The huge, heart-shaped leaves are a truly exquisite feature of Philodendron Gloriosum. Their velvety feel and luscious deep green color contrast so perfectly with veins that are pink in juvenile plants and then become creamy-white and even more striking as the plant reaches maturity.
This is one of the only plants within the Philodendron genus to grow as a terrestrial plant. For that reason, it is a rather rare and unusual variety of houseplant.
One to add to your collection though, if you have space for it.
Position Bright indirect sunlight
Watering Water when soil is almost dry
Size 3 ft tall, 3ft long stems, 24 inch leaves
Climate 65°F and 85°F plus 40 to 50% humidity
Propagate Stem cuttings (or seeds)
Seasonality Winter dormant
Toxicity Poisonous to people, cats, and dogs
The native home of Philodendron Gloriosum is in the rainforests of South and Central American countries including Brazil, Columbia, Ecuador, Mexico, and Peru. This is where its rhizome (a thick horizontally growing rootstock) creeps beneath the forest floor to allow for sprawling foliage just above ground level.
Most varieties of Philodendron are either climbing plants with aerial roots or self-heading types where thick stems emerge from the center of the plant. Philodendron Gloriosum is unusual because it trails or runs along the ground.
These plants are not readily available to buy at local garden centers and are typically available only from specialist suppliers. That being said, they can be very costly, fetching three to even four sum figures when demand is especially high.
Philodendron Gloriosum Care
Not everyone has space to accommodate terrestrial plants in their home, but if you are lucky enough to have space, it’s a magnificent plant to add to your collection. It’s slow-growing and easy to care for once you have the know-how.
One important factor to bear in mind if you are planning on acquiring this plant, it is toxic both to humans and animals so it will need to be kept out of reach of little hands, mouths, paws, and jaws.
Since Philodendron Gloriosum is found creeping and crawling at ground level in the rainforests of Central and South America, as a houseplant it will grow best when positioned in a warm spot of at least 60°F or above, away from direct sunlight and a decent helping of humidity – think 40% or more.
Anything less than these conditions will seriously impair the growth of a Philodendron Gloriosum and is likely to result in leaves and stems dying back. This also happens during colder, winter months so think about using grow lights to keep temperatures between 65 to 85°F. If leaves and stems do dye off, you’ll need to wait for spring for new shoots to develop from the plant’s rhizome.
Strong direct sunlight is a big no for these plants as it can irreparably damage their beautiful leaves. If you do need to position it near a window because this is the warmest place in your home, then make sure you fit a shear screen between the window and plant to diffuse some of the light.
You also want to make sure that any new stems have every opportunity to grow and develop above the soil and do not allow this plant’s rhizome to lay beneath the soil. The growth of these plants and especially leaf stalks is exceptionally slow often taking a month or so to develop fully. They really do need all the help they can get from maximum indirect light exposure to grow successfully and to their full potential.
If you live in a dry climate or you notice that the tips of the leaves of your Philodendron Gloriosum are turning brown, then you will definitely need to notch up the humidity dial for these plants because they thrive in humidity levels of 40% and above. There are various ways to increase humidity.
Other than move to a different climate, you could invest in a humidifier, mist the leaves of your plant regularly, or position your plant next to other humidity-loving plants. You could also place stones or pebbles in the tray that collects water below the pot in which your plant sits.
Height & Spread
Philodendron Gloriosum is a painfully slow-growing plant with each new leaf shoot taking up to a month to fully develop. Your patience will be rewarded, however, as the leaves of indoor plants can grow as big as 24 inches in length upon stems of 3 feet in length.
In their natural habitat, of course, the rhizome will crawl and stems will tangle and intertwine across the forest floor at considerably longer lengths with leaves that can reach an impressive 36 inches in length.
Watering Philodendron Gloriosum
Philodendron Gloriosum can be susceptible to fungal diseases and root rot if overwatered. So to keep it in the best possible health and to encourage new growth you will need to water it thoroughly only when the top two inches of soil is dry.
This plant will need to be watered more regularly during spring and summer compared to in the winter when it will be dormant. In colder weather, water it much less often.
I always find that the best indicator of when to water your plant is to check how dry the soil is using your fingers. Insert two fingers into the soil around your plant – at least 3 inches deep – to check for moisture.
If the soil is damp you should refrain from watering and check again in a couple of days. If the soil is dry then it is time to water your plant.
When you do water a Philodendron use filtered water at room temperature. I like to remove the plastic or terracotta pot in which it is planted from the decorative pot and place it over a sink or bowl.
Give it a thorough watering until water runs through the drainage holes at the bottom of the pot. When all of the excess water has drained away you can place it back into its decorative pot or container.
Don’t allow water to collect at the bottom of the decorative pot as this will mean that soil remains wet or soggy for longer and this can lead to root rot.
A common mistake with Philodendron Gloriosum is to water them too often by following a regular watering schedule. If this sounds like you then it may be a good idea to invest in a soil moisture test kit. This instantly removes the guesswork from when to water your plants. It will never fail to come in handy because you can use it to test the moisture levels for all your plants both indoors and out.
Indicators of overwatering can include yellow or drooping leaves. Other signs can be black or mushy roots or brown or mushy stems just below the baseline of the soil.
The leaves of a Philodendron Gloriosum that has been under watered make also become droopy and will look limp.
Philodendrons don’t like soggy roots and so they need well-draining, aerated soil that does not hold lots of moisture. This is because they don’t like soggy roots.
They also need plenty of nutrients from organic matter to replicate the fertile forest floor of their natural rainforest environment.
If you are making your own potting mix for your Philodendron, you should incorporate one measure of perlite or grit with two measures of coco coir or peat moss. You can also add worm castings to increase the nutrient count. It is also possible to use Sphagnum peat moss that has been mixed with perlite. Both options will help to prevent root rot and encourage effective drainage.
Alternatively, you could use good quality orchid potting soil. I like to amend it with an organic mineral such as perlite or grit and coco coir, sphagnum moss or charcoal to help control moisture levels. This will help to create a healthy airflow and non-soggy environment for the roots and in return, your plant will thrive.
Since Philodendron Gloriosum does not need to be repotted very often because it is a slow grower there can be a tendency to forget about changing the soil. Keep soil fertile and nutrient-rich by changing it at least every other season.
It is also a good idea to aerate the soil yourself periodically to prevent it from becoming too compacted around the roots. If the soil is too tightly compacted, then water will not drain as effectively as it can from properly aerated soil. Buy yourself a specialist tool that is small enough to use for houseplants or, use the handle end of a wooded spoon to gently prod the soil. You will need to get deep enough into the soil to reach the bottom of the pot but go carefully to prevent any damage to roots.
It is fair to say that Philodendron Gloriosum is not grown as a houseplant because of its flowers. In fact, these plants are not known to flower anywhere other than their native homelands. The growing conditions are just not perfect enough.
In the tropics of South and Central America, they do produce a spadix or flowering spike as it is often referred to along with a bract. Yes, these are impressive but nearly as impressive as the huge foliage that these beauties produce both in the wild and as houseplants.
Regular once-monthly fertilizing during spring and summer will ensure your Philodendron Gloriosum retains that beautifully vibrant green and velvety texture of its leaves.
Choose a good quality houseplant fertilizer that you can dilute to half strength as this will prevent excessive build-up of salt and minimize the risk of root burn. My preference is to feed with a good quality organic fertilizer because it is gentler on plants and usually contains fewer salts than synthetic varieties.
I go for Espoma Organic Indoor Plant Food. These guys know how to get the balance of organic ingredients right and unlike other organics, this one doesn’t smell.
Even with these precautions in place, you should be careful not to over-fertilize your Philodendron. You can minimize any potential damage by making sure you flush out any residual mineral build-up caused by fertilizers by watering between feeds. Do this by using a constant flow of filtered, room temperature water until it seeps through drainage holes at the bottom of the pot. Let the excess water drain off completely before returning the plant to its decorative pot.
Philodendrons won’t need to be fertilized during their winter dormant period because they take on very little nutrients during this time and growth is minimal.
As a way of providing organic nutrients or if you are looking for an alternative to conventional store-bought fertilizers, you could instead add a small amount of compost or worm castings to the potting soil. Do this when you are repotting or periodically changing the soil of your Philodendron.
You will need to add extra minerals such as perlite or grit when you do this though as the drainage of the soil may be compromised slightly by this new addition.
How to Prune Philodendron Gloriosum
Pruning your Philodendron Gloriosum is the perfect way of training the rhizome and stems of your plant to make it fit your space. This particular variety of Philodendron is a slow grower anyway, so it shouldn’t get too unruly, but it will still need pruning from time to time to keep it in check and looking it’s absolute tropical best.
To keep your Philodendron looking in tip-top condition you’ll want to cut back any leggy stem growth, old-growth, or yellowing or browning of leaves.
I find that the best time to spot unwanted or spent growth is either in spring when Philodendrons are beginning to put out new growth and it’s easier to spot any shabby and tired-looking leaves or in fall when older leaves and stems begin to fade.
Make sure you cut back the longest stems with large, heavy leaves. These are often the oldest and leggy-looking and can weigh down other stems and hinder new growth.
Cut as near to the rhizome as possible or if stems are buried below soil level, cut as near to the soil as possible.
Whenever you do prune, always use clean and sterile pruning tools to begin with and re-sanitize after every snip. This may seem excessive, but it just stops and potential transfer of pests or disease from one part of the plant to another.
Whenever you have finished pruning, give your Philodendron a drink of water.
Philodendron Gloriosum is a slow grower and will not need repotting very often unless it becomes root-bound. Choose a slightly larger decorative pot or container, 2-3 inches larger is fine. Make sure that it is a pot you really love as chances are, you’ll be using it for a while.
The perfect time to re-pot is during spring or summer when your plant is in its prime and growing well. Doing it now will also give your plant time to get acclimated to its new home before its winter dormant period.
The new pot or container you choose needs to have good-sized drainage holes. Fill it one-third full with fresh well-draining soil that you have mixed with extra minerals. This will help to improve drainage.
Ease your Philodendron from the old pot by loosening the soil with your fingers. Once out of the pot, it’s a good idea to thoroughly inspect the roots of your plant for any signs of disease. To do this, brush off all excess soil from around the roots.
Once roots are exposed, have a good inspection checking for any signs of wet and slimy, dark brown or black areas on the roots as this is a clear indicator of root rot.
You will need to gently trim away all traces of root rot using a sharp sterile knife or scissors. I always re-sanitize the cutting tools after each snip to minimize the risk of spreading the disease to healthy parts of the roots.
Once you are sure that all diseased roots are removed, it’s time to place your Philodendron in the new pot and backfill with the rest of the new soil and mineral mix.
How To Propagate Philodendron Gloriosum
Propagating by stem cutting is an easy enough process with Philodendron Gloriosum providing you propagate in the summer months when it is generally warmer, and the plant is actively growing anyway. You will also need to take the cutting from the correct place on the stem for best results. Here’s how.
You’ll want to use the healthiest-looking stem you can find. One that is 5-6 inches in length and has at least 3 leaves attached. Now work your way down the stem until you get to the next attached leaf and cut directly above this. This will need to be a healthy leaf too. Use a sterile and sharp knife or pair of scissors to make the cut.
I like to propagate stem cuttings in water. It’s just a personal preference because I’m nosy and curious and I love to watch the progress of the roots developing. You can choose to propagate in either water or soil.
To propagate in water place the cutting in a propagation station or jar of water with the attached leaves above the level of the water. Change the water every few days just to keep it fresh and free from bacteria.
Alternatively, place the stem cutting in well-draining potting soil. Keep the soil moist but not soggy.
Keep it in a warm, bright spot, and be patient. Roots should form within a few weeks. When the roots get to approximately 1 inch long you can plant the water propagated stem cutting in soil and treat it as you would a juvenile plant. In either case, water when the top 2 inches of soil is dry.
Common Problems With Philodendron Gloriosum
The main problem with any Philodendron is usually related to overwatering. That being said, there are a few things you should look out for when caring for your plant.
Yellowing of the outer edges of leaves
If the outer edges of your Philodendron become yellow then it may have been overwatered. Overwatering occurs either if your plant has received too much water, if the soil is not well-draining enough or if water is not draining through the drainage holes of the pot sufficiently, thus allowing the plant to sit in wet soil.
My advice to anyone with an over-watered plant is to stop watering it until the soil is dry so that the roots have a chance to dry out and recover.
The best way to dry out roots is to remove the plant from the pot to expose the roots to the air. Make sure you brush away all of the excess soil from around the roots so they don’t have a chance to absorb any moisture that remains in the soil.
When they are drying out have a good look at the roots to check for any sign of root rot.
Trim off any brown or black and soft and mushy roots as these are most certainly diseased. Use a sharp sterile knife or scissors to make the cuts and re-sanitize the knife or scissors after each cut to avoid spreading the disease to healthy parts of the roots.
Give the cut roots time to dry before repotting with fresh well-draining potting soil that contains plenty of grit or perlite and make sure you have sanitized the pot or container too. Check the drainage holes of the pot or container and replace them with a pot that has larger holes if they are not a good size.
Resume a much less frequent watering schedule from now on.
Brown leaf tips
Brown leaf tips that are crisp and brittle usually indicate that either your Philodendron is not receiving enough water or, may have been exposed to too much direct sunlight. To remedy this, check the moisture level in the soil. If it feels dry two to three inches below the surface, then you should give your plant a thorough soak.
If dry soil is not the answer then consider where your plant is positioned. Is it getting too much sun or even direct sunlight at any time during the day? Even a small amount of direct sunlight will damage the beautiful velvet leaves of Philodendron Gloriosum. Make sure it is positioned in a bright room and place a shear screen between window and plant if there is a chance that any intense rays could reach it.
Another sign of underwatering with Philodendron is drooping leaves. As before, check the moisture levels in the soil and if the soil is dry two to three inches below the surface, then it’s time to give your plant a good soak.
Leggy stems, slow growth or smaller than average leaves
Just as Philodendron won’t tolerate direct sunlight, neither do they do well with too much low light levels. A result of lack of light can lead to leggy stems and small leaves.
If you notice spindly growth or lack of growth then consider moving your plant to a brighter space. Alternatively, invest in grow lights to boost the amount of light your Philodendron receives.
This is especially good if you have small windows or simply don’t have the space to move your plant to a brighter spot. Grow lights can be used year-round and will only need to be switched on for 4-6 hours per day depending on how much light your plant is already receiving.