Another extremely easy-to-grow Philodendron is the Philodendron Giganteum Variegata. It has large, elephant ear-shaped leaves with green and cream variegation. 🙂
Under optimal care conditions, leaves can grow up to 3 feet long (91cm), but typically won’t reach this size when grown indoors.
Care-wise, they are undemanding and require much of the same care as many other Philodendrons. The 3 most important things to get right are:
- Ensuring it gets bright, indirect light. Those variegated leaves need more hours of filtered light, but direct light is too harsh.
- Choosing an airy potting mix. Commercial mixes are typically too dense. Use chunky amendments like bark or chips to create air pockets to keep the soil loose and well-draining.
- Water deeply only when the topsoil is DRY. Don’t water if the topsoil is still slightly moist, but at the same time don’t let the plant try completely through its pot.
Let’s dive into the details!
Philodendron Giganteum Variegata vs. Blizzard
Sometimes sellers call this plant the “Philodendron Giganteum Variegata Blizzard”. It is the same species as any old Giganteum Variegata, but “blizzard” refers to its highly speckled variegation. 🙂
There’s a high degree of variability in any leaf, so adding a “Blizzard” at the end of its name doesn’t really change anything in our view!
Caring for your Philodendron Giganteum Variegata
The cream portions of the Philodendron Giganteum Variegata leaves don’t contain chlorophyll. So to ensure your plant can manufacture enough food, you’ll need to compensate by providing it with sufficient light.
In our experience, around 10-12 hours of bright, indirect light is best for healthy growth. Ours is sitting happily next to an East-facing window. We rotate its pot every week to ensure even growth.
Insufficient light slows growth and leads to less cream-colored variegation. On the other hand, be careful not to expose your plant to direct light, or its leaves may scorch!
Watering is an important part of care, and often can be the trickiest.
We use the soak and dry method for our Giganteum. That is, watering only when the top 2 inches (5cm) of soil is dry.
But the key is not waiting until the plant is dried out completely through the pot…. just the top 2 inches! Checking every few days (until you have a better sense of how quickly the topsoil tends to dry) is a good idea.
When it’s time to water, we typically use a long-spouted watering can to water slowly and deeply.
Using this method, you’ll find that watering frequency naturally reduces during the colder months, when the growth rate is slower, and water doesn’t evaporate as quickly!
Shooting for >50% humidity is your best bet with the Giganteum. The more humidity, the better!
While they will tolerate average room humidities, growth can be much slower and leaves less lush.
In nature, they live in rainforests with humidity levels approaching 100%; so you can never give it too much…
Be warned, too-cold temperatures can cause leaf drop! As does cold chills, wild temperature fluctuations, and being placed too close to air vents or heaters.
So keep temperatures stable between 65-85 degrees F (18-29 degrees C) for optimal growth. Below 55 degrees F (13 degrees C) will cause plant stress… so keep it indoors if you don’t live in mild weather conditions year-round.
Can I grow a Philo Giganteum Variegata outdoors?
Of course you can, as long as you can provide year-round temperatures above 55 degrees F (13 degrees C).
Just make sure it doesn’t get any direct light. Light intensity is significantly higher outdoors, so direct light WILL scorch the leaves.
We like cutting off the flowers so that the Philo Giganteum can focus its growth on those large, lush leaves. Like many Aroids, Giganteums are sought-after for their stunning leaves.
Their inflorescences aren’t showy and take up energy! So we cut them off.
The Philodendron Giganteum Variegata grows on thick stems that also typically develop thick aerial roots.
The plant is able to support its weight up when juvenile. But once you see it starting to buckle under the weight of its large leaves, it’s a good idea to use a moss pole or totem to give it climbing support. This plant happily climbs!
Soil or Growing Medium
Our Philo Giganteum Variegata loves a chunky soil mix. Commercial mixes are typically too dense and heavy to use without adding supplementing with other soil amendments.
We like using:
- 1 part Miracle Gro indoor potting mix
- 1 part coconut chips, or bark
- 1 part perlite
You’ll notice that the Giganteum’s roots like to wrap around some of the chunkier components of the soil mix. 🙂
If you’re open to less traditional options, LECA (clay balls) is an amazingly airy growing medium that is just as ideal as the one above. Just remember to use a hydroponics fertilizer.
Check out our article on the Pros and Cons of LECA to see if it’s a good option for you.
Given its large and variegated leaves, using a high-quality fertilizer is essential. Choose one that is high in nitrogen, which supports healthy leaf growth.
We’ve had good results using Dyna-Gro Foliage Pro for our Giganteum, applied at half strength once every 2 weeks during the spring and summer months.
We reduce fertilizing to once every month in fall, and stop fertilizing altogether in winter.
Incorporate the liquid fertilizer into its watering routine, so that the fertilizer it gets is extra-dilute. This reduces the risk of fertilizer burning its sensitive roots.
You don’t need to repot the Giganteum often. They enjoy being slightly root-bound. Generally, expect to repot every 2-3 years or so.
The bigger this plant is, the less often it requires repotting… which is a good thing, as repotting a huge Giganteum is not easy! 🙂
Spring is the best time for repotting, as this is the start of the growing season. Your plant has some time to establish into its new home.
- Water your plant the day before repotting. This reduces transplant shock, and helps you dislodge your plant more easily from its pot.
- Place your plant on its side, using your fingers to work through the pot.
- Gently tease away the compacted soil to allow your plant to wriggle free. Try not to damage the roots.
- Choose a planter about 2 inches larger than the original pot. Don’t upsize more than this!
- Add fresh soil to the new planter, and re-plant your Philodendron Giganteum Variegata in its new home.
Unfortunately, the Philodendron Giganteum Variegata is toxic when ingested by animals and humans. This is due to calcium oxalate crystals, which can cause skin burns, vomiting, and nausea.
Propagating your Philodendron Giganteum Variegata is easily achieved through stem cuttings.
If you have a healthy and developed plant, the chances of successful propagation are high. The best time to propagate is in spring.
Propagating through Stem Cuttings
- Identify a healthy part of the stem that has at least one node on it, and one leaf. Even better if you spot aerial roots growing.
- Using clean garden shears, cut the stem just below the node.
- Prepare a large enough jar filled with room temperature water.
- Place the stem cutting in the water jar. The nodes should now be submerged. The leaf is, of course, above the waterline.
- Place the water jar in a warm spot with plenty of indirect light. If you have a humidifier, place this next to the cutting, and set at 70%.
- Change out the water every few days to prevent it from going murky.
- Within 2-3 weeks you should see some roots growing.
- Once the roots are about 1 inch (3cm) long, prepare a pot filled with potting mix.
- Plant your stem cutting into the potting mix.
- Treat your plant as you would any other Philodendron Giganteum Variegata.
Your plant doesn’t need much pruning, but it’s a good idea to trim off any diseased or yellow leaves.
This helps your plant focus on new growth.
Wipe Down Leaves!
Lastly, wipe down those leaves occasionally, so that dust doesn’t accumulate and hinder light from being absorbed.
We like to wipe ours down with a dilute neem oil solution (which wards away pests). Just make sure that after wiping, the leaf is not sopping wet. Wet foliage is a breeding ground for fungi and bacteria growth, which you definitely can do without 😛
Your Philodendron Giganteum Variegata is not prone to pests, but all the same, may suffer the occasional attack. Scale, aphids, mealybugs, and spider mites are the usual suspects.
To identify them,
- Scale – Look for small round bumps. At first glance, they may look like part of the plant! On closer inspection, they may appear like small brown barnacles.
- Aphids – Look for pear-shaped insects with long antennae that gather together. These come in multiple colors.
- Mealybugs – Look like small bits of cotton wool, clustering together at hard-to-reach spots. They have white, segmented bodies.
- Spider mites – Look for tell-tale fine webbing on leaf undersides and stems.
The best defense against such pests is to keep your plants healthy!
- Inspect your plants regularly, and especially before introducing a new plant to your home. Cross-infection of plants is very common. Also, given how quickly they reproduce and spread, early detection makes all the difference.
- Use a dilute neem oil solution on your plants, as a preventative measure to ward off pests.
Common diseases include fungal or bacterial infections due to overwatering or misting your plant. We don’t recommend misting for this very reason – if you need to increase humidity, use a humidifier!
Bacterial infections may result in leaf spots or blights…. read on for details!
Yellowish, brown, or copper-colored spots on leaf edges: Leaf Blight or Leaf Spot Disease
Something you definitely need to look out for is the Leaf Blight of Leaf Spot disease. These may present as:
- An irregular spot or two on the edge of the leaves that quickly multiply;
- Translucent spots with yellow, brown, or copper-colored “halos” (borders);
- Water-soaked legions;
- You may also notice a foul smell.
These are signs of Erwinia Blight or a related Leaf Spot bacterial disease. Such diseases are mainly caused due to overhead watering, according to PennState University.
Bacteria thrive in warm, humid, moist environments that don’t have good air circulation. So,
- Keeping foliage dry is important. Do not mist!
- When wiping the leaves, wipe dry after using a damp cloth.
- Don’t overwater!
It’s important to be aware of this bacteria ASAP, as they can overcome your plant in a matter of days.
- Quarantine your plant away from all other houseplants.
- Diseased foliage cannot heal, so the best option is to use sterilized garden shears to trim off the diseased portions to avoid further spread.
- Importantly, sterilize your garden shears with 70% isopropyl solution, and sterilize again afterward. The last thing you want is your dirty garden tools to contaminate other plants!
- It will likely take a few months for your plant to recover. Ensure you follow the care guide to give your plant the best growing conditions for survival.
- Leaves turning yellow. Yellow leaves are a general sign of stress that may result from a number of things. Most commonly, they are due to overwatering or too-dense soil mix.
- Loss of cream variegation. This is usually due to a lack of light. Relocate to a spot with 10-12 of bright, indirect light a day.
- Dropping leaves. Too-cold temperatures or placing too near a vent or radiator can cause shedding leaves.
- Curling or browning leaf tips. Typically due to too-low humidity, or too little water.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is the Philodendron Giganteum Variegata rare?
Yes, the Variegated version is harder to find. You can buy one from Etsy, or through private sellers online. They typically cost around ~$US60-80 for a small pot… a little more pricey than the average houseplant!
Is the Philodendron Giganteum Variegata a climber or a creeper?
It’s a climber! Typically, it will support its own weight for a few years (thanks to its thick stems) before requiring a moss pole or totem.
Similar Plants and Varieties
Other easy-going Philodendrons include:
- Philodendron Atom – low-growing Philo with wavy leaves
- Philodendron Gloriosum – a beautiful heart-leafed Philo that is relatively easy-to-grow
- Philodendron Rugosum – a Philo known for its textured leaves that look like fine leather grains
- Philodendron Tortum – a palm-like Philo with twisted leaves
- Philodendron Ruizii – a Philo with short stems and long leathery leaves
Deborah is a plant enthusiast and founder of Gardening Collective.