The Philodendron Pedatum, also known as the Oak Leaf Philodendron, is a member of the aroid family. This fast-growing Philodendron is easy to care for and has an unusual leaf shape, making it a beloved species by beginners and collectors alike. Ready for your own? This article will tell you everything you need to know to care for a Philodendron Pedatum.
Young pedatums start out with dark green, oblong leaves similar to many other Philodendron species. Depending on the variegation, the mature leaves take on many shapes. Some are slender with five-point structures, others are elongated with split leaves similar to the Philodendron Monstera. Some look suspiciously similar to their cousin, the Philodendron Xanadu. In its traditional form, pedatum leaves boast a chunky, striking silhouette similar to its namesake, the oak tree.
As an aroid plant, the Philodendron Pedatum is an eager climber. It will require staking or, preferably, a moss pole to guide new growth upwards. Moss poles are available in most garden shops or online. They can also be easily made using wood or PVC pipe, sphagnum moss, and plastic mesh. As your pedatum grows, gently and loosely fasten new branches to the pole. In addition to the complementary beauty of a moss pole, the sphagnum moss retains moisture and creates a more humid environment for your plant.
As a Philodendron Pedatum grows, you will start to find small, wood-like branches growing out in every direction. These are aerial roots. Contrary to their name, most do not take in any nutrients. Rather, they seek out and grab onto nearby structures to help support the plant. It is safe to trim aerial roots, but be sure to leave 1 to 2 inches so you can identify where to divide the plant when propagating.
Philodendron Pedatum Care
In the spring and summer, water your Philodendron Pedatum often enough to keep the soil consistently, evenly moist. Although it can tolerate soggy soil, overly wet conditions have the potential to cause root rot. A common rule of thumb for watering tropical plants is “little, but often.” This means watering often with small amounts of water rather than sporadic, heavy waterings.
During the late fall and winter, allow the soil to dry almost completely between waterings. Yellow discoloration is usually a sign that the plant is being overwatered, whereas brown & dry leaves indicate you should increase your watering frequency.
Like most Philodendrons, the pedatum prefers 6 to 10 hours a day of bright, indirect light. Philodendron Pedatum can tolerate lower light environments, but this will significantly reduce growth rate. In zones 4a to 11, this plant can be kept outdoors for part or all of the year. Indoor or outdoor, be sure to avoid direct sunlight, which will burn the leaves.
Philodendron Pedatums are very forgiving when it comes to humidity levels. They grow fastest in high humidity environments — usually an ambient level of 60% or greater. However, they are forgiving of drier conditions, making them easier to maintain than other Philodendron species. Placing the plant on top of a humidity dish (a tray filled with rocks and a small amount of water) is an easy way to add moisture to the plant’s environment. In the hotter summer months, mist the leaves regularly with purified water to keep them healthy and shiny.
Proper temperature is a vital element of Philodendron care, and the pedatum is no exception. Keep the plant in an area that stays above 60 degrees Fahrenheit and avoid placing them near single-pane windows during cold weather. While it may be tempting, avoid placing them near heaters or vents. It may be warmer, but the incredibly dry air will likely damage the plant’s leaves.
Philodendron Pedatums require a fast-draining soil medium to accommodate frequent watering. Standard potting soil made from a blend of peat moss, pumice, worm castings, and coir will provide proper air flow and moisture retention while fertilizing the plant with rich organic compounds. Avoid any soils that include sand or large amounts of bark, which can suffocate the roots. If you prefer to make your own soilless potting medium, a blend of equal parts peat (vermiculite) and sphagnum moss is an ideal mixture for aeration and water retention.
Without creepy crawlies and the natural movements of mother nature, it is common for potted soil to become compacted. Check your plant’s soil often to ensure that the top few inches of soil are loose and easy to move your hand through. If the soil is hard and difficult to break apart, use a hoe to gently loosen the topsoil. Then, use a chopstick, skewer, or other thin piece of wood to carefully poke holes further down into the soil. Be careful not to poke through any roots.
Philodendrons prefer to stay in their pots until the bitter end, and should not be repotted until the roots begin to poke out of the bottom drainage holes. When you see roots beginning to protrude from the base, gently remove the plant from the pot, rinse the roots of excess soil, and replant in a pot 3-5” wide and 3-4” deeper than its prior pot. Avoid fertilizing the plant for the next two weeks to allow the roots to recover from any damage sustained during the repotting process.
Always use a planter with holes on the bottoms or sides for drainage. Without drainage, the risk of overwatering is increased significantly, leading to root rot and potential premature plant death. If you want to use a ceramic or metal planter that does not have drainage holes, consider leaving the plant in a nursery pot that fits inside the preferred pot (known as a cache pot). This way, the plant can be removed for watering and allowed proper drainage.
The Philodendron Pedatum is an incredibly fast-growing plant, and therefore requires regular fertilization. For these types of heavy feeder plants, a fertilizer made from naturally-occuring nourishment is always best. Liquid or powdered fertilizer derived from organic materials such as worm castings, manure, or bat guano pose are a safer and more natural alternative to those made from concentrated chemicals.
When purchasing any type of fertilizer, look for one with a balanced nitrogen-phosphorus-potassium ratio, such as 10-10-10 or the optimal 20-20-20.
If you want to forgo store-bought fertilizer, there are plenty of DIY fertilizers you can find or make right in your own home. Coffee grounds are an easy and abundant option. If you are more of a tea person, check with your local coffee shops to see if they offer up their old grounds to gardeners. Sprinkle a light layer over the soil and gently mix into the top two inches of soil for a slow release of rich nutrients.
If you have a fish tank, old aquarium water is an excellent fertilizer, and an easy way to conserve water. However, you should avoid using aquarium water on your plants if you are medicating the fish or using any sort of anti-algae treatment.
The Philodendron Pedatum can be propagated using the tried and true stem cutting method. Like all Philodendron, be sure to take cuttings below a root node or aerial root for successful propagation. Allow the cutting to dry and callous for 1 to 2 days before placing in clean water. Keep the water level only slightly above the root nodes. Replace the water each week to prevent stagnation. For faster growth, you can also try using a rooting hormone or biological fertilizer. Once the roots are several inches long, place a handful of soil into the water, gently stirring until the soil sinks to the bottom. Repeat every other day until the water is murky. This process helps the roots transition from water to soil.
Philodendron Pedatum can also be propagated by dividing the plant at the roots. When repotting, gently pull at the base of the plant until areas of root begin to separate naturally. This process usually works best with multiple pairs of hands. Make sure to carefully untangle any roots stuck together. If during the division a significant amount of the root system is broken off or damaged, consider trimming down the plant so the remaining roots can provide the required nutrients.