The Philodendron Giganteum is a South American plant and one of the largest of its species. They grow to impressive sizes when properly tended to, which is surprisingly easy. These plants make an impactful impression thanks to their size, lush color and vibrant sheen.
- Scientific name: Philodendron Giganteum
- Common names: Beast Philodendron, Giant Philo, Elephant Ears
- Origin: South America, Caribbean Islands
- Indoor or Outdoor plant: Common indoor plant, will grow outdoors under the right conditions
- Height and Structure: May spread up to 15 feet tall and 8 feet wide outdoors, its heart-shaped leaves may reach 2 feet; Indoors they usually reach 4 to 5 feet in height
- Flower Color: They rarely flower because they are so adapted to thriving on the jungle floor with minimal sunlight, but mature plants sometimes produce a white bloom, their foliage is a deep dark green
- Temperature: Ideally 65°F(18°C) to 85°F(28°C)
- Humidity: Maintain above 60%
Philodendron Giganteum is native to the Caribbean Islands. They require ample sunlight, a humid environment and room to spread due to their massive size. They are ideal for filling empty spaces indoors and outdoors. This plant cannot tolerate cold, so it must be kept indoors if you live in an area where temperatures fluctuate unexpectedly.
This is a tropical plant and should be planted in warmer humid months. Spring planting is ideal so its roots have time to establish themselves through the summer growing season. Philodendrons are rapid growers. Leaf development may even be noticeable to the naked eye from one day to another. They will not survive in an environment where the temperature dips below 55°F (13°C). Dark patches on the leaves are a telltale sign that the plan needs a warmer environment.
These plants are ideal for filling gaps in large open spaces, whether indoors or outdoors. They reach up to 15 feet in height and 6 to 8 feet in width so they need adequate space to flourish outdoors. They are also best suited to higher ground in your yard to avoid pooling water.
This tropical plant thrives in many environments but is still adapted to growing under a canopy of trees.
Outdoors, place it where it will receive plenty of sunlight, but also cool shade, such as near a tree along an edge of your yard. Ideally, the plant should be located on the east end of the yard near an obstruction to afternoon sunlight coming from the west.
Indoors, its pot should be placed in an area where it will receive bright filtered sunlight. Morning light is preferable because it is less harsh. Remember to consistently rotate the plant to ensure even growth. If you’re growing indoors, monitor sunlight in the winter months and utilize a fluorescent lamp if necessary.
Too much direct sunlight, indoors or outdoors, will scorch the large leaves. The plant is likely not receiving enough light if the leaves turn from dark green to a paler shade.
Philodendron Giganteum grows best in light, airy and loose soil that quickly drains water. Many people assume rain forests offer nutrient-rich and wet soil, but the opposite is true. Philodendrons are well adapted to growing outdoors if temperature and humidity are right. Outdoors, ensure the plant is in a spot with leaf mulch and sterile compost for moisture retention and nutrition.
When potting indoors, use a pre-made cactus or succulent mixture. Adding perlite and sphagnum peat moss helps maintain the plant’s health.
The roots of Philodendron naturally coil themselves around objects in the soil. Adding orchid bark and coconut husks to your soil gives the roots a chance to thrive.
Generally speaking, a Philodendron Giganteum is easy to grow. They’re hardy and durable, thriving with appropriate sunlight, temperature and moisture. As they mature, they develop a thick, trunk-like stem. Mature plants will grow aerial roots that resemble vines.
While classified as a climber, the Philodendron Giganteum’s stem is thick and grows slowly. It will grow well on its own for years without a stake. Eventually, older plants will benefit from a moss-pole or something similar to climb around.
The biggest obstacle to successfully cultivating Philodendren is watering. They are extremely sensitive to both over and under hydration. Although there are general rules, it is a tropical plant and you must account for differences in your climate.
In most cases, they should be watered twice per week. A good rule of thumb is to check the topsoil. If it is dry to a depth of 2 inches, water the plant. If the soil is moist to the touch, skip watering.
Directly water the plant at its stem. Do not pour water over the leaves.
Reduce watering during the winter months when the plant is not growing. Drooping leaves typically indicate under watering. Yellow leaves that fall off indicate overwatering. Root rot is common in plants that are overwatered.
Philodendron Giganteum thrives outdoors with a rich soil mix containing lots of organic matter. They are adapted to survival in relatively rugged conditions, so if your soil is adequate, additional fertilizer may be unnecessary.
Indoors, bi-monthly fertilization with a balanced organic fertilizer is appropriate. Liquid fertilizers deliver nutrients fastest, which benefits Philodendron because they grow so rapidly. Look for natural fertilizers that contain:
Only fertilize the plant during growth months and discontinue in winter. You may be overfeeding the plant if you notice curled leaf tips.
As a tropical plant, Philodendron Giganteum loves humid conditions. When planting outdoors, it is important to be aware of your habitat’s typical moisture. Growers recommend consistent humidity above 60%.
If grown indoors, a small portable humidifier placed near the plant can allow you to control conditions. If you’re worried the plant isn’t experiencing enough humidity, you can lightly mist the leaves once a week. However, you need to monitor the leaves. Misting and the lack of air circulation indoors can lead to bacterial growth on the plant.
The plant responds well to mulching, but it isn’t necessary if the outdoor soil is rich in organic material. Mulching will help the plant maintain and regulate its moisture.
Pruning is not necessary because mature Philodendrons effectively drop old leaves. Trimming off discolored leaves, stem shoots and dead aerial roots using sharp garden scissors is acceptable.
Be wary of aggressive pruning. Immature plants rapidly grow and pruning can easily harm them. Mature plants should only be pruned once they have multiple terminals.
Good initial potting of a Philodendron is crucial because they love to spread out and grow. Fortunately, their roots remain tightly compacted. They should be placed in a large sturdy pot with adequate nutrient-rich potting soil. The pot should be raised to allow proper drainage because excessive moisture harms the plant.
A potted Philodendron will likely need to be repotted once per year or transplanted outdoors if the environment is acceptable. They like to have their roots tightly compacted. However, once the plant becomes top-heavy with visible roots escaping the pot’s drainage holes, it is time to repot. Make sure you time repotting during growth season so the plant has a chance to re-establish its roots.
Propagation is possible, but difficult because their roots love to densely entwine in soil. Philodendron Giganteum should be propagated in the spring or summer. The best method is to search for seedlings, especially in spots on mature plants where leaves have fallen off on their own.
Once you’ve identified the new growth, wait until aerial roots are present. Detach the seedling using a sterilized knife and plant it in a 6 inch pot with nutrient-rich soil. Make sure the pot has adequate drainage. Tend to the plant like any other Philodendron Giganteum.
Keep it in the shade with moist soil until established. Patience is key because it can take more than a month for a new seedling to show roots on a mature plant.
The plant may also be propagated with an air method. Locate small aerial roots in the leaf nodes at the donor plant’s base. Remove the new plant using sterilized scissors. You’ll need a six-inch transparent plastic bag with twist ties and sphagnum moss. Punch a few holes at the bottom of the bag for irrigation and fill it with wet sphagnum moss.
Create flaps to roll around the stem by cutting the bag vertically. Hold the soaked moss in your plastic bag against the root on the stem gently with your one palm and secure the flaps around the stem. Tighten the twist ties around the stem without damaging the plant.
Water the moss through the irrigation holes and give the plant a few weeks for the roots to take hold. Once you are confident the roots have taken, gently remove the plant from the bag and plant it in the ground or pot.
Although it is a durable and adaptable plant, Philodendron Giganteum should not be transplanted often. They are rootbound plants that should only be transplanted in early spring so they have time to reestablish and adapt to their new environment.
Indoors or outdoors, pests are generally not a problem for Philodendron. Aphids, spider mites, fungal gnats and mealybugs are possible. Wiping them off with cotton balls dipped in alcohol or soap and water will effectively remove them.
Neem oil can be applied to the leaves monthly to repel potential pests.
Philodendron Giganteum are susceptible to Leaf Spot Disease, which is caused by a bacterial or fungal infection. It appears as small brown spots circled with a yellow halo. They can be anywhere on the leaf. Over time they dehydrate the leaf, turning it thin and brittle.
The disease is extremely contagious and spreads rapidly. Sick plants must be isolated immediately. Discontinue misting the plant because moisture creates a perfect environment for bacterial and fungal growth.
If the spots are present on more than a third of the leaves, you can begin removing diseased leaves, a few at a time, using sanitized pruning scissors. Be sure to sanitize the tool after each cut.
Keeping the plant in a cool and dry area with adequate filtered sunlight will give it the best chance for survival. The disease is fatal once the infection becomes systemic.
Philodendron Giganteum belong to the plant family Araceae or Aroids. They are related to Montseras, Pothos and Anthuriums. Botanists are still learning a lot about Philodendrons and many species are not yet well understood or defined.
Philodendrons are characterized by large leaves, long aerial roots and parallel veins in the leaves. However, they grow over such a vast geographic area that mature plants are quite varied.
Notable relatives include the Philodendron Squamiferum which is also a climber. They have a long red stem covered in fuzzy hairs. It is a low-maintenance plant with oak-shaped leaves.
The Pink Princess, scientifically known as Philodendron Eubescens, is a rare species native to Brazil. They have dark green leaves with pale pink splotches that can cover more than half the leaf.
Indoors, Philodendrons can share space in the same pots with Pothos and Spider Plants. Together, the three create a lush, green and vibrant jungle look.
Outdoors, Philodendrons do well with other plants that do well outside of direct sunlight, like shrubs and some ferns.
They are toxic to both humans and pets. Each part of Philodendrons is harmful if ingested because they contain calcium oxalate crystals. They will cause burning, inflammation and swelling in the mouth, lips, and tongue.
Heavy amounts of ingestion will lead to excessive saliva, vomiting and difficulty swallowing. The reaction is not fatal, but you or your pet should be examined to rule out any complications.