The Philodendron Pastazanum, nicknamed the Pasta Plant! 🙂 , is a rare plant with large, eye-catching heart-shaped leaves.
It derives its name from its origins, Pastaza, a region in Ecuador. There, it grows terrestrially, creeping along the surface of the rainforest floor.
This easy-going Philodendron is a cinch to care for. Here are the key ingredients for a thriving plant:
- Bright, indirect light for at least 8 hours a day;
- At least 60% humidity, though >80% is ideal;
- A well-draining potting mix;
- Gentle fertilization – choose a high-nitrogen but urea-free liquid fertilizer.
- Regular inspections for pests like spider mites!
Here are all the details you need to know to help your Philodendron Pastazanum to thrive.
Caring for your Philodendron Pastazanum
Choose bright, indirect light for best growth. Many people underestimate how much light their houseplants require.
To check, ensure that your Philodendron Pastazanum casts a shadow for most of the day. The edges of the shadow should be slightly blurry, but the shadow itself should be easily identified.
- If you don’t see a shadow at all, relocate your plant to a brighter spot.
- On the other hand, a shadow with crisp and clear edges means the light is a little too intense for your plant’s liking.
Many Philodendrons are susceptible to overwatering. Your Philodendron Pastazanum is no exception, so pay close attention to your watering practices! 🙂
Here’s how & when to water:
- With your fingers, check the top 2 inches (5cm) of soil.
- If the soil feels slightly damp, or if little soil particles stick to your finger, don’t water.
- If the topsoil is dry, then water your plant slowly and deeply.
- Water at the base of the plant, near the soil line.
- Wait until your see water running out of the drainage hole before stopping.
- Empty the saucer.
- Repeat step 1 every few days.
Container & Watering tools
We like using the double-combination of a terracotta planter and a long-spouted watering can. The terracotta planter is porous, allowing for airflow to the roots, and for excess water to evaporate quickly.
While you can choose a “normal” circular pot, an alternative is to choose a wide planter. As the Philodendron Pastazanum has a creeping growth habit, it will send out repent stems, and grow new shoots along its surface.
At the same time, a long-spouted watering can allows water to be delivered to the base of the soil without wetting the leaves. Wet leaves in a Philodendron Pastazanum increase the risk of leaf spots and leaf blights.
- drainage holes for quick drainage
- terracotta helps excess water to quickly evaporate
- terracotta promotes airflow to the soil and roots
Aim for AT LEAST 60% humidity when growing a Philodendron Pastazanum. Go for 80% if you can for optimal growth.
A humidifier is the easiest way to increase humidity. However, if you are on a budget, using a pebble tray is also a good option!
- Fill a shallow tray with pebbles, small rocks or LECA. Any low dish will do.
- Fill the dish with water until the stones are about half-submerged.
- Place your plant on top of the tray.
- Double-check that the bottom of your pot is not in direct contact with water, which invites root rot.
- Refill the water in the pebble tray when you see that all the water has evaporated. Do this preferably in the morning so that evaporation can occur throughout the day.
When set up, the water droplets will cling to the surfaces of the stones and evaporate. This increases moisture in the surrounding air.
Top up the water every few days, so the stones are always half-submerged.
While the Philodendron Pastazanum does well in temperatures between 50-90 degrees F (10-32 degrees C), they need stability within that range. Keeping your plant within about +/- a few degrees provides the stable temperature environment they need to grow well.
Temperature fluctuations cause stress on your plant. They may retaliate by dropping leaves. Choose an indoor spot shielded from the elements and one that is away from air vents or drafty doors.
Inflorescences are quite rare when the Philodendron Pastazanum is planted indoors.
Young leaves emerge from reddish-pink cataphylls, before unfurling into the heart-shaped leaves we know and love.
Growth rate for the Philodendron Pastazanum is moderate, with adequate light and humidity being the 2 main factors in supporting growth.
When mature, the Pasta Plant grows up to around 4 feet (1.2 meters) tall when kept indoors.
Soil or Growing Medium
An organically rich but well-draining potting soil is best for the Philodendron Pastazanum.
- 2 parts Miracle-Gro potting mix
- 1 part perlite
- 1 part orchid bark
- plus a handful of charcoal
The resulting pH is slightly acidic, which is what your Pastazanum prefers to increase absorption of nutrients from the roots.
The Miracle-Gro indoor potting mix provides a rich nutrient base for your plant, while perlite and orchid bark increases the soil’s drainage properties. Charcoal is a less common addition but helps reduce impurities.
Avoid using succulent potting mixes as these tend to dry out too quickly for Philodendrons.
Philodendrons are not heavy feeders, but they still benefit from a little nutrient boost. During the growing season, apply a liquid fertilizer diluted to half-strength, just once a month.
We like mixing the liquid fertilizer directly into the water so its extra-dilute, reducing the risk of root burn.
Choose a urea-free fertilizer high in nitrogen like this one. Fertilizer labels typically display three numbers which signify the ratios of nitrogen to phosphorus to potassium. For example, it may read 9-3-6, which means 9 parts of nitrogen to 3 parts of phosphorus to 6 parts of potassium.
High nitrogen, in this instance, is preferable. According to Jasey Kelly, an expert writer with decades of experience in gardening, nitrogen encourages more robust green growth. Perfect for your heavily-foliaged Philodendron Pastazanum!
Repot your plant every 2-3 years, when it has outgrown its pot. Roots growing from the bottom of the drainage hole are a tell-tale sign that your container needs upsizing!
Otherwise, you may also notice that the soil is compacting or isn’t absorbing water the same way it did before. This is another sign that the potting mix needs to be refreshed.
- Repot your plant during the spring or summer months, so that your plant can luxuriate in warmth and light as it recovers from the trauma of being repotted!
- Water your plant 24 hours prior to repotting. This reduces the risk of transplant shock… and generally helps the plant dislodge from its pot more easily.
- Use fresh soil, as nutrients in the potting mix deplete over time.
Yes, your Philodendron Pastazanum is toxic when ingested. Many houseplants, particularly ornamental aroids, produce insoluble calcium oxalates in their stems and leaves. These sharp crystals pierce cell tissues, causing pain and damage.
According to the University of Florida, effects include dermal and gastric irritations, varying from mild to severe. Animals can also suffer from these effects.
When growing your Philodendron, it’s best to keep your plant out of reach from pets and children.
Propagating your Philodendron Pastazanum
Propagation through Stem Cuttings
- Identify a healthy portion of the stem with at least two nodes if it has aerial roots, even better.
- Using clean garden shears, cut off a 4-inch portion of the stem.
- Remove any leaves on the lower half of the stem.
- Place the stem cutting into a potting mix, with at least one node under the soil. Ensure no leaves are beneath the soil surface.
- Place the container in a bright spot with indirect light.
- Keep the soil moist (but not soggy) until roots establish.
- In 2-3 weeks, you should feel a bit of resistance when you gently tug at the stem – this means roots have formed. 🙂
Propagation through Basal Branches
Mature plants will branch out at the base, often spilling over and out of the pot.
If you see a long vine starting to develop aerial roots such that it is spilling over the original pot, you will be able to propagate the plant using this method.
- Place another pot next to the original. Fill this with moist potting mix.
- Take the long vine and gently place it in the new pot. Bury the aerial roots under the soil. Ensure no leaves are beneath the soil surface – cut these off if need be.
- Once the roots have been established in the new pot, cut the stem to separate the mother plant from its new rooted baby plant. Use clean garden shears to deliver the cut, and wear gardening gloves as the plant sap may cause skin irritation.
You’ll know the roots are established if you feel resistance when giving your Philodendron Pastazanum’s stem a gentle tug.
Propagation through Air Layering
Air Layering is another method you can use to propagate your Philodendron Pastazanum. This is achieved by wounding the stem and wrapping it in moist sphagnum moss.
For this, you’ll need to prepare a fistful of moistened sphagnum moss, twine or gardening ties; and a clear plastic wrap (like cling wrap or a clear plastic bag). Read through the instructions once over before carrying out each step.
- First, gather the tools stated above.
- Poke holes in the clear plastic wrap. You can use a pen or small scissors to do this.
- Identify parts of the plant that have started to grow some aerial roots.
- Gently press a small ball of moist sphagnum moss against the surface of the node and the root. The sphagnum moss should encircle the node. You might need to hold the sphagnum moss in place with your hand.
- Using your other hand, wrap the whole sphagnum moss ball with the clear plastic wrap.
- Use twine to gently secure the plastic wrap (with the sphagnum moss underneath the wrap) to the plant, such that the moss and wrap will not fall off.
- Keep the moss moist by watering through the holes in the plastic wrap.
- In 3 weeks, you should see roots growing into the sphagnum moss.
- Cut below the node using clean garden shears to separate the mother plant from the node and aerial roots.
- Plant the new cutting into a potting mix.
- Ensure the potting mix is kept moist while your new plant establishes.
Common Pests and Diseases
Unfortunately, Philodendron Pastazanum is not pest-resistant. The most common pests you’ll encounter are spider mites, mealybugs, scale, and whiteflies.
Diseases that often plague the Philodendron Pastazanum usually have to do with an overwatered plant.
- Related to ticks, spider mites are not technically insects, but rather eight-legged arachnids.
- They love dry environments (low humidity) so dry winter months are favorable to these pests, although, in summer, they reproduce more quickly.
- Being very small (1/50 inch or 0.2mm), they are harder to spot and come in many different colors.
- A tell-tale sign that spider mites are present is the presence of fine webbing on the undersides of leaves. In Philodendron Pastazanum, they appear as a high density of tiny, white spots on leaf surfaces.
- In addition to plant sap, spider mites also suck on chlorophyll, causing white spots on leaves. Other signs of an infestation include stippled, yellow, and crispy leaves.
To get rid of spider mites,
- Thoroughly inspect all your plants, including under the leaves and at leaf axils. These bugs love to hide in hard-to-reach corners!
- Quarantine any infected plants away from all other plants to prevent cross-infection.
- Using sterilized garden shears, trim off any visibly damaged or heavily-infested parts of the stems and leaves. We use 70% isopropyl solution to sterilize our gardening tools; this is important as cross-contamination is a common cause of spread.
- Use a water jet to hose off any remaining visible insects.
- Apply an Insecticidal Soap spray to the remaining stems and leaves. Reapply as necessary and as the instructions dictate until you see that the infestation has been eradicated.
- Apply a neem oil solution to all other plants as a preventative measure against infestation. Neem oil disrupts the growth of larvae and prevents spider mites from feeding, growing and reproducing.
Other common pests – mealybugs, scale, whiteflies
You can eradicate other common pests like mealybugs, scale and whiteflies the same way you would spider mites. Refer to the paragraph above on a step-by-step guide.
However, mealybugs, scale and whiteflies look different to spidermites. Here’s what to look out for:
- Mealybugs – these sap-suckers look like immobile little bits of cotton wool. They have clearly segmented bodies. While easily recognizable, they like to cluster together in hard-to-reach corners of the plant.
- 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, usually brown or black.
- Whiteflies – these flying insects can be as small as 1/12 (0.2cm) of an inch, have triangular white bodies, and are often found in clusters on the undersides of leaves.
Root Rot Overwatered Plant
Besides pesky spider mites, the main diseases that may plague your Philodendron Pastazanum have to do with an overwatered plant. High moisture and humidity, alongside decaying roots is, unfortunately, a hotbed for a number of diseases, like root rot, and leaf spot or leaf blight.
To prevent this, we can’t emphasize enough to not water your plant unless the topsoil is dry. Refrain from misting your plant (use a humidifier instead), and avoid wetting the leaves when watering. Lastly, choose a well-draining potting mix.
- Yellow leaves. Improper watering (either too much or too little), or too much sunlight could be the cause.
- Dropping leaves. Temperature fluctuations or too-cold weather is a common cause.
- Brown leaf tips. This could be due to too dry air (too little humidity), or too much sunlight.
Where can I buy a Philodendron Pastazanum?
You can buy them online from reputable sellers – check out Etsy.
Other Philodendrons we Love
- Philodendron Tenue – this epiphyte has deep, uniformly rippled leaves that look quilted!
- Philodendron Rugosom – this Philodendron has heart-shaped leaves with an intricate texture resembling fine leather grains.
- Philodendron Grazielae – this tropical climber is known for its brittle and thick leaves that look like stubby hearts.
- Philodendron Camposportoanum – an easy-to-grow terrestrial vine that transforms in shape as it grows!
Deborah is a plant enthusiast and founder of Gardening Collective.