If you’re looking for a houseplant that’s attractive and easy to care for, you can’t go wrong with a philodendron. Philodendrons are a class of perennial plants that are valued for their eye-catching foliage. There are hundreds of species with a variety of leaf shapes and colors, making them highly sought-after among collectors. With that said, a good philodendron species for novices is the Philodendron ‘Moonlight’ and this post will teach you all about Philodendron ‘Moonlight’ care!
Table of contents
The Philodendron ‘Moonlight’ is a rare species and is instantly recognizable for its leaves, which are bright green and oval-shaped. It stays relatively compact with a maximum height and width of two feet. Being a tropical plant, it requires adequate sunlight and water to grow the foliage it’s become known for. However, when the leaves finally unfurl, you’ll realize all the effort you put into raising this plant was well worth it.
- Common Name: Moonlight Philodendron
- Scientific Name: Philodendron hederaceum ‘Moonlight’
- Mature Size: 2 feet tall
- Sunlight: bright, indirect light
- Water: when top inch of soil is dry
- Soil: well-draining
- Temperature: 65°F-85°F with moderate humidity
- Propagation: root division, stem cuttings
- Hardiness Zone: 10-11
- Toxicity: toxic to humans and pets
Growth Pattern and Habits
Unlike many other philodendron varieties that have evolved to climb vertically, a mature Philodendron ‘Moonlight’ size stays shrub-like and rarely grows beyond 24 inches. This makes it ideal for keeping in pots. For optimum growth, use a pot that’s about two inches wider than the spread of the plant, transitioning to larger sizes as the plant grows. Whatever pot you choose, it’s important to find one with plenty of drainage holes.
When environmental conditions are perfect, the Philodendron ‘Moonlight’ will begin to produce flower buds near its center. Once a Philodendron ‘Moonlight’ blooms, the flowers measure an average of four inches long with white and pink calla-like petals. While the blooms are beautiful to look at, producing them takes up most of the plant’s energy, making it unable to grow new leaves. If you want to keep your Philodendron ‘Moonlight’ looking fresh and lush, you can choose to prune off any flower buds as they appear.
Sunlight is an important ingredient in creating the plant’s signature leaves and providing great Philodendron ‘Moonlight’ care. It tends to grow leggy and sparse if it doesn’t get enough. However, exposure to direct sunlight will scorch the plant’s leaves and cause them to turn brown.
Expert Tip – Keep an eye on your plant for legginess or darkening leaves, which can be symptoms of poor lighting conditions.
As a low-growing plant, the Philodendron ‘Moonlight’ plant is naturally accustomed to absorb sunlight from under the shade of the tree canopy. A Philodendron ‘Moonlight’ light requirements include providing it with bright, indirect sunlight, avoiding areas that are exposed to harsh midday rays. A room with an east or west-facing window is the perfect place to keep this plant. If the window you choose gets too much sun, try moving the plant further away or putting up a sheer curtain to dilute the sunlight.
The Philodendron ‘Moonlight’ should be watered often enough for the soil to be consistently damp, but not soaked. Water provides fuel for the plant’s growth, but too much can cause root rot or mold in the soil. The plant will begin to droop if it receives too much or not enough water. In most cases, adjusting the watering schedule will make the leaves perk back up again.
To avoid overwatering, wait until the top inch of the soil feels dry to the touch. Then, add just enough water to dampen the soil down to the roots. Many philodendron owners find they need to water their plant at a frequency of once per week.
Your Philodendron ‘Moonlight’ may consume more or less water depending on the season, so always test the soil before watering your plant.
Philodendron ‘Moonlight’ care includes providing it with the best soil possible. This plant requires a nutrient-rich, well-draining, and moisture-retentive soil. A simple way to fulfill these requirements is to take any general potting soil and mix in coconut coir, orchid bark, or perlite to increase drainage. Aim for a 2:1 ratio of potting soil to mixed-in additive. These plants will also do well in soilless mixes, such as peat-vermiculite or peat-perlite.
This plant also prefers a slightly acidic soil pH in the range of 5.0-6.0. While it’s not as vital as a well-draining soil, making the effort to test your soil pH can contribute to producing the most vibrant, healthiest leaves possible. To lower your soil’s pH naturally, try adding a small amount of compost. Along with providing acidity, compost provides more nutrients in the soil and gives drainage an additional boost.
Temperature and Humidity
Considering its tropical origins, the Philodendron ‘Moonlight’ plant will not tolerate temperatures outside the range of 65-78°F. This is the main reason why most people raise this plant as an indoor houseplant. In general, exposure to extremely low temperatures is more harmful than exposure to higher temperatures. When exposed to temperatures below 60°F, it can stop growing altogether, go into shock, or die.
Your Philodendron ‘Moonlight’ will grow well with your home’s natural humidity level. However, it’s best to keep it in an environment with high humidity if you want to grow it to its full potential. The ideal range is 60-80% relative humidity. You can achieve this by placing a humidifier nearby or misting daily with room-temperature water.
It’s important to mimic rainforest conditions by regularly feeding your Philodendron ‘Moonlight’. To fertilize effectively, apply a balanced, commercial fertilizer diluted to half-strength approximately once every four weeks. Avoid fertilizing in the winter, when the plant goes dormant and stops absorbing nutrients from the soil.
For the best chances of success, begin Philodendron ‘Moonlight’ propagating in the spring or summer when the plant experiences its most active phase of growth. Philodendron ‘Moonlight’ propagation is best done by root/rhizome division and stem cuttings. For both methods, you will need a pair of gardening gloves, a sterile knife, and some pots prepared with the appropriate substrate.
Propagation by Root Division
- Carefully remove your plant from its pot and shake off excess soil to expose the rhizomes (they look like thick roots) and the hairy roots.
- Select off-shoots that are at least two inches long.
- Use your sterilized knife to separate the off-shoots from the main plant.
- Once you’ve divided your mature Philodendron Moonlight’s rhizomes, plant each off-shoot in a container prepared with a well-draining substrate. Plant two inches deep in soil.
- Keep the containers in an area with bright, indirect sunlight. Keep soil moist by misting each day until you see new growth popping out of the soil.
Propagation by Stem Cuttings
To start Philodendron ‘Moonlight’ propagation by stem cutting, first examine your plant for potential candidates. Choose healthy leaves with at least three inches of stem length and one that has at least one healthy leaf.
- Use sterilized shears to make a 45° cut at least two inches below the leaf node.
- Leave each cutting on a dry surface for a few minutes to allow the ends to callus over.
- Once your cuttings are ready, place them in a clear glass of water. The end of the stem should be below the water’s surface without touching the bottom of the glass. Then, place the glass in a warm, bright area and watch for root growth.
- Once a cutting grows roots measuring at least two inches, you can safely plant the cutting in a pot of soil.
While it appreciates a damp environment, the Philodendron ‘Moonlight’ is highly sensitive to overwatering. When the plant is consistently overwatered, it is at risk of developing root rot. Early symptoms of root rot include yellowing leaves, drooping leaves, and soil that’s constantly wet. Eventually, the plant’s roots will “rot” away, hence the name.
If you notice signs of root rot, stop watering your plant until its condition improves. You can try poking holes in the soil with a wooden dowel or chopstick to help circulate air back to the roots. In extreme cases, you may need to transplant the philodendron to a pot of fresh soil.
If your Philodendron ‘Moonlight’ shows browning leaves, it’s likely getting scorched from too much direct sunlight. The easiest solution is to move the plant to a different area. Alternatively, you can provide a form of shade.
Yellow leaves can be a sign that your Philodendron ‘Moonlight’ isn’t receiving adequate sunlight. It could also be an early symptom of overwatering. First, review your watering schedule and light exposure to determine what’s causing the change. Then, adjust your plant’s situation accordingly until it shows improvement.
The Philodendron ‘Moonlight’ plant isn’t likely to develop pest infestations due to their thick, waxy leaves. However, they can still play host to pests like mealybugs, scale, and mites, especially if they are housed with other houseplants that become infested. If you notice unexplained lesions, coffee-like residue, or poor growth on your plant, then a sap-sucking pest may be to blame.
Dealing with pests is as easy as cleaning your plant daily until the infestation goes away. You can accomplish this by picking off any visible insects by hand, then wiping down the leaves with a cotton ball soaked in alcohol.
For an added level of protection, treat your philodendron with a solution of organic neem oil, which will repel any current residents and prevent future infestations from taking hold.
The Philodendron ‘Moonlight’ is toxic to cats, dogs and humans due to its calcium oxalate content. Calcium oxalate is an insoluble, salt-like crystal that can cause micro-abrasions in the mouth or skin. When enough of the plant has been ingested, the calcium oxalate crystals can trigger gastrointestinal distress. To keep your family safe, always supervise kids and pets around philodendron houseplants.
The Philodendron ‘Moonlight’ is a vibrant tropical plant that is easy to care for. Enjoy the bright, neon green colors of the Philodendron ‘Moonlight’!