Philodendron Goeldii, a tropical houseplant also known as Finger Leaf and the Fun Bun (what a cute name). Its finger-like leaves come together like a star-shaped halo on circular vines. 🙂
The Finger Leaf plant traces its origin to the South American rainforests of Brazil, Peru, Ecuador, Colombia, and French Guiana.
Thankfully, this fast-growing plant is also easy to grow. It requires low to moderate light intensity, and a warm, humid (60-80%) environment to thrive. Protect from winds and temperature fluctuations, and use a slow-release fertilizer.
In this article, we’ll let you in on all our secrets on how to care for your Philodendron Goeldii.
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Philodendron Goeldii or Thaumatophyllum Spruceanum?
Before we dive into caring for your plant, here’s an important note on your plant’s different names.
The Philodendron Goeldii is actually the old name of this plant, which is now renamed Thaumatophyllum Spruceanum. While remaining in the same Aroid family, it is now re-categorized to the Thaymatophyllum genus, a different genus to the Philodendron. The Thaymatophyllum genus shares many similar characteristics to Philodendrons, which is why it took a while for botanists to recognize this as a distinct group.
In this article, we will refer to the plant as its old name, the Philodendron Goeldii, as this is the name most commonly used.
How to care for your Philodendron Goeldii
Your Philodendron Goeldii loves partial shade and indirect sunlight. The light intensity must be low to moderate for your plant to thrive, ideally between 6-8 hours a day. For this reason, North-facing windowsills are ideal. 🙂
Avoid direct afternoon sun, which tends to be the harshest. Too much direct light leads to sun-scorched leaves.
Your Finger Leaf is a thirsty plant that thrives in a moist and humid environment. It likes to be watered once you feel that its topsoil is dry. Use your fingers to check the soil’s moisture before watering.
As a rule of thumb, watering frequency usually works out to 1-2 times a week in the prime growing season (spring and summer). It naturally reduces in the fall and winter months, when growth is slower.
But the exact frequency and requirements of your plant depend on its growth rate, the seasons, and climate. So, get into the habit of checking the soil moisture with your finger.
Once you get the hang of it, checking soil moisture with your fingers is an invaluable skill for gardeners. This is especially so as overwatering is one of the most common causes of early plant death.
Tropical plants thrive in a humid environment. In South American rainforests, the humidity levels can reach over 90%!
Thankfully your plant doesn’t need THAT high of a humidity level to thrive. Ideally, your Philodendron Goeldii needs a 60-80% humidity level. Here are 4 tips to increase humidity in your home.
Keep temperatures between 59 to 86 degrees Fahrenheit (15 to 30 degrees Celsius).
Also, don’t expose it to cold chills. Its leaves tend to drop if the plant is too cold (below 53 degrees F or 12 degrees C) or placed under vents, or drafty doors or windows.
Over an extended period of cold temperatures, plant death may also occur.
Philodendron Goeldii has a fast growth rate… especially in spring and summer. Cut off the ends of the vines at the start of spring and remove yellow leaves to allow your plant to focus on new growth.
When mature, a Philodendron Goeldii stands around 5 feet (1.5 meters). The leaves can be wide enough to reach 4 inches (10cm) in size.
As they grow, they develop long, climbing vines, alongside long finger-like leaves that grow in a spiral.
Because of its vining habit, it’s important to provide them with much-needed climbing support. A moss pole or a trellis is a good option to support healthy growth.
Soil or Growing Medium
A Philodendron Goeldii needs a loose and well-draining growing medium, but one that can retain some moisture. Ideally, soil pH should be slightly acidic as this maximizes the availability of nutrients.
Confused about how to get this balance right? Don’t worry, we’ll show you how. Mix together:
Sphagnum peat moss adds an organic boost of nutrients for the nourishment of your Finger Leaf, while retaining some moisture. It also slightly reduces the pH of the soil.
At the same time, perlite provides aeration and makes the soil loose, while indoor potting soil provides an organically-rich potting base.
Using fertilizer on your Philodendron Goeldii is not necessary but is beneficial in providing a small nutritional boost. Botanists recommend a slow-release fertilizer for the nourishment of Philodendron Goeldii.
The fertilizer must be added once a month during the growing season. There is no need to add fertilizer in the winter season. Osmocote 10:10:10 Fertilizers are considered best for Philodendron Goeldii.
The best nutrient combination is 10:10:10 of Nitrogen, Phosphorus, and Potassium for your Goeldii. This gives your plant a balanced mix of nutrients for all-round healthy growth.
Since the Philodendron Goeldii likes to remain slightly root-bound, don’t be in a rush to repot your plant. Ideally, repot once every 2 years, when you see that your plant has outgrown its pot.
Otherwise, repotting your Philodendron Goeldii’s unnecessarily adds stress to the plant. To minimize stress, repot in early spring. This gives your plant time during the growing season to establish in its new pot. Also, choose a pot that is just 2 inches larger than the original pot.
Though your plant is commonly known as Fun Bun, is not “fun” to eat and ingest. The plant contains calcium oxalate in higher quantities and is toxic when ingested. This Finger Leaf plant is toxic to humans and pets as well.
If ingested, you may suffer from oral irritation, burning in the chest, mouth annoyance, excessive drooling, and irritation on the lips and tongue.
Philodendron Goeldii, like any other plant of the Araceae family, can be propagated in various ways to fill your house with lush green and tempting-looking tropical plants. Here are two methods to propagate Philodendron Goeldii:
Propagation through Stem Cutting
The easiest and most straightforward way to propagate a Philodendron Goeldii is stem cutting. Here’s what you need to do:
Step 1: Make a stem cutting
Identify a healthy stem of about 4 inches in length and cut it using sterilized scissors. Ensure that there are at least 2-3 nodes on the stem. (You can sterilize scissors using a 70% isopropyl solution.) Cut the stem just below the node.
Step 2: Prepare the stem cutting
Remove leaves from the bottom half of the stem cutting, as this will be placed in the propagation medium. You don’t want any leaves to be buried!
Step 3: Pot the stem cutting in potting mix
Plant your stem cutting in an appropriate potting soil (see the Soil section for details). Place your plant in a warm spot with plenty of bright but indirect light. If you can, also use a humidifier to create the best conditions for growth.
In 2-3 weeks, there should be some root development. Confirm this by very gently tugging on the stem cutting – some resistance means that roots have developed.
Propagation through Air Layering
Another way to propagate is through air layering. This technique encourages roots to grow from an identified node, before cutting off the rooted node and replanting this as a separate new plant. Here are the steps involved in air layering propagation of Philodendron Goeldii:
Step 1: Identify a node
Identify a node on a healthy plant. The node is the knobby bit of the stem. This is where new roots will emerge.
Step 2: Prepare Sphagnum moss
Prepare some damp sphagnum moss and place it in a clear plastic wrap. The plastic wrap needs to be perforated with little holes to allow the plant to breathe. Now wrap the sphagnum moss with an outer layer of plastic around the identified node. You can loosely secure the “bag” of moss and plastic wrap in place by using a garden tie and tying it loosely around the stem of your plant. Ensure the nodes remain in full contact with damp moss.
Step 3: Wait for 3 weeks
Keep the moss damp, watering through the holes in the plastic wrap. In three weeks, you should notice some roots growing in the moss.
Step 4: Replant your cutting
Once you notice roots have formed to a few inches, cut the stem just below the node. Replant the rooted stem in a moist potting mix. There you go — you have a new plant! Treat as you would any other Philodendron Goeldii.
Pruning is not a big care component for your Philodendron Goeldii. However, it’s a good idea to remove any damaged, yellowing, browning, or wilted leaves. You can also choose to trim the plant at the start of the spring season, to keep those vines neat and tidy!
Common Pests and Issues
The most common problem for Philodendron Goeldii is overwatering (which typically results in yellow leaves) and cold conditions (which can cause wilting of leaves or leaves dropping).
Other than that, your plant may also occasionally suffer infestations from the usual gambit of houseplant pests: aphids, spider mites, scale, and mealybugs.
These pests can be eradicated by the use of Insecticidal Soap Spray. We keep a bottle on hand in case of such attacks! Because these insects and mites reproduce rapidly, it’s also important to catch an infestation early so that your plant can be saved.
For this reason, it’s good practice to regularly inspect your plants. Look at the undersides of leaves and around those nooks and crannies (like leaf axils), which is where these pests like to hide. For more information, here’s our guide on identifying and getting rid of spider mites and mealybugs.
Frequently Asked Questions
How do I encourage my plant to grow bushy?
It’s hard to grow Philodendron Goeldii into a bushy plant. However, you can increase the growth and number of leaves by cutting the tips of vines. Do this in early spring, at the start of the growing season.
Can Philodendron Goeldii tolerate full sun?
No, the Philodendron Goeldii cannot grow well in harsh direct sunlight. Its leaves will wilt due to excessive drying. It does much better in indirect light or partial shade conditions.
Where can I buy a Philodendron Goeldii?
This plant is not so easy to find. You can try specialist Aroid nurseries or private sellers on Etsy. The expected cost for Philodendron Goeldii ranges between US$20 – $50, and depends on the size of the plant.
How long does this Philodendron live?
Philodendron usually has a longer lifespan ranging from 20 years to 100 years! More often, your plant succumbs to early death due to overwatering or diseases. So use this care guide to prevent that from happening.
Does the Philodendron Goeldii make a good indoor plant?
Yes, they make great indoor plants. The Philodendron Goeldii can grow perfectly well in indoor temperatures ranging between 59 to 86 degrees Fahrenheit (15 to 30 degrees C). The plant provides a tropical accent when kept in your home, with its uniquely spiraling vines and long, finger-like leaves!
To top it all off, this plant is also relatively easy to grow and hardy. It also has purported air-purifying qualities, that remove harmful toxins in the air such as formaldehyde and benzene.
Similar Plants and Varieties
Philodendron Brasil can be identified from its colorful, dark green and yellow heart-shaped leaves. Can you tell that its nickname is Brasil thanks to its resemblance to the Brazilian flag? Similar to Goeldii, the plant can tolerate low light conditions, but for best growth prefers bright but filtered light.
Philodendron Gloriosum belongs to the same family, i.e., Araceae, as the Goeldii plant. This terrestrial plant has velvety leaves and white vines and grows horizontally— it appears to be crawling or creeping. It is native to Colombia but grows in other tropical regions as well. Unfortunately, this striking plant is on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.
This tropical perennial plant gives a magnificent look with big heart-shaped leaves and a silver sheen. The silvery variegation is what gives the Philodendron Mamei its nickname “Silver Cloud”.
Thaumatophyllum Bipinnatifidum is also known as the Tree Philodendron. These household plants are the easiest to grow and take care of! This Brazilian plant has a woody stem that can reach up to 15 feet (4.5 meters) when mature. We love the tropical leaf shape.
The Philodendron Splendid‘s other name is Philodendron Verrucosum x Melanochrysum (what a mouthful!), which is a hybrid between those two parent plants. This Araceae family member also has heart-shaped leaves with large foliage. Interestingly, it has red undersides like its parent plant, the Philodendron Verrucosum.
Philodendron Florida Ghost
Another Philodendron is the Philodendron Florida Ghost, a beautifully multi-lobed plant whose leaves change color as they mature. They start off white (like a ghost!) and slowly deepen to a yellow-green before maturing into a deep lush green.
Wrapping It Up
The Philodendron Goeldii’s unique spiraling foliage adds a lovely tropical accent to any indoor space. Place your plant in the north-facing windowsills, where it can grow radially outwards.
- Rule one is to not expose your plant to cold or direct sunlight. Instead, provide a warm and stable temperature environment, with lots of filtered light or partial shade. North-facing windowsills are ideal.
- Water whenever your plant’s topsoil is dry, and check on your plant’s soil moisture often!
- Aim for humidity levels of at least 60%.
- Choose an airy potting mix, but one that also has high organic content and retains some moisture. Adding peat moss and perlite to regular indoor potting soil makes for a good growing medium for your plant.
- Use a slow-release fertilizer, and use it sparingly – only during growing months.
- Prune off any damaged or wilted leaves.
Other Philodendrons to check out
- Philodendron Gigas
- Philodendron Melanochrysum
- Philodendron Verrucosum
- Philodendron Mamei
- Philodendron McDowell
- Philodendron Gloriosum
- Philodendron Splendid
- Philodendron Brandtianum
Other Philodendrons we love:
- Philodendron Micans
- Philodendron Birkin
- Philodendron Imperial Red
- Philodendron Camposportoanum – a small Phildodendron that TRANSFORMS as it grows!
- Philodendron Pink Princess
- Philodendron Atabapoense
- Philodendron Brasil – vining plant with heart-shaped leaves the colors of the Brazil flag!
- Philodendron Florida Ghost
- Philodendron Tortum
Deborah is a plant enthusiast and founder of Gardening Collective.