How to Care for Philodendron Melanochrysum (a.k.a. Black Gold Philodendron)

Philodendron Melanochrysum

The Philodendron Melanochrysum is also commonly known as black gold philodendron or the gold black philodendron. This is thanks to its very dark green colored crystalline-looking leaves that have yellow veins, which almost look black in color.

Interestingly, its leaves don’t start out that way.

Instead, they are pink in color with light green veins. But, as they plant matures, it develops into a darker color with a velvety feel.

It is these leaves that make the plant very attractive, growing to between 9 to 24 inches long when given the proper care. The plant also produces flowers although they are easily overshadowed by the large, beautiful leaves.

Needless to say, this is a big plant, with growth potential reaching 12 feet high and 8 feet wide at its maximum. Although, when grown in containers and indoors, its size is a little bit more manageable.

In contrast to the philodendron gloriosum which is a creeper, this one is a climber.

As such, it grows best when you provide a structure for it to climb. Otherwise, you’ll notice it droop and wind down and around.

This philodendron species is native to Colombia and Costa Rica making it accustomed to tropical environments.

Philodendron Melanochrysum Plant Care

Philodendron Melanochrysum Light

Philodendron melanochrysum need bright, indirect light to grow their best in indoor conditions like homes and greenhouses. These are likewise the best places to grow them if you don’t live in USDA zones 9 to 11. The reason being the plant is tropical in nature.

As such, it needs somewhere there is sunlight every month of the year. This makes many cold climate areas unsuitable for outdoor planting.

Thus, if you happen to live below zone 9, then it is best to grow the plant in a container. This allows you to keep it indoors or somewhere sheltered. Then take it outside during the summertime.

However, when growing the plant outdoors, there you will want to follow similar lighting requirements. This means avoiding direct sunlight by all means. Leaving this philodendron under the sun’s rays will not only turn its leaves yellow but also cause them to “burn”.

So, the best place to position them outdoors is in a spot that received bright light, but is under a shade. This is how many small and medium sized plants live in their natural habitats due to the tall trees whose leaves provide a shaded canopy for them.

Alternatively, you’ll also see nurseries use a shade cloth. Most of them will use 20% to 40% shade cloths to cover the plants so that they can put them outdoors but filter the sunlight.

In the same manner, you want to avoid areas that are too dark or don’t get enough light. This is more of a problem indoors. Leaving your plant in these conditions will stunt its growth. It will likewise cause its health to deteriorate because plants need sunlight for photosynthesis to make energy.

Pro Tip: If your philodendron melanochrysum’s leaves start exhibiting odd colors other than its natural green, do consider inspecting its leaves. Foliage plants have the tendency to collect dust. And, when this one does, the dust blocks it pores preventing it from absorbing light optimally. Dusting and cleaning them once in a while will fix this.

 

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Black Gold Philodendron Temperature & Humidity

As mentioned, the ideal outdoor environment for your philodendron melanochrysum is USDA zones 9 to 11. That’s because the conditions there are mimic those of tropical regions.

The Black Gold Philodendron does best when temperatures stay between 60 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit. This is why they’re often found as houseplants outside of zones 9 to 11. Most homes have temperatures in this range. The only exception being in the winter when you need to keep your thermostat there.

It is also why they’re not suited for locales that experience cold winters. The plant is not frost hardy. And, once the temperature drops under 55 degrees, it will start to struggle and show signs of stress. If the mercury keeps dropping, it will damage the plant and ultimately kill it.

Additionally, they are happy with average humidity. Again, this make your home and other indoor spaces a good spot for it.

That said, the philodendron melanochrysum grows optimally when relative humidity is 60% of higher. Thus, if you have a greenhouse where you can control the conditions, that would be the best spot for it.

philodendron melanochrysum

source: wikimedia commons

 

Watering Philodendron Melanochrysum

Watering your philodendron melanochrysum is fairly straightforward. Don’t overwater it. However, the plant also struggles when it gets dry. So, you don’t want either extreme.

That said, overwatering can kill your plant. Allowing it to dry up can be fixed.

But, the best way to keep this philodendron healthy is to give it the right amount of water. To do so, you always want to check the soil moisture before watering.

This means sticking your finger down 2 inches into the soil. If it feels moist, wait a little longer before watering. If it is dry, it is time to water.

Doing this each time before you water your plant ensures you don’t give it too much water when the soil is still moist, i.e. the plant still has water.

Just as importantly, when watering, do so thoroughly. This means watering it until you start seeing water drip from the bottom of the pot. Then allow the excess moisture to drain.

This ensures that the soil is completely watered. But, it isn’t waterlogged.

 

Black Gold Philodendron Soil

As mentioned above, depending on where you live, you may be able to grow the plant outside. If you do, don’t be surprised that it looks completely different from one that you’ve grown indoors.

Outdoors, in the soil, or even up a trellis or arbor, the plant will be able to get bigger. It will also behave differently compared to when grown in a pot indoors.

That said, whether you grow in indoors or outside, it is important to give your philodendron melanochrysum moist, well-draining soil. Soil that’s wet and soggy is the worst thing you can give it. After that dry, sandy soils are next.

Instead, you want to stay in between the two. You want something that’s loose to allow air (to circulate) and water (to penetrate and drain).

Additionally, soil that’s high in organic matter likewise helps. This gives it the proper nutrients it needs to grow.

 

Fertilizing the Black Gold Philodendron

The reason that rich soil is key for your Black Gold Philodendron is that it helps it grow properly. Without it, your plant will grow sluggishly. As such, it won’t get as big as it normally does.

Thus, if your grow it indoors in potting mix, you’ll need to be religious in feeding your philodendron melanochrysum. That’s because outside of the initial starter dose, most potting soil don’t have fertilizer.

So, if you don’t feed it, it will lack the sustenance to grow normally.

Another thing worth noting is that you only want to fertilize it during its growing season. Ideally, use a product that is high in nitrogen. Smaller leaves, pale green or yellow green foliage are all signs of lack of nitrogen.

 

Pruning Black Gold Philodendron

The philodendron melanochrysum is a fast growing plant. When they mature, they can get to as big as 20 or more feet. But, grown indoors, they will be considerably smaller, often barely reaching half the size. Similarly, its leaves can get to about 2 feet long.

Thus, keeping them as a houseplant is a good way to limit their growth so they fit in your home. It also reduces the amount of pruning you will need to do.

When it comes to pruning, a lot will depend on how you want to groom it. Trimming it back will let you control its size and shape.

However, it is also an important too to keep the plant healthy. Doing so on a regular basis lets you remove dead, dying or diseased leaves. Besides making your plant look better, this also allows it to grow fuller.

 

Philodendron Melanochrysum Propagation

Philodendron melanochrysum are propagated through stem cuttings and air layering. Between the two, stem cutting is a lot easier, which is why most houseplant owners will use it compared to air layering.

Here’s how to propagate philodendron melanochrysum through stem cuttings.

  • Choose a healthy stem that is about 4 inches long. Ideally you want a stem that has a few leaves.
  • To cut, use a sterile pair of pruning shears. You can use cotton and rubbing alcohol to sanitize it. Also, make sure to wear a pair of gloves. The sap of the plant will irritate your skin. So, make sure not to touch your eyes, nose or mouth when working with the plant.
  • Cut the stem above the leaf node. Here, you want to make a clean cut and snip it off precisely.
  • After your trim it, the stem cutting’s end will leak sap. You can use cinnamon to help it “heal” faster. Otherwise, just leave it to dry and callous.
  • Once the end of the stem cutting has calloused, insert it into a pot filled with potting soil.
  • Water the soil thoroughly.
  • Then, leave the plant under bright, indirect light.
  • You won’t have to wait too long before it starts to root. From here, you will care for it like you do the parent plant.

 

Philodendron Melanochrysum Transplanting & Repotting

You will likely need to repot your philodendron melanochrysum every 18 to 24 months since the plant grows fairly quickly. That said, how quickly it actually grows will depend on how optimal the conditions and feeding are.

That said, once you see its roots start circling the pot, or they begin to peek out of the holes at the bottom of the container, it is time to repot.

The longer you hold off repotting, the more likely it will become rootbound. Additionally, keeping your Black Gold Philodendron in pot that it has outgrown will slow its growth. That’s because this plant likes it when its roots have enough space to grow.

Just as importantly, when you move it to a new pot, don’t skip sizes. Ideally, you want to get one that’s slightly bigger than the current one.

While pots that are too large will let you wait longer before repotting, it also causes your plant to sit in a lot of moisture when you water the soil. As such, the extra luxury of less effort is not worth it since waterlogged soil can kill your plant.

 

Toxicity

Keep your philodendron melanochrysum away from young children and pets. It is toxic to both humans an animals. Simiarly, its sap causes skin irritation upon touch. So, it is very important to wear gloves when your prune or work with the plant.

 

Pests and Diseases

Mealybugs and aphids are among the most common pests your philodendron melanochrysum will deal with. As with other pests, they are problematic for your plants because they will cause damage one way or another.

Just as importantly, pests are likely to move and infest nearby plants. So, once you find one plant with pests, immediately separate it from the others. Then, inspect all the other nearby plants as well.

This is one reason why regular inspection is key. It allows you to catch any infestation early and treat it. Keep in mind that treatment is not instantly. That is it often takes weeks to fix a pest problem.

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