Plant Type and Habit: Philodendron squamiferum is a climbing evergreen vine that can reach significant heights when provided with support, such as a moss pole or trellis. This growth habit allows it to be versatile in how it’s displayed, whether trained to climb or allowed to trail from hanging baskets.

Size: Philodendron squamiferum can reach up to 10-15 feet in height (3 to 4.5 meters), with a spread that depends on the length of its vines. The plant’s size and growth rate can be influenced by the growing conditions, including light, humidity, and soil quality.

Flowers: Like many philodendrons, Philodendron squamiferum can produce flowers, though it’s a rare occurrence in household conditions. The inflorescences are typical of the genus, featuring a spadix surrounded by a spathe, but the plant is primarily grown for its attractive foliage and unique stems.

Foliage: The foliage of Philodendron squamiferum is its most striking feature, with glossy, deeply lobed leaves that can add a touch of the tropical to any indoor space. The contrast between the red, hairy stems and the green leaves creates a visually appealing display.

Hardiness: It is hardy in USDA zones 10 to 11 and prefers temperatures between 65°F (18°C) and 85°F (29°C). It requires protection from cold drafts and temperatures below 60°F (15°C).

Uses: Philodendron squamiferum is primarily used for ornamental purposes, thanks to its unique appearance and adaptability as a houseplant. Its climbing habit makes it suitable for vertical gardening, adding greenery to indoor walls or being a focal point in a plant collection.

Toxicity: Philodendrons are toxic to humans, cats, and dogs if ingested. They contain calcium oxalate crystals that can cause mouth and stomach irritation. Contact with the sap may cause skin irritation.

Benefits: Beyond its decorative value, it also serves as an air purifier, improving indoor air quality by filtering out certain toxins.

philodendron squamiferum, houseplant, houseplants

Philodendron squamiferum Care

Light: Prefers bright, indirect light. Avoid direct sunlight, which can scorch its leaves. A location near a window with filtered light is ideal.

Soil: Thrives in well-draining, rich, organic soil. A mix of peat, perlite, and vermiculite or orchid bark works well, providing both moisture retention and adequate drainage.

Water: Water when the top inch of soil feels dry to the touch. Philodendron squamiferum enjoys consistent moisture but does not like to sit in waterlogged soil, which can lead to root rot. Ensure good drainage.

Temperature and Humidity: Prefers warm temperatures between 65°F (18°C) and 85°F (29°C). Protect it from cold drafts and sudden temperature drops to avoid stress. Prefers high humidity, around 60-80%. Use a humidifier, mist the plant regularly, or place it on a pebble tray with water to increase humidity around the plant.

Fertilization: Fertilize every 4-6 weeks during the growing season (spring and summer) with a balanced, liquid fertilizer diluted to half the recommended strength. Reduce fertilization in the fall and winter months.

Support: Being a climbing plant, Philodendron squamiferum benefits from a moss pole or trellis to support its growth and encourage larger leaf development.

Pruning: Prune any yellow or damaged leaves to encourage healthy growth. Pruning can also help maintain the plant’s shape and promote fuller growth.

Repotting: Repot every 2-3 years or when the plant becomes root-bound. Spring is the best time for repotting, giving the plant space to grow and refreshing its soil.

How to Propagate Philodendron squamiferum – A Step-By-Step Guide

Propagating Philodendron plants is a straightforward and rewarding process, allowing you to expand your collection or share with friends and family. The most common method is stem cuttings, which can be rooted in water or soil. Here’s how to do it:

Propagation by Stem Cuttings in Water:

  • Choose a Healthy Stem: Look for a healthy stem with at least 2-3 leaves and a few nodes (the points on the stem where leaves attach and roots tend to grow).
  • Make the Cut: Using a clean, sharp knife or scissors, cut just below a node. The cutting should be about 4-6 inches long.
  • Prepare the Cutting: Remove any leaves that would be submerged when you place the stem in water to prevent rot.
  • Root in Water: Place the cutting in a glass or jar of water, ensuring the node is submerged. Leave the leaves out of the water. Place the jar in a warm, bright spot with indirect light.
  • Change the Water Regularly: Refresh the water every few days to keep it clean, which helps prevent bacterial growth.
  • Wait for Roots: Roots should start to emerge from the nodes in about 2-4 weeks. Wait until the roots are a few inches long before potting.
  • Potting: Once the roots are sufficiently developed, plant the cutting in a pot with well-draining soil. Care for it as you would a mature Philodendron.

Propagation by Stem Cuttings in Soil:

  • Prepare Your Cutting: Follow the same steps as above to select and cut a healthy stem section.
  • Rooting Hormone (Optional): Dip the cut end of the stem in rooting hormone powder to encourage root growth. This step is optional but can enhance rooting success.
  • Plant the Cutting: Fill a pot with a well-draining potting mix. Make a hole in the center and insert the cut end of the stem, ensuring at least one node is buried beneath the soil surface.
  • Water and Cover: Water the soil lightly to settle it around the cutting. To create a humid microenvironment, you can cover the pot with a plastic bag or place it in a propagator. Ensure the leaves are not touching the plastic to prevent rot.
  • Care for Your Cutting: Place the pot in a warm, bright location with indirect light. Keep the soil consistently moist but not waterlogged.
  • Wait for Growth: In a few weeks, the cutting should start to root. You can gently tug on the plant after about 4 weeks; if there’s resistance, roots have formed.

Philodendron squamiferum: Pests, Diseases, Common Problems

Philodendrons can encounter pests, diseases, and other common problems, especially when grown indoors.

Pests

Spider Mites: These tiny pests can be identified by the fine webs they weave on the plant. They cause yellowing or speckled leaves. Increase humidity around the plant and wash it with a strong stream of water. For severe infestations, use insecticidal soap or neem oil.

Mealybugs: These white, cottony pests tend to cluster in leaf axils and under leaves, sucking sap and weakening the plant. Remove with alcohol-dipped cotton swabs or apply neem oil.

Aphids: Small, soft-bodied insects that can be green, black, brown, or pink, aphids typically feed in groups on the undersides of leaves. Combat them with a gentle spray of water, neem oil, or insecticidal soap to protect the plant’s health and appearance.

Scale insects: Hard or soft-bodied insects that attach themselves to the stems or leaves, causing yellowing and growth stunting. Scrape off with a fingernail or use a cotton swab dipped in rubbing alcohol. Insecticidal soap or neem oil may also be used.

Diseases

Root rot:  Overwatering is the primary cause, leading to brown, mushy roots and yellowing leaves. Reduce watering, improve drainage, and repot the plant into fresh, well-draining soil. Severely affected roots should be trimmed before repotting.

Leaf spot: Fungal or bacterial infections can cause dark or black spots on leaves, often with a yellow halo. Increase air circulation, avoid wetting leaves when watering, and remove affected leaves. Fungicides or bactericides may be necessary in severe cases.

Common Problems

Yellowing Leaves: Often a sign of overwatering or poor drainage. Ensure the plant is in well-draining soil and adjust your watering schedule to allow the soil to dry slightly between waterings.

Brown Leaf Tips: Can indicate low humidity, especially in dry indoor environments. Increase humidity around the plant with a humidifier, pebble tray, or by misting the leaves regularly.

Leaf Scorch: Direct sunlight can cause the leaves to scorch, leading to brown patches or fading of the vibrant leaf colors. Position the plant in a location where it receives bright, indirect light.

Drooping Leaves: This can be a sign of both underwatering and overwatering. Check the soil moisture to determine the cause and adjust your watering accordingly.

Slow Growth or Lack of Color: Insufficient light can lead to less vibrant leaf coloration and slow growth. Ensure your philodendron is receiving enough indirect light to maintain its rich hues and promote healthy growth.

Requirements

Hardiness 10 - 11
Plant Type Houseplants, Climbers
Plant Family Araceae
Genus Philodendron
Exposure Partial Sun
Season of Interest Spring (Early, Mid, Late)
Summer (Early, Mid, Late)
Fall
Winter
Height 10' - 15'
(3m - 4.6m)
Maintenance Low
Water Needs Average
Soil Type Loam
Soil pH Acid, Neutral, Alkaline
Soil Drainage Moist but Well-Drained
Characteristics Showy, Evergreen
Tolerance Deer, Rabbit
Garden Uses Patio And Containers
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Alternative Plants to Consider

Philodendron mayoi
Philodendron ‘Ring of Fire’
Philodendron plowmanii
Philodendron ‘Moonlight’
Philodendron ‘Royal Queen’
Philodendron brandtianum

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Philodendron
While every effort has been made to describe these plants accurately, please keep in mind that height, bloom time, and color may differ in various climates. The description of these plants has been written based on numerous outside resources.
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Requirements

Hardiness 10 - 11
Plant Type Houseplants, Climbers
Plant Family Araceae
Genus Philodendron
Exposure Partial Sun
Season of Interest Spring (Early, Mid, Late)
Summer (Early, Mid, Late)
Fall
Winter
Height 10' - 15'
(3m - 4.6m)
Maintenance Low
Water Needs Average
Soil Type Loam
Soil pH Acid, Neutral, Alkaline
Soil Drainage Moist but Well-Drained
Characteristics Showy, Evergreen
Tolerance Deer, Rabbit
Garden Uses Patio And Containers
How Many Plants
Do I Need?
Guides with
Philodendron
Not sure which Philodendron to pick?
Compare Now

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