With a name like Philodendron Silver Sword, you’d think this plant has some seriously stunning foliage. And you’d be right! It’s easily recognizable with its magnificent grey-green colored foliage that gives off a striking metallic sheen.
Caring for this rare and beautiful aroid might seem super difficult, but I promise it’s incredibly easy!
As a fully qualified Horticulturist who used to work in a tropical Botanical Gardens, I’ve cared for many myself.
With this complete Philodendron Hastatum care guide, you’ll have everything you need to transform those small-bladed leaves into fully-grown swords!
Quick Silver Sword Philodendron Care Breakdown
- Light: medium to bright, indirect light
- Water: generally keep top levels of soil moist
- Temperature: ideally between 65-85°F (18-30°C)
- Soil: best in rich soil high in organic matter
- Humidity: 60-80% is ideal.
- Fertilize: 1-2 times a month in Summer, cut back in Autumn & Winter
Brief History and Origin – Is it Really That Rare?
Philodendron Hastatum is a rare aroid that originates from the tropical and subtropical canopies of Brazil. Whilst it’s found in abundance in Brazil’s Atlantic Forest and in some areas of Rio de Janeiro, it’s considered an endangered species due to its high and growing demand worldwide.
In some areas of Rio, it’s fully protected by law under the National Park Act and can’t be taken without explicit permission from the local government.
Philodendron Hastatum Care
The Philodendron Hastatum thrives in an aroid potting mix that’s fast draining and rich in organic matter.
I’ve had great success with my DIY recipe below. It’s a horticultural formulation I used to use for philodendron ‘enclosures’ when I worked for different botanical gardens.
- 40% coco coir (or potting soil)
- 20% perlite (drainage)
- 10% orchid bark (philos LOVE this, acts as a hotspot for roots to attach)
- 10% coarse pumice (drainage)
- 10% activated charcoal (purifies soil and helps beneficial bacteria)
The Global Biodiversity Information Facility mentions that the Philodendron Hastatum is hemi-epiphytic which means it grows on trees, shrubs, or other foliage.
This means the plant is used to receiving dappled or filtered sunlight and will thrive in moderate to bright, indirect sunlight.
🌱 Recommended Light Intensity
It grows extremely well in 6-8 hours of bright, indirect sunlight and you’ll see more shiny, metallic green leaves because of it.
🌱 What is Bright, Indirect Light Exactly?
Probably brighter than you think! Light is a little tricky to measure by eye that’s why I use my light meter when deciding where to keep a plant indoors.
It measures overall light intensity in a room in footcandles (FC).
🌱 How Much Light Does This Plant Need in a Home?
The lowest light level this plant will tolerate is 200FC (this is the absolute bare minimum) and is best for maintenance. For optimal growth, 250-500FC is ideal.
As an epiphytic tropical vine, you bet this plant loves moist, well-drained soil, but the key thing here is well-drained! Overly wet soil can cause root rot – the most common ‘disease’ with this plant!
With the Philodendron Silver Sword, only water when the top layers of soil (1-2 inches) are dry to touch. Ideally, leave the soil to dry out a little in between waterings.
Remember how I said this plant came from the tropical canopies of Brazil? You’ll want to mimic that as much as possible (without turning your home into a greenhouse!)
🌱 Ideal Temperature Range
As a general rule of thumb, between 65-80° Fahrenheit is ideal (18-29°C). The warmer the better. Anything less than 55°F (12.5°C) will result in stunted growth, wilting, or even death.
🌱 Can I Grow this Plant Outdoors?
If you live in USDA zones 9-11, yes. It will act like a perennial, losing its leaves in Winter and bouncing back in Spring.
Being a tropical plant, it’s no surprise part of philodendron hastatum care is maintaining a fairly high humidity level.
This plant is a humidity lover, think 55-80%+, which in my experience, leads to thicker, wider sword-like leaves with a richer color palette.
🌱 When and How Often Should I Fertilize?
- 1-2 times a month during Spring and Summer
No need to fertilize during the colder Autumn and Winter months when growth is slow or non-existent. Overfertilization during these months can cause root burn.
🌱 What is the Best Fertilizer to Use for this Plant?
Dyna grow pro is a premium, complete formulation liquid fertilizer that contains all 16 of the key macro and micronutrients your plant needs. It’s also urea-free and so doesn’t cause that nasty build on the soil’s surface.
🌱 How to Fertilize your Philodendron Hastatum
Simply mix a ¼ teaspoon of liquid fertilizer with 4.5 litres (1 gallon) of freshwater. Tap water tends to have too much chlorine or chloramine in it which can cause chlorine toxicity in houseplants.
Try to keep a regular fertilizing schedule (you’ll be surprised how quickly plants adapt to a regular feeding) and make sure to fertilize away from the roots as much as possible i.e. on the outskirts of the pot.
The dyna grow pro formula is low in residue salts but it’s always best to be on the more cautious side.
Pro Tip: You can flush out the soil monthly to prevent excess build-up of salts.
Growth – What Can I Expect?
The philodendron silver sword is a very fast grower. It tends to reach 2-3m at maturity, though it will grow slower in a pot indoors.
The ones I cared for at the Botanical gardens reached around 3-5m in height in just one year, but we did provide moss poles for them to climb!
The philodendron hastatum is a fairly low-maintenance plant and doesn’t need regular pruning, if at all. You’ll only need to snip away dead, damaged, or diseased leaves.
To prune, simply cut back until you reach a healthy leaf, branch, or node with a clean pair of pruning scissors
Unlike the red moon philodendron, the philodendron hastatum can cope with being slightly root bound. Repotting once a year at the beginning of its growth cycle in Spring is likely all it needs.
Pro Tip: If you've just bought your plant from a nursery or Etsy seller, it's likely it needs repotting straight away. Nurseries tend to resell their plants when they've reached max growing capacity.
🌱 Repotting Philodendron Hastatum Silver Sword Tips
- Choose a pot that has drainage holes
- Only select a pot that is 1-2 inches bigger than the last (no more).
- Fill with a high quality, loose, well draining potting mix
Don’t worry about prying the old soil from its roots before repotting. Your plant’s roots will expand into the new pot with ease. Teasing can actually cause more stress to the root system.
How to Propagate your Philodendron Hastatum
I’ve had the most success taking stem cuttings and planting them in either soil or water, though personally, I’ve found water to produce the best roots in the least amount of time with this philodendron.
You can also use leca but I’ve found it’s super hit and miss with this method.
Pro Tip: Propagating at the beginning of Spring, at the start of this plant's growth cycle, lends to stronger and healthier roots.
Silver Sword Propagation Methods – Step by Step
Cutting your plant can seem really scary, so I’m here to walk you through it step by step.
Method #1 Water Propagation
- Have a small, transparent clean jar of freshwater ready (so you can see root growth)
- With a clean pair of pruning scissors, cut a healthy 6 inch stem that ideally has 2-3 nodes on it. The more nodes the more successful propagation is likely to be.
- Place the stem cutting into the jar of water, leaving the main leaf above water level.
- Change the water at least once a week to prevent decay pathogens developing.
- After 2-5 weeks, you should see some small white roots beginning to sprout.
- Once the roots are around an inch long (3cm) you can take them out of the water and plant them in a small pot with moist, well draining potting soil with perlite.
- Water and care for as usual before transferring to a larger container.
Method #2 – Taking a Stem Cutting + Planting in Soil
- Choose a healthy stem that’s around 6 inches in length and has 2-3 nodes on it.
- With a clean pair of pruning scissors, cut the stem.
- Prepare a small pot of moist potting soil and perlite (2:1 ratio). The mix should be wet, but not soaking.
- Dip the fresh stem cutting in rooting hormone. This is optional but I find it helps roots take hold quicker.
- Plant the stem into your pre-made potting mix (2-3 inches into the mix).
- Fill the rest of the pot with your potting soil and perlite mix.
- Place in a warm area that receives bright, indirect light.
- Water as usual.
- In 3-4 weeks roots should develop. Tug very gently to check for roots.
- Transfer to a slightly bigger container or pot once roots have taken hold.
That’s it. Propagating your silver sword plant is that easy. Not all cuttings will take hold but so far I’ve had 3 out of 4 plants take root with these 2 methods.
Common Pests & Diseases to Watch Out For
You’ll be glad to know that the philodendron hastatum is a very resilient plant when it comes to pests, not much affects it.
Mealybugs, thrips, aphids, and scale can all be removed with some neem oil, an eco-friendly insecticide.
The main culprits to watch out for are erwinia blight disease and pseudomonas leaf spot, both nasty bacterial infections. They thrive on moisture and are often caused by overwatering.
The bacteria festers in the soil before causing wet, mushy lesions on stems and leaves. If left unchecked, it can kill your plant within days. It’s much easier to prevent than cure.
Pro Tip: This is one reason why I don't recommend misting or overhead watering your plants. It's hard to gauge when you're overdoing it and it can cause all sorts of bacteria to develop.
Have You Imported this Plant? This is What You Need to Know:
Here are a few things you need to know about your recently imported plant:
- Your plant’s roots will probably come wrapped in moss which you’ll need to take off. This kind of moss will spread with your roots if potted and if it gets too dry, it is impossible for moisture to pass through.
- All of the leaves your plant came with might die – this is completely normal. It might take one or two growth cycles to start seeing new shoots again.
- You’ll need to isolate and sanitize your plant before adding it to your plant collection. Wipe the leaves and arching stems over with some neem oil and isolate for 2 weeks to prevent any pests spreading.
- It will suffer some transit shock – but you can mitigate its effects by adding some diluted superthrive to your plant’s soil. Superthrive is a natural stress reliever for plants.
Toxicity – Is this plant toxic?
Yes. The philodendron hastatum’s leaves are toxic to humans and pets, including cats and dogs if ingested.
Its leaves contain calcium oxalate crystals that can cause swelling of the esophagus, mouth, tongue, and gastrointestinal system.
Help! What’s Wrong? – Common Issues with the Philodendron Hastatum
Problem #1 – Why are my philodendron hastatum’s leaves turning yellow or brown?
Browning or yellowing leaves may indicate overwatering, too much bright, direct sunlight, a pot oversaturated with fertilizer, or a pest problem.
Overwatering typically causes very yellow leaves to appear within days, whilst too much sunlight causes brown edges or darkened spots to appear.
Problem #2 – Why is my philodendron hastatum drooping?
If your philodendron hastatum is leggy and drooping, this can indicate that it’s either not getting enough light or it’s lacking moisture and humidity.
Try placing it in a brighter location, upping the moisture, and pruning the sparse stems back. If your plant has yellowing leaves though AND is drooping, a lack of moisture is not likely the issue.
Problem #3 – Why are my philodendron’s leaves curling?
Philodendron leaves will curl if the soil is excessively dry, the plant is suffering from cold shock, or the humidity level is too low. If your plant is indoors, it’s likely a moisture and humidity issue.
Problem #4 – Why are there small cobwebs on my plant?
Small, sticky cobwebs are usually a sign of a pest such as spider mites. Unlike normal cobwebs produced by house spiders, these webs are very intricate, thin, and usually have lots of little red or orange spots on them.
This is a spider mite infestation. Spider Mites can be removed with some cotton wool and rubbing alcohol or neem oil.
🌱 Continue Your Journey of Discovery
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Recently added this gorgeous plant to your collection? Have any questions? Leave them in the comment box below.