The Philodendron Cobra is a rare philodendron plant that is sought after by growers and collectors. If you happen to spot one, it will likely have a price of $150 or higher.
This climbing philodendron is best known for its lush leaves which are green with white/cream variegations.
It is native to Central and South America. As such, it is accustomed to warm, humid conditions.
How do you care for Philodendron Cobra? The Philodendron Cobra enjoys bright indirect light although it can tolerate low light as well. The plant needs warm, humid conditions to thrive so avoid temperatures below 50 degrees Fahrenheit.
It is likewise susceptible to overwatering. Therefore, allow the soil to dry between waterings and use well-draining potting mix.
Philodendron Cobra Plant Care
The Philodendron Cobra grows best in bright, indirect light. It also does well in medium light and can tolerate low light.
However, because its leaves are variegated, it won’t do as well as other philodendrons with solid green leaves when lighting is low. If illumination gets too dim, you’ll notice the plant’s variegations turn green.
It does this to absorb more light.
That’s because it is the green sections of the leaves that absorb light, variegated areas don’t. So, in a desperate measure to get enough light to support its energy needs, it will turn the variegations green.
On the other hand, you also want to keep it away from direct sunlight.
That’s because the plant grows in tropical rainforests where it is covered by much larger plants and trees. Therefore, although some light does pass through the forest canopy, most of the sun’s direct rays are blocked by the trees, leaves and branches overhead.
As such, the Philodendron Cobra is not used to strong, intense sun exposure like that of direct sunlight.
This makes an east-facing window ideal for the plant indoors.
There, it receives lots of morning sun which is gentle. On the other hand, if you place it in a west or south-facing window, make sure to either distance it away from the sun’s rays or filter the rays by using blinds or curtains.
The Philodendron Cobra enjoys warm climate conditions because it comes from tropical regions. This means it is used to seeing sunshine all year round with no snow or frost.
As such, the plant prefers temperatures between 60 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit. Similarly, it can tolerate hotter conditions up to the mid 90s.
However, it has much less leeway on the colder side.
Thus, avoid leaving it in any place that received temperatures below 50 degrees Fahrenheit. If it is left there, you’ll notice its growth slow down. It will also show some signs of stress the longer it stays there.
And if the temperature drops even further, it can experience cold injury.
This is why the Philodendron Cobra is often kept indoors as a houseplant.
However, even indoors, you still want to avoid air conditioners and locations with cold drafts. Both can cause the plant problems.
That said, if you live in USDA Hardiness Zones 9 to 11, it will happily grow outside without any issues. That’s because these regions are warm and sunny throughout the year. The include states like Florida, California and Texas.
As such, the plant does not have a problem with the weather since there is no winter.
Another things to consider when caring for the Philodendron Cobra is humidity. Because it comes from tropical regions, the plant needs moderate to high humidity.
Ideally, it prefers humidity of 60% to 70%. Although, it will be happy as long as humidity stays above 40%.
This may or may not be an issue depending on where you live.
If you live somewhere with tropical climate or near a body of water like a lake or beach, humidity will easily top 40%.
However, this may not be the case elsewhere.
Additionally, winter is notorious for drying up the air. So, you do want to watch out for drops in humidity level during this time of the year.
If you’re not sure what the humidity in your home is, it is a good idea to pick up a hygrometer. This nifty device will tell you what the humidity is at any given point in time.
As such, you can easily keep track of it. And if it gets too low, you can do something to increase the moisture in the air around the plant.
- How to Grow Philodendron Cream Splash
- Philodendron Elegans Plant Care Guide – Growing Information & Tips
- Philodendron Esmeraldense Care – Watering, Propagation & Repotting Guide
- Philodendron Giganteum Blizzard Care – Light, Potting Soil Mix & Propagation
- Philodendron Jerry Horne Plant Care – Watering, Potting Mix & Propagation
- Philodendron Joepii Care & Propagation
How Often to Water Philodendron Cobra
The Philodendron Cobra enjoys moist soil when it is actively growing. But it is also prone to overwatering and root rot.
Therefore, make sure not to water too much or water too frequently. Instead, keep the soil moist during spring and summer but allow it to dry quite a bit come winter.
The most important things to keep in mind when watering this plant are:
- Not to let the soil go bone dry
- Avoid overwatering
Of the two overwatering causes much more serious issues. So, if you are going to err, err on the side of dryness.
The best way to water the plant is to make sure that you wait until the top 2 inches of soil dries out between waterings.
This prevent you from adding more water when the soil is still wet (which leads to overwatering).
Similarly, how you water is just as important.
And you have 2 choices here:
One, is to water thoroughly from above then allow the soil to drain right after.
To do this, keep adding water until you start seeing liquid coming out from the drainage holes at the bottom of the pot. Then let the excess moisture drain before returning the plant to its place.
The second option is to water from below or bottom watering.
Here, you fill a basin or container that’s wider than the pot of the plant with water. Then place the pot into the larger container with water.
This will allow the soil to absorb the liquid through the drainage holes at the bottom of the pot.
The process takes much longer since the soil will absorb water at its own rate. Usually, it can take between 15 to 30 minutes depending on how big the plant is.
Check on the soil every not and then to see if the surface feels moist.
Once the surface of the soil is moist, remove outer container with water. Then allow the soil to drain any excess moisture.
Philodendron Cobra Potting Soil
The Philodendron Cobra needs well-draining soil. This ensures that the soil quickly drains any excess moisture. In doing so, it prevents the roots from getting wet feet.
This is very important since the plant is susceptible to root rot.
Fortunately, it is easy to achieve this kind of soil.
If you prefer to buy potting soil from the store, you can pick up a bag of Aroid mix. This kind of soil is perfect for the Philodendron Cobra. And it meets all its requirements.
On the other hand, if you prefer to make your own potting mix, here’s a simple recipe that works very well for the plant. Just combine:
- 1 part sphagnum moss
- 3 parts orchid mix
- 1 part perlite
- 1 part activated charcoal
This potting mix recipe holds just enough water to keep the plant well-hydrated. And it drains excess moisture well while providing good aeriation so the roots receive sufficient oxygen to stay healthy.
Like other houseplants, the Philodendron Cobra will benefit from fertilizer. However, be careful not to overdo it. Too much fertilizer is very harmful to any plants including the Philodendron Cobra.
That’s because it contains salts which are used to transport the nutrients to make it easy for the roots to absorb them.
The problem is, once the roots get the nutrients, the mineral salts are left in the soil. As they accumulate, they become toxic to the roots.
This is why over feeding causes fertilizer burn.
As such, only feed the plant during its growing season. Avoid doing so during late fall and winter.
Using a slow release fertilizer will allow you to feed the plant once or twice a year. Alternatively, most home growers will use a regular houseplant fertilizer.
Here, apply once a month diluting the application by 50% to prevent overconcentration.
The Philodendron Cobra is a climber. And given a support to go up on, it can grow up to 18 feet high. That said, the plant’s size is more manageable in size indoors in a container.
On average it usually gets to 3-4 feet tall and 1-2 feet wide in this environment.
As the plant grows, you’ll also see its leaves come out from the center outwards. Its foliage go in all directions which gives the plant its unique look and character.
This is where pruning comes in.
You can prune the Philodendron Cobra to shape it and limit its overall size. Of course, this will depend on how you want the plant to look.
Most home growers allow it to climb up a pole so that the leaves grown outward from the support.
On the other hand, you can keep it in a pot and let it get bushier. This will make the plant look more like a shrub than that climber. It also keeps the plant short.
How to Propagate Philodendron Cobra
There are 3 main ways to propagate the Philodendron Cobra. These are:
- From stem cuttings
- By air layering
- From seed
Of the 3 methods, stem cutting is the most popular because it is simple and straightforward. The cuttings also root fairly quickly. Plus, the method yields very high propagation success rates.
On the other hand, air layering is another good option for home growers.
However, it does require a bit more attention since you have to keep the growing medium moist at all times while it is wrapped it. This takes more monitoring compared to keeping soil moist.
Finally, there is propagating from seed.
This is less practical for home growers because it takes much longer and also more time on your part. However, commercial operations prefer this as they are able to grow many plants simultaneously which is important for sales.
Propagating Philodendron Cobra from Stem Cuttings
To propagate the Philodendron Cobra from stem cuttings, follow these steps:
- Take a healthy stem cutting. You want to look for a stem with 2-3 leaves and at least one node. The node is a requirement since that is what allows the new plant to grow.
- Use a sterile pair or scissors or pruning shears to cut the stem from the parent plant. Make sure to cut just below the node.
- Prepare a pot and fill it will fresh, well-draining potting soil.
- Dab the cut end of the stem in rooting hormone. This step is optional. But it helps with the rooting process.
- Plant the cutting into the soil. Makes sure that the node or nodes are buried under the soil.
- Water the soil until moist. Avoid getting the soil too wet or soggy.
- Place the new plant in bright, indirect light.
- In about 2 to 4 weeks, the cutting will have grown roots.
How to Repot or Transplant Philodendron Cobra
Repot the plant every 2 years. Although this is just a guideline because it can become root bound sooner or later than that.
As such, I prefer on listening to what the plant is telling me.
The best way to do this is to check the bottom of the pot’s drainage holes every year or so. Once you see several roots coming out from the holes, it means the plant is root bound.
Therefore, it is time to repot.
Choose a container that is one size larger than the current pot and replace the potting soil as well.
The best time to repot is during spring or early summer.
Is It Toxic/Poisonous to Humans, Cats & Dogs
Unfortunately, the Philodendron Cobra is toxic when ingested. This means you want to keep it away from young children and pets who may accidentally chew or consume it.
Doing so can cause side effects including pain, irritation, difficulty swallowing, breathing issues, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea.
Philodendron Cobra Problems & Troubleshooting
The Philodendron Cobra is not a pest magnet. But there are some bugs that like to attach it.
The most common are sap sucking insects including mealybugs, spider mites, aphids and scale. Thee may seem harmful because they are very tiny in size.
But they multiply very rapidly. And as they grow in population, they are able to do more damage since they rob your plant of its internal juices.
This will eventually leave you with a weak, wilting plant that has yellow leaves.
If they go untreated, the pests will eventually overcome the plant, destroying it.
When it comes to diseases, root rot is the most serious of all. That’s because it can destroy your plant once too many roots have been damaged.
Rotted roots won’t be able to absorb moisture or nutrients. So, eventually, your plant will die due to lack of sustenance no matter how much fertilizer and water you add to the soil.
In addition to root rot, leaf infections are another problem to consider. These can be bacterial or fungal.
Since these infections and root rot are caused by excess moisture, it is important to be wary on how much you water the plant and how often you do it.