How to Care for Philodendron Rugosum (Pig Skin Philodendron)

Spread the love

In today’s post, I’d like you to get to know a little more about the philodendron rugosum, also known as the pigskin philodendron.

This is a peculiar specimen of the Araceae family, native to the hot and humid forests of Ecuador and Peru. It is known for its large, heart-shaped (an oval to lanceolate shape), leathery leaves with a texture that resembles wrinkles which gave it the popular name “Pig Skin Philodendron”.

These leaves can grow into an impressive 13 inches and have a pattern of marked veins, giving it a textured and rough appearance. The color of these leaves varies from a shiny dark green to olive green, with wavy margins and stems that may have a reddish hue creating a striking contrast.

Philodendron rugosum is a slower-growing variety that widens as it grows, with the trunk becoming semi-woody with a cone-like shape, similar to that of a Thaumatophyllum. However, the woody stem structure of the latter is thicker and denser than that of the rugosum.

Like many other climbing philodendrons, the rugosum grows, looping around and bunching up onto a tree, or any available support. This is made possible due to the presence of aerial roots that develop as the plant matures, aiding in its climbing and support process. It can therefore be grown both in pots and in climbing supports, making it a versatile option for decorating interior spaces.

Is Philodendron rugosum rare?

Unfortunately, this Philodendron is threatened with severe extinction, mainly due to the loss of its natural habitat. It was initially described in 1983 and got its name due to its rough texture, which attracts a lot of attention.

Today, it is an extremely expensive and difficult-to-find species due to its endemic nature and threats of extinction. However, it is extremely easy to care for in the ideal environment and is highly appreciated for its beauty and exclusivity compared to other philodendrons. 

Its attractive foliage will add a tropical touch to any space, making it ideal for lovers of exotic plants looking for a touch of nature indoors and those who wish to have a low-maintenance climbing plant with a stunning visual impact.

Despite this, you must reflect when wanting to care for one, as it is an endangered species.

Caring for Philodendron Rugosum

Just like the Philodendron hastatum and subhastatum, Philodendron rugosum doesn’t need extensive care, just a warm, humid environment, with good indirect lighting. Here are some care guidelines you can follow to have a healthy plant.


This philodendron prefers bright, indirect light like near a window with light curtains or a safe distance from bright light sources. In case there is limited natural light, you can use grow lights as an alternative.

If they are grown in a place that is too dark, the leaves may wilt and become yellow due to the plant’s inability to photosynthesize smaller. Similarly, you need to avoid placing it in direct sunlight as this will burn the leaves.


Philodendron rugosum prefers moderate to high humidity levels, at least 50%, to grow properly. If the room where it is located is too dry, It is advisable to use a humidifier or place the pot on a bed of clay balls to collect excess water and increase the humidity of the air. This also prevents the pot from standing in stagnant water and root rot.

You can also group your rugosum with other similar plants so that they can create their own ecosystem. The idea is to try to imitate the humid habitat that Philodendron rugosum is used to.

Spraying or misting the leaves regularly can also help maintain moisture around the plant. This is necessary, especially on dry days as the dry air turns their edges brown. Also, keep the species away from drafty areas like vents and near air conditioners. 


Like most philodendrons, watering should be moderate, allowing the soil to dry before watering again. This can be done 2 to 3 times a week during the hot season and 1 to 2 times a week during winter.

The key thing is to water the philodendron when the top layer of soil is dry to the touch. You can do this by poking your finger in the substrate to check for the moisture level. Avoid soaking the soil, as water accumulation in the roots can lead to problems such as rot and yellowing of the leaves. In dry or very hot periods, always spray the leaves in the morning.


When it comes to the temperature requirements of the Philodendron rugosum, it is important to maintain between 65 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit during the day and 60 to 65 degrees Fahrenheit at night so that the plant can grow properly. Avoid putting it in cold or chilly areas, especially during winter.

Soil and substrate

Philodendron rugosum must be planted in a well-draining substrate soil – that is, a mixture of potting soil and perlite or vermiculite. This not only provides a nutritious substrate so that the plant grows properly but also prevents excess water from accumulating in the roots.


This philodendron does NOT need much fertilization but it is recommended to apply a balanced indoor plant fertilizer during the growing season (spring and summer), approximately every four weeks.

Pruning and repotting

Like most Philodendrons, Philodendron rugosum tolerates pruning well. It is important to regularly remove dead or diseased leaves and branches to keep the plant healthy and looking impressive. You can use a pair of sterilized garden shears to cut off the unwanted parts.

Repotting, on the other hand, is usually done in a larger container when the roots become tight in the current pot. Simply shake the plant to loosen it and remove it from the old pot. Next, remove the old substrate from the plant and untangle any overgrown roots.

After completing these steps, transfer the plant to a larger pot or continue with a new potting mix. You can use any type of container, as long as it has good drainage to prevent water from accumulating at the bottom.

Philodendron rugosum propagation

Philodendron rugosum can be propagated through stem cuttings planted in a moist cultivation substrate, creating small plants. This is usually done if the stems become too long.

Other methods of propagation include air layering, division, and tissue culture. To learn more about propagating philodendrons, read this post;

How to Propagate Philodendrons: 4 Easy Ways

Climbing supports for Philodendron rugosum

Philodendron rugosum is a climbing plant that requires supports like moss poles or trellises. Using a larger pole results in a bigger plant compared to smaller moss poles, preventing instability ( the larger and sturdier they are, the better, especially for larger plants.).

Consider cutting big pieces of wood or using trellises for those with bigger pots and filling them with some moss. If you’re growing them indoors, adapt accordingly, but overall, the plant thrives with regular spraying to keep the moss moist.


Is Philodendron Rugosum toxic to pets?

Yes, this plant can be toxic to humans, dogs, and cats if ingested. It is recommended to keep it out of the reach of children and pets.

Is Philodendron Rugosum easy to care for?

Yes, this plant is easy to care for and requires little care to stay healthy and look stunning. Just make sure to water it properly and place it in a location with bright, indirect light.

How can I propagate Philodendron Rugosum?

This plant can be easily propagated through stem or leaf cuttings. You just have to make sure the cuttings have at least one node and place them in a moist substrate until they root.

What diseases can Philodendron Rugosum suffer from?

It can suffer from fungal or bacterial diseases if it is given too much water or placed in a place with poor ventilation. It can also be attacked by pests such as mites, aphids, and mealybugs. Pay attention to possible spots on the leaves that may indicate fungal diseases.

How big can a Philodendron rugosum get?

Potted rugosums can grow up to 4 feet wide and 6 feet tall, while those in the wild can grow over 10 feet tall, climbing on trees.

The leaves grow larger over time and can measure up to around 13 inches. They are usually Heart-shaped when the Philodendron rugosum is young but ake on a round round shape when mature.

What is the nickname for the Philodendron rugosum?

A common nickname for Philodendron rugosum is “Pigskin Philodendron” This is because the rubbery and rough texture of the leaves, especially the mature ones, somewhat resembles a pigskin.

Is Philodendron rugosum indoor plant?

The philodendron, due to its tropical origins, can hardly survive outdoors during the winter. It should therefore be grown strictly indoors unless you live in a region where winter frosts are rare and weak

Why is my philodendron rugosum turning yellow?

If the leaves of your philodendron rugosum are turning yellow, it could be a sign of overwatering. Let the soil dry before watering again.

Growing philodendron rugosum can be a rewarding experience for any indoor plant lover. With proper care, your philodendron will thrive and decorate your home with its unique, velvety foliage. If you have any questions, feel free to ask. Take care and have a great day!

Latest Posts






Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *