The Philodendron Super Atom or Philodendron Atom (both are the same plant) is a shrub like plant that is not actually a philodendron (at least not anymore).
It has been reclassified along with a few other philodendrons into the Thaumatophyllum genus.
Therefore, its scientific name is Thaumatophyllum bipinnatifidum ‘Atom’ or Thaumatophyllum bipinnatifidum ‘Super Atom’ depending on who you ask.
Similarly, there are still a lot of people who label the plant as the Philodendron selloum. Therefore, you’ll see some Philodendron selloum ‘Atom’ or Philodendron selloum ‘Super Atom’ around.
Since there isn’t a lot of documentation available, you’ll see both Super Atom and Atom used for the same plant. And quite a bit of confusion as far as the taxonomy goes.
Hopefully, this resolves itself in time.
That said, what makes the plant distinct is its looks. It has curly leaves that make it look more like a green veggie than a philodendron. And, it stays small for quite a while. Thus, many growers will keep it on tabletops.
However, the plant can grow as tall as 3 feet. Indoors, it won’t get as big which makes it perfect if you want to add something cute and adorable.
The Philodendron Super Atom will likewise get bushy as it clumps. So, you’ll get a nice dense, green ruffled foliage that looks perfect on a pot.
Philodendron Super Atom Plant Care
Philodendron Atom Light Requirements
The Philodendron Atom grows both as an indoor and outdoor plant. But because of its small, cute size especially when young, the plant is often kept indoors in a container. Of course, you can take it outside as well.
In most cases you’ll see it on tabletops. And because it can tolerate low, medium or bright light, it is fairly easy to care for.
It is native to the South American forests where it lives under the larger trees and plants. However, its epiphytic nature allows it to climb up trees to get more sun.
So, the amount of light it gets ranges from shade to bright depending on the time of day and how the plant is positioned under the forest canopy.
That said, because of the branches and leaves overhead, it is not exposed to direct sunlight.
As such, you also want to mimic this environment at home by keeping it away from the rays of the sun. Too much exposure to this or even very intense light can scorch its leaves after a while.
That said, if you want to get the most growth out of your Philodendron Super Atom and allow it to produce lovely green leaves, medium to bright, indirect sunlight is best.
As mentioned, the plant is native to the South American jungle. And, if you were to Google South Africa in the world map, you’d notice that it is on the equator, with some parts to the south of the equator.
Either way, this proximity to the equator makes the Philodendron Atom used to warm weather all year round. And it is accustomed to sunlight even during winter (and no snow).
As a result, it is happiest when temperatures stay between 55 and 85 degrees Fahrenheit. And, it will be able to tolerate hotter conditions all the way up to 95 degrees or so.
That said, the hotter it gets, the more optimal its hydration needs to be to avoid heat stress.
On the other hand, it cannot tolerate freezing temperatures or frost. And, you want to be wary with temperatures under 50 degrees as the Philodendron Super Atom has trouble as its gets colder than this.
Indoors, do take note of the nighttime temperature since it can drop anywhere from 5 to 15 degrees compared to daytime depending on where you live.
Philodendron Atom Humidity
The Philodendron Super Atom loves humidity. Ideally, it prefers humidity that is 60% or higher. If you can give it 80% consistently, it will be even happier.
Again, this stems from its tropical nature.
Fortunately, it tolerates low humidity as well. But the further down you get from 60% the less optimal it will be. What I mean by this is that you’ll notice a difference in growth rate, size, foliage shine and luster.
More importantly, you want to take your cues from its leaves.
Once humidity gets too low, you’ll notice the plant’s foliage get dry. It starts getting brown tips. Then edges and you may see more of the leaves turn brown as well.
This is a sign that it needs more moisture.
The quickest way you can help it is to take it to the kitchen or bathroom. Both areas are the most humid locations in the home. That’s because we tend to use a lot of water there.
But if prefer to display the plant elsewhere, you have a few other options to help increase humidity around the plant.
- Mist the plant every few days
- Give it a shower once a week or once every two weeks
- Use a humidifier
- Place it on a pebble tray
- Group it with your other houseplants
How Often to Water Philodendron Super Atom
The Philodendron Super Atom likes most soil and prefers to have adequate moisture. But you want to be careful with giving it too much because it cannot tolerate sitting in water for extended periods of time.
So, you always want to watch out for puddles of water on the soil, mucky, soggy or wet soil. Ideally, you should let the soil drain completely after you water it thoroughly. This way, the roots gets their fill of water with most extra moisture kept in the soil. But nothing overly wet.
In general, the plant will need watering around once a week during the warmer months and once every 2 weeks during winter. However, I prefer that you check the soil for moisture instead of stick to fixed schedules.
The reason is your home’s environment affects how much water it needs.
For example, someone who lives in a tropical location may need to water the plant every 1 to 3 days. But, someone farther up the northern hemisphere will end up overwatering the plant if they follow this schedule because there isn’t as much sun there and the temperature does not get as hot either.
So, a better rule of thumb is to stick your finger into the soil to check for dampness. A depth of 1 to 2 inches from the top is a good level.
You want this depth to dry out before you water again. This prevents overwatering and keeps the plant away from root rot. it also lets it stay well-hydrated.
Philodendron Super Atom Potting Soil
The best potting soil for the Philodendron Atom is something light and well-draining. This allows excess moisture to drain while still retaining enough moisture to keep the plant happy.
A simple mix you can use includes
- 1 part potting soil (organic is ideal but optional)
- 1 part peat moss (you can replace this with coco coir if you prefer something more environmentally friendly)
- 1 part perlite
Avoid using heavy soils like clay since it tends to retain too much moisture for the plant’s liking.
Also, if you plan to keep your Philodendron Atom indoors, avoid using garden soil since you don’t know what’s in there. You could end up inadvertently bringing is pests or pathogens into your home which can infect your other houseplants.
Philodendron Atom Fertilizer
For optimum growth, your Philodendron Super Atom needs fertilizer. This is optional and you don’t necessarily need to feed the plant. This is especially true if you use potting soil that is very rich in organic matter.
Also, if you add compost, worm castings and other natural fertilizer, you can skip the chemical products. After all you’re feeding the plant the supplements it needs without all the salt residue.
That said, an unfertilized Philodendron Atom will grow slower and produce smaller and fewer foliage compared to one that gets enough supplementation.
A good routine is to feed the plant using an all-purpose liquid fertilizer. Once a month during the spring and summer months is adequate. In the colder months, you can cut back to once every 2 months or stop feeding altogether.
The Philodendron Atom can grow to 3 feet tall over time. But it takes about 10 years for the plant to fully mature. So, this will take quite a bit of time.
That’s why most of the plants you see are fairly small and short. Usually, they’ll be anywhere from 6 inches for the small ones to a little over a foot to 1.5 feet tall.
That said, it can get bushy. And its ruffled leaves make it look fuller as well.
If you want to encourage more growth you can trim back its leaves to help it grow more.
The plant also takes well to pruning in that you can do so any time of the year. This lets you shape the plant as you wish and remove any yellow leaves as they come.
How to Propagate Philodendron Super Atom
The Philodendron Atom is easily propagated through stem cuttings. But you can also propagate it via division, air layering or from seed.
Obviously, the last option will take the longest to fruition. And it also requires more effort along the way.
Division is often unnecessary until the plant gets much bigger. Otherwise, you’ll end up with fairly small plants which won’t look impressive because their leaves won’t stand out alongside other larger plants.
Stem cutting in not only the simple but also straightforward which makes it the most popular choice.
Here’s how to do it.
Check your plant to look for healthy stems. You can choose single stems or stems that branch out to multiple stems. It is up to you.
If you see aerial roots that’s a good sign as well. Stem cuttings with aerial roots tend to grow faster and have higher propagation success rates.
Once you’ve found the stem or stems you want to use to grow your new plants, use a sterile pair of scissors and take the stem from the parent.
You can propagate the cutting in water or soil. Both methods work really well.
With water propagation, place the cutting into water. If it has aerial roots submerge them. But remove any leaves that get submerged into the water.
It will take about 10-15 days before some roots show up. And another few weeks for them to grow to about 1 to 2 or so inches long.
You’ll see roots come from the cutting as well as the aerial roots. These will be small and white. In contrast the aerial roots will be more brown and woody.
Once the new roots get to about 1 or 2 inches long, you can pot them up in well-draining soil.
For soil propagation, dip the cut end into rooting hormone. You can use powder, liquid or paste form, these work the same.
Then plant the cutting in soil. You can use sphagnum moss or other well-draining mixes.
If the cutting has aerial roots, you can cut them off if you don’t like how they look. Or, you can plant them in the soil and leave the ends up in the air. Another option is to leave them above the soil. If you have well-draining soil and keep it moist, you can go ahead and plant the aerial roots in the soil as well.
It will take about a month for new roots to get hold of the soil. But you can just leave the plant in its pot since there’s no need to move it (at least not unless it gets too big and needs to be repotted).
How to Repot or Transplant Philodendron Super Atom
Speaking of repotting, this is a very straightforward task for this plant due to its size.
That said, you do need to repot it once it starts to outgrow its current container. Doing so will allow it to keep growing, which is something you want this small plant to do so it looks more impressive.
Wait until roots start peeking out of the drainage holes at the bottom of the pot.
When they do, repot once spring comes around. This is the best time to do so because the plant is strongest during this time (as it is actively growing). You can also repot early summer or in the fall. But only do the latter if you live somewhere with sun all year round.
- Gently take the plant out of the pot.
- Prepare a larger container that is one size bigger (2 inches more).
- Add fresh potting mix to the new pot until about 40% of the way.
- Then insert the root ball into the new pot and backfill the soil.
Is It Toxic/Poisonous to Humans, Cats & Dogs
The Philodendron Super Atom is not meant to be ingested, even accidentally. It is toxic including its leaves. This makes it dangerous around young children and pets who tend to chew or may consumer parts of the plant.