Philodendron Brasil (Philodendron Hederaceum) Care Guide

Philodendron Brasil

The philodendron brasil is a fast growing trailing plant that is easy to care for. It is grown for its beautiful leaves whose colors resemble the Brazilian flag, which is the reason for its name.

Additionally, these dark green, yellow variegated leaves come in heart shapes. Thus, people like to refer to it as the variegated heartleaf philodendron or sweetheart philodendron.

As far as size goes, they range from between 6 to 36 inches tall and get to between 12 to 36 inches wide. This makes them small to medium houseplants.

Besides its lovely looks, the philodendron brasil is also very versatile. Depending on its size, you can grow it in pots or hanging baskets. Similarly, its climbing nature means you can let it make its way up a pole or upright structure.

In their native environment, the rainforests of Central America and the Caribbean, they are either found on the forest floor or climbing up trees. They likewise grow bigger outdoors getting to between 10 and 20 feet high.

One thing also worth noting is that it is a flowering plant. But, when grown indoors, it rarely blooms.

Philodendron Brasil Plant Care

Philodendron Brasil Light

The philodendron brasil needs bright, indirect light to thrive. As such, you want to give it a lot of light so that it can grow optimally. However, make sure to keep it away from direct sunlight. Allowing it to stay under the sun’s rays for long periods of time results in leaf burn.

That said, it is also worth noting that it will tolerate low light condition and partial shade. This makes it very adaptable to indoor spaces. As such, you can grow the sweetheart philodendron in the middle of rooms, bathroom bedroom or kitchen.

The only difference between areas with lots of light and bright light is how fast your plant grows. The philodendron brasil will grow faster with more light.

The one thing you want to be careful is not to leave it somewhere too dark or little light. When you do, it will begin to become leggy and stretch towards the light source. Similarly, you’ll start seeing its variegations fade. When these symptoms appear, it’s a sign that there’s too little light.

Pro Tip: One way to allow the plant to absorb more light is to clean its leaves. Foliage attracts dust and dirt that make can’t make your plant look less vibrant. These debris also block some sun. To clean your houseplant’s leaves, take  soft cloth or tissue and gently wipe each leaf.

 

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Philodendron Brasil Temperature & Humidity

Because it is a tropical plant, the sweetheart philodendron enjoys warm weather. Ideally, you want to keep it where the temperature stays between 60 and 75 degrees. But, you do have some leeway up and down that range.

However, it is essential that you don’t leave it in areas where the temperature can drop before 55 degrees. Since the philodendron brasil isn’t frost hardy, once the mercury drops below this level it will start to struggle.

As such, you want to be aware of what the nighttime temperature is where you place it. Some areas have significant difference between day and nighttime temperature. Another thing worth watching for it how far the temperature drops during the fall and winter.

In addition to not liking extreme temperatures, it also isn’t a fan of wind and drafts. This means you want to keep it away from heaters, air conditioners, and windows which experience strong breezes.

The other feature tropical plants need is medium to high humidity. For the philodendron brasil to thrive, it needs relative humidity to stay above 40%. The good news is many homes’ humidity levels get up to the 40s and 50s. However, this isn’t always the case. So, you want to check.

Just as importantly, humidity during the colder months drops because winter air is very dry. When this happens you have a few choices to increase the humidity.

  • Mist your plant regularly. Anywhere from 3 to 5 times a week works very well depending on how much more humid you need the air to be.
  • Set it on a pebble tray. This is a more hands-off approach. Plus, it is free. All you need is a dish of water and stones to keep the pot above the water. From there, the water and evaporation will do the rest.
  • Group the plant with other plants. Plants transpire like people perspire. So, as the moisture from their leaves evaporate, it adds moisture to the air to make it more humid.
  • Get a humidifier. This is the easiest way. Plus, the most precise sine you can get the exact humidity level you need. But, it is also the most expensive method of the four.

philodendron brasil

source: wikimedia commons

 

Watering Philodendron Brasil

Just like light, the philodendron brasil can tolerate inconsistent watering. However, it does grow best when the soil is moist but not soggy. Since the plant is native to tropical regions, the worst thing you can do is overwater it. Doing this on a regular basis will increase its risk of disease, root rot and death.

As such, the best way to water your plant is allow the soil to slightly dry between waterings. The best way to do this is to stick your finger down 1 inch into to soil. If you feel that it is wet or still moist, hold off watering until your finger test feels dryness on that top inch. When that happens, it is a signal to water again.

Similarly, when you water, make sure to water thoroughly. This means watering the soil slowly until you see moisture start dripping from the bottom holes of the pot. Then, stop, and allow any excess water to drain out.

This is definitely more time consuming because you have to wait for the water to drain. But, doing this ensures that your philodendron brasil won’t be sitting in water.

Also, don’t water over the plant or its leaves. While plants do like to get a quick shower once in a while to cool off and get clean of dirt, dust and pests, getting the plant all wet when you water is a no-no. This will leave its foliage wet. And, if they don’t dry soon, it can result in fungal disease.

Lastly, be careful about water schedules. Setting schedules like watering twice a week or once a week isn’t a good idea, although it seems great in theory.

That’s because the conditions around your plant changes. During spring and summer, it is warm. Plus, most houseplants grow quickly during this time (growing season). So, they need more water.

In contrast, during the wintertime, many plants “rest” or become semi-dormant. Additionally, the weather gets cool, so it takes longer for water to dry. As a result, you need to water much less. Otherwise you run the risk of overwatering.

 

Soil

When it comes to soil, all your philodendron brasil will ask for is well draining soil. That’s it!

It doesn’t mind if you give it poor soil that isn’t rich in organic matter. However, it will struggle if the soil causes it to have wet feet.

Thus, an all purpose potting mix works well. You can likewise add perlite to make the mix lighter and improve drainage. Otherwise, make sure that the potting mix you buy is light and fluffy.

Most houseplant owners prefer using soil-less potting mixes because they’re sterile. This ensures that there are no soil-borne diseases or pests in it, which is the biggest reason why you don’t want to use garden soil for your houseplants.

That said, you do need to make sure to add fertilizer because potting soil isn’t soil at all. So, it doesn’t contain nutrients for your plant, except for the starter dose, which only lasts for a month or a little more.

In addition to well draining soil, you want to make sure to get a container with holes at the bottom. This allows excess moisture to easily drain. You can likewise opt for pots that are made from porous materials like terra cotta over plastic.

 

Fertilizing

For optimum growth, apply a balanced liquid houseplant fertilizer once a month during its growing season. Make sure to dilute it to half strength. Otherwise, you run the risk of over-fertilizing which is almost just as bad as overwatering.

Because you’ll be using potting mix, you need to make sure you don’t skimp on fertilizer. This is because the fertilizer, along with water, will be its main sources of sustenance since the potting soil doesn’t contain any nutrients (after the starter dose is finished).

Once the cold weather comes around during the latter part of the year, scale back significantly or completely stop feeding your plant.

When it comes to fertilizer, you have a lot of options. Basically, organic is more expensive than synthetic. But it is better. Although, I’ve had no problems with synthetic fertilizers. And, many gardeners will tell you there’s little difference in result between the two. So, this one’s up to you.

Likewise, you can choose between liquid, granulated and slow release. Liquid is the easiest to apply. Plus, because of its form, it is easy to apply it in a balanced/well-distributed manner.

However, if you don’t like regularly applying fertilizer or are afraid you might forget to, slow release is a better option. This lets you apply once. And, will slowly release the fertilizer of a long period of time. So, you won’t have to keep applying throughout the season.

Whichever you choose, it is always a good idea to flush your soil regularly. Doing so gets rid of fertilizer residue buildup in the soil. All you need to do is slowly water the soil for about 2 to 4 minutes depending on how big your container is. Then allow the water to drain out from the bottom of the pot.

Along with the moisture, all the excess salts will come flowing with it.

 

Pruning Philodendron Brasil

Your philodendron brasil is a fast grower. As such, it will need to be pruned more regularly that other houseplants. This allows you to control its size and shape. Plus, it keeps it from become unruly and untidy looking.

In addition to aesthetics, trimming back your plant also makes it healthier. That’s because it promotes new growth, which makes you plant look fuller and bushier.

Finally, do cut back the old, dying, dead and leggy parts of the plant. All these cause the plant to expend its energy and resources in “losing battles”. By pruning them, you stop this and allow it to focus on new, fresh growth.

So when is the best time to prune your philodendron brasil?

Spring. At the very least, early in the growing season. This allows it to immediately “get to work” on producing new growth on the areas your trimmed.

As always, make sure you sterilize your cutting tools before pruning. Applying rubbing alcohol using cotton on the blades of the knife or scissors will ensure no bacteria is transferred to the plant.

 

Philodendron Brasil Propagation

Stem cutting is the easiest way to propagate your philodendron brasil. Thus, you don’t need to keep going back to the nursery or garden center to buy new plants when you want more.

Also, you can propagate more of this beautiful plant to give as housewarming gifts to friends.

Here’s how to propagate philodendron brasil.

  • Pick a healthy stem to propagate. You want to choose a stem with at least 2 to 4 healthy leaves.
  • Make the cut. Using a sterile pair of scissors or shears, prune off the stem. You want to cut 1-2 inches below the node (where the leaves connect to the stems).
  • Put the stem cuttings in water. Get a jar and insert the cuttings. Ideally, you want more than 1 stem to propagate because the process is not always 100% successful.
  • Wait for the stem cutting to root. Water propagation increases the success rate. Plus, it also allows the cutting to root faster. With the sweetheart Philodendron you’ll see roots start growing within a few days.
  • Move the cutting to soil. This will be your plants ultimate destination. But, you’ll want to wait until the roots are somewhat established before doing so (1-2 inch long roots). This takes about a week. Then move it into a container with potting soil
  • Water your plant thoroughly.

 

Transplanting & Repotting

You will need to repot your philodendron brasil every 2 or 3 years depending on how fast it grows. The latter can be affected by a number of factors including how big your plant is, how big the pot it is currently in and whether it is receiving all the requirements above at optimum levels just to name a few.

That said, the best way to tell if your plant needs to be repotted is to check if there are roots coming out from the holes in your plant. As the plant grows, so does its roots.

And, the when the root system gets too big for the pot it will start to find ways to extend. This means circling around the pot and peeking out of any hole it can find. So, when you see these signs, it means the current container is too small.

That said, the best time to repot is during spring time. This is when the plant is in its growing season. As such, it is better equipped at quickly overcoming the shock of being transplanted.

Additionally, giving it more space and fresh potting soil right at the start of its growing season encourages it to grow faster.

How big should the new container be? 2 inches larger than the current pot.

In theory, getting the biggest pot your can find lets you sit back and not repot for years and years. Unfortunately, this doesn’t work in the real world. That’s because too large a pot means way too much soil.

So, when you water the soil, everything becomes wet. This causes you plant to be sitting in water which takes a very long time to dry. In contrast, a pot that’s slightly bigger doesn’t have this problem.

How to Repot Your Philodendron Brasil

  • Gently and carefully take the plant out of its current pot. The more rootbound the plant is, the harder it will be to get it out because the sides are pressed up against the insides of the container.
  • Make sure not to jolt or jar the plant. Otherwise, you’ll be increasing the amount of shock it is experiencing.
  • Once you get it out, inspect the root ball. You want to remove excess soil and dirt. You also want to untangle any roots curling around other roots and the root ball.
  • Fill the new pot with fresh potting mix. Use the current plant to gauge how much soil you need to put below the root ball to make it stand out of the pot properly.
  • Insert the plant into the pot. Then, fill the remaining space with soil. Make sure not to over pack the soil. Compact soil will prevent water and air from easily penetrating it.
  • Water the newly repot plant thoroughly.

 

Toxicity

Like other philodendrons, the philodendron brasil is toxic to both humans and animals. This means it is a good idea to keep them away from the reach of young kids and pets.

The plant’s leaves and stems contain chemicals that can cause irritation and swelling to the mouth and throat when ingested.

 

Pests

With pests, your philodendron brasil is susceptible to a few. The most common of these include mealybugs, spider mites, aphids, scale and fungus gnats.

Unfortunately, the only way to prevent these from happening is to keep a healthy plant and make sure other plants near it don’t have pests. A healthy plant is a strong plant. And thus, better able to resist pests.

But the only way to get a healthy plant is to give it the right amounts of all its requirements. Often, the problems lie in overwatering and humidity. Yes, both deal with moisture.

The next thing you can do is to regularly inspect your plants. This lets you quickly find pests if and when they appear. Doing so lets you immediately treat your plant before the pests cause serious damage.

With most of these pests, water and insecticidal soap will do the job. Neem oil likewise works.

 

Diseases

When it comes to disease, the biggest enemy of your sweetheart Philodendron is overwatering. This is likewise the case for most houseplants.

Thus, when you see yellow leaves, foliage dropping, slow growth or mold, the first thing that should come to your mind is too much water. When any of these happen, you need to act quickly because the effects of long term overwatering can kill your plant.

The first thing you want to do is check the soil. If it is moist, you may want to repot the plant into new soil. This instantly gets it away from wet soil. Also, make sure adjust your watering schedule.

When repotting, check the roots, root rot is a very bad sign. It also makes it very difficult to revive your plant.

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