The Philodendron Ruizii has short stems and long leaves that grow in a “birds nest” formation from the center of the plant. It is a relatively uncommon Philodendron, and has semi-succulent properties that means that it can withstand dry spells and drier air than most others.
Its adaptable nature makes it a good choice for beginner houseplant lovers. That is, if you can find one. 🙂
Care-wise, they thrive in medium to bright, indirect light, and love warm climates (65-85 degrees F, 18-29 degrees C). They require less frequent watering owing to their ability to store water in their stems and leathery leaves. They are a moderately slow-growing plant that benefits from monthly fertilizing.
Being natural climbers, you’ll need to provide it a moss pole for it to grow to its ultimate height.
Let’s dive into the details!
Variegated version of the Philodendron Ruizii
Just a quick note on the types of Philodendron Ruizii – there is a variegated version with lighter green striations and an unvariegated version. Both require the same care conditions.
Caring for your Philodendron Ruizii
If you’re keeping your Philodendron Ruizii at home, choose a spot that has bright but indirect light. As a rule of thumb, light that casts a defined shadow with crisp edges for more than 3-4 hours a day is typically too harsh for a plant like the Philodendron Ruizii.
Instead, look for a bright spot that receives light, but casts shadows with slightly blurry edges.
East or West facing windowsills typically work well!
A method we have been experimenting with lately is bottom-watering.
We follow the same principles that we always preach. That is, water only when the top 2 inches (5cm) of soil is dry. But instead of watering near the soil line, we’ve been letting our Ruizii soak in a shallow sink of water for 10 minutes.
But don’t completely submerge the plant; the waterline should only reach about halfway up the pot.
Just place the entire pot (with drainage holes) into the sink, let it sit there for around 10 minutes, then return it to its original spot.
You’ll notice that the semi-succulent nature of the Philodendron Ruizii means that watering frequency is quite a bit less than most houseplants.
Having semi-succulent characteristics, your Philodendron Ruizii isn’t as fussy as many other Philodendrons when it comes to humidity. Average room humidities will do.
Of course, more humidity is better, but the Ruizii tolerates dry air quite well.
Keeping temperatures between 65-85 degrees F (18-29 degrees C) helps your plant thrive. We don’t recommend keeping your plant outdoors if temperatures drop below 55 degrees F (13 degrees C).
As usual, avoid drafts or cold chills so that your Philodendron Ruizii enjoys a stable temperature environment to flourish!
Ruiziis are not known for their flowers. These are greenish-white spathes and a central white-yellow spadix… but are relatively uncommon when grown indoors.
They are not exactly rapid growers, so you will have to be patient with your Ruizii. 🙂
- When your plant is mature enough, prop it against a moss pole to see it climb.
- The plant can get a bit top-heavy (thanks to its long and thick leaves), so make sure you have a heavier pot to support its weight.
- While naturally moderate-growers, slow growth is usually due to insufficient light.
- At maturity, they reach about 30-35 inches tall (0.9m) and wide. Their leaves are usually around 3x long as they are wide.
- Young stems are usually reddish in color.
The Philodendron Ruizii usually lives at altitude. Their native range is South Colombia to Bolivia, where they are found growing in the wet tropical biomes.
In Ecuador, they are usually found at elevations above 5,000 feet (1,500m).
Soil or Growing Medium
With semi-succulent plants like the Ruizii, we like using succulent potting mix to improve its drainage qualities. Perlite also lightens the soil.
Lastly, we add pumice to improve airflow to the roots. If you don’t have pumice, you can swap this out for charcoal or bark.
Here’s the mix we use and have success with:
- 1 part succulent potting mix
- 1 part pumice
- 1 part perlite
When it comes to fertilizer, we like using Dyna-Gro Grow every month and half strength.
- Add ¼ teaspoon for every 1 gallon.
- Use this every time you water so that your plant receives a steady stream of nutrients.
- Hold off fertilizing in the fall and winter months.
Being ever the low maintenance plant, your Philodendron Ruizii doesn’t need frequent repotting.
Expect to need to repot once every 2-3 years. Of course, you’ll want to watch out for symptoms of being root bound first and foremost to know that repotting is in order.
- Water the day before repotting. This reduces transplant shock.
- Place your plant on its side.
- Using your fingers, gently work through any compacted soil to loosen your plant. Wriggle your plant free from its pot.
- Prepare fresh soil and a new pot that is just 2 inches (5 cm) larger. Choose a pot with drainage holes, always.
- Re-plant in its new home.
Wiping down leaves
Your heavily foliaged Philodendron Ruizii is well-loved for its leathery leaves! But unfortunately dust easily settles in its foliage…. which hinders its ability to absorb sunlight for food.
So it’s a good idea to wipe down the leaves every 2 weeks. We like using a dilute solution of neem oil, which also wards off pests.
Though its a bit of work, use it as an opportunity to inspect your plant for pests and diseases.
As with many Aroids, the Philodendron Ruizii is considered toxic when ingested by animals and humans. This is due to insoluble calcium oxalate crystals contained in the stems and leaves.
Effects of ingestion include drooling, nausea, vomiting, gastrointestinal pains, and mouth burns.
Propagation is easily done through stem cuttings, if you have a mature plant. Do this in spring.
The best stem cuttings have aerial roots – because the plant already has developed roots, the chances of successful propagation is higher!
Propagation through Stem Cuttings
- First, gather all the items needed:
- Sharp, sterilized garden shears. You can sterilize them by dipping them into 70% isopropyl solution;
- Potting soil;
- and a small pot with drainage holes.
- Identify a healthy length of stem that is around 4 inches long. Make sure that this stem has at least 1 leaf and 2 nodes (thickened part of the stem). Better still if it also has some aerial roots.
- Cut off the stem, just below the node.
- Remove any leaves from the bottom half of the stem cutting.
- Plant the stem cutting in a small pot filled with potting soil.
- Place in a warm spot with plenty of indirect light. If you can, place a humidifier next to the new plant and set at 80%.
- Keep the potting soil lightly moist, but never waterlogged or soggy.
- In about 4 weeks, roots should emerge. You will know that roots have developed when you feel slight resistance when giving your plant a very gentle tug.
- Treat as you would any other Philodendron Ruizii.
Your plant doesn’t need much pruning but trim off any diseased or yellow leaves.
This helps your plant focus on new growth.
Common Pests and Diseases
We haven’t had much trouble with the Philodendron Ruizii. They don’t seem to be particularly susceptible to pests or diseases.
In our experience, if the Ruizii has a problem, it is usually due to overwatering. So just be careful with your watering practices, watering only when the topsoil is dry.
Plus, using an airy succulent mix and adding chunky amendments to improve drainage qualities is so important.
- Yellow leaves – commonly a sign of overwatering. Check the soil moisture to confirm, and adjust watering practices accordingly.
- Slow growth – usually due to insufficient light, though this plant is a moderate grower in general.
- Curling leaves – could signal underwatering or overwatering. Check the soil moisture.
- Yellow spots with brown halos – this is usually a sign of a fungal or bacterial infection from overwatering. Check out our step-by-step guide on saving your overwatered plant.
- Dropping leaves – too cold temperatures (below 55 degrees F, 13 degrees C) or exposure to vents or winds could be the cause.
Frequently Asked Questions
Where can I buy a Philodendron Ruizii?
We buy a lot of our houseplants from Etsy. A Philodendron Ruizii may be a little more expensive than other houseplants as it is unusual. Expect to pay around US$60 for a small pot with several leaves.
Philodendron Ruizii vs Bicolor
A young Philodendron Bicolor has long green leaves that really looks like the Philodendron Ruizii. In fact, many Ruiziis are sold as Bicolors!
There’s limited information on how to tell them apart.
From what we can tell, the main way to tell them apart is to look at the leaf undersides. The Bicolor, as its name suggest, has reddish-purple undersides, while the Ruizii has green undersides with a reddish tinge.
In other words, the reddish color is more distinct with the Bicolor vs the Ruizii. The Bicolor also tends to grow faster than the Ruizii.
Similar Plants and Varieties
Other Philodendrons that have long leaves like the Philodendron Ruizii:
- Philodendron Imperial Green – waxy green leaves that grow from a central stem.
- Philodendron Atabapoense – leaves look like very long elongated heart-shapes with reddish undersides.
Not a Philodendron, but another Aroid (same family) that has a similar bird’s nest growing pattern is the Anthurium Superbum.
The Philodendron Ruizii is an unusual plant but one that is relatively easy to care for and low-maintenance. Their succulent-like qualities mean that they tolerate less frequent watering and drier air conditions.
As long as you give them i) bright, indirect light; ii) a well-draining succulent potting mix, iii) warm temperatures, they should do very well.
Deborah is a plant enthusiast and founder of Gardening Collective.