How to Grow and Care for Philodendron Cordatum

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Philodendron cordatum is a rare and beautiful aroid species. Although this plant is available from time to time, most specimens sold are actually mislabeled heartleaf philodendrons. If you are lucky enough to own a specimen of the true species, you can follow the tips in this guide to keep it happy and growing it in your home.

The true Philo cordatum is a climbing vine from the Araceae family. It is native to the Atlantic coastal area of ​​southeastern Brazil where it grows on other plants and sometimes on rocks.

The leaves of Philodendron Cordatum can reach lengths of over 2 feet and have a diameter of around 16 inches. The petiole, or leaf stalk, can also grow up to 2 feet long, adding to the plant’s impressive stature.

The leaves are dark green and shiny on top, but dull underneath. The petiole and midrib of the leaf are often speckled with extra-floral nectaries.

Cordatum leaf shape is similar to the the Philodendron verrucosum Gloriosum. Also there is no philodendron cordatum brasil or philodendron cordatum neon.

This species is a climbing plant that will like to grow on a moss pole or other structure as it does in the wild. There is relatively little written about caring for this plant, but it is likely that it thrives in the same conditions as other hemi-epiphytic philodendrons.

What is the difference between Philodendron Cordatum and Hederaceum (Heartleaf)?

The confusion surrounding the Philodendron Cordatum arises from the misnaming of the plant over time specifically, from the word “cordatum”, which actually translates to “heart-shaped.”

When searching for Philodendron Cordatum on the internet, one will often come across this plant, which is commonly sold under that name. In fact, reputable sellers may unknowingly perpetuate this misnomer, leading to further confusion among plant enthusiasts.

While both the Philodendron Cordatum and Philodendron Hederaceum share similarities, there are distinct features that set them apart. One notable difference is the intense veining present in the Philodendron Hederaceum. These veins are lighter in color and create a visually striking pattern. In contrast, the heart-leaf Philodendron lacks this prominent veining, even at its mature size.

The true form of Cordatum has the red speckles on the upper leaf veins. The extremely glossy leaves grow to two and a half feet in length and about 18 inches wide at maturity. This philodendron is very fast growing and branches freely in all directions. You can fully dress your favorite trees in just a few years.

Another distinguishing characteristic of the true Philodendron Cordatum is the presence of extrafloral nectaries. These nectaries appear as small spots on the stem of the plant, often mistaken for mold or imperfections. However, these spots are actually glands that produce nectar.

Extrafloral nectaries are an evolutionary development and serve as a self-defense mechanism for the plant. They attract ants and other insects, forming a mutualistic relationship where both parties benefit. Ants are drawn to the sweet sap produced by the nectaries and, in turn, protect the plant from other insect invaders. These nectaries may also attract beetles and other insects that aid in pollination.

Unlike the Philodendron Cordatum, which has thicker stems and prefers to grow upright, the Philodendron Hederaceum thrives when allowed to vine down and attach itself to surfaces. This trailing growth habit contributes to the plant’s overall size and appearance.

Philodendron Cordatum care

Light

Like most other philodendron species, Philodendron Cordatum thrives in bright, indirect light. However, observations of this plant in the wild indicate that it can also tolerate direct sunlight. It is best to provide it with bright, filtered light to maintain its optimal growth.

Water

Philodendrons like a moist growing environment, but overwatering should be avoided. Water the plant thoroughly when the top inch of the soil feels dry to the touch. Ensure that the soil is uniformly moist, but never saturated. The frequency of watering will depend on factors such as the time of year, growing conditions, and the growth rate of the plant.

A good watering schedule and appropriate lighting will go a long way in preventing infestations and other potential problems like root rot and leaf blight.

Temperature and Humidity

Philodendron Cordatum is native to a warm and humid climate. To promote its best growth, try to replicate these conditions. However, philodendrons are generally adaptable to the relatively low humidity levels found in most homes.

Aim for a temperature range of 65-85°F (18-29°C) and maintain moderate humidity levels around the plant.

Soil

Philodendron Cordatum requires a well-draining growing medium to prevent root rot. A mixture of regular potting soil, orchid bark, and perlite can provide the plant with a well-drained, aerated, and nutrient-rich medium for optimal root development.

Fertilizer

Philodendron Cordatum benefits from regular fertilization. Apply a balanced liquid fertilizer once or twice a month during the active growing season. It is advisable to dilute the recommended concentration to avoid over-fertilization. Excess fertilizer can build up around the roots and become toxic, so periodic rinsing of the soil with deep watering can help remove any excess.

Pruning

Philodendron Cordatum generally does not require frequent pruning. However, you may occasionally need to remove old or dying leaves. When pruning, use a sharp and sterile tool to cut the petiole close to the stem.

Propagation

This plant can be propagated from stem cuttings with a node. These cuttings can be rooted in water, sphagnum moss or soil and then transplanted once healthy roots have developed.

Repotting

Philodendron Cordatum should be repotted every 1-2 years, or when it becomes root-bound. Signs that it’s time to repot include roots growing out of the drainage holes, slow growth, or the plant becoming top-heavy and unstable in its current pot.

Choose a slightly larger pot with drainage holes, prepare it with a well-draining potting mix, and gently remove the plant from its current pot. Inspect the roots, trim any damaged ones, and place the plant in the new pot at the same depth.

Add more potting mix, and water thoroughly, and provide post-repot care in a location with bright, indirect light. 

Common pests and diseases of Philodendron Cordatum

Philodendron Cordatum is generally resistant to pests. However, it is important to regularly inspect your plant for common pests such as aphids, spider mites, and mealybugs. The presence of extrafloral nectaries on the leaves may attract ants, but they do not harm the plant.

Maintaining a proper watering schedule, appropriate lighting, and good overall care will help prevent infestations and potential problems like root rot and leaf blight.

Does Philo Cordatum flower?

The species produces greenish-cream inflorescences that turn pink or red when mature. This plant is known to bloom throughout the spring and summer in its natural habitat. Flowering is, however, quite rare in indoor specimens.

Is Philo Cordatum toxic?

This plant is toxic if consumed due to the presence of an irritant known as calcium oxalate. These crystals can also irritate the eyes and sensitive skin. Place the plant out of reach of pets and young children to avoid any accidents.

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