The Philodendron Verrucosum, AKA the Equador Philodendron, is a highly sought-after climbing plant native to the deep rain forests of Ecuador.
Discovered in 1954, this plant quickly exploded in popularity as the world’s population bore witness to its deep emerald leaves and lush stalk.
Usually found in pre-mountainous rain forests at 500 meters of elevation and above, this Philodendron species is among the rarest in the world and often fetches a steep price.
Additionally, the Philodendron is hemiepiphytic, meaning its seedlings grow their stalks toward the ground rather than the sun.
Then, once they find a nice tree truck to wrap their roots around, the foliage explodes upwards and outwards as the Philodendron grows.
Because of this unique growing style, however, many plant owners fail to provide it with the proper space and nutrients it needs to grow to full capacity. This is no fault of their own (as Philodendrons are incredibly picker growers) but still causes unnecessary frustration for plant parents such as yourself.
This article aims to change that issue, however, providing you with all the information you need to ensure your Philodendron Verrucosum care is nothing less than perfect.
Let’s start with the basics:
Because of its rarity and unique growing style, Philodendron Verrucosum care can often be guesswork if you aren’t sure of what you’re doing. Care for this unique plant, however, may be easier than you think.
Philodendrons like this one thrive best under bright, indirect light. For the best results, place your Philodendron near an East facing window where the plant will get bright sunlight for the majority of the day. Ensure, however, that the leaves are not touching the window.
For more precision in this area, you can purchase a light meter and find a spot that averages about 200 FC.
For Philodendrons especially, the soil is integral to the proper growth and health of the plant. These plants are especially prone to issue caused by incorrect potting soil, so you want to make sure you follow the directions here as closely as possible.
Philodendrons like this one have roots that are normally openly exposed in the wild, which is why you need a soil mixture that drains well and doesn’t trap water (which can cause root rot).
In order to ensure the drainage works the way you need it to, though, you need to have ingredients in the soil that are large and chunky, which will cause air pockets to form in the soil and keep water draining through.
For this, I recommend the following mixture:
- 3/10th Potting Soil
- 3/10th Orchid Bark
- 3/10th Perlite
- 1/10th Charcoal
*Note: Try to keep soil PH between 5.1 and 6.0
Together, these ingredients will provide both exceptional drainage and additional nutrients your plant will love.
As natives of a tropical jungle, Philodendrons will accept nothing less than ideal watering conditions. Before we go over how to water your plant, though, let’s talk about signs of overwatering and underwatering.
Signs you may be overwatering:
- Wilted leaves (though the soil is still moist)
- New leaves appear brown and soft
- Browning leaf edges
- Pale green or yellow leaves
- A build-up of salt is present on the soil surface (this will look like a crusty, white layer)
Signs you may be underwatering:
- Drooping leaves or leave that are brown and dry
- Soil pulling away from the edges of the pot
- Curled leaf tips that begin to brown over time
To prevent your plant from exhibiting any of the symptoms listed, you’ll want to follow these water directions:
First, be sure you’re watering your plant thoroughly so as to keep the soil humid but not soaked through. Also, do your best not to allow your plant’s soil to completely dry out, as this can prevent future humidity from penetrating the soil.
In the summer, you’ll want to be watering your Philodendron to keep the soil evenly moist. In the winter, water it when it gets about 75% dry.
Water near the base of the plant until water begins draining through your pot’s drainage holes. Then, discard extra water from the container beneath the pot. Be sure that you aren’t watering from overhead, as this can cause disease on the plant’s leaves.
This Philodendron prefers temperatures to be above 77 degrees F for exceptional growth, but if that isn’t possible, anything over 68 degrees will do. 55 degrees F is about the lowest this plant will tolerate.
The Philodendron Verrucosum prefers the area humidity to be over 70%. Naturally, however, it’s very difficult to withstand 70% humidity in your entire home. To help this plant out, you can purchase a humidifier or group it with other plants.
Avoid misting, however, as over-misting can cause fungal and bacterial infections.
This is an often overlooked area of Philodendron care, but if you fail to fertilizer your plant you could stunt its growth.
For the best results, this plant prefers slow-release fertilizers (such as those that come in sticks or balls that are designed to be pressed into the soil).
This plant prefers to be fertilized about three times a year as well and does best with fertilizers that are well-balanced with plenty of calcium and magnesium.
However, if the plant is growing quickly and receiving lots of light in the summertime, you may want to increase your feeding interval.
In general, this breed of Philodendron grows to about 3 feet tall. It is also a climbing plant, which means it’s best to provide it will some sort of pole or branch to help foster growth. Without this pole, the Philodendron will take much longer to reach full maturity (or it may never reach maturity at all).
With this plant, you may also expect varying rates of growth depending on the conditions it’s housed in. However, it will grow quickly with the best care.
Luckily, propagation with this plant is fairly easy and can be done with just some simple stem clippings.
- Begin by choosing a section of your plant that looks emerald green and healthy, with no visible signs of disease.
- Check the section you’ve chosen and make sure it has a node.
- Using disinfected sheers, cleanly snip off the section you want to propagate.
- Rub some dry cinnamon into the cut on the plant to help encourage healing.
- Place your cutting in your choice of sphagnum moss, water, perlite, or direct soil. However, sphagnum moss works the best.
- Before planting in the sphagnum moss, wet your moss and press out the excess water. Repeat this 3-4 times to ensure the moss is evenly damp.
- Place the sphagnum moss in a jar or planter and insert the cutting.
- Keep the cutting in a humid and warm area for the best growth.
Because the Equador Philodendron grows large root systems, this plant hates being root-bound. To make sure this doesn’t happen, repot your Philodendron every 1-2 years when it begins slowing in growth (slowing in growth like this tells you that your plant may become root bound soon).
If you are unsure whether your current Philodendron needs to be repotted, here are some signs to look out for:
- Slow or stunted growth could mean your plant is becoming root bound
- Roots poking out from drainage holes means that your plant is probably already root-bound.
- If all else fails, gently lift the plant from its pot and examine the root ball. If the roots are just barely tangling around the edges of the soil, it’s becoming root-bound. If the roots are matted together on the outside of the soil, it is already root-bound and should be repotted ASAP.
Pruning is not necessary for the Equador Philodendron.
Because of higher than normal levels of calcium oxalate crystals that hang out on the leaf surface, this plant can be toxic to both pets and humans if ingested. Take care to keep it out of the reach of dogs and children, and don’t hesitate to call poison control if you suspect someone has taken a bite from it.
FAQ – Your Care Questions Answered
Pale green leaves can be a symptom of overwatering. If you are only watering your plant when the top layer dries out, this could be an indication that you have the wrong soil. If watering your plant less does not work, then try repotting.
Curling and brown leave tips are the plant’s way of telling you it needs more water. If it is summer, try keeping the soil evenly moist as often as possible. If it is winter, water your Philodendron whenever 75% of the soil is dry.
This can be another sign of overwatering. Try taking it down a notch.
If your plant is weak and droopy, it may be suffering from root rot, a disease caused by too much moisture being harbored in the root ball. You can tell this is the case if the roots of your plant have lost a significant bit of their color and appear brown and overly damp.
To help your plant out, remove it from the soil and run it under lukewarm running water until the soil is washed away. Then, take a clean pair of scissors and trim away the parts of the root ball that are affected.
If you have to trim off a significant portion of the root ball, be sure to prune back the leaves as well so the plant has a chance to grow back. Finish up by cleaning the pot your Philodendron was planted in and repotting it with fresh, clean soil.
Philodendron Verrucosum is relatively pest-resistant, but can occasionally become infested with mealybugs, spider mites, or scale. To get rid of them, wipe the leaves of your plant in rubbing alcohol, neem oil, soapy water, or an insecticide wash.
Erwinia Blight Disease
Erwinia blight disease is a plant-based illness where bacteria spreads on new leaves, appearing as yellow or dark green spots.
If this is happening to your plant, immediately separate it from any other plants and prune the infected leaves. Be sure to also repot in a clean potting mix and increase air circulation around the remaining leaves.
Keep in mind that this disease is incredibly serious, and about 80% of philodendrons die once they catch this, so don’t beat yourself up if you aren’t able to save it.