One of the more exotic, striking and designer groups of tropical plants, Aroids often hold a special place at the top of every plant-collector’s wish list. From their crystalline and sparkly leaves, to bold contrasting colors, to enormous foliage that make a living space feel truly like an urban jungle, Aroids are a unique addition to our home. The problem is…they’re often regarded as being difficult to care for.
In this post I’m going to cover the care and culture of Aroids, rare Anthuriums and velvet-leaf Philodendrons, according to my experience as an indoor grower in Canada. That is, growing them in my dry climate (often as low as 18-45%) WITHOUT adding humidifiers to increase humidity. If you disagree with my methods, no prob’, you won’t be the first; but hopefully, my photos and plants will speak for themselves and this post will be a kickoff point for others to learn from.
If you’re new here, welcome! Here…but not is my plant blog, and I’m Dustin an indoor-plant-hobbyist in Canada. If you want to stay connected for future content, I also have a YouTube channel and an Instgram account.
First, here are a few “photos as proof” that my plants are doing well and I have a clue what I’m talking about…
Philodendron melanochrysum If you like Aroid photos, there are many more from my collection at the very bottom of this article
Philodendron ‘El Choco Red’ After 1 Year
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Anthurium decipens a little over a year later clocking in at 5’8″ tall!
This post has been broken it into sections so you can navigate to the topic care about—or read the whole thing top-to-bottom:
- My Background & Araceae Collection
- Care & Culture
- Velvet-Leaf Anthurium Care (the fussy ones)
- Photos of My Aroids
What makes me an authority on Anthurium & Philodendrons care?
I currently grow a handful of different Aroids. Some of the rarer types like my melanochrysum, El Choco Red, and Anthurium salgarense/decipens have performed very well for me, and because of my success with those, I’ve had requests for care tips and advice. My Philodendron melanochrysum for example, went from a newly-imported plant with two 17″ leaves, to an established specimen with six leaves (the newest leaf now measures over 29″) and I achieved that in just under 10 months. I’m also long-time orchid grower and breeder and currently have 300+ orchids in my apartment here in Canada. Like many orchids, Aroids are epiphytes (or at least hemiepiphytes) which means they require similar conditions, climate, light, humidity and nutrients to that of orchids. I also grow all of my Aroids indoors (without any special adjustments to humidity) which means the advice in this post is specifically tailored to other indoor growers.
The Aroids I grow:
*photos of these at the bottom of this post
- Philodendron melanochrysum
- Philodendron ‘El Choco Red’ (AKA verrucosum 5)
- Philodendron werneri (recent acquisition – Aug ’20)
- Alocasia baginda ‘Dragon Scale’ & ‘Silver Dragon’ (recent acquisition – Sept ’20)
- Anthurium decipens (possibly A. salgarense)
- Anthurium ‘pseudospectabile’ (8 years in my care – likely a hybrid)
- Anthurium forgettii (2) ‘White Stripes’ & green form
- Anthurium warocqueanum
- Anthurium rugulosum
- Anthurium recavum (recent acquisition – Aug ’20)
- Anthurium metallicum (recent acquisition – Aug ’20)
- Monstera ‘Esqueleto’ (formerly epipremnoides)
- Monstera adansonii (thin and thick leaf forms)
- Monstera deliciosa albo variegata (7 years in my care)
- Amydrium medium (AKA Monstera Spiderman)
- Epipremnum aureum (AKA the Neon Pothos)
- Dieffenbachia ‘Reflector’ (AKA the poor-man’s Aglaonema pictum ‘Tricolor’)
Anthurium crystallinum*Dead from stem rot – Jan 2020*
Check out my Aroids…
VIDEO: Big Philodendron Leaves & My Unconventional Thoughts on Aroid Care
Aroid Care & Culture – Growing Indoors
Potting Mix for Anthuriums & Philodendrons
The potting media should be porous but water retentive. I use a blend of large-chunk orchid bark, coarse-grade perlite, and peatmoss at equal ratios; and then I add about 10% charcoal which helps remove toxicities that can build up (over many months) in the potting mix. After new plants are potted in this mix, I’ll top-dress the potting media with an additional layer of sphagnum moss. Note that there is a distinction between sphagnum moss and peatmoss—they are not the same thing; I use both but each has a different function. The sphagnum moss get’s mounded up around the base of the plant to a height of about 2″ maximum. This little bit of sphagnum on the top of the pot goes a long way in helping keep the base of the plant (where new roots are emerging) moist (even though my climate is very dry).
Using Sphagnum Moss
Sphagnum moss has this fantastic trait of being able to hold like 18x it’s weight in water—which is great for specific applications. While many sites and growers recommend using sphagnum moss exclusively for Aroids, I don’t. I have found that sphagnum moss has a tendency to stay too wet, especially after about 5-8 months when it starts to decompose, fragment and compact. This ends up reducing airflow to the roots and can lead to issues with rot. You may notice that growers who use sphagnum moss exclusively tend to use terracotta pots and/or net pots. This is because these pots allow for faster evaporation compensating for the above-mentioned issues with sphagnum. I prefer to keep my plant’s roots confined and by using plastic pots in combination with my potting mix mentioned above, I can achieve a consistent dry-out rate (in my dry climate) allowing me to water on a more routine schedule.
Photo of Anthurium forgettii new roots growing in potting media – 6 weeks after acquisition
When to repot Anthuriums & Philodendrons?
Generally an annual repotting is a good strategy to prevent root problems; however there tends to be two points when you need to repot – either when the potting media is deteriorating OR when the plant has outgrown its old pot.
Repot when the potting media is old: A good indicator is that your potting media (which used to dry out more quickly) now it takes longer. As the potting media ages, good bacteria break down the orchid bark and peatmoss. This process of decay takes about a year to a year and a half and with time these organic materials start to fragment and particulate. As they break apart during decomposition, they settle, compact and reduce airflow to the roots—as mentioned above, this process happens faster in sphagnum moss because it has no inert, structure-providing additives like perlite.
Repot when the plant has outgrown it’s old pot: If you have a particularly robust and fast-growing plant (such as a Philodendron melanochrysum), you may find that you have to water too frequently because the plant has filled the pot with roots and is simply pulling more water than the potting media can hold. If this is the case, you’ll want to up-pot the plant into a larger container.
A good repotting rule: If you’re unsure of when you last repotted or if you’re noticing decreased vigor in your plant, it’s a good idea to repot it—you don’t want to risk root rot which may set your plant back (or kill it all together) and repotting is an easy enough process to cover your ass and keep your plant healthy.
What about LECA / Semi-Hydro?
LECA (or ‘Lightweight Expanded Clay Aggregate’) is an inert potting mix that some growers opt for because it doesn’t breakdown and—in theory—is supposed to be an easier growing option. Using LECA in combination with “water culture” (leaving the plant in a shallow tray of water at all times) is called, “semihydro” – often abbreviated “S/H.”
The choice to use S/H for aroids comes down to individual preference. I am not a fan of it and don’t recommend it especially to new growers. A good number of the Aroids you see planted in LECA (posted online) tend to be recent transitions into semihydro. Rarely are those plants established for more than a year in S/H and the ones that are, often appear less healthy (not always, but frequently). I have noticed that Aroids planted in LECA, often appear to start off strong; they push new roots and a few new leaves and then gradually, after the plant uses up it’s mobile micronutrients, they appear to lag out with a steady decline in size and slowed growth. There are cases where this isn’t the norm and occasionally, you’ll find fantastic plants grown this way, but I would caution you about attaching that success to the LECA/semihydro method and look more to the person who may have spent a substantial amount of time (and money) refining their understanding of things like pH, what the they are feeding the plant, and how they are irrigating the plant (is it actually semihydro or is it fully hydroponic with pumps and timers?).
LECA/semihydro is also a touted method in the orchid world and I tried it on a bunch of orchids for over two years. I didn’t see the results I expected based on what others claimed and I gradually became more critical of the method as my understanding of plant care evolved. I have come to believe that the challenge many growers face with using inorganic media alone, is that it requires they understand, manage and mitigate every aspect and detail of the nutrient solution; this includes pH, nutrient types, ratios, and micronutrients. Same goes for the grower to manage the climate around the plant (humidity & temperature)—meaning that rather than selecting a potting mix that allows one to “bend the rules” of their conditions, they instead have to manually adjust all the individual details. Each one of those topics (pH, nutrient availability, nutrient solution, climate, humidity, etc) can be a complicated explanation and I’ve found most people just want to grow plants well and not be bogged down and overwhelmed by the details of plant science (though I recognize there are many who love botany and immersing themselves in the details).
Inorganic media also limits the growth of soil fauna (good bacteria/fungi) which would normally live in abundance in an organic media releasing additional nutrients from bark and whatever is decaying. AND because LECA dries so fast, the top layer often becomes bone dry, which is also not good for new roots if your climate is quite dry. Opposingly, bark, sphagnum, and peatmoss offer a distributive and moisture-retentive quality across the whole root zone within the pot, which I personally rely heavily on to grow tropical plants better in my dry climate. So it’s for all of these reasons that I don’t think semihydro should be recommended to most growers unless they’ve really got a grasp on botany and the science of plant growth, or unless their climate is already very ideal for growing that species epiphytically without any media at all.
I don’t want to keep dragging on about this, so just understand my opinion is that there are more effective options than semihydro for growing Aroids successfully. I do not deny that there are a few people who have had good results and swear by it, so if you’re going to try it, use a critical eye, understand that it’s okay if it doesn’t work (you can always switch back to organic later), and beware it may work better for select species, while not work at all for another species or type (you can literally grow monstera deliciosa in a jug of water…it doesn’t mean anthurium forgetii or philodendron melanochrysum will do well with wet roots also).
Watering Aroids, Anthuriums & Philodendrons
When to water? How often?
I water on a weekly schedule (every Saturday) because I use the above-mentioned potting media which dries fairly predictably in my climate; however, do regulate my watering schedule slightly. If the potting media is too dry mid week, I’ll water or if the media too moist on the following Saturday, I’ll skip watering that plant.
My tell-tale sign on if I should water is largely based on how the top-layer of sphagnum moss feels. I’ll tap it with a finger and if it’s crunchy, I’ll water (ideally before the inner media gets too dry). If the moss is still cool/damp to the touch, then I won’t water. Your goal should be to keep the media moist (not constantly wet, and not so dry that the potting media is getting dusty). The word moist is an odd definition though because what exactly is “moist”? To me it’s the sweet spot in the cycle between wet (watering day) and bone dry. I hope that makes sense because it was a concept I used to struggle with a lot and I always under watered my plants because I was terrified of “over watering them”.
There are factors that will influence the rate at which the potting mix dries; if the media is too compact then it can stay too wet for too long (because the deeper layers don’t get enough air flow). If your media is too airy, then it might dry too fast and lead to root desiccation. You really want to follow that cycle of wet, moist, *starting to dry* at a tempo that prevents harsh dryness or continuous wetness. If you can do this, you’ll be able to keep the roots happy, hydrated, aerated, and free from pathogens. In my condo under my conditions this cycle takes about 5-7 days to go from wet to dry. However, on very dry weeks (when the humidity is below 30%) the potting mix can dry in as little as 4 days (in which case I’ll give a light sprinkle to the top of the potting media mid week) and on rainy weeks or in the winter, when the humidity exceeds 50% or there is less light, it may take longer. Your climate (how dry/humid or hot/cool your air is and even how bright/dim your light is) will all affect the dry-out rate of your potting mix, so learn to customize the above potting mix by adjusting the ratios of additives so that it dries in about 5-7 days in your conditions. If you find the media is drying too slowly, repot and add more bark and perlite for better airflow; if it’s drying too quickly, repot and add more peatmoss for more water retention and slowed evaporation.
Root Airflow & Oxygen Circulation
If your potting media stays continuously moist for too long (say it doesn’t require water for 10-15 days or more), it needs more airflow or you’re chancing root rot. This can be achieved with active air circulation (a fan) in your growing room, or by adjusting the potting mix as I mentioned above. If the substrate in your pot takes too long to dry, it can become hostile to your plant as stagnant or aerobic conditions are a breeding ground for pathogens and this is what causes root/stem rot. To prevent this in my collection, I also run a fan in my room even though my humidity is often below 40%; this airflow works well to prevent leaf burn when the sun is hitting the leaves in the early hours of the morning.
For more info about root health & growing healthy tropical plants indoors, read this post about
Fan Tip: The air stream of the fan should be pointed adjacent the growing area, not directly at the plants—the goal is for non-visible air movement…not to blast air on your plant (that will surely dry them out too quickly). A light movement of leaves (or no movement at all) is all you want to see.
Is it okay to get the leaves wet?
This question triggers me a bit, or rather…when people answer, “don’t EVER mist or get leaves wet“—because logic would say that makes no sense. For starters there are a whole slew of reasons why active foliar misting & wetting is valuable: first, plants are foliar feeders, which means they can take in small amounts of nutrients (nitrogen, calcium, iron etc) through their leaves; they can also absorb moisture via the leaves; and water cleans dust and debris off the leaves; AND wetting leaves knocks back pests like spider mites.
Even if all of those things weren’t “value-adds” to wetting the leaves of your aroids…THESE PLANTS GROW IN RAINFORESTS!!! Rain and wet leaves are a defining feature of a rainforest! So, if you think wet leaves are bad, I encourage you to go watch the discovery channel or Nat’ Geo (or even YouTube) and observe how these plants grow in nature. Spoiler alert: they like it wet.
Photo of my Aroids getting their weekly shower
Why do people say not to get Aroid leaves wet?
The most common opposition to wet leaves is that those against it, claim it causes fungal or bacterial issues. Which might indirectly be true if your other cultural parameters are off. Like if you’re not giving the plant enough nutrients, if your pH is off, if they have a calcium deficiency, if your not giving them enough light, or not enough airflow. Then yeah, you’re going to run into bacterial rot and fungal issues. However, if you’re pointing your finger at “wet leaves” being the cause, then you’re never going to solve the “root” problem (haha), and what’s worse is you’re spreading misinformation to other growers – preventing their success.
A tip on wet leaves: if you’re going to be wetting your leaves and you’re nervous about fungal/bacterial issues, just make sure they dry quickly (within 3-4h); adding fans to increase airflow to your growing area will help with this but I’ll cover more care details below…
Still not convinced that wet leaves are okay?
Check out these Aroids with wet leaves over at NSE Tropicals
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Philodendron pastazanums getting ready for the next big restock. (Spoiler alert! Dec 20 at 12 pm EST) Shipping will be after New Year’s or held until warmer at your request. I do have heat packs, But if it’s really cold, it’s generally best to wait until temps are above freezing in your area. ⛄️ ☀️ 🌱 Tag a friend who loves pastazanums 💕 . . . . . #aroid #tropicalplants #conservatory #botany #botanical #botanicalgardens #aroidaddict #urbanjunglebloggers #philodendron #botanicalpickmeup #houseplantclub #houseplant #internationalaroidsociety #foliage #plantsofinstagram
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I had two layers of shadecloth over this area of the shadehouse. It was mostly due to a patch job we did after the last hurricane. What a huge difference it made taking down one of those layers yesterday. There’s so much more light and everything looks so vibrant! Probably have to put it back before summer, but for now I’m really enjoying it! . . . . . #aroid #tropicalplants #conservatory #botany #botanical #botanicalgardens #interiorrewilding #urbanjunglebloggers #anthurium #aroidaddict #botanicalpickmeup #houseplantclub #houseplant #internationalaroidsociety #foliage #plantsofinstagram #plantstagram
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Raindrops keep falling on my regale 🎶…someone should write a song about it, don’t you think? . . . . . #urbanjunglebloggers #anthurium #botanicalpickmeup #houseplantclub #houseplant #internationalaroidsociety #foliage #plantsofinstagram #aroidaddicts #aroidaddict #plantstagram #plantsmakepeoplehappy #explore #horticulturalenabler #naturephotography
Tips on Water, pH, & Fertilizing Epiphytic Anthuriums & Philodendrons
Water Quality: Pure water is generally more ideal because most Aroids are epiphytes and will be adapted to rain water (pH of 5.5-6) which naturally has a low mineral content. However, from my own experience, alkaline tap water can work – provided you take action to make it more hospitable and lower the pH.
If you’re using tap water, make sure your local municipal water supply isn’t high in sodium; sodium specifically is really bad for plants. Also, don’t use softened water on Aroids (or other tropical plants either); water softeners use sodium to replace the calcium hardness—and again, sodium is bad for plants.
Using Alkaline Tap Water: like I mentioned, my tap water is quite alkaline; it has a pH of 7.9 with 250ppms of calcium carbonate. This is a curse and a blessing. The down side to alkaline water is that repeated waterings can cause the substrate pH to climb as the wet/dry cycles leave behind minerals (this is not ideal and can lead to nutrient lockout). The upside to alkaline water involves acidifying it; when alkaline water is acidified it makes calcium (a vital plant nutrient) more available to the plants, (which is good). So I use tap water…but when I fertilize, I acidify it.
Keep minerals in the pot low: if your water is alkaline like mine, then minerals can build up in your potting media after repeated waterings which isn’t good because it can eventually cause problems like slowed growth and smaller leaves. So, on top of acidifying my fertilizer water, I also regularly flush lots of water through the potting media, a process called leaching. However, in order to do this, you’ll need to plant your Aroids in pots that have holes in the bottom and also use a porous potting media that allows the water to freely run through.
I’ll leach my plants about every second or third watering. To do that, I’ll just use my regular alkaline tap water (7.9pH, 250ppm) and run about 2-3 pots of clean (unfertilized) tap water through the pot. If it’s been more than two weeks since my last leaching, I’ll let the plant sit for 10 minutes after flushing and then do a second flush. Think of it as…a rain storm passing through your city—rainstorms last for a while (sometimes hours or even days), they start and stop, and this abundant flushing of water oxygenates the soil and removes bad shit from building up in the soil and on surfaces. This act of repeated flushing dissolves minerals and toxins from the potting media and root zone AND it keeps the potting mix fresh, oxygenated, and free of junk. It’s a trick I learned with my orchids and the Aroids have responded very well to it also.
Fertilizer & Nutrition – NPK: All plants need nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium and you can provide that with a standard fertilizer. I use MSU orchid fertilizer and add 1/2 tsp per gallon of tap water (this is a 1/4-1/2 the recommended dose); then, I’ll pH-adjust the water to 5.8-6pH and water the plants. MSU Orchid Fertilizer is 13-3-15 and the bulk of the nitrogen comes from nitrate nitrogen (an easier to use form of N), not ammonical nitrogen; MSU also has a bunch of micronutrients including calcium, magnesium, iron, and so on. Beyond the synthetic fertilizer, I also add 1/4 tsp of organic fertilizer to the potting mix 3 times per year. My organic fertilizers include: bloodmeal (for nitrogen) and glacial rock dust (for minerals and micro nutrients).
Fertilizer & Nutrition – *Advanced*: Calcium it’s a vital plant nutrient, responsible for strong cell health and overall plant vigor; it is also a non-mobile nutrient, meaning the plant cannot pull calcium from older leaves and use it for new growth (like it can do with nitrogen, iron and other key nutrients). All plants need a small but steady supply of Calcium during growth and in most cases Calcium is already available in your potting media if you’re using a high-quality mix. However, if you’re using peatmoss or inorganic mixes like perlite/LECA, then the calcium levels can be insufficient and supplementing may be necessary.
Individual plant species may have adaptation to their native environments where calcium was abundant, while other species may be adapted to low-calcium conditions where things like iron and ammonia may be more abundant, so don’t assume you NEED to add calcium. However, from my experience growing rare orchids like, Phragmipedium kovachii and other related species (which are native to Peru – similar to many Aroids), I have found that those plants which naturally grow in alkaline soils (from limestone mountain areas) often rely on that abundance of calcium to grow well. If they don’t have access to calcium (if they’re deficient) they often abort new growth and are more susceptible to root, stem and leaf rot. For information about the role of calcium in plants, refer to this guide to calcium in plants.
Given the natural range many common Aroids are found (mid-to-high elevation brush and forested habitats along the Andes Mountains), I suspect that some of the larger, hemiepiphytic and terrestrial species are likely heavily reliant on calcium to help produce that large, fast and robust growth. So with all of this said, if you’re struggling with a non-epiphytic Aroid that seems to suffer from root, stem or leaf rot—and you know it’s getting adequate light and basic nutrients—you may want to consider adding CalMag to your fertilizer routine or add a small amount of dolomite lime to the potting media. To be clear though, my water is already alkaline; I do not actively supplement calcium—but, historically the plants I grow best are often clustered from that same region of South America, or from the Malaysian limestone regions (places where calcium is abundant in the earth) and I think the main reason they thrive for me is because my tap water already offers the additional calcium they require.
Light Requirements for Growing Aroids, Anthuriums & Philodendrons Indoors
My plants get direct but filtered sun in the morning until about 11:30am and then LED grow lights turn on in the afternoon from 12 to 5pm. This means they get a total of about 10 hours of moderate-but-continuous light intensity. In the summer when the days are much longer, they probably get about 12-14h of moderate light. You can see them on the shelf in the below photo on the right side (and a few on the floor).
Photo of Anthuriums & Philodendrons growing with orchids under LEDs at an East-Facing Window
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Canadian Jungle. 🌱🧙🏻♂️ • • • • • #philodendronmelanochrysum #philodendronelchocored #phalaenopsis #orchids #monsteraadansonii #anthuriumsalgarense #vanda #phragmipedium #dieffenbachiareflector #monsteradeliciosavariegata #urbanjungle #urbanjunglebloggers #houseplants #houseplantsofinstagram
How much light do Aroids need? Lots of stuff online says “low light” and a bunch says “bright light”…so it’s confusing right? What makes the topic of plant light more complicated is that our visible perception of light (bright vs. low) is not very accurate in terms of what plants need to grow. So, let’s get a couple things out in the open: Anthuriums and philodendrons often grow as epiphytes or hemiepiphytes, growing on trees (or climbing trees in order to get to the brighter spots). They can survive in “low light” but they still get filtered rays of direct sun in nature and many of the vining aroids seek bright light. They will produce small leaves and large internodal gaps (spaces between leaves) until they reach enough light that fuels better growth, at which point they explode in size and if conditions are right, they’ll even flower.
Photo of Aroids basking in the early-morning sun rays
Light intensity: My observation has been that Aroids grow best in bright light. They need an abundance of energy to produce large leaves, but beware that natural sunlight intensity changes depending on the time of the day. Often, you’ll see super healthy Aroids which are grown in shade houses—you’ll see that these plants do get direct sun but it’s filtered to about 50%. In our homes, early morning sun is good because it’s not too hot yet; however, direct midday sun is often too hot and can burn/scorch those dark-green Aroid leaves. That doesn’t mean putting them deep into your home away from windows is the solution either. If you do that, you’re essentially putting your plants under 100% shade—and you’ve now gone from one extreme of too bright to the other extreme of too dark. Think about plant life under a concrete bridge—not a lot of things can grow in 100% shade and the walls and roof of your home block 100% of light. So, if you want good growth, you need to find that “Goldilocks zone” for light…not too hot, not too dark, but bright enough to get robust and fast growth—that means near a window or under grow lights.
I have found the best way to get perfect light for ALL epiphytic plants is to either use LED grow lights (because they pump out a lot of energy as photons, but very little heat), or to place plants near an east, west or south window in direct sunlight but screen it to reduce the intensity. Sheer curtains are great for this, they let some sun rays hit your plant, but they reduce the intensity. All of this said, you’ve got to find the spots in your home that work best for your plants. Experiment. Move plants around. Most importantly though, if you have valued or expensive plants…don’t experiment with those; use cuttings of your pothos to see which areas in your home yield the best results. If you’d like more information about LEDs and buying artificial lights for indoor growing, check out this post on the technicalities of grow lights; it covers PAR, PPFD, spectrum and more.
Humidity & Climate – Growing Aroids in Dry Indoor Conditions
Everything says Aroids REQUIRE high humidity but my humidity blows
Like my experience with orchids, everyone told me “Aroids NEED high humidity” and also like my orchids, I was suspicious if that was a REQUIREMENT…or a “nice to have.” Most people providing care advice come from tropical climates and many haven’t actually tried growing plants in dry climates to see how they perform (or how you can modify care to improve growth in lower humidity). Yes, higher humidity is more desirable for aroid care; however, I have not found its a death sentence if your humidity is low…provided you keep your plant hydrated (which means when that potting media is approaching dryness, you can’t forget to water for the next 5 days). The biggest challenge of growing plants in lower humidity is understanding that the plant’s roots can achieve a level of dryness that kills them, so you always have to water them before they get too dry.
My climate and humidity ARE TERRIBLE – it’s so dry where I live (often averaging 18-45% humidity) and the effort associated with trying to increase the humidity from 18% to even 60% is nearly impossible. At one point I tried running a humidifier to help with humidity and I had to fill that damn thing every single day. So, instead of fussing with humidity, I’ve learned to ensure my plants are hydrated, and I never miss a watering by more than a few days. I’m also extra diligent with acclimating new plants, making sure they get watered exactly when they need it so that the newly-emerging roots have a chance to establish.
Sphag and bag? There’s a process called sphag and bagging which is intended to stimulate leaf and root growth with high humidity in a ziplock bag. I don’t use the “sphag and bag” method because it only encourages growth that’s adapted to high humidity. Sphag and bag is like…putting a bag over your head and thinking you can live in the ocean and then pulling the bag off 1,000m under water…not a great plan for success. So, if you want your aroids to start off with a fighting chance, just make sure new leaves and roots are growing in your climate and conditions.
Photo of hydrometer showing low humidity & Philodendron melanochrysum
A note about newly-acquired Aroids: New plants are going to be the most susceptible to a change in climate. They’re often recently imported from the tropics and there their old leaves and roots are adapted to their old climate which was more humid; they also weren’t water-stressed like they might be now in your dry climate. New plants also often have fewer roots because a bunch got hacked off prior to shipping…so you really need to be diligent with your watering cycles for the first few months and focus on acclimating them effectively in order to experience long-term success. That means no skipped waterings if the media is approaching dryness, keeping the light bright but not too hot (you need light to stimulate growth), giving them a good dose of quality fertilizer and possibly even an additional dose of kelp or superthrive (VitB) which are plant hormones and growth stimulants. Also, don’t touch newly-forming leaves too much; they are really easy to damage when they’re first unraveling.
BEWARE: as I mentioned above, your potting media needs to be very airy—I feel like I’m beating this into your brain—however, it’s super important. Rot and pathogens flourish if the conditions are poorly-oxygenated and new plants are the most susceptible to rot and stress-related issues. And again, don’t assume that WETNESS is the goal, continuously moist and airy is the goal: not too wet, not too dry. Got it? Good.
Photo of Anthurium forgettii & crystallinum
Before/after acclimation photos 2 months apart
Knowing if a new plant is acclimating effectively Step 1 – new roots, step 2 – new leaves; If I can get both new roots and a new leaf, I know I’m out of the woods. The same goes for when I get new orchids and other tropicals – after I see leaf and root growth, I stop stressing. If I can’t get a new leaf and new roots within the first month…it generally means trouble.
Comparing the newest leaf size on Anthurium forgettii
7 weeks after acquiring
Anthurium Humidity Problems
One of the down sides to growing aroids in lower humidity is that new plants tend to lose their old leaves during the acclimation period and new leaves can develop with flaws. Otherwise, as long as the plant is kept hydrated, they generally seem to do okay—I will be updating this post as my experiment carries on, but species that I’ve done very well include: Velvet-leaf philodendrons, Green-leaf Anthuriums (pseudospectabile & decipens) and Monstera (deliciosa, adansonii, and Esquelleto). My oldest plants have been with me for over 8 years, but most of my larger aroids (melano, El Choco, and decipens) are over a year in my care.
Photo of Anthurium crystallinum with leaf flaw (Possibly from low humidity?)
Temperature for Anthuriums & Philodendrons
The topic of temperature requires a per-species analysis and for that I’ve started tracking in this spreadsheet. Understand though, individual plant species come from different elevations (distance up from sea level) which has a direct correlation with the day/night temps of that habitat; therefore plants from higher mountain elevations and regions may be better or worse adapted to specific day/night temperatures, seasonal temperature variations, light intensities and humidity extremes.
In general, we may be inclined to assume that many Anthuriums and Philodendrons are ‘lowland’ species (which means they grow at an elevation of 0-500m). This means they would be well-adapted to humid and hot daytime conditions with warm nights (because the density of air at sea level is higher and therefor heat and humidity is trapped). BUT… it depends on the species you’re growing and where it was collected. A good handful of the Araceae family, grow naturally at intermediate-to-high elevation forests (1,000-2,500m) in the mountain regions of Central and South America (ie. from Colombia, Ecuador and Peru); their adaptations to survive at a higher altitude (and subsequently cooler temps) may indicate why they do poorly for some growers if kept too hot. They rely on those cooler temps to throttle their night-time metabolism—which becomes more obvious when growers struggle with plants like A. rugolosum which seem intolerant to temps over 30C.
Plants found at elevations above 1,000m generally won’t like HOT conditions (30C+) and may show signs of stress such as reduced growth vigor, susceptibility to pests, and general decline in growth over time if the temps get too hot. These species will prefer intermediate daytime temps (25-29C) with cooler evenings (16-20C), and beware that the higher the elevation a plant comes from, the cooler it’s climate naturally is—most growers will struggle to keep plants collected from above 2,000m without special climatic controls.
Also too, the further you go North or South from the Equator (in longitude), the greater the seasonal variability the location will experience—so winter nightly lows in Peru are going to be cooler than the nightly lows in Columbia for plants found at the same elevation. This should tell you that mild indoor home temperatures could be more ideal for many Aroids from the mountain ranges of western South America and HOT temperatures could be less ideal for select rarer plants—like Anthurium pseudospectabile (which comes from Panama, Chiriqui Province, near the Continental Divide, at an elevation about 1,200m) and also Anthurium decipens (which grows at an elevation of 1,200m).
Photos of my newest velvet-leaf Aroids on my Instagram account
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The wonders you can find at an #orchidshow 🥳 #aroids #anthurium #philodendron • • • • #Anthuriumforgetii #Anthuriumsalgarense #Philodendronverrucosum #Philodendronmelanochrysum #Anthuriumwarocqueanum #Anthuriumclarinervium #houseplants #aroidsofinstagram #houseplantsofinstagram #urbanjungle
Looking for more information on Velvet-Leaf Anthurium care specifically?
I have found the velvet-leaf Anthuriums can be a bit more finicky than the rest of the Aroid family; this specifically includes the Anthuriums from the section Cardiolonchium (including A. forgetii, crystallinum, and warocqueanum). These plants appear to be more fussy or sensitive to low temperatures and they are the only group of Aroids in my collection which have given me grief during the winter when my home temps are cool.
I have had these plants drop all leaves when my home temps were below 18C. I should note: I drop my night temps during Sept—February to 16C; this helps initiate flower spikes and increase bud count on my orchids). I’m guessing that this leaf drop happens because the Cardiolonchium section of aroids are all hot growing, lowland species, native to habitats which are lower than 500m, so they’re adapted to hot, very moist and humid conditions and when temps are low, their metabolism slows reducing transpiration and flow of nutrients through the plant reducing the ability for the plant to sustain the large leaves which may require ample water (it’s a guess though, so don’t quote that as fact).
I don’t think the winter leaf drop is related to low humidity because in the summer the humidity is frequently much lower than in the winter. Those plants grow well in the summer and produce lots of leaves so I’m thinking it’s when temps are cool that the leaves fall. I have heard similar reports of leaf drop from outdoor growers in the Florida area whose plants will drop leaves in the winter if it’s cold.
It might be chemical related: There is a chance that these plants have dropped leaves due to a bad pH-down product I bought, so I will continue to observe and report back if it happens again next winter or if it was a one-off immediately following the pH Down fiasco.
If you’re looking for more velvet-leaf Anthurium info: Check out what other growers do with their plants—some of their advice directly contradicts mine, I’m aware. That’s okay. I’m a big fan of the Plant’s Meow; you can check out her channel on YouTube, she has a few videos on the topic. Jimmy from Legends of Monstera has a good video on Anthurium waroqueanum also.
The Plant’s Meow – Videos on Indoor Anthurium Care
My Indoor Aroid Collection
Photos of Velvet Leaf Anthuriums & Epiphytic Philodendrons
New Acquisition Philodendron werneri
August 15, 2020
New Acquisition Anthurium recavum
August 15, 2020
New Acquisition Anthurium metallicum
August 15, 2020
Monstera ‘Esqueleto’ (formerly epipremNOIDes – Acquired March 2020)
Monstera Esqueleto – July, 2020
(4 Months after purchasing – much bushier now)
3 Month Before/After Comparison – M. epipremNOIDes
New Offshoot (+ tiny one lower in the front)
Back when I first got M. Esqueleto (Thanks @NorthShoreTropicals !!)
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At long last I have found the fenestration that appeases my appetite. #monsteraepipremnoides (technically this species is undergoing an identification change at the moment—but for now 🤷🏼♂️ following the #planthashtags). Got this beauty from @northshoretropicals—which was responsibly and socially-distantly delivered by @ohmyplanties (thank you, thank you, thank you Jenny). Looking forward to growing this beast up and comparing results w/ @plantfilledapartment who also got one. • • • #fenestrationFriday #monstera #aroid #aroids #houseplantsofinstagram #aroidsofinstagram #urbanjungle #canadaplants🇨🇦 #houseplantdiary #holeyleaves #plants
Amydrium medium (aka Monstera Spiderman) – Acquired January 2020
Aug 30, 2020
(This species is prone to stolon creation—I’ve been cutting and propagating the runners often)
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#amydriummedium looking forward to seeing this rare gem come around. Got it back at the end of December. Doesn’t seem to mind my junk humidity (18-30% for the last 4 weeks). Potted in peatmoss and perlite. Growing near the east window under LEDs. The last photo of the sequence is from back when I got it, ~2 months ago • • • • #aroids #aroid #amydrium #vine #houseplantsofinstagram #aroidsofinstagram #aroidaddict #aroidsociety #plamtsplantsplants #foliage #fenestration #houseplantcommunity #rareplants #rarespecies #houseplantscanada
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New plants for the holidays 😬 #amydriummedium // #monsteraspiderman && #malaxismetallica – Neato eh? Thanks to @ecouarium for hooking me up with #wishlistplants • • • • #aroids #aroid #orchid #orchids #rarehouseplants #houseplant #houseplants #houseplantsofinstagram #plantspantsplants #yycplants #yegplants #jewelorchid #amydrium #monstera #houseplanthobbyist #houseplanthoarder #grow #tropicalplants #foliage
Acquired May 31, 2019 as a 2-leaf plant. Each leaf was 17″; they now average 24-30″
Aug 27, 2020
Phil. melanochrysum on watering day
Philodendron verrucosum 5 aka ‘El Choco Red’
Acquired May 31, 2019 as a 2-leaf plant; one leaf promptly dropped but it established quickly
Updated Photo Aug 30, 2020
This plant caught red spidermites from my phalaenopsis this summer…note: this plant can get red mites. Use 3-4 applications of mineral oil & dish soap to cure.
Comparison Before/After 10 months growth
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Quickly becoming one of my favourite plants (so I photograph it often 😊). 🏷 Philodendron El Choco Red. I’m curious what an old/established plant looks like…maybe one day I’ll know 😆 Aroid/Philodendron care post is on the blog (herebutnot.com) • • • • #philodendronelchocored #philodendron #aroid #aroids #tropicalplants #plantsofinstagram #urbanjunglebloggers #urbanjungle #houseplanthoarders #plantsplantsplants #plantsmakepeoplehappy #foliage #jungle #plant #plants #houseplantaddict #plantpeeps #philodendronverrucosum
Acquired Dec 2019 (ish)
Anthurium forgettii White Stripes
Aug 30, 2020
Low humidity causes leaf burn, but these forgettii have been with me for over a year in my low humidity
Anthurium cf. crystallinum (labeled as clarinervium)
Anthurium decipens (was tagged as Anthurium salgarense, but was told salgarense doesn’t exist in collections…so who knows)
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#Aroids right? • • • • #anthuriumsalgarense or maybe #anthuriumdecipiens #philodendronmelanochrysum #athurium #philodendron #aroidaddicts #aroidsofinstagram #philodendronfriday #tropicalplants #houseplantclub #houseplantopia #houseplantaddict #leaves #hugeplants #houseplantsofig @crazyplantpeople @aroidaddicts @legendsofmonstera
Anthurium rugulosum (Acquired Feb 13, 2020)
Latest leaf – bigger than the previous ones (good sign)
Monstera adansonii ‘Thin Leaf’
I got this plant as a swap in Jan 2019; It’s about 1.5 years old now from 3 small cuttings.
Aug 30, 2020 Update – Comparing Esquelleto to adansonii
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#catsandplants – sometimes the easiest are the most rewarding. This #monsteraacuminata grows like a fricken weeeeed. Clyde says hi 👋🏻 • • • #mosspole #vine #monstera #monsteraadansonii #houseplant #houseplantsofinstagram #houseplantaddict #houseplanthobbyist #urbanjungle #plantpeeps #plants #planthoarder #aroid #aroidaddicts
Monstera adansonii – the thicker leaf
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My #monsteraadansonii – I think these are two different forms: one with thick textured leaves and short nodes, the other with thin, velvety leaves and long gaps between nodes. Both are charming and grow like weeds. The tall one is on a 4 foot stake and I only acquired it as a few cuttings less than a year ago. • • • • #aroid #aroids #monstera #houseplant #houseplants #yycplants #calgaryplants #plants #plant #plantsmakepeoplehappy #houseplantsofinstagram #houseplanthoarder #canadianplants #canadaplants #grow #green #foliage #monsteraleaf #vines
Meet the Aroid Crew – Video Tour of a few new Anthuriums & Philodendrons