Although it’s not a true philodendron plant, Philodendron goeldii is a relatively low-key tropical plant that’s becoming more popular as a houseplant. It’s definitely no mystery as to why this is; the unique morphology of this plant is both fun and interesting.
The star-shaped splay of leaves is particularly aesthetic in modern design spaces, but it looks amazing pretty much anywhere you style it. This philodendron can grow fairly large, which makes it perfect as a standalone plant.
This tropical plant is native to Central and South America, where it grows happily as a humidity-loving aroid plant. It’s been moved around from genus to genus since its discovery in 1859, but it finally landed in the Thaumatophyllum genus.
Despite its actual genus, Philodendron goeldii has managed to keep its philodendron status, which makes it even more appealing to collectors who live for all things philodendron. This plant is a perfect case of name fame when it comes to houseplants.
Now that we’re familiar with what exactly this plant is, we can focus on the care and maintenance of Philodendron goeldii so that you can grow it in your own space! Here’s everything you need to know about keeping yours alive and thriving.
It’s super important to provide the right amount of light, especially for a plant like this one that has a unique and bespoke shape. Too much light can burn the leaves, while too little will cause the stems to malform, nixing you from enjoying that perfect curve.
To provide the right amount of light, think bright, indirect light similar to that of a tropical rainforest environment. In the wild, these plants grow underneath a canopy that catches much of the sun’s brightest rays, but some of those rays still make it to the undergrowth.
While we often can’t provide a perfect, dappled light setting, there are a few options for ideal lighting. The first is to use a sheer curtain to put a thin layer between direct sun and your Philodendron goeldii’s sensitive leaves.
If you have brightly lit rooms that let in lots of sun, you can also try placing your plant adjacent to a window, or in a place where bright light reflects off of a wall to reach it. If all else fails, artificial lighting is a great option!
Being an aroid plant, Philodendron goeldii tends not to appreciate wet feet. That being said, this plant does need water, but on a more as-needed basis. Watering schedules are generally bad news because as the seasons change, your plant will require different levels of water.
Good watering practices can help your plant grow to its full potential. During the active growth seasons, water only when the top inch of soil is dry, and be sure never to let it dry out entirely. Make sure that the remaining moisture in the soil is minimal.
During the dormant season, try to water less; allow the soil to dry a bit more between watering to prevent root rot, fungus gnats, and all other associated water logging problems. It helps to use a soil that’s well-draining to provide some aeration to the roots, but we’ll get to that later.
When you water your Philodendron goeldii, try not to let water sit at the bottom of the pot. Allow all of the excess water in the pot to drain away freely, and make sure your pot has unblocked drainage holes.
Soil & Potting
Aroid plants like Philodendron goeldii prefer a particular type of soil, and that type of soil is well-draining. Instead of using a standard potting mix, try a mix that’s formulated more for orchids or monsteras.
To make your own soil, use three parts potting mix, one part perlite, one part coco husk and an optional part of horticultural charcoal. This plant is also a great candidate for clay pebbles in a self-watering pot setup. Be sure to mist your mixture as you add in each component to keep dust down to a minimum.
Choose a pot for your Philodendron goeldii that offers enough room for roots to grow, but small enough that each side of the root ball has at least an inch before it hits the sides of the pot. The pot you choose should have plenty of drainage holes.
If you’re prone to overwatering, try using an orchid pot, which has holes in the sides that allow lots of air to flow through the soil. Otherwise, you can use a well-draining pot, then place that one into a decorative container.
Temperature & Humidity
Temperature is a big deal with tropical rainforest plants, especially since it doesn’t get very cold where these plants come from. Fortunately, we humans tend to like the same temperature range as Philodendron goeldii.
Try to keep your plant within a 60 to 85 degree range, although in some cases a dry 50 degrees can be tolerated for a short time. Temperature has a lot to do with humidity, though. The warmer the room, the higher the humidity should be.
Humidity should be kept above at least 50 percent, though 60 percent humidity and higher is ideal. The more humid your space is, the less you should need to water. If you have trouble with humidity, try using the pebble tray method.
Another great way to provide humidity to an area is to use a humidifier. These little gadgets are awesome for keeping your tropical plants happy, especially if you have more than one! If you’re able to dedicate a room to your plants, they’ll be happy to have one of these with them.
There are a couple of ways to provide your Philodendron goeldii with food, depending on what type of growing medium you use. For organic soil like an aroid mix, use liquid fertilizer in a 10-10-10 ratio, diluted to 50% its original strength to prevent burned roots.
You can also use liquid fertilizer for clay pebbles, but don’t let fertilizer sit at the bottom of a self-watering pot. Wait a day, then remove the fertilizer from the bottom of the pot and use it to fertilize another plant.
Fertilize once per month during the active growing season, but not once the plant has entered into dormancy. Since the plant isn’t growing during the dormant season, it isn’t using any of the fertilizer in the soil, and the fertilizer will sit at the bottom of soil, creating a harsh environment.
If you find yourself in a situation where you can’t recall the last time you fertilized, wait a couple of weeks; it’s always better to fertilize less than more, since your plant won’t tolerate too much fertilizer at one time.
Pruning & Propagating
Like most philodendrons, there’s no need to prune unless your plant is getting way out of hand (which is usually what we like!). However, you can also prune to remove dead or dying leaves. These occur naturally over time as the leaves age and new leaves grow to replace them.
You may also need to prune if you notice a pest or disease on your plant. Remove the entire affected area, then treat with the proper treatment to prevent the spread of the pathogen that took over your plant.
Like most aroids, Philodendron goeldii is fairly easy to propagate. You can use a stem cutting with a few nodes attached, or even try an air layering technique if you’d prefer not to disturb your plant until another one has grown from its stem.
It’s difficult to produce more of these plants from seed, as they rarely ever flower in average indoor conditions. The planting technique is also highly sensitive, time consuming, and technical, which makes it impractical to try at home without a full laboratory setup!