Philodendron Plowmanii (Care #1 Guide & Growing HACKS!)

close up of large philodendron plowmaii heart-shaped leaf with deep dark green veins

The Philodendron Plowmanii is a beautiful heart-shaped Philodendron growing in popularity. And no wonder – it is easy to grow, low-maintenance, and has large, eye-catching leaves.

To ensure your Philodendron Plowmanii grows well,

  • Avoid direct light. Give it at least 8 hours of low to medium, indirect light per day.
  • Water only when the topsoil is dry.
  • Choose a light and well-draining potting mix with plenty of bark, charcoal, and perlite. Or, plant in LECA!
  • Apply a slow-release fertilizer, like Osmocote, during the growing months.

What’s the difference between the Plowmanii and the Mamei?

The Philodendron Mamei has a similar leaf shape to the Plowmanii, however, the main way to tell the difference is by the leaf color.

  • The Mamei has silvery variegation on its leaves. The Plowmanii does not – unless you have the variegated version on your hands.
side by side comparison of the philodendron mamei (left) and the philodendron plowmanii (right) leaves. the philodendron mamei has silvery variegation that the plowmanii does not.
Philodendron Mamei (left) with silvery variegation versus the Philodendron Plowmanii (right).

Just FYI, some articles state that the Mamei has a smooth petiole while the Plowmanii doesn’t. This isn’t true. Both have ruffled petioles!

side by side comparison of the ruffled petioles of the philodendron mamei (left) and the philodendron pastazanum (right). both have ruffled leaf stems
Philodendron Mamei’s ruffled petiole (left) versus the Philodendron Plowmanii (right).

Caring for your Philodendron Plowmanii

Light

The Philodendron Plowmanii is a terrestrial Aroid. In nature, it grows along the forest floor. As a result, it is not accustomed to receiving lots of direct light.

Give it low to medium levels of indirect light for the Plowmanii to thrive. We like propping ours near an East or North-facing window.

Direct light quickly causes leaf edges to become brown and crispy. This damage cannot be undone, so beware!

Water

The best way to know if your Philodendron Plowmanii is in need of water is to check if the top 2 inches (5cm) of soil is dry.

The key is to:

  • i) check the soil moisture often and
  • ii) resist the temptation to water if the topsoil is still slightly damp.

If the topsoil is dry, water slowly and deeply, near the base of the plant near the soil.

Your plant has thin leaves that damage easily. Avoid getting the leaves wet, as wet leaves can breed fungi and bacteria that result in Leaf Blights or Leaf Spots. You can use a long-spouted watering can to help deliver water directly into the soil.

For this same reason, we advise AGAINST misting your Plowmanii.

Humidity

Being a tropical plant from the rainforests of Ecuador and Peru, it is no surprise that your Philodendron Plowmanii LOVES humidity.

Aim for at least 40-60% humidity to encourage your Philodendron to grow well. Higher levels of humidity encourage lusher leaves and quicker growth (although in all honesty – your Plowmanii is still considered a slow-grower!). 😛

If you’re in the market for a humidifier – LEVOIT is our personal favorite. It’s quiet, easy-to-use, and allows you to set the exact %humidity level you require.

Otherwise, use a pebble tray or check out our article on other ways to increase humidity levels in your home. All your tropical plants will thank you!

Temperature

Your Philodendron Plowmanii does best in average indoor temperatures. Keep your Philodendron between 60-85 degrees F (16-29 degrees C).

Protect your plant from winds and drafts – they don’t like it. In extreme cases, those large, heart-shaped leaves will drop if the temperature fluctuates too wildly… or if they are placed next to a drafty door or air vent.

gloved hand holding up a small pot of philodendron plowmanii, a tropical houseplant from ecuador and peru, with three large heart-shaped green leaves and darker green veins

Flowering

Like many aroids, your Philodendron Plowmanii doesn’t have showy flowers. Instead, they produce inflorescences – typically 3 per axil, that consist of a spathe and a spadix. Along the length of the spadix are tiny and numerous flowers (reproductive parts).

Honestly – their flowers aren’t much to look at. You can choose to cut off inflorescences so that your plant can focus its energy on growing those beautiful leaves instead!!

Growth

Philodendron Plowmanii emerge from reddish cataphylls before unfurling. Leaves are large and oval, coming together in a glorious heart-shape.

Though easy to grow, the Plowmanii grows SLOWLY. They aren’t climbing Philodendrons, rather creep along the surface, much like the Philodendron Gloriosum.

When mature, it stands at around 8 feet (2.4 meters) tall and 5 feet (1.5 meters) wide. While it doesn’t climb moss poles the same way other vining Philodendrons do, you can still use a wooden stake or moss pole to help support the weight of its leaves as your plant grows bigger.

Soil or Growing Medium

We like using LECA for our Philodendron Plowmanii. But if you prefer a traditional potting mix, this is another good option:

mix together;

  • 1 part indoor potting mix
  • 1 part perlite
  • 1 part orchid bark
  • a handful of horticultural charcoal.

What’s important is to use a high-quality indoor potting soil, and add lots of amendments to lighten the soil and create air pockets within it. This reduces the risk of overwatering and root rot, where the Plowmanii’s roots suffocate and die away as a result.

Fertilizer

Give your plant a nutritional boost during the spring and summer, when it is actively growing. A little goes a long way for this slow-grower. We like using a slow-release fertilizer like Osmocote.

The Osmocote pallets work by dissolving gradually as the plant is watered, delivering a slow and steady stream of nutrients to your Plowmanii.

It doesn’t need to be fertilized in fall and winter.

close up of large philodendron plowmaii heart-shaped leaf with deep dark green veins

Repotting

These Philodendrons don’t need repotting often. Only when you see that roots are peeking out of its drainage holes should you upsize the pot. Upsize by just 2 inches (5cm) each time.

Water the day before repotting to reduce transplant shock. Also, always use fresh soil to replenish nutrients!

Toxicity

Unfortunately, your Philodendron Plowmanii is toxic when ingested by animals and humans.

If you are looking for a pet-friendly plant, try Hoyas or Peperomias.

Propagation through Stolon Cuttings

close up of the stolons of the philodendorn plowmanii

You might have guessed that the best way to propagate is through stem-cutting or stolon cutting, to be precise! Stolons are modified stem. However, you can only propagate a plant with a mature stolon of more than 8 inches.

  1. Identify a part of the stolon with a few nodes but minimal leaves. (Nodes are the nubby-looking thing on the stolon.)
  2. Cut your stolon in between two nodes, ensuring you use clean and sharp garden shears not to cause damage to your plant.
  3. Use a plastic container with a lid (a normal takeaway container works). Poke a couple of holes on the lid.
  4. Fill the plastic container with some potting mix (see the recommended mix in the Soil section).
  5. Place the stolon on top of the soil.
  6. Close the plastic container with the lid. This ensures high humidity for your cutting. Open the container for about 10 minutes to refresh the air every few days.
  7. Place your container in a bright spot but away from direct sunlight.
  8. Within 4-6 weeks, you should see new growth emerge.

You can also choose to propagate your cutting in water, and once roots establish, transfer this cutting into a potting mix.

Propagation through Air Layering

Air layering is a propagation method that encourages your Philodendron Plowmanii to grow its aerial roots into a sphagnum moss ball while the nodes and roots are still attached to the main plant. Only after the aerial roots are developed do separate the rooted node from the mother plant.

To propagate through air layering,

  1. Identify a healthy node on the stem of the plant.
  2. Prepare a layer of clear cling wrap. This will form the outer layer of the sphagnum moss ball. Create little holes in the cling wrap (this encourages the roots can breathe and allows us to keep the sphagnum moss damp.)
  3. Set a layer of damp sphagnum moss on the clear cling wrap.
  4. Now, wrap the sphagnum moss ball with the cling wrap outer layer onto the identified node, such that the sphagnum moss is the only thing in contact with the node.
  5. Use gardening ties to lightly secure the sphagnum moss and clingwrap ball onto the mother plant.
  6. Keep the sphagnum moss lightly moist, watering it every few days when you see that it has dried out.
  7. In about 6-8 weeks, you should see aerial roots developing within the sphagnum moss ball.
  8. Once the roots have grown about 2-3 inches long, cut off the rooted node using clean garden shears.
  9. Then, plant the rooted node into an appropriate soil mix – this is its permanent home. (See Soil section for details.)
  10. Treat as you would any other Philodendron Plowmanii.

Pruning

Given that the Philodendron Plowmanii is a slow-grower, it’s unlikely you’ll need to prune your plant often.

Only prune when you see any dead, damaged or wilted parts. Use a set of sterilized and sharp gardening shears. We like sterilizing our gardening tools by dipping it into rubbing alcohol for 45 seconds before and after use.

When pruning,

  • Cut just above the node.
  • Cut downwards, allowing water to run off the wound site, reducing the risk of infection.
  • Use sharp gardening shears to reduce trauma! 🙂
unfurling new growth of a young philodendron plowmanii
New growth!

Common Pests

Unfortunately, your Philodendron Plowmanii can be a little susceptible to usual houseplant pests, particularly mealbugs. Our usual practice is to:

  • Always inspect plants for pests before bringing them home.
  • Regularly check the undersides of leaves and around hard-to-reach corners for pests. Because pests multiply extremely quickly, early detection is key to saving your plants.

Here’s what to look out for:

  • 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. (Here’s an in-depth guide about mealybugs.)
  • 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.
  • 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.

How to get rid of houseplant pests

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!

You can also use a dilute solution of neem oil as a preventative measure, to ward away pests from attack. Here’s how.

Other Common Issues

  • Root rot. Root rot is the result of an overwatered Philodendron Plowmanii. Be careful not to water your plant unless the topsoil is dry, and to use a well-draining potting mix. If your plant is a victim of root rot, unpot your plant, snip off any damaged roots and repot in fresh soil.
  • Yellow leaves. Yellow leaves is usually a result of overwatering.
  • Browning leaf edges. This can be a sign that the air is not humid enough, or that you are giving your plant too much sunlight.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is the Philodendron Plowmanii rare?

Yes. The Philodendron Plowmanii is considered rare. It’s not easy to find them at local nurseries. However, check out private online sellers to get your hands on one.

How much does a Philodendron Plowmanii usually cost?

Checking on Etsy, the average price of a starter (4 inch) pot of Philodendron Plowmanii is US$54.60.

Similar Plants and Varieties

There are a number of heart-shaped Philodendron varieties that resemble the Philodendron Plowmanii. Here are a few close cousins.

Plowmaii vs. Mamei

The Philodendron Mamei, also known as the Philodendron Silver Cloud, is another easy-going Philodendron with silvery variegation on its leaves.

side by side comparison of the philodendron mamei (left) and the philodendron plowmanii (right) leaves. the philodendron mamei has silvery variegation that the plowmanii does not.
Philodendron Mamei (left) with silvery variegation versus the Philodendron Plowmanii (right).

Plowmanii vs. Pastazanum

The Philodendron Pastazanum is another large-leafed Philodendron. Both species share iconically large, heart-shaped leaves. However, the Pastazanum has paler leaf veins than the Plowmanii.

side by side comparison of the philodendron pastazanum (left) and the philodendron plowmanii (right) leaf. The philodendron pastazanum has white veins while the plowmanii does not.
The Philodendron Pastazanum with white veins.

Variegated Philodendron Plowmanii, also known as Plowmanii Silver

A variegated version of the Philodendron Plowmanii is the Plowmanii Silver. It has patches of silvery variegation that make it look so much like a Philodendron Mamei!

philodendron plowmanii with silver variegation

Other heart-shaped Philodendrons we love

  • Philodendron Gloriosum – another terrestrial and rare Philodendron with beautiful whitish-green veins.
  • Philodendron McDowell – a hybrid between the Gloriosum and the Pastazanum, the McDowell has such prominent lateral veins that the leaf blade appears quilted!

Deborah is a plant enthusiast and founder of Gardening Collective.