How to Care for an Philodendron atabapoense

Introduction

Philodendrons are popular houseplants, and Philodendron atabapoense are no exception, with beautiful, elongated leaves that have reddish undersides. These plants can get enormous, with leaves that can reach thirty inches or so. Philodendrons are known for being low-maintenance, easy to grow, and very beautiful.

Remember that Philodendrons are rainforest plants, so you will need to create at least slight humidity for your plant to thrive. The leaves of a Philodendron atabapoense are narrow and slightly heart-shaped at the top, and pointed tips. The plants can grow to over twenty feet in the wild.

Indoor vs Outdoor Growing

Philodendrons grow in rainforests in the natural world, and you can get both climbing and non-climbing varieties. They will rarely flower when grown in indoor conditions, but they can do so. They have tiny blooms that grow within a modified leaf.

A plant grown indoors is very unlikely to reach a height of greater than about two meters, but that is probably fortunate given that most houses couldn’t accommodate a larger plant. How big yours grows will depend upon a variety of factors such as pot size and the amount of light and fertilizer available.

Best Location For Your Philodendron Atabapoense

You can grow your Philodendron atabapoense in any room as long as there’s enough light for it to grow. That means it’s a great plant for a living room or an office or bedroom that needs brightening up a bit.

The plant does not like a lot of direct sunlight – if any at all. You should avoid growing a Philodendron atabapoense on a windowsill or too close to a window where the direct light will fall on the leaves. Because they grow in rainforests with lots of overhead cover, they don’t fare well in strong light.

You can’t grow them in the dark, either; they will not thrive if there isn’t enough light. You can use a grow lamp to help boost their growth, but because they are large plants, it is best to also have some natural light – or you may need quite a few lamps.

There should also be plenty of upward height for the plant, too. As they grow very tall, you shouldn’t grow them beneath a shelf or in a low corner, or they will soon run out of space. Place your Philodendron atabapoense out in the open where they can enjoy light, air, and humidity.

Soil For Philodendron Atabapoense

These plants like well-draining soil and they will not cope well at all in a sandy or heavy clay potting material. Indeed, regular compost isn’t really suitable, so you need to use a mix of potting materials to get the right growing medium for your Philodendron atabapoense.

You can buy a ready-made potting mix that has been especially designed for this kind of plant; most places sell them. Alternatively, you can mix your own, which many growers prefer to do so that they can control the proportions and choose the materials.

They require quite rich soils, so you may want to include some regular compost to add food to the mixture. However, they need good drainage, so you will want to add plenty of perlite, ensuring the plant’s roots have plenty of space and drainage.

To balance this and make sure that they also don’t dry out too fast, you should get some peat moss or sphagnum moss and include this in the potting mix. This will help to hold in some water, but still ensure that the plant has air around its roots and doesn’t suffocate due to waterlogging.

Most Philodendron plants will happily grow in pure sphagnum moss, but you might prefer to mix in other materials to improve drainage and available food. It’s really your choice, and it may vary a little depending on what you have access to.

Philodendron atabapoense plants like neutral to mildly acidic soils, rather than alkaline ones.

Watering Your Philodendron Atabapoense

Philodendron plants do like quite a lot of water, but they don’t like to sit in water for extended periods of time. This can make them vulnerable to rotting, or pests such as fungus gnats.

You should aim to water your plant regularly in the summer, perhaps around once a week. This is when the plant is most active, and will also be losing the most water to evaporation. To counteract that, regular watering will be necessary.

However, you should always check the plant needs water before adding it. To do this, gently push the tip of your finger into the top layer of the soil. If the soil is still wet up to about three centimeters down, hold off on watering until it has dried out a bit.

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This is much better than watering on a strict routine, which could see your plant getting too little or too much to drink.

In the winter, your plant will need a lot less to drink, and you will probably only need to water it every two weeks or so. You will have to adjust this schedule slightly if you live in a very hot or very cold climate.

If you notice your plant is staying wet for much longer than you would expect, add more perlite to its growing medium. Once your plant has been watered, collect any excess water that has run out of the drainage holes and tip it away so that the plant isn’t sitting in water for too long.

Humidity For Your Philodendron Atabapoense

Like all Philodendrons, Philodendron atabapoense plants love humidity, and they much prefer a humid environment. Our homes are very dry compared with most outdoor environments, so you need to take this into account. Not providing some humidity can lead to the leaves growing crispy and losing their color at the tips.

To keep your plant healthy, you can mist it using a spray bottle every few days. Some people prefer to mist the leaves directly, but many like misting the soil around the base of the plant. This humidity will then gently evaporate over the course of the day, and the leaves won’t get soaked.

You should aim to mist in the mornings, rather than at night; having wet leaves overnight isn’t a great idea for any plant, and can cause the foliage to rot, or encourage pest attacks.

If you don’t want to mist your plant regularly, consider buying a shallow tray that it can stand in. Fill this tray with small pebbles, and then pour a little water into the tray, so that the level is just below the top of the pebbles.

You can then stand your Philodendron atabapoense’s pot on the pebbles. The bottom of the pot won’t be in contact with the water, so you don’t need to worry about the plant rotting, and it will have plenty of humidity as the water slowly evaporates. This is a low maintenance way of providing humidity.

If that doesn’t suit you, consider buying a humidifier. Little puffs of humidity from this will ensure your Philodendron atabapoense gets a good, damp environment without you needing to do anything. A hygrometer is also a good idea, as this will let you control the level of humidity in the room.

Remember that plants generate small amounts of humidity themselves, so you can stand your Philodendron atabapoense near other plants to take advantage of this.

Fertilizing Your Philodendron Atabapoense

You don’t have to fertilize your Philodendron atabapoense very often, but a good feed can help to improve its foliage and make sure it grows healthily and happily. If you never fertilize your plant, you will find that it grows extremely slowly.

You should only fertilize in the warmer months of spring and summer, as fertilizing during the winter is pointless and could harm the plant. It only needs food when it is at its most active, and as many Philodendron atabapoense plants slow down or even stop growing during the winter, the fertilizer is superfluous.

Fertilize around the base of your plant, at least six inches away from the plant’s stem. This should help prevent any risk of burning the plant.

It’s important not to over-fertilize your Philodendron atabapoense. Too much food can result in burning. A good rule of thumb is to provide a slow-release fertilizer a couple of times a year, or possibly three times a year.

You can purchase special fertilizers tailored for this species, or use an all-purpose one, provided that you have checked it’s suitable. In general, remember that it is better to use too little fertilizer than it is to use too much, and dilute the mixes as instructed by the manufacturer, or more heavily.

Toxicity

As with other Philodendron plants, the Philodendron atabapoense contains oxalate crystal. This means that it is toxic if consumed. Pets and young children should be kept away from this plant if there is any risk of them being tempted to eat or even chew the leaves.

Both the flowers and the foliage contain this crystal, and it can produce dangerous, even fatal, reactions. It causes a burning sensation when consumed, and can lead to stomach aches, nausea, swelling of the tongue, and death.

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Do not leave the plant somewhere that anyone else is liable to ingest it. If you have a plant and a young child, you may wish to put it in an office or behind a gate so that the child cannot access it until they are old enough to understand about not eating it. Pets should be trained away from it.

If you suspect your child has ingested some of this plant, immediately seek medical advice. For a pet, contact the veterinarian. Do not wait to see if they recover, but get help straight away.

Propagation

These plants are not cheap to buy, so many people are keen to propagate them. They are also somewhat rare, which is another reason to grow them from cuttings from the adult plant where possible.

Fortunately, Philodendron atabapoense plants are reasonably easy to propagate, and you can do so with minimal tools or experience. If it goes wrong the first time, you can always try again.

Propagate your plant when it is healthy and at a good stage of its growth, rather than when it has turned dormant for the winter.

To propagate your plant, first sterilize a knife or some secateurs. Next, select a healthy stem of your plant. It should have at least two root notes on it, as well as some leaves. Ideally, cuttings should be around two or three inches long; this gives you a good chance of successful propagation.

Remove the leaves from near the root nodes, and then fill a jar with water. Allow it to stand for a few hours so the chlorine can evaporate from it, and then submerge the cutting in the water, with the top standing clear of the surface. No leaves should be below the level of the water; they will rot.

Stand the jar somewhere with bright light, but no direct sun, and wait for roots to develop. The water should be changed every three days to ensure it stays fresh and doesn’t become stagnant.

You will usually see roots developing in a few weeks, and leaves should follow a little while later. About a week after the roots have formed, you can put the cutting into a growing medium, or you can keep growing it in water – although you will need a larger container than a jar if you choose to grow your Philodendron atabapoense just in water!

If you want to do this, do some research into growing these plants in water; you’ll need to add food, etc., for them to grow healthily.

Repotting

Philodendron atabapoense plants need repotting from time to time. While they may be slow growing, they are also very large plants, so they will require a new pot as they get bigger. If they get too restricted by a small pot, they will stop growing, and will also be very vulnerable to drying out.

When repotting, start by making sure you have a suitable container. It should have good drainage holes and be considerably larger than the one you are currently using.

Mix some potting medium for your plant. This should contain perlite for drainage and a coarse material such as coconut coir or orchid bark for aeration. Philodendron atabapoense roots are designed to grip and cling, so this sort of rough material is good for them to grow in.

When you have a pot ready, take your Philodendron atabapoense out of its current pot. If its roots have become compacted and are curling in on themselves, take a little time to gently tease them back out and redirect them to take advantage of their new pot. This will ensure they spread out, rather than continuing to grow in a small space.

You should aim to repot your Philodendron atabapoense every three years or so, but you might wish to change the growing medium more often than this, even if you put it back in the same pot.

Philodendron atabapoense plants like lots of aeration around their roots, and as the potting medium compacts over time, they will find it harder to grow. Changing the material in the pot allows more air and space for their roots to grow into.

You may also wish to fertilize at the same time as repotting. Once you have repotted your Philodendron atabapoense, stand it in a cool, somewhat shady place for a while; this will ensure it settles into the new pot, and will avoid increasing the stress of repotting. Do not put it in direct sunlight.

F.A.Q.

If you’re having any problems with your Philodendron atabapoense, here are a few of the common issues you might notice, and ideas to solve the issue.

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Why Are The Leaf Tips Of My Philodendron Atabapoense Crispy?

Crispy and browning leaves on your Philodendron atabapoense could indicate that the plant is not getting enough water, or that it is suffering from too little humidity. Adversely, they could also indicate that the plant has been over-watered and its roots are rotting – which contributes to the problems of too little water, because the plant won’t be able to draw it in through rotten roots.

You should check the humidity levels first, as these are likely to be the easiest fix. If the air around your plant is dry and you haven’t misted it for some time, give it a gentle spraying and then stand it on a tray of water with pebbles. Consider getting a hygrometer to keep an eye on this in the future.

Check whether the soil is dry or wet. If it’s dry, a deep watering should help to solve the problem. If, however, it’s very wet, you may need to help your plant dry out. Remove it from the potting medium, cut away any rotten roots, and re-plant it in fresh material. This should hopefully save the plant.

A final explanation for brown, crispy leaves is excessive sunlight. Remember, these are rainforest plants and they don’t cope well with a lot of bright light. If the brown spots and crispiness are all near the top of the plant, especially on the side that faces the window, this is likely the cause.

Try moving your plant further from the direct light, or rig up a thin curtain (e.g. a net one) to protect it in summer.

What Pests Are Likely To Attack A Philodendron Atabapoense?

Philodendrons are known for being quite pest resistant, so you might wonder whether any pests are likely to attack them. Unfortunately, pest resistant doesn’t mean pest proof.

Mealybugs are a common problem, and these are unarmored scale insects that love moist environments. High humidity levels make them more likely to be an issue. They are soft white little things, and you may be able to spot them on the underside of leaves.

You might also see traces of web; these are left by spider mites, although the mites are usually too small to see. Aphids and scale insects are also common problems for these plants.

Sometimes, washing your Philodendron atabapoense with a strong jet of water (such as from a hose) will be enough to remove these species, particularly the spider mites. However, some of them are too resilient for that.

You can treat your Philodendron atabapoense with soapy water, which should kill most insects, or you can try a low-toxicity insecticide. Neem oil or neat vodka will kill many of these bugs if you want a more natural option. Even scale insects, which are pretty impervious to most homemade pesticides, are unlikely to survive being daubed with vodka.

Take care of pests promptly to keep your Philodendron atabapoense healthy, and look out for signs of them, especially if your plant is looking sickly, or you’re noticing sticky patches on its leaves.

Should I Prune My Philodendron Atabapoense?

Many Philodendron plants need to be pruned to keep them manageable indoors, and Philodendron atabapoense will benefit from gentle pruning. You can remove old and dead leaves, giving the plant space and energy to produce new growth. This will encourage dense, lush foliage.

Do not prune your Philodendron atabapoense heavily, as this can slow the plant’s growth down. Instead, cut it back gently from time to time, taking off any unbalanced stems or dead leaves.

What Causes Yellow Leaves?

Known for their lush foliage, these plants should be a lovely, deep green. If your Philodendron atabapoense has lots of yellow leaves, something may be wrong. While the odd leaf will turn yellow and drop off as a natural part of the plant’s life cycle, lots of yellow leaves are a cue to take action.

Usually, yellow leaves are due to either over-watering or insufficient light. Check your plant’s moisture levels and follow the above steps if repotting is necessary. If it’s not over-watering, see whether your plant is in a spot that’s too shady for it. Perhaps in winter, it needs to be closer to the windows.

You can also try a grow lamp if light is an issue and you can’t easily relocate your plant. These can be purchased reasonably cheaply online, and will supplement the light yourPhilodendron atabapoense gets from the natural daylight.