Botanical Name — Philodendron micans
Common Name — Velvet Leaf Philodendron
Plant Family — Araceae
Philodendron micans is native to the Carribean islands of Dominica and Tobago. This epiphytic and epilithic species of Philodendron grows naturally in humidity-rich forest conditions, rooting itself to tall trees. As indoor plants, they can be trained to grow up a moss pole or in a hanging basket. Generally easy-going, these plants will tolerate all kinds of neglect including low light, poor soil, and inconsistent watering. Philodendrons are very efficient at removing indoor pollutants such as formaldehyde.
- Philodendron micans prefer medium to bright indirect light. Don’t let the leaves receive too much direct sunlight, since that can burn the leaves. Place this plant on an east or north facing window sill, or hang it nearby. If you have south or west facing windows, place a couple of feet away from the window and or provide shade with a sheer curtain.
- They can tolerate lower light conditions but can become leggy and produce smaller leaves.
- Philodendrons like room temperatures around 65 to 80 ºF. They should always be kept above 55 ºF.
- Though philodendrons like high humidity, they can tolerate and thrive where there is low humidity. If your home is dry, especially during the winter months, your plant can benefit from misting with tepid water or a humidifier.
- Allow the soil to completely dry to 2 inches down between waterings. Water thoroughly when dry and let the excess drain out the bottom of the planter. Water more often during the spring and summer months. Reduce watering as often in the fall and winter months.
- If your philodendron receives too much water the leaves will begin to wilt, and older leaves will often turn a bright yellow. Brown, crisping leaves mean the plant needs more water.
- Use a well aerated, quick draining potting mix.
- These plants have aerial roots located under each node. These roots can attach to trees or moss poles for climbing or can be planted.
- Mature plants occasionally produce green color spathes with white spadix. The flowers on this plant can appear at any time of the year but mainly in summer. However, it is common for houseplants not to flower.
- In spring and summer, fertilize once a month with an organic houseplant fertilizer.
- Philodendrons are easily propagated by stem tip cuttings. The cutting should have at least two nodes on the stem. Take the leaf off of the lower node and leave a leaf on the upper one. Place the stem in a glass of water, making sure no leaves are in the water. Plant in a small pot when the roots are at least two inches long. Regularly water the newly-potted cutting. The soil should be just barely moist to the touch at all times.
- The most common insect pests for philodendron in homes are scale and mealybugs. Spider mites can occasionally be a problem as well.
- Overwatering can cause root rot.
- Leaf spot diseases can be a problem and are usually caused by improper watering.
Maintenance (pruning, legginess, repotting)
- Repot your philodendron once the plant has become root bound. Choose a planter that is two sizes larger than your current planter. Make sure to add fresh soil when repotting.
- Plants can be selectively pruned to keep the vines from getting too long and to also encourage new growth for a fuller look. You can cut back to 2 inches from if necessary. Also trim any dead or discolored leaves.
- Dust or wash leaves frequently to prevent dust from clogging the plant’s pores.
- Philodendron leaves are toxic to pets and humans since they contain calcium oxalate. Swelling of the lips and tongue, and stomach irritation with possible vomiting can occur when ingested.