The Philodendron domesticum is also known as the Spade Leaf Philodendron and Burgundy Philodendron. It is best known for its long, spade-shaped leaves that kind of look like hearts that have been stretched vertically.
On the other hand, its stem features a darker color which is where it gets it burgundy nickname.
Thanks to its unique looks, it is something collectors like especially if you’re into exotic tropical plants.
Their glossy green leaves can grow to about 2 feet long. Although, you can likewise opt for variegated ones if you want a little bit more texture.
These have varying patterns made from hues such as different shades of green, cream and yellow.
Philodendron Domesticum Plant Care
Your Philodendron domesticum does best in medium light. It can likewise tolerate low light settings making it perfect for households and offices.
If you’re looking for the fastest growth, giving it bright, indirect light is best. That said, this means more water as well since growth requires water. And, sunlight means warmth.
As such, you’ll need to figure out the balance you prefer between how much maintenance (watering, feeding and pruning) you want to do and how much you want to grow.
This is the reality of caring for plants since we all have busy lives and you can’t sit spend way too much time on watering and the like if you need to take care of the kids, bring them to school or work.
That said, you do want to be careful with the extremes.
This includes direct or intense sunlight as well as too little light. The former will scorch the plant’s leaves whereas the latter will keep it from growing properly. Either way, it doesn’t end up where you want it to go.
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Just as your Philodendron domesticum needs sunlight, it also desires moderate to warm conditions. The ideal temperature for it runs between 55 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit.
And, while growth will slow a bit as you go above 80 degrees it won’t harm the plant. However, once you get past 95 to 100 degrees, it will begin to experience stress.
Thanks to its tropical nature, it can better tolerate hot conditions.
That’s not the case with the opposite.
It is sensitive to the cold. Thus, you want to be more careful with going below 55 degrees.
More importantly, you’re Philodendron domesticum won’t be able to survive frost or snowy winters. It is hardy to zones 9 to 11, which means you can only keep it outdoors through the winter if you live somewhere the sun shines 365 days a year.
Indoors, temperature is less of a problem since most keep their climate to within the desired range. However, you want to be aware of drafts as well as cold spots.
Open doors, windows, heaters and air conditioners all can cause issues. So, it is a good idea to keep the plant away from spaces where temperature tends to fluctuate a lot.
Humidity is also something that your Philodendron domesticum enjoys a lot of. The thing about South American rainforests is that they warm, humid and get frequent douses of rain.
Thus, you want to mimic these conditions to get the best growth for your spade leaf philodendron.
Ideally, the plant does best when humidity is kept at 60% or higher. But, it does not have a problem with average room humidity.
As long as you keep humidity around 40% or more you should be good. In the 30s, you’re towing the line as you may or may not see any effects to the plant.
Also, be aware hot, dry summers and cold winters which tend to reduce moisture in the air.
So why bother with high humidity?
The higher level (60% or more) allows the plant to produce more lush, vibrant looking leaves. You’ll be able to tell from the color and the look of it foliage.
If you’re not sure about what the humidity is in each room of your home or what levels it drops to during summer and winter, consider getting a digital hygrometer.
This is an inexpensive device that lets you easily tell what the humidity is in a particular room. Thus, you can make the necessary adjustments as needed.
Again, maintenance may come into the picture.
Since most homes don’t achieve the high humidity the plant requires for optimum growth, many growers mist it. You’ll usually need to do this every 2 or 3 days.
On my part, I like to give the plant a shower. I do this by taking it out to the back where I have a large sink that’s designed for plants and the garden. This lets me place entire plants under the faucet and give them a quick shower.
This helps increase moisture fairly quickly. But, make sure to let it dry under a bit of sun and somewhere with good air circulation right after to avoid leaf spot and other foliage diseases.
Other options include moving it to the bathroom or kitchen, using a pebble tray, grouping plants together or getting a humidifier.
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How Often to Water Philodendron Domesticum
I touched on watering a bit above. And, I’ll go into more detail about it here.
The most important thing about watering your Philodendron domesticum is not to overwater it.
You can do so in 4 ways.
- Make sure the pot you use has a drainage hole
- Don’t water too much at one time or too often
- Use the right kind of soil
- Provide enough sunshine and air circulation
I’ve covered the last one above. Sunlight provides warmth which speeds up evaporation helping the soil dry up faster.
Good air circulation also helps wet spots dry quickly. You probably experience this when hanging the laundry up on windy days when the sun is out. You’ll notice that even the thicker fabrics dry faster.
I’ll cover soil in the section below.
Here, I’ll talk more about the pot and watering.
Always choose a pot with drainage holes as this will allow liquid to escape. Thus, moisture won’t pool at the bottom of the container. That would be the worst case scenario as the roots will sit in water for long periods of time.
This will result in root rot.
With watering, you’ll need to water more in the summer and less in the winter. That’s because of 2 things:
- It is warmer in the summer and colder in the winter. Thus, soil dries faster and slower respectively.
- The plant’s growing season is during the warmer months (spring and summer) and rests during the cold months (fall and winter). So, it will need more sustenance, (sun, fertilizer and water) when it is growing. And much less of it when resting.
So, you need to adjust.
And, the best way to do this is to use your finger as a gauge. Stick your index finger into the soil about 2 inches deep.
Only water once the soil is dry beyond 2 inches. And, when you do, water thoroughly. Then, allow any excess moisture to drain completely.
The last two parts of that line are just as important as the first part.
Soil for Philodendron Domesticum
When it comes to soil, the most important thing to use is well-draining potting mix. Note that potting soil is different from garden soil. And, you do need to pick some up from the garden center or create your own with ingredients from the garden center.
Don’t use soil from your garden or yard.
In addition to being well-draining, your Spade Leaf Philodendron also grows best with rich, loose soil.
This gives it enough nutrients in the form of organic matter and is airy enough to let oxygen easily pass through to get to the rooms.
The plant also appreciates soil pH between 5.6 to 7.5. Thus, acidic to neural soil works best.
To help it absorb the most nutrients from the soil, you also want to keep it moist. Avoid overly soggy or wet soil which are results of overwatering.
Beyond this you don’t really have to do a lot with soil as the plant’s robust root system will take care of the rest.
The easiest way to achieve well-draining soil is to add sand or perlite to regular potting soil. This will allow it to drain better.
Besides soil that’s rich in organic matter, feeding your plant helps increase growth and leaf production.
You can use either liquid or slow release fertilizer depending on your preference.
Each has its own pros and cons as you’d expect.
In most cases, people apply liquid fertilizer every 2 to 4 weeks during spring and summer. This is when the plant is actively growing. It does not need feeding during the winter. Although, you can apply fertilizer once every 2 months if you wish.
When choosing a fertilizer make sure to pick one with enough calcium and magnesium. These are 2 of many micronutrients that many growers miss as most of the attention goes into the macronutrients (N-P-K).
Having enough micronutrients in the formulation especially calcium and magnesium prevents pale looking leaves.
Your Philodendron domesticum is low maintenance when it comes to pruning. However, there are a few reasons why you may want to prune it.
- Limit its size
- Remove dead, dying or discolored leaves
- Make it more bushy or help it grow more
In the wild, the plant will get as big as 8 to 10 feet high. Indoors and in a container, it won’t get as imposing.
Nevertheless, pruning helps you control its size and breadth as the large leaves (which can grow to about 2 feet long and nearly a foot wide) will take up a bit of space.
Most of the time people trim to make the plant look the way they want it to.
But I highly suggest pruning to keep it healthy at the least. You can do so by removing dead, dying or diseased foliage. Similarly, I recommend cleaning the large leaves with a damp cloth once every week or 2 weeks which helps with light absorption and pest prevention.
You can also prune to encourage the plant to grow more. This results in a bushier plant over time which looks amazing.
When you do trim the plant keep in mind two things.
- Use a sterile pair of cutting tools to avoid passing any infection
- Wear gloves as the sap of the plant can cause skin irritation
Philodendron Domesticum Propagation
You can propagate your Philodendron domesticum at home in water or soil depending on what you prefer. Both methods work and are easy to do.
They are different in process though.
Here’s how to do each.
To propagate Philodendron domesticum in water:
- Take a stem with at least a leaf node
- Remove the lower leaves that will get submerged in water
- Place the stem cutting into a glass or jar of water
- Put the jar in a warm spot with bright indirect light.
- In about 2 or so weeks you should see roots develop. The glass helps as it lets you monitor the rooting progress. The same luxury is not true for soil as you can’t see through the pot nor the soil.
- Once the roots get to about an inch long, you can move them to a pot with soil
To propagate Philodendron domesticum in soil:
- Follow the same steps above in taking a stem cutting.
- But, instead of placing it in water, dip the cut end into rooting hormone. This helps speed up the rooting process.
- Next, plant the stem cutting into a pot with fresh potting soil.
- Keep the pot in a warm spot with bright, indirect light.
- You can also cover the plant with plastic to increase humidity. This will speed up the initial growth.
- After about 3 or so weeks, test if the roots are growing by lightly tugging on the plant. if it resists, it means the roots are taking hold.
- Allow it to keep growing.
After a while, you’ll see shoots start coming out and the plant will outgrow the pot. You’ll then need to repot.
During its early time, you’ll be repotting more often since you only go up in small pot size increments while the plant grows quickly.
This will slow down over time.
How to Repot Philodendron Domesticum
Spade Leaf Philodendron are fast growing plants. As such, you’ll need to repot it to allow its roots enough space to keep growing.
Because the plant can get to between 8 to 10 feet high, it is worth knowing that repotting will help it get bigger.
Thus, if you have low ceilings or want to limit its size, you can keep it in the same container to do so.
However, be aware that you still need to take care of its roots. Otherwise leaving the plant in a pot bound state will cause it stress.
So, you have 2 options here.
If you want to allow it to keep growing, repot to a larger container that’s 2 inches bigger when its roots being to start coming out of the drainage holes at the bottom of the pot.
The best time to repot is during winter or spring before it begins its next growing season (i.e. when the leaves start coming out).
However, avoid repotting during very cold days as the freezing temperature can add to the transplant shock.
To do so,
- Have a container that’s 2 inches bigger in diameter than the current container
- Fill it about 40% of the way with well-draining potting mix. I suggest mixing the soil in another bowl beforehand so you can get the percentages you want.
- Gently take the plant out by sliding the root ball out of the pot.
- Remove any excess dirt and spread the roots apart if they’re tangled together.
- Place the root ball into the new container and fill the remaining space with fresh potting soil
On the other hand if you don’t want the plant to grow anymore:
- Go through the same steps above. But, use the same container.
- The only difference is that once you separate the roots, start pruning the long ones. Also, take out extra parts of the soil in the root ball to make more space for fresh potting mix.
- By trimming the roots each time, you’ll be able to keep using the same container while limiting the growth of the plant and keeping it healthy.
- But be careful not to prune it too much. A little is enough.
Philodendron domesticum contain calcium oxalate crystals. These are safe as long as you don’t ingest them. They only become a problem if eaten because the human and animal bodies cannot digest or dissolve these chemicals.
As a result, they’ll cause gastrointestinal pain and problems.
Unfortunately, young kids and pets have the tendency to eat things they’re not supposed to including large leaves.
Thus, it is a good idea to keep the plant away from them.
Pests and Diseases
Pests and diseases are not necessarily a big problem for the plant. Good care, regular cleaning and inspection will help keep it healthy and growing well.
When it comes to pests mealybugs and aphids are two of the more common problems your plant may experience.
in case they happen, you’ll want to act immediately. You can apply insecticidal soap or use neem oil depending on which you have on hand or prefer to use.
The earlier you’re able to spot it, the earlier you can treat the plant. And, the less serious the problem the faster it resolves.
On the other hand root rot, mildew and leaf spot are among the more common diseases. All are preventable with proper care and watering.
Here, too much water is often the cause. Thus, being mindful of how you water the plant is essential.
Root rot is due to too much water in the soil. Leaf spot and mildew are cause by let foliage that does not dry due to lack of sun and air circulation.
So, you do need to be careful with how you water as much as when you water.