Care Guides Tropical Plants

How To Care For Philodendron Plowmanii (Simple Tips)

January 4, 2023
Two large, dark green leaves with a ridged, leathery texture

I’m so excited to talk about the impressive Philodendron plowmanii! This is a majestically large philodendron that is named after the botanist Timothy Plowman. Native to Ecuador and Peru, a mature Philodendron plowmanii can reach a size exceeding eight feet. This post highlights all of the important details of Philodendron plowmanii care.

An exciting member of the Araceae family, the Philodendron plowmanii has large, platter sized leaves reaching fifteen inches in length! The leaves have an unusual, almost dizzying pleated texture that is reminiscent of old leather. Enjoy the deep green colors splashed with more creamy yellows and lighter greens for an understated gradient.

The Philodendron plowmanii is a rare species and mostly found being sold in online stores. Be sure to do your research to buy a quality specimen and read on to learn all about Philodendron plowmanii care.

Quick Facts

A plant potted in a white container displayed outdoors
  • Common Name: Philodendron plowmanii
  • Scientific Name: Philodendron plowmanii
  • Mature Size: up to 8 feet tall/wide
  • Sunlight: bright, indirect light to partial shade
  • Water: when top 1-2 inches of soil are dry
  • Soil: well-draining, chunky soil
  • Temperature: a consistent 60°F-88°F
  • Propagation: stem cuttings
  • Hardiness Zone: 9b-11
  • Toxicity: toxic to humans and pets

Growth Pattern and Habits

A Philodendron plowmanii’s main attraction is its wide reaching, creased leaves. Another impressive feature is how large this plant can grow. Normally considered a creeping plant, in nature climbing Philodendron plowmanii have been observed growing up trees, extending eight feet into the rainforest canopy. As a houseplant, however, your Philodendron plowmanii can be pruned and kept to a manageable size!

Expert Tip – The Philodendron plowmanii is a slow growing plant and does best when allowed to grow low versus trained to climb on a moss pole due to weak stems.

A juvenile Philodendron plowmanii’s leaves are different in comparison to its mature counterpart. Young plants will have leaves with a less pronounced heart shape. The leaves also tend to boast some silver streaks that fade with age. Mature Philodendron plowmanii do not have any silver markings, which is one way you can distinguish this plant from a Philodendron mamei.

Despite its slow growth rate, Philodendron plowmanii leaves can reach up to fifteen inches long. Dust easily clings to these large surfaces so clean the leaves weekly. Spray with water and wipe with a soft cloth.

It is very rare to see a Philodendron plowmanii flower, especially when kept indoors. If it does bloom, the flowers are small and covered by a yellow spathe. The leaves are the real show stoppers, so don’t be worried if your plant doesn’t produce any blooms!

Philodendron plowmanii vs. mamei

The Philodendron plowmanii is often mistaken for a very similar philodendron species called Philodendron mamei. Here are the main differences so you can easily distinguish each plant!


A petiole is the stalk that attaches the leaf to the main stem. A Philodendron plowmanii’s petioles have ruffled, rippled edges whereas a P. mamei’s are smooth. This difference is more noticeable on mature plants.

A detailed picture of a plant's ruffled stems topped with two broad leaves
If you look closely, you can see the ruffled edges that are unique to a Philodendron plowmanii.


The leaves of both plants are very similar but with a careful eye, you can easily see the variations between the two species. A Philodendron plowmanii has much larger leaves than a P. mamei. The leaves are also chubbier with a tip that is less pointed.

If you examine the veins, a Philodendron plowmanii leaf’s veins are spaced more widely apart than those seen on a Philodendron mamei.

Lastly, the coloring is different. A mature Philodendron plowmanii does not have any silver variegation whereas a Philodendron mamei does (and it’s very obvious to notice!).

A Philodendron mamei with silver variegated streaks
Here is a picture of a Philodendron mamei leaf. Note the silver variegations that are not seen on a P. plowmanii.
A large philodendron plowmanii leaf
This Philodendron plowmanii leaf lacks silver variegation. You can also note that its main veins are more widely spread.


Both species are crawling philodendrons however reach very different mature sizes! A Philodendron mamei will usually only reach three to four feet tall whereas a Philodendron plowmanii can top eight feet!

Check out our post outlining Philodendron mamei care here!


Philodendron plowmanii enjoy bright filtered light! They can even tolerate shadier, lower light environments. It is important to avoid any direct sunlight because the leaves will likely burn. This is especially the case with younger, more tender leaves.

Indoors, a Philodendron plowmanii’s light requirements will be met if positioned in or near an east or west facing window. If it is placed in front of a south facing window, be sure the window has a sheer curtain to diffuse the light.

Unlike many other plants, the Philodendron plowmanii tolerates shade, or lower light, quite well. This would be a good choice for a room that faces north and doesn’t receive a lot of sunlight throughout the day.


Evolved to thrive in steamy rainforests, the Philodendron plowmanii likes its soil to be moist a majority of the time. Water your Philodendron plowmanii when the top one to two inches of soil are dry to the touch. Thoroughly drench the soil and allow the excess water to drain out the bottom drainage hole (a drainage hole is a must!).

Expert Tip – While this plant is not drought tolerant, it does not like to sit in overly saturated soil. This can lead to yellowed leaves, root rot and ultimately damage to the entire plant.

You may notice that you have to water your Philodendron plowmanii houseplant more frequently in the summer when the days are longer and provide more sun exposure. Those who live in drier climates will likely water their plant more often than those in humid areas.


A Philodendron plowmanii needs to be planted in a soil mixture that retains water but is well-draining. Ideally, the soil should be loose and chunky. I like to make my own soil for my philodendrons. Here is what you need:

  • 1 part all purpose potting soil
  • 1 part sphagnum or peat moss
  • 1 part perlite or orchid bark

I have found this combination of substrates keeps philodendrons at the optimal level of moistness without drowning the roots.

Expert Tip – If you drink coffee, save the used grounds a couple of times a year to mix in with the top layer of soil to create a slightly acidic environment. Be mindful to add no more than a cup of coffee grounds.

Alternatively, philodendrons, including the Philodendron plowmanii, are known to do well when grown solely in sphagnum moss!

Temperature and Humidity

Because of its tropical origins, the Philodendron plowmanii does best in temperatures between 60°F-88°F. If kept potted outside, this plant should be brought indoors when the temperatures dip below this range because it does not tolerate frost.

A detailed picture of a philodendron plowmanii's leaves

Aim to keep a Philodendron plowmanii in an environment with 40%-60% humidity. Indoors, this plant should be kept away from vents and fans. To increase a Philodendron plowmanii’s humidity levels, try grouping humid-loving plants closely together or add a pebble tray underneath the pot!


A Philodendron plowmanii doesn’t need regular fertilization, especially if planted in the correct kind of soil. Using a slow release, balanced formula, fertilize your Philodendron plowmanii once at the beginning of spring and once at the end of summer.

Be sure to follow directions provided by the manufacturer. Do not add more than recommended as this will likely cause the plant damage.


Philodendron plowmanii propagation is carried out using stem cuttings. I suggest allowing the stem cuttings to root in water, however you may place directly into soil if you so choose. I will outline Philodendron plowmanii propagation both in water and in soil!

Stem Cuttings in Water

  1. Choose a stem with at least one leaf. Use a sterile knife to remove all chosen cuttings from the mature plant. When cutting, make the cut at a 45° angle.
  1. Allow the ends of the cuttings to dry out overnight before placing in water.
  1. Fill a container with water just high enough to cover the bottom inch of the stem. Refill when the water level becomes too low or you notice discoloration. This usually needs to be done every couple of days or so.
  1. Within two to three weeks, roots will begin to sprout from the cutting’s end!
  1. Transplant each cutting into soil when the roots are longer than two inches. Keep the soil moist for the first two weeks, then transition to a more conservative watering schedule as discussed above.
A philodendron plowmanii houseplant with dew on the leaves

Stem Cuttings in Soil

  1. Choose a stem with at least one leaf. Use a sterile knife to remove all chosen cuttings from the mature plant. When cutting, make the cut at a 45° angle.
  1. Allow the ends of the cuttings to dry out overnight before placing in water.
  1. Settle the cuttings into small pots with soil or sphagnum moss, burying the bottom two inches.
  1. Wrap plastic around the top of the pot and base of the cutting to create a mini makeshift greenhouse. Poke three to four holes in the plastic to allow for air circulation.
  1. Keep soil moist. Within two to three weeks, roots will begin to sprout.
  1. At this time, gently pull upwards on each cutting, testing for resistance which indicates root development.
  1. Transplant cuttings into larger pots to allow for growth and immediately provide it with mature Philodendron plowmanii care.

Common Issues

While philodendrons, including the Philodendron plowmanii, are considered some of the easiest houseplants to care for, there are still some issues that commonly arise and I want to prepare you for all of them!


The two most common pests you will find munching on a Philodendron plowmanii are mealybugs and aphids. Mealybugs are small, soft scale insects that love warm, moist environments, which is exactly why they are drawn to tropical plants. These insects feed on a plant’s sap and can cause large amounts of damage. Aphids are another common insect.

Mealybugs group together and look similar to small clumps of cotton, making an infestation easy to identify. Aphids are small insects that come in a variety of colors from green to dark brown. Symptoms of an aphid issue include wilting yellow leaves and sticky sap leaking from plant tissue.

Locally treat the issue by removing the insects with an alcohol soaked cotton ball. Spray the plant with neem oil every other day to eradicate the current issue and prevent future insects from taking over.

Yellowing Leaves

Like with most plants and other philodendrons, yellowing Philodendron plowmanii leaves almost always indicates overwatering. Luckily this is an early symptom and can be fixed easily after examining your watering habits.

Dark green healthy leaves on a philodendron plowmanii plant

Yellowing is also considered an early sign that a Philodendron plowmanii is receiving too much direct light. You will likely note that the plant’s deep greens are fading and turning to a pale yellow. If you suspect too much light is the problem, try repositioning your plant farther away from the light source or relocating it to another room altogether.

Magnesium deficiency can also cause leaves to turn yellow and can be fixed by adding magnesium supplements to the soil. This is not all that common so pursue other reasons before jumping to a specific nutritional deficiency.

Dry, Brown, Curling Leaves

An underwatered Philodendron plowmanii will develop brittle curling leaves edged in brown, especially if it is receiving too much light. This can also be in combination with not enough humidity. Play around by adjusting the Philodendron plowmanii’s environment one factor at a time and monitor for improvement.

Brown Splotches

A Philodendron plowmanii with scattered brown splotches can be caused by a handful of issues. The plant could be overwatered, too cold, have a pest infestation or a fungal disease. Brown splotches can also indicate root rot which occurs as a result of chronic overwatering.


Because all parts of the Philodendron plowmanii contain calcium oxalate crystals, this plant is considered toxic to humans and pets. While likely not fatal if ingested, these crystals can cause mouth, esophageal and stomach irritation. Display your Philodendron plowmanii in a place away from children and pets!


Philodendron plowmanii care is easy. This plant is not picky and doesn’t require a lot of hands-on care. A Philodendron plowmanii will impress you with its large, moody foliage display. If you see this plant for sale, be sure to confirm that it is indeed a Philodendron plowmanii and consider making the purchase!