The Philodendron subhastatum is a rare tropical houseplant that’s quite expensive. You’ll likely only find it in online stores and specialty growers. And in many cases, they’ll be out of stock as well.
Don’t be surprised to see them run over $100 or more.
That said, they are beautiful plants with dual colored oversized leaves. They come from the forests of the West Indies which is why they have tropical tendencies.
Like other philodendrons, it is a member of the Araceae family.
They also help clean the air in the room from chemicals and toxins.
Note that this is a big plant that will grow to as tall as 6 feet high and about 2 feet wide indoors in containers.
But, how quickly or slowly it grows will ultimately depend on what kind of care you give it.
Philodendron Subhastatum Plant Care
The Philodendron subhastatum thrives most in bright, indirect light. This includes dappled and filtered light as long as it received natural sunlight.
That said, it is a very resilient plant that is able to adapt to many different lighting conditions, even to low light.
If you live in a condo or apartment complex that does not have windows or the windows only receiving little amounts of light, you can use grow lights as well.
This feature makes it perfect for growing indoors especially in homes.
But, the two things you want to avoid when it comes to lighting are – direct sunlight and dark places.
The former can burn its leaves depending on the conditions. Too many hours of exposure daily or overly intense rays from the sun will do this.
On the other hand, while the plant will tolerate low light, almost no plant will survive past a certain threshold of too little light. That’s because they create their own food via photosynthesis which requires some kind of light, be it natural or artificial. As such, overly dark spaces stunts growth and will eventually starve your plant.
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The Philodendron subhastatum is native to the tropical forests of the West indies. As such, it enjoys warm weather all year round.
As a result, it is well-suited and easily adjusts to indoor conditions.
You’ve probably noticed that most houseplants are tropical or subtropical in nature. That’s because household climate conditions are very similar to these regions – moderate to slightly warm as opposed to the cold.
This makes it easy for plants like the Philodendron subhastatum to get accustomed to homes and offices.
When it comes to specifics, the best temperatures to keep the plant happy are between 60 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit. Once temperatures run into the 50s, it will start to struggle and show signs of stress.
You really want to keep it away from 40+ degrees temperatures as that will begin to cause more serious problems for the plant.
That’s because it is not frost hardy. And, the colder the winter gets, the more damage it will sustains until it dies.
For this reason, the Philodendron subhastatum is often grown as a houseplant. But if you live in USDA Hardiness Zones 9 to 11, then you can grow it outdoors all year long.
Otherwise, it is a good idea to at least keep the plant in a container so if you wanted to, you could take it outside during the summertime. As long as you bring it indoors before the temperature drops under 60 degrees, it will do very well.
Similarly, its origin also dictates the humidity it prefers. Tropical forests are humid places. As such, the plant enjoys (and thrives) in high humidity.
Ideally, you want to keep indoor humidity between 60% and 80%.
The good news is that it can tolerate drier conditions as well. This allows it to do very well even in average room humidity that’s found in most homes (40% to 50%.).
But, do avoid going below 40% if possible as you see the plant’s growth affected.
If you’re not sure about what the humidity is in your home, consider getting a digital hygrometer. It works similar to a thermometer except that it will tell you what the relative humidity is.
This makes it very easy to know when to make adjustments.
It is really helpful if you live somewhere the climate changes significantly across the seasons, especially in summer and winter when the air can get really dry.
If you find that the air is too dry in your home, consider increasing humidity with these options.
- Grouping the plants together
- Placing the plant over a pebble tray filled with water
- Using a humidifier
I only recommend the latter if you have time and are ready to mid the plants a few times a week. This can get tedious especially if you have a busy schedule as you may forget to do it sometimes.
The other three are more hands-off approaches which save you the time and effort.
Watering Philodendron Subhastatum
Philodendron subhastatum enjoy moist soil. Compared to other philodendrons, it enjoys receiving more water.
As such, watering more often is less of a problem with it compared to the other species.
It also means that you want to check the soil regularly during the spring and summer as the weather gets hotter. This will make water evaporate faster and dry the soil sooner.
Thus, keeping an eye out so you can maintain moist soil is key.
During winter time you can water less and allow the soil to dry out before watering again.
The best way I’ve found to easily know if it is time to water the plant is to stick your finger into the soil down 2 inches deep. Once the soil is dry past this level, it is a sign that you can water again.
But, don’t water before then.
If you’re just starting out and are not confident about your feeling for moisture in the soil, considering picking up a moisture meter. This is an affordable gadget that will let you know how much moisture there is in the soil.
And by using it, you can be more consistent when you water.
Soil for Philodendron Subhastatum
High quality, well-draining potting soil is best for this plant.
It enjoys soil that is rich in organic matter and with pH between 7.0 and 8.0.
Adding compost also helps improve the soil and reduce the amount of fertilizer you need to use.
You can add peat and sand to regular potting soil to achieve the required drainage to keep the plant happy.
Philodendron Subhastatum Fertilizer
Feed your Philodendron subhastatum once a month during the spring and summer. This is when it is actively growing. As such, it will need the nutrients from the plant food to sustain optimum growth.
You don’t need to feed it during the winter. Although some growers will still give it some fertilizer, about once every 2 months.
With fertilizer, it is very easy to want to keep feeding the plant to help it grow faster. But, be careful with overfeeding as fertilizer leave salt residue that can harm the roots of your plant.
Similarly, avoid low quality or cheap fertilizer as they leave a lot of salt as well.
To avoid too much accumulation of these salts, it is a good idea to flush the soil every few months which removes most of the excess salts left in the soil.
Philodendron subhastatum can grow to about 6 feet tall, which makes it a good option for a large houseplant.
Its main attraction are its oversized leaves that can get to as long as 2 feet long and 6 inches wide.
Because it features larger, but fewer leaves, it does not require a lot of pruning or even at all. One reason is this kind of growth does not get as messy or as unruly as other plants.
However, you can trim it to make it look the way you want . Or, it begins to grow in a certain way that you don’t like.
Otherwise, most of the pruning are for maintenance purposes. That is to remove any discolored, dead or diseases leaves or sections of the plant.
If you do trim, make sure to always sanitize the cutting tool beforehand. You can easily do so with rubbing alcohol.
Also, don’t trim off too much as the plant may experience shock which will affect it growth.
Another very important thing to consider it to regularly clean its leaves. This will remove any dust from the surfaces. It will also let you inspect the plant in the process in case there are pests or other problems.
Cleaning also allows the plant to absorb more light.
Philodendron Subhastatum Propagation
If you want to propagate your Philodendron Subhastatum, the best way to do so is via stem cuttings.
Ideally, do so in the spring or early summer as the plant is in its growth phase.
Here, you can propagate it in water or in soil depending on your preference and success rates.
In general, growing the plant in water yields better success rates. it also roots faster. But, you do need to take the extra step of transferring it to soil.
To propagate Philodendron subhastatum follow these steps:
- Take a 4 to 6 inch stem cutting using a sterile pair of scissors or pruning shears.
If you want to grow it in water,
- Place the stem cutting into a glass or jar of water. Replace the water every few days to keep it from getting murky.
- In about 15 to 20 days, you’ll see roots growing from the end of the cutting.
- Once the roots start get to nearly an inch long, you can move the cutting into a pot with soil.
If you start in soil,
- Prepare a small pot and fill it with fresh, well-draining potting mix.
- Plant the cutting into the soil.
- If you want to speed up the growing process or find that humidity isn’t great in your home, you can cover the pot with a plastic bag to increase moisture. Every so often take the bag off to allow fresh air to get in.
- Place the pot in warm, sunny spot and keep the soil moist by watering as it dries up.
- After about 20 to 24 days, it should start rooting. You can give the plants a light tug to check. They should give a bit of resistance which tells you that some roots are started to grab hold of the soil.
- Over the next months, the plant will grow. And, you will need to repot as it outgrows its current one.
How to Repot Philodendron Subhastatum
Philodendron Subhastatum only needs to be repotted once every 2 to 3 years. Although don’t rely on the time period. Instead, look at the plant to see what it is telling you.
You only need to repot when the plant has outgrown its current home. And it will show this by trying to get its roots out of the container.
As such, once you see roots growing out of the drainage holes, which are the easiest points of exit, it is a sign that the plant needs to be repot soon.
However, you want to wait until the best time to do this.
Spring is the ideal time before the plant starts it growth spurt. You want to repot before the first leaves start coming up in spring. If you live in a warm area, you can likewise do in during the winter.
As with other philodendrons, the Subhastatum is toxic. Thus, keep it away from young children or pets if you have any.
While the poison severity is low, it still poses a risk.
All this means is that they need to ingest quite a bit to produce serious effects. In contrast, plants with high severity can be dangerous even with little amounts.
That said ingesting parts of the Philodendron subhastatum can product problematic symptoms like swelling of the tongue, lips and mouth as well as pain and discomfort down the digestive tract. Others experience vomiting and nausea as well.
Pests and Diseases
Pests are something you want to watch out. And, the best way to prevent and limit them is to check the plant regularly.
If you clean its leaves once every week or two weeks, you can inspect as you clean.
The best prevention is keeping the plant clean and supplying it with all the requirements it needs (those we’ve listed above).
It is does not get some of the these like too much or too little water, it will experience stress. And, under stress, the plant is more susceptible to pests and diseases.
Mealybugs, spider mites and aphids are some the more common pests that attack the plant.
When it comes to diseases, leaf spot, root rot and overly cold conditions are often the causes. As such, these stem from either overwatering or keeping the plant outdoors when it gets too cold and placing it near breezes like windows and air conditioners.
All of which can be avoided.