The philodendron micans, also known as the velvet leaf philodendron (botanical name Philodendron hederaceum var. Hederaceum), is a beautiful yet low-maintenance plant to add to your collection!
The leaves of this beauty are heart-shaped, but instead of glossy foliage with solid shades of green or variegation, they have a velvety feel and a purplish-red or bronze color.
Philodendrons and the Aroid Plant Family
Philodendrons belong to the Araceae family. This plant family is known as aroids and is popular as a houseplant. Philodendrons, pothos, monsteras, aglaonemas, alocasias, arrowhead vines, ZZ plants, and peace lilies are all favorites. Aroids are native to tropical and subtropical regions, where they thrive in the lower light of the forest understory, which is why they make excellent indoor plants.
Is the Philodendron Micans Unique?
The philodendron micans is unique, but it isn’t rare like the pink princess. It looks similar to the heartleaf, but the leaves are velvety instead of smooth. As new growth unfurls, leaves start a chartreuse color with pink edges. Over time they deepen to an iridescent green and have a deep purple-red coloration on the underside.
This plant has become increasingly popular in the last few years as interest in houseplants has grown. The increased popularity has made it harder to find these plants locally, but plenty of online retailers sell them at reasonable prices.
Caring For Your Philodendron Micans
Many of the aroid plants are known for being low-maintenance, which is one of the reasons they are loved as houseplants. Some even say they thrive when neglected slightly, and it’s harder to kill one than keep it alive. The critical part of taking care of a philodendron micans is giving it the correct light.
Your philodendron requires plenty of bright to moderate indirect sunlight to maintain its beautiful burgundy coloration. At a minimum, it needs six to eight hours of natural sunlight or supplementation from a grow light. If it doesn’t get enough bright light, the plant will get leggy, and the leaves will turn green, losing their distinctive color.
Be careful, though. Too much direct sunlight is harmful and scorches the foliage, which you cannot fix. Plants can only tolerate a couple of hours of direct light daily.
Philodendrons prefer their growing media to be more on the dry side. Let the top few inches of the potting soil dry out, or wait until you see the leaves begin to droop, and then water your plant using the “soak and dry” method. Water the soil until excess water drains out of the holes in the bottom of the plant’s container.
Watering this way helps to prevent overwatering and root rot. It also flushes fertilizer salt buildup through the soil and out the drainage holes.
This philodendron prefers slightly cooler temperatures than some of the other types, favoring indoor temps that stay between 65-75°F. They handle a slight dip in nighttime temperatures as long as it isn’t too extreme. Damage to the leaves can occur when subjected to temperatures below 60°F, so keep plants away from drafty windows and exterior doors during the winter.
Aroid plants like humidity levels between 65-80%, similar to the tropical origin. Most homes have lower relative humidity, especially in the winter. Plants will grow in the lower humidity but thrive when it’s higher.
You can run a humidifier by the plant or set it in a pebble tray half full of water to increase the humidity.
Philodendron Micans are fast-growing plants and benefit from a half dose of liquid plant fertilizer monthly during the spring and summer. If the growing media is high in organic matter, you can drop this down to only fertilizing at the beginning of the active growing season in the spring. Never give your plant fertilizer in the fall or winter.
Insects and Pests
Houseplants generally have fewer problems with insects than outdoor plants, but it’s not uncommon to battle infestations of fungus grants, spider mites, scale, aphids, or mealybugs.
Check your plants often for signs of these common pests. If you find unwanted visitors, immediately treat all of your houseplants with neem oil or insecticidal soap. You should isolate plants with heavy populations during treatment.
Root Rot Disease
The primary disease afflicting Philodendron Micanss is root rot caused by overwatering and presents with mushy stems and wilted, discolored leaves.
Root rot isn’t treatable and can quickly kill the whole plant. If the problem is caught quickly, it may be possible to save the plant by cutting off diseased roots and repotting it using fresh potting soil.
Propagation Via Stem Cuttings
Philodendron plants are easy to propagate using stem cuttings, and the process costs very little besides needing potting soil and containers. To start, use sterilized, sharp scissors to remove a stem section with a few leaf nodes. Remove all but one of two leaves from the cutting and root it in water or potting soil.
Rooting Cuttings in Water
Place your philodendron micans stem cutting in a clean jar or vase filled with water, submerging the leaf nodes. Put the vessel in a bright spot that gets indirect light for a handful of hours daily. Add water as necessary to keep the nodes underwater, changing the water periodically to prevent bacterial growth that may rot the cutting.
Once rooted, plant the cutting in a container with potting soil or your preferred growing media.
Rooting Cuttings in Growing Media
Plant the stem cutting in a small container filled with moistened potting mix, ensuring all the leaf nodes are buried. Put the pot where the cutting gets plenty of bright indirect light. Keep the growing substrate slightly moist at all times, but be careful not to overwater it, which can cause the cutting to rot.
Pruning a Philodendron Micans
The only pruning your plant needs is to remove diseased leaves as soon as you see them. You can prune off dead leaves, but many people prefer to let the plant shed them naturally. You can also cut or pinch off the ends of the vines to promote fuller growth or control the plant’s overall size.
Unfortunately, all philodendron plants are considered toxic to pets by the ASPCA because the sap contains calcium oxalate crystals. Rest assured, though, ingestion is rarely fatal. If ingested, the leaves’ crystals irritate the lips, mouth, and throat and may trigger drooling, diarrhea, and vomiting. The sap may also cause skin irritation, so you should wear gloves when pruning or propagating plants.
Tips for Growing Philodendrons
- Brown, crispy leaf edges or tips occur when the humidity level is too low. You can carefully trim the dry parts off with clean, sharp scissors.
- Curling leaves indicate your plant doesn’t have enough moisture. If watering doesn’t fix the problem, check the roots for root rot caused by overwatering.
- Every couple of years in the spring, repot your plant into a 2-3” bigger container to prevent the roots from getting rootbound.
- Trim aerial roots that are too long your plant doesn’t climb.
- If you have small children or pets, put plants in a hanging basket or on high shelves to prevent accidental ingestion.
- Mushy stems are indicative of root rot. Immediately pull the plant from its container and inspect the roots. Cut off any mushy brown roots and repot the plant in fresh potting soil.
- Plants naturally lose mature leaves over time and shouldn’t be a cause for worry unless it loses a significant amount of foliage in a short time.
- Give your climbing plant a trellis or moss pole to attach itself to, allowing it to grow upwards.
- To complement the purplish hue on a micans plant, choose a pot in a brilliant metallic bronze or gold or opt for one that is navy blue, turquoise, golden yellow, or light grey.
- Grow a philodendron in the bedroom to help filter toxins such as benzene and formaldehyde from the air, promoting more restful sleep.