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How to Care for Philodendron McDowell?

Difficult to get a hold of, yet all the more beautiful, the Philodendron McDowell is a cross between Philodendron pastazanum and Philodendron gloriosum. The hybrid was created in 1988 by John Banta and supposedly carries the name of his friend, “Dean McDowell”.

The McDowell features large, heart-shaped leaves with prominent white veins set against a dark green color.

As a cultivar, this philodendron is easy to grow both indoors and out. Its keeping requirements aren’t radically different from other philodendron varieties, which makes it easy to successfully grow it.

If you manage to get your hands on this philodendron hybrid, here’s what you should know about its care:

Size & Growth

This isn’t a tall growing philodendron since it’s a ground-dwelling variety that prefers to trail instead of climbing. Therefore, its mature height is only around 2-3 feet.

But what it lacks in height, it certainly makes up in spread. The philodendron McDowell to a maximum of 6.5 feet.

The growth rate of the plant indoors is influenced by a number of factors like temperature, sun exposure, soil, watering, etc., however, the plant is unlikely to grow larger than 3 feet.

Light Requirements

The McDowell philodendron prefers part shade and does best in filtered light. It should not be exposed to strong, direct light, especially without acclimating it first to new light conditions.

Strong sun exposure can result in leaf burn, so it’s wise to avoid it. When keeping the plant outdoors, I recommend you choose a spot that’s shaded during parts of the day when the sun shines down the strongest.

While partial shade is ideal, dark shade will not do for the McDowell, so make sure that it gets enough filtered or dappled light during the day.

Watering

Like most philodendron varieties, this variety too enjoys medium moist soil. An overwatered soil will most likely cause rotting at the level of the roots.

The soil should not be allowed to go completely dry either or else the large leaves of the plant will wilt.

To keep a good watering balance, allow the top level of the soil to dry, thus ensuring that the plant is neither under-watered nor over-watered.

Simply poke a finger into the soil or use a moisture probe for an accurate assessment of the level of moisture.

The soil type has a crucial role in making sure that any excess water is swiftly drained from the pot.

Soil Type

For your philodendron McDowell, pick a potting mix high in organic matter. Combinations of perlite, sphagnum moss, peat, orchid bark, coconut coir, compost and other well-draining mixes are the most favored by philodendrons.

Avoid heavy soil prone to compacting and waterlogging. You need the potting medium to retain moisture without becoming overly wet.

And of course, you also need drain holes on your pot for excess water to escape. What’s more, drain holes are also useful for watering the plant from below. That is, placing water in the saucer of the pot, allowing the plant and soil to soak it up as needed.

Temperature & Humidity

The temperature range for philodendron McDowell should be between 55 and 80 F. If your plant is kept outdoors, you will need to move it indoors in the fall, when temperatures start to dip below 60 F.

Like other philodendrons, this isn’t a cold-tolerant one, let alone frost resistant. It takes well to indoor temperatures and adapts even to the average humidity levels we have indoors.

When the air in your home gets to dry, you may want to help humidity levels stay within a range that works for your philodendron too.

A humidifier, a tray of pebbles with water or grouping together multiple philodendrons can be beneficial to your humidity-loving plants.

Fertilizing

For my philodendrons I use a time release fertilizer two or three times a year. But you can use a liquid fertilizer too, monthly or at the frequency recommended by the manufacturer.

Pick a high-quality, water-soluble, organic fertilizer and fertilize 6 inches away from the base. Don’t use more fertilizer than what’s recommended nor should you use it more often.

Philodendrons aren’t heavy feeders, they can do great with little fertilizing, so don’t be too generous with it or you risk over-fertilizing the plant.

Potting & Repotting

Juvenile philodendrons will come in 6” or 8” pots. As the plant grows and develops, you will need to move up the pot size, especially when roots become pot bound.

You may end up with 10” or 20” pots, and from there on your philo may not need as frequent repotting since it will reach maturity and its growth will significantly slow down.

Repotting can also be beneficial as a way to freshen up the potting mix. It’s also a good time to inspect the roots for any signs of disease and remove parts that are no longer viable.

How to Propagate Philodendron Mcdowell?

You can propagate this variety via stem cuttings or rhizomes. When repotting, you can divide the root, making sure sections feature at least two shoots.

Stem cuttings can be propagated in water or moist potting medium. For best results, harvest stem cuttings in spring, making sure there are a few leaf nodes on.

If you’re rooting in water, make sure to replace the water every 2-3 days. Using rooting hormone is optional, but it does help the plant to put out roots a bit sooner than without.

Once the roots are around an inch long, you can place the new Philodendron McDowell in its own pot.

Wrapping Up

If you’re looking for a trailing philodendron variety with large, puckered leaves, the philodendron McDowell is one variety to consider. It’s not as widely available as other varieties, but there are nurseries that do carry it.

The advantage of this variety is that it stays at a manageable height. It does need space, however, since it does spread quite a bit.

As for its keeping requirements, the rules are the same as for other philodendrons — filtered light, medium watering, fast-draining soil and only a bit of fertilizing.

Updated: May 5, 2021

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