Philodendron Hastatum, also known by the common name Silver Sword, is a tropical plant native to Brazil. This plant makes an excellent specimen for any home or garden because it has an attractive appearance, with narrow and elongated, silvery gray and green leaves with a shape that resembles an arrow.
In outdoor gardens, it can provide shade for smaller nearby plants and be trained to climb up a trellis or tree. Indoors, philodendrons can climb up bookcases or be trimmed back if preferred. This popular plant species is favored by many because it is easy to take care of, attractive, and grows very well indoors.
- Scientific name and common names: Philodendron hastatum belongs to the Araceae plant family, Aroideae subfamily, and the Philodendron genus. It is commonly known as the silver philodendron or silver sword because of the elongated shape, silver-green color, and metallic sheen of its leaves.
- Origin: The plant is native to Brazil, where it can be found growing in tropical forests or at high elevations on slopes.
- Indoor and Outdoor growing: Silver sword and most other philodendrons are popular, easy-to-maintain indoor and outdoor plants. The Philodendron Hastatum is a low-light plant that thrives in indirect sunlight.
- Height and Structure: The blade-like leaves of the Silver Sword can grow up to 30 inches long and up to 12 inches wide when fully grown. Due to this variety’s vining or climbing nature, it can grow as high as 10 feet when potted. The plant may grow much taller by winding itself around a supporting structure such as a tree if grown outdoors. Philodendrons typically have both in-ground roots and aerial roots. The plant uses these aerial roots to attach itself to trees as it grows taller.
- Temperature preference: Since Philodendron hastatum comes from a tropical environment, it prefers warmer temperatures and humid conditions. It should be kept indoors during the winter months, since the species does not like temperatures that dip below 50 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Flowers: Once the plant matures, it produces large white flowers that grow on single stems from the center of a leaf rosette.
Philodendron hastatum is a beautiful and popular indoor plant, and although easy to grow, it does have some particular needs to thrive. Generally speaking, philodendrons require warm weather and humid conditions, such as a greenhouse environment, when planting seeds or propagating new cuttings. As adult plants, they need a warm atmosphere with indirect light and moist, fast-draining soil.
Indirect sunlight suits these plants best, especially when growing younger plants. Philodendron foliage does not tolerate direct sunlight well. When grown indoors, the plant can deal with lower light levels than most houseplants but does best in a room with plenty of diffuse light, such as near a window with sheer curtains.
The Silver Sword variety, like other philodendrons, can thrive in different types of soils. Still, the key is to provide the plant with moist, aerated, and highly organic matter such a peat moss to reach its full growth potential.
When properly maintained, philodendrons often grow much faster than the average houseplant. This plant loves to climb, and providing places to attach to can make it a highly versatile, decorative plant with stems reaching up to 10 feet long.
Philodendrons require medium watering and prefer to receive water only when the top one or two inches of the soil is dry. To prevent over-watering, add water until it slowly starts to drip out from the bottom of the pot, and do not allow the plant to stand in excess water. Keep the plant’s moisture levels consistent, and avoid letting the soil become either too dry or too soggy.
Drooping leaves usually signify that the plant has too much or too little water. Philodendrons are quite susceptible to root rot if not watered and drained well. The roots can rot quickly if either too wet or dry and may develop other problems such as fungal diseases.
While not necessary, fertilizing philodendrons every three to four weeks can bring more vigorous growth. Use a general-purpose fertilizer made for house plants, and stay away from fertilizers with too much nitrogen to avoid burning the plant’s roots.
Philodendrons are tropical plants, with many found in the Amazon Rainforest. They thrive in high humidity levels and will die if the environment gets too dry, such as from overly air-conditioned buildings, dry desert-type environments, or cold weather.
Prune a philodendron occasionally to shape, promote new growth, and remove dead leaves or flowers. When pruning the branches, it’s essential to cut the stems at an angle from the leaf axils. This method makes for more efficient healing and helps prevent rot. The best time to prune a Philodendron hastatum is during the summer when it’s actively growing.
To pot or repot a philodendron, start with a pot with suitable drainage holes and a size large enough to accommodate some future growth. Line the bottom of the pot with a thin layer of gravel, then sphagnum moss, before adding soil. This setup helps the plant retain moisture while also creating space for water to flow through and new roots to grow.
Philodendrons are simple to propagate. One of the easiest methods is to divide a larger plant into smaller pots or take stem cuttings. If working with plant cuttings, include at least two nodes on each stem to ensure success. The plants can also be grown from seed but will require a greenhouse environment to help the young seedlings thrive.
You can root some philodendron varieties in water, but the chance of success increases when rooting in the soil. Cut off the end of each stem, and dip in water for a few minutes. Next, place the stems into fast-draining, damp, nutrient-rich soil. Sand and peat moss both work well for this purpose.
The Philodendron hastatum is resistant to pests and diseases when well-cared for with the right amount of light and water.
About 450 different varieties of philodendron exist, and while many varieties have made their way into households across the globe as common houseplants, other varieties are hard to find and have become prized by collectors. While many varieties are climbers, some keep a compact form, don’t climb, and may only reach about two feet in height.
Leaf shapes can vary from small or medium heart shapes to huge, oblong-shaped leaves. Many have a solid border, while some varieties have leaves with a series of finger-like shapes. Colors can range from a deep, glossy green to lemon-lime green, while some varieties have variegated leaves featuring white or pink spots of differing shapes and sizes. The following examples highlight just a few types of this striking plant species’ family members.
Philodendron Birkin is a compact plant that stays smaller than P. hastatum. Its shiny leaves have a rich, dark green background, with thin white stripes causing a variegated pattern on each leaf. Due to the naturally variable nature of the pinstriping, each leaf comes out a little bit different, making this an interesting and beautiful variety.
Philofendron selloum doesn’t have pinstripes, but it does have Instagram-worthy sculptural leaves that catch your eye when you enter the room. The leaves have frilly-edged, finger-like sections, growing on strong, upright stems.
Philodendron ‘White Wizard’ and ‘White Knight’ make for beautiful additions and conversation pieces for a houseplant collection. These two varieties have heart-shaped leaves with green and white variegated patterns. Interestingly, the leaves are sometimes entirely white on one whole leaf or a perfect half of a leaf, almost as if they’ve been painted. Other leaves may have round or other shaped areas of complete white. These varieties don’t grow as fast as some others but do climb if not cut back. The Wizard variety has green stems, and the Knight variety has red to purplish stems.
Philodendron hastatum likes to grow around other plant species that can tolerate higher humidity. Florists often use philodendron varieties in planted floral gift baskets, including them alongside ferns, mosses, and other moisture-loving plants.
lthough generally not considered harmful to people, philodendrons can cause skin irritation in some individuals. Although philodendrons are common house plants, they’re poisonous if ingested by humans or other animals.
If you have a kitty or dog in your home that likes to snack on plant leaves, please be aware that philodendron is poisonous to them. If you think that your beloved pet has ingested any part of the plant, contact your vet immediately.