How to Care for Philodendron Gigas?
A sought-after philodendron variety, the philodendron Gigas stands out with its huge velvety leaves that feature multiple shades of green or copper as the plant matures over time.
Because of the high demand for this plant, it’s often very difficult to source it, so if you do manage to find one in your local garden center, make sure to grab it before it’s out of stock again.
Once you do manage to source a philodendron gigas, you also need to know how to take care of it. The plant care tips I’ve compiled below will help you do just that.
Size & Growth
Under the right circumstances, the philodendron gigas can climb to reach 8-10 feet in height. Leaves can also grow to become quite sizable, some reaching well over 3 feet in length.
It can also be grown in hanging baskets. Leaves will display a range of colors from olive green to deeper shades and even copper.
Because the plant has a climbing growth pattern, it requires some sort of support structure so it can grow upwards without problems.
They’re fast growers, so you need to account for it doubling or even tripling in its size during a single year.
When grown in low light environments, there’s a risk that the plant will grow leggy or that leaves don’t reach their full size.
Direct sunlight should be avoided. The velvety leaves of the plant will easily get damaged if the plant is exposed to strong direct sun.
Indoors, pick a location near an east or west facing window. A south-facing window will work only if it’s properly screened. Outdoors, the philodendron gigas should be planted in a relatively shady location.
The watering needs of tropical plants can be baffling for the uninitiated, but you shouldn’t feel too intimidated by this.
The key in watering the Gigas is also moderation. You don’t want the soil to always be going dry, but you also don’t want it to be continuously wet or soggy.
Allow the top levels of the soil to dry, then water deeply, making sure excess water manages to escape the pot and it’s discarded from the saucer.
If you want the plant to grow faster, some gardeners suggest allowing the soil to dry completely, which triggers a water stress response in the plant, causing it to grow spectacularly after it’s watered again.
If you’re happy with how your Gigas is doing, there’s no need to go into extremes, so moderate watering and a good schedule will lead to steady growth too.
Keep water off the leaves, though. Moist leaves can be a breeding ground for fungi, which will eventually cause leaf problems.
Like with all philodendron varieties, a fast-draining mix should be the only potting media you should consider.
The soil should retain moisture, but not hold water or become compacted. Ideal potting mixes for the philodendron gigas includes a combination of orchid bark, perlite, sphagnum moss, horticultural charcoal and worm castings.
You can create your own mix by using equal parts of the above or reach for the commercially available ones.
Temperature & Humidity
The ideal temperature range for the philodendron gigas is between 55 F and 88 F. Don’t allow the temperature to dip below 50 F.
Keep the plant away from cold drafts, AC vents, heat vents and other sources of extreme temperatures.
As the tropical plants they are, philodendrons thrive in a humid environment. Humidity levels between 60-80% would be ideal.
However, those levels are too high for human comfort, so a humidity level around 60% will please both you and your Gigas. The plant can adapt to lower humidity levels, provided that its watering needs are being met.
Use a low-dose fertilizer to apply weekly or less frequently during the growing months. You can use liquid fertilizers or even slow-release ones.
Make sure to dilute the fertilizer so you don’t end up causing chemical burns in the plant or a build-up of fertilizer in the soil.
In fall you should cut back on the fertilizer, while in winter you should hold it off entirely since the plant is not actively growing and it doesn’t need extra nutrients.
Potting & Repotting
Pot in a pot that drains well, so that any excess water can find its way out of the pot. Repotting is not something you actively need to worry about, however, there are situations when a repotting is called for:
- When the roots are visibly crammed or poking out of the pot.
- When there’s a risk of overfertilizing and the soil needs changing.
- When there’s an overwatering issue and roots need to be inspected for damage or disease.
Pick a pot that’s only one size up to the previous one and cut away any sections of the roots that are mushy or diseased.
How to Propagate Philodendron Gigas?
Philodendron gigas is most easily propagated from stem cuttings. Take 4-6-inch cuttings in spring and root them in water or moist potting medium.
Make sure the cutting has a couple of leaf nodes on, remove the leaves from the lower nodes and place the cut end in water or plant in a moist potting medium. Dabbing it in a bit of rooting hormone can help, but it’s entirely optional.
When rooting in water, the water needs to be replaced frequently. Roots will start appearing in a couple of weeks, after which you can transfer the cutting to its own pot.
The Philodendron Gigas is not as readily available compared to other philodendron varieties, but you may be lucky to find one in your local garden center.
The growing requirements of this variety are very much in line with the growing requirements of other philodendrons, so if you’ve already taken care of one, you will very likely do good by your Gigas variety too.
Overwatering and direct sun exposure might be the two most tricky things in the plant care regimen of this plant, so play close attention to how much sun your plant is getting and whether they’re getting too much or too little water.