philodendron serpens

Philodendron Serpens: Helpful Tips to Ensure Quality Care

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Are you looking for a tough but beautiful addition to your living space? The Philodendron serpens is a gorgeous and hardy plant perfect for anyone- plant lovers and novices alike. This bright green tropical plant sports unique deep veined leaves and fuzzy-haired stalks and is low maintenance making them perfect houseplants and office plants. If this plant has piqued your interest, continue reading for quality care tips.

Philodendron Serpens Overview

Originating in South America, specifically the Ecuador and Colombia region, the Philodendron serpens is tropical in nature and is considered an evergreen and flowering plant. Belonging to the Philodendron Schott genus, it has around 60 relatives sporting vibrant leaves and stalks.

Belonging to the Philodendron Schott group, it has around 60 relatives in the genus: each sporting vibrant leaves and stalks. Here are a few of the Philodendron serpens’ relatives that are just as quirky.

Philodendron brasil: This member of the Philodendron family has stunning heart-shaped leaves with yellow and green hues similar to paint strokes.

Silver philodendron (Philodendron hastatum): With this common name, it is no surprise the silver Philodendron has striking leaves with silver patches that adorn its narrow green leaves.

Philodendron rugosum: This Philodendron variety sets itself apart with leathery green rounded leaves.

Botanical NamePhilodendron serpens
FamilyAraceae
GenusPhilodendrons Schott
OriginSouth America (Colombia to Ecuador)
Annual or Perennial NaturePerennital
SunlightBright indirect light
WateringMedium / Moist soil requirement
SoilWell-draining soil
Temperature65-85 degrees Fahrenheit
PropagationStem cuttings/air layer method
Re-PottingWhen root growth surpasses pot size
Pests and DiseasesMealybugs, Thrips, Root rot, Bacterial infection
ToxicityToxic to humans and pets
Philodendron Serpens: Helpful Tips to Ensure Quality Care 1

Philodendron Serpens Features

Philodendron serpens got its name from the appearance of the leaves and their resemblance to snakes. This species can grow up to around 12 inches, but its magnificence comes from the leaves spreading up to 5 feet wide! Gorgeous, deeply veined Philodendron serpens leaves and hairy leaf stalks make this plant appear original. Once the philodendron serpens plant reaches maturity, its leaves will be joined by inflorescences which are mature flower heads.

The Philodendron serpens plant owners should be aware that the species is toxic to humans and animals alike. The toxicity comes from the plant containing calcium oxalate crystals, which can harm the throat and esophagus.

Philodendron Serpens Care Guide

Ideal Growing Place

Due to the Philodendron serpens plant being tropical in nature and originating from South America, it thrives in warm and humid conditions. Ideally, this plant requires bright indirect light, temperatures of 65-85 degrees Fahrenheit, moderate watering, and well-draining soil.

The Philodendron serpens plant is often found indoors as a house plant but can be planted outside if the climate is right. The main growth and blooming season is in the springtime and may need extra care to account for this.

Water

Tropical species like the Philodendron serpens plant require moist soil to thrive. To decide if your plant needs watering, place two fingers about two inches into the soil. If the first two inches are dry, your plant needs to be watered. Be careful to avoid providing excess water as this can lead to destructive issues for your plant, such as root rot.

Sunlight

Like the tropical conditions this species is used to, the Philodendron serpens require bright indirect sunlight to thrive. Too much direct sunlight can harm the beautiful leaves of this plant. If used as a house plant, place the pot near north or east-facing windows to soak up the light. Be sure to rotate the pot so all sides can receive optimum lighting.

Temperature

The Philodendron serpens require a 65-85 degrees Fahrenheit temperature to grow successfully. If you are planting this species outdoors, check that climate conditions are suitable. Indoor temperature is easier to regulate if using this as a houseplant.

Soil

To ensure your plant is not overwatered and exposed to excess moisture, the Philodendron serpens requires well-draining soil. It is best to plant this species in a pot with holes to ensure draining and use a well-draining, slightly acidic soil mixture to support your plant’s health. Following these soil requirements will give your plant a healthy foundation.

Humidity

An ideal humidity level for the Philodendron serpens plant is around 60-70% which mimics the plant’s tropical origin. Indoors, a humidifier can greatly support your plant and regulate the humidity level it is exposed to. Another option is to use misting to provide your plant with some moisture.

Fertilizer

Experts recommend using a half-strength slow-release fertilizer around 3 times a year to support your plant growth and provide nutrients. Beware of using liquid fertilizer on the Philodendron Serpens as it tends to need to be reapplied every few weeks due to volatilization. Also, be sure not to overdo it, as some side effects can present in your plant, such as stunted growth, burned/dried leaf, wilting, and leggy growth.

Pinching/Pruning

To prune your Philodendron serpens plant, you will need sterilized gardening shears to do the cutting. The target areas to trim include damaged, dead, and diseased leaves. This will keep your plant happy and healthy and promote growth.

Related Article: How to Sharpen Garden Shears: A Step by Step Guide

Potting and Re-potting

The Philodendron serpens is a fast-growing plant, growing up to 12 inches with leaves that can spread up to 5 feet wide. To ensure your plant has enough space to grow successfully, it is recommended to re-pot when the root system begins to push through the bottom of the pot.

When re-potting, grab a new pot with about 2-3 inches more room than the previous and fresh soil. Place your plant in its new home and continue caring for it as recommended.

Growth Zone

The Philodendron serpens grows in the USDA Hardiness zones 9 to 11. In the United States, these zones encompass the southern states and creep up the west coast. If planting this species outdoors, take these zones into consideration with your area.

Common Pests, Toxins, Diseases & Other Problems

Common problems with your Philodendron serpens can include pests and diseases. Pests that can disturb your Philodendron serpens include spider mites, mealy bugs, and thrips but are uncommon if your plant is indoors. Other ailments can include root rot and yellowing leaves, a result of excess moisture in the soil, and leaf issues caused by various sources. If your Philodendron serpens leaves are browning, curling, drooping/wilting, these can result from improper watering, temperature, and sunlight. Remove the infected leaves and adjust these factors.

Propagation

Philodendron serpens propagation can be executed using stem cuttings and air layering. Propagation by stem cuttings requires you to find a 2-4 inch leaf node which is a place on the plant where leaves attach, and aerial roots appear, and cut it with sterilized shears or a sharp knife.

Once the node is cut, allow it to callous over by leaving it out in a warm space for about a week. This will make it easier for your cutting to develop roots. Once ready, take your cutting and plant in fresh soil about two inches deep. Pack the soil around it and have a straw or similar item ready if your cutting cannot be supported on its own. Once this is done, you can care for it as you would a full-grown Philodendron serpens plant.

The air layering method is another propagation process for your 

Philodendron serpens that includes the help of sphagnum moss. To begin, you will need to wound an area of the upper stem with a sterilized knife or shears. Place a toothpick or similar item in the wound to keep it open with space for the moss to come.

Rub moist moss around the wound, then wrap the moss and stem in place with plastic wrap but not too tight so that the moss is suffocated. Hold the wrapped moss wound in place with duct tape attached to the stem, and wait for roots to appear in the moss after about a month.

Once the roots reach about 3 inches, remove the moss and root bundle from the original plant wound with sterilized shears or a sharp knife. Then you can plant the new growth in a fresh pot and soil.

Philodendron Serpens: Helpful Tips to Ensure Quality Care 2

Philodendron Serpens Mature Timeline

0-4weeks: After propagation, your roots will take about 4 weeks to grow into a round-shaped root ball. Once the roots have reached about 2-3 inches in length, you are in the clear to transplant them into a new planter.

4 weeks+: After your root ball is the right size, you can transplant it into a fresh planter with new soil. It can be helpful to add perlite mixture into the soil to allow roots more airy spaces to grow. Once your new plant is set up in the new pot, you can care for your new Philodendron serpens as mentioned earlier, under optimum conditions.

Philodendron Serpens FAQ

Philodendron Squamicaule vs Serpens: What’s the Difference?

Both plants hail from South America, but there are differences. Philodendron serpens comes from the regions of Colombia to Ecuador, while the Squamicaule is rarer, coming from southeast Nicaragua to Ecuador. Additionally, the Squamicaule sports leaves that are oval and triangular. It is also described that the Squamicaule has dark purple / brown hairy and scaly stem stalks.

Where Can I Find Philodendron Serpens for Sale?

While you may be able to find other Philodendron plants at well-known stores like Home Depot and Lowes, the serpens variety is harder to find. Online sites like Etsy and nurseries can ship the plant to you.

Can I Use Tap Water to Water My Philo Serpens Plant?

Many agree that using tap water for watering your Philodendron plants is okay, but there is a stipulation to keep in mind. Most tap water has chlorine in it, which can become harmful for house plants in high dosages. To remedy this, allow tap water to sit out overnight before using it to water your plant.

Is It True That Serpens Philodendron Purify the Air?

Philodendron serpens and other larger-leaved plants are indeed able to purify the air of toxic pollutants and irritants. For plants to make their food during Photosynthesis, they take in the air around them to use. When plants, in turn, release oxygen back into the air, the air is purified of some toxins or chemicals.

When Propagating Philodendrons in Water How Long Should the Roots Be Before Planting Into Soil?

Propagation allows new root growth to begin, whether using the stem cutting or air layering method. Before planting into the soil, your roots should be around 2-3 inches long.

Is Philodendron a Type of Orchid?

Philodendron plants are not a type of orchid. Orchids originate from a group known as Orchidaceae, while Philodendrons are from the family Araceae.

Is Philodendron Serpens a Climber?

Philodendron serpens is a quick-growing climber. This means that the plant can grow up a surface vertically and may need some support, such as a stick or rod. Other known climbers include ivies and vines.

The Bottom Line

If you are looking for a beautifully unique plant with stunning foliage and colors, the Philodendron serpens is right for you. This plant will add dimension and beauty to any space, indoors or outdoors, in the right environment. By following the care guide, you will be sure to provide your plant with the best conditions to thrive in your space.

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