The Philodendron mamei, more commonly known as the Silver Cloud Philodendron, is a large leafed tropical plant with deeply ridged veins. The deep olive-green leaves are sprinkled with elegant splotches of a sheer silvery hue. While this is a rare plant to the indoor plant scene, Philodendron mamei care is actually easy and beginner friendly.
This complete care guide will provide you with all you need to know on how to spoil your Philodendron mamei and keep it looking fabulous!
Table of contents
- Common Name: Silver Cloud Philodendron
- Scientific Name: Philodendron mamei
- Mature Size: 3 feet tall, with leaves up to 6 to 8 inches wide
- Sunlight: bright, indirect/filtered sunlight
- Water: water thoroughly and allow top 2 inches of soil to dry
- Soil: nutrient rich, arid/well-draining soil
- Temperature: 65°F-80°F
- Hardiness Zone: 9-11
- Propagation: stem cuttings
One of over 450 varieties of the genus philodendron, the Philodendron mamei was discovered in the humid Ecuadorian rainforests in the 1800s. It was originally only found to grow from soil, however it was recently recategorized as an epiphyte because it has been found growing high in the trees.
Philodendron mamei is an ideal indoor houseplant for new plant owners. It requires minimal care and is extremely low maintenance. The soft, leathery leaves are heart-shaped, a characteristic of Philodendrons, but the silver markings distinguish it without being flashy. The gorgeous silvery variegation is subtle but accentuated by the deep, pleated veins.
Many people get the Philodendron mamei confused with the Philodendron plowmanii and it’s really no surprise. Both appear very similar, however an easy way to distinguish the two is by the accent colors. The Philodendron mamei has silver variegations whereas the Philodendron plowmanii does not. For information about Philodendron plowmanii care, click here!
Growth Pattern and Habits
In nature, the Philodendron mamei is a low growing, creeping plant that spreads over wide areas. When grown as a houseplant in a pot, it has an upright, bushy growth pattern. This plant grows quickly and reaches approximately three feet tall.
Most of the Philodendron mamei’s width is taken up by its wide leaves that, as an indoor plant, can reach six to eight inches wide. In nature, you can expect to see a P. mamei’s leaves measure up to one and a half feet wide.
A lot of people want to know if the Philodendron mamei is a creeping plant or a crawling plant. Like I said, in nature the Philodendron mamei is a crawler, meaning it spreads low over the ground. But like other philodendrons, the Philodendron mamei can be trained to climb indoors using a moss pole or a stake.
What distinguishes this plant as unique is the eye-catching silvery variegation. Not only is it attractive, but it also makes it more tolerant of lower light conditions than other variegated houseplants. However, a Philodendron mamei will grow best in bright, indirect light.
Placing your Philodendron mamei in an area that receives a lot of bright, indirect light will keep it healthy. This mimics the diffused light of its native habitat. The ideal location is in front of a south facing window with a sheer curtain.. Another great place is in an east facing window, in a room that is well lit all day. It can tolerate direct, morning sunlight as it is less intense than afternoon sunlight.
Avoid placing your plant in direct sunlight because doing so could potentially damage its delicate leaves. The Silver Cloud Philodendron’s leaves are sensitive and can burn if exposed to excessive amounts of direct sunlight. If your Silver Cloud Philodendron’s leaves appear droopy or yellow, it is likely receiving too much sun.
Watering is a crucial component of Philodendron mamei care. Overwatering makes your plant more susceptible to issues like root rot, which is the primary cause of death among philodendrons. Generally, Silver Cloud needs a growing medium that is kept moderately damp.
Philodendron mamei water requirements: water thoroughly each time and only water when the top two inches of soil are dry. Allow excess water to drain out of the pot before returning to its home!
The finger test is the most accurate way to determine whether your Silver Cloud needs watering. Feel the top two inches of soil with your finger to see if it’s dry. You can delay watering if the first or second knuckle is wet, but if it is dry, go ahead and water your plant.
Another option is to insert a standard chopstick a few inches deep into the mixture and then observe the stick. The chopstick will stick to excessively damp soil and may take on a darker color. Dry soil will be hard, brittle, and compressed and won’t affect the stick’s color, whereas moist soil will have a soft texture. Other indications that your plant needs watering include wilting, browning leaf edges, and drooping leaves.
Read our post that covers all the details of overwatered plants and how to avoid overwatering in the future.
Even if you provide your Philodendron mamei with proper lighting and watering, if inadequate soil is used, you will limit your plant’s growth. The Silver Cloud Philodendron needs a soil mixture that is high in organic content. The soil needs to be loose, arid and well-draining.
Specialized houseplant soil mixtures are made up of just the correct components in the proper proportions, allowing the soil to drain well while still holding on to enough moisture to prevent root suffocation. These soil mixtures for indoor plants are available online or at your neighborhood nursery. You can make your own with the following mixture:
- One part organic potting soil mixed with worm castings
- One part perlite
- One part peat moss
Organic potting soil and worm castings provide the essential nutrients that every plant needs in order to sustain healthy growth. The Philodendron mamei is no exception. It hails from the rich jungles of Central America. Providing a nutrient rich base is key to providing the best Philodendron mamei care.
Perlite is a very lightweight material that is mined from raw volcanic glass. Perlite is added to soil to promote drainage and prevent soil compaction. Its lightweight property, when added to a potting mix, keeps the soil airy and prevents excess water from accumulating around a plant’s roots.
Peat moss is highly absorbent. It retains moisture in scattered pockets throughout the soil. Due to its spongy nature, it prevents soil compaction when watering.
Tip: when creating your own soil mixture, always make a large batch in a large container so all of the components are blended equally throughout.
Temperature and Humidity
Silver Cloud Philodendrons cannot handle temperatures below 55°F. This tropical plant prefers warm, humid climates. In its natural habitat, the Philodendron mamei enjoys temperatures between 65°F to 85°F. Fortunately, this temperature range is comparable to warm indoor settings. Any value outside of this range can stress the plant, leading to growth that is stunted.
If the nighttime temperature in your climate zone is around 59°F (15°C) and the daytime temperature is about 86°F (30°C), you can grow the plant outside. While the summer months are excellent for growing your Philodendron mamei outdoors, the temperature in the fall must never drop below 12.75°C (55°F) if you wish to cultivate the plant in a northern region. It’s imperative to bring the plant indoors throughout the winter.
Tip: Clean and then isolate any plants that are brought indoors for the winter. While living outside, it has attracted all sorts of bugs that you don’t want spreading to your indoor plants!
The Philodendron mamei loves a humid environment. Your indoor plants typically thrive in environments with at least 50% humidity. The plant’s leaves will start to dry if the humidity levels drop. This occurs most commonly in the colder seasons where outdoor humidity drops and the use of furnaces increase! When this occurs, you must raise the humidity level around your plants.
The most effective ways to increase humidity are pebble trays and humidifiers. To make a pebble tray, fill a shallow tray with small, similarly sized pebbles. Add water to the tray and place your potted Philodendron mamei on top. You can also place a desktop sized humidifier close to your plants that need high humidity levels.
If your bathroom receives the proper amount of light that a Silver Cloud Philodendron needs, place your plant here! This alone will drastically increase the Philodendron mamei’s humidity level!
You can also choose to mist your Silver Cloud Philodendron to increase humidity but there are some drawbacks. In order to increase the humidity and keep the humidity level high, you will need to mist your plant two to three times daily, which is time consuming. Misting can also lead to fungal infections or soil that is too moist.
In the spring and summer, you should apply a balanced or nitrogen-rich fertilizer every month. During these growing months, fertilize your Philodendron mamei with a balanced liquid organic fertilizer
The Silver Cloud Philodendron will benefit significantly from supplementary feeding. Although the plant receives some organic food from the decomposed leaf and bark materials combined with the soil, a little extra nutrition will keep the colors and health in tip top shape.
During the cooler months of autumn and winter, fertilizing should be reduced or discontinued entirely. This is because winter typically results in less light, which means slower growth. During times of slower growth, a plant doesn’t need the abundance of nutrients a fertilizer provides and will actually be detrimental to the plant.
Philodendron mamei propagation is super easy! You can propagate your Silver Cloud Philodendron using two different methods: stem cuttings and air layering. Propagation using stem cuttings is easier and less involved. Air layering, however, is a great method because it more reliably creates a stronger, healthy new plant!
- Choose a healthy, well established (one that is in the middle of the plant) Philodendron mamei stem.
- Cutting at a diagonal, use a clean knife to cut the stem an inch below a growth node.
- Place this new stem cutting either in a clear container (like a mason jar) with water just covering the end or in a new pot with fresh soil.
- If you decide to first place your stem cutting in water, ensure that the water is changed every three to four days or sooner if you notice any discoloration. Expect roots to appear within the month. Once the roots are longer than one inch, transplant into soil.
- If you want to directly plant the new stem cutting in soil, allow the end to callous by leaving it out on a counter for two days. Then plant the stem three inches deep in fresh soil. Keep the soil moist by heavily misting every day for about two weeks. You will know that roots have been established once your new Philodendron mamei has resistance when you pull on it.
Tip: Placing your propagated newly cut Philodendron mamei stem in water allows you to see the roots develop. You can see exactly when the roots are established enough to plant the new stem in soil and begin to care for it as you would a mature Philodendron mamei plant.
- Choose a healthy, well established (one that is in the middle of the plant) stem.
- Using a sharp, clean knife cut into the stem at a 30° angle in an upwards motion. Only cut approximately ⅓ of the way into the stem. DO NOT CUT ALL THE WAY THROUGH!
- Place a toothpick into the cutting to keep the cut open.
- Wrap damp peat moss or sphagnum moss around the area that is cut. Cover this with a clear plastic bag such as a zip lock bag or wrap with clear saran wrap. Tie this covering to the plant with a fine piece of string.
- Frequently check the moss to make sure it is damp. If the moss becomes dry, mist it with water.
- New roots at the site of the cut will begin to appear within the month.
- Once the new roots are more than one inch long, use a sharp, clean knife to cut the stem just below the new roots. Plant in fresh soil.
- Keep the soil moist by heavily misting daily for about two weeks then provide care as you would for an established, mature Philodendron mamei.
Yellowed, Wilting Leaves
Wilting, yellowing leaves is most commonly caused by overwatering. Be sure that you are only watering your Philodendron mamei when the top two inches of soil are dry. If you start to notice mushy brown spots on the leaves, this could be a sign of root rot.
It is considered normal if a Silver Cloud Philodendron whose bottom most leaves are yellow but has otherwise healthy, green leaves. The bottom most leaves are the oldest and naturally turn yellow and die off as part of the aging process. Prune these leaves away to avoid pest infestations.
Pale leaves on a Silver Cloud Philodendron means that it is not getting enough light. Remember the light requirements of a Philodendron mamei; bright, indirect light for the majority of the day!
The most common pests that like to snack on Philodendron mamei are aphids, gnats, mealybugs and thrips. Check out our post on plant pests for all identification and treatment details!
Root rot is caused by overwatering, lack of drainage, and/or low soil temperatures. Signs of root rot include wilting or yellowing leaves, brown leaf spotting with white roots, and dead plant matter. The best way to control root rot in Philodendron mamei is to improve the drainage by repotting the plant in a pot with adequate drainage holes. Before repotting your Philodendron mamei, rinse the roots and remove all mushy, rotted roots. Adjust your watering schedule.
If ingested, Philodendron mamei is reportedly hazardous to children, dogs, cats, and small animals. Calcium oxalate crystals are present in all sections of this plant and can irritate the mouth and bowels when consumed. It’s best to put it somewhere where your kids and dogs can’t get to it. If you believe that any part of the plant has been ingested, go get emergency help.
As the Philodendron mamei becomes more popular, you will likely see it in more and more gardening stores. Look for its signature olive green leaves with a silvery dusting. These plants are compact when grown indoors and reach a height of about three feet. Keep your Silver Cloud Philodendron happy by meetings its watering and light requirements and planting it in nutrient rich soil!