Philodendron McDowell Species Profile & Care Guide

The Philodendron McDowell, a charismatic hybrid from the Philodendron genus, is coveted for its elegance and versatility.

It is celebrated amongst the indoor planting community for its robust health, striking visuals and low maintenance, making it an ideal plant for both novice and experienced gardeners.

Philodendron McDowell

Profile Overview

The Philodendron McDowell is a fascinating species of plant with a unique appearance and growth pattern.

  • Common Name: Philodendron McDowell
  • Scientific Name: Philodendron ‘McDowell’
  • Family: Araceae
  • Origin/Native Region: Hybrid species without an exact native region, but Philodendron genus native to the tropical Americas.
  • Growth Habit: Epiphytic habit when mature, climbing and trailing when young with an ability to support itself on a structure for vertical growth.

This plant makes an attractive addition to any collection due to its attractive foliage and adaptable nature. It stands out due to its interesting growth habit and the look it brings to your plant collection.


The Philodendron McDowell is a beautiful, robust plant and a true showstopper in any indoor garden. It has distinctive, large leaves which are typically elongated oval to heart-shaped, giving an impressive display of foliage.

The leaves are of a rich, velvety deep green color, which can often appear almost black in certain lights. Smooth and shiny, they have a leathery texture that contributes to the plant’s overall handsome look.

This plant’s stems are solid, sturdy, and have a deep green color that perfectly matches the leaves. The plant grows in a spreading manner, forming a plant of overall magnificent glory.

Leaf Size

The Philodendron McDowell possesses leaves that can reach impressive sizes, especially when provided with optimal care. Mature leaves have been known to reach up to 3 feet in length, offering a stunning display of lush, vibrant green foliage.

Few indoor plants can rival the Philodendron McDowell when it comes to the size of its leaves. The massive leaf size contributes significantly to the plant’s overall magnitude and appeal, making it a popular choice among houseplant enthusiasts who wish to create a lush, tropical ambiance in their homes.

The size of the leaves is an important factor to consider when planning for its placement and care.

Leaf Shape

The Philodendron McDowell sports leaves that are aesthetically pleasing because of their unique shape. The distinct lanceolate shape of the leaves is one of its exceptional features.

Lanceolate refers to a shape that’s broadest in the middle and tapers towards the base and the tip. This shape lends a striking appearance to the plant and makes it stand out among other Philodendron species.

Remember to provide enough space for the Philodendron McDowell plant to accommodate this leaf structure when you place it in your indoor or outdoor space. Its leaves are a beautiful spectacle to witness as they unfurl from a rolled-up formation and present their splendor.

Leaf Color

In Philodendron McDowell, leaves vary in color throughout their lifespan, showcasing a beautiful variety of shades. The new leaves unfurl as a bright burgundy or rich copper color, depending upon the light exposure it receives, adding an exotic splash of color to your indoor or outdoor gardens.

As the leaves mature, they gradually transition to a striking deep green color, providing an interesting contrast and depth to the plant. The undersides of the leaves tend to be a lighter shade, creating a delightful two-tone effect.

All these color variations make the Philodendron McDowell a visually appealing and dramatic addition to any plant collection.

Philodendron McDowell foliage

Stem Characteristics

The stem of the Philodendron McDowell is quite sturdy and can reach impressive heights, supporting the extensive foliage with strength. They are generally thick and chunky, with a slightly ridged texture that gives them an added layer of interest.

Light green in color, the stems may darken with maturity. They are known for their “self-heading” characteristic, which means they grow upright without needing any support.

However, they appreciate having a pole or some sort of climbing aid to help them reach their maximum potential height. Furthermore, root nodules, which aid in propagation, will often form along the stem.

Mature Size

The Philodendron McDowell can attain an impressive size with the right care. Mature specimens typically reach heights between 3 to 5 feet, and an equivalent width. However, the size can vary depending on its growing conditions and care routine.

Growth can be controlled through pruning, and this plant can be tailored to fit smaller spaces if needed. Remember, large and healthy Philodendron McDowell plants indicate that they are growing in optimal conditions and receiving the right care.

Maintaining the appropriate size of your McDowell is an essential part of your plant care responsibilities to ensure its well-being.

Care Requirements

Caring for your Philodendron McDowell involves meeting its specific needs in terms of light, watering, temperature, and soil type. This lush philodendron species has requirements that are crucial for its growth and development, ensuring that it remains vibrant and healthy.

By understanding its native habitat and the conditions it naturally thrives in, you can recreate an ideal environment no matter where you’re located. In the following sections, we’ll delve into the precise amount of light and water this species requires, the temperature range it prefers, and the soil type and pH level that best suits it.

Light Needs

The Philodendron McDowell is a species that thrives in bright, indirect light. It can tolerate lower light conditions, but its growth may slow and its leaves may lose some of their vibrant color.

Direct sunlight can scorche the leaves, causing them to turn yellow or brown. An east or north-facing window is typically an ideal location. If you’re placing it further back in a room away from windows or in a space with lesser natural light, you can supplement with fluorescent lights.

Adjust the lighting needs based on how your plant responds and grows.

Watering Frequency

Philodendron McDowell is not a drought-tolerant plant and requires consistent moisture. However, it’s crucial to avoid overwatering, as this can lead to root rot.

Try to keep the soil lightly moist but not waterlogged. During the growing season, this might mean watering your plant once a week or when the top inch of soil feels dry to touch. Reduce watering during the winter months, but don’t let the soil dry out completely.

Always ensure that your pot has excellent drainage to prevent standing water, which could harm the plant’s roots. Your McDowell will appreciate this careful balance of moisture.

Humidity Preferences

The Philodendron McDowell thrives best in high humidity environments. Its native tropical habitat means it has adapted to moist conditions and responds well to humidity levels of 50% or higher.

This can be achieved either naturally in humid climates, or artificially using humidifiers, pebble trays with water, or frequent misting. Note that during the drier winter months, you may need to increase efforts to maintain humidity.

It’s crucial to monitor the humidity levels for your Philodendron McDowell, as too low humidity can result in brown leaf edges, while too much can encourage mold growth.

Temperature Range

The Philodendron McDowell thrives in warm environments and can adapt to a wide temperature range. It prefers temperatures between 65°F and 85°F (18°C – 29°C).

However, it can tolerate cooler conditions down to 60°F (15°C) as long as it’s not prolonged. Extreme cold or sudden temperature fluctuations can stress the plant, leading to leaf drop or discoloration.

Remember to keep your McDowell away from drafts, air conditioners, and heating vents to prevent sudden temperature changes. If you live in a temperate climate, your McDowell can happily stay outdoors during the summer months. However, bring it indoors before the first frost hits.

Soil Type & pH Preferences

The Philodendron McDowell thrives best in nutrient-rich, well-draining soil. It has a preference for peat-based potting mix, which caters to the plant’s need for a slightly acidic environment.

As such, maintaining the soil’s pH level between 5.0 and 6.0 is optimal for this philodendron variety. Overly alkaline or overly acidic soil can hinder its growth and overall health.

Regularly monitoring and adjusting the soil pH as necessary is a critical aspect of caring for your Philodendron McDowell.

Remember, effective drainage is essential to avoid waterlogging the soil, which can lead to root rot and other complications.

Growth & Propagation

The Philodendron McDowell exhibits a moderate growth rate, meaning you’ll have ample time to enjoy the transformation as it matures.

This plant requires some level of commitment, as it propagates best via stem cuttings, which should be taken during its active growth season of spring and early summer.

As for potting and repotting, you should only upgrade pot size once the roots have fully established in the current container, usually every 2-3 years.

Remember to repot in the same period as taking cuttings, to capitalize on its active growth phase.

Growth Rate

The Philodendron McDowell is not the fastest growing philodendron species but nor is it the slowest. It demonstrates a moderate growth rate, sprouting new leaves and stems every few weeks in the right growing conditions.

From sprout to maturity, it may take this plant a few years. Its growth can be influenced by factors including humidity, light, temperature, watering, soil quality, and the use of fertilizers.

With the right care and attention, you can enjoy the beautiful transformation of your Philodendron McDowell from a small plant to a stunning showpiece in your indoor or outdoor garden.

Propagation Methods

Propagation of the Philodendron McDowell can be achieved through stem cuttings or by air layering. The stem cutting method involves cutting a mature stem below a node, then placing it in water or moist soil to root.

Be sure to keep the conditions warm and humid to encourage root growth. Air layering is a slightly more complex method where a notch is cut into the stem and is then wrapped in moist sphagnum moss and plant wrap until roots appear.

Once rooted, the new plant can be detached and planted separately. Both methods, however, took time and patience in order to succeed.

Season of Active Growth

For the Philodendron McDowell, active growth typically occurs during the warm and humid summer months. During this period, the plant experiences a significant increase in its overall growth and development.

However, it is important that you maintain the appropriate care guidelines throughout this season. This includes providing optimal lighting, consistent watering, and a properly balanced soil mix.

Keep in mind that the Philodendron McDowell’s growth will slow or even go dormant during the cooler winter months, allowing it to conserve energy.

Understanding this growth cycle can help you better cater to the plant’s needs and contribute to its long-term health and vibrancy.

Potting and Repotting Recommendations

For the Philodendron McDowell, choosing the correct pot is crucial for its optimal growth. Initially, it’s recommended to start with a small pot as the plant likes to be slightly root-bound.

A pot with good drainage is essential to prevent waterlogging and root rot. As for repotting, it generally needs to be done every 2-3 years, or when you notice the plant is starting to outgrow its container.

This is also the perfect time to refresh the soil. Always make sure to use a pot that’s one size larger than the previous one to allow for healthy root expansion.

Potential Issues

When growing the Philodendron McDowell, you may face several potential issues that could affect the health and beauty of your plant. These issues could stem from pests, diseases, or other sensitivities that the plant may have.

Being aware of these potential problems and knowing how to prevent or treat them will help ensure the successful cultivation of your Philodendron McDowell.

Common Pests

Philodendron McDowell, like other houseplants, could be susceptible to common pests, particularly when stressed due to inappropriate care.

The most common pests that target this species include aphids, spider mites, mealybugs, and scale insects. Aphids suck sap from the stems, causing deformed and stunted growth.

Spider mites invade the undersides of leaves, resulting in a dusty, mottled appearance. Mealybugs and scale insects drain plant juices, resulting in yellowed leaves and stunted growth.

Regular pest inspections, proper watering, and humidity control can help keep these pests at bay, ensuring the sustainability of your Philodendron McDowell.

Common Diseases

The Philodendron McDowell is quite resistant to diseases but certain conditions can still affect this species. These can include root rot, caused by overwatering, and leaf spot diseases, often due to high humidity or water splashed on the leaves.

More severe infections can lead to bacterial leaf blight or fungal leaf spots, especially when the plant is stressed from overwatering or insufficient sunlight. Several types of mould can also affect the leaves, particularly in poor air circulation conditions.

Maintain proper watering and light levels and ensure good air movement to prevent these issues. Also, isolate the plant if a disease is suspected to prevent spread.

Other Sensitivities

The Philodendron McDowell, while relatively hardy, has certain sensitivities. It is crucial to avoid sudden dramatic changes in light, temperature or humidity as it can stress the plant, potentially leading to yellowed leaves or slowed growth.

Moreover, the McDowell is sensitive to overwatering, which can result in root rot. Therefore, it is essential to maintain a consistent watering schedule, allowing the top inch of soil to dry between watering sessions.

Lastly, this species is intolerant to direct, scorching sunlight, which can cause leaf burn. Always aim for bright, indirect light to ensure your McDowell thrives.

Special Features & Uses

Philodendron McDowell are wonderfully unique houseplants with a fair bit of decorative appeal due to their lush, tropical appearance. Apart from their capacity to freshen up your indoor air quality, their attractive features bring a vibrant addition to home and office interiors.

Interestingly, they also serve as a subject of study for plant enthusiasts and botanists alike, mainly due to their unique growth patterns and characteristics.

However, despite their alluring features, it’s worth noting their toxicity, particularly for homes with pets or children. They should be kept out of their reach to prevent unwanted health issues.

Unique Characteristics

Philodendron McDowell is renowned for its exceptional adaptability, prospering in diverse indoor settings. Unique characteristics that set it apart include its large, lobed leaves arranged in symmetrical rows, providing a distinct architectural beauty.

Its large spectral roots give it the ability to firmly anchor itself despite significant growth in size and weight. Its leaves can exhibit multiple colors from light green to dark burgundy, reflecting its adaptability to varying light conditions.

These attributes combined with its resilience to varying care conditions make it a standout choice among indoor houseplants.

Decorative Use

The Philodendron McDowell serves as an excellent decorative plant due to its unique and stylish leaves. Its dramatic leaf shape and velvety texture can add an exotic touch to any living space.

It’s suitable for container gardening and can be used as a standout piece for tabletops or as a larger focal point when grown in a floor-standing pot. In office environments, this plant can add a hint of nature while benefiting air quality.

The McDowell is also an ideal choice for terrariums and vivariums because of its compact growth habit and high humidity tolerance.


The Philodendron McDowell, like many other plants within the Philodendron genus, contains calcium oxalate crystals. This substance is toxic to both humans and pets if ingested.

Symptoms of poisoning can include difficulty swallowing, irritation of the mouth, lips, and tongue, excessive drooling, vomiting, and difficulty breathing. It is therefore extremely important to keep this plant out of reach from children and pets.

Should ingestion occur, medical attention should be sought immediately. Despite their toxicity when ingested, they’re not considered dangerous to touch.

However, it’s always best to wash your hands after handling your Philodendron McDowell to avoid any potential skin irritation.

Additional Tips & Tricks

To optimize the health and growth of your Philodendron McDowell, consider a few final pointers. Despite their hardiness and adaptability, these plants benefit from additional care and attention, as any plant would.

Fine-tuning your fertilizer use, engaging in regular pruning and maintenance, and leveraging support structures can greatly elevate the quality of your plant care routine.

These steps may not only prevent potential issues but also enhance the growth and aesthetic appeal of your Philodendron McDowell. Explore detailed tips in the following sections to help optimize your plant’s overall growth and vitality.

Fertilization Recommendations

In order to maintain vibrant growth and foliage, the Philodendron McDowell requires a balanced houseplant fertilizer. It is suggested that you feed your plant every two weeks during the spring and summer months, and reduce to monthly feeding in the fall and winter.

A liquid fertilizer diluted to half the recommended strength is ideal to avoid over-fertilizing, which can lead to leaf burn. Remember to water your plant thoroughly before fertilizing to prevent root damage.

Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions when applying any fertilizer to avoid harming your Philodendron McDowell.

Pruning & Maintenance

The Philodendron McDowell benefits from regular pruning and maintenance to ensure optimal health and appearance. Keep your eyes out for yellowing leaves, as these are the first to be pruned.

This helps the plant direct its resources to healthier leaves and promotes new growth. Additionally, if the Philodendron McDowell becomes too large or its shape is getting unwieldy, feel free to trim it back.

Use sharp, sterilized shears to prevent disease and insects from finding a way into your plant. Transplanting into larger pots helps in maintenance along with periodical leaf wiping to remove dust and possible pests.

Support Structures

Support structures are integral to the well-being of your Philodendron McDowell. As a bipinnatifid species, this philodendron has a climbing habit and can greatly benefit from structures like trellises, cages, or moss poles.

These supports help the plant maintain its upward growth, allowing it to display its appealing vine-like qualities. When choosing a support structure, make sure it’s sturdy enough to keep up with the plant’s fast growth and is tall enough to accommodate its mature size.

Regularly attach new growth to the structure with soft plant ties to guide the vines. With the right support, your Philodendron McDowell will flaunt its natural beauty in no time.

Philodendrons   Updated: October 24, 2023
avatar Hi, I'm Amy, a devoted horticulturist and the creator of, where I use my expertise to help beginners foster their green thumbs. My blog is a vibrant community where I unravel the complexities of gardening and share my profound love for nature.
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