Care Guides Tropical Plants

Philodendron Burle Marx Care: Growth, Watering & Light

December 3, 2022
A green philodendron with many leaves planted in water

Philodendron Burle Marx is a low growing, vining philodendron with bright green, shiny foliage. The leaves are long and resemble the shape of an arrow. Native to the tropical rainforests of Brazil, Philodendron Burle Marx is often found creeping along the ground as ground cover or growing up trees as a vine.

Lucky for us plant lovers, Philodendron Burle Marx care is easy and carefree. This plant can be grown indoors to bring a tropical feel to your living spaces or it can be used as a beautiful ground cover outside if you live in the appropriate geographic locations! This post will provide you with everything you need to know about how to care for and how to propagate a Philodendron Burle Marx!

These days, philodendrons are one of the most popular houseplants because they’re relatively low-maintenance and quite impressive to look at. One of the best cultivars for beginners is the Philodendron Burle Marx. This plant is named after Roberto Burle Marx, a Brazilian landscape architect who became famous for using native plants in his designs for parks and other public spaces. The Philodendron Burle Marx’s scientific name is Philodendron burle-marxii.

With its elongated, paddle- or arrow-shaped leaves and delicate, red stems, the Burle Marx Philodendron provides excellent greenery for your interior space. Due to its oversized leaves, it has air-purifying properties, making it a good option for a desk plant. While it has very specific needs, the plant can tolerate almost any growing condition once established.

Unlike other Philodendrons, a mature Philodendron Burle Marx, once established, can tolerate a bit more direct sunlight and a little less water (more drought resistant). Again, this is one of the reasons that Philodendron Burle Marx care is easy to handle even for the most beginner gardeners!

Quick Facts

Large green leaves that are shaped like arrows
  • Common Name: Philodendron Burle Marx, Burle Marx Philodendron
  • Scientific Name: Philodendron burle-marxii
  • Mature Size: up to 2 feet tall with a 3 to 4 foot spread
  • Sunlight: bright, indirect light
  • Water: when top 2 inches of soil are dry
  • Soil: well draining, loamy
  • Temperature: 65°F-80°F
  • Propagation: stem cuttings
  • Hardiness Zone: 9b-11
  • Toxicity: toxic to humans and pets

Growth Pattern and Habits

As far as houseplants go, the Philodendron Burle Marx stays relatively compact, maxing out at two feet high and four feet wide. Therefore, most people choose to raise it indoors as a decorative houseplant. In warmer climates, it can be grown outside and trained to climb trellises as a vining plant. If potted indoors, a climbing Philodendron Burle Marx can be trained using a moss pole!

In spite of its small size, the climbing Philodendron Burle Marx grows quickly, averaging 2-4 inches per week during the spring and summer. In most cases, it spreads faster than it gains height, so repotting is often necessary to continue providing enough room for the roots.

A potted plant with a large amount of full, green foliage

If possible, wait to repot your philodendron until late winter or early spring, when the plant is still dormant. This decreases the likelihood of causing trauma to the plant and also provides fresh, nutritious soil for the active growing season.


Being native to South America, the Philodendron Burle Marx is used to absorbing sunlight from under the tree canopy. Exposure to too much direct sun can cause the leaves to turn yellow or brown and eventually scorch them. In a domestic, indoor setting, the best light for a Philodendron Burle Marx is bright, indirect sunlight.

The best place for your Philodendron Burle Marx is near any east, west or south facing window in your house. If the window faces west or south, provide a curtain or shade to protect your plant from harsh afternoon rays. Philodendrons can also grow in environments with low light, such as an office cubicle. However, low light conditions may cause your plant to grow very slowly.


Like all other philodendrons, the Philodendron Burle Marx should be kept in relatively damp conditions. Aim to keep most of the soil wet but not waterlogged. Also, make sure the soil never has the opportunity to dry out completely.

A potted, indoor Philodendron Burle Marx plant

To water sufficiently without overwatering, simply use your finger to test the soil for dryness. Wait until the top two inches have dried out before watering your plant. Most philodendron owners find that their plants need to be watered about once per week. In the winter, your plant will fall dormant and consume less water, so adjust your schedule accordingly.


The Philodendron Burle Marx needs well-draining soil that allows aeration around its roots. For the ideal soil mix, simply add some perlite, bark, or coconut coir to your favorite potting soil. You can also choose to use a 50/50 peat moss and perlite mixture. Also, make sure to pair the soil with a pot that has drainage holes.

A soil with neutral pH works very well for this plant. For optimum growth and color, you may choose to use a mildly acidic soil. The ideal pH range is between 5.6 and 6.5 pH, which you can easily measure with a soil testing kit. To lower your soil’s pH levels naturally, try adding a small amount of compost or coffee grounds.

Temperature and Humidity

Because it’s a jungle plant, the Philodendron Burle Marx thrives in warm, humid environments. Optimizing these factors is an important aspect of Philodendron Burle Marx care. The ideal temperature range is a balmy 65°F-80°F, the higher the better. If the temperature drops below 60°F for an extended amount of time, the plant can go into shock and die.

A close up of a leaf of an indoor Philodendron Burle Marx given great care

Similarly, the ideal relative humidity is 80%. However, the plant can tolerate humidity levels as low as 30%. At home, try to aim for an average of 60% relative humidity with a humidifier, pebble tray, or occasional misting.

If you live in USDA hardiness zones 9b-11, you can choose to plant your Philodendron Burle Marx outdoors. This designation means that the Philodendron Burle Marx can tolerate a minimum temperature of 25°F-30°F. Geographic regions in this range experience minimal frost during the winter months and long, hot and humid summers!


For being a small plant, the Philodendron Burle Marx has pretty high fertilizer needs. During its active growth period during the spring and summer, you should apply a houseplant fertilizer once a week. The best fertilizer to use is one that’s high in nitrogen, which will help your plant produce large leaves. In the fall and winter, reduce feedings to once a month.


Philodendrons have a reputation for being easy to propagate, and the Burle Marx variety is no exception. The best way to propagate a Philodendron Burle Marx is with stem cuttings. Experienced plant collectors can also try their hand at propagating via air-layering. For better chances at success, propagate the plant during the spring and summer when it’s in its active growth phase.

A person showing Philodendron Burle Marx propagation using stem cuttings

Propagation by Stem Cuttings

Philodendron Burle Marx propagation can be done using stem cuttings and is the easiest and most reliable way to do so.

  1. Examine your Philodendron Burle Marx for potential cuttings, looking for stems that measure 2-4 inches in length with several leaves attached.
  1. Once you have identified your candidates, use sterile scissors to make a diagonal, 45-degree cut in the stem, positioning the cut directly under a leaf node. 
  1. Remove any lower leaves and place the stem in a jar of fresh, room-temperature water. Alternatively, you can dip the cut end of the stem in some rooting hormone and plant it in a container of well-draining soil. The former allows you to better monitor new root growth.
  1. Position your stem cutting in an area of your house that receives bright, indirect light.
  1. New roots will begin to appear within three to four weeks. At this time, if you are growing your newly propagated Philodendron Burle Marx in water, keep an eye on the length of the roots. It is time to transplant the new baby Philodendron Burle Marx into soil when the roots are longer than three inches.

Propagation by Air Layering

When it grows leggy, Philodendron Burle Marx propagation can be done using the air-layering method. This method utilizes the same process that allows the plant to root vertically as it climbs. The tools required for air-layering are a sterile knife, gloves, peat moss, toothpicks, string, and plastic wrap.

  1. Choose a healthy, well established stem that is at least two inches long.
  1. Using a sharp, clean knife cut only ⅓ of the way into the stem at a 30° angle in an upwards motion.
  1. Use a toothpick to prop open this new cut.
  1. Wrap damp peat moss around the area that is cut. Then, wrap a string or pipe cleaner around the wound, followed by a layer of plastic wrap, to keep everything inside.
  1. Mist daily with water, or more frequently if needed, to keep the peat moss moist.
  1.  The cut end of the stem will form new roots, which should take about 3-4 weeks. 
  1. Once the roots have grown to three inches long, cut your new philodendron from the host and plant it in well-draining soil. When air layering, you don’t need to place your newly mature Philodendron Burle Marx in water at all during this technique.
New roots growing from a plant that has been propagated using air layering
This is not a Philodendron Burle Marx, but shows how roots appear when plant propagation is done using air layering.

Common Issues

Root Rot

As much as the Philodendron Burle Marx appreciates water, it can’t tolerate overwatering. Too much watering can cause root rot, which will eventually kill the plant. Early symptoms of overwatering include yellowing leaves, dropped leaves, a moldy smell, and soggy soil.

If your plant shows any of these symptoms, stop watering immediately. Poke holes in the soil with a wooden skewer or chopstick to help the soil air out. If root rot has set in, you should carefully transplant your plant to a pot of fresh soil. 

Expert Tip – Only transplant into fresh soil after removing the affected roots and allow the healthy roots to dry out completely

Mealybugs and Thrips

Thrips are tiny insects that look like miniscule grains of rice on your plant. Similarly, mealybugs are microscopic insects that may appear fuzzy when observed with the naked eye. Both of these insects like to suck the sap out of houseplants, which steals nutrients from reaching all parts of the plant. Signs of a pest infestation include halo-like lesions in the leaves, yellowing leaves, deformed leaves, and poor growth.

Making sure your plant has adequate humidity can discourage these insects, which prefer dry conditions. Regularly inspect areas of the plant that can harbor critters, such as the underside of leaves and the joints between the leaves and the stem. If you see signs of an infestation, kill all visible insects and use a solution of neem oil as an all-natural deterrent. Try to avoid using chemical-based pesticides unless you have a very serious infestation.


The Philodendron Burle Marx is toxic and contains a high amount of calcium oxalate crystals, which are extremely tiny, salt-like crystals that are insoluble in water. Each crystal has an irregular shape with many sharp edges. When any part of the plant is ingested, it exposes the soft tissues of the mouth and throat to the sharp crystals, resulting in irritation, burning, or swelling. Swallowing the plant can also lead to gastrointestinal distress, vomiting, diarrhea, and even intestinal bleeding.

A close up of an indoor tropical plant in a woven pot

To keep your family safe, monitor pets and children around your outdoor or indoor Philodendron Burle Marx. Also, wear gloves at all times when handling the plant to protect your skin from the plant’s sap, which also contains calcium oxalate. In most cases, symptoms of philodendron toxicity will resolve on their own. However, if you suspect that someone has ingested any part of a  Philodendron Burle Marx, contact poison control or emergency services.


The Philodendron Burle Marx is a unique tropical plant that tends to grow low and spread out. While it enjoys bright indirect light, the Philodendron Burle Marx light requirements are a bit less stringent; it is slightly more tolerant of direct sunlight than other varieties. Philodendron Burle Marx propagation is easily carried out using stem cuttings but you can choose to try air layering if you want a challenge.

I hope that whether you are growing your Philodendron Burle Marx indoors or out, you have found this information helpful. Philodendron Burle Marx care can be done by anyone, no matter how green (or not green) their thumbs may be!