Philodendron Tenue (growing guide + TOP #1 care hacks!)

the philodendron tenue in a pot. the philodendron tenue has large, heart-shaped leaves with deep quilted lateral veins

The rare Philodendron Tenue is a beautiful vine with large, heart-shaped leaves. In nature, they can grow as an epiphyte, climb on host trees, or start life near the forest floor. 🙂

When mature, its leaves have deep, uniform ripples, giving it a quilted look.

Despite it being a more exotic and uncommon Philodendron, the Tenue is both fast-growing and low maintenance. Care-wise, it enjoys:

  • Bright, indirect light, though a small dose (1-3 hours / day) of direct light is beneficial.
  • Very loose and well-draining potting soil.
  • Light fertilizing, applied monthly during the growing season.
  • Being staked to a moss pole or trellis so that it can climb.

Common issues are root rot from overwatering, or the occasional pest attack.

We’ll show you everything you need to know to help your Philodendron Tenue thrive!

Philodendron Tenue wide or narrow form?

A quick note on the various forms –

Some growers identify Philodendron Tenue either as “wide form” or “narrow form”, owing to the shape of their leaves. Both are of the same Tenue species, but this differentiation is due to the natural variability within species.

They also require the exact same care. 🙂 You can check them out on Etsy.

Caring for your Philodendron Tenue

Light

Like many Philodendrons, the Philodendron Tenue requires bright but indirect light for most of the day. However, a small (1-3 hours) of additional direct light encourages quicker growth.

Just don’t exceed those 3 hours or risk developing scorched leaves!

East-facing windowsills are a great choice, providing your plant with a couple of hours of gentle morning light, and indirect light for the rest of the day.

You’ll know that you need to relocate your plant to a shadier spot if you see sunscorched spots developing. On the other hand, leggy growth (long internodes) indicates your Philodendron Tenue could do with a bit more light.

Water

Understanding when and how to water your Philodendron Tenue is one of the most crucial aspects of care. Beginner watering mistakes usually fall into two camps: either watering too much, or watering too shallowly. Both lead to suboptimal growth.

Here are 4 simple rules that ensures you avoid both mistakes:

  1. Water your plant only if the top 2 inches (5cm) of soil is dry. Use your fingers to check. Seasons, growth rate, and how quickly water escapes from the soil impact how often your plant needs to be watered.
  2. Check the soil moisture often. This is so that your Philodendron Tenue doesn’t dry out through its entire pot (not just the top 2 inches (5cm) before you realize it needs a drink!
  3. Water slowly and deeply until the soil is saturated and excess water escapes from drainage holes.
  4. Empty the saucer after watering.

Some other watering tips to take note of:

  • It is completely normal for watering frequency to drop significantly during the cooler months.
  • Ideally, water using a long-spouted watering can to avoid wetting the leaves.
a beautiful potted philodendron tenue, a rare houseplant in a chunky soil mix with large heart-shaped leaves

Humidity & Air Circulation

Philodendron Tenue, being rainforest plants, are a stickler for high humidity. 70-80% humidity is ideal for best growth, but your plant can tolerate anything above 50%.

As with most tropical plants, the higher the humidity, the better! 🙂

If you live in a drier climate, here are some natural options to increase humidity:

  • Grouping plants together. Transpiration, a normal process carried out by plants, increases the humidity directly around its leaves. It involves the uptake of water from the roots through to the evaporation of water from stomata. Grouping plants together allows plants to benefit from each others’ natural processes.
  • Select a location that has naturally high humidity – like kitchens and bathrooms. Evaporation from wet surfaces promotes higher humidity.
  • Use a pebble tray. The evaporating water from the pebbles increases moisture levels in the air.

However, investing in a humidifier is the most convenient (and practical) option. We like this particular humidifier â€“ effective and allows you to set the exact %humidity you want.

Whatever you do, avoid misting your Philodendron Tenue as its large leaves can cause water to pool and encourage bacteria growth.

Temperature

Ideally, keep your Philodendron Tenue indoors in temperatures between 65 – 80 degrees F (18 – 27 degrees C).

Drops below 50 degrees F (10 degrees C) is asking for trouble, as your plant is not cold-hardy. Too-cold weather and temperature fluctuations are two main causes of shedding leaves.

Personally, we like to keep our plant indoors, where it can enjoy a warm and stable climate. 🙂

Flowering

The Philodendron Tenue usually produces inflorescences in April and May, forming a leathery spathe and thick central spadix. Spathes are usually green, and can be tinged a deep red color, while the central spadix is usually thick and cream-colored.

Growth & Climbing Support

When mature, Philodendron Tenue leaves span up to 3 feet (91cm). The plant itself can grow to heights of 13 feet (4 meters), when supported by a tall totem or moss pole.

Being an epiphyte or hemi-epiphyte, the Philodendron Tenue needs a climbing support to grow vertically.

Using moss poles actually promotes healthy growth.

Soil or Growing Medium

Like many climbing plants, it’s crucial for the Philodendron Tenue to be potted in a very well-draining and loose potting mix. Typical commercial mixes don’t provide sufficient airflow.

After all, your plant has aerial roots that love maximum breathability, so they do not do well in dense soils that become waterlogged and compacted. At the same time, it still needs to be a potting mix that can retain some water for nourishment.

To maintain this balance, we’ve found that potting in the mix below is perfect. Though there are quite a few components, it’s a mix that has yielded the best results in our experience:

  • 1 part indoor potting soil
  • 1 part orchid bark or coconut coir
  • 1 part perlite
  • 1 part vermiculite
  • 1 part horticultural charcoal
the philodendron tenue against a stake climbing support

Alternatively, if you’re open to a semi-hydroponics solution, LECA is a great option for many Philodendrons including your Tenue. You can find out more about the pros and cons of LECA here to see if it’s a good fit for you!

Fertilizer

Your Philodendron Tenue needs sufficient nutrients to grow those large, lush leaves. 🙂

Opt for a high-nitrogen fertilizer, which supports foliage growth. We love the Dyna-gro formula for our large-leafed Philodendrons, Anthuriums, and Monsteras.

Simply dilute it to half-strength, and feed it to your plant once a month during the growing season. Incorporate it into its water so that its extra-dilute.

We find that using this fertilizer makes a huge difference!

Hold off fertilizing in the autumn and winter months. Your plant isn’t growing rapidly during this time, so fertilizing will only lead to fertilizer burn.

Repotting

Despite your plant growing rapidly, it only needs repotting once every 2-3 years. You can tell that it’s time to repot when you see roots peeking out of the pot’s drainage hole.

Repot in early spring or summer, giving your plant to establish in its container during the growing season.

When repotting,

  • Try to be as gentle as you can, using your fingers to work through any compacted soil while laying your plant on its side. Philodendron Tenue roots are sensitive!
  • After repotting, hold off fertilizing your plant for a month. When repotting, your plant goes through transplant shock, so fertilizing during this time adds stress to your plant’s sensitive roots.
  • Always use a pot that has drainage holes, and one that is only 2 inches (5cm) larger than the original. This prevents overwatering (too much unused soil holding on to moisture), but is big enough to give your plant extra room to grow.

Toxicity

Like many from the Araceae family, your Philodendron Tenue is toxic when ingested by humans and animals. Keep this one plant away from pets and children.

If you’re looking for a pet and child-friendly plant, check out Hoyas and Peperomias.

the philodendron tenue in a pot

Propagation

The easiest way to propagate your Philodendron Tenue is to use stem cuttings or, to be precise, stolon cuttings. Stolons are modified stems and refer to the main stem of your plant that runs horizontally across the ground.

Wait until you have an established plant with at least 4-5 leaves before propagating.

Stolon Propagation Step-by-Step

  1. Identify a healthy part of the stolon with at least one node and one leaf. (Nodes are small nubs or “eyes” on the stolon, from which new growth emerges.)
  2. Using a sterilized knife of shear, cut the identified section of the stolon off. It should include the leaf and the node(s). Use a sharp blade to prevent trauma to your plant.
  3. Fill a pot with evenly-moist potting mix.
  4. Place the stolon cutting gently on top of the soil. Just your finger to gently press the stolon into the soil, but you don’t need to bury it. Your leaf will stay upright above the soil’s surface.
  5. Place your container in a warm spot with plenty of indirect light.
  6. Keep the soil evenly moist but not waterlogged.
  7. Within 4-6 weeks, you should see roots emerge from the cut ends.

Propagation through Air Layering

Air layering is another technique to propagate this plant.

You’ll need sphagnum moss, cling wrap and twine.

Here’s how:

  1. Identify a portion of the stem where there is at least two nodes. The node looks like a bump. This is where the aerial roots will form for your new plant.
  2. Make a shallow cut about one fifth as thick as the whole stem under the node. This stimulates the plant to divert energy there.
  3. Wet the sphagnum moss, but don’t allow it to be sopping wet. If you’ve overdone it, you can wring out excess water.
  4. Wrap the portion of the stem with the nodes with sphagnum moss and an outer layer of perforated cling wrap (You can use a pen to punch through holes). The moss should be the only material in contact with the plant directly.
  5. Use twine to secure the cling wrap and moss to the plant. Tie it tightly enough to just hold it in place, but not so much that you will damage the stem or cut off airflow.
  6. Every few days, spray the moss with distilled water through the perforated cling wrap. Allow the moss to be slightly damp but not soggy.
  7. When the roots are about one to two inches long, cut the stem (with the roots) from the mother plant in about a month.
  8. Repot the rooted stem into its permanent home.

Pruning

Using clean garden shears, snip off any damaged, yellow or diseased leaves to allow your plant to focus its energy on new growth. You can also prune off stems to give the plant a bushy look.

Pruning is best done during spring. Another part of plant maintenance is wiping down the leaves with a damp cloth. This prevents dust from building up, which attracts pests.

Then wipe dry. This ensures the foliage is not wet, as moist foliage encourages bacteria growth.

Common Pests and Diseases

Root Rot and Fungal Diseases

Your Philodendron Tenue’s most common issues arise from overwatering. This may result in root rot or fungi growth, as well as yellowing leaves. To prevent this, the most important thing you can do is to be careful not to water your plant until its topsoil is dry and to ensure that your potting mix is well-draining.

If your plant is overwatered, check out our guide on how to save it.

Aphids, Mealybugs and Spider Mites

Every gardener will experience an infested plant occasionally. It’s a rite of passage and, in some cases, unavoidable.

The best way to deter these pests is to keep your plant healthy, as overwatered or overfertilized plants tend to attract infestations. Regularly inspect your plant’s leaves to catch any pests early.

If you notice your plant is infested, don’t fret. If you act quickly enough, you will be able to get rid of aphids, mealybugs, and spider mites using either neem oil or an Insecticidal Soap Spray.

Troubleshooting

  • Yellow leaves. Yellow leaves are most commonly a sign of inadequate light or overwatering.
  • Drooping leaves. Improper watering (either too much or too little) often leads to droopy leaves. Check the soil moisture to confirm.
  • Pale leaves. This is commonly a sign that your Philodendron Tenue is not getting sufficient nutrients. Ensure you are using a high-quality fertilizer, applied monthly during the active growing season.
  • Dropping leaves. Shedding leaves may indicate improper watering, or too-cold temperatures.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is the Philodendron Tenue rare?

Yes. Count yourself lucky if you’ve chanced upon one. They are uncommon and, when available, are snapped up in an instant!

Private sellers on Ebay or Facebook Marketplace groups are your best bet.

Should I mist my Philodendron?

We don’t recommend it. Especially on large-leafed varieties, wet foliage can be a breeding ground for bacteria and fungi.

It’s much better to use a humidifier to boost humidity – it lasts much longer and without these risks!

What’s the difference between the Philodendron Tenue and the Philodendron Sharoniae?

If you’ve mistaken one for the other, you’d be forgiven! They both have lush leaves with that deep-quilted look!

However, the most obvious way to tell these two apart is by looking at the leaf shape. When mature, the Philodendron Sharoniae’s leaves are much more elongated than the Tenue’s.

The latter has heart-shaped leaves – both broader and stubbier than the Sharoniae’s.

side by side comparison of the Philodendron Sharoniae leaf (left) and the Philodendron Tenue's leaf (right). the Philodendron Sharoniae has a much more elongated leaf shape
The Philodendron Sharoniae (left), sometimes mistaken for the Philodendron Tenue (right).

Other Heart-Leaf Philodendrons we love

Philodendron Gloriosum

The much-loved but rare Philodendron Gloriosum has velvety heart-shaped leaves. Many (ourselves included) consider the Gloriosum a personal favorite… and one that lives up to its epitet “Gloriosum”, meaning glory of the rainforest!

Like the Philodendron Tenue, they are easy to grow… if you can get your hands on one!

the philodendron gloriosum, a beautiful heart-shaped philodendron
The Philodendron Gloriosum, a heart-shaped Philodendron.

Philodendron El Choco Red

This Philodendron El Choco Red hails from El Choco, Colombia. Young leaves are emerge from pinkish-red cataphylls with stunning red leaves, before maturing into a deep green. 🙂

sideview of the philodendron el choco red houseplant with large heart-shaped red leaves
Young leaf of a Philodendron El Choco Red. Leaves start off red before changing to a deep green color.
Deborah

Deborah is a plant enthusiast and founder of Gardening Collective.