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Philodendron lacerum Care, Propagation, and Prices

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The shallowly to deeply incised to nearly pinnately lobed green to green-gray leaves with an oval-heart-shaped outline make Philodendron lacerum (pronounced LASS-er-um) quite breathtaking. It grabbed my attention the first time I saw it.

This rare, unique, adorable Philodendron plant, commonly known as the toothed Philodendron, will add a tropical charm to your home or office. Also, it is easy to care for or low maintenance and air purifying.

Today, I will discuss Philodendron lacerum care, propagation, prices, and where to buy it. However, before that, let us look at its appearance – growing habits, leaves, stems, and flowers.

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Philodendron lacerum mature plant climbing a tree trunk
Philodendron lacerum mature plant climbing a tree trunk Photo credit: big-simonchan, Inaturalist.org, CC BY-NC 4.0

About Philodendron lacerum 

Philodendron lacerum (Jacq.) Schott is an accepted Philodendron species first published in 1829.

  • Scientific name: Philodendron lacerum 
  • Common name(s): Toothed Philodendron
  • Family: Araceae (aroids)
  • Native habitat: Greater Antilles (Cuba, Haiti, Dominican Republic, and Jamaica)
  • Care level: Easy or low maintenance
  • Toxicity: Mildly to moderately toxic to humans, cats, and dogs. Why? Because it has needlelike insoluble oxalates that will cause severe oral, tongue, or mouth inflammation, swelling, and redness. Victims will lose their appetite, have difficulty swallowing, and pets will paw.
  • Propagation: Stem cutting or air layering

1. Growing habits, size, and growth rate

Philodendron lacerum is an evergreen, climbing hemiepiphyte. It grows in a tropical wet biome where you will find it climbing on taller tree trunks, sometimes creeping on the ground.

Lacerum has a moderate growth rate and can grow over 30 feet in the wild. However, at home, it will be 6 to 8 feet tall and require a place to climb to this tall.

2. How to identify Philodendron lacerum – description

 Here is the appearance of leaves, flowers, and stems:

a). Stems

Its scandent stems have short internodes, aerial roots on the node, and somewhat lance-shaped cataphylls, 3.1-4.7″ long.

b). Leaves

Juvenile plants have smaller, oval to lance-shaped entire leaves with somewhat undulating or sinuating margins. These wavy margins become deeper as the plant grows into adulthood.

On the other hand, mature Philodendron lacerum will have larger ( up to 20 inches long), deeply crenated, incised, or even nearly pinnate leaves with an oval-heart-shaped outline. Sometimes the incision may go near or even beyond midway the leaf blade length.

These moderately leathery leaves are semi-glossy, green to grey-green on the upper side, and glossy dark green on the underside.

The midrib is paler above, convex above, and below, while the leaf has 8-10 on either side primary lateral veins with basal veins joining shortly near the base.

Lastly, these leaves have a smooth, terete greenish petiole that can be up to 17.5 inches long.

c). Flowers and fruits

When blooming, mature P. lacerum will produce 2-3 inflorescence per axil with a slender, convoluted spathe (bract) and spadix (bears tiny male and female flowers). The spathe tube is purplish internally with raised striate while the blade is sulfur-colored and the spadix is shortly stipitate.

What about fruits? This plant’s infructescence has pale berries with ovoid longitudinally ribbed seeds when dry.

Caring for Philodendron lacerum

Philodendron lacerum needs a warm, humid place with bright indirect light and an airy well-draining potting mix rich in humus. Water it when a few top inches dry, and don’t forget it needs pruning, repotting, feeding, and a stake.

Here are the care and growth requirement needs.  

  1. USDA hardiness zone: 10-11, not frost hardy, and take outdoor plants indoors if the temperature falls below 50°F.
  2. Temperature: 55-80°F. Avoid cold drafts, sudden temperature fluctuation, or locations near a heat source or heat-emitting vents/appliances.
  3. Humidity: They love high humidity, i.e., 60% or more but can tolerate up to 40%. If too low, mist these plants, have a pebble tray, buy a humidifier, etc.
  4. Light: Prefers bright indirect light but can still grow in medium indirect light. No direct sun (burns leaves). Invest in grow lights if there is too little light.
  5. Soil: Use a chunky or airy, well-drained potting mix rich in organic matter. I use an aroid mix I bought from Etsy.com or add perlite, coco coir, bark chips, and compost my potting soil to make one.
  6. Watering: I thoroughly water this plant when the potting mix feels dry up to the first finger knuckle or my soil moisture meter, i.e., XLUX reads three or below.
  7. Feeding: Feed once a month with a balanced liquid fertilizer like Bonide NPK 10:10:10 or even any 20:20:20 during growing months.
  8. Pruning: Snip any dead, damaged or dead parts with sterilized gardening scissors. To control growth, you can also cut back a few stems during the growing season.
  9. Repotting: Repot once every 1-2 years or if rootbound using a pot 2-3 inches wider in diameter.
  10. Support: Use twist ties to train this plant on a moss pole, trellis, or burlap-wrapped totem.

How to propagate Philodendron lacerum

P. lacerum propagation is via stem cutting in water/soil or air layering. Seeds are extremely rare to find.

We prefer water propagation as it is less messy and can see rooting progress. However, plants may suffer from more shock and not get nutrients compared to soil propagation.

a). What you need

  • Glass jar
  • Gardening scissors
  • A sterilizing agent such as 70-99% rubbing alcohol to use to sterilize your scissors each time you cut.
  • A rooting hormone. While not a must, it will speed rooting and prevent rot. We use HydroDynamics Clonex Rooting Gel.

b). Steps to follow

  1. Select a mature stem with about 2-3 nodes and cut it ¼ an inch away from the lower node with your sterilized gardening scissors. If it has more than two leaves, snip off the lower ones.
  2. Apply your rooting hormone on the cut end
  3. Fill your jar with water and dip your cutting inside, ensuring it covers at least one node. Don’t immerse leaves.
  4. Place the cutting in a warm place with bright, indirect light.
  5. Refill the water when the level goes down and change it after 4-5 days or if it appears cloudy.

After a few weeks, you will notice roots growing from nodes immersed in water. Wait until they are about 3-4 inches long and your plant has new growth before transplanting it.

Issues or problems

We haven’t had issues with any pests or diseases, especially indoors. However, like other Philo plants, lacerum can get pests like spider mites, aphids, mealybugs, scale insects, or diseases like leaf spots, Dasheen mosaic virus, or southern blight.

If you don’t water your plant well or your potting mix doesn’t drain, your plant may end up with root rot.

Lastly, wrong growing conditions (temperature, humidity, and light) and improper care (feeding, rootbound, or watering) may make your plant droop, or leaves may curl or get discolored (turn yellow, brown, or black, including spots).

Where to buy Philodendron lacerum

Start with Etsy.com, where you may get a few vendors. Next, search for this plat on eBay, Facebook, Instagram, or Gabriella Plants. If you don’t find it, use the google search engine to get online vendors near you.

Frequently asked questions

1. Is P. lacerum rare?

Yes. Philodendron lacerum is an extremely rare houseplant that, even on popular marketplaces like Etsy.com or eBay, you will get very few vendors. I have not seen it with large-scale horticultural growers or local tropical plant sellers.

2. How much does P. lacerum cost?

The price of Philodendron lacerum ranges from $30 to $60. Starter, unrooted, or just rooted cuttings will cost you less than $30, while larger, established plants may sell for more than $60.