The beautiful Philodendron gigas is as impressive as it is rare. However, if you manage to get your hands on one, you’ll be pleased to find out that Philodendron gigas plant care is actually quite simple, especially if you’ve grown other philodendrons or aroids before!
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What Is Philodendron Gigas?
This philodendron variety is native to Panama, and is one of the largest types of philodendrons out there. In the wild, this plant can grow up to 65 feet tall with leaves reaching lengths of 3-4 feet!
Indoors, however, it will grow to around 8-10 feet, with leaves reaching around a foot in length. The gorgeous, velvety, tri-colored leaves are known for their incredible array of green and copper coloring that evolves as the leaves mature.
This plant can grow outdoors in USDA hardiness zones 9b–11 but otherwise makes an excellent houseplant that will add a splash of deep-green jungle flair to your space.
You might get lucky and find one of these beauties at your local garden store or online. Once you nab one, here’s how to take the best possible care of it!
How to Care for Philodendron Gigas
If you’ve cared for another philodendron before or an aroid like pothos or monstera, you should have no trouble growing a Philodendron gigas! As a tropical vining aroid, this plant prefers very similar care to its other cousins in the Araceae family.
Growth Rate, Height, and Spread
Like most philodendrons, Philodendron gigas is fast-growing and can easily double or triple in size in a single year.
These plants love to climb and will reach about 8-10 feet indoors if you give it a moss pole, trellis, or other support to scale. You can also grow this plant in a hanging basket that allows the vines to trail, but don’t be surprised if it reaches the floor in a year or two!
The trickiest part of helping this plant thrive is getting the soil’s moisture level just right. While philodendrons love water, they also dislike sitting in soggy soil for too long.
That’s why you’ll want to use a rich yet fast-draining soil that will hold on to some moisture, but also won’t get waterlogged too easily.
It’s also important to maintain a fairly neutral to slightly acidic pH level of 5.6-7.5. (Most bagged soil mixes and homemade potting soils will have an appropriately neutral pH.)
In a pinch, you can add a generous amount of perlite and orchid bark to regular indoor potting mix, but if you really want the best quality soil for your Philodendron gigas (and why wouldn’t you? These babies are tough to find and tough to replace!), you can always make your own from scratch,
How to Make Your Own Philodendron Gigas Soil
There are lots of aroid soil recipes out there calling for various ingredients, including worm castings, orchid bark, perlite, etc. We love this aroid soil recipe from Kaylee Ellen on YouTube.
You can also combine equal parts of the following ingredients for a great soil that balances drainage and moisture retention:
- Orchid bark
- Worm castings
- Perlite or vermiculite
- Sphagnum moss
- Activated charcoal
If you’re not up to mixing your own potting mix, we get it! That’s a lot of ingredients to buy. Luckily, you can find some good philodendron soil that’s ready to go right out of the bag.
Buying Guide for Ready-Mixed Philodendron Soil
When shopping for a philodendron soil, make sure to read the ingredients. Your soil should contain plenty of chunky ingredients that keep the soil well-aerated such as bark, perlite, and vermiculite. You’ll also want to look for nutrient-dense ingredients such as compost, coir, or worm castings. Finally, some type of moss or peat will help the soil retain moisture.
If you see any funky ingredients you don’t recognize, Google them! And if the soil in question has anything sketchy in it, move on and find another mix.
We highly recommend our Premium Monstera Potting Soil because it balances the perfect nutrient content, pH level, drainage rate, and water retention for aroids such as monsteras and philodendrons.
Philodendron gigas grow best in indirect sunlight. Your plant will be happiest near an east-facing window or in a room with a south- or west-facing window. A north-facing window is also a good choice!
While this plant can tolerate low light, it might get leggy and grow smaller leaves than it would with brighter light.
Take care to keep your plant out of direct sunlight because the leaves can scorch easily.
Getting the water balance just right can take a little practice with this plant! While slightly over- or underwatering won’t kill Philodendron gigas (isn’t that one of the reasons why we love philodendrons so much?), it also won’t grow as well if it doesn’t get the right amount of water.
Your plant will need more water in the spring and summer when it’s most likely to be actively growing.
As a rule of thumb, it’s best to water when the top 2 inches or so of soil feel dry, or when a moisture meter reads 3-4. When you water, give the soil a good soaking and let the pot drain completely.
Temperature and Humidity
As a tropical plant, Philodendron gigas like fairly warm, humid conditions. Keep temperatures between 60-85 degrees Fahrenheit and shoot for a humidity level around 60%.
Avoid placing your plant near a heating or air-conditioning vent, space heaters, furnaces, fireplaces, or drafty doors and windows. This will quickly scorch, dry out, or freeze your plant!
If you live in an arid climate, you may also need to take steps to increase the humidity around your Phildendron gigas.
If your plant is on the small side, you can set the pot on a store-bought or DIY humidity tray. (To make a humidity tray, just fill a shallow tray with pebbles and water. This will create some ambient humidity around your plant as the water evaporates!)
A humidifier is also a good idea. Kitchens and bathrooms tend to be more humid areas, so those are great places for your philodendron if you have the room and the right lighting conditions. Grouping plants together will also raise the local humidity as the plants respirate.
During the spring and summer, fertilize your philodendron regularly with diluted liquid fertilizer. Go for something with a fairly balanced N-P-K ratio of 1-1-1 or 3-1-2 for optimal nutritional support for leaf and stem growth and root formation. (The N-P-K ratio tells you the percentage of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium in the fertilizer.)
We love Philodendron Plant Food because it’s perfect for philodendrons and almost all of your other houseplants as well! (Just don’t give it to succulents.)
It’s also gentle enough to use with every watering, so during the growing season, you won’t have to remember a fertilization schedule! You can just mix some into your watering can while you make your rounds, and give it to almost all of your houseplants, not just your Philodendron gigas.
Philodendron gigas produces inflorescences, or clusters of tiny flowers. Though they rarely flower indoors, these inflorescences usually show up in the spring and can hang around until early fall. These clusters can include up to 7 white and pink flowers with dark-red centers.
If you want your indoor Philodendron gigas to flower, make sure the plant gets a solid 8-9 hours of bright, indirect light per day with complete darkness at night. Lowering the temperatures at night to around 60 degrees can also help. And make sure you’re fertilizing! A fertilizer with a slightly higher phosphorus content (indicated by the second number in the N-P-K ratio) can support flowering.
Since this plant grows quickly, plan on repotting your Philodendron gigas every year. Spring is the best time to do this because your plant will be gearing up for a growth spurt and will more easily recover from the stress of being repotted.
When you do repot, make sure to choose a pot that’s just 2-3 inches larger in diameter than your plant’s root ball. This will give your plant some room to grow without holding on to more water than the plant can use and risking overwatering or root rot.
To repot, make sure to tip the plant on its side and gently coax it out with a towel or even a butter knife. NEVER pull on the plant, because you could damage the roots or stems. Also, make sure the new pot is clean to prevent spreading harmful fungi or bacteria to your plant.
Finally, it’s important to refrain from fertilizing for a month or so after repotting because the roots will be delicate and more susceptible to chemical burn.
Pruning and Maintenance
Pruning is important for maintaining your plant’s health, and also for controlling its size if it starts to take over your space.
When you prune your Philodendron gigas, make sure to use sterilized tools to prevent infecting your plant with harmful pathogens. You can just clean your shears with soap and water and/or use a little rubbing alcohol on a cotton ball.
Spring is also the best time to prune because you can take advantage of the upcoming growth spurt to support your plant’s recovery. This is also an excellent time to use any healthy clippings you remove to propagate your philodendron (more on that later).
Prune away any dead or diseased material to keep your plant healthy. If your Philodendron gigas is getting too big, you can trim the vines down to a more manageable size, but make sure to do this in stages over a few weeks to avoid sending your plant into shock. Philodendrons tend to recover well from pruning, but it’s best not to put any undue stress on your plant.
What can I use to support my Philodendron as it grows?
Philodendron gigas is a climbing plant, so it will be happiest when it has something to grab and climb as it grows! This will support the vines, promote airflow between the leaves (this prevents fungal growth), and help all areas of the plant receive enough sunlight.
Moss poles and totems can work well for this, but we love these minimalist, easy-to-use housepant trellises that will work with any decor style.
How to Propagate Philodendron Gigas
We promised we’d talk about propagation!
You can propagate Philodendron gigas through stem cuttings and air layering. Here’s how to do each method and clone your favorite philodendron.
Air Layering Propagation
Air layering is the process of growing new roots on the part of the plant you wish to propagate before you actually remove that section from the mother plant. To do this, you’ll need a clean, sharp knife, plastic wrap, sphagnum moss, twist ties or string, and a rooting hormone like Propagation Promoter.
To do this, locate a young, healthy, still-growing section of vine with at least two leaves and a node (this will look like a brown bump on the opposite side of a stem from a leaf). Using your sterile scissors, make a small cut in the stem about a half inch below the node (by “below,” we mean closest to the base of the plant). Be careful not to cut more than ⅓ of the way through the stem or you might end up with a stem cutting instead! (If this happens to you, no worries, you can just move on to the next section!)
Then use a cotton ball to dab a little Propagation Promoter onto the wound. This will give your plant a little hormonal boost to encourage new roots to grow, and will also defend against infection.
Now, wet a small handful of sphagnum moss and wring it out so it’s damp but not soggy. Wrap the moss around the wound, and then wrap some plastic wrap around the moss. Loosely secure the plastic wrap with twist ties or string.
Every day or so, loosen the bundle and use a spray bottle to rewet the moss. Within a few months, you should see roots growing from the cut you made in the stem!
When the roots are at least an inch long, use a clean knife or shears to cut the stem below the roots, and plant your new propagation in soil. Care for it like you would a mature Philodendron gigas.
Stem Cutting Propagation
Propagating with stem cuttings is fun, and cuttings make great gifts for your plant-loving friends!
To do this, find a relatively young section of your philodendron with at least two healthy leaves and a node. Use sterlized shears, scissors, or a knife to cut below the node so that your cutting includes the leaves and the node. Your propagation won’t work without a node, so this is a crucial step!
Then place your cutting upright in a clear glass container full of distilled water or rainwater. (You can also leave tap water out overnight to allow chlorine and other chemicals to evaporate.) Make sure the cut end is submerged, but don’t let the leaves touch the water. To encourage rooting and ward off infection, add a little Propagation Promoter to the water.
Place the container in a bright place and top off the water as needed. Make sure to change the water completely at least once per week.
Within a few months, you should have new roots! When those grow to be an inch long, you can plant the cutting in soil.
Common Problems With the Philodendron Gigas
Though Philodendron gigas is quite hardy, it can still develop health problems. Here are the most common signs to watch out for.
This is the most common issue that affects Philodendron gigas! This will usually manifest as yellowing or browning leaves.
Yellow leaves usually indicate that your plant is slightly overwatered. Make sure your pot and soil drain well, and try giving your plant just a little more light and waiting a bit longer between waterings.
Soft, Brown Leaves
This can indicate severe overwatering and even root rot. If you notice this, remove the damaged leaves and check your drainage situation. If you notice a bad smell coming from the soil or if the stems are browning as well, you probably have root rot.
If you’ve determined that your plant has root rot, repot the plant into a clean pot and fresh soil. Make sure to carefully rinse as much of the old soil out of the root ball as possible and trim away any rotting roots.
After repotting, go a little lighter on the water and use our Root Supplement when you do water. This will help the roots heal and prevent recurring infection.
Small, Yellow Leaf Spots
This can be normal in philodendron varieties, as they can indicate glands from which the plants produce nectar. However, this can also be a sign of insect damage or a fungal infection if the spots are numerous.
If you don’t notice any insects, try using a gentle fungicide on the leaves and providing a little more light.
The most common pests to affect Philodendron gigas are aphids and scale. Mealybugs and spider mites are less common but can also invade your plant. Here’s how to handle insect infestations!
Aphids feed on juices in your plant’s leaves and can cause small spots and crinkled leaves. To remove aphids, spray your plant down with a diluted neem oil solution. You may need to do this several times over a few weeks to eliminate new generations of aphids as they hatch.
Ladybugs are also an excellent natural predator for aphids, so this is a great option if you don’t mind having some friendly insects around your home!
Scale have hard shells that make them harder to remove than other soft-bodied insects, but it can still be done. You can pry them off with your fingers or use some rubbing alcohol on a cotton swab to get them to release their hold. Once you’ve removed them, spray your plant with diluted neem oil to prevent them from returning.
Other Varieties of Philodendron
If you love Philodendron gigas, check out these other gorgeous philodendron varieties!
This easy-to-care-for variety grows striking, deep-green leaves with a dramatic arrow shape. Like the gigas, it’s tricky to find but will reward you with beautiful foliage without a lot of work!
Pink Princess Philodendron
This highly variegated philodendron boasts lovely, heart-shaped leaves with blocks and splashes of deep green, light green, and soft pink coloring. It’s pricey and a little hard to find but one of the most beautiful houseplants out there.
Philodendron White Princess
As the name suggests, this variety is known for its white and cream variegation woven in with the usual dark green you’d find in philodendrons. Sometimes you can even find plants with small hints of pink mixed in!
Philodendron Florida Ghost
This unusual variety stands out with its dramatically lobed leaves decorated with white and green variegation. It’s not uncommon for some of the leaves to be entirely white!
This sought-after variety is known for its elongated, pointed leaves and funky red, pink, cream, and green coloring. If you love colorful foliage, this may be the philodendron for you.
This colorful plant almost doesn’t look real! This philodendron shows off with leaves of deep green, bright pink, and even copper coloring, often sporting leaves that are completely copper or pink!
Philodendron Gigas Plant Care Guide FAO
FAQ: Is Philodendron gigas toxic to cats and dogs?
Yes. Like all philodendrons, Philodendron gigas contains calcium oxalate crystals, which can cause severe mouth, throat, and stomach irritation. Keep this plant away from pets and kids!
FAQ: What’s the difference between Philodendron melanochrysum and Philodendron gigas?
Though these large-leaved varieties look very similar, they do differ slightly in coloring. Giga tends to be a lighter green color, while melanochrysum is deeper green. Melanochrysum leaves are also an orange copper color and later turn deep green, so it’s a little easier to tell the difference when the plant in question has younger leaves!
Philodendron gigas is a must-have for any philodendron fan looking to add a large, colorful conversation-starter to their collection. It’s time to start your search to bring one of these beauties home!
Care for your Philodendron Giga and More!
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