Philodendron Rugosum: A Care Guide

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Last Updated - December 8, 2022

There are wide Philodendron varieties out there, but if you've got a Philodendron Rugosum on your hands, smile wide - you've scored a rare plant! Thankfully, this special plant isn't difficult to care for. In this Philodendron Rugosum care guide, we'll make sure you have all the information you need to make your Pigskin Philodendron thrive!

What Is Philodendron Rugosum?

Philodendron Rugosum is a unique plant, particularly compared with other Philodendron plants. Most Philodendrons grow in rainforests, but Philodendron Rugosum's natural habitat is the high elevations of the Andes mountains of Ecuador! Because of habitat degradation, Philodendron Rugosum is classified as "almost extinct."

The extraordinary texture of its leaves gives it the nicknames "Pigskin Philodendron" and "Sow's Ear Plant." The leathery leaves are indeed shaped somewhat like a pig's ear - especially the younger leaves that fold together slightly at the stem. It has a climbing growth habit and will require a moss stick or trellis to support its vines. The vines can reach a full 15 feet in length in ideal growing conditions!

Philodendron Rugosum Care Requirements

Light

This endangered plant needs plenty of bright light - but it needs to be indirect light as well. They receive lots of light in their natural habitat, but it's dappled. The best location for bright, indirect light is a south-facing window. However, an east-facing window is another good option because although your plant will receive direct sunlight in the morning, it's not a harsh light.

Water

Watering your Philodendron Rugosum is a slightly different affair from watering other Philodendrons. It's important not to overwater a Philodendron Rugosum, as they're prone to root rot - but, on the other hand, it likes its soil to be kept consistently moist. It's best not to allow more than a couple of inches of topsoil to dry out.

A weekly or once-every-two-week watering schedule works best. They'll typically need to be watered weekly during the growing season but always check the soil first. When the top inches of the soil feels dry, it is time to water your Philodendron Rugosum. If you feel moist soil, wait another day or two! If the plant gets droopy leaves, it's time to water it.

Philodendron Rugosum does best when watered from underneath rather than at the top. To do this, double-check that your plant's pot has drainage holes. Then, set it in a basin of water for about an hour. After the soil has had plenty of time to soak up water, remove it from the base and let the excess water drain from the holes - about another hour.

Temperature

Philodendron Rugosum needs a warm environment. The ideal temperature range is between 65 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit - which is handy because most households are kept in this temperature range! Keep mindful of areas in your home where it might be colder or hotter. For a healthy Philodendron Rugosum, keep it away from radiators, heating and cooling vents, drafty windows, and fireplaces. It's important that the temperature around your plant does not dip below 55 degrees Fahrenheit.

Philodendron Rugosum closeup shot

Source: Flickr

Humidity

Philodendron Rugosum is classified as a tropical plant and so likes to live in humid conditions. However, it also grows at high elevations and has adapted to drier air. This means that it can handle pretty nearly whatever humidity level you have in your house. However, your Philodendron Rugosum plant will thrive and put out its best leaves if you boost the humidity a bit!

Grouping

Plants naturally increase the humidity in the air directly around them. If you have other tropical plants, group them together.

Pebble Tray

Fill a tray with pebbles, then fill it with water to just under the top of the pebbles. Place your pot on the pebbles. Water will evaporate from the tray into the air around your plant.

Use A Humidifier

Particularly in dry climates, use a humidifier. You might benefit from a moisture boost as well!

Misting

Mist the leaves of your Philodendron Rugosum with distilled water.

Soil

This Philodendron species grows well in a standard potting soil mix, but it thrives when you amend the soil slightly. Start with slightly acidic soil, then add one part peat soil, one part perlite, one part sphagnum moss, and one part orchid bark. These additives will increase soil aeration and help create a well-draining potting mix.

Mulching can be used on top of the plant and even on the indoor plant to help it stand upright while supplying nutrients.

Fertilization

Fertilize Philodendron houseplants during the growing season. You can use a liquid fertilizer to get nutrients to the roots fast or opt for a balanced organic fertilizer. Mature compost or worm castings are great options for this. Always water after fertilizing - this spreads the fertilizer throughout the soil, rather than leaving it at the top and causing fertilizer burn.

Propagation

There are many ways to approach propagating Philodendron Rugosum. You can propagate using air layering or via stem cuttings in both soil and water.

Air Layering

  1. Select a branch to cut using a sterilized knife. Cut a healthy portion of the stem with at least two aerial roots to help increase your chance of success.

  2. Wound the stem with rooting powder. While you don't have to use rooting powder, it will encourage root development.

  3. Cover the wound and nodes with wet peat moss, and wrap it in plastic wrap or a plastic bag. Be sure the moss is adequately secured to the stem using string or twist ties.

  4. Rewater the moss as necessary.

  5. After five weeks, you should see roots growing from the nodes. Unwrap the plastic bag and peat moss. Cut the stem off from the mother plant and transplant it into its own pot!

Stem Cutting In Soil

  1. Use clean shears to cut a 3-inch length of the stem, with visible nodes or aerial roots near the cut end. Make sure the cutting has at least one pair of healthy leaves at the top. Also, make sure to use a sterilized scissor to avoid bacterial infection. 

  2. Place the cutting in damp soil, taking care that the nodes are buried.

  3. Maintain a constantly moist soil, and keep the plant near bright, indirect sunlight. You'll see new growth in 3 weeks!

Stem Cutting In Water

  1. Use clean shears to cut a 3-inch length of the stem, with visible nodes or aerial roots near the cut end. Make sure the cutting has at least one pair of healthy leaves at the top.

  2. Set the bottom half of the cutting in water, ensuring no leaves are submerged.

  3. Place the cutting in a well-lit area with plenty of airflows. Change out the water as necessary.

  4. When the roots are a few inches long, transplant the cutting into a fresh pot of soil. Keep the soil moist until the roots adjust.

Common Problems

Philodendron Rugosum sometimes has problems with the typical houseplant pests and diseases.

Common Pests

Spider mites and mealybugs are the two pests that tend to like sucking the sap out of Philodendron Rugosum. These are easy enough to prevent and treat with neem oil, and you can apply insecticidal soap treatment if the infestation is particularly bad.

Common Diseases

Philodendron Rugosum can show signs of root rot - a fungal infection caused by overwatering and thereby suffocating the roots. Stop watering and let the soil completely dry out. If possible, unpot the plant, cut away dead roots, and repot using fresh soil mix.

Is Philodendron Rugosum Pet Friendly?

Philodendron Rugosum plants are toxic to both humans and pets due to calcium oxalate crystals. If the leaves or stems are ingested, symptoms such as burning and swelling lips and tongue, vomiting, and diarrhea can occur.

FAQ

What is the Philodendron Rugosum aberrant form?

The aberrant form of Philodendron Rugosum is a type of mutation. They have thick rough leaves with tough textures. The heart-shaped foliage can get up to 1 foot long and wide, with somewhat of a curled edge. This form of Philodendron Rugosum is very popular among collectors due to its uniqueness, but it is very rare on the market. Like other rare plants, it is very expensive to obtain one.

Can Philodendron Rugosum be planted outdoors?

Yes, they can be planted outdoors and thrive when placed in a cool spot. If you want to grow Philodendron Rugosum in your garden, the ideal location is hardiness zones 10-11.

Why is Philodendron Rugosum growing slowly?

If you notice your Philodendron Rugosum is slowing down on its growth, it is most likely the plant has become root bound, and it's time to repot it into a larger pot.

Also, make sure your plant is getting enough light. More bright indirect light will ensure your plant grows faster and develops larger leaves.


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About the author

Bella Zinti

Bella has a Bachelors degree in interior design, is a master gardener with extensive experience building homes from scratch. She designs nourishing outdoor & indoor spaces guided by the practice of Feng Shui, as well as helping clients create year-round sustainable organic gardens.

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