The Philodendron Melanochrysum is a lovely tropical plant originating from Colombia. We love the dark, almost greenish-black color of its leaves, and how it shimmers gold in the sunlight 🙂
Growing the Melanochrysum well can be a little tricky, and requires effort. Provide it with water when 95% dry; bright indirect light (avoid direct sunlight as this burns the leaves), and humidity between 60-70%. Choose a well-draining mix with plenty of chunky amendments as it’s prone to overwatering and root rot. Use a moss pole to support its weight as it grows tall.
If you have been lucky enough to care for a Philodendron Melanochysrum, we’ll show you the conditions it needs to thrive!
What is the Philodendron Melanochrysum?
The Philodendron Melanochrysum is a rare houseplant that was first discovered in 1886. It was named Philodendron Andreanum then renamed Melanochrysum (meaning black gold), after the color of its leaves.
It is also known as Melano Plant, or Black Gold Philodendron.
Due to its rarity, this beautiful plant is best sourced from online sellers.
How To Care For Your Philodendron Melanochrysum
The Philodendron Melanochrysum flourishes in bright, indirect sunlight. Avoid placing your plant in the direct afternoon sunlight. Intense sunlight can cause its leaves to curl inwards, lose color, and turn crisp.
At the same time, leaves respond to low light by developing smaller foliage.
The best place to keep your Philodendron Melanochrysum is East or North-facing windowsills.
Watering frequency depends on the climate in your area. This plant needs regular watering in tropical areas, as the soil tends to dry much quicker. However, the general rule of thumb with watering Philodendron Melanochrysum is when the soil is about 95% dry.
Another way to determine this is if the top 2 inches of soil is dry.
You can either dip your finger or a wooden chopstick in the soil to check this. If using a wooden chopstick, leave it in the soil for about an hour.
Then pull it out to see if there are any watermarks or soil sticking to it. If there is neither, then it’s time to water your plant.
Alternatively, place your finger in the soil to a depth of at least 2 inches and feel for moisture. This method takes a little getting used to, but it is pretty reliable once you get the hang of it!
The Melano plant loves high humidity. For lush and vibrant foliage, keep the humidity levels above 60-70%.
The Philodendron Melanochrysum can still survive in slightly lower humidity levels.
However, in moderate humidity, the leaves do not grow as big, and the color is also a little less bright.
Other signs of too-dry air are drooping stems and leaves that turn brown and curl inwards.
In terms of temperature, the Philodendron Melanochrysum is a pretty hardy plant. From 57 – 77 degrees F (14 to 25 degrees C), the Melano plant can handle it all!
However, being tropical, it flourishes on the higher side of this temperature range.
If the temperature gets too low, the plant is at risk of developing cold spots and stop growing.
The Philodendron Melanochrysum can get extremely tall for a houseplant, reaching a height of 10 feet (3 metres) or more!
It grows 6-12 inches (15-30 cm) a year under optimal conditions. But if you are patient, you can certainly expect it to grow humongous.
When grown outdoors, the plant has even more growth potential. In the wild, it is not uncommon for a Philodendron Melanochrysum to reach over 20 feet (6 meters) tall.
The leaves of this plant can also get very large! From about 12-20 inches (30-50 cm) indoors to a breathtaking 35 inches (90 cm) in its natural habitat.
Because of its impressive height and gigantic leaves, the plant can get heavy and buckle in on itself if its weight is not adequately supported. To avoid this, use a moss pole that holds up your plant.
The Philodendron Melanochrysum is prone to root rot if you overwater it, and so it enjoys a soil mixture that drains well. But at the same time, the soil should still hold some moisture and not run completely dry.
Plant your Philodendron Melanochrysum in a mixture of perlite, peat moss, orchid bark, and worm castings for best results.
Philodendron Melanochrysum flourishes in nitrogen-heavy fertilizers. One thing to pay attention to is never to fertilize your plant dry.
The right way to fertilize your Philodendron Melanochrysum is to first water the plant and then add the fertilizer to moist soil.
A healthy dose of fertilizer can keep your plant happy and healthy and prevent yellow leaves. Use a liquid houseplant fertilizer once every two weeks in the spring and summer months. Hold off in autumn and winter when growth slows.
All plants need repotting when they outgrow their containers. But because the Philodendron Melanochrysum is so slow to grow, you do not need to change its pot very often. Once in a year or two is ideal for this climbing vine.
- However, if you notice the roots of your plant poking through the drainage hole, it is time to change its pot.
- When choosing the new container, make sure that the pot has excellent drainage to avoid root rot.
- In addition, the new container should not have an extreme size difference from the previous one. A pot that is about 2 inches larger is perfect.
To repot, gently lift the rootball from its container, using your fingers to loosen the soil. Next, place the plant in the new pot that already contains some potting mix and allow it to settle.
Wait 24 hours after repotting before watering. This allows any damaged roots to heal, and for your plant to recover from transport shock.
The Philodendron Melanochrysum is not a houseplant for homes that have small children, cats, or dogs running around. Unfortunately, this beautiful plant can be toxic if ingested and should be kept away from children and pets.
Philodendron Melanochrysum can be propagated via two methods.
Propagation using Stem Cuttings
In the first method, you will be using stem cuttings to propagate your plant.
- Identify a healthy-looking stem with at least one node and a couple of leaves.
- Snip it with pruning shears just below the node.
- Leave the stem cutting to callous for about half an hour.
- Dip the cut end in rooting hormone.
- Plant it the prescribed potting mix (see Soil section) so that the nodes are buried. However, ensure no leaves are under the soil’s surface.
- Place your newly planted Philodendron Melanochrysum in a location with ample indirect sunlight and watch it grow over time.
Propagation using Air Layering
The other method involves air layering.
- Locate an aerial root from a node in your climbing vine.
- Wrap some wet sphagnum moss around the node.
- Cover the moss with an outerlayer of cling wrap and loosely secure to the plant with twine.
- Make sure that you have not closed off the top or bottom of your wrapped node since this is where the roots will sprout.
- Continue to mist the wrapped node every day. This prevents it from drying out.
- In a couple of weeks, you will notice new roots growing out from the node.
- At this point, you can unwrap the node.
- Snip the stem just below the new roots, and plant it in potting mix!
Growing from Seeds
Growing Philodendron Melanochrysum from seeds can be trickier and more laborious than the methods discussed above. To do this, you will need to
- Bury the Philodendron Melanochrysum seeds ⅓ of an inch deep in potting mix. See Soil section on an ideal potting mix to use.
- Next, wrap a plastic bag over the pot. This increases humidity and prevents the soil from drying out.
- Remove the wrap for a short while every day to mist the soil and allow fresh air in.
- Your seeds will germinate anywhere between two to eight weeks.
- You may choose to repot each sapling into individual containers.
Luckily, Philodendron Melanochrysum does not need very frequent pruning. Prune only when you notice diseased or damaged leaves.
Like all other plants, Philodendron Melanochrysum can also be infested with pests that lead to poor health.
The Philodendron Melanochrysum’s most common pest is aphids. These sucking insects feed on the plant’s sap (similar to spider mites), stealing its nutrition. They are also a source of disease transmission. Use an Insecticidal Soap spray to treat.
Another common Philodendron Melanochrysum pest is the mealybug. Recognizable by cotton fluff on the underside of leaves, these pests attack and weaken the roots. Thankfully the same Insecticidal Soap remedy applies.
Lastly, if you notice yellow, brown, or black spots on the leaves, these are likely bacterial leaf spots. This disease is carried from plant to plant by pests.
Unfortunately, there is no chemical treatment for this pesky bacteria.
- The best way to combat this bacteria is by pruning off any diseased foliage.
- Also, place your infected plant away from other plants to limit transmission.
- Be sure to dispose of any damaged foliage carefully – never add it to your compost!
Varieties and Similar plants
Philodendron Melanochrysum narrow form
Philodendron Baguette is more commonly known as Philodendron Melanochrysum narrow form. The Baguette is a rare Philodendron species often mistaken for Melanochrysum when young. However, as they mature, they develop tell-tale characteristics that can help you tell them apart.
The leaves of the mature Baguette acquire a unique, baguette shape that gives the plant its name. There is also no signature cream border that is present in the leaves of Philodendron Melanochrysum.
When young, the Philodendron Melanochrysum and Philodendron Micans resemble each other. However, some things can help you differentiate between the two species.
Philodendron Melanochrysum is the much rarer of the two. It is a climbing vine with leaves characteristically broad, cream border.
On the other hand, Philodendron Micans is the more readily available aroid. Compared to the Philodendron Melanochrysum’s climbing habit, this species spreads horizontally. Its leaves also lack the cream margins that Melanochrysum is known for.
The Philodendron Gloriosum is another rare Philodendron variety often confused with Melanochrysum. It has heart-shaped leaves with a velvety texture and bright white veins. Like Philodendron Melanochrysum, it is a slow grower.
The feature that set it apart from Philodendron Melanochrysum is it’s creeping rather than climbing nature. Read more about the Gloriosum here!
Philodendron Selloum does not resemble the Philodendron Melanochrysum as strongly as the Micans or Gloriosum. Instead of heart-shaped leaves, the leaves of this Philodendron have serrated edges that look like fingers.
The Philodendron Verrucosum is an uncommon, colorful variety of the Philodendron species. The most striking thing about its leaves is the funky, red underside! Like the Melanochrysm, its leaves are heart-shaped with a velvety texture.
Some varieties of Verrucosum have a hairy petiole that further help distinguish them from other Philodendrons.
Philodendron Splendid (Philodendron Verrucosum x Melanochrysum)
The Philodendron Splendid is a hybrid between parent plants Verrucosum and Melanochrysum. It has large velvety leaves like the Melanochrysum and bold defined veins like the Verrucosum. It also boasts the red leaf undersides of the Verrucosum!
If you like the Verrucosum but would like a plant that is easier to manage, why not start off with the Splendid? It is less fussy than its Verrucosum parent.
- Philodendron Goeldii
- Philodendron Tenue
- Philodendron Rugosum (Pig Skin Philodendron)
- Philodendron Florida Ghost
- Philodendron Imperial Red
- Philodendron Gigas
Why are the leaves turning yellow?
Yellowed Philodendron Melanochrysum leaves can be an indication of several problems. They might mean that the plant is getting too much direct sunlight or not enough of it. Underwatering and overwatering can also cause leaves to turn yellow.
Not diluting your fertilizer or delivering it in the wrong way can also lead to this.
Why are the leaves turning brown?
Brown edges on leaves usually develop if you use very cold water to hydrate your plant. If the leaves turn brown and soft, you are probably overwatering the plant. On the other hand, if the leaves are brown and curling inwards, you need to give them more hydration.
And if the brown leaves have yellow margins, you need to fix the humidity levels.
Why are the leaves dropping?
Drooping or wilting leaves are an indication that you are underwatering your Philodendron Melanochrysum. To fix the problem, hydrate your plant with water that is not too cold.
Why are the leaves small?
Small Philodendron Melanochrysum leaves result from an undernourished plant. Feed the plant with some nitrogen-rich fertilizer and ensure that it gets adequate sunlight to encourage larger leaves.
Frequently Asked Questions
Why is the Philodendron Melanochrysum so expensive?
The Philodendron Melanochrysum is a rare species – especially in non-tropical areas. At the same time, its large leaves are attractive and sought-after.
Because of these reasons, they can be pricey!
How big does a Philodendron Melanochrysum get?
A Philodendron Melanochrysum grows moderate to slowly, at a rate of 6-12 inches (15-30 cm) a year under optimal conditions.
A wild Philodendron Melanochrysum can reach up to 20 feet (6 meters) in height, with a leaf length of 35 inches (90 cm). However, if grown indoors, it can still achieve a height of 10 feet (3 meters), with the leaves being 12-20 inches (30-50 cm) in length.
Does Melanochrysum have flowers?
Yes! If your Philodendron Melanochrysum has matured sufficiently, it may sprout tiny clusters of white and red flowers. This usually happens at the end of winter or just before spring.
Where can you buy a Philodendron Melanochrysum?
Getting your hands on Philodendron Melanochrysum is not easy. This rare breed is not available at every local nursery. If you want to buy this plant, you will need to go to a specialist aroid nursery.
Alternatively, you can find this plant for sale on Etsy. Many gardening enthusiasts use this platform to sell rare plant species.
Does this plant need regular pruning?
Philodendron Melanochrysum does not need very frequent pruning unless it is diseased. It is only when you notice dried-up, diseased leaves that you need to give the plant a good trim.
Is this a good plant for beginners?
While it is a relatively easy plant to care for, we would not recommend the plant for absolute beginners.
This is because you will likely need to pay a premium for this plant, so any gardening mistakes can be costly. We think it’s best to work your way up to this beauty! Start with a Philodendron Birkin or a Pothos instead.
Deborah is a plant enthusiast and founder of Gardening Collective.