Philodendron werneri Care & Culture Tips for Growing Indoors

In Houseplants & Tropicals
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Full disclosure: Philodendron werneri is a recent acquisition of mine as of Aug 15, 2020 from Ecuagenera—that’s why my plant looks small. This care sheet is not *currently* based on a great deal of experience growing the plant, but on extrapolations of habitat data and my experience growing plants which come from that same general area of South America along the Andes. There is very limited information online about care/culture of philodendron werneri, so I’m hoping this will help others who have recently purchased (or are considering to buy) this plant. I will update this care sheet as my plant grows, including photos of it at the very bottom of the article.
You have been warned—apply any information here at your own risk.

Generally, I will be applying my standard aroid care to this plant. However, below will give insights into details like temperature, light and nutrients for this plant (which likely has unique requirements for care).

About Philodendron werneri

A recently declared species in 2013, Philodendron werneri comes from the Zamora-Chinchipe province of Ecuador, found at 2,000m, “along the road from Loja to Zamora” [citation – p68, New Species of Philodendron (Araceae) from South America; Croat, Grib and Kostelac]. It lives in premontane moist forest. There are currently two ‘forms’ available: a “mini” and large-leafed form; whether these are two distinct variants or just juvenile and mature specimens, is unclear.

This species has extrafloral nectaries which give the leaf a speckled look. These extrafloral nectaries (EFNs) are a functional adaptation that encourages an animal–plant interaction which results in protection against herbivory. The plant feeds ants with sugar and the ants protect the plant from grazing insects or other animals. The leaves can get sticky as a result of this; a semi-regular rinse down of the leaves will remove the sticky-sugar buildup.

Extrapolating Care based on habitat:

Temperature: The elevation at which this plant is found (2,000m) tells us this is a highland or ‘cool growing’ species (see nepenthes care based on elevation)—that is “cool growing” for a tropical plant (not cool growing in terms of a Canadian winter). Highland plants from this elevation, typically do best with moderate daytime temps around: 21-27C (70-80F); and cool night temps averaging: 10-16C (50-60F). These lower night-time temps at least seasonally may be a requirement for successful long-term care or for signaling flowering cycles. It is possible that this species will be more challenging to keep alive for people living in hot climates with minimal evening changes.

Philodendron werneri temperature
Data analysis for Loja, Ecuador
*Appears consistent with the above assumptions.*

Water/Moisture/Humidity: Philodendron werneri reportedly grows in “wet premontane forests”, so it’s a species that will likely respond well to moist conditions and the roots should not be allowed to go “bone dry.” However, as with care for all Aroids, good airflow to the roots will be important to prevent root rot or disease. Moist…does not mean sodden and water-logged. Looking at the climate data for Loja, Ecuador (near where this species is found), it’s rains more from January thru March (when there is an average humidity of 70%) and is drier May thru September (with an average humidity of 60%) [source].

Philodendron werneri habitat & annual rainfall

Light: Assume ‘moderate’ as per other aroids—but look to the color and size of the leaves for signals that light is ideal. Watch the gap size between nodes and increase light if the plant is leggy, if the leaves decrease in size, or if they are dark green. If the plant is getting enough light, the leaves will be more of an grey-to-olive-green. Yellowing or chlorosis splotching is a sign of excessive light and/or improper nutrients.

I will be growing my plant along side my philodendron melanochrysum, El Choco Red and other South American aroids in front of an east window with additional LED light in the afternoon.

Substrate: The West-side of the Andes is high in calcium carbonate (which comes from exposed mountain limestone). I would make an educated guess that this species (like others found in the area) relies on abundant calcium to grow/perform well. Plants adapted to alkaline soils may be susceptible to pathogens if they’re not given enough calcium for robust cell growth. If you’re growing this plant and it appears to be struggling, consider adding calcium or CalMag to your feeding routine.

Related Species in the area: Phragmipedium kovachii (an orchid) comes from a similar habitat, slightly more south at San Martin, Peru (also at 2,000m); aside from my notes above, I’ll be applying care/culture of that species to my philodendron werneri. If you’re looking for more information related to Philodendron werneri, consider researching Phragmipedium kovachii (of which there is significantly more info about).

Photos of Philodendron werneri

Phil werneri, photo update – Nov 21, 2020
Oct 8, 2020 – New Leaves (a good sign)

Aug 31, 2020 – New roots! Always a good sign when roots are popping out so quickly after arriving
Aug 15, 2020 – arrived and newly repotted
My order from Ecuagenera

 

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New plants arrived from @ecuagenerasales – yay! Finally, new plants for 2020. All potted up and looking cute. I placed this order back in May for pickup at the Calgary show (which was planned for October). Though the event was cancelled, the @foothillsorchid society still coordinated a group order and my plants came in with that lot. In this #planthaul: – Phrag Wossner Rosenglanz (caricinum) – Phrag Super Rubies (humboldtii) – Phrag Ruby Slippers (caudatum) – #Phrag klotzschianum x Phrag. caudatum – #Philodendronwerneri – #Anthuriummetallicum – #Anthuriumrecavum – Pearcea hypocyrtiflora x Episcia cupreata – Notopleura polyphlebia – Geogenanthus #aroids #anthurium #rarehouseplants #phragmipedium #houseplants #ecuagenera

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