The Philodendron Microstictum is a beautiful climbing foliage plant that’s best known for its heart-shaped leaves.
Note that it is different from the heartleaf philodendron which is the Philodendron hederaceum. The plant is also often mistaken for the Philodendron grazielae which has similar heart-shaped leaves.
All 3 are different plants.
Although they have similar heart-shaped foliage and all 3 are philodendrons as well.
The easiest way to tell is to look closely at the Philodendron Microstictum. You’ll notice its leaves are thicker and have a more leathery texture.
The tip is also less pointed.
The Philodendron Microstictum is often called the Elephant Ears Philodendron.
How do you care for the Philodendron Microstictum? The Philodendron Microstictum likes to climb so give it a support to go up.
Medium to bright, indirect light is ideal. Avoid low light as this can make the plant look very leggy considering its already long thin stems.
Give it regular fertilizing during spring and summer and prune as needed when it gets thick.
Philodendron Microstictum Plant Care
The Philodendron Microstictum enjoys medium to bright, indirect light. Therefore, it likes a spot near the east or west facing windows.
The plant can likewise tolerate low light which makes a north facing window an option.
However, you do want to check how much light the northern exposure of your home has. That’s because the plant naturally has long stems.
This can make it become very leggy if there isn’t enough light coming in from the northern window.
Also, the north typically has the least light of the 4 directions.
So, come wintertime, there could be a lack of light and you may need to move it to a south facing window during that time of year.
That said, while the plant enjoys plenty of light, it cannot tolerate intense direct sunlight.
It can do so for about 2-3 hours a day on a regular basis. But left longer on a daily basis, its leaves will get discolored. And you also run the risk of leaf burn.
This means that if you want to keep the plant facing south, it is a good idea to keep it at least 3 feet from the window away from the sun’s rays. Or use sheer blinds to filter the light.
The Philodendron Microstictum is a tropical plant. It is native to the rainforests of South America.
There, the weather is constantly sunny and warm. It does get a bit moderate during the latter part of the year. And gets quite hot during summertime.
However, the changes are a few degrees up and down with the general climate being sunny and warm.
As such, the Philodendron Microstictum prefers temperatures between 60 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit. It can tolerate warmer weather as well all the way up to 95 degrees Fahrenheit or so without any issues.
But because it lives under the shade of the large trees in the forest it is more used to moderate to slightly warm conditions.
This makes it perfect for growing indoors.
That’s because most home maintain temperatures between 65 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit with some variation up or down depending on whether it is summer or winter.
So, the plant easily adapts to indoor home environment without the need for making adjustments.
Still, you need to watch out for a few things that can mess up the plant.
That’s because it does not like the cold and it not frost hardy. In fact, it has problems with temperatures below 50 degrees Fahrenheit.
Additionally, it dislikes temperature fluctuations.
This means you don’t want to place it near air conditioners, heaters, radiators, fireplaces, ovens, stoves or anything similar.
Open doors and windows where cold drafts and breezes can come in are also no-no’s.
And watch out for sneaky areas in your home where the temperature can suddenly drop significantly at night. The plant does not mind temperature drops of 10 or so degrees Fahrenheit between day and nighttime temperatures.
But anything larger than 15 degrees Fahrenheit drops can affect the plant.
Its low tolerance to the cold also means that where you live affects how much time the plant can stay outdoors.
It enjoys USDA Hardiness Zones 9 to 11 because the weather is fairly steady in these areas. These regions have sunny, warm weather all year round including November to March.
On the other hand, in colder areas, the Philodendron Microstictum is better off as a houseplant.
You can still take it outdoors during mid-spring once the weather gets warm. And it can stay there through summer and part of fall.
But once the weather drops to near 50 degrees Fahrenheit around mid-fall, it is time to bring the plant indoors for the winter.
Ideal humidity for the Philodendron Microstictum is 50% and higher. This is were it feels most comfortable.
Again, this has to do with its native habitat the tropical rainforests of South America.
Average humidity in these regions average around 60% to 75%. This is likewise pushed up by the prevalence of rain in the rainforests (a few times a day). The moisture increase humidity even more.
As such, if you can give the plant humidity of 65% to 80% it will be very happy.
However, I don’t suggest keeping humidity that high in homes as it encourages mold and other issues.
But you can do so in terrariums, greenhouses or grow cabinets if you wish.
The Philodendron Microstictum is likewise very tolerant of low humidity. And from experience, unless you have dry air in your home, it should be okay.
As long as your home’s humidity is around the high 30s or 40% and above, you’ll have no issues with it.
But if humidity averages around the high 20s or very low 30s, then it is a good idea to monitor the plant for changes in its leaves.
Dry air will cause brown edges and tips that get crispy and dry.
You can use a hygrometer to keep track of humidity if this is the case. This way you know when to help the plant out.
In case humidity stays low indoors, you can get a humidifier.
Free options to increase humidity include misting the plant, using a pebble tray or giving it a shower every so often.
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How Often to Water Philodendron Microstictum
Watering the Philodendron Microstictum is probably the most important thing to pay attention to.
That’s because if you mess up a bit on the others, you’ll have a chance to fix it.
Incorrect light, temperature and humidity will result in changes in the leaves to yellow or brown. They may even wilt, droop or fall off.
But with overwatering, you could end up killing the plant from your generosity.
And you won’t get any second chance.
This is why watering is the one thing to keep an eye out for especially when you’re just getting used to the plant’s tendencies and preferences.
The Philodendron Microstictum does not like going completely dry. And it prefers moist soil.
But be careful not the leave it wet, mucky soil with too much water.
Some people misunderstand moist for keeping the soil wet. The latter can kill the plant.
That’s because watering the plant when the soil has not yet dried will keep adding more moisture. After a while, the roots end up drowning from the excess liquid.
This prevents them from getting air. When they suffocate for too long, they die then rot.
Rotten roots don’t function anymore. They’re dead.
So, the fewer remaining roots will need to support the entire plant. This will cause water and nutrient deficiencies.
And as long as the plant stays overwatered, more and more roots get destroyed.
Past a certain point there’s no saving the plant.
This means avoid watering too often.
Instead, allow at least the top 2 inches of soil to dry between waterings. You can use your finger to test the soil. Do this each time before you add water.
A safer, more conservative way to water is to wait until the top 50% of the soil has dried before you water.
Any time between the two will work as well.
The key is not to water before then.
Philodendron Microstictum Potting Soil
The Philodendron Microstictum needs light, well-draining soil that has good aeration. It also appreciates soil pH between 5.0 to 6.0, which is on the acidic side.
Good drainage is very important for the plant because of its susceptibility to overwatering and root rot.
And by using well-draining soil, you’re able to keep the roots hydrated. But at the same time the soil quickly gets rid of the excess moisture.
The latter ensures that the roots stay dry and don’t end up sitting in too much moisture for too long.
This also saves you in times you happen to water the plant too much.
The best soil to use is an Aroid Mix which is especially designed for plants in the Araceae family. This includes philodendrons, monsteras, pothos, anthuriums, alocasias and more.
The soil has good drainage, is loose and provides good aeration for the roots to breathe.
You can find Aroid mixes in online plant shops as well as some local nurseries. But not all of them carry it. So, it does require a bit of searching (not a lot though).
On the other hand, you can also create your own Aroid mix at home. Here’s a great Aroid Mix recipe that works really well for the plant.
- 1 part potting soil
- 1 part perlite
- 1 part orchid bark
- ½ part horticultural charcoal
If you prefer something simpler and more minimalist approach, you can go with:
- 80% potting soil
- 20% perlite
Then add a few handfuls of orchid bark to increase drainage and aeration as well.
The most important thing is to avoid heavy, water-retentive soils and very sandy soils as well.
The former will hold too much water. And the latter will drain too much moisture leaving the roots very dry.
The Philodendron Microstictum will benefit from fertilizer.
It will grow faster and produce more leaves. High quality plant food also ensures that it does not end up with nutrient deficiencies.
Use a balanced liquid fertilizer during the spring and summer months. This is when the plant is actively growing.
So, you want to support it with nutrients, enough light and water. But don’t overdo any of them. This is a common trap that many people fall into hoping that more fertilizer will make the plant grow faster.
While this works in concept, in reality it can lead to fertilizer burn which damages the roots.
Therefore, don’t overfeed the plant.
Once a month feeding during its growing season is enough. Stop once fall arrives and don’t fertilizer in the winter.
Also, dilute the dose each time by 50% since you’ll be applying it on a potted plant indoors.
When allowed to grow, the Philodendron Microstictum will produce lots of leaves. These heart-shaped leaves will pile over one another beautifully facing down at different angles.
This makes them look amazing especially if you let the plant climb.
That said, you can also grow it without a support.
This will let the stems and leaves layer over one another. This look is likewise pretty. But it get easily get messy especially when the plant gets quite dense.
As such, pruning is needed.
How often you prune will depend on how you grow the plant. And whether you like to make it look neat and trim or like it dense and full.
But in general, the Philodendron Microstictum does not need a lot of pruning.
Instead, some light maintenance and trimming every now and then to keep the look you want.
How to Propagate Philodendron Microstictum
The Philodendron Microstictum is easy to propagate. In part, it is because it has many stems which also happen to be a long enough.
As such, stem cuttings are the most efficient way to propagate this plant.
And you can propagate several new plants at the same time.
The best time to propagate the Philodendron Microstictum is during spring. This gives it an entire growing season to develop very quickly.
The most important thing when propagating via stem cuttings is to choose healthy stems with at least 1-2 nodes and 2 or more leaves.
The nodes are a must.
Make sure that each stem cutting has at least one node as this is where the roots will grow from. A stem cutting with no nodes will not successfully propagate.
Once you choose the stems you want to propagate:
- Sterilize a pair of scissors or pruning shears. Then snip the stem just below a node.
- Then place the node on the side for a while as you prepare a small pot and fill it with well-draining potting mix.
- If you have rooting hormone powder, apply this on the cut end of the stem. If you don’t, skip this step.
- Plant the cutting into the potting mix with the node buried. Don’t bury the entire stem, only go about halfway or so.
- Place the pot in bright, indirect light with warm temperature and good humidity.
It takes about 4 to 6 weeks for the stem cutting to root and start establishing itself into the soil.
How to Repot or Transplant Philodendron Microstictum
The Philodendron Microstictum will need repotting when the plant’s root system has almost filled the pot.
When this happens, the plant becomes root bound. And you’ll need to move it to a larger pot to let it keep growing.
Leaving it in an overcrowded pot is not a good idea.
That’s because the more roots inhabit the pot, the less soil there will be left. This means there’s less media to hold water and nutrients.
As a result, the plant easily gets underwatered and will lack nutrients.
It will also have growth problems and get stressed because the roots are very crowded.
Therefore, repot every 2-3 years.
Although, it is a better idea to just check the bottom of the pot for roots poking out for the holes.
If there are no roots coming out from there, then you can keep the plant in the pot.
But once roots appear through the drainage holes, it means it is time to repot.
The best time to do so is spring.
When you do repot, use a container that is 2 inches larger to give the roots more space to grow. Also, replace the spent soil with fresh, well-draining soil.
Is It Toxic/Poisonous to Humans, Cats & Dogs
Yes, the entire plant is toxic. This includes the leaves, stems and flowers. They all contain calcium oxalate crystals which get activated and become poisonous when ingested.
So, keep the plant away from young children, cats and dogs as they may eat the leaves as they get curious while playing around or near the plant.
Philodendron Microstictum Problems & Troubleshooting
The Philodendron Microstictum is not a common target for pests. However, it does get some of the usual houseplant pests.
The most common ones that come to attack it include aphids, mealybugs, spider mites and scale.
These are small bugs that like to feed on the sap of the plant.
And they grow in number fairly quickly due to their short lifespans, ability to lay several eggs at once and very short time needed for the eggs to hatch.
So, even if you see just a few bugs, immediately start treatment and get rid of all of them.
Overwatering is the biggest enemy of this plant. That’s because it can lead to root rot.
And root rot is problematic because it can eventually destroy the entire plant.
Also, the rotting occurs underneath the soil. So, the only time you get a clue that something is happening is when the symptoms reach the stems or the leaves.
By then, some damage has been done to the roots.