Growing Philodendron ‘Burle Marx’ – Indoor Plant Care

Out of all the Philodendron species, the Philodendron ‘Burle Marx’ is one of the easiest to grow and take care of. With only minimal effort, it will be happy. In this care and grow guide you will find out all its secrets.

The Philodendron ‘Burle Marx’ grows best in medium to bright indirect sunlight. It needs well-draining soil and likes to be watered when the top 2 inches of the soil are dry. Keep the plant in temperatures between 64 and 79ºF (18 and 26ºC) and fertilize every other month (in summer and spring).

The ‘Burle Marx’ is native to the tropical jungles of Brazil where it grows in big clumps. With its elongated heart-shaped emerald green leaves full of texture and one central vine and lots of aerial roots.

It was named after Roberto Burle Marx, who was the first (Brazilian) architect that used native plants in the modern landscape.

This Philodendron is a relatively small plant that will grow up to 24 inches (60cm) tall which makes it perfect for anywhere inside your house, apartment, or office with medium light conditions.

Images by Edi from TropicalplantsFL.

Summary:

  • Light: Indirect sunlight
  • Water: Only water when the top 2 inches of the soil are dry
  • Soil: Well-draining potting soil
  • Fertilizer: Once every 1-2 month (only in spring and summer)
  • Size: Up to 24″ (60 cm) tall
  • Size: Leaves grow up to 10″ (25 cm) long
  • Temperature: Between 64 and 79ºF (18 and 26ºC)
  • Humidity: At least 50%
  • Cold hardy: Not cold hardy
  • Propagation: By stem cuttings, air layering, or seeds
  • Toxicity: Can be toxic to humans and animals

General Care for Philodendron ‘Burle Marx’

The strong resilience of the ‘Burle Marx’ makes it easy to care for and great for someone who doesn’t have a lot of experience with plants.

Light

The Philodendron ‘Burle Marx’ does best in medium to bright indirect sunlight. A couple of hours of direct sunlight in the morning won’t hurt the plant. However, you want to keep it away from the hot afternoon sun and never give it too much direct sunlight because this will burn the leaves.

When keeping the ‘Burle Marx’ outdoors, a patio or a shaded spot in your garden would be the perfect place to plant or place it.

The great thing about the light requirements for this plant is that it can also tolerate low light conditions. This makes this plant also perfect for apartments and low light rooms.

To boost the growth rate when growing this Philodendron indoors, you can use grow lights for indoor plants. When using artificial light for your plants, monitor them carefully and make sure they don’t get too much light because this will hurt the plant. A good artificial light to start with is the Metaflex TwiLight, you can get one from Etsy (click here).

Water

The ‘Burle Marx’ can be quite thirsty from time to time. How much this plant needs to drink depends on what time of the year it is and what the outer conditions of the plant are. Below are two scenarios explained.

During autumn and winter, when the temperature goes down and there is less sun, it needs less water. Watering once a week during these months is perfect (or when the top 2 inches of the soil are dry).

During the summer and spring, when there are higher temperatures and more sunlight, the ‘Burle Marx’ is thirstier and needs to be watered 3-4 times a week. Water thoroughly and water again when the top 2 inches of the soil are dry.

Soil

Use a soil mix that is well-draining and will provide a lot of aeration. The roots of this Philodendron need a lot of oxygen to maintain and be healthy. If the soil mix that you’re using is too heavy, there is a big possibility that the roots will start to rot. This can lead to a lot of stress on the plant, and if not treated on time, even kill the plant.

A good well-draining soil mix that you can use could be 2 parts coco coir, 2 parts orchid bark, 1.5 parts perlite, 1.5 parts charcoal, 1 part worm castings, and 0.5 part sphagnum moss.

If you don’t want to buy all the ingredients separately, you can also buy a premade aroid soil mix. Click here to purchase the perfect aroid soil mix.

Repotting

The ‘Burle Marx’, unlike other Philodendrons, doesn’t like to be root-bounded. The roots need a lot of space so that they can take up as much oxygen as possible. If the roots get bound, the plant will actually experience stress which can lead to brown leaves and slow growth.

When the roots of the plant start poking up from the soil and out of the drainage holes, it’s time for repotting. Generally, repotting needs to be done every 2-3 years, depending on the growth of the plant. When repotting the ‘Burle Marx’, choose a pot that is 1 inch bigger than the previous pot.

Also, as the plant gets bigger, it’s going to need support to stay straight. Because of all the aerial roots and the relatively big leaves, the plant will hang if you don’t support it with a (sphagnum moss) pole.

Fertilizer

The Philodendron ‘Burle Marx’ doesn’t need a lot of fertilizer to maintain or grow healthy. Once every one or two months is more than enough. Be cautious not to use fertilizer in the winter period as the plant needs fewer nutrients during these months.

Using too much fertilizer or using fertilizer in the winter months will result in an overload of nutrients in the soil. This will burn the leaves and in worst cases can even kill the plant.

Whenever you use a fertilizer, use a diluted liquid fertilizer and put it in the soil after you have watered the plant. Always read and follow the instructions on the fertilizer carefully.

You can also use worm castings, which are a great organic fertilizer for your ‘Burle Marx’. Worm castings are nutrient-rich and contain enzymes that the plant needs to use nutrients (from the soil and fertilizers) to grow maintain and grow bigger.

Humidity

Even though the Philodendron ‘Burle Marx’ naturally grows in a tropical jungle where the humidity is always between 80-90%, this plant can easily be grown in normal humidity levels (30-50%).

However, the ‘Burle Marx’ will grow better in higher humidities (around 80%). Keeping the plant in a greenhouse or misting it from time to time can be beneficial for the plant, but this is not necessary. You can also use a humidifier or a pebble tray.

Temperature

This tropical plant likes temperatures between 64 and 79ºF (18 and 26ºC). If you live in a warmer climate, you could grow this plant outdoors in your garden or on a patio.

However, if you live in a place where it constantly gets colder than 64ºF (18ºC), you should take the ‘Burle Marx’ indoors.

This plant can tolerate temperatures below 64ºF (18ºC) but the growth of the plant will be stunned during these lower temperatures. If you still want to grow the ‘Burle Marx’ outdoors during the winter months, carefully keep a close eye on your plant. If the leaves of the plant turn brown, make sure you take the plant indoors.

Also, the higher the temperature around the plant, the more water it will need. Whenever the temperatures are higher, you want to regularly check the soil to make sure the plant has enough water.

Common pests

Philodendrons are generally pest-free plants, which is great! The same applies to the ‘Burle Marx’ as the plant is not prone to any particular pest. However, aphids, mealybugs, scales, and spider mites can still infest the plant.

Firstly, to prevent any pest, you want to make sure that the plant is healthy and in good condition. If the plant is stressed out and/or not being cared for in the right way, pests will be more likely to attack the plant.

To get rid of pests, you can use a pesticide. In my shop, I have listed a great organic pesticide. It’s made with neem oil and other oils that will prevent and remove pests. You can also use a chemical pesticide.

Also, sufficient light is essential for healthy plants. Dust on the leaves can block sunlight and slow down the process of photosynthesis. This is why you want to carefully clean the leaves once every 2 weeks with a cloth and lukewarm water to remove any dust and make the plant happy.

Pruning

Pruning the philodendron ‘Burle Marx’ is not necessary, however, pruning back the plant will make it grow more compact and bushier. If the plant is taking up too much space or the plant looks long and leggy, feel free to prune the plant.

Use pruning shears and cut back the plant where it grows leggy and tall. When cutting back these parts of the plant, always cut just above a leaf node, which is the point on a stem where a new stem or leaf grows.

Pruning big parts of the ‘Burle Marx’ can best be done in spring or fall. On the other hand, you can perform light trimming throughout the whole year and cut back yellow or brown leaves without a problem.

If you like this care guide, check out the Alocasia reversa

How to Propagate Philodendron ‘Burle Marx’

The easiest and most succesful ways to propagate the Philodendron ‘Burle Marx’ is by either stem cuttings or air layering. Propagating this plant by seeds can be more difficult.

Stem cuttings

Propagating the ‘Burle Marx’ by stem cuttings is easy and consists of four steps.

  1. First, take a pair of sterile pruning shears or a sharp knife and start with the first cut about 0.5-1 inches (~1 cm) below a node. The cutting should contain one node, a couple of healthy aerial roots, and at least one mature leaf.
  2. Next, take your cuttings and put them into a vase or a jar filled with water while making sure the nodes (including the aerial roots) are completely submerged in water. For the next 3-4 weeks your want to give the cuttings lots of bright indirect sunlight and renew the water every 3-4 days.
  3. When the roots of the cuttings are at least 2 inches (5 cm) long you can plant the cuttings in a well-draining potting mix and use a planter with drainage holes. Since the ‘Burle Marx’ likes a lot of aeration in the soil, potting the plant in 100% leca will also be good.
  4. After propagation, you want to care for the plant as you would in a normal situation.

If you use 100% leca for this plant (which this plant loves). Fill the planter around halfway full with water and then let the medium dry out completely before watering it again.

Air layering

There are 7 steps to a succesful air layering propagation.

  1. Choose a node (the point on a stem where a new stem or leaf grows) that contains dark green and healthy aerial roots. Make sure the node has at least 1 mature leaf.
  2. Now take a handful of moist sphagnum moss and put it around the aerial roots of the node that you want to use for propagation.
  3. Next, take plastic wrap and wrap it tight around the sphagnum moss. Make sure you use enough moss to cover up all the aerial roots below the node.
  4. Carefully check the aerial roots once every week by taking off the plastic wrap and making sure the sphagnum moss is still moist.
  5. If the aerial roots are at least 2 inches (5 cm) long, you want to take off the sphagnum moss completely and cut the stem 2 inches below the roots.
  6. After you have made the cut, you can put the cutting in 100% leca or in well-draining potting soil.
  7. Now you want to care for the plant as you would in a normal situation.

The benefit of this propagation method is to help you identify if the node that you plan to use for propagation will work (without any risk of hurting the plant).

If the aerial roots don’t grow after putting the sphagnum moss in the node area for a couple of weeks, it probably means that the node is not ready for propagation. Try a different (fresher) node for propagation and use the same steps as explained above.

Seeds

The last method of propagation is by using seeds, there are 12312 steps to this method.

  1. Prepare some well-draining soil mix and put it in a small planter or tray and make it moist.
  2. Next, prepare the seeds by putting them in a tray with lukewarm water for 24-48 hours.
  3. Now plant the seeds 1/3 inch (~1 cm) deep in the soil and at least 2 inches (5 cm) apart.
  4. Cover the soil with plastic wrap to keep the humidity high and place the pot with the seeds in bright indirect sunlight.
  5. Keeping the pot with the planted seeds in temperatures around 70°F (21°C) will promote growth and increase the success rate of germination.
  6. Use a spray bottle once a week and spray water on top of the soil to keep it moist (not soggy).
  7. After a month, the seeds should have germinated.
  8. Once the seedlings have emerged, you can start getting them used to less humidity by removing the plastic wrap for increasing blocks of time. Over the course of 3 to 4 weeks, you want to completely remove the plastic wrap.
  9. Keep the soil moist while the seedlings are still small.
  10. Once the seedlings have grown a little bigger, you can let the soil dry out a little more between watering.
  11. The final step is to care for the plant as you would in a normal situation.

Related questions:

Why are the leaves of my Philodendron ‘Burle Marx’ turning yellow?

When the leaves of the ‘Burle Marx’ turn yellow or pale, it often means that the plant is experiencing stress in some sort of way. The most common stress factors for this plant are:

  • Overwatering,
  • Fertilizer issues (not enough nutrients in the soil),
  • Temperature stress (too low or too hot),
  • Too much light,
  • Using a soil mix that is too heavy and doesn’t drain well.

Generally, yellow leaves won’t turn green again. Therefore, it’s best to tackle this problem rather sooner than later.

Is the Philodendron Burle Marx toxic?

According to The National Garden Association, the Philodendron ‘Burle Marx’ is toxic to dogs, cats, and humans. All parts of the plant contain calcium oxalate crystals, an irritant to the mouth and esophagus if eaten.

If parts of the plant have been eaten, symptoms like oral irritation, pain and swelling of the mouth, tongue and lips, excessive drooling, vomiting, and difficulty swallowing may occur.

Can you grow the Philodendron ‘Burle Marx’ in sphagnum peat moss?

Yes. Sphagnum moss has the ability to drain excess water easily and also offers good aeration for the roots. This makes sphagnum moss perfect for the Philodendron ‘Burle Marx’.

Other soil types that the ‘Burle Marx’ will like are 100% leca or 100% perlite. If you use 100% leca for this plant. Fill the planter around halfway full with water and then let the medium dry out completely before watering it again.

Why are the leaves of my Philodendron Burle Marx browning?

Browning of the leaves can mean that your plant is not getting enough water. Spacing out your waterings too much and letting the soil dry out completely can cause browning of the leaves.

On the other hand, watering the plant too frequently can also cause the leaves to brown.

When you water the ‘Burle Marx’, water the plant until the water flows out of the drainage holes. Only water again when the top 2 inches of the soil are dry.

Why is my Philodendron ‘Burle Marx drooping?

Drooping leaves are the first indicators that the soil of the plant is too dry. If you unintentionally let the soil dry out completely, the leaves will go limb, droop and in worst case start to brown and curl. This is actually a defense mechanism of the plant because dropping leaves will help the plant preserve the water that it needs for the rest of the plant.

Keeping a consistent watering schedule will help prevent drooping leaves. If the soil is completely dry all the way through the pot, water the plant thoroughly. After that, only water the plant when the top 2 inches of the soil are dry.

When to prune the Philodendron ‘Burle Marx’?

Pruning big parts of the ‘Burle Marx’ can best be done in spring or fall. On the other hand, you can perform light trimming throughout the whole year and cut back yellow or brown leaves without causing stress on the plant.

Use pruning shears and cut back the plant where it grows leggy and tall. When cutting back these parts of the plant, always cut just above a leaf node, which is the point on a stem where a new stem or leaf grows.

Can you propagate Philodendron ‘Burle Marx’ from a leaf cutting?

No. To successfully propagate the Philodendron ‘Burle Marx’, it needs one node, a couple of aerial roots, and at least one mature leaf. It can only be propagated by stem cuttings, air layering, or by seeds.

Just like other Philodendrons, the ‘Burle Marx’ can be propagated quite easily. The steps on how to propagate this plant are listed in this article.

Why are my Philodendron ‘Burle Marx’ leaves so small?

When the ‘Burle Marx’ is growing small leaves, it’s the plant’s way of telling you that it isn’t getting enough fertilizer. Pale new leaves generally indicate that the plant isn’t getting enough calcium and magnesium, which are essential micro-nutrients for Philodendrons.

The first thing you want to do if you want the leaves to grow bigger is to care for the plant in the right way. Using a fertilizer can also help if the plant or soil is nutrient-deficient.

Use a diluted balanced fertilizer once a month during spring and summer. If you don’t want to use a chemical fertilizer, you could also use an organic fertilizer like worm casting. Click here to get worm castings from Etsy.

If you are into plant care guides, check out the RARE Alocasia infernalis (Black Magic)