For more experienced plant lovers, there’s one rare Philodendron variety that can serve as an excellent addition to their growing plant collection – the Philodendron rugosum.
Also called the “Pigskin Philodendron,” this exotic plant was first discovered in 1983 in the rain forests of Ecuador and is known for its unique leathery texture and unusual leaf shape.
Like most Philodendrons, the Pigskin Philodendron has a high level of adaptability, growing even in the most unusual places. In fact, it’s known to thrive in the Andes mountains at an elevation of 1000 to 1700 meters or 3000 to 5000 feet.
Unfortunately, this plant is now considered an endangered species, which is why it’s crucial to know how to care for it properly if ever you’re fortunate to have it as part of your collection.
In general, the Philodendron rugosum thrives in well-draining soil and prefers locations where they can receive bright indirect light. This species also likes moist soil, so make sure that the top couple of inches are constantly moist. Its ideal growing temperature is somewhere between 60 and 90 degrees Fahrenheit and prefers higher levels of humidity (70 to 90%).
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- Light: Bright indirect light, partial shade
- Water: When the top 2″ of the soil are dry
- Soil: Well-draining soil mix
- Fertilizer: Once a month, only during the growing season
- Size: Can grow up to 15 feet (457.2cm) tall
- Size: Leaves can grow up to 2 feet (60.96cm) long
- Temperature: Between 60° and 90°F (15° to 32°C)
- Humidity: Between 70 and 90%
- Cold hardy: Not cold hardy
- Propagation: Through stem cuttings, divisions, and air layering
- Toxicity: Toxic to humans and animals
General Care for Philodendron rugosum (Pigskin Philodendron)
As mentioned, the Philodendron rugosum is already considered an endangered plant species, which makes it a unique and special addition to any houseplant collection.
Moreover, if you give it the proper care and provide suitable growing conditions, you can enjoy everything this majestic plant has to offer.
Unlike most Philodendron plants, the Philodendron rugosum likes its soil constantly moist. Because of this, it’s generally recommended to avoid letting the top couple of inches of their soil dry out.
Unfortunately, this can make finding a suitable watering schedule a bit tricky since you’ll need to strike that perfect balance between moist and well-drained. After all, this Philodendron variety can’t hold water in its leaves, so overwatering it can lead to droopy leaves and even root rot.
Still, once you find a watering schedule that works best for you and your plant, you’ll have yourself a healthy exotic Philodendron.
One helpful tip you can follow is soaking the soil from the bottom instead of watering from the top. This helps control the amount of water you give to your plant.
You can place it in a decorative pot with water for an hour, allowing the roots to drink up as much water as they can and ensuring that the soil is moist, not wet.
Then, once you’re done, you can let your plant’s pot drain any excess water. Ideally, it would be best if you did this once a week. However, it’s still better if you observe your plant and adjust your watering schedule accordingly.
If your plant has droopy leaves, it can be a sign of either under or overwatering, so you’ll need to find out which one it is. Fortunately, once you address it, your plant can return to its usual self.
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The Pigskin Philodendron is native to Ecuador rain forests, so it prefers being placed in areas where they only have dappled shade or partial sun.
It thrives best in areas where it can receive plenty of bright indirect light, which helps it grow quicker and larger.
Avoid placing it in low-light areas since this can slow down its growth. In general, the ideal location for this plant is near an eastern-facing window since this location offers enough sunlight without the heat.
When it comes to the soil, the Philodendron rugosum prefers well-draining soil mixes that can retain the right amount of moisture. However, as mentioned, it can’t keep water in its leaves, so keeping it in waterlogged soil can pose problems like root rot for this exotic plant.
In general, what seems to work best is an arid soil mix consisting of one part peat soil, one part perlite, and one part orchid bark.
The orchid bark works exceptionally well for this Philodendron variety since its roots can attach themselves to the bark, mimicking their natural habitat.
Aside from this, you can also make sure your Philodendron rugosum thrives by keeping the soil’s pH level neutral to slightly acidic. In this case, its soil’s pH value should be around 6.5 to 7.3 (neutral) or 6.1 to 6.5 (slightly acidic).
Philodendrons tend to be fast growers, especially when they’re in the right growing conditions. Because of this, it’s generally recommended that you check annually if your Philodendron rugosum needs repotting.
To do this, you can slightly lift the plant and see if its roots are already peeking out of the pot’s drainage holes. If so, it’s usually a good sign that they need a new pot. Avoid letting your plant getting root bound since it can be tough to resolve this without damaging your plant.
When repotting, choose a pot that’s around two inches bigger than its current one. This will give it enough room to grow before needing repotting again.
Although it doesn’t need it as often, giving your Philodendron rugosum fertilizer is still essential for its growth. This is because it still needs macronutrients like potassium, nitrogen, and phosphorus to grow well, as well as nutrients like magnesium and calcium.
Generally, it’s recommended that you fertilize your Pigskin Philodendron around once a month during spring and summer. However, during the colder months in fall and winter, you can fertilize your plant every 6 to 8 weeks.
Ideally, it’s best to dilute liquid fertilizer to half its strength to ensure the best results. Of course, you can also use organic fertilizers as alternatives. However, make sure you do it after watering to avoid burning the plant.
Since its native habitat is rain forests, the Philodendron rugosum likes areas with high humidity levels. Although it can still grow well in homes with normal humidity levels, it thrives best if they’re somewhere where the humidity is around 70 to 90%.
This range can encourage them to grow better, developing large and lush dark green leaves as they do. If you live in a fairly dry location, you can increase the room’s humidity by misting the plant once in a while or keeping a humidifier nearby.
This exotic plant originates from tropical countries, so even though it’s hardy and adaptable, it doesn’t tolerate cold temperatures well. Keeping it outside in freezing temperatures can result in frost damage, so make sure you bring it inside during the winter.
In general, the ideal temperature for this plant is somewhere from 60 to 90 degrees Fahrenheit or 15 to 32 degrees Celsius.
Any higher than that could result in a baked plant and drooping leaves while keeping it at a temperature lower than 55 degrees Fahrenheit or 12 degrees Celsius could result in yellow and falling leaves.
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The good news is that you don’t need to prune this plant often. In fact, you only need to clip and remove its leaves when they’re withered or dying or when they become too large and start to grow outside their pot.
Of course, the Philodendron rugosum can be quite a massive plant, growing up to 15 feet tall in some cases. Because of this, it’s best to add a moss stick to help it keep its shape. Its aerial roots can also attach themselves to it, and you can water or mist the stick to give them moisture.
Fortunately, the Philodendron rugosum is a resilient plant, so it doesn’t suffer from many diseases. Of course, it can still have some issues, just like any plant.
For this specific plant, root rot is a common issue, especially since it can be tricky to find the correct watering schedule, making it prone to overwatering.
However, you can prevent this by planting it in well-draining soil. If it already has root rot, worry not! You can cut away any black or brown roots and repot the plant in newer and cleaner soil. As mentioned, it requires well-draining mixes, so make sure its new pot uses this type of soil.
Aside from this, overwatering can also potentially cause fungal growth, especially since it likes high humidity levels.
The good news is that the Philodendron rugosum is quite resistant to pests, so you don’t need to worry about it as much. However, it is susceptible to two types of pests: mealybugs and spider mites.
Mealybugs are tiny white bugs that like to crawl in plants’ soil. You can easily find them underneath your plant’s leaves and around the stems, where they can drink up plenty of its sap.
Meanwhile, spider mites are also white insects that resemble tiny spiders, usually found on the plant’s stems and leaves. Like mealybugs, they like to feed on your Philodendron’s sap.
Both of these can be quite a nuisance for plant enthusiasts. Still, you can easily get rid of an infestation with a few solutions. First, you can use insecticidal soap to wash your plant and get rid of the bugs. You can repeat this a few times until you’re sure they’re gone.
Alternatively, you can use a solution of rubbing alcohol, water, and some dishwashing soap to eliminate these pests.
Aside from these two, you can also use Neem oil to get rid of these pests and prevent them from coming back. Neem oil acts as a natural deterrent to these pests, so you won’t have to worry about another infestation.
How to Propagate Philodendron rugosum
There’s good news for plant lovers who want their own Pigskin Philodendron; it can be propagated using several ways! They’re also quick to develop roots so that you can enjoy more of these fantastic plants in just a short period.
In general, you can propagate it through three different ways: stem cuttings, divisions, and air layering. There are a few more methods, such as mound layering and stooling, but these three are the most common.
This is considered the easiest and fastest way to propagate this rare houseplant. For this, you only need to:
- First, select the branch you want to cut.
- Then, use a sharp and sterilized tool to cut it. Make sure you do the cut below at least one node. Moreover, ideally, your chosen stem should have at least one or two aerial roots.
- Next, place the cutting in the medium of your choice. For Philodendron rugosum, you can put it in either water or soil. Remove the leaves except the top two and ensure that the medium thoroughly covers the nodes and aerial roots.
- Lastly, put the cuttings in an area with enough warmth and bright light to encourage them to grow roots. Make sure it’s not in direct sunlight or under drafts.
Aside from stem cuttings, you can also propagate your Pigskin Philodendron by dividing it. For this, you only need to:
- First, remove the plant from its pot.
- Then, carefully cut its root mass into two or more sections with a sharp and sterilized knife, ensuring that each one has a minimum of two offshoots.
- Lastly, plant the divisions into new pots with well-draining soil.
Lastly, you can also try air layering to propagate your Philodendron rugosum. For this, you only need to do the following:
- First, select a stem and remove all leaves 3 to 4 inches above and below the stem’s node.
- Next, use a sharp and sterilized knife to make a one-inch slit in the stem. Make sure that your cut’s angle is upward and doesn’t sever the stem from the main plant.
- Then, use a toothpick and put it into the slit to prevent the wound from healing. You can add some rooting hormones to encourage root growth.
- After this, cover the cut with some damp peat moss and cover the area with plastic wrap. Just make sure that it’s well-sealed at the edges using some tape or string to prevent it from losing moisture.
- Lastly, once the new plant develops roots, you can cut it from the mother plant and place it in a new pot with well-draining soil.
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Why are the leaves of my Philodendron rugosum turning yellow?
Yellowing leaves are usually a sign of overwatering. To prevent this, make sure you use well-draining potting soil so that it can remove any excess water. Moreover, ensure that you place your plant in an area with enough bright indirect light to keep the soil from being waterlogged.
Alternatively, you can soak the soil from the bottom instead to avoid overwatering your plant. Make sure you adjust your watering schedule according to your plant’s needs.
Why are the leaves of my Philodendron rugosum brown?
Brown leaves are usually a sign of underwatering and too much exposure to sunlight. To prevent this, it’s best to slightly increase the watering frequency, especially if your plant is in a well-lit area.
The Philodendron rugosum also likes to keep its soil moist, so avoid letting the top few inches dry out between watering. Aside from this, make sure to mist your Philodendron’s leaves frequently or keep a humidifier close to it.
Is the Philodendron rugosum care toxic?
All Philodendron varieties are toxic to both humans and pets when consumed, although they’re considered harmless otherwise. So, make sure to keep it away from pets or young children to ensure their safety.
Moreover, it’s best to wear protective gear like gloves and long-sleeved shirts when working with this plant to avoid accidentally poisoning yourself. Some signs to look out for if someone accidentally ingests it include a swollen mouth and vomiting.
Why is my Philodendron rugosum wilting?
A wilting Philodendron rugosum typically means that it’s either getting too much or not enough water. To avoid this, you need to find a watering schedule that strikes that perfect balance between moist and well-drained.
Moreover, you should also ensure it’s in well-draining soil to avoid root rot from lack of air circulation and waterlogged soil. Likewise, you also need to ensure it’s getting enough water and the top layers of soil are constantly moist.
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