I acquired my Philodendron werneri over 2 years ago from Ecuagenera. This care sheet is based on my experience growing this plant and others which are native to the same general area of South America along the Andes. There is limited information online about the care and culture of philodendron werneri, so I’m hoping this will help guide others who have recently purchased or are considering to buy this plant. I will update this care sheet over time and at the very bottom of the article you’ll find the photo timeline of my plant. As with all of my aroids, I generally apply my standard aroid care for this plant.
Some thoughts after growing P. werneri for a few years:
- The bad: When dehydrated the leaves stick and can get damaged, though it’s not fussy like a melanochrysum; the plant also produces a sticky sap which doesn’t drip, but can be annoying if you get it on your hands.
- The good: Leaf color is really nice—almost an olive green blue color.
- Tolerates tap water without issues.
- Grows fast as a vining plant—I never “moss-polled it” to find out if I could size it up. But my plant is well over 6ft long now and I’ve been lazily spooling the top growth around the top of the stake I had used for support.
- It’s easygoing and not dramatic. I was overly cautious with it at first wrote this post, but it’s been consistent with the below information applied.
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. At the time this article was written, there were two ‘forms’ available: a large-leafed type and “mini” 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 is thought to encourage animal-plant interactions resulting 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 removes 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” like a Canadian winter). Highland plants from this elevation, typically do best with moderate daytime temps around 21-27C (70-80F) and cooler 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 to signal flowering cycles. It is possible that this species will be more challenging to keep for people living in hot climates with minimal evening temperature 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 the leaves become a very dark green color. 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.
My plant grows in front of an east-facing window but it’s placement gets no direct sunlight, so almost all of it’s light comes from the additional LED lights I have over my setup which turn on 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
After 10 months in my care
Phil werneri, photo update – Nov 21, 2020
Oct 8, 2020 – Couple stem props newly transferred out of water into substrate
Oct 8, 2020 – New Leaves (a good sign
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