The name may be unwieldy, but the beauty Philodendron Squamiferum contributes to any room in a home or office is worth tripping over the words. Easy to tend. Fabulous to behold. This houseplant is distinguished by oak shaped leaves, multiple lobes and its ability to tower over any other houseplants sharing its space.
It’s a relatively rare species of Philodendron famous for stems covered with fuzzy red hairs known botanically as pubescence. This plant belongs to a family of about 350-400 species (several of which have never been named).
Scientific and common names
- Philodendron Squamiferum is this houseplant’s official name.
- Some call it “the hairy Philodendrum” due to its appearance.
- Others refer to it as Red Bristle Philodendron for the same reason.
- It’s classified as an aroid epiphyte belonging to the Araceae family.
- This species is a first cousin to Monstera Deliciosa, Philodendron Bipennifolium and Philodendron Pedatum.
Origins of Philodendron Squamiferum
This plant has a distinctly international pedigree, growing abundantly in the rainforests of Brazil, Central America, French Guyana, and Suriname. First discovered in Columbia and throughout the Caribbean region in 1644, these plants now blanket Central and South America as well as areas of Africa, America, Australia, and Asia.
Is this an indoor or outdoor plant?
Plant this beauty indoors in a well-ventilated, humid environment and it will flourish. Situate your Philodendron Squamiferum into an appropriately-sized, high-quality potting compost for the best possible growth potential. If you’re lucky enough to live in the tropics where temperatures stay warmer than 55-degrees F, you can grow them outside.
Height and structure
This climbing plant’s growth is limited only by the amount of room you give it to thrive since it is known to be a healthy climber. Starter plants average 15-inches tall, but after reaching maturity, single leaves may grow to a length of 18-inches. Give your Philodendron Squamiferum lots of head room; it could kiss your ceiling.
This plant’s natural habitat provides clues for optimal temperature conditions. Philodendron Squamiferum thrive when indoor thermostats range between 50-degrees F and (no warmer than) 77-degrees F. Providing this plant with an environment found in rainforests will make it feel right at home.
In addition to signature red “hair,” some Philodendron Squamiferum sport dark-colored leaves while others have light-colored foliage. Leaves have a “leathery” feel that come to the plant’s rescue by preventing moisture from escaping. For flower watchers, the “burgundy spathes” that show themselves in spring and summer give birth to white showy flowers that bear pink berries with seeds that can be used to propagate new plants.
How To Plant the Philodendron Squamiferum
There are two popular ways to plant Philodendron Squamiferum. You should have an equal amount of success using either.
1. This method is called “the divide and transplant” method. Take cuttings after sterilizing garden shears by removing a 5- to 6-inch-long stem located just below a leaf node. Remove the cutting’s bottom leaves so only 2 or 3 leaves remain. Fill a vase or glass with water. Place the cutting into the vessel and situate it in a well-lit space. Change the water every 3 to 4 days. It will take between 2 and 3 weeks to notice root development. Once that stage arrives, transfer the plant to a pot filled with a recommended potting mix. For optimal results, use this method during warm months.
2. Use the air-layering method to propagate this plant so it develops roots while the mother plant is still attached. Locate a node and wrap it with sphagnum moss. Encase the moss in a plastic bag so it remains moist. You should see roots sprouting in a couple of days. Once roots measure 2-inches long, you can remove the cutting and plant it in a soil-filled pot.
For best results, plant or replant during spring or summer months to achieve the best growth results. As a rule, Philodendron Squamiferum goes dormant in winter, coming back to life in early spring.
Since this plant does an effective job cleaning the air within interior spaces, savvy gardeners situate these plants at 100-square-foot intervals, so they deliver the best air purification benefits. But Philodendron Squamiferum isn’t a species that shares pot space very well with companion plants simply because it can take up so much space.
How much light do Philodendron Squamiferum require?
the ideal environment is a mix of medium light and bright, indirect sunlight. Keep tabs on yellow leaves if they develop because lighting issues can trigger this condition. If you see several leaves change color, your Philodendron Squamiferum may be exposed to too much sun. While these plants tolerate low light, leggy stems could tell you that your plant requires a brighter spot. Southwest windows are ideal resting places.
According to University of Connecticut Home and Garden Center experts, these decorative plants do best if they are planted in loose soil containing organic matter. Further, soil must drain well for the plant to thrive. Botanists also recommend 100-percent sphagnum peat moss products — peat-vermiculite or peat-perlite, for example — that encourage healthy growth.
Like many indoor plants, this philodendron relies upon careful watering if it’s to stay healthy. Keep potting material consistently moist; not wet. Water drainage is a critical component to plant health. Overwatering and water saturation can trigger root injury that turns leaves yellow before they die and drop off.
How To Grow the Philodendron Squamiferum
Left in its natural habitat, Philodendron Squamiferum will climb tree trunks, behaving like vines in the wild. Plants cultivated indoors are likely reach between 4- and 5-feet tall under the right environmental circumstances.
To stake or not to stake?
Due to this plant’s biological disposition for climbing, you may wish to install a support like a trellis or a wire brace like those used by tomato growers to keep the plant growing in a proper direction and reaches optimal height without looking askew. The reason isn’t clear, but experts say if you situate Philodendron Squamiferum pots on pebble trays offering moderate drainage, the leaves may grow to be larger than average.
Botanists recommend a high-quality, mildly concentrated houseplant fertilizer. Start feeding conservatively until you are sure your plant can tolerate the strength of the product you choose. Slow-release fertilizers are highly recommended, whether they are granular or liquid. Over-fertilize and the agent you use could burn or kill the plant.
When determining ideal humidity, keep this plant’s rainforest roots in mind and keep humidity readings at between 60- and 70-percent. Some gardeners invest in hydrometers to keep tabs on room humidity while other gardeners rely upon steam from showers and humidifiers to do the job. Using a spray bottle to mist plants regularly also helps.
While not mandatory, gardeners nurturing Philodendron Squamiferum add mulch for a couple of reasons. Not only can this material stabilize the plant in the pot, helping to keep it upright and straight, but a proper mulch adds nutrients to the roots, especially if the plant is being stored or it is situated in a place that doesn’t offer the best growing environment.
Trimming and pruning your Philodendron Squamiferum
While your objective in trimming and pruning is to enhance its beauty, there are health benefits to be gained by doing both regularly. Keeping your plant clean and dry inhibits unwanted microbial growth and pest attacks, and if you mist and then wipe down each leaf, you’ll do a better job of keeing germs and dust at bay. Remove dead leaves and address excess growth if your Philodendron Squamiferum gets so tall, it’s hard to groom.
Potting and re-potting basics
Having already gotten your Philodendron Squamiferum started off correctly using either of the aforementioned propagation methods, the time is likely to come when it outgrows its pot. Telltale signs are a lack of new growth and/or a plant that dries out quickly when watered that may be a sign that it’s becoming root bound.
Resist the desire to move your plant to a huge new pot. Instead, get the next size up. Re-pot in spring and summer months and if you’re a stickler for detail, do the job in the evening. Water the plant thoroughly and give it a few days to adjust to its new pot before putting it on a routine maintenance schedule.
How to spot and treat pest infestations
The most commonly found pests when inspecting Philodendron Squamiferum are aphids and mealybugs. Additionally, if soil gets too wet, this plant could attract fungus gnats. If it gets too dry, it could become a target of spider mites.
All of these conditions are manageable if caught early while inspecting and wiping down leaves to tidy up.
If a problem persists, ask your local agricultural authority to recommend a strong, commercial pesticide. Control the amount you spray so you don’t poison your plant accidentally. Wear protective gear when spraying to keep yourself safe, too.
How to spot and treat disease
Though often called tough and tenacious, Philodendron Squamiferum is not disease resistant. Maladies this plant can develop include Erwinia Blight, Pseudomonas Leaf Spot, and Xanthomonas Leaf Spot. Plants most vulnerable to attack tend to be neglected or subject to extreme stress that attracts microbes that cause disease.
Common symptoms include yellow leaves, lesions, and holes in addition to slowed growth. Keeping your plant clean can prevent disease, but if it does strike, isolate the plant so the malady doesn’t spread to other plants and make it a practice sanitize the gardening tools you use to attend to plants, so you don’t inadvertently infect other plants. Quarantine your sick plant until it has fully recovered.
What is noteworthy about Philodendron Squamiferum?
There are several great reasons Philodendron Squamiferum make spectacular houseplants. These are extremely efficient plants that contribute mightily to clean air. Their huge leaves are biologically designed to absorb small amounts of light and water.
Interior designers favor this plant because it adds charm and appeal to every room and gardeners who don’t always have the time to tend to their plants regularly prefer Philodendron Squamiferum because the plant only requires minimal upkeep.
What are good neighbors?
Companion house plants with similar light, feeding and water requirements can create harmonious, natural statements that increase the decorating impact of plants living in pots, but given the eventual, mature size of Philodendron Squamiferum, you may want to give your plants their own digs rather than planting other species in the same pot. Though there are plenty of benefits to container mixing, this species is showy enough on its own to command attention.
Toxicity to pets and children
Like other plants categorized as members of the Araceae family, Philodendron Squamiferum’s chemical makeup includes insoluble calcium oxalate crystals, naturally occurring substances that can spell trouble for cats, dogs, and kids if they put any part of this plant into their mouths. At the very least, the burning sensation resulting from inflammation of the mucus membranes in the mouth and throat are likely to be so offensive, pets and kids will spit them out quickly.
For decades, house plants were ranked as the “fourth most common type of poisoning exposure in children,” according to data compiled by the American Association of Poison Control Centers. Over time, house plant poisoning position has dropped to ninth place, a sign that plant owners are not just aware of this potential danger but they’re taking measures to keep plants and kids at safe distances.