The philodendron atom is a gorgeous subtropical plant with a reputation for being hardy and stable. It’s an excellent philodendron for beginners and experts alike! The philodendron atom originates from the rainforests of Brazil and Paraguay, and is also relatively fresh on the houseplant market. It’s slightly rarer than other philodendrons, so treat yours with care!
You may have heard of the philodendron super atom, which is a similar plant that can often be confused for the philodendron atom. The biggest difference is that the super atom is dwarf cultivator, meaning it is smaller and has tinier leaves.
In contrast, the philodendron atom is a compact (but still mature) plant with deep green leaves that have a distinct wave pattern along the edges. The glossy leaves truly make this beautiful showstopper!
Caring For Your Philodendron Atom
These plants have a good reputation, and not for just any reason! They are well-known as a low-maintenance plant that flourishes in bedrooms and other indoor living areas. Keep reading to find out everything you need to know about caring for your philodendron atom.
Like most other philodendrons, this plant thrives in indirect sunlight. Indirect sunlight is best classified as any sunlight that reaches the plant after being filtered through an obstacle like a tinted window pane or a spot across the room.
Unlimited, direct sunlight will most likely wither the leaves and even burn the plant. That’s why it is so important to understand how to find indirect sunlight in your home.
Most times, you can find indirect sunlight by placing your philodendron atom in an east-facing window. There will be about an hour or so of direct sunlight as the sun rises, but the rest of the day your plant will enjoy basking in the indirect sunlight.
These plants also enjoy the shade – you’ll notice that after some time in the shade they develop the most beautiful deep green color.
If you’re concerned about finding the right amount of indirect sunlight, consider a light meter! Light meters measure in footcandles (FCs) and are better judges than our human eyes. The best FC range for this plant will be between 300-400.
Best Soil and Mixture Type
The best soil for the philodendron atom will be soil that retains a lot of moisture. It should also drain well without losing too much water. If you really want to see your philodendron flourish, try adding in some nutrient dense soil to mimic it’s natural, tropical habitat. Here are some of the best elements to look out for to ensure the best soil:
- One part standard potting soil
- One part perlite
- One part peat moss
- Compost or orchid bark sprinkled in for nutrient density
This plant will function best in soil with an alkaline pH, characterized by anything above a 7 on the pH scale. If needed, you can add garden lime to increase the pH. Most philodendrons can tolerate slight changes in pH, but proceed with caution!
Watering your plant is one of the most important aspects of philodendron atom care. Luckily, this plant is pretty laid back and not as thirsty as other houseplants! It can fit in easily to a routine and doesn’t need much effort.
The growing season for the philodendron atom is in the warmer months, specifically spring and summer. During the growing season, you should be watering this plant once a week and wetting the soil completely as you do so. Wait for the soil to dry completely at least an inch down between waterings. This plant likes for its soil to be moist deeper down, but constant overwatering can harm the growth.
In the off season (fall through winter) you can wait longer between waterings, closer to every other week. This is because the plant does not need as many nutrients since it isn’t using much energy to grow.
Don’t water from atop the plant, since philodendrons do not absorb water through their leaves. Make sure you water near the soil and go completely around the width of the pot. If you are overwatering, you may notice yellow leaves beginning to appear.
Similarly, brown leaves are signs of underwatering. Pay attention to the leaves, the dryness of the soil, and the overall posture of your plant to see when it needs more water.
Surprise, surprise: this tropical plant needs higher temperatures to flourish! Since this compact plant functions mainly as an indoor plant, you don’t need to worry about it being exposed to frost or extremely cold temperatures during the winter. All you need to do is keep in mind the ideal temperature range for this plant and any others in your care.
The ideal range of temperature for the philodendron atom will be between 70°F to 80°F (21°C to 26°C) with 85°F or 29°C being the absolute maximum. It may be a tropical plant, but too much heat can mess with moisture absorption. In addition the absolutely lowest temperature this plant should be exposed to is 55°F or 12°C-13°C.
If you like to keep things warm in your apartment, perfect! Just avoid placing your philodendron atom in front of a radiator or fireplace, as well as an air conditioner or cool vent.
Temperature and humidity go hand in hand, and you will be amazed at how this plant flourishes with the proper environment! The ideal range of humidity for a philodendron atom will be between 60% to 65% humidity, with the minimum range being 50%.
Grouping plants together is a good way to encourage humidity, as is purchasing a humidifier from the store to regulate the humidity percentage in your home. Some owners may recommend misting, but this easily gives way to bacterial or fungal infections if you aren’t careful. Other methods will be an easier, less risky way to provide the humidity the plant needs.
Your philodendron atom does not need much fertilizer, but the correct usage a few times a year will have great results. You should fertilize once a month in the summer when the plant is actively growing. In the winter, the plant is not actively growing and only needs to be fertilized a few times.
Here are some of the best nutrients to look for in your fertilizer for good growth:
For this plant, a liquid fertilizer will be better than a slow release since you can control the amount used and when it is used. Slow release pellets are better for plants that need more fertilization, but liquid fertilizer will be all you need to help your philodendron atom grow.
This plant is obviously smaller than some other philodendrons, but you can still expect some growth. They have a slow growing rate, and may appear slightly smaller in the winter when they are not actively growing. Their growth rate will be about 20 to 30 centimeters in total.
The philodendron atom should reach full maturity and maintain its volume for several seasons. As mentioned, it is a slow grower but you can try to speed it along by giving it light and warmth throughout the entire year. The max mature size in a home will be about 20cm wide and 30 cm tall.
You can make this plant look bigger by fanning the leaves or creating more space between the stems. When the leaves and stems crowd together, the plant often looks smaller and more compact.
This plant can be propagated through cuttings, which makes the process much easier! Here are some of the steps you should take to ensure good growth from your philodendron atom cutting:
- Wet the soil several days before taking the cutting to ensure the plant absorbs proper nutrients
- Take a clean knife and select a stem with several nodules. Cut the stem, making sure it has a few leaves attached.
- Place the cutting in either a small container of soil that has already been moistened. You can also place it directly in a clear container full of water.
- Keep the plant supplied with indirect sunlight and water, and you should see new growth in about 2 weeks. When the roots have reached a length of a few inches, it can be moved to a more permanent pot for growing.
As a smaller plant with a maximum growth of about 30cm, the philodendron atom will not need to be repotted often. Check the bottom of the pot and the drainage holes at the end of each growing season and see if any roots are poking out. If they are, it is time to find a new pot.
You’ll probably need to repot your philodendron atom every other year, but if no roots are poking through the drainage holes there will be no need. Make sure you upgrade to a pot that is only a few inches bigger, since a pot that is too large can encourage root rot.
Here’s some good news: this plant doesn’t need any pruning! This is the one part of philodendron atom care that you can ignore. As a smaller plant, the leaves won’t need to be pruned or trimmed back like they would on a larger, faster growing plant.
The only time you will need to prune away leaves is if you notice an infection or disease that is causing a few leaves to wither. In that case, simply prune away the infected leaves and keep careful watch over the rest.
Like all philodendrons, this plant should not be consumed by any humans or pets. It is toxic when ingested, so make sure to keep it out of the reach of any children or small animals. Ingesting a philodendron is not fatal, but it can produce symptoms like vomiting, dizziness, and swelling in the mouth,
If you or anyone you know ingests any part of a philodendron, call professionals for advice on how to proceed. As long as the plant is not being consumed, there is no risk to keeping one in the home.
The most common pests that will bother your philodendron atom are mealybugs, scale, aphids, and spider mites. These are all tiny pests that will nest either in the soil or on the leaves of your plant. Luckily, there are easy to deal with them.
For spider mites and mealybugs, try rinsing the leaves gently with soapy water and using a natural alternative such as neem oil to keep them from returning.
Neem oil can also be used to prevent scale, which are small bugs that gather like lumps on leaves and stems. Remove these lumps with tweezers or a Q-tip soaked in rubbing alcohol. Finally, use neem oil to destroy any eggs and keep them from returning.
Aphids are similar to scale, being small bugs that group together along the stem. Spray the plant gently with water or wash the leaves in order to remove the bugs, and follow with neem oil or another alternative to chase them away.
Common Issues & FAQ
Q. Why are my philodendron atom’s leaves turning yellow?
If you notice a yellowing of the leaves on your plant, this is usually a sign of overwatering. Try waiting for the soil to dry out between waterings and slightly altering your routine in order to return the leaves to their lovely green color.
Q. Should I use distilled or tap water to water my plant?
Many people worry about the type of water they use on their plants, and if distilled or tap is the correct choice. Don’t worry! Plants like this one have filtering systems that rid water of any impurities before being absorbed. In other words, tap or distilled water will both work fine!
Q. Why are the leaves on my philodendron atom curling inwards or downwards?
If you notice the leaves curling inwards or downwards, there is no cause for concern. Oftentimes, a cold or dry plant will begin to curl in on itself. In that case, try monitoring the temperature and making sure it is not too cold. If the temperature is fine, try increasing the amount of water given and see if that solves the issue.
Other potential problems could be a lack of nutrition in the soil or an insect infestation. No matter what the issue is, approach your philodendron atom with care and it is sure to grow beautifully. It is truly an amazing plant that you’ll love!