In the 1970s, a revival of Victorian-age botanical exploration was ignited. Many new specimens and naturally occurring cultivars were identified, such as the brilliant Philodendron Pastazanum. Particularly in regions around South American rainforests.
In the Ecuadorian province of Pastaza, amid a carpet of tropical, humidity-loving foliage, this new Philodendron specimen was revealed. Its striking, heart-shaped leaves immediately endeared it to all who saw it and is now lovingly referred to as the ‘Pasta Plant’ or “My Pasta”.
Position Bright, indirect light
Watering Water when top 1-2 inches of soil is dry
Size Maximum 5 ft in height, 6 ft in width when mature
Climate 45-95°F, Humidity 65-75%
Propagate Stem cuttings or rhizome division
Seasonality Winter dormant
Toxicity Highly Toxic to Pets and Humans
The ‘Pasta Plant’ Philodendron is a non-climber which means the plant’s energy is re-focused to form a vigorously growing, dense plant. Large leaves grow on thick stalks and present an attractive pattern of veining. With each deep seam radiating out from a central point, stretching out across the length of the leaf with great fanfare.
Perennial evergreens like this also have the potential to reach vast sizes. But, this can be managed by rhizome division and repotting (as we’ll discuss further) which is a fantastic option as it affords you more of these beauties to spread around your home. Although, there is nothing wrong with simply letting them grow larger. They make for quite the architectural statement piece in a bright corner of a living or dining room with indirect light.
Not to be outdone by its form, the function of such a large-leafed plant such as the Pasta Plant is also a great feature. Its dark, glossy leaves may lend an air of exotic mystique but their vast size also allows them to absorb some of the more undesirable elements from the air in our homes while bouncing light around as it reflects off the sheen of each one.
Philodendron Pastazanum Care
The Philodendron Pastazanum is well supported by a genus family of more than 480 different types. With new hybrids and cultivars being developed all the time, this particular variety is one of the easiest houseplants to grow. Here’s all you need to know to have an Instagram-worthy specimen of your own.
This unique Philodendron requires fairly bright, indirect light. Prolonged, direct light may result in leaf burn. East-facing windows will generally provide the kind of light exposure throughout the day that these plants enjoy. Providing just the right environment for strong stems, roots, and of course, those luscious, green leaves.
Achieving the right indoor temperature isn’t as concerning as it is for most tropical plants because these have cleverly adapted to withstand a fairly broad temperature range. Anywhere between 45°F to 95°F (7°C – 35°C) during the day and 60°F to 70°F (16°C – 21°C) at night.
The final step is adequate humidity. Which, if left alone, may be hard to achieve in most homes. However, there are a couple of simple things you can do to maintain the levels necessary for a healthy plant.
- Grouping houseplants together can create a microclimate that helps to maintain a higher level of humidity for all of them. If your plants will tolerate misting (some will not), doing so especially in the dryness of winter, can aid with this as well.
- A tray of pebbles and water under the pot. Hot, dry air will cause the water to evaporate, creating a vapor barrier around the plant. The pebbles ensure that the pot is not constantly sitting in water, preventing root rot.
Height & Spread
The Pasta Plant Philodendron is considered a “creeper” meaning that its rhizome (or root base) prefers being exposed to air and therefore grows on top of the soil. New leaf shoots emerge vertically from this rhizome. But, due to their eventual size, new leaves do take some time (about a month) to grow to full form.
With proper care, a well-potted, mature plant can grow to a height of 3 to 5 feet yet even wider in length. Sometimes, 4-6 feet! With each leaf potentially growing to 2 feet in length.
Typically, Philodendrons like to be watered based on moisture absorption and ambient temperature. Because these plants enjoy a humid environment, it’s common for leaves to be a little moist to the touch. However, they don’t like their “feet” to stay wet.
To protect from over-watering and root rot, be sure that the top 1-2 inches of soil is dry before watering again. This will also ensure that the roots are ready to receive moisture. As a rule, I like to let my plants tell me when they need watering rather than watering on one particular day. This method works because light exposure and environmental temps naturally change with the seasons. Thus, moisture absorption and evaporation will change too. A little extra effort, time-wise, but well worth it due to the damage over-watering can cause. Such as:
- Root rot
- New leaves growing in brown and malformed
- Yellowing of mature leaves
- Stunted growth
Philodendrons, in general, don’t like soggy roots. So, good Pasta Plant care will include the use of quality potting soil. One that allows for free drainage while holding onto moisture just long enough for your plant to absorb it. Soil rich in perlite or vermiculite can help to create the kind of drainage and healthy airflow that keeps roots happy and plants thriving. If you’re looking for some more sustainable options, bark, charcoal, and coco coir work just as well.
Another trick for supporting adequate drainage is to make sure the soil is not compacted around your plant’s roots. If it’s packed in too tightly, it will prevent water from draining properly.
In full maturity (10 years +), lovely flowers emerge from this elegant Philodendron that is similar in appearance to the familiar Peace Lily. Yet, with a thicker, more robust design on a scarlet base which can grow to more than 6 inches in length.
In the wild, a creamy white cup (a spathe) encases a long, white “spadix” that emerges from the center. This spadix can heat up to 114 degrees Fahrenheit and become highly fragrant, especially at night, in order to attract pollinators.
These large blooms usually appear at the height of the plant’s active growing season and remain open for only 48 hours, repeating perhaps two or three more times before the end of the growing season.
How to Fertilize Philodendron Pastazanum
Fertilizing your Philodendron properly will result in healthy foliage production and a strong rhizome base so a well-balanced 10-10-10 NPK fertilizer such as Lilly Miller All Purpose Planting And Growing fertilizer will support those desired results when applied monthly during warmer months.
It’s also a slow-release fertilizer so there is less likelihood of root burn, which these plants can be prone to.
I used this after I noticed new, unfurling leaves that seemed faded in color. This is a sure sign of a calcium and magnesium deficiency in houseplants and since both are included in this organic, houseplant feed, I knew the problem would be fixed in no time. And guess what? It was.
Having more streamlined, structural growth habits, a healthy Pastazanum needs very little pruning. Which is one of the things that make it such an easy houseplant to grow. The only time it may need it is to remove yellowing leaves or if the plant has sustained substantial damage. Here are some helpful tips to accomplish this.
When removing yellowing leaves:
- Use a sharp, sterilized cutting tool and separate the yellowing leaf from the bottom of its stalk, where it meets the base of the plant.
When removing large, damaged parts of the plant:
- Using a sharp, sterilized tool, separate the damaged portion from the base support of the leaf petioles. The green trunk will protect the more delicate rhizome beneath as the plant recovers and begins to rejuvenate itself. In time and with proper care, new shoots will begin to appear.
The growth rate of these heart-shaped beauties is fairly average. Not too fast and not too slow, making the need for repotting rather infrequent. However, if you start to see roots growing out the bottom of the pot, it’s a good time to repot it.
Choose a new pot or container no bigger than 1-2 inches larger than the original. Otherwise, water will drain out through the excess soil without ever reaching the rhizomes. If your plant has become root bound, simply make a few vertical cuts in the root ball before replanting. This will encourage new root formation that will spread into the new pot.
Remember to use soil rich in material that will promote ample drainage and most importantly, always wear gloves when transplanting a philodendron. Skin exposure to the plant’s sap can cause skin irritation and rashing.
How to Propagate Philodendron Pastazanum
There are two different ways to increase your pastazanum collection that have proven to be the easiest.
- Stem Cuttings – If you’ve ever rooted a pothos cutting, rooting Pastazanum cuttings is very similar. Start with a healthy stem that has several leaves and at least two nodes. Remove any lower leaves then simply place the stem with nodes in a rooting medium. It can be either a jar of water or a propagation station or any material that retains moisture well, like a type of moss.
- Divide and Multiply – In maturity, the plant’s primary rhizome will begin to produce offshoots. Identical copies of itself that can be separated from that primary rhizome once the offshoots have grown large enough to survive separation.
Whichever way you choose, it is very important to always use a clean, sterile cutting tool when removing parts of your plant. This will ensure that no harmful bacteria gets transferred from your cutting tool to your plant, by accident.
Common problems with Philodendron Pastazanum
With proper care, your Pasta Plant will thrive and provide you with years of enjoyment. But, there are a few things you need to be cautious of in order to avoid any complications.
Brown Leaf Tips – leaf discoloration can develop from inconsistent watering that disrupts the processes of photosynthesis and hydration.
Spider Mites – tiny dots on the underside of leaves. While yellowing leaves can indicate a watering issue, these can also be an indicator of an infestation. They’re attracted to overly dry soil where they’ll lay their eggs. So, you do want to let the soil dry out a bit in between waterings but if left too long these mites may appear.
Mealy Bugs – tiny, white insects that prefer wet and heavily fertilized soil. Because these pests can lay up to 600 eggs in one go, make sure your Philodendron Pastazanum is consistently watered but with enough time in between to allow for drying out. As well as ensuring that it’s not being overfed.
Toxic to Pets – While Philodendron Pastazanum is enchanting, they are considered poisonous. If any of this plant is ingested, calcium oxalate crystals are released that can get logged in the mouth and GI tract causing inflammation and an inability to breath or swallow. This reaction can be fatal if not treated right away, so it’s best to keep these plants out of your pet’s reach.
Toxic to Humans – The above warning is not limited to pets. The same reaction can occur if this plant is ingested by humans, as well. Caution is advised when growing any alocasia in a household with small children. If ingestion occurs, seek medical attention immediately.