Caring for your Philodendron Bonifaziae

holding up a philodendron bonifaziae, a tropical houseplant that has long, succulent-like leaves

The Philodendron Bonifaziae is a rare little guy from the Philodendron family. 🙂

While most Bonifaziaes are sold in small starter pots, when mature this Philodendron can grow up to 10 feet (3 meters) long.

It is known for its long, narrow leaves held atop short, succulent-like petioles (leaf stalks).

Care-wise, the Philodendron Bonifaziae is undemanding and tolerates less-than-ideal conditions like a champ. 🙂 It is also drought-tolerant, thanks to its ability to store water efficiently.

To see it thrive, provide at least 60% humidity, and keep temperatures above 60 degrees F (15.6 degrees C) year-round. It also appreciates fast-draining soil, so add bark, pumice, and charcoal to lighten commercial soil mixes.

Origins

Philodendron Bonifaziae comes from Ecuador. It enjoys the care conditions of typical Philodendrons.

Caring for your Philodendron Bonifaziae

Light

Around 6-10 hours of bright, indirect light is optimal for your Philodendron Bonifaziae. Being native to the wetlands of South American rainforests, they are not accustomed to harsh direct light for more than a couple of hours.

In our experience, an East or West-facing window is best for quick and healthy Philodendron Bonifaziae growth.

Water

We’re starting to become fans of bottom-watering for small pots of plants that are easy to move. When the top 2 inches (5cm) of soil is dry, we take our pot of Bonifaziae and place it in a small tub or sink that is partially filled with water.

The water should only reach about 2 inches (5cm) of the plant’s pot. It shouldn’t submerge the plant!

Let the plant soak for about 15 minutes. Water will be drawn up from drainage holes into the soil.

This method ensures the roots are evenly moist.

But you will still need to top-water your plant every month or so to ensure excess mineral salts (from fertilizers or soil additives) don’t build up.

Humidity

Like most tropical plants, the higher the humidity, the better! Minimally, 60% humidity is necessary for a thriving Philodendron Bonifaziae.

Here are 4 ways to increase humidity levels in your home.

Temperature

Don’t let your plant freeze! Keeping above 60 degrees F (25.6 degrees C) year-round is key. Stable temperatures are also important to keep your Philodendron Bonifaziae stress-free.

Flowering

Like many aroids, your Bonifaziae produces white inflorescences which consists of a white spathe, which is a modified leaf bract, and spadix – which contains tiny and numerous flowers growing along its length.

Growers have reported that these inflorescences have a coconutty smell 🙂

Growth

The Philodendron Bonifaziae has a moderate growth rate. At maturity, they reach around 10 feet (3 meters) long, but it will take a while to get to this size.

Young leaves emerge from reddish cataphylls, and stems have a slightly reddish tinge.

Soil or Growing Medium

For this Philodendron, we like using a mix of:

  • 2 parts indoor potting soil
  • 1 part orchid bark
  • 1 part pumice, and
  • a handful of horticultural charcoal.

Chunky amendments help excess water drain out of its pot quickly. This is important as the Philodendron Bonifaziae has succulent-like characteristics, so they really detest having too much water.

In fact, it’s better to err on the side of underwatering, as your Bonifaziae has the ability to withstand dry spells. So if in doubt, it is better to underwater than overwater.

Paying attention to water your plant only when the topsoil is dry, along with using a well-draining soil mix, helps prevent overwatering… which is one of the most common issues with Bonifaziaes.

Fertilizer

This Philodendron doesn’t require too much fertilizer. But a small dose helps it grow well.

We like using Dyna-Gro Grow, a liquid fertilizer that we incorporate into its watering schedule. Typically, we’d mix this into its water, so that it’s extra dilute and reduces the risk of root burn.

Apply monthly at half-strength during spring and summer. When your plant is not actively growing, hold off fertilizing.

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Repotting

Repotting can be a little stressful for plants, so it’s important to repot only when necessary. As a rule of thumb, expect your Philodendron to require repotting just once every 2-4 years.

When you see roots emerging from the bottom of the drainage hole, this is your cue to repot.

As always, remember to use a pot that is only 2 inches (5cm) larger. Repotting during early spring is optimal. This allows roots to recover fully and re-establish in their new home over the active growing season (the spring and summer months).

FOR a step-by-step guide on how to repot a root-bound plant, check out our repotting guide.

Toxicity

Unfortunately, all Philodendrons are toxic when ingested by animals and humans. Many in the Aroid family contain insoluble calcium oxalate crystals in their stems and leaves. Symptoms include nausea, vomiting, gastrointestinal pains, and skin burns.

Placing your Philodendron out of reach may be a solution! If not, check out pet and child-friendly plants like CalatheasHoyas, and Peperomias.

Propagation

Our favorite way to propagate is through stem cuttings. It’s easy:

  1. Snip off a 5-inch (13cm) portion of healthy stem that contains at least 2-3 leaves. Cut just BELOW the node – this is the thickened part of the stem.
  2. Dip the stem cuttings in rooting hormone and then leave the stem cuttings out on a paper towel overnight. This gives the cuttings time to callous. Rooting hormone encourages root growth and reduces the chances of infection.
  3. Place the stem cuttings in a jar half-filled with water.
  4. Change the water whenever it gets murky. High humidity helps – so if you have a humidifier, place it next to the water jar and set at 80%.
  5. When the roots grow around 2 inches (5cm) long, replant in potting mix.

Pruning

An occasional trim in the spring or summer helps your Philodendron Bonifaziae to stay bushy and healthy. Trim off:

  • any dead or damaged leaves or stems;
  • any leggy stems;
  • any vines you feel are messy or unwieldy!

Cut above the node.

However, avoid pruning off more than a third of the length of the plant, as this causes too much stress. At the same time, use sharp shears to minimize trauma when cutting.

Common Issues

Though your Philodendron Bonifaziae isn’t particularly susceptible to pests, no plant is immune. Here’s what to do if you encounter the usual suspects.

Spider Mites, Mealybugs, Fungus Gnats, Scale, Aphids

Houseplant pests rarely originate in the home, rather are often introduced into the house by an infected plant. For this reason, it’s good practice to inspect your plant for pests before bringing it home and at regular intervals after that.

You can also choose to apply a dilute solution of neem oil as a preventative measure to ward off pests. But, the best way to reduce the risk of infections is to keep your plants healthy! 

Here’s what to look out for:

  • Aphids – these are light green and pear-shaped, about 1/8 of an inch (0.3cm) long. However, there are over 5,000 species of aphids that also come in black, pink, and white.
  • Spider mites – they are about 1/50 inch (0.5mm) in size, so it’s not easy to observe them directly without a microscope. Instead, look out for pale, grey stipplings on leaves or fine webbing on leaf undersides and near the stems as signs of an infestation.
  • Mealybugs – these sap-suckers look like little bits of cotton wool. While easily recognizable, they like to cluster together in hard-to-reach corners of the plant.
  • Fungus Gnats – attracted to overwatered plants, fungus gnats are black flying insects, usually around 1/8 inch (0.3cm) long, and look like fruit flies.
  • Scale – scale often look like immobile shell-like bumps that are clustered together, usually between 1/16 (0.2cm) to 1/8 inch (0.3cm) long. They come in many colors.

We recommend the Bonide Insecticidal Soap Spray to kill houseplant pests. Insecticidal soap penetrates exoskeletons and dries out cells. We keep it on deck in case of pest emergencies – it is also convenient to tackle all these pests in one product!

  1. Thoroughly inspect all your houseplants for infection. These pests travel from plant to plant.
  2. Use a water spray to dislodge or wipe down any visible pests.
  3. Thoroughly apply Insecticidal Soap to stems and leaves. Make sure you cover the bottoms of the leaves and hard-to-reach corners – pests tend to crowd in these areas.
  4. Re-apply per the instructions on the bottle. Persistence is as important as early detection!

Troubleshooting

  • Yellow leaves. If you see the occasional yellow leaf this may be just your plant shedding old leaves to make way for new growth. But, if yellow leaves are more widespread, this usually means a overwatered plant.
  • Droopy leaves and cakey soil. Usually a sign of underwatering.
  • Cripsy leaves. Typically means your plant needs more humidity!
  • Wilting leaves. It could be a sign of underwatering. Check soil moisture to confirm.

Frequently Asked Questions

What’s the difference between Philodendron Bonifaziae and Philodendron Ruizii?

They look alike!

These two guys come from the same family and genus. They both have long, narrow leaves with short petioles (leaf stalks) in-between leaves.

comparison between philodendron ruizii (left) and a philodendron bonifaziae (right). both tropical plants have long, narrow leaves and short petioles.
Philodendron Ruizii (left) and Philodendron Bonifaziae (right).

However, Ruizii leaves tend to be tougher and feel leathery compared to Bonifaziae. Also, while both are not fast growers, Bonifaziae tends to grow faster than Ruizii.

Similar Plants and Varieties

Other Philodendrons that have long leaves like the Philodendron Bonifaziae:

Wrapping Up

The Philodendron Bonifaziae is an uncommon plant but is such an easy one to care for. As long as you i) don’t overwater it; ii) provide it with fast-draining soil, and iii) some bright indirect light, it should thrive.

But be patient as they are not fast growers!

Deborah is a plant enthusiast and founder of Gardening Collective.