philodendron atabapoense

Philodendron Atabapoense: How to Grow, Propagate and Care

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How could you not love a plant with elongated heart-shaped foliage that is also super easy to grow? There’s a whole lot to love about the Philodendron Atabapoens. From the name itself, the word Philo means love in Greek, and Dendron means tree.

For many plant parents, philodendrons are a favorite statement houseplant that thrives well to low-light spots and tolerates a wide range of growing conditions. Here’s a comprehensive guide to growing, maintaining, and propagating philodendrons, if you’re looking to add this lovely plant to your collection.

Philodendron Atabapoense Overview

The philodendron atabapoense is native to South America and belongs to the Araceae family. Identified by the botanists in 1975, the philodendron atabapoense plants are found primarily in the Amazon rainforest of Brazil and the southern portion of Venezuela,

As the term “philodendron” suggests, this beautiful tropical plant is epiphytic in nature and loves growing on trees. In its natural habitat, this particular climbing philodendron species can be found at an elevation of around 300 feet above sea level.

Philodendrons, in general, are pretty durable, including the atabapoense variety, which has a healthy lifespan of several years. The philodendron atabapoense stays green, healthy, and fresh for more than 5 years. With proper care, this beauty will keep embellishing and purifying your indoor spaces for many years.

SpeciesPhilodendron Atabapoense
Adult sizeOver 30 m; 2 m indoors
PropagationFrom seeds, cutting, layering

Philodendron Atabapoense Features

The P. atabapoense plant is prized not for charming flowers but gorgeous, lush foliage. It has waxy deep green leaves with a maroon color underside. Unlike other tropical plants, philodendrons don’t have the same single leaf type on the same plant.

This tropical plant has young leaves and adult leaves. Each one is different from the other. The leaves of philodendron can reach up to 30 inches in length and 3 – 5 inches in width at maturity. A mature philodendron atabapoense can have broader leaves once the plant matures. Young plants in atabapoense have burgundy lower surfaces.

One of the best attributes of P. atabapoense is that this plant is resistant to pests and fungi. As a result, the plant is easy to maintain, and can withstand dark corners and sparse watering. It also has well-established root systems.

This philodendron variety loves to climb with robust growth when supported by a pole or support. However, this tropical climbing plant carries the toxic legacy of the Araceae family.

All parts of the philodendron atabapoense are poisonous. If eaten or chewed, the calcium oxalate crystals found in the plant can irritate the lips, tongue, and throat. Thus, keep this plant away from children and pets.

Philodendron Atabapoense Care Guide

This philodendron species is easily one of my favorites as it requires little care both indoors or outdoors. They do well in moist soils with organic matter and thrive better when provided with a burlap-wrapped pole to climb. 

As a low-maintenance plant, the philodendron atabapoense can quickly grow indoors or outdoors with less hassle. You only need to be familiar with the basics, and you will have an easy time cultivating this plant at home.

Ideal Growing Place

Philodendron plants can be planted in pots, hanging baskets, or you cant plant outdoors as a stunning tree wrap. Like other climbing and non-climbing aroids in the Araceae family, the philodendron atabapoense variety can quickly grow as houseplants or plant outdoors in mild climates. 

The philodendron atabapoense is a tougher houseplant than it looks when it comes to neglect. The plant can survive a considerable period of neglect. But again, just like other living things, this does not mean that you completely neglect it and leave the plant to dry out in a corner.


A grown philodendron likes to be on the dry side. So go easy on watering, preferably once or twice a week. Allow the soil surface to dry before watering. It will keep the soil evenly moist. During winter, the plant needs watering at least once every two weeks.

This philodendron atabapoense is highly sensitive to overwatering. When you see droopy leaves, this signifies either under-watering or overwatering the plant.

The leaves of atabapoense might look magnificently larger, but they cannot retain enough energy sources for harsh conditions. Therefore, do not let this plant go thirsty for a more extended period.


Philodendrons thrive in low to medium light conditions. For optimal sunlight exposure, it is best to keep your philodendron atabapoense between 70-85% indirect sunlight to partial shade. If you are growing this plant in an office setting with no windows, be sure to provide at least artificial grow lights for the plant to stay healthy.

In greenhouses or gardens, it is best to install a protective cover using shade cloth. This way, the direct sun will not damage the leaves. If you place the plant outdoors, 40-70% of sunlight exposure is adequate for its proper growth.

The atabapoense can tolerate some direct sun exposure without damage. However, it requires acclimatization for the plant to survive. Otherwise, the leaves of the plant will become bleached, then turn brown and eventually wither.

When relocating the plant into a spot that gets direct sunlight, be sure to build up the plant’s tolerance first. You can start by limiting the direct sun exposure to 1 hour a day for a few days, then gradually increase it until the plant is fully acclimated.

The best time of the day to do the acclimatization process is in the morning or late afternoon. However, hot midday sunlight will scorch the leaves.


This tropical houseplant likes the humidity of the greenhouse. Ideally, the atabapoense thrives best at 12 to 26 degrees Celsius (55 to 80 o F).

Needless to say, it cannot withstand freezing temperatures. So you will have to bring your plant indoors for the winter months. Place your philodendrons at a warm spot before the temperature falls below 12 degrees Celsius or 55°F in fall and winter.


This Philo plant grows best in organic soil that is loose and well-drained. Increase the drainage and aeration of the planter by putting pebbles, orchid bark, or a bit of sand. You can also add organic fertilizers to it.

The ideal pH level of the soil is around 6.1-7.3, which is slightly acidic to a neutral level. Use a pot or planter that has excellent drainage. For optimal soil composition, moist and rich in organic matter, go for an airy and fluffy mix with the following materials:

  • Rich potting soil
  • Peat moss
  • Perlite
  • Orchid potting medium


Philodendron species generally love the warmth and humidity of about 65% to 70% or higher. Growing this plant indoors, you can increase the humidity levels by misting the foliage.

The philodendron atabapoense is endemic to the tropical rainforests of South America. Using a humidifier is also a good alternative. It is best to mimic the indoor humidity levels to those of rainforests with a humidifier.

Another good alternative is by grouping your plants. This way, you will be able to improve the humidity of the surrounding.


You can fertilize this philodendron now and then. However, it does need that much feeding. I recommend fertilizing this plant with a slow-release fertilizer at least 2 – 3 times a year. You can do the feeding in early spring, summer, and late summer. Adding a diluted vitamin solution is also great for the plant. Avoid over-feeding the plant with fertilizer as this can burn the roots.

If you are using synthetic fertilizer like the 20-20-20, I recommend applying it once a month in spring, early summer, and late summer. Synthetic fertilizer should be diluted to lessen its potency and avoid burning the plant. Going for half the strength based on the brand’s recommendation would be better and safe for the plant. I advise not fertilizing your philodendron in autumn or winter.


The philodendron atabapoense needs pruning and grooming from time to time. Light pruning of the plant will stimulate new growth. Avoid heavy pruning as this can be counterproductive and can shock the plant resulting in slowing its growth.

Prune the plant by gently cutting dead, yellowed, or old leaves. Pruning is an excellent way to help the plant conserve its energy. Always wear gardening gloves when doing so to avoid skin irritation from the sap of the plant.

This philodendron atabapoense rarely blooms indoors. If you are lucky, you will see the spathe of the plant in purplish-brown color on the inside and green on the outside. But again, the plant variety is more known for its luscious foliage, divided into two distinctive juvenile leaves and mature leaves variety.

Potting and Re-potting

For the first 2 to 3 years, re-potting is not necessary. When re-potting the philodendron atabapoense, use a bigger new container with the same good drainage system. I recommend adding an appropriate amount of fertilizer (preferably liquid seaweed fertilizer) in every re-potting.

Check the Soil section above for the ideal soil mixture.

Growth Zone

Grow these tropical plants indoors or on a patio if located in USDA plant hardiness zones of 4a to 11. For outdoor planting, the most suitable USDA zones range from 9b to 11.

Common Pests, Toxins, Diseases & Other Problems

Too much soil moisture is the primary reason for yellowing leaves on the philodendron atabapoense. Adjust your watering routine so as not to allow the soil to remain soggy.

Fortunately, the atabapoense philodendron is relatively resistant to pests. But it can still be affected by spider mites, scale, mealybugs, and whiteflies. The most pestering among them are the spider mites. Get rid of them as soon as possible using neem oil or insecticide spray.

Bacterial infections can also cause the yellowing of leaves. Overwatering can also result in yellowing or dropping leaves. Make sure to use a planter that has good drainage holes. When your planter does not drain well, your philodendron becomes vulnerable to root rot and fungal diseases.

Poor lighting, too much moist soil, and nutrient deficiencies can make the philodendrons susceptible to pest infections. Another reason for yellowing or browning leaves is too much direct sun exposure.

As mentioned above, the sap of the atabapoense philodendron contains toxins harmful to pets and humans. Thus, it is best to place the plant at a higher location away from the reach of kids and pets.


This Philo atabapoense plant is relatively rare and expensive. Be sure to learn the proper way to propagate this gorgeous houseplant to expand your collection.

Propagation of the philodendron atabapoense is relatively easy. You can do this through stem cuttings by planting them in soil or placing them in water. If you’re using water propagation, which I do a lot, you can do the following steps:

  • Sterilize your cutting tools using isopropyl alcohol to avoid infection on the plant
  • With the sterilized blade, gently cut a stem of about 6 inches
  • Choose a stem that has at least 2 leafless nodes and some leaves
  • With a pre-prepared container filled with filtered water, place the freshly cut stem into the container
  • Be sure the leafless nodes are submerged in the water while the leaves are above the surface
  • Put the container in a spot with bright but indirect light or a healthy dose of indirect sunlight
  • Replace the water every 3 days
  • Under ideal conditions, root development of the new plant will take 2 to 3 weeks
  • When you see new roots sprouting, it is time to move them to a planter with proper soil mix.

If you prefer soil propagation, follow the same steps above to proper stem cutting. This time use fresh potting soil as the rooting medium. Keep the potting mixture evenly moist.

If you have large philodendron plants, you can do several stem cuttings and propagate them simultaneously. The best time for propagation is during summer.

Is Philodendron Atabapoense Rare?

Yes, the philodendron atabapoense plant is still hard to come by. That is why it is so expensive. But the overall value of the tropical houseplant is all worth it. For many growers, the rare philodendron atabapoense is a must-have plant.

The Bottom Line

If you’re like me, who is fond of Philodendrons, then the atabapoense plant variety is for you. There’s a whole lot to like about the philodendron atabapoense: robust growth, simple propagation, ease of care, and stunning foliage.

Like the other varieties of Philodendrons out there, the distinctive foliage of the atabapoense is impressive, whether draping from a hanging basket or creeping a pole. You can have this plant for indoor or outdoor cultivation — the philodendron atabapoense is versatile and highly in demand.

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