How to Care For Philodendron Subhastatum

Philodendron Subhastatum is a striking tropical plant that can be quite difficult to come across, and likely will cost a pretty penny when you do. Philodendrons are in the family Araceae. All parts of philodendrons are toxic, so it is best practice to keep them away from pets and children. The top of their broad, arrow-shaped leaves are glossy and deep green and are complimented with their bright red underside with yellow veins. Like other philodendrons, these plants can get quite large, especially when cared for properly. They easily become the center of attention regardless of its placement in a room, so if you are looking for a statement piece, look no further. Philodendron plants have been widely cultivated, and they come in a variety of variations, including Philodendron Florida Ghost, Philodendron Imperial Green, Philodendron Pedatum, Philodendron Birkin, and Lemon Lime Philodendron.

Caring for your Philodendron Subhastatum does not need to be intimidating, so long as you can provide the right conditions for your plant to thrive. 

How to Care for Philodendron Subhastatum

Lighting

Naturally, Philodendron species are tropical plants with a climbing growth habit. This establishes themselves firmly beneath the canopy of other plants, protecting it from direct sunlight. These plants typically get bright, indirect light or dappled light through the shade of taller plants, and do best when receiving this type of light. Avoid direct sunlight, or if using grow lights, avoid having your plant too close to them. Sun-damage can occur very quickly and can cause long-lasting damage to leaves, and when a plant is as lovely (and expensive) as Philodendron Subhastatum is, the last thing you want are damaged leaves. 

On the other side of the spectrum, too little light will cause your plant to put out miniscule growth, as well as lose some of its vibrance in color which this plant is known for. It might take some adjusting to find the perfect place for your plant, but when you do it will be worth the trouble it took when you see the healthy, sizable new growth unfurl. 

Soil and Potting

  Soil is a very important part of the foundation of care for your plant. Your philodendron prefers well-draining soils, as these plants do not like to have “wet feet” which means they don’t like being in constant contact with water. Go for high-quality soil with plenty of organic matter such as peat moss, and some added vermiculite for keeping your soil aerated. Soil aeration is also a key part of choosing your soil as these plants can be a bit more thirsty than other philodendrons, and keeping aerated soil is important for the health of the root system and ultimately the whole plant. Air is a needed element to any plant’s life, and if the soil is too rich and not aerated enough this can cause suffocation of the roots which would wreak havoc on the aerial parts of the plant. 

These plants are avid climbers and can benefit from their pot being outfitted with a moss pole or other implementation for it to climb; it will even climb walls if placed close enough for your plant to get a grip. The pot type does not matter so much as it is a personal and aesthetic choice, however what is most important is ensuring your plant has sufficient drainage. This can only mean drainage holes: layers of rocks will not suffice and can ultimately cause an environment in which bacteria or fungi can thrive. Your decorative pot can have a drainage hole, and if it does not, outfit your plant with a pot that does have drainage that can be nestled into the decorative one. Just be sure that when you water your plant, you either remove it from its pot or you take care to remove the excess water that has collected. These plants do not need to be repot yearly, and instead would prefer to be repot every two to three years. 

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Water

Philodendron Subhastatum are a tropical species meaning they are used to getting some rain and living in a state of constant humidity. The better you are able to replicate these jungle-like qualities that these plants have evolved to live in, the better you will notice your results are when your plant starts to put out new, healthy growth. 

Watering your plant might seem somewhat intimidating, after all a common cause of plant death is overwatering. However, it is worth taking the time to get to know your plant and get in the habit of checking its soil regularly to get in tune with its watering needs. The best way to check your plant’s soil is to use your finger or a wooden stick or chopstick to probe into the soil a few inches: if upon removing the stick or your finger, you have bits of soil remaining then your plant’s soil is still moist, and you can wait a few days before checking in again. If it comes out dry, then it’s time to water. 

To effectively water your plant, first think about your water quality. A lot of plants can be sensitive to commonly added chemicals in tap water, so if you are able to collect rainwater for watering plants this would be preferred. Alternatively, you can fill a clean bucket with tap water and let it sit out, uncovered, for about 24 hours to help evaporate some of the chemicals your plant might not tolerate. Then, watering is simple: water your plant thoroughly, allowing the water to flow from the drainage hole. Always let your plant drip away any excess water before you place it back in its decorative pot or on its drainage saucer. When you are watering take care to avoid getting droplets stuck in nooks of the leaves as this has the possibility to create pockets of rot in the foliage. 

Humidity

Humidity is an essential part of life for these plants as it is just another way your plant can absorb water and maintain healthy, hydrated leaves. Normal house-levels of humidity are around 40%, whereas a philodendron prefers levels of humidity between 65 and 80%. This can be most reliably achieved with a humidifier, which can be inexpensive and get the job done with more consistency than other methods such as misting or using a pebble tray. It is worth the investment to have good humidity levels for this plant because not enough humidity can cause unsightly drying of the edges and tips of leaves, ruining the aesthetic of the whole leaf. Humidifiers can also be very useful when it comes to propagation. 

Temperature

 The optimum temperature for this plant is between 60-80ºF, though it is more important to protect this plant from cooler temperatures under 55ºF as these are not frost hardy at all. Exposure to temperatures below 55ºF can cause you to run the risk of cold damage, which like sun damage, can cause irreversible damage to your plant. Seeing as these are typically indoor plants, it would not be likely for you to encounter either side of the extreme when it comes to temperature, but keep in mind that it will still need protection from wide temperature variances and drafts. 

Take care to keep these plants out of the way of air vents and drafty windows. If you live in a tropical climate, you can likely keep this plant outside year round as long as you are keeping track of the temperatures during the beginning of spring, and move your plant inside when there is the possibility for cooler temperatures. The last thing you’d want is to put in work on cultivating a stunning plant just to have it freeze. 

Fertilizing

 Save the fertilizer for when your plant is growing, usually during spring to early fall. Avoid using fertilizer during the winter time, as your plant does not need the influx of nutrients during its dormant period and can actually be harmed from an amount of unused nutrients. Philodendrons can tolerate a balanced liquid fertilizer used sparingly during the growing season. Generally, it is a good rule of thumb to dilute the fertilizer by 50% of whatever the directions on your particular fertilizer say, just to avoid any potential fertilizer burn. This amount can always be adjusted for the next time it needs a dose, but cannot be taken away when added to the plant, so stay conservative to begin with. 

Pruning and Cleaning

 Fortunately, this plant does not require much maintenance when it comes to having to prune the plant to control the growth. Philodendron subhastatum can grow quite tall indoors–around 6 feet. Since the leaves are very large, there are typically fewer of them, so there is not much of a need to remove any leaves in order to shape or prune the plant. 

However, the leaves will likely collect dust and will need to be wiped off regularly. Wiping leaves clean not only improves the appearance of your plant, but it helps function as well. When a leaf is covered in dirt or dust, this affects its ability to photosynthesize which ultimately is how your plant is able to power the rest of its cellular functions in order to be lush and healthy. 

This also is a good way to monitor your plant for any pests such as scale or mealybugs. To clean your leaves, use a soft cloth and a mixture of distilled or filtered water with a small amount of vinegar. Usually one quart of water to one tablespoon of vinegar is enough to thoroughly clean the tops and bottoms of the leaves. Be gentle when handling the leaves, as they are delicate and you do not want to accidentally cause any tears which can make room for a bacterial infection to take hold. 

Pests and Disease

These plants are not particularly prone to any diseases or pests, but it is best practice to quarantine a new plant for a few weeks before introducing it to your collection in case of pests or disease. Neem oil can be used preventatively as an application to the leaves for many fungal and bacterial problems as well as to prevent pests from attacking your plant. Additionally, neem oil can be used after a pest or disease has occurred with repeated application and continued monitoring of the issue until it has been resolved. 

How to Propagate Philodendron Subhastatum

Propagation of philodendrons can be done through stem cuttings. To do this, make sure the mother plant is healthy and pest free, so your “props” have a larger chance of survival. Additionally, you want to do this when your plant has ample energy to put forth new growth, so don’t try propagating your plant during the fall or winter. Instead, spring or summer time is best as your plant is in a natural state of growth during these seasons. 

Take a stem cutting that is about 5 or 6 inches long, and cut about ¼ inch below the node of the plant. Use sterile, sharp scissors or shears to do this to minimize the risk of infection occurring in the new cutting as well as the existing plant. If you are able to get a few cuttings at a time, this will increase your chances of having a successful one. Sometimes every cutting will work, other times it might just be one that works. It is best to have a few shots at it, and perhaps even try different methods of rooting them. Once you have your cutting(s) you can proceed to rooting your plant in soil or water.

Water propagation: Propagating a plant in water versus soil yields very similar results and ultimately comes down to personal preference. For water propagation, you will want a clean, clear vessel that can hold enough water to keep your plant’s node submerged under water, as this is where roots will grow. A clear vessel also allows for you to monitor root growth and water quality. Keep an eye out for any murkiness in the water or any mold growing on the stem of the plant. Change the water every few days to a week to help avoid potential fungal or bacterial problems from ruining your propagation attempt. 

Give your cutting a warm, bright location that is out of direct sunlight. If you have a humidifier, keep your cutting close by as humidity is often a very helpful addition to growing and establishing a cutting. After a few weeks, roots should start forming, and after about a month or so, your plant should have sufficient root development to be transitioned to a potting medium. Once your plant has been transferred to soil, gently water and water and wait a few weeks for your plant to anchor itself in the soil. If you give the plant a gentle tug and feel resistance, then you know your plant has firmly established itself and can be treated as a full grown plant. 

Soil propagation: Much like water propagation, soil propagation is just as easy and takes about the same amount of time for your cutting to get established. Using a potting medium, and a warm, well-lit location, your cuttings can be put into the soil and left to establish roots for a few weeks. Keep the soil moist, but not wet. Again, humidity is a very important part to this process and you can create a makeshift “greenhouse” using a plastic bag that is placed atop the cutting. Take this bag off every few days or so to allow the soil to air out and avoid creating an environment for fungus or bacteria to grow. 

After a few weeks to a month your plant should be growing a robust root system that is anchoring your plant into the soil. By gently tugging the plant you can tell if it has sufficiently developed if there is resistance. Your plant can then be treated as a full grown philodendron. You will want to repot your plant once it starts to grow more, as the small pot used to develop the roots will likely be outgrown quite quickly, and keeping a plant pot-bound can cause stunted growth and other issues that are not conducive to keeping your plant happy and healthy. 

Conclusion

Regardless of where you live or your level of plant expertise, there is likely a philodendron that works for you. Philodendron Subhastatum might not be the best beginner philodendron due to its price point and relative challenges in acquiring one, but if you are a plant enthusiast looking for a “white whale” plant then this might be the one for you. Provided with love and care, this plant will give plenty of growth and become the topic of conversation when encountered by other plant enthusiasts.

Where to Buy a Philodendron Subhastatum

If you are interested in owning a Philodendron Subhastatum, there are a few sellers on Etsy. Click below for the prices from each store.

Click Here to Check Price on Etsy

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