How to Care for Philodendron Squamiferum?
An aroid epiphyte, the Philodendron squamiferum is a rare Philodendron variety that stands out mainly because of its red hairs that cover its stems.
Its oak-shaped leaves are glossy with multiple lobes. Leaf color can range from medium green to dark green.
Tropical plants can make a great addition to your indoors, especially when allowed to lean against a wall or offered a trellis to hang on to.
Find out more about how to take care of the philodendron squamiferum indoors in my care guide below.
Size & Growth
Because it’s an epiphyte, the Squamiferum can climb impressive heights when given the opportunity and the ideal environment.
Still, don’t panic just yet. The plant has a modest growth-rate, giving you ample time to decide how far you are willing to allow it to climb.
Then there are the environmental conditions at play too — the plant does not behave exactly the same indoors as it does in its natural habitat.
That said, when you bring home the plant from the garden center it usually stands at around 14 inches, yet at maturity, the leaves of the Squmiferum alone can reach a height of 18 inches.
Because it naturally grows under the canopy of trees in the rainforest, the philodendron squamiferum hasn’t adapted to grow under direct sunlight.
The light that it receives in the rainforest is dappled, so you must mimic that in your home. Aim for bright or medium bright, indirect light.
Avoid placing your plant in a dark room. Lack of adequate light is also undesirable since it can cause developmental delays.
As one of the most water sensitive of all philodendrons, it’s essential not to overwater the Squamiferum.
Besides having a potting medium that’s not prone to waterlogging and a pot fitted with drain holes, you should also pay attention to the moisture level in the soil before each watering session.
I recommend either using a moisture meter to assess the correct level of moisture in the soil or make sure that the top few inches of soil feel dry to the touch.
Rotting stalks coupled with wilting leaves are a sign of too much watering going on. On the other hand, you shouldn’t allow the soil to completely dry out either, so maintain a good watering schedule to prevent problems caused by hectic watering or watering extremes.
The roots of this plant don’t do well if strangled in compacted soil. What they need is a lightweight potting medium that retains some moisture but without holding water.
A good combination of potting medium for the Philodendron squamiferum includes coco coir or sphagnum moss, perlite, and composted pine bark.
If the potting medium is well aerated and allows water to easily percolate, you won’t need to worry that much about overwatering either.
Temperature & Humidity
The temperature range tolerated by the philodendron squamiferum will be between 50 F and 77 F. Anything outside this range will probably cause foliage damage and developmental issues.
As with many philodendrons, this too enjoys a humid environment, but that doesn’t mean you should replicate the humid environment of a rainforest in your home.
The average humidity levels that we already have in our homes (40-60%) are bound to please the squamiferum too.
If humidity levels in your home are below 40%, you may need to invest in a humidifier that will be helpful to increase humidity levels.
In dry environments, a humidifier can help humans ward off respiratory tract infections much easier. So, it’s win-win on all fronts.
Philodendrons in general aren’t heavy feeders. But that doesn’t mean that you should never feed your Squamiferum, on the contrary, a bit of fertilizing can help the plant do better indoors.
Use a foliage plant fertilizer or a fertilizer designed specifically for philodendrons and fertilize about once a month starting in spring. You can fertilize throughout the growing season until fall.
Make sure to correctly dilute your fertilizer to avoid causing leaf burn and other fertilizer build-up issues.
Potting & Repotting
You can use a plastic pot fitted with draining holes and place that pot in a nice decorative ceramic pot.
Because the plant won’t go through sudden growth spurs, you don’t have to worry too much about repotting. If roots are visibly poking out of the pot, it’s time to switch to a bigger sized pot.
Sometimes, you may need to do a repotting if there’s a risk of fertilizer build-up in the soil or just to freshen up the soil if a lot of time has passed since the last fertilizing.
How to Propagate Philodendron Squamiferum?
Harvest stem cuttings in spring for peak activity by cutting a 3-6-inch stem with a few leaf nodes on. Root the stem cutting either in moist soil or water. You can use a bit of rooting hormone, but the plant will root easily even without it.
Air layering is a bit more difficult but not less successful in propagating the philodendron squamiferum.
The idea is to create a small incision under a node and tricking it into putting out roots. This is achieved by wrapping moist sphagnum moss around the incision and placing a plastic wrap to keep the sphagnum moss moist.
The Squamiferum is thus stimulated into putting out roots. Once the roots are showing, you can remove the stem and move it to its own pot.
The philodendron squamiferum is not difficult to please, but you do need to pay close attention to its watering needs so that you don’t overwater this plant.
Sun exposure is another area in which increased attention is warranted not to deprive the plant or light but also not to expose it to strong direct sunlight.
Because of its climbing pattern, it’s best to offer the plant a support structure or trellis that it can climb on and grow in an upward pattern. Likewise, because of its ability to grow to a big size, you may need to carry out some pruning as well.