If you’re looking for an inexpensive but gorgeous indoor plant to add to your collection, a Philodendron Micans is a fantastic plant to consider!
This plant is known by many names including the velvet leaf philodendron, the sweetheart plant, or its ridiculously long botanical name, Philodendron hederaceum var. Hederaceum (wow).
Characterized by its deep green, velvety finish, and long trailing vines, this houseplant is just as easy to take care of as a regular heart-leaf philodendron.
In this complete guide, you’ll discover how to provide the best philodendron micans care to keep this little gem in top condition.
The Philodendron Micans’ Confusing History
The Philodendron Micans is steeped in a rich and confusing history! Native to Mexico, the Caribbean, and the Seychelles, this little gem thrives in warm, humid climates.
It was first discovered in 1760, though it’s thought it has been thriving for hundreds of years before that! In 1790, it was given the botanical name ‘Arum Hederaceum’ by botanists in Europe.
In 1829 the micans was moved to the philodendron family, but it wasn’t until 1850 it was officially called the ‘philodendron micans’.
Since then it has had at least 20 different name changes. Why? Because it changes dramatically as it matures, making it extremely difficult for botanists in the 1800’s and early 1900’s to classify.
It loses it burgundy coloring, its vines become thicker and it even loses its velvet texture, making it seem like a completely different plant.
Did you know that the philodendron micans, the philodendron scandens and philodendron brasil are actually the same species of plant? They're just a different variation!
- Thanks to their thin trailing vines, they look incredibly elegant in hanging baskets.
- Give them a climbing rod or totem, and they will climb, creating a gorgeous piece of home décor.
Philodendron Micans Care: Keeping Your Plant Happy and Healthy
Potting mixes, light, water, humidity, climbing?! It can all get a little confusing to know what’s best for your little philodendron micans.
Based on my own experience with this plant, I’ve covered every care detail so you know exactly what you need to do to help your plant thrive.
Honestly? They cope extremely well with a wide range of light conditions.
Philodendron Micans look amazing when given lots of bright, indirect light because that’s the type of environment that mimics their natural growing habitat.
With this type of light, their leaves go a deeper green and look very lush.
Having said that, they will still grow and trail in low light conditions, but the leaves will be smaller (as to be expected).
What Bright, Indirect Light Really Looks Like
Many plant owners guess what bright, indirect light looks like, believing that a partially shaded area is perfect. But, bright, indirect light is probably much brighter than you think!
For this reason, I love and trust my light meter. Light meters measure overall light intensity and give readings in foot candles (FC).
I use the Dr. meter LX1330B Digital Light Meter. It completely takes the guesswork out of finding that perfect spot, and even measures light from grow lights.
I’ve seen such a difference in my aroid collection’s overall growth since investing in one.
Recommended Light Intensity
For maintenance growth, the philodendron micans can be kept in 100FC (but this is the absolute bare minimum I’d recommend unless you want a very small micans).
For optimal growth, shoot for 300-600FC.
FYI, nurseries grow the micans under 1500-3000FC with a 20-40% shade cloth to shield it from too much direct sun. Don't worry about trying to achieve these levels. Nurseries, despite their name, are more like training grounds for plants - the idea being to achieve strong growth as fast as possible.
Oh, and don’t be afraid to keep your micans in a place that receives 1-2 hours of cool direct morning sun either. This can do wonders for your plant’s foliage.
Problems with color fading and scorching only appear when the plant is kept in full sun for 3+ hours a day.
Like most aroids, the philodendron micans loves a well-draining, rich potting mix with organic materials added for a nutrient boost.
So, here’s the thing, super cheap soil is cheap for a reason. I made the mistake of buying Miracle Grow soil for like $7 a bag, and the next thing you know I had a fungas gnat infestation.
It’s why you’ll never see me recommend it (unlike other plant blogs out there).
Recommended Soil Mixes
You’ve probably seen all the rave reviews about Fox Farm’s products, and there’s a good reason for it – it works wonders for foliage growth! I’ve used both their ocean forest and happy frog mixes, both produced fab results.
A DIY Soil Mix Recipe (If You Want to Go It Alone)
A DIY soil mix typically includes a good mix of coco coir, orchid bark, worm castings, activated charcoal, pumice, and perlite for drainage.
I’ve used this mix for my philodendrons in the past:
- 40% coco coir
- 15% orchid bark
- 15% perlite
- 10% worm castings
- 10% pumice
- 10% activated charcoal
The important thing is to have something in the mix that will retain some moisture.
If everything in your potting mix is designed for drainage, you’ll find yourself needing to water your micans everyday to prevent your plant’s leaves curling up and turning brown.
What Each Element is Designed to Do
- Coco coir – more eco-friendly than peat moss, holds nutrients and moisture whilst also being well draining
- Orchid bark – aerates, provides structural strength to the potting mix, becomes a hotspot for positive microbes, and allows roots to do their natural thing and attach
- Perlite – helps aerate the soil and prevent root rot in philodendrons
- Worm castings (worm poo) – an organic fertilizer that provides a small, but complete nutrient palette
- Activated charcoal – absorbs soil impurities, repels some pests, prevents mold
- Pumice – another aerator and drainage element
How much water your micans needs is completely dependent on how much light your plant is getting.
If it’s placed in a warm location that gets lots of bright, indirect light, it will need regular waterings.
If it’s placed in a cooler location with much less light, your plant will need much less water, otherwise you run the risk of waterlogging the soil.
Generally, the philodendron micans prefers evenly moist soil.
Instead of following a strict ‘water once a week schedule’ like most guides tell you, follow a regular ‘checking’ schedule, where you observe your lovely plant to see if it really needs water.
How to Tell When Your Plant Needs Water
With a simple chopstick, stick it a few inches deep into the mix (away from the main stem), and then observe the stick after it’s pulled out.
- Wet soil will cling to the chopstick and possibly make the stick a darker shade
- Moist soil will be soft in texture (you’ll easily be able to push the stick through)
- Dry soil will be tough, brittle and compacted and won’t change the color of the stick
You can also use the quick finger knuckle test. Stick your finger into the potting mix. If it is moist at the first or second knuckle, you can hold back on watering. If it is dry, your plant needs a drink.
How to Water Your Philodendron Micans
Water every plant until water runs out of the bottom of the drainage holes. This applies to ALL plants you own – including those cacti and succulents.
Water doesn’t just keep the mix moist, but it pushes air into the root system (ironically, helping to prevent root rot).
Make sure to water all the way around the pot and not just in one spot either.
Myth Buster: Giving your plant just a little water frequently is better than a full watering every once in a while. A. Not true. This isn't the correct way to water a plant. It's better to water a plant fully (meaning it's potting mix is evenly moist all the way through) rather than give your plant a little bit of water frequently and only cover the top inch of soil. This can lead to compaction in the lower soil levels causing just as much damage as overwatering!
Native to the warm, tropical islands of the Caribbean, South America and Mexico, it’s no surprise Philodendron Micans love warm, humid environments.
In the wild, with 70% humidity or higher, they can grow to an astounding size.
There are archive pictures that show them dwarfing trees!
Before you panic, you absolutely don’t need to keep your home that humid for your plant to survive.
Recommended Humidity Level
Maintaining a humidity level of 45-50% will still result in good growth.
In winter months when heating can significantly decrease the humidity levels, you can use a small humidifier to add some extra moisture into the air.
Or, if you have a ton of plants, try grouping your plants to create a mini biome where plants share ‘humidity resources’ via a physical process known as transpiration.
Myth Buster: Lining a water tray with pebbles helps to increase humidity around the plant. A. Complete myth. The water will evaporate but the moisture will not stay localised to your plant. The droplets will quickly disperse around the room, providing little to no benefit for your plant.
The Philodendron Micans is very tolerant of various household temperatures. They’re not too fussy. If you’re comfortable, generally your micans will be too.
Recommended Temperature Level
For optimal growth, keep your room temperature between 68°F-78°F (20°C-26°C).
It can tolerate temperatures as low as 54°F (12°C) though you will see slower growth and potential wilting.
Anything less than 54°F (12°C) isn’t suitable for this plant.
There are lots of options available to you. For best results, I recommend purchasing a complete liquid fertilizer that places emphasis on nitrogen and potassium, and phosphorous.
You’ll see this written as NPK or as numbers e.g 5-5-5 on fertilizer bottles.
Nitrogen promotes leaf growth, whilst phosphorus and potassium encourage healthy stem and root development, amongst many other things.
Best Fertilizer for the Philodendron Micans
Dyna Gro’s Foliage Pro 9-3-6 formulation is one I’ve had the best results with for my micans.
Dyna Gro 9-3-6 contains all 6 macro nutrients and 10 micronutrients your philodendron will need to thrive. It's the multi-vitamin equivalent to plants.
Alternatively, if you’re on a budget you can use a balanced all-purpose liquid houseplant fertilizer such as Miracle Grow’s feed.
Their fertilizer isn’t too bad considering the cost, but again, you can’t beat the premium ones!
How to Fertilize Your Philodendron Micans
Simply dilute 1/4 teaspoon of liquid fertilizer (dyna gro) with 1 gallon of water (4.5 litres) and use this water to ‘water’ your plant. Every time.
This method mimics what happens in the wild – plants receive a steady stream of nutrients over days rather than one big gulp once a month.
You’ll hear this referred to as maintenance feeding – but don’t let that fool you, your philodendron will still grow.
If your philodendron micans leaves are turning very pale or chalky, this is a sure sign that your plant is craving magnesium.
When to Fertilize Your Plant
You’ll only want to fertilize when your plant is actively growing. This usually means during the spring and summer months, lowering fertilizing in autumn and completely stopping in winter.
The reason plant growth comes to a halt in homes at winter, unlike in the wild, is due to the significantly lower light levels. If you could provide optimal conditions all year round, you wouldn't need to stop fertilizing.
Growth – How Big Do Philodendron Micans Get?
The philodendron micans is an incredibly fast growing plant. At maturity, its leaves can grow as big as 50cm long! (Though you won’t see this lofty size indoors!)
Under proper conditions, they can grow up to 24 inches wide and 12 inches tall indoors. During their peak growth cycle, vines can grow up to 10cm every week!
Should I Provide a Climbing Support For My Philodendron Micans?
Yes! Philodendron Micans love to climb and spread their aerial roots. If you put it close enough to a wood board or a moss pole, it will naturally attach itself.
How to Propagate a Philodendron Micans
Propagation with Philodendron Micans is very simple, and great for beginners, because roots take hold fairly easily.
Taking stem cuttings has the highest success rate for home growers.
- Prepare a glass or container with some room temp water (ideally distilled or rainwater).
- Choose a healthy stem that’s around 1-3 inches long that has a node on it.
- With a clean pair of pruning scissors, cut right below the leaf node. This is where new roots will sprout from.
- Place your cutting in your water container, making sure the nodes are under the water.
- Place the cutting somewhere that receives plenty of bright indirect sunlight (but not direct).
- Change the water once a week to prevent decay pathogens building up.
This method makes it easy to monitor the growth and root development of your plant. You should see roots sprouting after a 1-3 weeks of propagating in water.
Once the roots are around 1 inch (3cm) in length, you’ll want to move it to a rich potting mix (see soil section above).
Philodendron micans can be prone to developing root bound balls, which despite what you’ve been told isn’t all that great.
Being root bound means the plant has maxed out its current growing capacity, and should be repotted as soon as possible.
Signs your philodendron micans needs repotting include:
- The roots are spiralled around the potting soil (this means it’s root bound)
- Roots are poking out up through the potting mix or down through the drainage holes
- The plant is showing signs of stunted or poor growth
- The soil isn’t draining well (when it used to)
- You’re having to water your plant more regularly than you used to
Things to consider when repotting your plant:
- Choose a pot that is only slightly bigger than the last (1-3 inches at most)
- Opt for drainage holes
- Choose a well-draining potting mix
Myth Buster: It's best to opt for much bigger pots when repotting. A. Not true at all. When it comes to repotting, it's best to keep your plants more on the snug side. If you move from a 2x2 inch pot to a 8x8 inch pot, you run the risk of root rot. More potting mix is needed to fill the pot which leads to excess moisture when watering.
Plant Toxicity – is the Philodendron Micans Toxic?
Philodendron micans is toxic to pets and small children. This plant contains calcium oxalate crystals which are poisonous if eaten.
It’s rated as level one toxicity, which means it’s only mildly toxic.
If ingested, adults might experience mild poisoning symptoms such as burning of the lips, mouth, and tongue as well as skin irritation.
Help! What’s Wrong with My Plant? – Common Care Problems with the Philodendron Micans
There are a few issues you might experience with your Philodendron Micans care. Luckily, they’re usually preventable and easy to solve.
1. Why Does my Philodendron Micans have Root Rot? What do I do?
The most common cause of root rot with this plant is overwatering combined with chronic underwatering.
When a plant is underwatered its soil compacts. This makes absorbing moisture extremely difficult, so when you do water your plant it’s effectively being drenched in it. The added water then blocks all the air pockets in the soil which means the roots have no oxygen supply.
If your potting mix is left to dry out completely between waterings, your plant is more likely to develop root rot later down the road.
How to Fix: It’s not guaranteed to work, but if I think root rot has taken hold I change the potting mix as soon as possible and try to save a few stem cuttings to propagate.
2. Yellowing Leaves
Lots of yellowing leaves can be caused by many things including too much water, too little water, too low temperatures, too high temperatures as well as a magnesium deficiency.
From my experience, it’s likely a sign of overwatering (especially if the color change starts with lower foliage first).
Check this first before attempting to change anything else.
Similarly, if plants don’t receive enough water, they’ll drop leaves (and turn yellow) to prevent transpiration, which converses water in the long run.
3. My Philodendron Micans Has Small Leaves
Small leaves can be caused by being placed in low light. This could also be a sign that your plant is adjusting to the new conditions in your home after being imported or bought from a nursery, where conditions are always perfect for stellar growth.
This isn’t a real care problem, it’s more of an aesthetic one. The micans is very resilient and won’t die because it has small leaves.
4. Brown Edges on Leaves Only
This isn’t common, but typically, you’ll find brown edges due to underwatering or over-fertilization or using fertilizer too close to the stems and leaves (it’s likely they’re burnt).
Using more fertilizer doesn’t mean that your plant is healthier! Always dilute to half the recommended amount on the bottle (or if you’re using my method, dilute to a 1/4).
5. My Micans is Stemmy/Leggy
If you’re noticing more space between leaves, and your stems look sparse in places, it’s likely your plant doesn’t have enough bright, indirect sunlight (which is brighter than most people think). Simply move to a brighter position.
6. The Leaves are Wrinkling
Wrinkling leaves (not curling) are usually seen when plant owners fertilize their plant by overhead watering.
Fertilizer, nor water, should be given by direct overhead watering.
Directly applied to leaves or stems, fertilizer causes that characteristic wrinkling caused by a phytotoxic reaction when the fertilizer is left to dry on the leaf surface.
Similarly, left over water without proper aeration, can encourage erwinia blight disease or other bacterial infections to spread as well burn leaves when light hits.
Wrinkling leaves can also be a sign your plant isn’t getting enough water.
Common Houseplant Pests to Be Aware Of
Philodendron micans care involves knowing how to notice pest problems quickly and fix them.
- Mealybugs – white, fuzzy unarmored sap sucking bugs that are round in shape
- Spider mites – tiny yellowish, sap-sucking insects that produce intricate webbing
- Scale – brown or black insects that are sap-sucking
- Thrips – small, yellow or dark brown slender bugs that eat the leaf’s surface
- Erwinia Blight Disease – wet, mushy looking lesions on stems and leaves
How to Treat Common Houseplant Pests
Mealybugs can be treated by pruning, and dabbing a rubbing alcohol soaked cotton swab on the infested areas.
Spider mites are first treated by pruning infested areas before spraying the leaves with neem oil diluted in water.
Scale, if treating small infestations, responds well to pruning and rubbing alcohol. For larger infestations, you’ll likely need to discard your plant.
Thrips can be treated by pruning and a diluted neem oil treatment.
When pressed, neem oil has natural insecticidal properties. You’ll reap the most benefit by using this on your plant during its early growth stages.
What To Do if your Plant Has Erwinia Blight Disease
Erwinia is a serious disease that can kill your philodendron in days.
It’s much easier to prevent than it is to cure. It’s a bacterial infection that causes wet, transparent mushy looking patches on the plant.
It starts just below soil level and creeps up to the stems and if left unchecked will cause wet lesions on the leaves.
It needs moisture to grow and thrive (this is one reason I don’t recommend you mist your plant).
Prune the infected leaves, change the potting mix, minimize watering applications, and allow spacing in between plants for rapid drying of leaves. You’ll also want to isolate it from your other plants.
Unfortunately, bactericides have been shown to be ineffective against erwinia blight. Copper sulfate is commonly talked about but in practice it only slows the infection, it doesn't cure it.
If the disease has spread to lots of leaves or many parts of the stem, it’s likely it’s incurable and the plant needs to be discarded of.
FAQ’s about Philodendron Micans Care
Does the Philodendron Micans Purify the Air?
I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but this is a myth many people are told at a young age.
You might have seen the infamous 1989 NASA study quoted all over the internet, but when you comb through the finer details, NASA found that plants in a sealed environment e.g. the International Space Station did remove up to 84% of formaldehyde from the air, BUT they also discovered to make a difference to the air we breath on Earth, you would need at least one plant per 100 square feet (9.3 m2).
Even then, the same study replicated in homes and offices produced less than stellar results.
You would effectively need to create a jungle in your home to see any noticeable benefit to your indoor air quality.
*Great excuse to buy more plants*.
Where Can I Buy a Philodendron Micans Plant?
You can find Philodendron Micans at most garden centres, local hardware stores, general plant nurseries as well as on Etsy.
Are Philodendron Micans rare?
Philodendron Micans are not rare and can be found at your local nursery, hardware store, or even ordered online. The plant is well distributed around the US and Europe.
Does my Philodendron Micans Care Need to Include Regular Pruning?
Yes, removing any unhealthy leaves is always a recommendation for any plant. When vines get too long, pruning can help keep the plant thriving and growing in fuller.
Make sure you cut below the node and use clean pruning scissors sterilized with rubbing alcohol.
Should I Provide a Pole For My Philodendron Micans?
Yes, you can. The philodendron micans is a climbing plant. It easily attaches to walls, bamboo, or moss poles, looks amazing when grown as totems, and climbs extremely well when attached to a wood board.
A pole encourages the leaves to grow longer and wider too.
Do I Need a Humidifier for my Philodendron Micans care?
You might need to use a humidifier, depending on your geographical location. If you live in a place with high humidity, you won’t need to use a humidifier. Dry areas will typically require a humidifier to replicate their natural growing conditions.
If you don’t have access to a humidifier, place your plant in the bathroom where humidity levels are naturally higher.
Should I Mist my Philodendron?
No, there’s no benefit to misting your philodendron. If anything, misting can cause bacterial and fungal problems, especially seen as it’s too difficult to gauge when you’re overdoing it.
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