The Philodendron Esmeraldense is a rare broadleaf philodendron plant. It is best known for its large, green foliage that hang almost straight down vertically from its long, slim, curving stems.
The plant is both terrestrial and epiphytic often found in damp rainforests. It is native to South America particularly Ecuador.
How do you care for Philodendron Esmeraldense? The plant will thrive in bright, indirect light. Choose this environment if you want it to produce striking large foliage. Although it can tolerate low light, you’ll see a big difference in leaf size and quality there.
It also enjoys warm, humid conditions along with moist soil. But avoid overwatering or leaving it in wet, soggy soil. For best growth, give it fertilizer.
Philodendron Esmeraldense Plant Care
The Philodendron Esmeraldense will grow best in medium to bright indirect light indoors. This will support the plant’s growth and allow it to develop long, large, lush green leaves.
What makes it easy to care for indoors is that it can tolerate low light as well.
But here, the plant will grow slower. Also, you want to be careful as too little light will make the plant leggy.
Besides not being visually appealing, leggy stems are weaker and thinner as well. This makes it easier for them to sustain damage.
Additionally, you want to be more careful about watering in low light since less light means it takes longer for water to dry. This increases the risk of overwatering. And it also makes the plant susceptible to disease since damp environments promote infection growth.
That said, the other extreme is likewise bad for the plant.
Too much direct sunlight will burn the plant’s leaves. Or at the very least cause them to turn yellow or bleach.
Note that not all direct sunlight is bad though. In fact, the plant will live very happily and grow the fastest near an east facing window because it will get lots of direct morning sun.
The difference is that morning sun is gentle. In contrast mid-day sun, including noon and mid-afternoon direct sunlight is very intense.
So avoid this kind of direct sunlight coming from the south and the west.
The Philodendron Esmeraldense also does best in warm temperatures between 60 and 85 degrees Fahrenheit. That’s because it is a tropical plant.
As such, in addition to warm environments, it enjoys consistent temperatures and does not like sudden fluctuations.
Hot weather is likewise not an issue. This is true even for 95 degree weather which is what the plant experiences in Southeast Asia and South America which can get brutally hot and humid during summertime.
In fact, those are the two regions where the plant is found most. And if you want to get hold of a plant, those are your best bets to get more affordable prices.
The thing you want to avoid with the Philodendron Esmeraldense is cold conditions.
It does not like the cold and is not cold hardy either.
It doesn’t have much tolerance for weather below 55 degrees Fahrenheit. And any colder it will struggle and suffer.
In fact, leave it there for a long time and you’ll see it drop leaves and turn yellow. Cold damage can likewise occur and there’s always the possibility of plant death as well.
So, avoid leaving it outdoors through the winter as it won’t be able to survive until spring.
The only exception is if you live in USDA Hardiness Zones 9b to 11 where the weather during November to March remains warm and sunny.
The Philodendron Esmeraldense likes high humidity. And its ideal living condition is between 60% to 80% humidity. This applies both indoors and outdoors.
Speaking of which, it is not a good idea to compare indoor and outdoor humidity because the humidity in your home will almost always be lower than the relative humidity outside.
So, this is one thing to be wary of especially with plants that like humid conditions.
It is also worth noting that the Philodendron Esmeraldense can tolerate humidity of 40% and slightly lower without harm. This makes it slightly easier to accommodate for some homes.
In most cases, you likely won’t have humidity issues during spring and autumn.
The problem will usually occur in summer when the lack of moisture will cause humidity to drop. Additionally, the plant is growing during this time and the warm weather will cause the soil to dry up faster.
So, moisture becomes more important.
The other time humidity can be an issue is winter. Winter tends to dry the air considerably.
As such, it is a good idea to monitor how low humidity drops in your home during these two times of the year.
In case it goes below what the plant needs, you’ll see the leaf tips and edges of your Philodendron Esmeraldense turn brown and crispy.
This means it is asking for your help to increase humidity.
You can do so by misting the plant or using a humidifier. You can also move it to the bathroom or set up a DIY pebble tray or humidity tray.
All of these methods work to varying degrees. So, try them out and see which works best for you.
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How Often to Water Philodendron Esmeraldense
The Philodendron Esmeraldense prefers consistently moist soil. However, it does not like wet, soggy soil. And giving it too much water will turn its leaves yellow.
As such, balance is very important.
Another thing that makes watering the plant tricky is that the soil will dry faster during summer due to the hotter weather. So, you will need to water more regularly.
In contrast, the cold winter will make soil stay moist or wet longer. This increases the risk of overwatering especially if you don’t cut back significantly on watering.
Overwatering is very dangerous for the plant because it is the number one cause of houseplant death. And the Philodendron Esmeraldense is not exempted to this.
Therefore, don’t try to use a fixed watering schedule.
Instead, make sure your watering routine adjusts to the seasons.
This is why the best way to water the plant is to wait until the top 2 inches of soil has dried before you add water.
Alternatively, you can likewise wait until the top half (50%) of the soil has dried before you water again.
The first method is the minimum amount you need to wait to avoid overwatering. The second method is more conservative. But it is also safer if you don’t want to risk any overwatering.
The similarity between both methods is that you allow some of the soil to dry before you add more water. This helps prevent excess moisture which can drown the roots.
What’s great with both methods is that you allow the soil to determine when you water.
As such, when the weather is warm, the soil will dry faster. So, you’ll automatically water more regularly as the plant needs it.
In winter when the climate is cold, soil takes much longer to dry. So, your watering schedule automatically scales back and waits until the soil has dried enough before you add more water.
This simplifies the entire process. And it keeps you safe from overwatering.
Philodendron Esmeraldense Potting Soil
The best soil for the Philodendron Esmeraldense is well-draining and rich in organic matter.
Here, it is important to understand what well-draining means because I’ve see many people interpret it as fast draining which is not the same thing.
Instead, well-draining refers to the soil’s ability to hold some water. But quickly drain excess moisture.
So, it retains enough moisture to keep the roots hydrated. At the same time, it will get rid of excess liquid fast to avoid letting the roots sit in water for long periods of time.
In contrast, very fast draining soils or sandy soils will get rid of too much water that the roots never get a chance to drink enough.
Fortunately, it is easy to achieve well-draining soil that’s well-suited for the Philodendron Esmeraldense.
All you need is to combine:
- 1 part potting soil
- 1 part perlite
- 1 part orchid bark
- ½ part charcoal
The potting soil will retain enough moisture to keep the roots happy. Meanwhile, the perlite, bark and activated charcoal increase drainage.
Additionally, the chunky nature of the charcoal and the bark also provide good aeration.
Fertilizer is important for the Philodendron Esmeraldense’s optimal growth. It will help the plant grow faster and prevent any nutrient deficiencies.
Additionally, a complete fertilizer with both macro- and micronutrients will ensure that the plant is healthy.
What makes feeding the Philodendron Esmeraldense easy is that you can use just about any houseplant fertilizer.
You can go with a balanced blend or an all-purpose product. The important thing is to avoid giving the plant more than what it needs.
Over fertilizing is the one thing that can harm your plant. So, avoid it.
Instead, just follow the instructions on the product label.
The Philodendron Esmeraldense only needs once a month feeding during spring and summer. Dilute the application by half the recommended strength each time.
If you want to be more conservative, you can use a slow-release fertilizer instead.
In case you prefer a more affordable organic option, you can opt for fish emulsion as well.
The Philodendron Esmeraldense will grow into a huge plant that can reach 6 to 8 feet in height.
It is a climbing vine that will appreciate a vertical structure like a moss pole or cedar stake to climb on. Allowing it to climb will also help the plant grow bigger and produce larger leaves.
That’s because it mimics the plant’s living environment in the forest where it clings onto larger trees and climbs up them.
Because of its large leaves, you will need some space for the plant.
The stems will grow high and long. These will curve outward to clear the pot so the long leaves can hang down without ending up in the soil.
Therefore, the larger your plant gets, the more space it will need above and around it.
This is the only reason for pruning it, to control its size.
As such, a lot will depend on how much room you can spare around the plant and how big or impressive the plant will get.
Outside of that, pruning is mostly for encouraging further growth if your Philodendron Esmeraldense does not have many leaves.
Or to remove old, brown, yellow or diseased leaves.
How to Propagate Philodendron Esmeraldense
Stem cutting is the most effective (and easiest) way to propagate the Philodendron Esmeraldense. Here, you also have two options as you can propagate the cuttings in water or in soil.
Both methods work.
But most growers will have one preference over the other.
Here’s how to propagate the Philodendron Esmeraldense from stem cuttings.
- Choose healthy stems with at least one node and a few leaves.
- Take a healthy cutting but cutting the stem just under the node.
- Once you have the cuttings, it is time to choose if you want to propagate the cuttings in water or in soil.
To propagate in water,
- Place the cutting in a glass jar filled with water. Many growers like glass because it lets you watch the roots as they develop. Make sure to submerge the nodes under the liquid.
- Keep the jar in a warm, bright place with not direct sunlight.
- Change the water every 1-2 weeks so it does not get cloudy.
- In about 3-4 weeks roots will develop. Once the roots reach about 2 or more inches long, you can transfer the cuttings into a pot with well-draining soil.
To propagate in soil,
- Fill a pot with fresh, well-draining soil.
- Take the stem cuttings and dip the cut end into rooting hormone. Then plant the cuttings into the soil.
- Make sure the nodes are buried under the soil. But remove any leaves that end up in the soil. Leave the upper leaves intact.
- Water the soil to keep it moist but not wet or soggy.
- In about 4 weeks roots will develop. Since the plant is already in soil, there’s no need to move it until it is time to repot the new plant.
How to Repot or Transplant Philodendron Esmeraldense
The Philodendron Esmeraldense only needs repotting when it becomes root bound. When this happens its growth with slow down a bit because of the size limitation of the pot.
You’ll know when this is happening as you’ll see roots coming out from the drainage holes at the bottom of the pot.
This is your sign that it is time to repot.
Ideally, wait until spring which is the best time to repot.
Make sure to use the right kind of well-draining potting mix when you refresh the soil. Also, choose a pot that is one size bigger than the current one. Don’t jump sizes as this will increase the risk of overwatering.
Is It Toxic/Poisonous to Humans, Cats & Dogs
The Philodendron Esmeraldense is toxic to people and pets. It contains calcium oxalate crystals which can cause pain, swelling and irritation once ingested.
Therefore, in case your kids, cats or dogs chew or consumer the plant’s leaves or stems, make sure to immediately inform your pediatrician or veterianarian.
Philodendron Esmeraldense Problems & Troubleshooting
Spider mites, aphids, scale and mealybugs are the most common pest problems for the Philodendron Esmeraldense. Although, the plant is quite resistant to pests.
That said, pests can happen any time.
So, it is important to regular inspect the plant for bugs.
You can use a magnifying glass to make it easier to spot them.
The important thing is that when you see any, immediately isolate the plant and begin treatment. These bugs reproduce very quickly. So, their population can grow quite fast.
This makes it very important to get rid of them before they develop into a full-blown infestation which easily will take several weeks to eradicate.
You can use neem oil or insecticidal soap to treat these bugs.
Root rot and leaf spot infection are two of the more common issues when it comes to diseases affecting the Philodendron Esmeraldense.
Root rot is caused by overwatering and waterlogged soil.
Because it is very difficult to fix and save the plant from root rot, try to avoid watering too often and make sure you always use well-draining soil.
On the other hand, leaf spot can be caused by bacterial or fungal infections. Again excess moisture is the culprit.
However, the kind of infection affects how you can treat it.
Fungal diseases can be treated with fungicides. Although, bacterial diseases will vary depending on whether they are localized or systemic. The latter is more dangerous because there’s not way to control or stop it.
For localized bacterial infections, allow the plant to dry to prevent spreading. Then prune all the affected leaves.