Philodendron atabapoense is prized as a houseplant thanks to how easy it is to care for and for its air-purifying abilities. The plant is also popular due to its long, deeply colored green and purple leaves, which look beautiful on their own or in a display with other houseplants.
- Scientific name and common names: Philodendron atabapoense
- Origin: Rainforests of Venezuela and Brazil
- Indoor or Outdoor plant: Indoor
- Height and Structure: Climbing plant that can reach 4 to 8 feet tall
- Temperature: 55 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit
- Flower Color: Purple and green
As a tropical houseplant, Philodendron atabapoense can be planted at any time of the year. However, it’s often best to plant or repot in the early spring, just before the plant begins its new growth cycle. This gives the plant plenty of room and time to spread out as it starts any new growth.
Philodendron atabapoense prefers a medium amount of light, but it can also do well in low light. Bright but diffused or dappled light is often best. Too much direct light can cause the beautiful colors of the plant’s leaves to fade.
This philodendron prefers soil that is loose and fluffy, retains moisture well, but also drains well. What type of potting mix you use will depend on your climate, but these plants often thrive solely in peat moss or orchid bark. They also do well in a mixture of peat moss, potting soil, and perlite.
Philodendron atabapoense is a slow-growing plant. It grows very long, relatively narrow leaves and will climb if offered a structure. Like many philodendrons, Philodendron atabapoense often requires a stake in order to reach its full height.
Most Philodendron atabapoense need to be watered once or twice a week during the spring and summer, with watering needs tampering off during the fall and winter. Wait for the top 2 inches of potting mix to dry out completely before watering again. When watering, soak the potting mix thoroughly and allow the plant to drain through the pot’s drainage holes.
Fertilizing a Philodendron atabapoense isn’t strictly necessary, but it will help the plant grow more quickly. A balanced or nitrogen-based fertilizer can be offered once in the spring, once in early summer, and once in late summer. Don’t fertilize the plant during the winter, as it will have stopped growing at this point.
Because it is originally a rainforest plant, Philodendron atabapoense prefers high humidity, somewhere between 65 and 70%. You can mist the plant to add more humidity, or you can keep it on a pebble tray, which helps to increase humidity without allowing the plant to sit in water.
Philodendron atabapoense requires only light pruning. Always trim away any dead or damaged leaves or stems. This helps the plant focus its energy on new growth, and light pruning can help to stimulate that growth, making for a fuller plant.
Heavy pruning can send a Philodendron atabapoense into shock, so only prune when it’s strictly necessary, and only cut away a little at a time.
A Philodendron atabapoense does not need to be repotted frequently. As the plant grows, however, it can become rootbound, which can inhibit the plant’s growth and overall health. Most Philodendron atabapoense will need to be repotted every two to three years, in order to ensure that the roots have enough room to spread out through the potting medium.
When choosing a new pot for your Philodendron atabapoense, pick something that has plenty of drainage. Plastic orchid pots allow for heavy watering but provide excellent drainage, and they can be placed in a more decorative outside pot once the plant has fully drained. Clay pots are also a good option, as they allow water to evaporate more quickly. Other types of plastic or ceramic pots can also work, but they may retain too much water around the plant’s roots.
Philodendron atabapoense can be propagated easily, and this is often the best way to grow new plants of this rare species. The best option for philodendron propagation is to take a stem cutting. The cutting should be at least 3 inches long, and it needs to have at least two nodes and two leaves.
Philodendron atabapoense cuttings grow roots well in water. The nodes of the cutting should be below the water, with the leaves above the water. You can also apply rooting hormone to the cutting before putting it in water to encourage faster root growth. Roots should begin to sprout within two to three weeks. After the cuttings have rooted, they can be planted in the same potting medium you use for the adult plant.
Always clean your cutting tools thoroughly before taking any stem cuttings, in order to prevent the growth of fungus. Once the cuttings are placed in water, the water will need to be changed every three days to keep it free of bacteria.
Philodendron atabapoense is a relatively hardy plant, but it is very sensitive to over and underwatering. Only ever water the plant when the top layer of the potting medium has dried out. Water well, soaking the potting medium, but allow the plant to drain fully. Never allow the plant to sit in water, as this can quickly lead to root rot.
These plants are also prone to spider mites, which suck the sap from the leaves and stems of the plant, draining it of nutrients. In order to get rid of spider mites, you can spray the plant with neem oil or an organic insecticide solution.
There are over 400 types of philodendrons, and Philodendron atabapoense is just one, although it is one of the most sought-after. The heartleaf philodendron is one of the most common varieties, and its hardiness makes it an excellent choice for beginner plant enthusiasts. Philodendron balaoanum has dramatically shaped leaves, similar to Philodendron atabapoense but lighter in color. Philodendron plowmanii has leaves that are beautifully striped in light and dark green, while Philodendron crassinervium has long, oblong leaves that are silvery green in hue.
Because it’s most often an indoor plant, Philodendron atabapoense can be kept by itself or with any other houseplants, as long as they share the same humidity and temperature needs. Placing other philodendrons near the Philodendron atabapoense can create a beautiful, cohesive display. Matching the Philodendron atabapoense with other types of plants that are shorter or taller, on the other hand, can create a display that’s quite eye-catching. It can also be a great idea to place the Philodendron atabapoense behind taller plants, as these tall plants can dapple the sunlight that reaches the Philodendron atabapoense.
Is the plant toxic to people?
Philodendron atabapoense, like all philodendron varieties, is mildly toxic. Its leaves contain a calcium oxalate crystal that can cause irritation, pain, or swelling to the lips, mouth, tongue, and esophagus. Because of this, it should be kept out of the reach of children.
Is it toxic to cats or dogs?
The same compound in the plant’s leaves that makes it mildly toxic to humans can also cause irritation in cats and dogs, so this plant should be placed in a high or difficult-to-reach area where pets can’t get at it.