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Philodendron giganteum Care, including Variegated and Blizzard

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Philodendron giganteum (giant Philodendron) is a lovely, self-heading climbing houseplant with extremely large heart-shaped dark green leaves.

This tropical plant is a perfect choice if you need a bushy tropical plant covering a large space at home, offices, conservatories, tropical gardens, patios, etc. Also, it is easy to care for and air purifying.

Learn about Philodendron giganteum, including appearance (juvenile and mature plants), growth rate, care, and propagation. We will also tell you its varieties or forms (variegated and blizzard), hybrids, prices, where to buy it, and how it differs from Philodendron maximum K.Krause.

Large Philodendron giganteum
P. giganteum: Check latest prices.

About Philodendron giganteum

Philodendron giganteum Schott, first published in 1856, is an accepted Philodendron species. It was first described by Heinrich Wilhelm Schott (1794-1865), an Australian botanist known for his extensive work on aroids.

The name epithet giganteum is Latin, meaning gigantic, which refers to this plant’s very large leaves. 

  • Scientific name: Philodendron giganteum
  • Common name: Its common names are giant Philodendron, Philodendron Giganteum Elephant Ear, or giant elephant year. We don’t prefer the name giant elephant year as it may refer to other plant species, including Colocasia gigantea ‘Thailand Giant’.
  • Family: Araceae
  • Native habitat: Caribbean to North Brazil, i.e., Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, Trinidad Tobago, Windward Island, Leeward Island, Venezuela, and Brazil North
  • Care level: Low maintenance
  • Toxicity: Mildly to moderately toxic to humans and pests ( cats, dogs, and other pets) due to insoluble calcium oxalates

Some plant vendors may confuse it with Philodendron maximum and Philodendron speciosum (Thaumatophyllum speciosum). However, there are clear differences.

Growing habits, size, and growth rate

Philodendron giganteum is an erect, self-heading, terrestrial, epiphytic, or climbing evergreen plant. Therefore, it can grow on the ground, including over rocks, as an epiphyte (on host trees), or as a lower tree trunk climber in forests.

It grows mainly in the tropical wet biome, particularly tropical moist or tropical wet rainforests or life zones, receiving filtered light.

Giganteum has a moderate growth rate and rarely reaches beyond 40 feet (12 meters) when climbing. However, it will grow about 4-8 feet tall at home and require ample space.

How to identify Philodendron giganteum?

To correctly identify this plant, consider leaves, stems, and flowers (uncommon under cultivation at home).

a). Stems

This aroid has climbing, thick (3.1-3.9 inches) stems with short internodes and aerial roots at the nodes. Cataphylls are up to 23.6 inches long, entire when they emerge, but wither, forming persistent fibers.

b). Leaves

Juvenile P. giganteum plants will have smaller, oval green leaves, which will slowly develop a cordate(heart-shaped) base as this plant grows to maturity.

On the other hand, the mature Philodendron giganteum will have large (19.7-37.5 inches long by 15.7-23.6 inches wide) cordate-oval, leathery dark green leaves with a paler underside. These leaves are often downward or horizontally directed and may have weakly lighter, sunken primary lateral and basal veins, giving them a rippled or ruffled appearance with undulating margins.

The anterior lobe is four times longer than the posterior. It narrows, forming a slightly arcuate line towards the apex and eventually becoming apiculate. The midrib is strong and flat above, and the five (on either side) thick primary lateral veins spread from the midrib, then curve upwards and disappear towards the margin.

Posterior lobes are broadly nearly oval to oblique semi-orbiculate, slightly inward-turned with a deep parabolic sinus. These lobes have five basal veins, two free and three fusing to form short, partly denuded basal ribs.

Lastly, this aroid has a long (23.6-37.6 inches long), robust, nearly terete, smooth petiole with a slightly flatted upper side.

c). P. giganteum flowers and fruits

Mature P. giganteum produces one inflorescence per axil. It has a stout peduncle, spathe, and sessile spadix (with yellow-green pistillate and a whitish staminate). The slightly constricted (in the middle) spathe has a pale green, turning ochre-yellow blade (upper part ) and purple or ochre-yellow in fruit externally, blood-red inside tube (lower portion).

Finally, this plant will have orange to yellow infructescence (berry-like aggregated fruits). These tiny fruits will thickly strophiolate yellow, usually banded seeds.

Types, hybrids, or forms

Besides the standard plant with dark green leaves, you can go for the blizzard, variegated form, hybrids or P. giganteum varieties. Let us look at each.

1. Philodendron giganteum variegated or variegata plants

Variegated Philodendron giganteum has the usual large, leathery dark green leaves splashed, mottled, or marbled with bright green (mint) to creamy white variegations. They are more popular than the standard green and will cost you 60 to $200, with some vendors selling them at as high as $400. Etsy.com has the best deals.

Lovely Philodendron giganteum variegated plant with light green to creamy white variegation
Lovely Philodendron giganteum variegated plant with light green to creamy white variegation: See the latest prices.

The variegation is a result of most probably rare cell mutation. However, not much information is available if these plants are tissue-cultured.

Variegated giant Philodendron care and growth needs are more or less, we will discuss. However, you must ensure you strictly grow them in bright indirect light. This will enable them to produce (photosynthesis) enough food now that some of the variegated parts are low in chlorophyll.

Also, keep humidity at 50%. We noticed these and most variegated plants tend to be vulnerable to lower humidity than the green form, especially the variegated areas.

2. Philodendron giganteum blizzard

Philodendron giganteum variegated or snow blizzard is another variegated giganteum plant that some claim has whitish marbling or variegation, while others talk about the unique marbling pattern. To us, some plants labeled blizzard resemble P. giganteum variegata.

Highly Variegated Giganteum Blizzard
Highly Variegated giganteum Blizzard: Check the latest prices.

The cost of  Philodendron giganteum blizzard ranges from $60 to $200 depending on the size, level of variegation, and where you buy it. We recommend Etsy.com if you want great prices.

Lastly, care needs for the blizzard plant are similar to the variegata above. Ensure bright, indirect light. Also, humidity should not be less than 50%. The rest of the needs are similar to what we will see shortly.

3. Philodendron giganteum x verrucosum

This plant, commonly referred to as Philodendron verrucosum giganteum, is a hybrid between P. giganteum and P. verrucosum, whose creator is unknown. Also, it doesn’t have an official name.

It is a fast-growing plant that both creeps and climbs and tends to lean towards giganteum than verrucosum. Its leaves are larger, elongated, and not as dark as verrucosum but are smaller and darker than giganteum. Also, these leaves are more arrowhead shaped than heart-shaped.

4. Philodendron giganteum x gloriosum

This plant is yet another unnamed hybrid between P. giganteum and P. gloriosum created by Hall & Dean. Its appearance is between a giganteum and gloriosum, and its blue-green leaves with white or paler veins can be up to 40 inches long.

5. Philodendron maximum vs. giganteum

These two aroids have large leaves and other similarities, making it hard for some people to tell the difference. However, Philodendron maximum has sub-leathery, narrowly oval-sagittate to oval-triangular-sagittate, while giganteum has leathery heart-shaped, oval leaves.

Also, the Philodendron maximum has a sinuate margin and paler midrib and primary lateral veins. In contrast, the giganteum has a smooth to slightly undulating margin and less concolorous or less main veins.

Caring for Philodendron giganteum indoors or outdoors

Giant Philodendron plants need a warm, humid place with bright indirect light. Grow it in a humus-rich aroid mix and water it when the top few inches of the soil feel dry.

Here are details on Philodendron giganteum care:

  • USDA hardiness zone: 10-11, not frost hardy
  • Temperature: 55-80°F. Avoid sudden changes, cold drafts, or places near heat sources. If outdoors, move it inside when the temperature falls below 50°F.  
  • Humidity: 60% or more but can tolerate 40% or more. If low, mist your plant, buy a humidifier, have a pebble tray, or use other ways to increase humidity.
  • Light: Bright, indirect light, but the green form can tolerate medium light. Avoid direct sunlight (if outdoors, pick a shaded area) and buy any good grow light if the light is too little.  
  • Soil: Giant Philodendron needs a well-drained, aerated potting mix rich in organic matter like an aroid mix. See Etsy.com.  
  • Watering: I prefer using a soil moisture meter like XLUX, and I  thoroughly water when the reading is dry. But you can also water it when the soil feels dry up to the first knuckle of your finger.
  • Fertilizer: Moderate. Feed it once a month with a balanced, liquid houseplant fertilizer like Miracle-Gro during growing months only. But slow-release formulas or even those unbalanced ones are okay, too, if for potted or houseplants.
  • Pruning: Remove dead, damaged, or diseased parts using sterilized gardening scissors. You can also cut back a few stems during growing months if it grows too large.
  • Repotting: Repot the plant every 1-2 years or if rootbound. Use a pot 2-3 inches wider in diameter.
  • Moss pole: This is self-heading and may not need a moss pole, totem, or trellis if not so tall. However, provide and train it on a stake if it becomes tall.

How to propagate Philodendron giganteum

Giant Philodendron propagation is by cutting in soil or water. The only challenge will be having a plant with a stem with a few nodes. Why? Because this self-heading plant doesn’t grow long stems quickly like other Philodendron plants.

Both water and soil propagation methods are straightforward. But we prefer water as it allows us to see rooting and is less messy. But during transplant, your plant gets some shock, unlike those in soil. Also, the potting mix has some nutrients.  

Here is how to propagate your giant Philodendron in water:

a). What you need

  • Jar
  • Water
  • Rooting hormone. Not a must, but it will speed rooting and prevent rot. A pick HydroDynamics Clonex Rooting Gel will work well.
  • Gardening scissors
  • A sterilizing agent like 70-99% rubbing alcohol

b). Steps to follow

  1. Select a healthy, mature stem with at least a node or two and cut just below the lower node with your sterilized gardening scissors.
  2. Apply the rooting hormone on the cut end (the one you will dip in water)
  3. Fill your jar with water and dip P. giganteum cutting, ensuring at least a node is inside the water. But don’t submerge leaves.
  4. Place the cutting in a warm spot with bright, indirect light
  5. Refill the water when the level goes down to ensure your nodes remain underwater throughout the propagation duration. Also, change the water after 4-5 days or if it looks cloudy.

After a few weeks, you will notice new roots growing. Wait until they are long enough, i.e., at least 2-3 inches long, before transplanting your cutting to the soil.

Problems and issues

We haven’t had any major issues, not even pests or diseases. However, we did have root rot when we overwatered our giant Philodendron.  

Wrong growing conditions and care can result in your plant drooping, leaves curling, or leaf discoloration (yellowing or browning, including on edges, tips, or even spots). Also, pests and diseases may cause these issues.

Frequently asked questions

Is Philodendron giganteum rare?

Yes, but not so rare. Unlike in the past, P. giganteum is more and more readily available, with many online vendors selling it. Even Walmart has this plant (from Hirt’s Gardens). But don’t expect to find it at your local tropical plant store.

What is the price of a Philodendron giganteum?

The giganteum philodendron price ranges from $50 to $300 for the standard green and variegated, including blizzard. However, small rooted or unrooted cuttings may cost much less.

Where do I buy Philodendron giganteum

If you are looking for a Philodendron giganteum on sale, start with Etsy.com, eBay, Facebook, and Instagram. People not in the US, i.e., those in the UK, Canada, Asia, Australia, etc., will get vendors near them. Walmart and many other online stores have it too.

Is Philodendron giganteum a climbing plant

Yes. While it grows as a self-heading plant and may not appear as a climbing plant, P. giganteum is a lower tree trunk climbing plant but will take longer to start climbing. However, it can grow terrestrially, including over rocks and fallen logs.