The large velvety heart-shaped leaves of Philodendron verrucosum are irresistible. As a houseplant, the Ecuador Philodendron adds depth and tons of character to the home. We understand why this Philodendron is hugely popular at the moment – it’s gorgeous. While most philodendrons are pretty easy to take care of, the Ecuador Philodendron is a bit more tricky – not difficult, but not like other philodendrons either.
About Philodendron Verrucosum
As you’re probably guessed by the common name, this Philodendron is originally from Ecuador. It also grows in the tropical rainforests of Columbia, Costa Rica, Peru, and Panama. Philodendron verrucosum is a true tropical plant that needs tons of humidity and warmth. It can be a bit delicate, but with proper care will thrive. The Ecuadorian Philodendron was first identified in 1845.
In addition to stunning big soft, fuzzy heart-shaped leaves, the Ecuador Philodendron’s appearance is quite variable. Some specimens have red leaf backs, while others are green-backed. They have velvety leaf stems, velvety foliage, and light or dark green leaves with white or golden veining. Some have shades of red coloring with the green. It’s fun to see all the different variations of this Philodendron!
A lot of the variation depends on where the original plant was gathered. Specimens from the different native countries tend to vary quite significantly in coloring and growth. Plants tend to do this as a natural reaction to their habitat. Additionally, years of cultivation cause variance in coloration and growth.
Philodendron verrucosum is a hemiepiphyte plant – this means it spends the majority of its life as an epiphyte, growing on the surface of another plant. As it matures, it develops a more robust root system and sends those roots downwards until they reach the ground and establish.
Philodendron Verrucosum Care
This section covers important Philodendron verrucosum care topics such as watering, lighting, fertilization, repotting, and more.
The Ecuador Philodendron is a climbing plant and fast grower. It will grow swiftly in ideal growing conditions. The vines reach up to 3-feet long. And the leaves can also reach 2.5-feet long. Many sources suggest the leaves get to 3-feet tall, but that seems to be a bit of an exaggeration. Either way, the leaf size is quite stunning on a mature and healthy Philodendron verrucosum.
Being a climber, a moss pole or trellis of some sort is usually needed. Or, you can train it to climb along or up a wall. When the plant has a good support system, its stem will thicken. And, when the stem thickens, the Ecuador Philodendron will also grow larger leaves because the plant knows it can support them. Make sure the plant is supported if you want those 2-feet tall heart-shaped leaves.
The foundation is essential. If there isn’t a robust support system giving this plant the ability to climb, it will grow much slower and take longer to develop mature leaves. Also, the stems may soften, wilt, and die without something to grow along.
When Philodendron verrucosum leaves emerge, they are light green in color. They’ll darken as they mature and develop the signature coloring and shading. Like a fine wine, their color and style deepen with age.
While Philodendron verrucosum can be grown on a shelf or table like other houseplants, it does the absolute best in a closed terrarium. In a terrarium, it is able to get the moisture, humidity, and warmth that it prefers.
There is a mini Philodendron verrucosum variety, so be aware of what you’re buying when searching for this houseplant. The mini P. verrucosum leaves are under 5-inches long. In all other aspects, it is the same as the original.
Being a forest floor dweller, Philodendron verrucosum does well in shady locations with lots of bright, indirect light. Do not put this one in direct sunlight as the foliage will burn, and the root systems will dry out and die. A spot with moderate indirect light, like an east-facing window, is ideal. Place the plant a foot or so away from the window to prevent direct sunlight. Or, use blinds or sheer curtains to block the sunlight.
Philodendron verrucosum likes consistent watering and regular moisture. The roots should never be soggy, but it doesn’t like dry soil at all. This Philodendron does not tolerate water neglect. To determine if your plant needs water, check it every time before watering.
Stick your finger in the soil – if the top 2 inches are dry, water it. Don’t ever let the soil completely dry out.
How often you need to water depends significantly on the indoor factors in your home – temperature, house humidity, exposure to the sun, heating, and air conditioning all play into this. This is why it’s essential to check the soil every time and not rely on a set-in-stone watering schedule.
Philodendron verrucosum is a bit of drama queen about watering – if it’s not getting enough, its foliage may start turning yellow or even fall off.
Temperature and Humidity
This is where care for your Ecuador Philodendron gets a little tricky. To be truly happy, this houseplant needs temperatures above 68F. Ideally, the temperature is more like 75-85F. Maintaining this warmth isn’t always possible indoors, depending on where you live. Philodendron verrucosum will still grow in lower temperatures, but not as vibrantly or quickly. The indoor temperature shouldn’t be below 50F, though, or above 85F. Too high temperatures also stress out this Philodendron.
Humidity is another concern for indoor growers. The Ecuador Philodendron wants humidity levels between 80-90%. It will tolerate humidity levels down to 50%, but you’ll notice it doesn’t grow as quickly or buoyantly. For this tropical houseplant, you may want to invest in a humidifier.
For the happiest Philodendron verrucosum, keep the temperature and humidity high. Many people grow this houseplant in a terrarium for this reason.
Potting Soil and Container
Epiphytic plants must have well-draining aerated soil to thrive. Use a high-quality potting soil mix and add a couple of handfuls of coco coir and perlite to improve the drainage and aeration. These chunky additions give your Ecuador Philodendron the extra boost it needs.
Only plant this Philodendron is a pot with drainage. The soil must be able to drain thoroughly. If the roots get overly soggy, root rot will set in, and the plant will die.
The Philodendron verrucosum has an extensive root system which requires a significant potting container. Don’t go overboard with an enormous container, as this leads to water issues, but make sure the root system has space to spread out a bit. You can always repot it as the roots outgrow the container.
A once-a-month application of fertilizer during the growing months is ideal. They grow quickly enough on their own and don’t need excessive fertilizer applications. In the winter, refrain from adding fertilizer while the plant rests.
Pruning is only necessary to remove dead or dying leaves and keep the growth habit neat if desired. As a vining plant, you can trim it at any time to limit growth and prevent legginess.
Plan on repotting young plants every year. Mature plants may only need repotting every other year. Philodendron verrucosum is a fast-grower with a large root system. If you see the roots coming out the drainage holes, repot it.
Other signs this Philodendron needs repotting are stunted growth and sad-looking or yellowing leaves. If you notice this, gently pull the plant out to check the root system. Repotting is best done in spring but can be done anytime. Move the plant to a pot one size larger, so it has room to grow.
Like all philodendrons, the Ecuador Philodendron is toxic to people and animals. Keep this plant away from small children and pets.
Philodendron Verrucosum Propagation
The Ecuador Philodendron is easily propagated in water or soil. It is easy to re-root, and you’ll likely find yourself with multiple cutting and plants from one mother plant. The best time to propagate is in the spring, when the houseplant is at its strongest.
- Sterilize a pair of scissors or shears.
- Choose a section of the vine with at least one node (the node is the point between leaf and stem) and is at least 2-6 inches long.
- Cut the vine and remove any leaves on the lower half, making sure at least 2-3 leaves remain at the top.
- Place the vine in water, ensuring the node is fully submerged and no foliage is in the water.
- Place the cutting in a warm location with indirect light.
- Replace the water every week.
- In 3-4 weeks, roots will emerge.
- The cuttings can be kept in water or moved to the soil once the roots are 1-2 inches long.
Common Pests and Disease
This section cover common issues and pests that you should be aware of when keeping Philodendron verrucosum:
Aphids, Mealybugs, Spider Mites, and White Flies
All of these little pests are common problems with indoor houseplants. The biggest problem is that the tiny bugs like to jump from one plant to another.
Regular inspection of the plants is the key to pest prevention. And immediately treating any signs. Every time you water, look over the entire plant for signs of pests. Don’t forget to look underneath the leaves, as this is a popular place for pests to congregate.
One sure sign of a pest problem is brown or black spots on the leaves or stem.
If you see just a few pests, use an alcohol wipe to brush them off. If there are more than a few, use a neem oil spray on the leaves (tops and undersides) and soil. Mix two teaspoons of neem oil with one teaspoon of dish soap in a 1-quart spray bottle. Then, fill the rest of the bottle with water and shake well. Spray the plants thoroughly every 5-7 days until the infestation is gone.
Root rot is a common issue with this Philodendron. It is caused by overwatering combined with insufficient drainage. The plant’s roots get soggy and end up rotting. Pay attention to watering, making sure the top two inches of soil are dry beforehand. And only use containers with drainage holes.
How To Keep Your Philodendron Verrucosum Thriving
- The humidity should be as high as possible. Grow it in a terrarium or get a humidifier. A DIY humidity tray is not sufficient for this houseplant.
- Airy potting soil is essential – add perlite, coco coir, or orchard bark to the potting soil.
- Keep indoor temperatures above 65F but below 85F – for a tropical plant, it actually prefers “cooler” climates.
Common Questions about Philodendron Verrucosum Care
Here are a few of the most common questions that we get about caring for Philodendron verrucosum:
Why are the leaves of my Philodendron verrucosum yellow?
The most common reason for yellowing leaves is overwatering. This Philodendron likes moist soil, but you must be careful it’s not soggy and drowning the roots. Always check the soil before watering to avoid this issue.
What is causing the leaves of my Ecuador Philodendron to droop?
Drooping leaves occur when the houseplant is over or under-watered. First, check the soil. The soil may need to be changed, as old soil gets compacted and doesn’t hold water well.
Why is the foliage on my Philodendron verrucosum curling?
Curling leaves usually mean there has been a sudden drop in temperature, and the plant is reacting. Check the temperature and humidity levels and increase them to make the plant happier. This may mean moving it to another location.
Is Philodendron verrucosum rare?
It’s not rare, but it may be difficult to find locally. There are a number of online sources, though. The pricing usually is dependent on foliage variations – the redder ones are more expensive. In general, it’s not a budget plant!
If you’re looking for a show houseplant to liven up your indoor space, Philodendron verrucosum is a perfect choice. Between the huge marvelous heart-shaped leaves and abundant growth habit, the Ecuador Philodendron will stand out wherever it lives. Pay close attention to the heat and humidity needs, though, as that is a common problem houseplant parents encounter with the gorgeous specimen.