How to Care for Philodendron Tortum (Philodendron bipinnatifidum tortum)

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The Araceae family is full of curious and exotic members, and the Philodendron Tortum is perhaps the example that stands out the most. It is one of those plants that will either horrify you or make you fall in love.

The Philodendron bipinnatifidum “Tortum” plant is an evergreen, climbing ornamental species of the Araceae Family that originates from southeastern Brazil. It was discovered in the deep Amazon region near Manaus around 1957. Collectors and enthusiasts fell in love with it, leading to its introduction in various areas to encourage proliferation. Today, it remains a fairly rare find in the market.

This very rare plant is essentially known for its unique long, deeply lobed, reflexed leaves, which make it closely resemble a palm tree. At first glance, it does not seem like a philodendron at all since its leaves are made up of long, narrow filaments that give the appearance of a skeleton.

The young leaves come out in a corkscrew but later unfurl into a really unusual but fascinating twisted or contorted spidery shape. This foliage is typically rich green in color with a glossy texture. This twisting and curving create an interesting and visually appealing display, setting it apart from other Philodendron species. This is what makes it so special and above all…different!

Its full scientific name is Philodendron bipinnatifidum tortum. A common mistake is the incorrect capitalization of the plant’s name. It should be “Philodendron tortum,” with a lowercase species name.

Considered one of the rarest species in the Araceae family, the Philodendron Tortum is a magnificent variety with great decorative value, ideal for the interior of your home. This bushy, multistemmed vine is an epiphytic plant, which means it can grow on the trunks and branches of larger trees. It starts with aerial roots and eventually develops a terrestrial root system.

It can therefore be used as a hanging or made to climb on supports. Really a neat climbing Philodendron. The plant also has several air-purifying benefits, which include neutralizing indoor poisons such as benzene, formaldehyde, and air pollution. It loves diffused light but can also tolerate dim areas very well.

Not only will it attract the attention of your guests, but this easy-to-care-for plant will also add a natural style to any room where it is located, making it suitable for apartments or offices, even in slightly less-lit areas. This plant will definitely add a special touch to your urban jungle. It is native to the Amazon rainforest so it has adapted very well to the interior of our homes. With some simple care, you will see how well it grows.


Common NameBotanical NameFamilyTypeVariety/CultivarOriginsGroupHabitFragranceLeaf ColorFoliageFlowering ColorWidth at MaturityHeight at MaturityLight ExposureTemperatureHumidityToxic to Humans and Pets
Tree Philodendron, Fern-leaf Philodendron, Philodendron Bipinnatifidum, Philodendron “Tortum”Philodendron bipinnatifidum Tortum.AraceaePhilodendron TortumSouth-eastern BrazilPhilodendronUpright, climbing, hangingUnscentedWhite, GreenEvergreenGreen1.5 to 3 ft3 to 5 ftPartial Shade61-79 FAt least 50%Yes

Philodendron tortum care

Even though it appears delicate, cultivating it is easy when provided with good light, watering, and humidity for its younger leaves. Let’s take a closer look at all the secrets to caring for it.


First, let’s talk about its light exposure. Philodendron tortum can adapt well to slightly less bright areas in your home, despite having small leaves with highly incised margins. However, it thrives in areas where it receives plenty of bright indirect light to develop properly.

Find a well-lit place to take full advantage of its leaves. Although direct sun for many hours can harm you, a little hour early in the day can benefit you. If you see that the color of its leaves begins to pale, try to find a place with greater light.


Like all other varieties, Philodendron Tortum is somewhat drought-tolerant but prefers the soil to be kept slightly moist, especially during the summer when it’s hot and dry. In summer, water 2 or 3 times a week, and in winter, you can reduce the watering frequency to 1 or 2 times, but be sure to let the top layer of the soil dry between waterings.

This plant is and does not like being overwatered too much stagnant water at the bottom of the pot can cause root rot and kill it. A helpful tip is to water the plant when it’s about halfway dry, roughly halfway to three-quarters. You can estimate this by sticking your finger into the soil; if you feel moisture at the tip of your finger, do not water. Wait a couple of days and check again. When it finally feels dry, give it a thorough watering.


Tortum is classified as a medium humidity plant, that is, 40%-50% ambient humidity. If this increases to 70% the plant will produce many aerial roots which will make its reproduction very easy.

One solution is to place them near a humidifier or place a plate at the base of the pot with clay balls or volcanic loam and water – without touching the pot – to increase ambient humidity. Another trick is to place several plants together, they cooperate, form their own ecosystem, and share the humidity they generate with each other.


The appropriate temperature for its correct development is between 61-79 F. In winter, the temperature must be higher than 50 F, otherwise, the plant will begin to suffer. It does not tolerate extreme cold, frost, and drafty environments.

Fertitlizer and substrate

The soil requirement for this plant is aerated well-draining, soil, rich in organic matter. It needs a balanced soil with materials that retain the right moisture and also help drain excess irrigation. This is because soggy soil can lead to root rot and subsequent death of the plant.

For larger Philodendrons, a more dense batch can be created by adding coconut husk, perlite, charcoal, and, optionally, sphagnum peat moss (although it’s recommended to be cautious with the amount of sphagnum peat moss, as it tends to retain more moisture in a dense soil mix).

As for fertilizer, the plant typically benefits from being fertilized every 15 or 20 days during the growing season, especially when new leaves are developing. You can use a little liquid fertilizer by dissolving it in irrigation water or choose to add fertilizer sticks every 2 months. The fertilizer provides a nutrient boost that is beneficial for the large green leaves of the Philodendron.

Is tree philodendron toxic to cats?

Philodendron Tortum is a toxic plant for children and pets as is the case with all philodendron varieties. It contains calcium oxalate and can cause irritation or pain if bitten. We recommend keeping it away from them or finding a location where they cannot access it. If you think they may have ingested it, go quickly to your nearest veterinarian.

How to propagate Philodendron bipinnatifidum (Philodendron tortum).

Philodendron tortum propagation can be done through cuttings or by air layering. Wait until the last leaf unfurled and hardened before propagating it and gently clean the leaves with soap before propagating in case there are mealy bugs or scale insects. Soak each leaf using a natural soap, ensuring that it covers all surfaces, and then rinse the plant thoroughly with clean water.

Now, proceed with the propagation. Cut between three nodes, ensuring to get good roots. The first cutting, with a well-established root system, goes straight into the soil. The second cutting, with fewer roots, might go in water first to develop more roots. The final cutting will be rooted in water as well.

Propagating pilodendron tortum by cuttings.

Pot up the cuttings, considering the orientation of the plant. Air roots prefer a chunkier mix, and for propagation, water every one to two days. For the soil mix, use a fast-draining blend with cocoa coir, perlite, vermiculite, and burnt rice hulls. Make the mix to ensure the right consistency.

Add slow-release fertilizer and give the plant a good drink. The propagated plants will likely go outside. Remember, when watering, bring the plant to the sink to ensure thorough drainage. Remember, when watering, bring the plant to the sink to ensure thorough drainage. Excess water can lead to root rot.

Pruning Philodendron tortum.

Pruning should be minimal, and it’s okay if the plant grows a bit messy. If you notice any issues with the plant, like blackening leaves, use a sterilized blade to trim affected areas. Additionally, keep an eye out for potential pests like aphids, thrips, or mealybugs, and use appropriate methods to combat them.

If you’re interested in adding this unique plant to your collection, check out our online shop. If you have any questions or doubts about its care and cultivation, feel free to leave them in the comments section. Don’t forget to like and subscribe to our YouTube channel for more plant-related content.

Repotting Philodendron tortum

To repot philodendron tortum, start by carefully removing the plant from its current pot, observing its roots, and assessing the condition. If the roots appear somewhat small, it is an indicator that it might have been due for a repot sooner. After separating the roots and cleaning them in a bowl of water, begin adding a new mix to a larger pot (one with a wider but shorter structure).

This mix includes coco coir, fur bark, perlite, pumice, charcoal, mica, dynamico, and osmocote. Additionally, replace the old stake with a bamboo stake for better support. It is very important not to skimp on the substrate since the future development of our plant depends on it.

The plant will be placed in the new pot, filling it with the updated mix. Spread the roots out as you add the soil, ensuring they’re not all in the same spot. The plant is then stabilized in the pot, and do not water it immediately to allow the roots to adjust.

Repotting Philodendron tortum

When repotting, also ensure there are roots coming out of the drainage holes. While there may be some concern about the smaller roots, remain optimistic about the plant’s future. Provide some humidity as it recovers.

For fertilizer, use a variety of options, and the plant also has slow-release fertilizer in its mix. Pests have never been an issue for this plant, making it a low-maintenance and resilient addition to my collection.

Why does my philodendron tortum have yellow leaves?

Yellow and floppy philodendron tortum leaves are usually a result of root rot, caused by overwatering. In this case, have to cut off the bad roots and propagate the plant. Also, once the leaves have turned yellow, you might as well remove them from the plant because they can not revert to green.

Why is my philodendron tortum drooping?

Wrinkled leaves can be a symptom that the environmental humidity is not correct. To solve this, you can use a humidifier or manually spray the plant. Additionally, drooping in your Philodendron tortum could be a sign of underwatering or overwatering. Ensure you are following a consistent watering schedule and allowing the soil to dry slightly between waterings.

Inadequate light conditions might also contribute to drooping; make sure your plant is receiving the appropriate amount of light for its needs. Finally, consider checking the plant for any signs of pests or diseases, as they can also cause drooping.

Occasionally, it may be affected by an attack by aphids and cottony mealybugs, but early detection of the problem will be key to solving it. By addressing these factors, you can help your Philodendron tortum regain its vitality and maintain a healthy appearance.

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