Do you want a variegated climbing plant that is super easy to look after? Then the Philodendron Brandtianum might be for you.
Otherwise known as the Brandi Philodendron or Silver Leaf Philodendron, this rare and unique plant is a member of the Araceae family. The Silver Leaf boasts large heart-shaped leaves with mottled silver-grey variegation on green leaves. We love how elegant it looks vining up a moss pole!
The Philodendron Brandtianum needs similar care to many other tropical Philodendrons: it likes humidity >60% and year-round temperatures between 65-95 degrees F (18-35 degrees C) to prevent leaf drop. Give it 6-8 hours of bright but indirect light (East-facing windows are ideal) to bring out its silvery variegation.
This article will cover its origins, how to care for the Silver Leaf Philodendron, common problems, and FAQ.
Origins and Native Environment
The Philodendron Brandtianum is as hardy as it is versatile. In nature, they are found abundantly in the tropical South American rainforests of Colombia, Peru, Brazil, Bolivia and Ecuador.
Here, it is found growing as:
- an epiphyte (as a plant growing on top of other plants, using them for support);
- a hemiepiphyte (similar to an epiphyte but grows first from a seed in the ground, then on top of other plants);
- terrestrially (as a ground cover plant that grows horizontally across surfaces).
Also, their growth rate and the color of their leaves vary depending on specific growth conditions. This includes soil type, sun intensity, and temperature.
Their ability to adapt to many different growing conditions makes them happy-go-lucky plants perfect for beginners.
Another bonus? The Philodendron Brandtianum has air purifying properties, removing harmful chemicals from your living spaces.
How to care for your plant
Like many houseplants, the Philodendron Brandi thrives when given a daily dose of 6-8 hours of bright but filtered light. They grow vigorously when placed on East-facing windowsills, where they can soak in the gentle morning light and receive indirect light for the rest of the day.
As a bonus, Brandis make excellent office plants because they can adapt to low light conditions without too much trouble. However, its foliage may not be as vibrant in shadier spots.
If it is not getting enough light, your plant will tell you – watch out for dull foliage with small leaves and adjust accordingly.
Whatever you do, avoid placing your plant in direct sunlight, as this causes its leaves to burn.
Your plant has a mesic habit, which means that they enjoy evenly-moist but not waterlogged soil. When watering your plant,
- Water only when the top 2 inches of the soil is dry. Always use your finger to check! When in doubt, err on the side of underwatering.
- As a rule of thumb, this should work out to about 2-3 times a week in summer months, reducing to around once a week in winter.
- Water your plant from the bottom and avoiding wetting the leaves. This is because wet foliage encourages bacterial and fungal growth. According to the Mississippi State University, “fungal spores and bacterial cells are often not released until they have been wet for a certain period”. They also note, “Free water on plant leaves is a major contributor to plant disease”. So if you accidentally wet its foliage, wipe it down.
- Water deeply, allowing the plant to have a thorough soak with excess water escaping from the drainage hole. This encourages the growth of healthy and deep roots.
- Ensure its roots are not waterlogged by emptying the plant’s saucer every time you water. Also, ensure you use a well-draining soil mix (see the Soil section for details).
- Observing your plant and checking its soil moisture levels (use your finger or a moisture meter) are the two best ways to determine if you are watering it properly. If your plant is overwatered, its leaves may start dropping. Alternatively, if your plant is underwatered, its stem may droop.
High humidity is best for the Philodendron Brandtianum. If you can manage, >60% is best, although it grows well in humidity levels 50% – 60%.
If you notice brown edges on its foliage, this may indicate that the air is too dry for your Philodendron Brandtianum. Consider investing in a humidifier (your plants will thank you if you have a collection of them!), or use a pebble tray to increase humidity levels in your home naturally. You can check out our guide on how to raise humidity levels here.
There’s probably nothing special you need to do climate-wise for your plant, as this Philodendron enjoys average room temperatures of 65-95 degrees F (18-35 degrees C). If you are comfortable with the temperature in a room, they will be too!
Temperatures below 60 degrees F (16 degrees C) will kill your plant over time. So, if you are planting your Philodendron Brandtianum outdoors, ensure you bring it in during winter. They are not cold-hardy!
It has USDA plant hardiness zones are 9b to 11, which are suitable for outdoor growth.
Philodendrons Brandtianums are fast-growing plants that can easily reach over 4 feet (1.2 meters) in the right conditions. In the wild, they can grow even taller!
Their large and elongated heart-shaped leaves span 4-7 inches (10-18cm) on average. Foliage can span up to 12 inches (30cm) when fully developed.
When mature, Brandi’s leaves notably lose their variegation. They also become subcoriaceous, meaning somewhat leathery or velvety to touch. However, they usually do not reach maturity when kept indoors so that you can enjoy its silver-grey variegation for a little while longer.
We recommend using 50% Peat and 50% Perlite mixtures to grow your Silver Leaf. This gives your plant a slightly acidic growing media that has a good balance between water retention and drainage properties.
Alternatively, you can use regular potting soil that is loose and high in organic matter.
While Brandis are not heavy feeders, they appreciate a little help from time to time. Adding fertilizer to your care routine is especially helpful for this species, encouraging it to grow a lot faster. Here’s how:
- Use a water-soluble fertilizer every other week during the spring and summer growing months, mixed to half strength. Slow-release fertilizers with NPK or 15-5-10 are best for this purpose.
- Hold off on the feeding in autumn and winter.
Philodendrons can be repotted at almost any time of year, but spring and summer are best to give your plant time to establish in its new home.
There are two factors to consider when it’s time to repot: the size of the rootball and root health.
Choose a pot about 2 inches bigger than the original, ensuring that the rootball has a little room to grow. When repotting, examine the plant’s roots and snip off any browning or damaged roots.
Be sure always to use pots that have drainage holes!
As a rule of thumb, repot your Brandtianum every 2-3 years. But if you notice your roots peeking out beneath the draining hole sooner than that, it’s time to repot. Being root-bound only slows this Silver Leaf’s growth.
Regular pruning with sharp gardening shears is part of caring for a Philodendron. Keeping them trimmed back also makes the plant look neater and more attractive.
When pruning, ensure you trim off any yellowing or damaged leaves. Remember to cut just above the node when pruning. This helps your plant to focus its energy on new healthy growth.
Philodendrons contain calcium oxalate crystals that cause irritation and swelling of the skin, mouth and throat if ingested. Ensure this plant is kept well away from children and pets!
Propagation by Stem Cuttings
There are two main ways you can propagate this beauty – from stem cuttings and through air layering. Stem cuttings is the most straightforward method.
Stem Cuttings In Water
Here’s how to successfully propagate your plant in water. Don’t worry; it’s easy:
- Identify a stem around 4 inches long with at least two leaves and a node.
- Using clean garden shears, cut just below the node.
- Fill a glass jar half full with room temperature water.
- Snip off any lower leaves from the cutting, such that no leaves are submerged when placing the cutting in the jar.
- You can dip the stem cutting in a rooting hormone to encourage root growth as an optional step. This is the rooting hormone we recommend.
- Place cutting in the jar. The node end should be at the bottom of the jar – this is where the roots will grow.
- In about two to three weeks, you should notice some roots appear. When the roots have grown about two inches, repot in potting mix.
Air Layering Technique
Alternatively, you can opt for the air layering technique. This entails encouraging your plant’s aerial roots to grow in a damp-moss covering before separating the new plant from its mother.
It’s a little more complicated than using stem cuttings but not difficult at all!
Here’s how to do it:
- Identify a healthy part of the stem with at least two nodes. (The node is the “bump” in the stem from which new growth emerges.)
- Prepare some sphagnum moss. Moisten it with tap water. (Moist, not dripping wet!)
- Place the moss on cling wrap.
- Here comes the tricky part. You will need to wrap the sphagnum moss against the plant’s nodes, using the plastic wrap to encircle the node.
- Use some twine to loosely secure the wrap and the moss to the plant’s stem. Be gentle! The moss should be the only thing in contact with the plant’s nodes.
- In 3-5 weeks, you will notice the stem starting to grow roots, peeking through the edges of the moss.
- Remove the twine and cling wrap.
- Cut the stem to separate the rooted plant from the mother plant.
- Plant in potting mix.
Common Pests and Diseases
Curling Leaf Tips
- Over-fertilisation can cause leaf tips to curl. Water your plant thoroughly with room temperature water for 3 minutes to remedy this. This allows mineral salt build-up from fertilizers to wash away. Go easy on the fertilizing!
- Ensure you use a slow-release gentle fertilizer and adhere to the tips in the Fertiliser section.
- If your plant is showing signs of extreme over fertilization (a tell-tale sign is if you see a thin white crust forming on the soil), repot your plant in fresh potting mix.
- Another reason for curling leaf tips is dry air. In this case, invest in a humidifier.
Leaf Spot Disease
This is likely leaf spot disease if you notice yellow spots with red-brown edges. It’s essential to act quickly:
- As leaf spot is highly contagious, move your infected plant away from other plants.
- Ensure your plant’s foliage is not wet, as wet leaves encourage the bacteria to grow.
- Prune off all infected leaves, ensuring that you dispose of them properly and sanitize your shears after use. Do not add them to your compost – this only allows the disease to spread!
- There is no treatment for Leaf Spot disease, so ensure all infected foliage is trimmed off. Use a fungicide like the Bonide Copper Fungicide to prevent the spread of the infection.
- To prevent Leaf Spot, ensure you are not overwatering your plants. Also, inspect plants before you introduce them to your home!
Spider mites are another common household pest that may infect your Philodendron. Use an Insectidical Soap spray to remedy. Here’s a step-by-step guide to detect and get rid of spider mites.
Like spider mites, mealybugs damage plant tissues and foliage by piercing leaves to suck on plant sap. This also deprives plants of nutrition. The same remedy applies – use an Insecticidal Soap Spray.
Why are the leaves tips brown and crispy?
This is usually a symptom of too much direct sunlight or too-dry air. Alternatively, it could be due to underwatering.
Why are the leaves turning yellow?
Overwatering or improper light conditions can cause yellowing foliage.
Check your soil’s moisture levels. If it is waterlogged, chances are you are overwatering your plant or are using a poor draining potting mix.
Alternatively, direct sunlight can cause leaves to be yellow and burn. Too little sunlight can also lead to yellowing foliage. Remember that your plant thrives in bright but indirect (filtered) light, and 6-8 hours of this is optimal.
How do I save an overwatered Philodendron Brandtianum?
Overwatering your Silver Leaf is one of the most common problems for ailing Brandis. If you have been overwatering your plant for some time, you’ll need to take action.
First, gently lift your plant out of its pot, using your fingers to untangle any compacted soil from its roots. Examine your plant’s roots. If there are signs of damage (browning or black roots), trim these roots off, and repot your plant in a new potting mix.
Ensure you use a potting mix that is airy and loose (50% peat moss and 50% perlite is ideal). Also, ensure that you allow the top 2 inches of soil to dry out before watering. Check out the Watering section for more tips.
Why are the leaves small?
Small leaves are usually a sign of inadequate light. Relocate your Philodendron Brandtianum to a brighter location where it receives ample filtered light. Aim for 6-8 hours for bright indirect light!
Another reason for small leaves is the air is too dry. Use a humidifier to encourage your plant to grow – around 60% is optimal.
Frequently Asked Questions
Does my Philodendron Brandi need climbing support?
Yes. We recommend using some form of climbing support for healthy growth – either a trellis or a moss pole. The Brandi also tends to grow bushier than other Philodendrons.
Moss poles help your plant’s climbing habit and encourage healthy and vibrant leaves. Plus, they look great!
Is the Philodendron Brandtianum the same as the Philodendron Brandi?
Yes! Brandi is the nickname. Its scientific name is the Philodendron Brandtianum, but they refer to the same plant.
What’s the difference between Philodendron Brandtianum and Scindapsus Pictus?
Good question. The Scindapsus Pictus is often mistaken for the Philodendron Brandtianum…especially since its nickname is Silver Philodendron!
Both species come from the same Araceae family, but this is a HUGE family of 140 genera and over 3,750 known species! While the Pictus comes from the Scindapsus genus, the Brandi comes from the Philodendron genus. So, the Pictus isn’t a Philodendron.
Appearance-wise, they look similar as they both have silvery-grey variegation on mottled green leaves.
However, they differ in these ways:
- The Philodendron Brandtianum usually has a more distinct vein pattern. You can identify these pointing downwards on individual leaves. On the other hand, the Pictus veins are not as defined.
- The Philodendron Brandtianum forms heart-shaped foliage; in comparison, the Pictus’s leaves are much less heart-shaped and appear like an elongated oval.
- The Brandtianum is bushier and climbs well, while the Scindapsus Pictus’s tendency is to trail.
- The Pictus’s leaves curl downwards at the tips, while the Brandi does not;
- Brandi’s leaves are thinner and larger when mature compared to the Scindapsus Pictus.
Varieties and Similar plants
Philodendron Brandtianum Aff wild form
The Brandi Aff wild form has larger and thicker leaves than the “normal” variety. If you prefer the look of the wild form (it has slightly different leaf variegation), go for it — they both make for excellent choices for a beginner gardener!
Conveniently, they require exactly the same care. So everything we’ve written here applies to the wild form as well.
Often confused as the Brandi, the Variifolium has very similar-looking variegated foliage. It is difficult to tell them apart. However, if you look closely, the Variifolium’s sinus is broader than the Brandi’s. The latter also has much more of a climbing habit, while the Variifolium likes the grow terrestrially.
Other Philodendron Favourites
- Philodendron Florida Ghost – a variegated philodendron with deeply lobed leaves.
- Philodendron Gigas – another tropical Philodendron, this plant has long, finger-like leaves that come together in a star-shaped halo.
- Philodendron Tortum – rare houseplant with leaves that resemble a palm frond. We love its tropical look. 🙂
- Philodendron Rugosum – this Philodendron has textured leaves resembling fine leather grains.
- Philodendron Mamei – the Silver Cloud, this Philodendron has silvery variegation on its large, heart-shaped green leaves.
Deborah is a plant enthusiast and founder of Gardening Collective.