Philodendron Whipple Way – (Growing #1 Guide & TIPS for this Rare plant!)

a small potted philodendron whipple way with plenty of long point leaves growing from a central thick stem. leaves are variegated at the top and uniformly green at the bottom

The Philodendron Whipple Way is a rare, tropical vine that is a sport Philodendron Domesticum.

It has long leaves that grow from a thick central stem. Leaves often boast different shades of green and white striations… and more unusual and expensive versions even have delightful pink specks or variegation!

Getting your hands on a Philodendron Whipple Way is truly the hardest part. It is a VERY HARDY and easy-going plant that requires the usual care for most Philodendrons, but to be honest, can withstand most things you throw at it.

They also are rapid growers under optimal conditions – kind of unusual for a variegated plant.

Care-wise, make sure you give it plenty of humidity (>60%), bright light and stable temperatures between 55-80 degrees F (13-27 degrees C).

A well-draining soil and slow-release fertilizer keeps it well-nourished and never waterlogged.

Let’s get into it!

Philodendron Snowdrift vs. Philodendron Whipple Way?

A quick note on the difference between the Philodendron Snowdrift and the Philodendron Whipple Way. Though both are variegated Philodendrons, there’s an obvious difference in the leaf shape.

Snowdrift leaves are wider, appear more wavy at the edges, and have more of a “broad-heart” shape. Whipple Ways on the other hand, have long narrow leaves.

Philodendron Snowdrift (left) vs. Philodendron Whipple Way (right).

How to Care For Your Philodendron Whipple Way

Light

Surprisingly, the Philodendron Whipple Way does best in bright sunlight (up to 85%). 🙂

Truth be told, though, this plant seems to tolerate lower light levels too. But these result in darker leaves.

We find that East or North facing windowsills are your best place for this Philodendron. You’ll notice that the brighter light it gets, the paler the leaves!

Though burnt leaves are always a worry, we find that the Whipple Way is surprisingly resilient and seems to enjoy bright light.

thick stems of a philodendron whipple way, an exotic and rare philodendron with long, variegated leaves that are cream with green specks and also darker green leaves

Water

As usual, the best way to know if it’s time to water your Philo Whipple Way is to check the moisture level of its topsoil. Stick your finger 2 inches (5cm) into the soil. If the soil is completely dry, proceed to water your plant.

If the soil still feels damp, hold off and check back again in a couple of days.

Being quite a drought-tolerant variety, you can let your Whipple Way’s soil completely dry out in-between waterings.

When its time, water near the soil line. Water slowly and deeply (we like using a long-spouted watering can for this purpose), until water escapes through the drainage holes. 🙂

Humidity

As with many houseplants, the higher humidity, the better! Minimally, 60% humidity is necessary to keep your Whipple Way happy.

You’d find that higher humidity levels (alongside sufficient bright light) encourage faster growth.

Temperature

This guy does not tolerate prolonged periods of cold. Also, avoid drafty doors or placing it near air conditioning vents or heaters.

Warm, stable temperates year-round is the name of the game. It loves basking in indoor temps of 55-80 degrees F (13 – 27 degrees C).

If you live in a mild climate (USDA hardiness zones 9b-11), you can choose to grow your Philodendron Whipple Way outdoors if outdoor temperatures fall within this range.

But do note that light intensity outdoors is much higher than indoors, so monitor the leaves for signs of burning or crispiness – which indicates you need to relocate it to a shadier spot.

Growth

The plant grows to 2-3 feet (61-91cm) indoors – a perfect size even for those living in smaller apartments. We like placing ours on our coffee table for a pop of color. It’s an eye-catcher 🙂

Best of all, the Whipple Way grows quickly!

When you spot new growth, you’ll notice this typically emerges from a pink cataphyll (leaf covering) before unfurling. Its leaves are long, large, and kind of sword-shaped.

Leaves themselves can grow up to 1 foot (30cm) long!

The best part – the leaves feature splashes or spots of different colors. It’s really quite fun watching new leaves unfurl… as you don’t know what the variegation will look like. 🙂

Soil or Growing Medium

We are partial to growing the Philodendron Whipple Way in:

We find that this mix is well-draining enough for this Philodendron, but also supplies enough nutrition and moisture.

Fertilizer

A slow-release fertilizer is a good option for the Philodendron Whipple Way.

We’ve been experimenting with using Osmocote, which release nutrients into the soil gradually….

For light feeders like the Whipple Way, this seems to be working pretty well! Slow-release versions also reduce the risk of root burn, which can happen if you overfertilize or use too-harsh formulas which damage fragile roots.

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08/21/2023 12:00 am GMT

Repotting

Repotting is typically required for your Philodendron Whipple Way every 3 years or so.

Repot in the spring, when growing conditions are optimal for your plant to recover from the stresses of being replanted!

Signs it needs repotting are roots growing out from the drainage holes. You may also notice that your plant gets INSATIABLY thirsty… all this points to a plant that needs repotting. 😛

When repotting,

  • Choose a pot that is about 2 inches (5cm) bigger than the original.
  • Don’t “overpot” – this only results in excess soil holding on to too much water… which causes roots to become waterlogged.!!

Toxicity

The Philodendron Whipple Way is toxic to animals and people when ingested (eaten). Place your Philodendron in a spot out of reach of your fur kids!

If you’re after a pet and child-friendly plant, check out Calatheas and Peperomias.

Propagation

Stem cutting is an easy way to propagate the Philodendron Whipple Way. But ensure you have a well-established, healthy plant that hasn’t recently been relocated before propagating.

  • Cut a healthy stem just below the node. (Including the node in the cutting is important, as this is the spot where new growth grows!)
  • Remove any leaves from the bottom half of the cutting.
  • Plant in well-draining soil and place in bright, indirect sunlight.
  • Water when the topsoil is dry and let the roots develop. Do not fertilize for at least six weeks.

Commercially, most Philodendrons are propagated through tissue culture.

a small potted philodendron whipple way with plenty of long point leaves growing from a central thick stem. leaves are variegated at the top and uniformly green at the bottom

Pruning

In the spring, remove any dead or dried leaves from your Whipple Way. If you have dried or diseased stems, these need to be snipped off too.

Pruning can be done all year long to keep your plants healthy. Use sterilized scissors or pruning shears. You can use dipping alcohol (dip for 45 seconds) to sterilize!

Common Pests and Issues

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!

Root Rot

Root rot is a common problem due to an overwatered Philodendron Whipple Way. If you notice:

  • browning or yellowing leaves that appear soft and droopy; and / or
  • moist soil that remains moist over a week;

chances are that your plant is overwatered. Root rot occurs when roots become mushy, brown, and start to decay; in this state, they are unable to function normally to draw water and nutrients to the plant. The extent of overwatering determines what you need to do next; check out our step-by-step guide on how to treat an overwatered plant.

Here are also some tips to AVOID overwatering:

  • Make sure the soil is allowed to dry out between watering. Always check the moisture level before watering!
  • Choose a container with drainage holes, so that excess water escapes from the pot (instead of pooling at the roots)!
  • A terracotta pot is a good choice – as terracotta is porous, which allows moisture to evaporate and air to move freely.
  • Choose a well-draining soil. Amendments like charcoal and pumice help create air pockets within the soil, lightening the mix and allowing water to drain freely.
topview of a philodendron whipple way, a rare philodendron from california with long pale and green leaves. leaves with green specks

Frequently Asked Questions

Where does the Philodendron Whipple Way come from?

The Philodendron Whipple Way was cultivated by California growers from a sport Philodendron Domesticum, who named the Whipple Way after the street they lived on.

Is the Philodendron Whipple Way a rare plant?

Yes. Historically this cultivar was passed on through a tight-knit group of US growers. You can find them more easily now, but will still likely have to buy this through niche growers on Etsy.

They are expensive plants – costing from a few hundred US dollars up to low thousands.

Why are Philodendron Whipple Ways so expensive?

A combination of: tightly controlled supply (see the history above!) and sought-after variegation makes the Whipple Way very expensive.

Similar Plants and Varieties

Here are some other variegated Philodendrons that you might want to explore:

  • Philodendron Giganteum Variegata – gigantic cream and green leaves make this easy-to-grow Philo pretty eye-catching.
  • Philodendron Warscewiczii – an unusual plant with yellowish-green leaves that emerge heart-shaped before “branching out” into a snowflake shape!
  • Philodendron Ruizii – a drought-tolerant Philodendron with long leaves that grow in a “bird’s nest” formation. There is a variegated version with light green and white patches.

Wrapping Up

Philodendron Whipple Way is a tropical plant that is easy to grow. For it to thrive, supply your plant with:

  • High humidity >60%;
  • Bright, indirect light up to 85%;
  • Stable temperatures between 55-80 degrees F (13-27 degrees C);
  • Water only when topsoil is dry;
  • Choose a soil that drains well;
  • Use a slow-release fertilizer so as not to damage the roots, and deliver a constant stream of nutrients.
Deborah

Deborah is a plant enthusiast and founder of Gardening Collective.