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Philodendron subhastatum Care Including Variegated

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Philodendron subhastatum is a rare tropical plant with oval-triangular leaves and a reddish-purple tinge in juvenile and pre-adult plants. Mature specimens have larger leaves with deeply lobed bases and don’t have the reddish-purple underside.

This aroid is easy to care for, and the lovely bicolored leaves will stand out. Also, it is air purifying, another reason to buy it.

Learn more about Philodendron subhastatum, including its variegated form, care, and how to propagate it. We will also give you a detailed description to help you identify this plant and tell you how it differs from Philodendron cruentum.

However, before you go ahead and buy it, parents, including pet parents, should know that this plant is mild to moderately toxic to pets and humans.

Philodendron Subhastatum green form plant
P. subhastatum plant: Check the latest prices.

About Philodendron subhastatum

Philodendron subhastatum K.Krause, first published in 1913, is an accepted Philodendron species native to Colombia to Ecuador.

Its synonym is Philodendron hastatum Engl. However, please don’t confuse it with Philodendron hastatum K.Koch & Sello, commonly known as Philodendron Silver Sword, as it is a separate, accepted species native to SE. Brazil.

1. Growing habits, size, and growth rate

Philodendron subhastatum is an evergreen, appressed-stem climbing hemiepiphyte. It mainly grows in tropical wet and pluvial forests as an understory plant, with some specimens collected in semi-open areas, including near river banks.

How large and how fast does it grow? Subhastatum is a relatively slow-growing plant that can grow faster in ideal conditions. Usually, it can reach beyond 10 feet in the wild, and at home, it will be 4 to 8 feet tall but needs a place to climb to be this tall.  

2. How to identify Philodendron subhastatum

Philodendron subhastatum juvenile, pre-adult, and adult or mature plants will show some differences. Let us look at the differences in detail as we let you know how to identify this plant.

a). Leaves

Juvenile and pre-adult plants will have green leaves with a reddish-purple tinge on the underside. Also, juvenile plants have leaves with a heart-shaped base, which will slowly start developing deeply lobed posterior lobes as it grows to maturity.

Another key distinction you will easily notice is pre-adult leaves with a broadly convex midrib on the upper side, rounded below. In mature plants, the midrib is paler on either side, flat and streaked with short dark-green lines on the upper side, while the lower is narrowly rounded.

Mature Philodendron subhastatum, on the other hand, will have erect, spreading, oval to triangular, sub-leathery medium green leaves, semi-glossy on the upper side and paler and weakly glossy on the lower side.

These adult leaves measure about 7.9-25.6 inches long by 3.4-14.6 inches wide, have an undulating margin, a suddenly acuminate apex, and outward directed, deeply lobed posterior lobes with an obtuse to rounded apex.

Posterior lobes have partly nude (up to 1.2 inches) posterior ribs and 6-7 basal veins (only 1-2 reaching base, others coalescing), while the anterior lobe has 7-8 pairs of primary lateral veins that depart at an angle of 65-75º to the midrib. These primary lateral veins are decurrent near the midrib and go out straight before abruptly curving upwards.

b). Petioles

Petioles tend to differ in pre-adult and mature plants. For instance, in subadult plants, petioles are cylindrical, spongy, and finely and densely estriate.

On the other hand, mature subhastatum plants have 17.7-18.5 inches long, medium to dark green petioles marked with dark-green lines and an apex with a dark green ring. The upper side is obtusely flattened and has an obtuse medial rib near the apex

c). Stems

Juvenile plants have green stems with longer internodes, while pre-adult plants will have dark-green, weakly glossy cylindrical stems with internodes up to 2 inches long and an epidermis that grays with time.  

On the other hand, in adult plants, stems are thicker, semi-glossy, and grayish-green with a flaking surface. Internodes range from 0.8 to 3.9 long and are always longer than wide.

d). Cataphylls

Pre-adult plants will have fleshy, unribbed deciduous, shorter cataphylls. In contrast, adult plants have longer, spongy, double-ribbed cataphylls marked with short, dark green lineate; initially, they appear marcescent and fall soon after.

e). Flowers and infructescence

This plant is unlikely to flower under cultivation. Usually, it produces 1-2 inflorescences per axil with a spadix surrounded by a constricted spathe. The spathe is whitish inside and reddish to dark pinkish on the outside, and the infructescences will be pale green.

Is there Philodendron subhastatum variegated form?

Yes. We have seen vendors with Philodendron subhastatum variegated or variegata. Most have yellowish, orange, or golden mottling, marbling, or patches, while others have cream to mint variegations.

Philodendron Subhastatum Variegated
Philodendron subhastatum variegated (mint): See the latest prices.

The prices of the variegata plants seem comparable to slightly more expensive than the usual green. It ranges from $40 to $120, depending on where you buy it. This price is somewhat lower than what you expect, such as a rare variegated plant.

Lastly, I have not had a chance to get the variegated form of this plant. So, I cannot comment much on the stability and genuineness. However, like any other Philodendron plant, variegation can occur but are very rare.

How does Philodendron cruentum differ from subhastatum?

Philodendron cruentum Poepp is a rare, accepted species native to Peru. It resembles subhastatum, especially juvenile and pre-adult plants. To tell the difference, consider the leaf blade, petiole, midrib, and, if present, flowers.

The cruentum’s leaf blade is rigid, elongated-elliptical-oblong with a briefly cuspidate apex and a somewhat gradual or abrupt narrowing to the base that is a bit unequal. In contrast, the subhastatum’s lamina is oval to triangular with an abruptly acuminate apex and a deeply lobed base.

Still, on the lamina, the cruentum’s midrib is broad at the base but attenuates upwards, while in the subhastatum, the midrib isn’t as thick at the base and doesn’t attenuate.

Another easy-to-notice difference is that the Philodendron cruentum has a shorter, semi-terete petiole with a strongly sheathed and thickened base than the subhastatum.

Lastly, the spathe of cruentum is white outside and blood-red inside, while in s subhastatum, it is whitish on the inner side and reddish to dark-pinkish outside.

How to care for Philodendron subhastatum 

If you want this plant to be healthy and lusty, proper care and ideal growing conditions are necessary. So, please grow your Philodendron subhastatum in a warm, humid place with bright indirect light.

Also, its potting mix should be airy, chunky, and rich in organic matter, and you should water it when the top few inches feel dry. Don’t forget it also needs feeding, pruning, repotting, and support.

Here is a comprehensive care guide for this adorable aroid:

  • USDA hardiness zone: 10-11. It doesn’t tolerate freezing conditions or frost.
  • Temperature: Maintain a temperature of 60-80 °F for optimum growth. Avoid cold drafts, temperatures below 50°F, and sudden temperature changes. Also, don’t place it near hot appliances or cold or hot air vents.
  • Humidity: Maintain a humidity of at least 40%, with the ideal amount being 60 or more. If yours is low, consider a humidifier, group your plants or have a pebble tray. Also, misting may help raise the humidity,
  • Light: They need bright, indirect light, especially the variegated form, to grow optimally. Avoid direct sunlight and buy grow lights if the light isn’t enough.
  • Soil: Best soil for Philodendron subhastatum should be well-drained, airy, and rich in organic matter. Etsy.com has good aroid mixes. Also, you can mix potting mix with some perlite, peat moss (or coco coir), bark chips, and compost (or worm casting).  
  • Watering: Thoroughly water this plant when the soil feels dry past your first finger knuckle, and for those who prefer using a soil moisture meter, water when it reads dry. Don’t forget to discard any water that collects on the saucer.
  • Feeding: This plant is a slow grower. Therefore, feeding it once a month with a balanced, liquid houseplant fertilizer during the growing months is ok. Still, slow release formula will work well.
  • Pruning: Regularly check for and remove any dead, damaged, or diseased leaves using sterilized gardening scissors. In growing months, you can cut back the plant a little if you need to keep its size or shape.
  • Repotting: Repotting is after every 1-2 years or if rootbound. Select a pot that is 2-3 inches wider in diameter.
  • Moss pole or stake: If you want this plant to grow taller and have adorable large leaves, consider giving it a moss pole, trellis, or somewhere to climb.

How to propagate Philodendron subhastatum plant?

You can easily propagate Philodendron subhastatum via stem cutting in water or soil. The stem cutting must have at least a node. Other methods are air layering and seeds (hard to find).

We prefer water propagation as it is less messy and allows you to monitor the rooting process. However, it takes longer, and your plant will suffer some shock on transplant. Soil propagation and air layering also have their pros and cons too.

Here is how to easily propagate this plant by stem cutting in water:

  • Step 01: Select a mature, healthy stem with at least two to three nodes and cut it just below the lowest node with sterilized gardening shears. If it has more than three leaves, snip off the lower ones.
  • Step 02: Apply your rooting hormone on the cut end. Not mandatory but will speed rooting and prevent rot. Garden Safe TakeRoot or HydroDynamics Clonex are excellent picks.
  • Step 03: Dip the cut end inside a jar with water ensuring at least one node is under water.
  • Step 04: Place the cutting in a warm place with bright indirect light
  • Step 05: Routinely change the water after a few days and fill it when the level goes down.

In a few weeks, you will notice roots starting to grow from the nodes immersed in water. Transplant it when they are at least 2-3 inches long.

Issues or problems

Pests are uncommon indoors. However, Philodendron subhastatum may have aphids, thrips, scales, mealybugs, fungus gnats, and spider mites. Use neem oil, horticultural oils, or insecticidal soaps to manage these pests.

Besides root rot, diseases are uncommon too. However, this plant can end up with fungal or bacterial leaf spots, Southern blight, and Dasheen mosaic virus. Always isolate new plants, sterilize your gardening shears, and practice proper hygiene.

Lastly, pests, diseases, wrong growing conditions, and improper care may result in your plant drooping and leaf discoloration or curling. So, if you see your plant having yellow, black, or brown leaves, including tips, edges, and spots, check conditions and ensure there are no diseases or pests.

Frequently asked question

Is Philodendron subhastatum rare?

Yes. Subhastatum is a rare houseplant you are unlikely to find even at your unusual tropical or exotic specialty plant vendor or stores. None of the big box stores or large-scale growers have it. Only a few people sell it, and you must search for one near you.

What is the Philodendron subhastatum price?

Philodendron subhastatum retails at $30 to $110 for the usual green form. Exact costs may vary depending on prices and plant size. However, if you need the variegated form, be ready to spend between $40 and upwards, to as high as $120.

Where can I buy Philodendron subhastatum plant?

Our favorite plant shop is Etsy.com since it has unbeatable prices and vendors from not just the US but also Australia, Canada, Asia, the UK, and the rest of Europe. Alternative good places are eBay, Facebook, and Instagram. Also, you will get a few vendors online near you if you search on Google or other search engines.