If you’re not a fan of small leaf philodendrons, you may want to take a look at the Philodendron Plowmanii, which sports massive leaves in a gradient of colors.
Be advised, however, that this philodendron variety is a rare find, so arm yourself with patience should you want to track down a specimen of your own.
As for its care requirements, there isn’t anything particularly difficult or challenging about growing the Plowmanii, especially if you already have some experience with tropical plants under your belt.
Size & Growth
With the philodendron Plowmanii, named after botanist Timothy Plowman, you’re going to need ample space whether you’re keeping this plant indoors or outdoors.
While the plant can reach 8 ft in height, it’s a slow-grower, especially indoors. If you want it growing tall, you’re going to have more luck with outdoor growing and if the climate in your region allows it.
The large leaves of the plant are the main attraction of this plant. Multiple gradients of green are contrasted with the creamy yellow coloration of the veins, creating an instant tropical feel wherever it’s grown.
This is one of those philodendrons that isn’t fussy about its light requirements. The plant can grow in lower light conditions than what you’d normally afford a houseplant but does best in filtered light or partial shade.
What it can’t tolerate is direct light, especially midday strong direct light. As with many other plants that don’t require direct light, the leaves of the philodendron plowmanii are also bound to get scorched, especially the younger leaves that are thinner than mature leaves.
Therefore, if you’re keeping this philodendron variety outdoors be mindful of the amount of sunshine it receives in the location you’ve positioned your plant.
You’d think you could drown a plant that grows in rainforests in water and it would be happy with it. Not the philodendron plowmanii, however.
Despite being accustomed to heavy rainfall, the plant doesn’t do well if the potting medium in which it is kept is constantly wet.
Overwatering is certainly a hazard to the plant, especially when planted in soil that is prone to waterlogging.
Make sure to inspect that the top layer of the soil is dry before watering the plant. I usually water my philodendrons once or twice a week in summer and once a week in winter.
Since environmental factors can change the need for water uptake, it’s best to rely on the soil moisture assessment method when watering this plant.
Soilless mediums are best for growing philodendrons. Favor potting mixes that feature sphagnum moss, peat, perlite in their composition. Amend the mix with compost to create a rich soil that stays moist but doesn’t retain water.
Avoid clay, sandy or other wet soils which don’t drain as well as those that feature peat, perlite or sphagnum moss.
When planted in a fast-draining soil, the likelihood of root rot is significantly reduced even if the plant is accidentally overwatered.
Temperature & Humidity
Generally, philodendrons grow in temperatures between 55 F and 85 F. They’re not cold-tolerant, which makes it impossible to grow them outdoors in areas where winters get frosty.
If you live in a region with cold winters, make arrangements to take your plant indoors as soon as the temperature nears 60 F.
Indoors, lack of enough humidity can be a problem especially if the plant is kept close to heating vents or radiators. Even fans and AC units are an issue because of cold drafts and their effect of drying the air out.
If lack of humidity becomes an issue, you need to supplement humidity levels so they’re above 40% nearing 60%. Humidifiers are excellent for the job and they’re good for your health too!
Philodendrons aren’t in need of too much fertilizing. In my experience, they do excellent even with small doses of fertilizers applied infrequently.
Apply only in the growing season and monthly or once every three months, depending on the type of fertilizer.
I prefer organic time release fertilizers, but there are several good quality liquid fertilizers with an organic formulation. If you’re using a liquid fertilizer, make sure to dilute it correctly and apply 6 inches away from the base of the plant.
Potting & Repotting
Philodendron Plowmanii enjoys having its roots fit loosely in its pot, so repotting is needed whenever the plant becomes rootbound, which can slow down its growth.
When the plant becomes top heavy, it’s also a good time to repot it so it doesn’t tip over. Pick a terracotta pot, which is heavy but also a highly decorative alternative to plastic pots.
Make sure to use only pots with draining holes, otherwise excess water will cause trouble at the roots.
When repotting the plant, inspect the roots for disease and trim away damaged or diseased roots.
How to Propagate Philodendron Plowmanii?
The easiest method to propagate a philodendron plowmanii is from stem cuttings. Cuttings should be around 3-4 inches long with a couple of leaf nodes on.
Leaves on the lower part of the stem should be removed and the stem should be rooted either in water or in moist potting medium.
Root development can take anywhere from 2 to 4 weeks, depending on whether you’re keeping the plant in a warm location, out of direct sunlight and in moist potting medium or clean water.
Once the roots are around 2 inches long, you can transfer the plant to a pot with a well-draining potting medium.
Highly decorative and impressive, the Plowmanii is a veritable collector’s item. It’s a rare variety, yet one that’s still as easy to grow as other, more commonly available philodendron cultivars.
Because the leaves are the central attraction of this plant, make sure to encourage their growth with adequate light exposure, correct watering, good quality soil and occasional fertilizing.
If kept outdoors, make sure to follow any weather changes that might expose the plant to sudden temperature changes or frost.
If you understand the basics of philodendron plowmanii growing requirements, you’ll do great in growing any other philodendron variety too.