Philodendron giganteum, as its name says, is the largest representative among almost 1000 species of the same-named genus.
Native to the Caribbean islands and several regions of South America, the exceptional plant was discovered in the mid-19th century.
Since then, it has been grown worldwide as an immensely exotic, giant plant that dominates every space.
What Is Philodendron Giganteum
Philodendron giganteum is not the only giant philodendron species. It differs from other species of large philodendron by its shiny, heart-shaped, whole leaves of pure green color.
It is a creeping or climbing plant that, in nature, with the help of its aerial roots, adheres to the trees along which it grows.
The Philodendron giganteum leaves, which can grow up to three feet in length and the same width, grow densely adorned on the central stalk. Although the main stem is strong enough to withstand the weight of the foliage, large adult specimens still sometimes need a pillar, more as support than a climbing requisite.
It is a long-lived, fast-growing plant, and therefore you have to provide it with enough space and a stable pot from the very beginning. Apart from a lot of space, this houseplant with big green leaves does not require much care. It is pretty adaptable and tolerates indoor conditions well.
Like all other plants in the Araceae family, Philodendron giganteum contains poisonous calcium oxalate, which can cause serious health problems in humans and pets if it reaches the digestive tract.
How To Care for Philodendron Giganteum
Philodendron giganteum is a very convenient species to cultivate because it adapts well to indoor life and can survive for years. Below are more detailed tips on how to improve its cultivation.
Philodendron giganteum is much more sensitive to excess than to lack of water. The fact is that the plant likes moist soil but does not like to sit in water, which almost inevitably predicts root rot. Therefore, the establishment of a proper watering regime is vital for growing this plant.
Generally, it is enough to water it once a week from spring to autumn, allowing the soil to dry slightly between two watering cycles. In summer, when temperatures are high, water evaporates faster, so you could water more often, depending on how fast the soil dries. In the winter months, reduce watering to two or three times a month, depending on the room temperature.
However, always keep in mind that it is easier to increase watering than to save an overwatered plant. In other words, your Philodendron giganteum will not resent you if you sometimes skip watering as it can tolerate even a few weeks without water before it starts to show signs of dehydration.
Philodendron giganteum prefers light, airy, and rich soil. You can grow it in a mixture of standard substrate peat moss and sand or perlite in equal parts. Instead of an all-purpose substrate, you can use a cactus mixture that already contains sand, to which you could add equal parts of peat moss and perlite.
Regardless of the variant you choose, be sure to insert a handful of orchid barks, coconut husks, or smaller pieces of brick into the mixture. The root will wrap around them, forming air pockets, which contribute to the airiness of the soil.
In nature, the Philodendron giganteum is a plant that grows in the bright and airy shade of tall tropical trees. Therefore, place the plant next to the east or west window, where it will enjoy some mild morning or late afternoon sun.
If you attend to keep it next to a south window, move it a few feet away or shade the window. Delicate dark green leaves are not habitual to direct sunlight. The burns will appear on them very quickly, in case they are exposed to the midday sun.
Although a lover of lighting, as an adaptable plant, Philodendron giganteum can tolerate a partially shady position. Yet, in such conditions, the plant will produce less chlorophyll, which will result in less intense leaf color, and slower growth.
In the absence of natural light, alternatively, you can also use fluorescent lamps to create the right growing conditions for your plant.
Philodendron giganteum comes from a frost-free area. Like all other plants of similar origin, it is sensitive to low temperatures. They are typical houseplants that thrive only in a room with a constant temperature of 65 to 80 F.
The lower minimum that can withstand without damage is 55F. Yet, if the temperature stays at that value for a long time, the plant will start showing signs of hypothermia, such as yellowing and sagging leaves.
Therefore, do not place this tropical beauty in halls or other spaces that are never or only partially heated in the winter months.
In the USA climate zone 9 to 11, Philodendron giganteum can also be grown as a perennial planted in a garden where mild winters will not harm it, especially if it grows under the taller trees canopy.
A mitigating circumstance in the cultivation of Philodendron giganteum is that the plant likes rootbound, so you do not have to transplant it often. If you bought a young container plant, do not transplant it until it grows out of the pot and the roots start to come out through the drainage hole. Older adult plants should be transplanted only after three or four years.
Transplanting gives the best results in the spring before the new growth cycle begins. If you failed to do so in the early spring, wait until the fall because moving the plant in the summer will cause more damage than use.
When it comes to top dressing, Philodendron giganteum, as a houseplant with huge leaves, constantly needs additional nutrients. From spring to fall, twice a month, add an all-purpose fertilizer dissolved in water.
Water-soluble liquid fertilizers in the case of philodendrons have an advantage over slow-release granular fertilizers because nutrients are readily available to the plant. It is distinctly significant if you have not nearly transplanted the plant into the fresh substrate.
If you prefer to use organic fertilizers, you can mix one or two handfuls of mature compost, depending on the plant and pot size in the substrate around the plant’s root. This rich organic material will improve the soil composition, provide the plant with the necessary nutrients, and make the soil more similar to its natural habitat.
Philodendron giganteum does not like dry air and thrives only if the humidity level is 60 percent or more. Therefore, regular spraying of its leaves every other day is an integral part of the care of this plant, especially in winter when you water the plant less frequently.
Removing dust and other particles that accumulate on the leaves with a wet cloth or sponge is also a pleasant refreshment. Accumulations of impurities on the leaves complicate the transpiration process. Regular cleaning of the leaves helps the plant to breathe easier, gives the leaves extra moisture, and the plant looks neat.
If you find that spraying almost every day takes too much time, then get a room humidifier that will do the job for you! This handy gadget helps you control the growing conditions in the room. It allows even and constant humidification of the space, making your Philodendron giganteum happy!
One of the reasons why Philodendron giganteum is rare and quite expensive is the way it reproduces. Other philodendron climbers are easily propagated by top cuttings in water or planted directly into the ground.
The problem with this philodendron is that it can grow in a bushy form for years before the central stem begins to elongate, and the aerial root appears below the nodes of the new leaves. It does not mean that you cannot propagate the plant, but you need to wait for the plant to grow enough for that endeavor. If you have such a mature plant with many leaves, here is the procedure for its propagation explained step by step:
Top Cuttings Method
- Prepare a bowl with a diameter of at least 6 inches. At the bottom over the drainage hole, put a little coarse gravel or a few tile pieces. After that, put a layer of coconut shells or bark and fill half the bowl with a mixture of substrate and perlite or sand.
- Before the procedure, water the plant and wait for an hour until the plant absorbs it and the aerial roots become flexible.
- Use a sharp, previously sterilized knife to cut off the top of the stem at a 45-degree angle, just below the nodes. The cut part should have at least one or two already formed leaves, part of the stem at least 2 inches long, and a few aerial roots.
- Leave the cutting in a shady place for a few hours to allow the cut to dry. Optionally, treat the incision site with rooting hormone powder. This procedure stimulates root development but also prevents cut infections or stem rot.
- When a scab has formed at the cut site, place the cutting in a pot and bend the aerial roots keeping it inside the container.
- Add the substrate and lightly compact the soil with your fingers to make the plant stand upright. If the cutting has a bud with a new leaf, make sure that two-thirds of the bud should be above the surface of the substrate.
- Water the plant and add more substrate to keep the plant upright if necessary.
- Place your new Philodendron giganteum in a bright and shaded place. Do not fertilize the plant until at least one new leaf has developed.
Problems and Diseases
The adult Philodendron giganteum is a hard and durable plant that is not prone to diseases or pests. Diseases occur more often in young plants and are mainly the result of inadequate care. Let us mention some of the most common mistakes that can cause problems and diseases:
The first sign that you have overdone with watering is yellowing and wilting of the leaves. If you do not change the watering regime, other symptoms such as dark spots on the leaves will also appear. The protrusion of the leaves suggests the molds and fungi presence, and they multiply rapidly in conditions of high humidity.
Eventually. the plant will release an unpleasant decay odor, indicating the root is rotting.
Shrunken, tortured leaves with brown, brittle tops indicate that the plant does not have enough water. Do not leave Philodendron giganteum thirsty for a long time because even when you start watering the plant regularly, deformations on the leaves cannot be completely healed. But, for consolation, the plant will continue to give healthy leaves once it starts getting the necessary amounts of water.
– Low Light
Leaf pallor, elongation stalks, slow growth, and scattered, sparse leaf arrangement suggest that the plant does not have enough light. Move it to a better location or turn on artificial lighting.
Although the Philodendron giganteum does not appear to be particularly interesting to pests, it can still be exposed to attack by house plant parasites such as mealybugs, aphids, or scales.
Regular wiping of the leaves is usually a sufficient preventive measure. If the pests persist despite this treatment, you can use a neem oil solution or a mild chemical insecticide following the instructions indicated on the package.
- Philodendron giganteum requires loose, fertile soil, so feel free to add peat, sand, or perlite to ordinary flower soil. In older plants, aerial roots occur, which must not be removed. It has a very decorative effect, and in addition, when transplanted, inserted into the ground, it takes on the role of a ‘real’ root.
- Philodendron giganteum requires loose, fertile soil, so add peat, sand, or perlite to ordinary flower soil. In older plants, aerial roots occur, which must not be removed. It has a very decorative effect, and in addition, when transplanted, inserted into the ground, it takes on the role of a ‘real’ root.
- Philodendron likes high humidity and plenty of heat. Keep the substrate moderately wet, and use lukewarm water for watering. Once a week, wash its leaves with a damp sponge or cloth.
- These large plants grow profusely, so you should supplement them regularly with additional nutrients.
- Shorten oversized plants and remove all defected, damaged, and unhealthy leaves.
- Young plants you should transplant every spring, and older ones every 2-3 years. Always place on the bottom of the pot layer of coarse sand or debris to ensure drainage. In summer, protect your plant from the strongest midday sun.
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