Philodendron Esmeraldense is a rare, tropical plant of climbing nature. This one is relatively new to the plant libraries and is still under discussions regarding what its family and distributions are, so not much is to be said about its origins. But what is for sure is that it is already being loved by the houseplant collectors around the world. These plants tend to take support from trees and branches to grow in the wild, so if you plan to grow them indoors, it is suggested that you give them sturdy pole support (like a bamboo stalk) to climb on to.
- Family: Araceae
- Subfamily: Aroideae
- Genus: Philodendron
About the Genus Philodendron
The genus is one of the two largest genera in the family Araceae and was named Philodendron back in 1829. “Philo”, in Greek, means “love”, while “Dendron” means “tree”, referring to the fact that this climber is a “tree hugger”. Most of these are flowering plants and are often used as ornamental houseplants because of their interesting and beautiful foliage.
This genus has about 400 species and all of them look different from each other, in terms of size, leaves, and colors. Some of them have oral leaves, while others have more heart-shaped ones. Some have dark, lush foliage while others tend to be more on the lighter, creamier side. But what remains the same is the fact that all of them have thick leaves with a leathery texture to prevent excessive loss of moisture.
In some cultures, a Philodendron plant represents health and abundance and holds great importance in terms of luck. This genus has been cultivated extensively and some of its beautiful variations are Philodendron Plowmanii, Philodendron Bipennifolium and also, the famous, Philodendron Painted Lady plant. Philodendron Esmeraldense is also one of these gorgeous masterpieces of the botanical world.
Origin and Distribution
The first Philodendron ever found dates back to 1644 and was native to Columbia and the Caribbean. They are mainly found in the tropical rain forests of the West Indies as well as America. Apart from this, you can also spot them growing alongside river banks and swamps in Australia, Africa, and Asia.
The Philodendron Esmeraldense, however, can only be found in Lita, Northern Ecuador for now. Although, studies and searches are being conducted to confirm where else they can be found. They tend to be more concentrated in the wet areas and lower mountain zones of tropical rain forests.
Philodendron Esmeraldense Features
Foliage and Stem
A typical Philodendron Esmeraldense has large leaves that are heavily veined and have a leathery feel to them. Their surfaces are puckered and they are green on the top and maroon underneath. These leaves can grow up to 30 inches long and their midribs are always raised and rounded.
These plants have a very strong, established roots system and, so far, these are believed to grow as epiphytes, like terrestrial plants and sometimes even on rocks.
These beautiful plants stay beautiful all year round, throughout their life. All they need is good care and a favorable environment to live in.
These are tall climbers that can grow as tall as 6 to 8 feet if kept under the right conditions and given the right amount of care.
These plants are not very tolerant of extreme temperatures and are especially sensitive to colder environments.
Because of their tropical origins, a Philodendron loves moisture in its surroundings. So, if you live in an area with high indoor humidity, it should not bother the plant at all.
These plants grow spathes during summer and spring, which are not exactly the most flattering or noticeable features, to be fair, so the plant’s primary attraction is its large, green foliage.
Given that these plants love to be watered regularly and need moisture around them, they do not do very well under water-deficient situations.
These plants have a tough exterior, but unfortunately, they are not completely resistant to diseases. The most common diseases being: Erwinia Blight, Pseudomonas Leaf Spot, and Xanthomonas Leaf Spot.
All of these diseases are a result of microbes that attack vulnerable plants living in either extreme or inadequate environments. They cause symptoms like yellow leaves, lesions, and holes on the plant’s surface as well as a dramatically slowed down growth.
Erwinia Blight, however, is the most common Philodendron disease out of all of these.
However, you can prevent these diseases by making sure your plant lives under moderate conditions and gets proper care as well as keeping it clean and dry.
In case your plant does catch an infection, do not panic. First things first, isolate the plant immediately so that the microbes don’t spread to other plants around it. Next, prune the dead, diseased, and infected parts of the plant. Finally, put the plant under corrected conditions and care.
The most common bugs and insects to attack your Philodendron plant are aphids and mealybugs. Keep a close eye on your plant and inspect it regularly to make sure you don’t have any unwanted visitors. The earlier you catch them, the lesser the damage they cause. Wipe and clean your plant with alcohol and make sure the foliage is dry at all times. In severe conditions, you can even spray the plant with a commercial pesticide. Just make sure you don’t spray too much of it on to the plant and wear protective clothing before you use it because it can be very poisonous for both you and your plant.
Generally, their growth rate depends on the environment they are kept in, the care they are given, and, lastly, their makeup.
Philodendron Esmeraldense contains calcium oxalate crystals. This is a very toxic substance for humans and animals and, if ingested, can cause mild to severe physical symptoms ranging from a stomach ache to swollen mouth and tongue and even being unable to breathe. Even handling these plants can give you skin irritation and allergies.
Thanks to their perennial life cycle, these particularly gorgeous plants can live for years on end.
Not only are they pretty, but they are also low-maintenance as well. This is one of the many reasons plant-lovers are currently drooling over this species.
In winters, these plants tend to go into the dormant phase, meaning that they “go to sleep” and stop growing. They conserve the fluids and food they get until spring when they finally wake up again. Remember to not over-water or over-feed your plant during this time.
Philodendron Esmeraldense Care
Philodendron Esmeraldense care needs regular, moderate amounts of water and a bright, well-lit room to live in. They thrive in nutrient-rich soils that drain well and can be fertilized three times a year. Just keep it away from direct sunlight, extreme temperatures, and your pets and children!
You can water these plants regularly in moderate amounts. Just make sure you do not over-water your plant at any cost. Soggy, saturated soil can kill your plant silently and quickly. To make sure this doesn’t happen, check the soil with your finger to see if it is dry on the top before you water it again. You can also use moisture meters for this purpose.
A well-draining, rich soil with lots of organic matter is ideal for these plants. Make sure it has a moist texture and is not too dry or sandy. For extra efforts, you may add perlite, peat moss, and even orchid bark as soil amendments. A soil ph of 5.5 to 6.0 (slightly acidic to neutral) is generally good to grow this plant.
Interestingly, these climbers like to live under lower lights as compared to the other Philodendron plants. The ideal spot for them would be a well-lit room with lots of filtered sunlight during the day. Avoid putting the plant in direct exposure to the scorching, bright sun. If you must grow it outdoors or under direct sunlight, use a shade cloth to mellow the light hitting the plants.
These tropical plants love a little warmth but nothing too extreme. A temperature range of 55 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit is optimum for efficient, healthy growth. Just make sure your plant is not sitting directly under a fan, an air conditioner or a heater, etc.
As discussed earlier, these plants come from a rain forest habitat and love a little moisture around them. You can mist them and put them grouped with other moisture-loving plants but make sure their foliage does not remain too moist for too long as that could invite infections and insect attacks. If your area is generally dry, you can solve the problem by installing an indoor humidifier or putting the plant pot in a pebble tray with a little bit of water in it. Just make sure the pot is sitting on top of the pebbles and not directly on the water.
Preferably three times a year, you can feed your plant by spreading fertilizer at least 6 inches away from the plant’s base. However, remember to not use cheap fertilizers for this purpose. Salts in low-quality plant food can kill the poor creature in the long run.
These plants have an elaborate rooting system so if they become root bound, they tend to slow down in terms of growth. To make sure this doesn’t happen, you can repot your plant every year or twice a year, depending on your plant and its growth rate. This will not only save your plant from becoming unwell, but it will also stimulate good growth and make it look healthier and greener.
Grooming and Pruning
Because they have large foliage, dust and dirt can accumulate on their surfaces. Keeping your plants clean by misting and wiping them is always a good idea. Also, these grow in vines so if they grow too long, you can trim them and cut off any excess growth. Just make sure you don’t cut off too much because that can stunt the overall growth of the plant.
Philodendron Esmeraldense Propagation
These plants can be propagated during the spring season when they start to come out of their dormant phase. There are two ways to do this: stem cuttings or tip cuttings. You can also propagate them in both water and soil.
- Start by sterilizing or sanitizing all your equipment and tools because this is how you can spread germs and infections. Also, remember to wear protective clothing because you don’t want to hurt yourself during the messy process.
- If you want to do this with stem cuttings, carefully cut off a cutting that is at least 2 to 3 inches long, using a knife, blade, or a pair of scissors. If you decide to use a tip cutting, cut off a similar section of a stem but make sure it has leaves on its tip.
Propagation in Water
- Simply fill a jar with water and place your cutting in it. Remember to not fill it to the top. Instead, leave free about 1 inch from the rim. It is also sometimes suggested that you leave the water to sit overnight for the chlorine to dissipate before you start the propagation.
- Place the cutting in the jar in such a way that at least one or two bare nodes fall underneath the waterline, while at least two or three leaves stand out of it.
- Now place the jar in a warm, bright spot and let it root.
- Keep changing the water regularly every two to three days and avoid putting the jar under direct sunlight because that could stimulate algae growth.
- Once the roots start growing and become of visible length, shift the plant to a soil pot and water it as a mature plant.
If you decide to propagate the plant directly in the soil mix, follow the below-mentioned steps
- Put the cutting in a pre-prepared pot with suitable soil for the plant and water it.
- You can cover the pot with a clear, plastic bag for an added factor of moisture. Don’t forget to air the bags out every once in a while to avoid any unwanted microbial growth.
- Water the soil and keep it moist (but not soggy) under warm temperatures (preferably 70 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit).
- To make sure that the roots have started growing, gently tug on the plant and feel the resistance it gives you while you do it. Once you feel like some strong roots have developed, you can switch the plant to its bigger, destined pot.
- To make the roots grow even faster, you can dip the growing end of the cutting in growth hormone before you propagate it. Growth hormone stimulates faster growth without hurting the plant’s roots.
Day 1-7: Place your stem or tip cutting in the desired medium and place it under suitable conditions. Make sure to water your cutting frequently in its early growing days. If already growing in water, make sure you change the water regularly every three to four days.
Week 2-3: By this time, roots will visibly start to grow in both the soil and water-propagated cuttings.
Month 2-4: You can now shift the cutting growing in soil to a bigger pot and the one growing in water to a soil pot. Give it the care and fulfill its needs like a mature plant.
Some Common FAQs
Why is My Philodendron Plant Wilting and Turning Yellow?
Too much water in the soil around the roots can cause your plant to look pale and droopy. Over-watering or improper drainage can be the two major reasons for that. You can fix this by firstly making sure you only water the plant when it needs it and always check the soil’s texture before you water it again. Make sure the soil is dry on top and only then go ahead. Next, make sure your pot has a proper drainage system and check the holes to see if they are blocked. If they are, unblock them or, even better, repot the plant.
Why Do My Philodendron Have Brown Spots on Its Leaves?
Too much direct sunlight is a no-no for these plants. If they are over-exposed to unfiltered light, the leaves will burn very quickly. They will start looking patchy and develop brown stops on their surface, just like yours did. Make sure your plant is sitting in a corner with bright but indirect lights and not directly under the sun. If you don’t have a middle ground area like that, use either artificial fluorescent lights indoors or a shade cloth outdoors.
Displaying Philodendron Esmeraldense
Because of their vine-y nature, these plants can be great to be hanged in baskets. You can hang them in your balcony or your patio. If not, they can be planted in pots and containers as well. You can give them a pole for support and put them in a bright, warm corner of the house to effortlessly brighten up your place and give it an instant tropical vibe. Also, these can work great as ground covers or even as tree wraps.
Philodendron Esmeraldense is a rare but beautiful, tropical climbing plant that is only found in Ecuador for now. It lives under moderate conditions and is thus easy to take care of and very low-maintenance. They look great standing alone (with pole support of course) or hanging in a basket. Just keep them away from your children and pets because they can be seriously damaging if ingested. Overall, this plant is great for busy, but passionate, houseplant collectors.