Philodendron Brasil (Growing & Propagation #1 Indoor CARE HACKS!)

close up of a philodendron brasil leaf with striking lemon yellow variegation on its heart-shaped green leaf

The Philodendron Brasil is a rapidly growing vine with small heart-shaped leaves. Of course, it’s well-loved for its eye-catching yellow variegation.

Well adapted to indoor environments, your tropical plant is very easy to care for, even for beginners.

For best growth, the combination of sufficient bright indirect light, high humidity (>70% is ideal), and warmth (stable, indoor temperatures) makes for a rapidly-growing Philodendron Brasil. However, they are also very tolerant of a range of care conditions.

Let’s dive into the details!

Origins

A result of a naturally-occuring mutation of the Heartleaf Philodendron, the Philodendron Brasil is a patented cultivar first documented in 1991. Its scientific name is Philodendron Scandens ‘Brasil’.

The reference to “Brasil” comes from:

  • its native habitat of Holambra, Brazil; and
  • how its yellow and green leaves resemble the Brazilian flag.

Caring for your Philodendron Brasil

Light

Your hardy plant is adaptable to different light conditions, so long as you avoid the extremes (100% direct light or 100% shade).

Nevertheless, ample amounts (8-10 hours) of bright, indirect light is still the best prescription for healthy growth. A few hours of direct sunlight is beneficial, but any more than that and you risk burning the leaves.

Ours was growing in a darker spot in the kitchen, but once we relocated it near an East-facing windowsill it grew prolifically! Each week we saw new cataphylls develop. The Philodendron Brasil is one of those plants that makes it obvious when it’s happy by growing very rapidly.

If you’re seeing sluggish growth in darker months, consider using a grow light at 1,500 – 2,000 foot candles to give your plant a needed boost.

topview of philodendron brasil leaves with yellow and green heart-leaf foliage

Water

When it comes to watering your Philodendron Brasil, we recommend waiting until the top 2 inches of soil is dry before watering.

They are fairly tolerant of dry spells, so if you forget to water for a couple of days, no love is lost. Water deeply, allowing the roots to be thoroughly nourished, and your plant will bounce back quickly.

Our favorite type of pot to use is terracotta, as its porous material provides airflow to the roots. It also allows water to evaporate quickly from its surface, reducing the risk of root rot. Whichever type of pot you choose, remember to choose one with drainage holes!

Signs of over or under watering

Brown tips with dry, cakey soil indicate an underwatered plant. On the other hand, yellow leaves typically mean your Philodendron Brasil is overwatered.

If you notice water droplets forming on leaves, this “sweating” is an attempt by your plant to lose excess water. It’s an early sign that you may be watering too frequently, or using a soil that retains too much moisture for its liking.

Humidity

Humidity-wise, the higher the better, as is the case with most houseplants! They absolutely thrive in >70% humidity, though can tolerate average room humidity levels quite well.

It’s not a deal-breaker if you don’t have a humidifier, but at the same time, the vigorous growth you’ll experience at these levels is a delight to watch. Try grouping plants together and have a look at our humidity tips to boost moisture levels naturally.

holding up a pot of philodendron brasil, a cultivar of the heartleaf philodendron, philodendron scandens

Temperature

Mild indoor temperatures are perfect for your Philodendron Brasil. Keep your vining plant between 70-85 degrees F (21 – 29 degrees C) for best growth.

Dips below 55 degrees F (13 degrees C) can harm your plant. Being tropical plants they are not cold-hardy. Though some air circulation is beneficial, don’t place it directly next to cold drafts or air vents.

Flowering

The Philodendron Brasil is not known for its flowers. Like most Aroids, flowers are not showy, instead, are considered insignificant. Growers may choose to trim off the inflorescence and allow the plant to focus on foliage growth.

Infloresences grow only when the plant is mature, and consist of a central cream spike called a spadix, and a green modified leaf bract called a spathe. Along the length of the spadix, you’ll find tiny numerous flowers.

Growth

A combination of sufficient light, warmth, and high humidity will bring healthy and rapid growth in your Philodendron Brasil.

Leaves have long, pointy tips (apex), held atop stems that change from a reddish-pink to a reddish-orange before settling into to a permanent green color when the plant matures.

Individual leaves vary in the level of variegation and exact shades of greens and yellows, making each plant unique. 🙂

Your Aroid can be grown as a trailing or climbing plant.

Soil or Growing Medium

Loamy, well-draining and slightly acidic potting soils are a good choice for your Philodendron Brasil. There are several potting mixes that will do the job, but our Philodendron Brasil loves:

Another great option is to grow your Philodendron Brasil in LECA. These clay balls are a good option for moisture control. If you’re curious to find out more, check out the pros and cons to using LECA as a growing medium.

Closeup of a yellow and green variegated leaf of Philodendron Brasil

Fertilizer

Light fertilization works wonders to give your plant an added nutritional boost.

We personally like using Dyna-Gro for most of our indoor plants; (the results speak for themselves!). Choose a fertilizer that has a high nitrogen content (NPK 9-3-6 or 7-9-5 are good), as this encourages lush leaves.

Apply fertilizer at half strength once a month during the spring and summer months, when your Philodendron Brasil is actively growing.

Hold off fertilizing in the autumn and winter months.

Repotting

Being a fast grower, your Philodendron Brasil may need repotting every 1-2 years. Do this in the spring.

When repotting, you can take the opportunity to propagate your plant by dividing the plant into two. This can be done if you see separate root systems developing in the same pot. Separate the individual plants and repot in fresh soil, being careful not to damage the roots.

When repotting,

  • ensure the new pots have drainage holes.
  • choose a pot about 2 inches (5cm) bigger than the original.
  • use fresh soil, as nutrients deplete over time.
  • water your plant 24 hours prior to repotting – this helps your wriggle your plant free from its pot more easily, and reduces the risk of transplant shock.

Toxicity

Unfortunately, your Philodendron Brasil is toxic when ingested by pets or humans. This is due to insoluble calcium oxalate crystals in its stems and leaves. These crystals pierce tissue and cause skin burns, gastrointestinal pains, nausea, and vomiting.

Place this plant in an out-of-reach spot if you have pets or small children. If you have sensitive skin, use gardening gloves when you are propagating or pruning off vines, as the plant sap may be irritating.

Propagation

If you want to propagate your Philodendron Brasil, stem cuttings are a really easy way! Propagate during spring.

We prefer rooting in water, as this increases its chance of successful propagation, then transferring to a moist potting mix after the roots have grown.

Propagation through Stem Cuttings

  1. Identify a healthy part of the stem 4-5 inches long with at least 2 nodes and at least 1 leaf.
  2. Cut below the node using clean garden shears at a downward sloping angle. (This allows any water to run off the wound site, reducing the chances of infection.)
  3. Remove any leaves from the bottom half of the stem cutting.
  4. Place the stem cutting into a jar half-filled with room temperature water. Ensure nodes are submerged below the waterline but that no leaves are submerged. (You’ll see roots growing from the nodes later on!)
  5. Place the stem cutting in a warm location with plenty of indirect light. If you can, place a humidifier next to the jar, and set it at 80% humidity.
  6. Refresh the water every few days.
  7. After 2-3 weeks, you’ll see little roots growing from the nodes.
  8. Once the roots grow 1 inch (2.5cm) long, plant your rooted cutting into its permanent pot.
  9. Treat as you would any other Philodendron Brasil.

Pruning

topview of philodendron brasil with gloosy green and yellow leaves, a cultivar of philodendron scadens

Being a fast-growing vining plant, you’d want to regularly prune your Philodendron Brasil. Cutting back leggy vines and dead or damaged leaves encourages new growth from the base of the plant. So, your plant looks bushier and neater. 🙂

However, don’t overdo it. Be careful not to cut off more than 1/3 the length of your vining Philodendron Brasil, as this will cause too much stress.

When pruning, you can also take the opportunity to use cut off stems to propagate. (See Propagation Section for details.) Win-win! 🙂

Common Pests and Diseases

Your Philodendron Brasil is not particularly susceptible to pests or diseases. However, no plant is 100% immune.

If a problem arises, these are usually due to i) cross-infection of houseplant pests like spider mites or scale; or ii) fungal diseases that arise from an overwatered plant.

Regularly checking your houseplants for pests and adopting good watering practices honestly will save you from 90% of potential Philodendron Brasil problems.

Root Rot

Root rot happens when your overwatered plant can’t breathe. Too much water crowds out air spaces within the soil, suffocating your plant. Moisture-loving fungi eat away at the roots and also decay from the lack of oxygen.

It’s so important to get into the habit of not watering your plant UNLESS the topsoil is dry. But if its too late and your plant is suffering from root rot, don’t worry. Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to save your overwatered plant.

Pests

Spider mites and scale are common houseplant pests. Both pests pierce your plant’s tissue and draw out its sugary sap, wounding your poor plant and depriving it of nutrients!

  • Being less than 1/50 inch (0.5mm) long, spider mites are hard to see without a microscope. However, fine webbing under the leaves and stems indicates the presence of spider mites. You may also observe faded and greying leaves, as spider mites suck out the chlorophyll. The variety seemingly most attracted to a Philodendron Brasils is red spider mites.
  • Scale refers to over 7,000 species of insects, usually 1/16 – 1/8 inch (1.6mm – 3mm) long that appear in clusters. If you look closely, you’ll see a group of “bumps”. They have an oval, shell-like “bump” appearance, and come in a range of colors including orange, tan, and black.

It’s essential to detect these pests early, as they reproduce very quickly.

We use either Bonide Insecticidal Soap or neem oil to eradicate these pests. If caught early, both are very effective ways to stop these bugs from killing your plant. Apply per the instructions.

Troubleshooting

Yellow leaves

Yellow leaves alongside a droopy or wilted-looking plant is commonly due to overwatering. So make sure that you are watering your plant correctly.

Otherwise, yellow leaves could just be the natural variegation on your Philodendron Brasil. Individual leaves may have different levels of variegation – some may have just a sliver of yellow along its midrib, while in others, yellow may be the predominant color of the leaf!

If your yellow leaf looks otherwise healthy, its nothing to worry about.

Sweating leaves

Water droplets forming on a Philodendron Brasil’s leaves is an early sign that your plant is overwatered. This is your plants way to trying to get rid of excess moisture.

Curling leaves

Curling leaves typically mean your Philodendron Brasil is underwatered. Check the soil moisture with your fingers to confirm.

Brown leaf tips

In a Philodendron Brasil, brown leaf tips indicate a lack of moisture – either in the form of underwatering, or a lack of humidity (which is a measure of moisture levels in the air). Sometimes it can be an indication of both!

Adjust your watering practices accordingly, and use a humidifier to fight dry conditions.

close up of Yellow and green variegated leaves of Philodendron Brasil

Why are the Philodendron Brasil leaves turning pink or red?

Young Philodendron Brasil leaves sometimes have a reddish-pink color that they eventually lose as the plant matures. This is similar to the color that young stems have before they develop.

However, if the red color is more widespread and not confined to young leaves, it could be a sign of nutrient deficiency or too much sunlight. Ensure you are using a high-quality, nutritionally complete fertilizer, and that your plant is not getting more than a 2 hours of direct light per day.

Why is my Philodendron Brasil losing variegation?

Insufficient sunlight is the main reason for your Philodendron Brasil’s leaves turning green. Since it’s not getting enough light, your plant is trying to compensate by producing more green leaves, which have the ability to manufacture food unlike the yellow portions of the leaf.

Use a grow light to give your plant much-needed light!

Frequently Asked Questions

vining plant philodendron brasil

Where can I buy a Philodendron Brasil?

We like shopping for our plants online here. A small pot should cost you around ~US$10.

What’s the difference between Philodendron Brasil and a Pothos?

Though they are both small, vining plants, your Philodendron Brasil is not a Pothos. Since its such a common question, we wrote an article on 5 key differences.

How do you make a Philodendron Brasil bushy?

For a bushy plant, prune it! This directs your plant to grow more from the base of the soil, rather than add length to its vines.

Another tip is to ensure your plant gets enough sunlight and humidity.

How do I encourage large, lush Philodendron Brasil leaves?

Sufficient bright, indirect light (at least 8-10 hours), high humidity, and light fertilization encourage large, beautiful leaves and rapid growth.

Other Easy-going Vining Plants

Other Philodendrons we Love

Wrapping Up

We love the Philodendron Brasil. This vibrant but hard-to-kill cultivar is a low-maintenance option for the busy gardener. To keep it happy,

  • Provide bright indirect light.
  • Use a well-draining soil.
  • Humidity >70% is ideal, but they tolerate average room humidity levels well.
  • Water when the topsoil is dry.
  • Fertilize monthly using a liquid houseplant fertilizer at half strength during active growing months.

Check out the Silver Philodendron next!

Deborah

Deborah is a plant enthusiast and founder of Gardening Collective.