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Philodendron Subhastatum – A Rare Tropical Climber

by gardeningit
Philodendron Subhastatum

Philodendron Subhastatum is a rare tropical climber from the Araceae plant family. It is grown particularly for its bi-color foliage. Because of its simple care requirements, this plant species is generally very suitable to grow indoors. It is easy to maintain, propagate, and display around the house.

Classification

  • Family: Araceae
  • Subfamily: Aroideae
  • Genus: Philodendron

About the Genus Philodendron

The Philodendron genus is one of the largest genera of the Araceae family. It was named “Philodendron” in 1829. In the Greek language, Philo means “love” while Dendron means “tree”. The name refers to the fact that these plants are “tree huggers”. Most of these Philodendrons are used as ornamental house plants because of their beautiful foliage.

The genus has about 400 species and each plant has a different size, structure, and shape. However, all of these plants have thick leaves with a leathery texture which prevents excessive loss of moisture.

Not only is this plant beautiful, but it also has cultural importance in certain areas of the world. It represents health and abundance and signifies luck for some communities.

Philodendron plants have been cultivated extensively and they have several variations which include Philodendron Pedatum, Philodendron Esmeraldense and also, Philodendron Plowmanii.

Origin and Distribution

The first Philodendron was found in 1644. It was declared native to Columbia and the Caribbean. These plants are densely populated in the tropical rainforests of the West Indies as well as America. They are also commonly found growing alongside river banks and swamps in Australia, Africa, and Asia. Philodendron Subhastatum is particularly native to South America.

Philodendron Subhastatum Features

Foliage and Stem

Philodendron Subhastatum has green, glossy foliage that changes as the plant grows old. Juvenile Subhastatum has leaves that are red from underneath. This color becomes more prominent as the plant matures.

Evergreen

These beautiful plants stay beautiful all year round, throughout their life. All they need is good care and a favorable environment to live in.

Height

If given the right care and environment, these plants can grow as long as 6 feet and spread as wide is 24 inches.

Temperature Tolerance

These plants have very specific at a temperature range that they prefer, and they start to look unwell if the temperature drops or raises out of this range. So, they are not very temperature tolerant and it is best if you protect them from extreme weather changes.

Humidity Tolerance

Philodendrons are water-loving plants and they love moisture in their soil and the air around them. They appreciate any extra efforts made to increase the humidity.

Drought-resistance

Considering that they love water and humidity, these plants will not do well in drought-like conditions, so make sure that they stay hydrated throughout the day.

Pressure Tolerance

As tough as they look, they are not the most pressure resistant plants. Under constant pressure, these plants will stop growing, so make sure that you place them in an open space without any external pressure.

Disease and Pest Resistance

These plants are not entirely disease and pest resistant the most common problems are Erwinia blight, Pseudomonas leaf spot, aphids, and mealybugs.

The best way to avoid these problems is to make sure your plant stays healthy, clean, and dry at all times. Regularly and thoroughly inspect your plant to make sure that nothing abnormal is going on under or around the leaves and stem.

Growth

Their growth rate depends on the care and environment given to them as well as the individual genetic makeup of the plant. However, generally, they are fairly slow growing plants so you need to be very patient while propagating them indoors.

Toxicity

Philodendron Subhastatum 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. Hence, keep them away from your plants and children. If accidentally ingested, seek immediate medical attention.

Durability

Thanks to their perennial life cycle, these gorgeous plants can live for years on end and you will not have to worry about replacing them soon.

Maintenance

Not only are they pretty, but Philodendron Subhastatums are also low-maintenance as well. This is one of the many reasons houseplant enthusiasts love this species.

Dormancy

During the winter season, these plants go into a state of dormancy, which means that they stop growing and just fall asleep. The best thing to do during this phase is to care for them as needed, to avoid overwatering and overfeeding and wait for them to wake back up in Spring. It is best that you avoid grooming or propagating the plants during this time.

Philodendron Subhastatum Care

Philodendron Subhastatum plants grow well under indirect sunlight and moderate temperatures. They require a good amount of humidity around them and you can water them as regularly as you consider appropriate. You can fertilize them weekly and prune them as you like.

Water Requirements

Philodendron Subhastatum is a water0loving plant so you can water it as frequently as it needs. Just make sure that the soil is damp or dry up to 2 inches on top. You can use your finger to check the texture of the soil or use a moisture meter for accuracy. Overwatering a wet, water-logged soil will quickly kill your plant.

Soil Requirements

When it comes to the soil needs, a well-draining, rich organic soil is ideal for a Philodendron Subhastatum plant. It should be a mixture of loam, sand, and peat, all in equal portions. You can also use compost as a soil amendment. A soil with slightly acidic to slightly alkaline pH (5-8) is preferred. Make sure that the soil is well-drained and does not hold water.

Sunlight

Preferably keep these plants away from direct sunlight. Being exposed directly to the sun can burn their leaves. Natural, filtered lights are particularly best to grow these Philodendrons. If you do not have access to natural sunlight you can always use artificial growing lights. And, if you must put the plant directly under the sun, make sure that you put it behind sheer curtains or a shade cloth that mellows the light hitting the leaves. Also, make sure that all parts of the plant are getting an equal amount of light so that it grows in equal symmetry. If your light is coming from one direction only, you can keep rotating the plant to expose all parts of it equally.

Temperature

The optimum temperature range to grow these plants is 10 to 30 degrees Celsius. This means that your Philodendron Subhastatum will grow perfectly in a regular indoor environment. However, protect the plant from extreme temperatures such as below 15 degrees Celsius and higher than 35 degrees Celsius.

Humidity Requirements

These plants require about 60 to 80% humidity to grow well. If you live in a particularly dry area, you can benefit from misting the plant every once in a while. You can also install indoor humidifiers or group a couple of water-loving plants together to add to the moisture in their surroundings, collectively. Another good home-remedy is to put your plant in a pebble tray. Simply pour some water into the tray and put the pot on top of the pebbles without it touching the water directly. The water will evaporate and create humidity around the plant. All in all, keep the plant well-hydrated but make sure that it dries in a couple of hours and the moisture does not stay on its surface for too long.

Fertilizer

You can fertilize your plants every week, according to its individual needs. You don’t want to over-feed the plant because that can damage its roots. Feeding frequency can be decreased during winters as the plant is in its “resting phase” so it does not need any food. In these months, fertilizing once a month is enough. 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.

Re-potting Requirements

These plants have a well-developed rooting system so if they become root-bound, their growth tends to slow down. Since it grows slowly, you will not need to repot it very frequently; not for at least 2 to 3 years. However, if the plant has somehow overgrown its current pot, replant it preferably during the spring and summer seasons because those are the “growing seasons” for the plant. Simply, remove the plant from its current pot and brush off the excess soil from the roots. Now, carefully plant it into its new, bigger pot. Continue watering and fertilizing the plant as per routine. This will not only save your Philodendron Subhastatum from becoming unwell, but it will also stimulate good growth and make it look healthier and greener.

Grooming and Pruning

If needed, you can prune these plants. Just make sure that you use clean, sanitized equipment so that you do not transfer any germs or infections. Also, be careful to not cut off too much as that can stunt their overall growth. Keep your plants clean, dry, and dust-free. This will not only make your plant look neater and healthier, but it will also stimulate healthier new growth.

Cultivation and Propagation

You can propagate these plants during the spring season once they come out of dormancy. You can do this via two methods: stem cuttings or tip cuttings.  These plants grow equally well in both soil and water. Simply place the desired cutting in the medium and put it under the required conditions.

  • Sterilize and sanitize all your equipment and tools because you do not want to spread any germs and infections. Also, remember to wear protective clothing because you can hurt yourself during the messy process.
  • If you want to propagate these plants with stem cuttings, use a knife, blade or a pair of scissors to carefully cut off a piece at least 2 to 3 inches long.
  • If you prefer using a tip cutting, cut off a similar section of a stem but make sure it has leaves on its tip.

Medium

  • If you decide to propagate the plant in water, simply fill a jar with water and place your cutting in it. Remember to not fill it to the top. Instead, leave about 1 inch from the rim, free. 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 are submerged completely underneath the water, while at least two or three leaves stand out of it.
  • Keep changing the water regularly, at least every two to three days, and avoid putting the jar under direct sunlight to prevent algae growth.
  • Once the roots start growing and become of visible length, you can shift the plant to a soil pot and water it as a mature plant.
  • If you decide to propagate the plant directly in the potting mix, prepare a pot with suitable soil mixture and just put the cutting in it.
  • You can cover the pot with a clear, plastic bag for additional moisture. Remember to air the bags out every once in a while to prevent unwanted microbial growth.
  • Water the baby plant and keep it moist and hydrated under warm temperatures.
  • Make sure that the roots have started growing by gently tugging on the plant and feeling the resistance it gives you. Once you feel like some strong roots have developed, you can switch the plant to a bigger 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.

Timeline

Day 1-7: Place your stem or tip cutting in the desired medium and place it under the recommended conditions.

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. Treat it like a mature plant and care for it accordingly.

Displaying Philodendron Subhastatum Plant

Because of their interesting, statement foliage, these plants are very easy to display. Their bicolor leaves add a quick pop of color into any room. You can put them in empty corners or next to your furniture. Just make sure that your plants and children cannot reach it, because if it is very toxic if accidentally ingested.

Philodendron Subhastatum For Sale

Since these plants are rare, they can be a little hard to find.  However, if you do find one, make sure that the plant is perfectly healthy before you purchase it. Examine the leaves and stem of the plant. Look around and underneath for any signs of bugs, diseases, or infections.

Final Thoughts

Philodendron Subhastatum is a beautiful but rare tropical plant. It has interesting foliage consisting of two colors: green on top and burgundy-maroon underneath. These plants are easy to take care of and propagate indoors.  However, they are very toxic if ingested so you want to keep them away from your pets and children. Because of their size and beautiful foliage, they are very easy to display around the house and work great as ornamental plants.

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