A strikingly decorative houseplant, the Philodendron hastatum belongs to the genus Philodendron, a tropical plant native to southeast Brazil. These houseplants thrive in the subtropical and humid climate of the rainforests.
Also called a Silver Sword, the green, blue, and gray in these plants have an eye-catching nature. Noting their elongated blade leaves, it is no wonder that indoor plant growers find these houseplants extremely unique.
Another interesting fact about Philodendron hastatum is their classification as an endangered species. They are no longer common in Brazil because of the forest clearings to use the land for something else — logging, farming and human habitat.
Another factor is the insects that pollinate this species have become extinct. Growers can find them on the Red List of endangered species. For this reason, they appeal to plant collectors and enthusiastic gardeners.
|Botanical Name||Philodendron hastatum|
|Common Name||Silver sword|
|Size||6 feet or more|
|Pet Friendly||Toxic to pets|
Philodendron Hastatum Origin
The first published description was in 1832 by botanists Friedrich Sellow and Karl Heinrich Emil Koch. The name has changed several times, but Philodendron hastatum is now its legitimate name.
Philodendron hastatum is an aroid, a member of the Araceae family, and found only in southeastern Brazil. The Brazilian states of Minas Gerais and Rio de Janeiro are the actual areas where the plant grows in its natural habitat.
Though these plants do not grow in their native land now, they are abundant in domestic plantations.
Add this plant to your indoors by following these helpful information and growing tips.
How to Care for Philodendron Hastatum
As the plants grow and mature, their leaves take on a more distinct triangular and sword shape. The leaves are heavy and shiny, growing on hardy stems. These plants tend to climb, so adding a moss pole or stick to their pot makes them happy.
Like most Philodendrons, try not to let the hastatums droop or grow straggly as a climbing plant. Cut them back to keep them as a bush or let them climb on a sturdy pole.
However, these plants are low-maintenance and adapt well to most indoor environments. That way, creating unique conditions for Philodendron hastatum is unnecessary. Just keep the standard care in place, and these plants will thrive.
Light and Temperature
Like most tropical plants, Philodendron hastatums grow well in indirect sunlight. Direct sunlight will burn their leaves. The idea is to create a similar habitat based on their native origin so they are healthy and grow.
These Philodendrons grew underneath a rainforest canopy with shade and plenty of diffused light. For this reason, it’s crucial to keep the plants in similar conditions, like getting enough indirect sunlight.
If their stems appear droopy and long — leggy stems, the Philodendron hastatums are not getting enough sunlight. They will climb and lengthen like vine plants, searching for the sunlight.
Now and then, their older leaves will turn yellow. It’s nothing to worry about. But if these Philodendrons have several leaves turning yellow, it usually means too much sun exposure.
Philodendron hastatums are tropical plants that prefer high humidity and warm temperatures. The ideal range is 60 to 80° Fahrenheit. Cooler temperatures make these Silver Swords very unhappy and unhealthy. Always keep them away from vents and radiators.
Humidity makes Philodendrons hastatum thrilled. They like moisture with humidity around 70 to 90 percent. Humidifiers make it easy to create the ideal conditions for these plants. A Bowl of water near the plants and frequent misty also works well.
During the winter months, watch for droopy and yellow leaves. It means the Silver Swords lack moisture. Quickly take steps to bring more moisture to the surrounding air.
A tropical plant, Philodendron hastatum grows well in moisture. Water them two to three times a week during the spring and summer, their growing season.
These plants go dormant during the fall and winter because the sunlight decreases and temperatures lower. Reduce watering to once a week while monitoring the plants to ensure they don’t dry out. Reducing the watering schedule depends on the indoor surroundings, like air humidity and temperature.
Growers should check the soil before watering. If the underlying layer feels moist, don’t water for two or three days. Though the Philodendron hastatum appreciates moisture, too much water can cause severe and harmful problems, such as root rot.
One to three inches of the underlying layer of soil feels dry. Then it’s time to water the Silver Swords. Avoid getting water on the leaves but wipe them off once in a while. Droopy Philodendrons may mean overwatering has occurred. Correct the watering schedule and let the soil of the plant dry properly.
Philodendron hastatum grow fairly quickly and need plenty of nutrients for energy. For this reason, feed them regularly so these plants grow healthier and faster. Fertilize these beauties during the growing season.
A balanced fertilizer like 5-5-5 or 10-10-10 works well. It’s best to err on under fertilizing than over fertilizing because the latter is deadly.
Tiny flowers appear when the Philodendron hastatum has matured, 10 to 15 years. Flowering hardly occurs indoors, but some growers may witness such a rare occasion. The tiny flowers appear on the spadix at the center of the inflorescence. These plants flower between May and June every year, announcing their time to reproduce.
To determine if Philodendron hastatums need pruning is by noticing if they look long, not bushy. Keeping the plants bushy and full compared to a long vine plant is visibly more appealing. Pruning helps maintain a denser, fuller and healthier plant.
The ideal seasons to prune Silver Swords are spring and summer. However, pruning throughout the year is okay because these plants grow fast and need to keep their healthy shape.
Use sharp and sterilized pruning shears for the best results. First, cut the oldest and longest stems, which usually look yellow and too long for a houseplant. Cut at the joints, where they connect to the plant’s central crown.
Some stems may grow beneath the potting soil, so at them at the base or soil line. After completing the pruning, then water the plants.
When the roots of the Philodendron hastatums fill up their pots, mainly growing out the drainage holes, it’s time to find them a new home. Here is a new planter that is one to a two-inch larger in diameter than the older planter.
These plants need containers that have drainage holes. That way, the potting mix doesn’t get too moist or wet. Growers like using round pots for their Silver Swords because they seem to grow better. Hanging baskets can work for those who want their plants to climb.
Choose a potting mix that is loose and well-drained. In fact, this soil offers aeration and voids water retention. These Philodendrons survive well in dry conditions and abhors excessive watering. With that, growth mediums that contain perlite, peat and vermiculite improve the form of the underlying soil and overall drainage.
Philodendron hastatums are resilient plants. Still, pests attack them viciously. Mealybugs and spider mites are the more common insects found around these plants. At the first sign of any pest, handle them right away. Waiting to take care of pests will only damage these plants even more.
Mealybugs leave a honeydew trail on the leaves because they feed on the plant’s sap. These little buggers also reproduce fast and transmit to other plants easily.
Spider mites enjoy dry conditions and will settle on these plants with low humidity levels in the surroundings. The buggers are tiny and hard to see. Their reddish spider webs among the leaves mean the plants have insects.
Remedies for these little buggers are easy. Cotton balls dunk in isopropyl alcohol and neem oil solution work best if done immediately. If the pests will not leave, insecticide for indoor plants is the next and last option.
Pests are survivors, so repeat the treatment, if needed, one or two additional times. Be vigilant and act accordingly.
Diseases will form on Silver Swords despite being easy to maintain. Some common conditions are leaf spots and root rot.
Leaf spot is the most common problem with these Philodendron hastatums. Fungus or bacteria cause the disease because of an unhealthy indoor environment, damp soil and excessive humidity. Treating the disease is tricky. Therefore, suitable treatment in the early stages is vital.
Watch the leaves for natural color variations. These discolorations are easy to see. The moment the Silver Swords have these brown, black or yellow spots on their leaves, remove them with a pair of sharp, sterile pruning shears or scissors. The purpose is to remove the contagion, so it doesn’t spread to the rest of the plants.
Next, treat the Philodendrons with mild fungicides found at dependable nurseries or garden centers. Follow the directions on the fungicide bottle to treat the plants effectively. Again, watch the plants to see if the treatment takes effect. If not, treat again based on the directions.
Avoid root rot by not overwatering these plants. If the disease appears (wobbly base), dry out the plant and water the plants less. Double-check to see if the water drains well, as this can also cause the disease.
How to Propagate Philodendron Hastatum
Since Philodendron hastatums are epiphytes, propagating these beauties is easy. First, they root easily, so the steps involved require minimal handling.
The popular method is stem cutting, using sterile tools like a knife, pruning shears or scissors. Wear gloves to protect the hands from the sap, which is toxic.
Where the roots form, cut the stem below the thicker part of the plant or a nod. If the cutting is large, divide it into several pieces. Not all the stem cutting will survive the propagation, so more cuttings are fine.
Fill a jar with water and stick a stem cutting into the jar and wait. It takes several weeks or more before roots fully develop. Refresh the water every day to keep a constant supply of minerals for the roots to form.
Cover the cuttings with a plastic bag, creating humidity. Then, place the baby Philodendrons in a shady place with some indirect sunlight — not too much.
Once the hastatums develop their roots, place them in a small pot with rich, nutrient soil that drains well. Continue watering these babies until the roots grow two to three inches.
Similar setups include using a semi-hydroponic system that provides water in a jar with perlite. This way, water the cuttings regularly until removed to a small pot.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is Philodendron Hastatum rare?
Yes. These Silver Sword plants are very rare and are an endangered species. Plantation farms grow these beauties but are rarely seen in their natural habitat.
Is Philodendron Hastatum easy to grow?
These plants, in general, are easy to grow with few pests. Creating a nurturing environment to grow ensures these hastatums stay healthy and happy.
How big do Philodendron Hastatums grow?
These silver metallic-looking plants can grow as tall as nine feet when grown indoors. In their natural habitat, they can grow much taller and broader. But it doesn’t happen overnight, even though they are fast growers. It takes 10 to 15 years to reach maturity.
Is Philodendron Hastatum toxic to pets?
Yes. Like most Philodendrons, these Silver Swords are toxic to pets. Symptoms include oral inflammation, pain and swelling of the lips, mouth and tongue, drooling, difficulty swallowing and vomiting.
Some report hastatums are very dangerous when ingested by dogs, experiencing digestive and respiratory problems that may prove fatal.
Decorating the indoors with tropical plants starts with these Philodendron hastatums because of their unique metallic-looking foliage of blue-gray colors. As climbers, they can flourish, maturing with tiny flowers that accentuate their beauty.
Even though these plants are low maintenance, growers need to create an ideal environment for them to thrive.
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