Ultra Rare Philodendron Gloriosum (#1 Complete Care Guide)

It’s often said that the philodendron gloriosum is the last plant you’ll ever add to your collection. Why? Because it’s one of the most sought after and rarest of plants in the araceae family.

Prized for its magnificently large heart shaped leaves with baby pink or cream margins and velvety surface, its popularity is largely down to its beauty, not to mention its surging appearance on avid collector’s wishlists.

Not only is it incredibly tough to find one for sale in the first place, but when you do manage to get your hands on one, expect to pay a pretty penny. Anywhere from $150-$550 a specimen is relatively normal! 

Whether you're a novice who struck beginner’s luck or a bonafide plantophile who’s had this plant on their wishlist for years, this is everything you need to know about philodendron gloriosum care.

The Fascinating History Behind The Philodendron Gloriosum

The philodendron gloriosum was first identified in the deep, tropical canopies of Colombia in 1876 during an expedition led by Charles Antonine Lemaire, an outstanding French Botanist and Scholar.

It was during this time that the first ever specimen was collected and transported to Gand, Belgium for documentation.

Many guides refer to this plant as ‘widely available’ but this couldn’t be further from the truth. In fact, the philodendron gloriosum is listed as a threatened species on the IUCN’s international red list.

As of 2021, there are only 7 locations in the world where this plant is found natively in the wild; most of which are in Columbia, with smaller clusters being found in Southern Mexico, Venezuela, Ecuador, Peru and portions of western Brazil.

The remaining location is Hawaii after being introduced by humans for commercial reselling.

It’s not known how long before this plant becomes extinct in the wild, as cattle rearing and agricultural burning practices are said to be threatening this plant even in Tinigua Colombian Natural National Park, a botanical sanctuary.

Because of its increasing rareness and fascinating beauty, the philodendron gloriosum has been aptly named, ‘the glorious one’, a fitting title for such a stunning plant. 

Philodendron Gloriosum Care – Everything You Need to Know

Whilst this plant is harder to care for than the ever-growing philodendron micans or super simple philodendron hastatum, philodendron glosorium care is still relatively straightforward, despite its flashy, high profile status.

The key to caring for this rare and alluring beauty is to mimic its natural growing environment as much as humanly possible.

This ultimate in-depth care guide will help you do just that.

Soil

The foundation of any healthy plant begins with its soil. As with most philodendrons, the philodendron gloriosum loves a well-draining, airy and chunky mix to support its expansive root system.

The key with philodendrons is to choose a mix that supports both water retention and water drainage.

Philos can’t hold much water in their thin leaves so do need a mix that holds some water, otherwise you’ll see curling and mild browning of the leaves frequently. This is why I highly recommend choosing a pre-made philodendron or monstera potting soil.

These mixes are usually a good blend of coco coir, perlite, pumice, orchid bark, activated charcoal and worm castings. 

Alternatively, if you like mixing soils yourself, you can try this tested formula:

  • 40% coco coir
  •  40% coco coir
  • 20% orchid bark
  • 10% perlite
  • 10% worm castings
  • 10% pumice
  • 10% activated charcoal

Worm castings and activated charcoal are optional – worm castings provide an organic source of fertilizer, whilst charcoal is said to remove soil impurities and prevent mould. 

Friendly tip: Don’t use a succulent mix for philodendrons. It hasn’t got the right blend of chunkiness and can end up being way too dry for these tropical plants.

Light

Gloriosums are natural terrestrial crawlers, meaning they crawl or ‘run’ across the ground rather than climb up trees or rock beds, as opposed to the philodendron micans or philodendron ring of fire which are true climbers.

From this, we know that they thrive best when kept in lots of moderate to bright indirect light. Philodendrons that climb (epiphytes) usually do so to mop up all that extra sunlight poking through the tops of the rainforest canopies.

Whilst I normally say that most philodendrons can cope with 1-3 hours of direct cool morning or late evening sun, with this glorious plant, I’d recommend keeping it out of direct sun altogether.

This also doesn’t mean you should keep it in shade either, too deep shade and you’ll have a shrinking violet on your hands – a plant that practically vanishes. 

How Much Light is Bright, Indirect Exactly?

Good question! You can measure the overall light intensity of a room with a light meter. It measures light in footcandles (FC). They give you a really good indicator of how much light your plant is really receiving. 

How Much Light Does the Philodendron Gloriosum Need?

For good growth, you’ll want to keep this plant in the 400-500FC range.

Anything less than 200FC will cause stunted growth and a loss of vibrant pink and cream coloring (something which isn’t easy to recover once it’s lost).

The brighter the light (without direct sun!), the larger the leaves.

Where Should I Place my Plant?

To hit this light range, you’re likely looking at somewhere close to a window, without the sun’s rays directly hitting the leaves. Basically, your plant needs to be able to ‘see’ the sun without the sun scorching it. This is what indirect light means.

Water

Instead of watering to a strict schedule, it’s best to check if your plant really needs water first.

As a general rule of thumb, philos like their soil to be kept evenly moist – this means slightly damp, but never soggy. Luckily, if you’ve got a well-draining potting soil, any excess water will quickly drain out through the pot’s drainage holes.

You’ll only want to water your philodendron gloriosum when the top 1-3 inches of soil are dry.

The most accurate way to test this is by pushing a wooden stick or chopstick into the soil (away from the roots) and leaving it in for 30-60 minutes.

This creates a water line effect on the chopstick so you know exactly how far down the soil is damp or wet. 

  • Wet soil (usually bottom of the pot) will turn the stick a darker shade and some particles will cling to it.
  • Damp, moist soil will cause a slightly darker shade to appear, but no soil will cling.
  • Bone dry soil won’t change the stick’s color, nor will any soil be present. 

Seasonal Frequency Changes

In the warmer months of spring and summer, you’ll need to adjust your watering frequency by checking the soil more often.

Higher temperatures coupled with higher humidity levels lends to higher transpiration rates (meaning your plant loses more water through its leaves).

This water needs to be replenished for good growth, otherwise you’ll see the dreaded curling leaf edges, browning tips and possibly even some yellowing.

Generally, the warmer it is, the more frequent your plant needs watering. The colder it is, the less your plant needs watering.

In autumn and winter, you’ll want to significantly cut back on waterings to prevent overly soggy soil.

This might seem like a no-brainer but with so much ‘water your plant every 7 days’ info floating around the internet, it’s best to clarify.

How to Water Your Plant The Right Way!

Having worked in a botanical sanctuary, one thing I did pick up was how to water plants the right way. There are 2 ways to do it: base watering and bottom watering, but never overhead!

The water should never touch the leaves or be left to sit on them.

Unlike in the wild, the air circulation in the average home is extremely poor; stagnant, stale air becomes a breeding ground for fungal and bacterial infections to start. 

With top watering, you water the plant at the top of its soil, just under the leaves, making sure to spin the pot as you do. This makes sure all of the soil is evenly moist, not just one section. 

With bottom watering, you fill a tray with water, place your plants into that water and wait for them to take a good drink (usually anywhere from a few hours to a day or two). Remove the plant from the water tray after the layer under the soil’s surface is moist.

It’s that simple, although it’s never recommended to fully replace base watering with bottom watering alone. Top watering helps to flush fertilizer salt build up away. 

Temperature

Philodendrons love to be kept on the warmer side, and the philodendron gloriosum is no different. Ideally, you’ll want to keep this plant in a room that maintains a cozy 64°F to 78°F (18°C to 26°C).

Temperatures lower than 59°F (15°C) will lead to poor overall growth, lacklustre leaves and smaller roots. This tropical plant is not frost tolerant in the slightest!

Humidity

Most philodendrons aren’t too picky when it comes to lower humidity levels, but from my experience, the gloriosum really does like and crave higher humidity levels; think 70-80%. The higher the better.

A lack of humidity seems to cause mild browning and smaller leaves. 

Increasing Humidity Levels in Your Home

The average household humidity lies between 40-50% so it might be worth investing in a small humidifier, or if you have lots of plants, try grouping them together. Grouping increases transpiration rates resulting in more water vapour lingering around the local area of your plants. 

Fertilizer

You’ll want to select a fertilizer that has a good ratio of macronutrients NPK (nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium) as well as secondary nutrients such as calcium and magnesium.

With lower quality fertilizers, you’ll quickly find they rarely contain magnesium or calcium – both of which can cause unsightly yellowing and browning spots to appear on leaves.

I love and use dyna gro (7-9-5) for most of my philodendrons; it’s a complete formula containing all 16 nutrients a plant needs to thrive (plus, it lasts forever!).

Alternatively, you can opt for an organic fertilizer such as Alaskan fish emulsion or marine phytoplankton, both of which pack a punch in terms of growth hormones. 

Applying Fertilizer

There are only 3 real mistakes you can make with fertilizer: 1) applying too much, 2) spraying the leaves or stem with it and 3) not diluting it beforehand. Other than that, it’s pretty simple.

To mimic how plants feed in the wild, I mix ¼-½ teaspoon of fertilizer to 1 gallon of water (4.5 litres) and feed my plant with this mixture every time it needs watering. This provides a steady and healthy stream of much needed nutrients throughout the month.

The only time I cut back on feedings and water is during the colder months when the plant is actively more dormant.

Growth – What To Expect

The philodendron gloriosum is a slow growing plant, so if you’ve been hoping to see a new leaf unfurl relatively quickly you might be disappointed.

It can take more than a month for a new leaf to unfurl in this plant, and that’s one month after you’ve seen the leaf spike appear. 

There’s a reason why the gloriosum is colloquially known as the ‘glorious one’ and that’s down to its sheer size. In the wild, each leaf can reach a staggering size of 90cm (36 inches), just over 3 foot!

Before you panic or shout with glee, one kept indoors in a potted container will never reach that size. A philodendron gloriosum kept as a houseplant will likely grow to around 6 feet tall, with each leaf maxing out at roughly 8 inches (20cm). 

Repotting

Crawling philodendrons such as this one don’t need repotting very often. Once every 12 to 18 months is sufficient. This plant is generally tolerant of being slightly root bound, but I’d never let it become severely root bound.

Being rootbound means the plant has outgrown its current growing capacity which means you’ll see stunted growth and possible deterioration going forward if it’s not repotted. 

Signs your philodendron gloriosum needs repotting include:

  • Poor leaf or overall stunted growth
  • The roots are physically bound (spiralled around each other)
  • Roots are shooting through the drainage holes or top layer of soil (severely rootbound)
  • Water isn’t draining as fast or well as it used to
  • The plant just looks too big for its pot (it most likely is)

When repotting, keep in mind the following:

Repotting can cause some environmental shock. To lessen damage, you’ll want to repot in warmer temperatures, or as close to spring/summer as possible.

  • Choose a pot that’s 2-3 inches bigger than the last (maximum)
  • Opt for a well-draining, chunky potting mix (see soil section above)
  • Select a pot that has drainage holes
  • Gently detangle the old soil from the plant’s roots (like you are washing someone’s hair or giving a massage, that kind of motion)

How to Propagate a Philodendron Gloriosum – The Easiest Method

Propagation can seem like a lofty task even at the best of times, and with an uber rare plant on your hands, it’s likely you feel more cautious than ever before.

However, you might be surprised to find out that the chance of stem cuttings rooting from this plant are extremely high thanks to its rhizomes growing on top of the soil. 

The easiest and quickest way to propagate the gloriosum is via a stem cutting making sure to capture a good chunk of these rhizomes.

You can also give air layering a go too, but for beginners I recommend sticking to cuttings.

  • Take a mature stem (not a newly unfurled leaf) that includes a good section of rhizomes.
  • Let the freshly cut stem callous over by waiting a few hours, before dipping it in rooting hormone (optional). 
  • Once calloused, pot the cutting into a fresh mix of sphagnum moss mixed with a handful of perlite and moisten the moss. 
  • Then, pop a ziploc bag or lid over the container to raise humidity levels and seal in moisture. Make sure to keep the mossy mix moist at all times, and open the bag/lid up every day or two to enable some new air to circulate.
  • Once the roots are 2-3 inches long, move the cutting into a normal well-draining potting mix. 

A fairly simple and straightforward process to gain an additional rare and beautiful plant to your collection. 

Pests

As with all philodendrons, the gloriosum is fairly resilient to most major pests. Generally, the only issue you’ll face with pests are if they’ve been transported with the plant or have been carried over from an outbreak in the rest of your collection.

Spider mites, scale and mealybugs are the main culprits you might face. Luckily, they’re fairly easy to treat either with an insecticidal soap or with neem oil, an eco-friendly alternative. 

Toxicity – Is this Plant Toxic?

Sadly, the philodendron gloriosum is a toxic plant – it has oxalic acid in its leaves. If ingested by humans, cats or dogs, it will cause swelling of the mouth, gastrointestinal discomfort, possible diarrhea and vomiting.

This plant should be kept away from pets and children at all costs.

The Most Popular Gloriosum Hybrids

Philodendron Gloriosum x Philodendron Pastazanum (Philodendron Dean McDowell)

This beauty is another crawler. Crossed with the stunning Philodendron Pastazanum and Gloriosum, the Dean McDowell boasts huge glossy leaves with deep white veins. On average, this hybrid can reach up to 3 feet in height!

Philodendron Gloriosum x Melanochrysum (Glorious)

Combining the best features of two gorgeous plants, the philodendron gloriosum x melanochrysum hybrid truly is a beauty to behold. It’s considered a climber and has the attractive features of its gloriosum parent mixed in with elongated heart shape leaves, a quality taken from the melanochrysum. 

FAQ – Your Questions Answered

What Type of Pot Should I Keep My Philodendron Gloriosum In?

Ideally, you should keep this plant in a long planter that will allow your plant plenty of room to crawl. Remember, this beauty doesn’t climb, but instead branches out horizontally.

Why are Philodendron Gloriosum So Expensive?

Believe it or not, philodendron gloriosums used to be relatively cheap to buy due to mass cloning and tissue culture propagation.

But, these specimens rarely showed the unique and dazzling leaf size and colour that many collectors desire. As a result, the cost of a ‘real’ philodendron gloriosum is expensive, rising year on year. 

Should the Philodendron Gloriosum Rhizome be Growing Above or Below the Soil?

Yes! This is a good thing. Unlike many other philodendrons, the philodendron gloriosum has rhizomes which sit above the soil, not under it.

This is because this plant is a crawler or as I like to call them, ‘runners’! You should never bury the rhizomes under the soil or potting mix.

Should I Mist my Philodendron Gloriosum?

Personally, I wouldn’t mist any of your plants, especially not the rare ones. Misting can cause water droplets to sit on the leaves for extended periods of time.

Without proper air circulation, this excess water can cause nasty fungal and bacterial infections to start. Plus, misting has been shown to be ineffective in raising humidity levels.

Why is My Philodendron Gloriosum Dying?

There are many reasons a gloriosum might look like it’s dying; yellowing leaves, browning tips, curling leaf edges, pale leaves.

As it’s hard to tell what’s happening with your plant without seeing it, the first things you’ll want to check are light, waterings and fertilizer. Are you giving it too much, too little?

These are the main culprits that cause problems in philodendrons. 

Why Are the Leaves Turning Yellow on my Philodendron Gloriosum?

Yellowing leaves can have many causes but the main culprit with philodendrons is overwatering. What you could be seeing is the start of early root rot.

Root rot prevents the roots from taking up much needed oxygen and nutrients, hence the yellowing leaves. If the roots on your plant look healthy (white and firm, not brown and mushy), the next thing I’d look at is light.

If placed in too much light, you might start to see mild yellowing or even browning on the leaves.

If you’re seeing the newer growth only turning yellow, this is a good indicator you might be dealing with a magnesium or calcium deficiency.

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