Get ready to be amazed by a true mammoth in the philodendron family – the philodendron giganteum! These plants are known for their large leaves with an iconic elephant-ear spread.
The leaves are also a very rich green and will truly light up any room (and not just because of their size). While it originates from the Caribbean islands, the philodendron giganteum can make itself right at home pretty much anywhere.
There are two variations of the giganteum that you may be interested in knowing more about. There is the philodendron giganteum variegata, a climber with heart-shaped leaves (as seen in the article’s featured image).
The philodendron giganteum schott is another variety with a darker and richer green coloring. Their tropical origin makes each variation a unique find, so look them over carefully to determine exactly which variation has you as its the lucky owner!
Before we begin, let’s review how to identify the philodendron giganteum from other large philodendrons. The leaves are heart-shaped and a gorgeous green with obvious veins and midribs on the underside. It also tends to stack leaf stalks on one another as it grows, making it distinct from more vine-like philodendrons.
Caring For Your Philodendron Giganteum
Even though they are one of the largest philodendron varieties ever, the philodendron giganteum is not that different from other members of the family.
As long as you do your research and settle into a comfortable routine, it will flourish in no time at all. Keep reading to learn everything you need to know about philodendron giganteum care.
Like most philodendrons, this plant will not do well in unlimited direct sunlight. The sun can burn the foliage and damage the overall color. However, leaving them in the shade will stunt their amazing growth.
Despite this, they still need plenty of sunlight to grow and produce the chlorophyll that gives them their stunning rich green coloring.
The best solution is to provide your philodendron giganteum with filtered sunlight.
Filtered sunlight is essentially sunlight that is being dimmed by an obstacle before reaching the plant. Sheer curtains over a window are a good example of a way to filter sunlight for your philodendron.
Bright and indirect sunlight is another solution. Placing this plant near an east-facing window or (if you’re growing it outside) in the eastern most part of your garden is a good way to protect it.
Direct sunlight will hit during the morning, when sunlight is weakest. It will be in indirect sunlight for the rest of the day.
Best Soil and Mixture Type
As far as soil goes, it is a bit easier to care for your philodendron giganteum if it is growing directly from the ground outdoors. It is still completely possible to grow them indoors, but there might be more labors of love involved.
The first step will be filling a pot with a loose potting soil that drains well and has a high content of organic matter.
Here are some elements to either add to your own soil or look out for in the store:
- Sphagnum peat moss
- Mulch or sterile compost
- Orchid bark or coconut husk
The mulch can be used to increase the organic matter, and the bark is an excellent addition because the roots of this plant enjoy wrapping themselves around objects in the soil.
Keep in mind that philodendrons like this enjoy soil that is slightly acidic, meaning it has a soil pH between 5.5 and 6.5 on the scale.
This plant is unique among philodendrons in that the watering it needs will largely depend on your own climate.
Whether or not it grows indoors or outdoors is also a factor. If you are growing your plant outdoors in a more tropical region, it can simply be watered once every other day. Indoor growing, as usual, can be just a bit more complicated.
First, make sure your philodendron giganteum is growing in a well-draining pot. The top few inches of soil need to dry out between waterings.
Your plant is ready to be watered when the top inches of soil are completely dry. Drench the soil by pouring directly to the stem as opposed to on top from the leaves, and rinse and repeat.
This means your water schedule largely depends on soil dryness, but most find themselves watering at least twice each week.
Water more frequently in the warmer seasons of fall and spring, and cut back on the water in the colder seasons to avoid overwatering. This could mean watering only once every week or even every other week!
The best thing to do is watch your plant for any clues and to establish a seasonal routine.
It should come as no surprise that this tropical plant loves the heat! The most spectacular growth of the philodendron giganteum often occurs near the equator, where temperature and humidity combine.
The ideal temperature range for this plant is between 60°F to 80°F (about 15°C to 27°C). If you are planting it outside, a more tropical to temperate climate that keeps these temperatures throughout the year is best.
The lowest temperature this plant can tolerate is 55°F, or 13°C. Keep your home above this temperature, and move your plant indoors if the weather drops into these cooler temperatures.
If the temperature in your region regularly drops below 55°F without warning, it may be best to grow your philodendron giganteum strictly as an indoor plant! That way you can monitor the temperature yourself.
We as humans may not be fans of the humidity, but philodendrons cannot get enough! The philodendron giganteum is no exception.
This gentle giant will grow best with humidity above 60% at all times. If this is accomplished, the growth and overall health will be breathtaking.
There will be some effort required on your part to keep the ideal humidity levels in your home. Don’t worry – it won’t be much!
Purchasing a humidifier will allow you to easily increase and monitor the humidity around a plant. In addition, grouping your plants together will naturally increase humidity and allow them to help each other grow.
While some people may recommend misting, it should be avoided. Misting can increase the risk of bacterial infections since the air circulation of most houses is generally low.
Other methods should be attempted first before resorting to misting. There are better, safer ways to increase humidity.
Depending on the soil type you choose, your philodendron giganteum may not require much additional fertilizing.
Soil that is already rich in organic matter will naturally feed the plant with little intervention from you.
However, plants growing indoors in a pot will benefit from the occasional use of fertilizer as the organic matter in the soil breaks down. Here are some good nutrients to look out for:
For this particular plant, it is important to only use fertilizer during the growing months. This includes the summer and spring seasons. You should not fertilize your plant in the winter because it is not actively growing.
Store-bought fertilizers are easy options for when your plant is actively growing.
This category is truly what sets the philodendron giganteum apart! When properly cared for, a mature philodendron giganteum can reach a height of six feet! Their width can also expand to three feet across thanks to the wide leaves.
The maximum size a philodendron giganteum will typically reach in the home can be anywhere between four to five feet.
That is, assuming that the proper needs for water, temperature, and light have been met. They also have an extremely fast growth rate in the warmer seasons, so you can actively see them growing every week!
This plant is a climber, constantly reaching up towards the sun. Using a tool like a stick or special climbing assistant will help it climb vertically and reach its true potential.
Unlike other philodendrons, the philodendron giganteum is not easy to propagate. Usually, taking a stem cutting and planting it in new soil is enough to propagate.
You can still attempt this method, but the success rate may be lower as the giganteum leaves are not keen to grow alone.
Here is another method to try:
- Search for seedlings! Mature philodendron giganteum will drop plantlets after an old leaf has fallen that can be used to grow a new one from scratch.
- Allow the plantlet to continue growing from the stem, showing aerial roots long enough to root in new soil. The growing process can take more than a month.
- Transplant the plantlet to a small pot filled with nutrient rich soil and care for it as you would a new philodendron giganteum.
If you’re lucky, the plantlet will become a new giant! You can also grow them from seeds, so trying your hand at growing one from the ground doesn’t need to be impossible.
The philodendron giganteum is a grower, so if you are growing it indoors you will probably find yourself needing to repot once a year after the growing season ends.
The best sign that repotting is needed is a top-heavy plant with a pot full of roots. Roots growing out of the drainage holes or back through the top of the soil are a clear signal to repot.
In general, this plant likes having cramped roots curled together in a pot. You just want to be sure it has a chance to grow!
Make sure you are only repotting during the growing season so that your plant will happily adjust to the new space.
One perk of the philodendron giganteum is that it does not require pruning. You can just leave it alone and admire it!
Mature plants will usually drop old leaves on their own without intervention from you. The only pruning you will ever need to do is remove discolored or sick leaves for health or aesthetic purposes.
When it comes to toxicity, this plant is just like any other philodendron. It is toxic when ingested by humans or animals, so make sure to keep this plant out of the reach of children or pets.
Ingesting it is not usually deadly, but help should be sought afterwards regardless.
Symptoms of ingesting the philodendron giganteum can include vomiting and swelling of the mouth.
The philodendron giganteum typically only has three pests: spider mites, mealy bugs, and fungus gnats.
Shore flies also may be an issue depending on climate. These pests will be small and white, moving over the leaves and stem to seek sap from the plant. If you notice them, there is an easy solution.
Washing the leaves down with soap and water can be all you need! Sometimes, insecticidal soap can be purchased for more stubborn pests.
Neem oil can also be applied once a month to prevent pests before they even arrive. Keep an eye out for severe infestations as they may need harsher solutions involving chemicals.
Common Issues – Reasons Your Philodendron Giganteum Looks Like It’s Dying
Why does my plant have dark brown, tan patches?
Tan patches or discoloration along your philodendron giganteum can be signs of bacterial infections such as Erwinia blight.
This infection will likely give off a bad smell and can be treated by isolating your plant and cutting off all moisture until it has improved. The infected leaves will need to be carefully cut away.
In addition, brown edges can also be a sign that a plant is not getting enough water. The true indicator of an infection versus a need for water is the distinctive tan patches across the leaves.
Why are my plant’s leaves pale or losing their color?
Leaves that are losing their dark green color and turning pale are most likely victims of poor lighting. Sunlight is needed to produce chlorophyll, which is what gives the leaves their distinctive color. If this color is being lost, the plant most likely needs to be placed in a brighter area.
You will not be disappointed by the majesty and beauty of this plant! Philodendron giganteum care can be a challenge, but it is truly worth it in the end.