Philodendron Serpens

This rare species of philodendron from Central and South America is a popular houseplant. Its big, glossy leaves, colorful petioles, and unique hairy stems make this tropical plant a fascinating houseplant.

Philodendron serpens requires warm, humid growing conditions, so water it regularly. This climbing plant prefers growing in bright shade. It needs moist, rich soil to grow in and a moss pole for support. Mist the leaves and wipe them free of dust. Repot it every 2nd or 3rd year to keep it healthy.

By investigating these plants’ natural growing conditions, we can get an idea of the type of care they require in our homes. They have very basic care requirements. These remarkable plants can live for many years, filling our rooms with a tropical jungle ambience.

Characteristics Of Philodendron Serpens

Philodendron serpens belongs to the Araceae family. This striking and unique philodendron’s weird fuzzy leaf stems are what sets it apart. It has huge, bright green heart-shaped leaves with dark green veins.

The spikey light brown hairs on the leaf petioles and stems have evolved to help this plant capture moisture from the air.

This terrestrial plant is a climber, so while its root system starts growing in the soil, it develops aerial roots over time. In a pot, they grow up to 10 feet tall!

Colorful crimson petioles contrast beautifully with the lush foliage. These plants are mainly grown for their leaves as they rarely flower as house plants.

Philodendron Serpens Native Habitat

Philodendron serpens comes from the tropical rainforests of Central and South America. They range from Ecuador to Panama and Colombia. This area has a hot, humid climate that causes rapid plant growth.

They were first introduced in Europe midway through the 16th century by Charles Plumier but were present in traditional medicine and art long before this.

These philodendrons grow amongst trees in the forest. They climb up the trees, their roots anchored in the humus-rich forest soil, and with their aerial roots, they take up moisture from the warm, humid air

Because they grow surrounded by other trees and forest vegetation, Philodendron serpens is adapted to growing in low light conditions. This is partly why philodendrons are such great houseplants.

Philodendron Serpens

How To Care For Philodendron Serpens

By recreating the conditions in which it naturally grows, we can keep Philodendron serpens thriving in our home. Do not be intimidated – these plants are easy to care for and maintain.

Soil Requirements

The most important factor is drainage. These plants need free-draining soil so that the roots do not sit in saturated soil for extended periods. The soil must be well-aerated because the roots need to take up oxygen from the air.

Having high organic matter in the soil is important to retain moisture to hydrate the plant. The organic matter also provides the plant with the nutrients it needs to grow.

A brilliant potting mixture for philodendrons is:

  • 1-part potting soil
  • 1-part perlite
  • A couple handfuls of coco peat
  • A couple handfuls of compost

Support

Because this plant is a climber, you should give it a moss pole for support. The plant’s aerial roots will grow into the moist moss.

This will allow it to reach its full potential indoors. Having an 8-foot tall philodendron in your home is any plantophile’s dream!

Create a DIY moss pole using:

  • Sphagnum moss – enough to fill the size moss pole you are making. Soak it in water.
  • A rectangular piece of PVC-coated hardware mesh large enough to form the pole.
  • Green cable ties.
  • Wire cutters.

Simply bend the mesh into a cylindrical form, around 8 inches wide. Cut the length you need using wire cutters.

With the mesh pole open in a C-shape, fill it with moist sphagnum moss. Squeeze excess moisture from the soaked moss.

Pack the moss down and try to fit as much as possible inside the pole. When it is full, secure the pole closed using cable ties. Place one every 5 inches along the length of the pole.

When the moss pole is complete, plant it into the pot with the philodendron and tie the plant onto its support. Soon it will attach itself to the pole by its roots.

Read more: Philodendron Atabapoense

Water Needs

These philodendrons are thirsty plants, but it is important that the soil dries out between each watering. This is critical to prevent overwatering.

Depending on your area’s climate, you should water your Philodendron sepens every 2nd  week during summer and spring and once every 4 to 6 weeks during winter and fall.

Before watering, dig your finger into the soil to feel how moist it is. Only water your Philodendron sepens if the top few inches of soil have dried sufficiently.

Optimal Humidity

As a rainforest species, Philodendron sepens thrives in humid environments. These plants would love if your home stayed around 60% to 80% humidity, but at these levels, you would hardly survive.

A good compromise is placing a humidifier near your philodendron and misting its leaves a few times daily to simulate the rainforest atmosphere.

Optimal Temperature

Your Philodendron sepens will be happiest with a daytime temperature range of between 70°F – 80°F (21°C – 26°C). At night they will tolerate temperatures that dip down to 65°F (18°C).

This plant is extremely sensitive to cold. It will struggle at temperatures below 60°F (15°C). Never expose your Philodendron sepens to frost, as this will damage it badly.

Light Requirements

Philodendron sepens is adapted to grow in bright, indirect shade. If your plant does not get adequate light, the leaves will turn yellow. Direct sunlight will burn the leaves, causing light brown singed patches.

Fertilizer Needs

It is not strictly necessary to feed these philodendrons, but they will respond well to being fed with a weak dilution of organic liquid plant feed once a month. The leaves will grow big, bright, and glossy, and the plant will rapidly climb up its moss pole.

Philodendron Serpen leaves

Repotting Philodendron Serpens

Your Philodendron sepens will need to be repotted every two to three years, depending on how quickly it grows. This is essential to keep your specimen growing healthily.

When you repot it, you should refresh its potting mixture, extend its moss pole, and trim away any dead roots or foliage. The best time to repot your Philodendron sepens is in early summer when the plant is coming out of dormancy, and its growth is speeding up.

Only move up one or two pot sizes. Find a pot that is 2 to 3 inches wider than the plant’s root system. Always choose a plant with lots of drainage holes.

Propagating Philodendron Serpens

Philodendron sepens can be propagated from stem cuttings in spring or summer. Root the cuttings in water or stick propagate them in soil.

When taking your cuttings, use a sharp, sterile pair of garden shears. Look for sections of the stem that have 2 or 3 nodes or growth points – they look like tiny spots on the stem. These points are where the new roots and leaves will grow from.

It takes 3 or 4 weeks for the cuttings to grow roots. Keep them in a warm, humid environment, in bright, indirect sunlight.

Also Check: Philodendron Burle Marx: Complete Care Guide

Common Pests and Diseases

The most prevalent issue with Philodendron sepens is root rot. This fungal infection develops in waterlogged soil when plants are overwatered and do not get enough sunlight. A tell-tale sign is yellowing leaves.

From time to time pests such as thrips, spider mites, mealybugs, and aphids can bother your Philodendron sepens. These pests are easy to eradicate using a neem oil spray and b wiping the leaves down with insecticidal soap.

Toxicity Of Philodendron Serpens

Philodendron sepens contains a molecule called calcium oxalate that makes it toxic to ingest. It causes inflammation of the mouth, tongue, throat, and oesophagus.

Take precautions to keep small children and pets far away from Philodendron sepens.

Conclusion

Caring for a Philodendron serpens is simple. These plants have very similar needs to most tropical plants and philodendrons.

Grow them in fertile, well-draining soil and position them in bright, indirect light. They are at their happiest in a temperature range of 70°F to 80°F (21°C to 26°C). Boost the humidity by misting the leaves a few times per day.

Keep these plants well-watered, but as with most plants, be very careful of overwatering. They are susceptible to root rot.

Resources:

https://plantophiles.com/plant-care/philodendron-serpens/

https://gardeningit.com/philodendron-serpens/

https://www.ohiotropics.com/2020/05/03/diy-moss-pole-how-to-make/