The Philodendron imbe is yet another rare philodendron. If you’ve gone through our different philodendron varieties, you’ve probably noticed that there are quite a few of them that fall under this category.
And, being as such, it is not only hard to find but also expensive to obtain. Often prices can vary considerably since demand outstrips supply.
In any case, one look at the plant and you’ll instantly know why people like to get one for their collection.
It is a gorgeous foliage houseplant with oversized, textured green leaves. They are likewise vigorous climbers than can grow to between 8 and 16 feet depending on whether you grow them indoors or outside.
In case you were wondering, there’s also a variegated version of the Imbe. So, if you prefer patterned leaves, this is probably more your style.
Philodendron Imbe Plant Care
The Philodendron imbe will be happy in many different lighting environments. This ranges from bright, indirect light to indoor shade and even artificial lighting.
Ideally, you want to give it around medium light where it gets enough light but away from direct sunlight. This can be filtered, dappled or indirect exposure.
Indoors, this means keeping it near a window facing the east or the north. Outdoors, you can keep it under trees or a bit of shade. If you don’t have a spot like that near the patio or beside the house, you can likewise use a shade cloth like they do in garden centers.
A shade cloth will block some but not all of the sunlight allowing the plant to stay under direct sunlight without experiencing sunburn and lose its color.
It also won’t mind low light conditions if kept under shade. However, you’ll need to be careful of places that are too dim or dark, which will cause the plant’s growth to slow. It will also make it become leggy as well as produce smaller leaves.
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When it comes to climate, your Philodendron imbe does best in moderate to slighting warm conditions. This means keeping indoor temperature between 55 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit.
Since it is a tropical plant, it enjoys weather similar to what we humans do. And, it is better able to tolerate warmer climates than it can cold.
More importantly, it is not frost hardy. This means you cannot leave it outdoors over the winter if you experience snow. Otherwise, it won’t survive through the winter.
As a guide, you can grow it outdoors all year long if you live in USDA Hardiness Zone 9 to 11. If you keep it under some kind of semi-indoor space like a patio it will be able to live outside in zones 4 to 11.
This is why most growers keep it as a houseplant.
Indoors, you also want to be aware of drafty places including air conditioners or areas when cool breezes of wind can come in like open windows and doors.
It does not appreciate temperature fluctuations especially downwards.
Humidity is likewise an important factor for the plant’s optimum growth. Being a native of tropical rainforests, the plant is used to humid conditions.
As such, to get the most vibrant colors and best growth, you want to keep humidity at 60% or higher. However, the plant can also tolerate lower humidity including that inside most homes.
As long as you don’t live in a very dry area and are wary of the very hot summers and cold winters (both of which can make air very dry), it will be fine.
That said, I highly suggest picking up a digital hygrometer. This is an inexpensive device that will instantly tell you what the humidity in any room of your home is.
As such, you can make the needed adjustments if needed.
Should you find that the humidity is too low to keep the plant growing optimally, here are a few strategies you can take.
- Move the plant to a more humid room or area. Traditionally, bathrooms are the most humid areas of the home followed by kitchens. But, make sure there’s enough light in that spot as well.
- Group your plants together. These will transpire as a group which helps increase the moisture in the air surrounding them.
- Place the plant in a pebble tray. You can keep the plant in a water tray filled with rocks. The rocks will keep the pot above water so it does not get wet. As the water evaporates, it increases air moisture over the plant.
- Mist the plant regularly. This requires more work. Misting the leaves will increase moisture. But, you’ll need to do this anywhere from 2 to more times a week depending on how dry the air is. Also, you’ll need to mist more during summer and winter. While this works, it takes more time and effort on your part.
- Set up a humidifier. This is the only non-free method. But, some humidifiers are affordable. Others more expensive. Often it depends on how strong the device is and what square footage it can cover. But, it also gives you better humidity control and consistency.
source: wikimedia commons
How Often to Water Philodendron Imbe
Up next is watering. This is probably the most important section because it is where most Philodendron imbe owners or even houseplant owners trip up.
Water, more specifically, too much water is the main reason why most plants die. Also, it is the one thing you you’ll need to keep doing regularly.
This is not the case for light, temperature, humidity or soil, which are a kind of set it once and check every so often only.
Even fertilizing, pruning and repotting are done on occasion. But, watering is often done from a few days to at most around every 10 or so days.
In the case of your Philodendron imbe, moderate watering is the best way to go.
You want to avoid allowing the soil to dry up. But, also don’t want to overwater it. And, between the two the latter is more dangerous. It is also harder for the plant to recover from.
As such, you always want to wait until at least 2 or 3 inches of the topsoil had dried before watering. This means sticking your finger into the soil and it should feel dry.
If you can’t seem to get a feel for how wet the soil is, don’t worry. You’ll get the hang of it with experience.
In the meantime, I recommend getting a moisture meter to help. This lets you stick the device into the soil and it will tell you how much water or moisture there is.
Keep in mind that seasons also play a role in how quickly the soil dries
As such, you’ll be watering more often in the summer and much less in the winter. Also, the more sunlight the plant receives, the faster the moisture evaporates.
Soil for Philodendron Imbe
Your Philodendron imbe thrives in rich, moist soil. Just as importantly, it needs to drain excess moisture well.
This combination makes it easier for you to grow the plant without a ton of maintenance. Using well-draining soil also affords you to make mistakes in watering in case you overdo it sometimes because you’re in a hurry or are thinking of other important things in life.
Additionally, adding compost also helps. It makes the soil lighter allowing air to get through the roots more easily. Plus, compost is high in organic matter content and helps with drainage.
When it comes to well-draining soil, you do have a few choices. You can use perlite, pumice, sand and other media to improve drainage.
The simplest way I’ve found is to just use regular potting soil and add perlite or sand. You can adjust the percentages as needed depending on how the quickly or slowly the soil dries.
Two other things to consider when planting your Philodendron imbe are:
- Make sure that the pot has drainage holes. This is essential as even well-draining soil won’t be able to help you if the water has nowhere to exit the container. As a result, it will pool at the bottom of the container and cause your roots to sit in water.
- Vertical support. The Philodendron imbe is a climber. And, it grows best when given something to go up on. Placing some kind of climbing structure be in a moss pole, stakes or even branches will allow it to stand upright and grow optimally.
Your Philodendron imbe does not need a lot of fertilizer. It is not a big feeder and only needs to be fertilized once a month during the spring and summer seasons. You don’t need to feed it during the cold months.
A good balanced fertilizer (10-10-10 or 15-15-15) works really well. But, you do want to choose a product that contains the proper micronutrients. Philodendrons as a group need calcium and magnesium. And, the imbe is no exception.
Without these two nutrients, you’ll notice its leaves become pale in color.
Avoid overfeeding the plant as this can be tempting. It leads you to believe that more plant food means faster growth.
Unfortunately, the salt residue from too much fertilizer is actually more harmful to it.
You can likewise opt to go with no fertilizer at all. This will work as long as you add compost every spring. The organic matter in compost will help supply your Philodendron imbe with the nutrients.
Pruning Philodendron Imbe
The Philodendron imbe will climb and grow as high as 16 feet if allowed to. Indoors, it is more manageable up to around 8 or so feet. The leaves can get to 2 feet in length as well.
As a result, it form and oversized leaves easily make it a focal point in any part of your home.
That said, as more stems grow, they can overlap one other making it a bit unruly to look at.
Due to its vigorous growth and potential size, it is a good idea to prune some stems on occasion.
How much you prune will depend on the look you’re going for. But, I don’t recommend being too aggressive as it is make the plant look bare and sparse, which isn’t its best.
In addition to size and looks, pruning also lets you remove damaged, discolored and dead leaves.
The best time to prune is during spring and summer.
If you have sensitive skin, it is a good idea to wear gloves to avoid any potential reactions to the sap.
Philodendron Imbe Propagation
The most efficient way I’ve found to propagate Philodendron imbe is via stem cutting.
Fortunately, it is very easy to do at home. And, all it takes is a bit of practice. If you’re just starting out, I highly suggest taking more than one stem to propagate them. This gives you better odds.
As you gain more experience, you’ll eventually get to the point where you can propagate one stem at a time.
Here’s how to do it.
- The best time to propagate is during spring or summer. So, it is a good idea to wait till them before you begin.
- You can grow philodendron in water or soil. So, it is up to you where you start
- When starting in soil, prepare a small pot and fill it with well-draining soil. If you have more than one cutting, you can either plant them in a bigger container or use separate smaller containers.
- I’ve found the latter to be easier. While it takes more work in the beginning, you don’t need to go through the trouble of separating each one later into their own individual containers once they start growing.
- To being, take a stem cutting with at least 2 or 3 leaves. You want to cut below the leaf node.
- Dip the cut end into rooting hormone powder. This will help speed up the rooting process.
- Place the cutting into the pot with soil.
- Make sure to place the pot in a warm location with bright, indirect light.
- If the spot is not humid, you can cover it with a plastic bag. This will increase humidity around the plant. If you’re growing it in a greenhouse or somewhere with high humidity, you won’t need this extra step.
- Water the soil and keep it moist. But don’t overwater.
- It will take about 3 to 4 weeks for the plant to root. You can then test to see if the roots grow by lightly tugging on the plant.
- Alternatively, if you use small plastic containers, you can take them out of the container and check the bottom of the root ball to see if the roots have taken hold. Then place them back.
- From here, it will keep growing within the next few months where you’ll see leaves start to form.
- At this point you want to care for it by using the list and details above. Also, repot every so often as the plant will grow bigger quite quickly. This pace will eventually slow down as it nears it mature size.
How to Repot
The only time you’ll need to repot your Philodendron imbe is when its roots start growing out of the drainage holes. These openings are the points of least resistance towards exiting the container.
Thus, as the plant outgrows the pot, it will go through the holes first.
When you see the roots come out it is a sign that the plants needs more room to grow properly.
As such, repotting to a larger container is the way to go.
However, don’t go up more than 2 or 3 inches in size over your current pot. This will increase the risk of overwatering due to the extra soil relative to the volume of the roots.
The best time to repot is during spring or early summer.
Also, be aware that repotting always brings some shock to the plant. As such, don’t be surprised if it does not grow 2 weeks or so after being repotted. It will use this time to recover.
And, after that will start producing new leaves again.
As such, don’t fertilize during this time and allow it to rest and recover.
Philodendron imbe contains calcium oxalates. These are toxic to both humans and animals when ingested. Thus, they are dangerous to keep within reach of pets and young children who might get tempted to play and eat their large leaves.
If they do, it can cause mouth, throat and tongue pain as well as gastrointestinal issues like vomiting.
Although it takes more than a little to cause these symptoms the size of the person and animal come into effect. As such, small kids, dogs and cats don’t need to consume much to experience adverse effects.
Pests and Diseases
Proper care and good maintenance are the best ways you can keep your plants from getting pests and diseases.
While this is not 100% foolproof, it does keep their immunity at high levels making them more resistant to these problems.
On the other hand stress increases their odds of getting pest infestations and diseases. So, avoid too much water, fertilizer, sunlight or cold conditions.
In addition, it is a good idea to inspect your plants regularly. This lets you spot any problems before they spread. It is much easier to treat a few critters than an infestation. And, you can likewise control, treat or stop diseases better when caught early.
When it comes to pests, spider mites, mealybugs, scale and thrips are the more common headaches. They can all be controlled easily and treated using soapy solution.
On the other hand, disease like root rot and leaf spots are results of overwatering. Scorched leaves come from too much direct sun exposure while overfeeding results in curling leaf tips.
All of which can be prevented with a little modification in care.