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Philodendron sagittifolium (Philodendron ilsemanii) Care Including Variegated

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Philodendron sagittifolium (syn. Philodendron ilsemanii) is a rare, climbing tropical houseplant you should include in your collection. It has adorable oval-triangular medium green leaves with heart-shaped to arrowhead-shaped. Some have a maroon underside, i.e., the Red Queen, and you can go for the charming variegated form.

This aroid is easy to care for or low maintenance and will give your home, office, or commercial spaces a stunning tropical appeal. It is also air purifying.

Learn more about Philodendron sagittifolium, including appearance (juvenile and mature), variations like Philodendron Red Queen, and variegata. We will also give you prices, where to buy, and much more.

Philodendron sagittifolium plant for sale
Philodendron sagittifolium plant: Check latest prices.

About Philodendron sagittifolium

Philodendron sagittifolium Liebm. is an accepted species, first published in 1849, native to Mexico to Venezuela. It is one of the most ecologically versatile and morphologically variable species with many synonyms.

  • Scientific name: Philodendron sagittifolium 
  • Synonyms: Philodendron ilsemanii, Philodendron tuxtlanum, or Philodendron sanguineum
  • Lower classification: Philodendron section Calostigma subsection Macrobelium series Macrobelium
  • Family: Araceae (aroids)
  • Native habitat: Mexico (Central, Gulf, Southeast, and Southwest), Belize, Guatemala, Colombia, Honduras, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Venezuela, and Panama
  • Care level: Easy or low maintenance
  • Toxicity: Although folks use it medicinally, this aroid is mild to moderately toxic to humans, dogs, cats, and other pets since it has insoluble calcium oxalates.
  • Propagation: Stem cutting in water or soil or using seeds

1. Growing habits, growth rate, and size

Philodendron sagittifolium is an evergreen, mostly appressed climbing hemiepiphyte, hardly epiphytic or terrestrial plant. It occurs in tropical moist, tropical wet, premontane rain, and premontane wet forests at 0 to 6000 feet above sea level.

Sagittifolium growth rate is moderate to relatively fast in ideal conditions and can grow up to 9.8-16.4 feet (3-5 m) tall in the wild. It will be about 6 to 8 feet tall at home and needs a place to climb to reach this height.

2. How to identify Philodendron sagittifolium

Philodendron sagittifolium is perhaps one of the Philodendron species that shows much variability, a reason for the many synonyms.

Many vendors label it as Philodendron ilsemanii or Philodendron tuxtlanum. Also, it is possible to unknowingly buy its look-alike plants like P. advenaP. purulhaenseP. annulatum, and P. bakeri.

Here is a detailed description that will help you easily identify this plant:

a). Stems

The climbing stems have semi-glossy, dark green, turning gray-green, brown, or sometimes pale-yellow green internodes with a ridged epidermis and sometimes transverse fissures.

These terete, weakly angular, short to moderately long (0.4-7.9 inches long), relatively slender internodes are at times closely and acutely ribbed or weakly flatted on one side.

More identifiers for stems are as follows:

SapSlimy, parchment white that soon turns blackish
Aerial rootsReddish brown, arising from one stem side
CataphyllDeciduous (rarely rotting into a mass), soft, green (sometimes pinkish to reddish and sparsely green spotted, darker striate or purple marron near the base) with a rounded apex. They measure 7.1-15.4 inches long, usually weakly single-ribbed (but can be sharply single-ribbed or weakly double-ribbed).

b). Juvenile and mature leaves

Juvenile plants have smaller, oval medium green leaves. However, the leaves will morph and grow posterior lobes as it matures.

On the other hand, Mature Philodendron sagittifolium has large, oval to oval-triangular, moderately leathery leaves with a heart-shaped to arrowhead-shaped (sagittate) base. Their apex is acuminate to acuminate (sometimes short acuminate), while the margin is weakly revolute and somewhat hyaline.

Philodendron sagittifolium with sagittate or arrowhead-shaped base and larger posterior lobes
Philodendron sagittifolium with sagittate (arrowhead-shaped) leaf base. Notice the large posterior lobes? This is a normal variability in this species. Photo credit: Gabriel Camilo Jaramillo Giraldo, Inaturalist.org, CC BY-NC-SA 4.0

These leaves are semi-glossy medium green above, weakly glossy to matte pale yellow-green, and sometimes reddish on the lower side.

Philodendron ilsemanii plants have 7.9 to 25.6 (or up to 35.8) inches long, moderately spongy to firm, subterete, obtusely flattened medium green petioles. These petioles occasionally have a minute, dense purple or white striate, violet-purple to dark green blotches.

Also, the petioles are normally obtusely to narrowly sulcate, rarely obtusely, and broadly sulcate adaxially. Sometimes, they have an irregularly ribbed, folded, or smooth surface.

Additional leaf identifiers are as follows:

Leaf size11.8-28.3 inches long by 5.9-15.4 inches wide, about 1.85-2 times longer than broad
Posterior lobeUp to 6.4 times wider than long
Anterior lobeNarrowly rounded with nearly V-shaped to almost closed posterior sinus
MidribSlightly paler than the blade, flat to weakly raised above, convex to narrowly raised below, sometimes with maroon spots or white flecks, same color or darker than the surface
Primary lateral veins4-9 pairs that arise at 60-70° to midrib, weakly curved to the margin, prominently upturned just before the margin, and prominently downturned just before the midrib. These veins are paler than the surface above, darker than the surface below
Posterior ribPosterior rib briefly or not naked
Basal veinsUsually, 3-5 but can be up to 6 with 0, 2, and rarely free to base, 3rd, and upper coalesced.

c). Flowers and fruits

Philodendron sagittifolium is unlikely to flower at home. However, in the wild, it blooms throughout the year but more often when the dry seasons begin. It will have 1-3 inflorescence per axil with a peduncle, surrounding spathe (bract), and spadix (bears tiny flowers). Also, there is a subtending sheath.

If you are lucky to find flowers or fruits, here is how they will appear:

Peduncle1.6-5.9 inches long, terete to fairly flattened green, sometimes tinged reddish, and heavily short and broad striate.
SpatheSemi-glossy, slightly constricted above the tube, 0.8-2.2 longer than the peduncle. It is green (but can be plum-red), often has purple spots, densely short pale lineate throughout (but weaker at apex), and the base often has a purplish violet tinge.
Spathe bladeIt is green to pale-yellow and greenish-white, faintly purple-tinged on the throat to pale yellow-green or white inside. Also, it has red-purple or orangish resin canals that appear as continuous lines.
Spathe tubeGreen (sometimes heavily to moderately red to reddish-purple tinged) with mostly medial dark purplish spots on the outside and red to reddish-purple inside with white striate.
SpadixStipitate to 0.3 inches, with a lower, pale green female part (yellow-green or greenish-white post-anthesis), middle white sterile male, upper creamy white (sometimes pale green to pinkish fertile) male portion
InfructescencePinkish with a green base and reddish spots outside and mature after two months
BerriesPale yellowish, rarely orange
Seedsphilodendron ilsemanii seeds are pale to tannish brown when dry, oblong to narrowly ellipsoid with weak striations

Philodendron ilsemanii variegata

What is ordinarily sold as Philodendron ilsemanii is the variegated Philodendron sagittifolium plant. Its green leaves are marbled with creamy white, mint, or pale yellowish but may also have some patches and sectors.

philodendron ilsemanii variegata
philodendron ilsemanii variegata: See the latest prices.

However, unless stated, P. ilsemanii may mean the green form, and some vendors label it mottled ilsemanii or ilsemanii variegata to clarify.

How much does it cost? Variegated Philodendron ilsemanii goes for $750-$4,750. This aroid is so expensive since it is rare and hard to find. At the moment, only rare plant collectors have it, and the demand is still very high.

Lastly, note that this plant differs from the much more affordable variegated Philodendron imbe hort. ex Engl. Don’t buy the wrong plant expensively.

Philodendron ilsemanii vs. Jose Buono

Variegated Philodendron Ilsemanii resembles Philodendron Jose Buono (unknown origin), and their leaf shape is similar, including the sagittate base. However, these are not the same plants.

Philodendron ilsemanii is moderately leathery, oval to oval-triangular leaves with the widest width where the lamina meets the petiole. In contrast, Philodendron Jose Buono has thicker, oblong to elliptical leathery leaves with the widest width slightly ahead of the point of attachment to the apex, i.e., towards the anterior lobe.

Secondly, P. ilsemanii is very rare and expensive ($750 to $5000) and has a weakly undulating margin, while P. Jose Buono is cheaper ($50-$200), and the margin is relatively straight.

Lastly, in ilsemanii, variegations appear mainly mottled, more like a Marble Queen Pothos, while in Jose Buono, they appear as splashes, dots, blotches, patches, and sectors, including half-moon.

Philodendron Red Queen

In the houseplant trade, Philodendron Red Queen or Philodendron tuxtlanum ‘Red Queen’ refers to the Philodendron sagittifolium green form with maroon or reddish underside, including pinkish blotches. Some vendors call it Philodendron Sagittifolium ‘Tuxtlanum Rubra’ or red queen Philodendron.

As already seen, it is normal for P. sagittifolium to have a maroon underside, which is a normal variability. However, we cannot confirm if this plant is a cultivar or a normal variation.

If you want to buy it, you should know that Philodendron red queen is a rare plant with prices ranging from $30 to $100. In some areas, especially New Zealand, it sells for up to $20.

Philodendron golden tuxtlanum/Tuxtla

Philodendron golden tuxtlanum is a rare variation with a few people with green leaves mottled yellow-green, golden, or orange and a reddish underside.

It seems like a variegated plant. However, we haven’t seen the plant and cannot confirm whether it is a variegation.

Caring Philodendron sagittifolium, including variegated

Philodendron sagittifolium needs a warm, humid place with bright, indirect light. Its potting mix must be well-drained, airy, and rich in organic matter. Water it when the top few inches feel dry.

Here is more on caring for your P. ilsemanii

  • USDA hardiness: 10-11, not frost hard and move it indoors when the temperature falls below 50°F.
  • Temperature: 55-80°F. Avoid cold drafts, sudden temperature changes, or places near heat sources.
  • Humdity: It prefers high humidity, 60% or more but can tolerate lower (about 40%). If you have sagittifolium variegated plants, keep humidity above 50%. A humidifier, pebble tray, misting, etc., will help raise humidity.
  • Light: Bright indirect light. However, non-variegated plants can tolerate medium light. Avoid direct sunlight and use please grow lights for poorly lit places.
  • Soil. Use a well-drained, airy potting mix high in organic matter. We use aroid mixes (see Etsy.com). Alternatively, add perlite, peat moss, bark chips, and compost to potting mix to make yours.
  • Watering: Thoroughly water this aroid when the soil feels dry up to the first knuckle or the soil moisture meter reads dry. XLUX soil moisture meter is an excellent buy.
  • Feeding: Feed once a month with a balanced, liquid houseplant fertilizer during growing months only. But any good brand for potted or indoor plants, including slow-release formulas, will work well.
  • Pruning: Snip any dead, damaged, or diseased parts with sterilized gardening shears. Also, you can cut back a few stems during the growing months to control their size and growth.
  • Repotting: Repot Every 1-2 years or if rootbound. Use a pot 2-3 inches wider in diameter than the current one.  
  • Moss pole: Give and train your plant on a moss pole, totem, bamboo pole, trellis, etc.

Problems and issues

Pests (mealybugs, spider mites, aphids, and scale insects) and diseases (leaf spot and southern blight) are uncommon, especially indoors.

A relatively common issue is root rot. It happens if you overwater your plant, don’t drain water that collects on the saucer after watering, or your soil doesn’t drain.

Wrong growing conditions and improper care (and sometimes pests or diseases) may cause the plant to droop or its leaves to curl. Also, leaves may turn yellow, black, or brown, including spots and brown tips and margins.

Frequently asked questions

Is Philodendron sagittifolium rare?

Yes. Philodendron sagittifolium, especially the variegated one, is a rare houseplant that only a handful of people have. Even the green form and red queen are equally rare, albeit cheaper.

What is the price of Philodendron ilsemanii?

The Philodendron sagittifolium green and the Red Queen cost between $30 to $150 with starter plants, rooted or unrooted plants, going for as little as $15. If you want the variegated one, be ready to spend $750 to $5000.

Where do I buy Philodendron ilsemanii?

Etsy.com, eBay, Facebook, and Instagram are the best four places to buy Philodendron ilsemanii. They have sellers all over the world. Also, you can use the Google search engine to get more vendors near you.