The Philodendron squamiferum, popularly known as the hairy Philodendron or the Red Bristle Philodendron, is rare but popular among gardeners. Houseplant enthusiasts also love this plant due to its distinct oak-shaped leaves.
This humidity-loving plant is commonly grown in indoor spaces that receive bright indirect light throughout the day.
This ultimate guide will help you to grow and care for the Philodendron squamiferum.
What Is Philodendron Squamiferum?
Philodendron squamiferum is a climber native to Central America, where it grows extensively in the jungles of Brazil, French Guiana, and Suriname.
It is an aroid epiphyte belonging to the Araceae family, and its stems are covered with fuzzy red hair.
Growth and Size
The rare hairy Philodendron is an understory plant of the rainforests. It looks similar to Philodendron bipennifolium and Philodendron pedatum.
Squamiferum can reach impressive heights in the wild with the support of high trees.
It has a moderate to low growth rate depending on its environment.
With the proper support of a large trellis or moss pole in a pot, it can reach a height of one meter and above. If grown in the ground, it can grow quite tall by vining its way up the trees.
Squamiferum goes dormant in winter, but as spring approaches, it starts growing.
The leaves of Philodendron squamiferum are oak-shaped with five lobes. The plant garners attention for its distinct yet beautiful foliage. The glossy leaves can grow as large as 18 inches in length.
The leaves are violin-shaped when young, but when the plant matures, they form lobes. The stems or petioles are covered with tiny, red hair called pubescence in botanical terms.
Philodendron squamiferum is an epiphyte, its roots grip around other trees. Like pothos, it has aerial roots that help it get nutrition from the air and other trees’ barks.
The roots of this plant need airy and well-draining soil to develop fully. They do not grow well in dense and compact soil. The plant will suffocate in dense soil.
The Philodendron squamiferum blooms in the warmer months of the year, in spring mostly. The plant grows beautiful white blooms that bear pink berries with seeds inside. These seeds are for propagating the plant.
The Squamiferum produces a Spadix enclosed by a burgundy Spathe. The spadix is a finger of tiny flowers.
Philodendron squamiferum is highly toxic because of the presence of calcium oxalate crystals. Ingesting it can cause a burning sensation in the mouth, skin allergies, rashes, stomach aches, and in some cases, loss of breath. Keep the plant away from kids and pets.
Complete Philodendron Squamiferum Care
Keep your Philodendron squamiferum in a bright space that receives indirect light. Try to provide wild-like conditions where the Squamiferum snakes its way up tree trunks, with some parts of the plant receiving sunlight and other parts of the plant in the shade.
It can also tolerate low light, but insufficient light can make the stems long and leggy. We recommend you to keep it in bright indirect light if you want to see constant growth, new leaves, and more petioles.
If kept in direct sunlight for too long, leaves will begin to turn yellow and eventually burn. In a moderate climate, it is a great choice to grow outside in the gardens. But you have to plant it below an existing tree where it will get protected from direct sunlight.
Philodendron squamiferum loves moist soil. But let the soil dry out slightly (not for too long) between waterings. Only water this plant when the top inch of soil dries out entirely. Insert your finger in the soil; if it comes out dry, it is time to water.
It is more sensitive to overwatering compared to other Philodendrons. Do not overwater the plant as standing water encourages root rot.
The exact water requirements of your Philodendron squamiferum will depend on conditions like the size of the pot, the kind of environment it is kept in, the type of soil medium used, and the light conditions.
If your Squamiferum is kept in a brightly lit space planted in a well-draining potting mix with the temperature ranging between 59 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit, water your plant thoroughly every week or so during summers and every 10 to 15 days in winters.
Philodendron squamiferum is an epiphyte, meaning that it does not like a tight soil mix. Its roots need some aeration to develop. So use light and porous potting mix.
Use soil with a mix of coco coir, sphagnum moss, well-draining potting soil, and some orchid or pine bark. This mixture results in a fast-draining mixture with lots of air around the roots. You can increase the drainage in the soil by adding some perlite/vermiculite or gravel.
Sphagnum moss and coco coir retain moisture. Perlite and gravel allow excess water to escape from the bottom of the pot. So mix these with the regular potting soil to make the soil mix light and airy.
The ideal temperature for Philodendron squamiferum’s optimum growth is 59 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit. It thrives in warmer climates. The plant has evolved as a tropical plant growing under the giant trees of the rainforests.
It cannot tolerate cold temperatures for too long, and any temperature below 59 degrees can slow down the plant’s growth. In winters, move the plant to a warmer spot inside to protect it from frost.
Philodendron squamiferum likes a humid environment, exactly like its natural habitat of a tropical rainforest. If you live in a tropical area, then your plant will acclimatize and grow fast. Otherwise, keep a humidifier next to your plant, maintaining 60 to 65 percent humidity.
Squamiferum is an easy-to-maintain plant. A humidifier is unnecessary, but maintaining a humidity level above 50 percent will help your plant grow fast. Keep the plant away from an air-conditioned environment.
You can also try the pebble tray method to maintain humidity throughout the day. Take a tray, fill it with small pebbles and water. Now keep your plant above the tray. The plant will get extra moisture when the water evaporates.
While maintaining humidity around the plant, keep the air circulating because humidity higher than 60 percent without air circulation can encourage fungus growth.
Philodendron squamiferum grows modestly and is not a heavy feeder of fertilizer. Fertilizing it every one or two months should be good enough during the growing months of spring and summer.
Do not fertilize in winter as the plant goes into the dormancy stage. Let the plant recover from excess fertilizer. You can start fertilizing again as spring begins. Use a fertilizer made for Philodendrons.
Philodendron squamiferum does not need pruning. But if you want to control its size and height, you can prune the branches during spring. Use these cuttings to propagate it.
If you see any yellow or brown leaves, pinch them. Remove dead leaves from the plant, if any.
Propagation of Philodendron Squamiferum
You can use cuttings of the Squamiferum to propagate in warmer months of the year.
Firstly, sterilize your shears. Cut a 5-6 inches long stem from just below a leaf node using sharp shears. Leave only two or three leaves at the top and remove the bottom leaves.
For the water propagation, fill a glass of water and keep the cutting in it. Change the water every three to four days and keep the glass in a well-lit space. It takes around two to three weeks for the cutting to develop roots. Once the roots grow, plant the cutting in the potting mix.
For the soil propagation method, insert the stem cutting directly into the potting mix and water thoroughly. When the roots grow, shift the plant to a bigger pot and keep feeding the plant appropriately.
You can also try air-layering with Squamiferum. Air-layering is done to develop the roots while the cutting is attached to the mother plant.
Spot a node and wrap some sphagnum moss around it. Put a plastic bag around to keep the moss moist. Roots shall develop in a few days. Once the roots are about 2 inches long, take the cutting and plant it in a new pot.
When to Repot Philodendron Squamiferum?
When your plant grows big and becomes unstable in the pot, it is time to repot Philodendron squamiferum. If your plant is not showing new growth and dries out quickly, it can signify that the plant is root-bound and needs repotting.
To repot your plant, do not take a planter too big in size. Pick one size bigger than the previous one and repot in the evening. Water the plant thoroughly and wait for a few days for the plant to adjust.
The ideal time to repot Philodendron squamiferum is in the spring and summer months, as these are the months when the plant grows faster.
Philodendron Squamiferum Problems
Philodendron squamiferum is an easy-to-grow plant and does not face many issues. But there are a few problems you might encounter.
During the summer months, Erwinia blight or fire blight is the most common disease found in Philodendrons. Erwinia is a bacteria that attacks the soil. Initial symptoms include water-soaked lesions on the foliage, which slowly encompass larger leaves and infect other parts of the plant.
To control Erwinia blight, use surface disinfectants such as bleach on the gardening tools, lower humidity levels, and decrease watering.
Yellowing of Leaves
Yellowing or browning of leaves can be either due to underwatering or overwatering. Avoid irregular watering, and try to maintain a regular schedule to prevent such an issue. You can use a moisture meter to check whether the plant needs to be watered.
Browning of Leaves Due to Low Humidity
Sometimes, when the Philodendron squamiferum does not get adequate moisture around, its leaves start to get crisp from the edges. This is a clear sign of extreme dryness. In such case, maintain humidity around the plant by placing either a humidifier or a pebble tray filled with water.
Fungi and Root Rot
Overwatering your plant can lead to standing water in the soil, which leads to root rot. And standing for a long time can also cause fungus to develop. Avoid spraying your plant with water to maintain moisture level; directly misting the plant can cause fungal infection.
Maintain the air circulation around the plant by keeping a fan to prevent fungus. Skip watering for a week or two if the leaves have started to turn yellow due to overwatering.
Pests and Insects
If it is too dry around your Philodendron squamiferum, spider mites arrive. If it gets too humid and wet, fungus gnats come. Maintain balanced levels of humidity. Keep a regular check on the plants.
Clean the leaves regularly with soap water. Spray neem oil on the leaves and into the soil to get rid of the pests.
Philodendron squamiferum is a unique climbing houseplant and is a must-have for all the Philodendron lovers out there.
Now that we know all about the Philodendron squamiferum, let us take note of some crucial points to remember:
- The Philodendron squamiferum is an easy-to-grow, tropical plant
- It has uniquely shaped leaves with five lobes and stems covered with fuzzy red hair
- It requires bright, indirect light and regular watering
- Its growth is moderate to slow but can be increased by fertilizing regularly
- It can be propagated by either stem cuttings or the air layering method
- You can quickly treat problems like yellowing of leaves and root rot
- It is a highly toxic plant; keep it away from kids and pets
We hope that our care guide on the Philodendron squamiferum helped you by sharing essential information. Get your hands on this beautiful foliage plant from your nearest garden center and give your home a tropical vibe.