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Philodendron esmeraldense Care, including Narrow Form

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Philodendron esmeraldense is a rare, climbing tropical houseplant you should consider adding to your collection. It has adorable large, oval-elliptic, matte to velvety dark green leaves with a deeply lobed base and rippled (quilted) surface.  

Caring for this plant is a breeze if you have had a Philodendron plant before, and it is air-purifying. However, leaves can grow relatively large, and you need space in your office or home.

Today we will discuss Philodendron esmeraldense care, prices, and where to buy it, including the narrow form. Also, we will help you know how it differs from Philodendron patriciae and Anthurium esmeraldense.

However, before that, let us start by looking at its appearance (leaves, stems, and flowers), growing habits, and growth rate.

Philodendron Esmeraldense plant care and prices
Philodendron Esmeraldense plant: Check the latest prices.

About Philodendron esmeraldense

Philodendron esmeraldense Croat is a recently accepted species (2016). It was described in 2016 by Dr. Thomas Bernard Croat, an American botanist and one of the most prolific plant collectors.

The species epithet comes from Esmeraldas, a Province in Ecuador where it is one of the most prevalent and conspicuous species.

  • Scientific name: Philodendron esmeraldense
  • Lower classification: Section Philodendron, subsection Philodendron
  • Family: Araceae (aroids)
  • Native habitat: Ecuador to Colombia 
  • Care level: Easy or low maintenance
  • Toxicity: Mild to moderately toxic to humans, dogs, and cats since it has insoluble calcium oxalates
  • Propagation: Stem cuttings in soil or water

1. Growing habits, growth rate, and size

Philodendron esmeraldense is an evergreen, climbing hemiepiphyte that can grow on the grounds, including on steep banks. It occurs in tropical rain and tropical wet forests at altitudes of 165–1100 m (541-3280 feet).

This aroid has a moderate growth rate that depends on prevailing conditions and can grow over 20 feet in the wild. It will be 6-8 feet at home and needs a moss pole or a place to climb to be this tall.

2. How to identify Philodendron esmeraldense

Proper identification of any house, landscaping, or ornamental plant is vital. Not all vendors know which plants they have; some may mislabel them deliberately. Did you know that it resembles Philodendron melanoneuron Croat?

Let us look at stems, leaves, and flowers to help you identify this plant at home or in the wild.

a). Stems

These aroids have climbing stems with light brown aerial roots. Preadult plants have slender trailing stems with long internodes (up to 19.7″), with shorter (2.2″) thick, fleshy, reddish-tinged green cataphylls turning mushy and deciduous.

On the other hand, mature plants have shorter internodes (up 3.1″) and thicker stems. These glossy, dark green internodes have coarse, short white striations and become closely fissured vertically and transversely. But upper internodes will have whitish striates that are coarse.

Lastly, mature plants have longer (23.6″), unribbed, or sharply single-ribbed marcescent petioles, with the basal part turning brown and remaining intact.

b). Mature and juvenile leaves

Preadult plants have smaller (8.3-17.3″ long by 3.9-8″ wide) leaves with purplish violet or reddish-purple underside. Their sinuses are V-shaped, petiole shorter (12.3–15.7″), and have 4-6 pairs of primary lateral veins.

On the other hand, Mature Philodendron esmeraldense will have large, narrowly oval-elliptic, sub-leathery leaves with deeply lobed bases and a moderate to narrowly acuminate apex. These leaves are dark green, matte to sub-velvety on the upper side, paler, and moderately glossy below. However, as they emerge, the younger blades are reddish purple.

  • Leaf size: Usually 34.6– 41.3″ long by 7.9–22″ wide (but sometimes be as narrow as 6.3″ inches wide and as short as 19.3″ long) and widest on their lower half.
  • Anterior lobe: Almost straight to broadly rounded along its margin
  • Midrib: Much paler, widely flat above, narrowly rounded below
  • Posterior rib: Partly naked
  • Basal ribs: Usually eight but can be 7-9 with the first, second, and sometimes third free to base, others fused
  • Primary lateral veins: 10-13 per side, departing at 75-80°. Sunken or quilted and the same color as the blade above, except near the midrib where they are paler and roundly raised, paler and thickly convex below
  • Petioles: Long (23.6-41.3″ long, sometimes 12.2-46.5 long), flexible but firm, semi- to weakly glossy, medium to dark green.
  • Sinus: Narrowly parabolic to spathulate

c). Flowers and fruits

Mature plants usually have 3-6 or, at times, 1-2 inflorescence per axil with a reddish, finely striate peduncle spathe (bract) and spadix. These peduncles have clear demarcation from spathe.

  • Spathe: Longer than peduncle. Semi-glossy, reddish-violet to purplish-pink outside with the tube closely fine-striated on the outside and outside blade almost fine-speckled but greenish white on its margin.
  • Tube: Dark maroon inside with a distinctive demarcation from the blade
  • Blade: Glossy dark maroon inside and glossy white, turning pale purplish violet as it ages outside.
  • Spadix: Pale green lower section with female flowers, a middle white section with infertile male flowers, and an upper part with fertile male flowers.
  • Infructescence: Have dark green berries with glossy, longitudinally striated dark brown seeds (when dry) featuring an apical nipple. 

Anthurium esmeraldense vs. Philodendron esmeraldense

These two plants share a species name, belong to the same Araceae family, and come from the same biographical locations. However, they belong to different genera, and it shouldn’t be hard to tell them apart.

For instance, Anthurium esmeraldense has smaller, medium-green triangular-oval leaves with a sagittate base and reddish-green underside. In contrast, P. esmeraldense has larger, narrowly oval elliptic leaves with deeply lobed bases and a paler underside, reddish-purple in juvenile plants.

Secondly, A. esmeraldense has 6-8 primary lateral veins arising at 45°-60° while P. esmeraldense has 10-13 primary lateral veins arising at 75°-80° to the midrib.

Lastly, if you have a specimen with flowers, A. esmeraldense has a longer peduncle, usually longer than spathe, while P. esmeraldense has a shorter one, shorter than spathe.

Philodendron esmeraldense vs. patriciae

Philodendron esmeraldense has narrowly oval-elliptic leaves with a deeply lobed base and an acuminate apex. In contrast, Philodendron patriciae has pendent, oval lance-shaped to elliptical leaves with a nearly heart-shaped to rounded base and a cuspidate apex.

The other difference is that P. esmeraldense has broader leaves, about 1.8-2.6 longer than narrow, while patriciae leaves are thinner, i.e., 3.9-6 times longer than wide.

Lastly, Esmeraldense leaves are mostly shorter but sometimes slightly longer than petiole, i.e., 0.77-1.05 longer, while patriciae leaves are always longer than petiole, i.e., 1.5–2.4 times longer.

Philodendron esmeraldense narrow form

Philodendron esmeraldense narrow features relatively narrower leaves, i.e., it has a higher length ratio to width. While this is a normal variability in this species, we cannot confirm whether the narrow form is a cultivar or a natural variation.

Besides thinner leaves, the appearance, care, and prices of P. esmeraldense narrow form comparable to the standard plants, i.e., it costs between $30 to $200.

How to care for Philodendron esmeraldense

I grow my Philodendron esmeraldense in a warm, humid area with bright indirect light. My soil is chunky, airy, and rich in humus, and I water it when a few top inches feel dry.

Here is how I care for this aroid, including watering, feeding, and a lot more:

  • USDA hardiness zone: 10-11, not hardy to frost, and move any outdoor plants inside when the temperature goes below 50°
  • Temperature: 55-80°F. No cold drafts, sudden temperature changes, or spots close to heat vents or sources.
  • Humidity: Ideal is 60% or more but can tolerate 40% or more. If you have low humidity, mist it, have a pebble tray, or get a humidifier.
  • Light needs: Bright indirect light but can grow in medium light. No direct sun as it burns leaves. Also, consider buying grow lights if your light is not enough to avoid slow growing leggy and have smaller, paler new growth.
  • Soil: I use a well-drained, aerated potting mix rich in organic matter. Buy an aroid mix (see Etsy.com) or make one by mixing 50% potting soil, 20% perlite, 20% coco coir, and 10% bark chips, then add some compost or worm castings.  
  • Watering: I only water my esmeraldense when my XLUX soil moisture meter reads dry (3 or less) or if the potting mix feels dry up to the first knuckle of my finger.
  • Feeding: I feed at least once a month with the balanced, Miracle-Gro liquid houseplant fertilizer during the growing months.
  • Pruning: Regularly check and cut any dead, damaged, or diseased parts. Use sterilized gardening scissors. Also, you can cut back some stems to control size, shape, or growth in the growing months.
  • Repotting: I repot this plant once every 1-2 years or if rootbound to a pot 2-3 inches wider than the current one.
  • Staking: I have trained my plant on a moss pole. It would be best if you also used a trellis, totem, or any other vertical support since it is a climber.

Problems or issues

I haven’t had any issues with this plant. But I must warn you not to overwater your plant as it may have root rot. Also, ensure the potting mix drains.

Also, pests (aphids, scale insects, mealybugs, or spider mites) are possible, or diseases (fungal and bacterial leaf spot, dasheen mosaic virus, etc.). Check for symptoms and practice proper sanitation.

Lastly, improper care, wrong growing conditions, and sometimes, root rot, pests, and diseases may result in leaves curling, turning yellow, brown, or black, including spots. Also, your plant may droop.

Frequently asked questions

1. Is Philodendron esmeraldense rare?

Yes. P. esmeraldense is a rare and hard-to-find houseplant. Only a few vendors, especially online, have it, even on the popular online marketplace or social media platforms.

2. What is the price of P. esmeraldense

Philodendron esmeraldense’s price ranges from $30 to $200 for small to larger established plants. However, if you decide to buy starter plants or cuttings (rooted or unrooted), they will cause slightly less.

3. Where do I find Philodendron esmeraldense on sale?

I would recommend Etsy.com, followed by eBay, Facebook, and Instagram, as they have many vendors worldwide. Also, you can use any major search engine to get vendors near you.