How to Care for Philodendron Melanochrysum (Black Gold Philodendron)

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Today’s Plant Spotlight is on Philodendron Melanochrysum. We’ll be going through everything you need to know about this wonderful houseplant, by providing a general care overview along with some tips and tricks for faster growth.

Philodendron Melanochrysum plant, also known as “Black Gold” Philodendron or ‘Velvet’ Philodendron, is an evergreen, climbing houseplant native to the tropical rainforests of Colombia. It is a rare and very decorative specimen, with large, heart-shaped leaves that start out light green with yellow-brown undertones.

Eventually, they darken to a beautiful dark green, are velvety, and have yellowish veins running through them. Melanochrysum means “black gold” and aptly describes the tiny golden sparks sometimes seen when the velvety blackish-green blades of mature plants are exposed to light.

Growth Habit

Philodendron Melanochrysum is a climbing plant that can cling to support or trellis using its sturdy and flexible stems. It grows relatively quickly, up to about 3 feet wide and 10 feet in length, forming carpets of velvety leaves, creating a real plant spectacle.

Like many other Philodendrons, the leaves change shape and lengthen as the plant climbs. This Philodendron can get very large, but it will handle pruning well if you need to control it.

It flowers occasionally, but it is quite rare for indoor specimens. Since the inflorescences are relatively dull, it is advisable to cut them so that the plant can devote its energy to growing foliage.

Basic Information

Common NamePhilodendron Black Gold
FamilyAraceae
SpeciesP. melanochrysum
Typehederaceum
OriginsColombia
FragranceUnscented
Leaf TypeEvergreen
Leaf ColorBronze, Green
Leaf PersistenceAll Year
Flowering PeriodJun, Jul, Aug
Flowering ColorWhite, Green
Width at Maturity2 – 3 feet
Height at Maturity5 – 10 feet
ExposurePartial Shade
Pet FriendlyNon Pet Friendly

Philodendron Melanochrysum care

Like most aroids in the Philodendron genus, this plant is relatively easy to care for indoors. Here are some care guidelines you can follow when caring for your Melanochrysum

Light

For optimal growth, Philodendron Melanochrysum prefers bright to medium indirect light. This helps it preserve the beauty of its velvety foliage. Avoid direct exposure to sunlight, as this may burn the plant’s sensitive leaves.

In case of limited natural lighting, you can put it under artificial grow lights, it will do exceptionally well, exhibiting new growth points. If your Melanochrysum doesn’t receive enough light, its growth may slow down, resulting in smaller and less vibrant leaves. They might also appear stretched out and less healthy.

Once you find the right lighting conditions, keeping the leaves clean is also crucial. A buildup of dust or dirt is going to stop them from absorbing all of the light that they need. Velvety-leaved plants like these dislike getting wet, so using a dry microfiber cloth or a clean makeup brush is recommended for leaf cleaning.

Regularly turning the plant is also important if you want to maintain fuller, well-rounded, 360-degree growth. If left facing one way, the plant tends to chase the light, resulting in uneven growth.

Water requirements

Philodendron Melanochrysum appreciates slightly moist but well-drained soil. Water the plant when the soil begins to dry on the surface, avoiding excess water which could lead to root rot.

Watering these plants can be tricky, with overwatering being a common issue. Philodendrons like these are quite thirsty compared to some other varieties. The biggest problem often arises when people water them excessively, leading to issues like root rot, which can be detrimental to the plants.

To avoid this, it’s crucial to wait for the top layer of soil to completely dry out before watering, typically the first inch or so. Using a moisture meter is an option for those unsure about soil moisture. It’s emphasized that underwatering is generally preferable to overwatering because it’s usually easier to save plants that receive too little water.

If overwatering has occurred and root rot is suspected, solutions are available. A video on this topic is provided in the links below. Monitoring soil moisture and adopting practices like using ponds as a soil substitute or opting for terracotta pots can help regulate watering.

Terracotta pots, being porous, assist in extracting excess water from the soil, promoting plant health. For those prone to overwatering, using a well-draining mix with components like houseplant soil, perlite, orchid bark, and horticultural charcoal is recommended.

Humidity and Temperature

Although this tropical plant doesn’t require excessive levels like some tropical plants, they generally prefer high ambient humidity. Maintaining your humidity between 65 and 70 results in healthier, more vibrant plants with fewer issues like browning or brown tips.

You can recreate a humid environment by placing a humidifier near the plant or regularly spraying water on its foliage. These plants are sensitive to cold drafts, and exposure to them can negatively impact their well-being, leading to issues like curled leaves, browning, yellowing, and leaf drop.

When it comes to temperature, these plants prefer a do best between 60 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit, without constant fluctuations. Maintaining it at the upper end of this range ensures healthy and happy growth, closely mimicking their natural habitats.

Balancing higher humidity with elevated temperatures is excellent for promoting new growth, especially for philodendron and other tropical plants. Keep in mind that when the house temperature rises, the humidity tends to drop, so it’s important to counteract that by increasing humidity accordingly.

Substrate

This plant has no special requirements and will grow successfully in the same mixture used for other aroids and philodendrons. It will grow in good quality, well-draining tropical plant mix with 25% sphagnum moss + 25% peat + 50% coconut bark + 1 handful of perlite. Always keep the substrate a little cool but not soggy.

Fertilization

To support the lush growth of Philodendron Melanochrysum, you can provide it with a balanced houseplant fertilizer during the active growing period (spring and summer), following the manufacturer’s recommendations.

Over the growing season, the Melanochrysum experiences optimal conditions for growth, with new leaves indicating a favorable period for development. Regular fertilization provides the necessary nutrients for both new and existing growth.

For those who haven’t fertilized a long-standing plant, a cautious approach is necessary. Start with a smaller amount, such as half the recommended dosage, and observe how the plant responds. If there’s a positive reaction, gradually increase the dosage to the standard recommendation. This approach helps avoid potential issues and prevents plants from going into shock.

Pruning

Philodendron Melanochrysum does not grow very quickly and requires very little pruning. Simply remove dying leaves as they are replaced by new growth.

However, if you want to control growth or encourage new branching, you can perform careful pruning of the stems using clean, disinfected pruning tools to avoid introducing diseases to the plant.

Diseases and Problems

  • If the leaves turn yellow, it is excessive watering with a risk of root rot.
  • If the leaves soften or sag, it’s a lack of water and/or humidity.
  • Yellow spots with necrosis around them appear, these are bacteria linked to an overly humid environment.
  • It is easy to burn the leaves of the plant. Direct sunlight also causes leaves to turn yellow.
  • Mealybugs sometimes develop on peduncles and under leaves. Remove them using a swab soaked in rubbing alcohol or denatured alcohol. An hour later, bathe the plant to remove traces of alcohol.
  • Aphids can transmit mosaic virus. This plant virus starts with light green patterns that resemble variegations. Then feathery plaques form between the veins.

How to propagate Philodendron Melanochrysum

The “Black Gold” Philodendron is very easy to propagate. Simply identify the nodes behind the leaves (these are where roots will grow), take a cutting just below a node, place it in your chosen medium (water, perlite, or sphagnum moss), and observe root development.

While I initially propagated this one in water, from my experience, sphagnum moss has proven to be highly effective. I prefer sphagnum moss due to its lower rotting rate and high success rate. Additionally, it helps retain humidity around the nodes, promoting successful root production.

Once the roots reach about four or five inches, transplant the cutting into the soil for a new plant. Air-layering is another popular propagation technique for this species To learn more about propagating philodendrons, read this post.

Repotting Philodendron Melanochrysum

Regular repotting of your Philodendron in fresh soil helps maintain health and growth. The best time to do this is in spring when the plant is actively growing. Choose a pot one size larger than the current pot to give the roots enough room to grow. Be sure to provide drainage holes to avoid waterlogging.

Avoid repotting it in fall or winter, as the plant is more vulnerable to stress during these dormant periods. If your Philodendron’s roots are coming out of the pot or the plant has health problems, it may be prudent to report it during the winter as well.

Is “Black Gold” Philodendron toxic?

Philodendron Melanochrysum is toxic to humans and pets if consumed due to the presence of calcium oxalate crystals. Contact with lips, eyes or sensitive skin may cause irritation, so keep this plant away from pets and young children.

FAQs

How can you identify a “Black Gold” Philodendron?

Philodendron Melanochrysum sports large, heart-shaped, intense green leaves with a velvety texture that gives it a lush and captivating appearance. The golden yellow veins traced across the foliage add a touch of contrast and beauty.

How big do “Black Gold” Philodendron leaves get?

The leaves of the “Black Gold” Philodendron can grow to be approximately 10 inches wide, creating a lush and sizable foliage. It is important to note that the plant can be quite sensitive to disturbance, particularly in the case of new growth and unfolding leaves. The foliage is also more likely to reach its full size if the plant has support such as a moss pole

Why is Philodendron Melanochrysum so expensive?

Philodendron Melanochrysum is a very rare species that is always sought after. Unfortunately, it grows extremely slowly, so plants are rarely available.

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