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Philodendron Squamiferum is also often called the Hairy or Red Bristled Philodendron. This rare houseplant has distinctive red, bristly petioles, and impressive 5-lobed leaves. Squamiferum is an easy to keep climbing Philodendron that thrives in humid conditions with plenty of indirect sunlight.
If you love philodendrons and are looking to expand your collection with something unusual, then the Squamiferum plant might be just what you are looking for.
Its unmistakable red petioles that contrast sharply with the deep green foliage make the plant look almost artificial in its perfection.
If you are worried that such a rare beauty might be hard to keep, we have covered all questions so that your new Hairy Philodendron plant can become a centerpiece in your plant collection.
Like all philodendrons, Squamiferum is a tropical shade-loving plant found below the forest canopy in parts of Central America.
Dappled light would fall on its huge, shiny leaves, and the climbing vines of the plant would grow steadily upwards using a tree as a support to reach more sunlight.
There are two unique features about Squamiferum that stand out in particular compared to other Philodendrons.
The first is the unmissable red tone of its petioles, and the second is the unique shape of fully developed leaves. This combination of these features makes this variety something really special in any collection.
Philodendron Squamiferum owes its long and difficult to pronounce name to its appearance. The word Philodendron is the family group name that describes many similar plants and derives from the Greek words meaning ‘love’ and ‘tree.’
The Squamiferum part comes from the Latin word ‘squamous,’ which means scaly. This is, of course, referring to the fuzzy appearance of the stems.
How To Care For Philodendron Squamiferum Plant
Despite its unusual appearance, Philodendron Squamiferum isn’t difficult to keep, so long as you meet some basic requirements.
A good rule of thumb with any house plant is to mimic the natural conditions where the plant occurs naturally. Of course, none of us lives on the floor of a tropical rainforest, but it is possible to emulate some of the conditions as closely as possible.
Let’s look at some of the most important elements that will affect the health of your Hairy Philodendron.
Philodendron Squamiferum Light Requirements
To keep it healthy, ensure that your Philodendron Squamiferum receives plenty of indirect light.
Think of the dappled light that the plant would get in its natural environment under the forest canopy.
This red bristle beauty would naturally use trees as a support to get closer to the light, so give it a moss pole to hold it up, and it will reward you with a beautiful, natural vining shape.
Providing an environment with sufficient bright light is one of the key factors affecting how fast Philodendron Squamiferum will grow.
Although they are tolerant of shade, low light may result in a plant with unnaturally long, leggy petioles. New leaf development may also be affected, making the plant look sparse.
Take note that high, indirect light does not mean direct sunlight. The large deep green leaves can quickly burn if they get too much sun.
This will be evident by dry brown patches on the edges of the leaves or yellowing of the leaf. If your plant is near a window where it will get a lot of direct sunlight, consider putting up a light filtering sheer curtain that will keep your room bright and protect the plant.
If you reside in a consistently warm climate, you can keep your Squamiferum outside, but it would do best beneath a tree where it receives bright, dappled light.
It can also do well on a screened porch or another protected setting where it will not be scorched by direct sunlight.
Temperature Requirements For Philodendron Squamiferum
Like all Philodendrons, Squamiferum thrives in warm conditions. This tropical beauty will begin to take visible strain if the ambient temperature moves below 59F.
So, if you keep your Red Bristle outside, be sure to bring it indoors at the first sign of cooler fall weather.
The best temperature range for the Squamiferum plant is between 59 and 79F. The big leaves are sensitive to extreme changes in temperature, so keep the plant in a protected room where temperatures stay consistently warm.
This is not a good plant to expose to rapid temperature changes, and even occasional icy drafts from opening a door can affect it.
Philodendron Squamiferum Humidity Needs
Keeping the environment around your Philodendron Squamiferum at a humidity level of between 60 and 65 percent is optimal to encourage vigorous growth.
In most homes, a comfortable humidity setting is between 30 – 50%, and although your plant can survive at this level, it would appreciate a little extra moisture.
Regularly misting the large leaves is not recommended. The danger of adding too much moisture to the foliage is that unless there is ample air circulation, the damp leaves may develop fungal growth.
This is a particular danger in bathroom settings. The plant appreciates the extra humidity and may thrive, especially if your bathroom has ample light flowing in, but be very vigilant about regularly opening a window or switching on a fan to circulate the air.
Creating a pebble tray is a really easy and attractive way to increase the humidity around any houseplant naturally.
The water evaporating off the layer of pebbles produces humidity naturally for the plant. Because of its potential giant size, Squamiferum is most often also a floor plant, so this method is particularly effective as the tray of stones can form an attractive addition to the overall effect.
How Often Should Philodendron Squamiferum Be Watered?
Squamiferum is a beautiful plant, and you may be tempted to water it often to simulate conditions in the rainforest.
However, on this one aspect, it is essential to apply moderation as Squamiferum is one of the most sensitive philodendron varieties when it comes to moisture-logged soil. Hold off with the watering can unless the top 3 centimeters of the soil feels dry.
It is definitely preferable to err on the dry side with your plant because it is prone to develop root rot or blight if it sits in constantly soggy soil.
You will need to regulate the watering schedule based on several factors like the temperature and size of the plant, but in general, the top layer of soil must always be dry to touch before adding water.
While on the topic of watering, be very sure to check that the drainage holes under the pot are open.
Water must flow through the soil and out of the container each time you add water to the soil. If you are using a pebble tray to add humidity, ensure that the pot’s base is above the water level, so moisture doesn’t get trapped in the bottom of the pot around the roots.
If you think you have overwatered your Squamiferum, it may be best to remove it from the wet soil and repot it in new soil. Once root rot has set in, it will be tough to save the plant, so it must be prevented at all costs.
Best Soil For Philodendron Squamiferum
Philodendron Squamiferum needs light and airy soil, which allows easy drainage. Ensure that the type of soil you use to pot is specifically formulated for Philodendrons and contains plenty of organic material.
The soil mixture must be light and allow plenty of air to stay in the soil. Squamiferum roots must never become smothered in a damp, tightly compacted environment.
Keep in mind that the plant is naturally an epiphyte, so it will develop aerial, climbing roots above the level of the primary roots in the soil mix.
You will see that the soil mixture for aroids is course and chunky as it contains elements like pine bark, sphagnum moss, and coco coir.
These elements retain moisture for the plant, but there must also be a good amount of an ingredient like perlite, which will ensure that roots don’t become waterlogged.
Philodendron Squamiferum Fertilizer Requirements
Squamiferum is not going to suddenly grow wildly, no matter how well you care for it. It is a slow grower that rewards you with unique-looking foliage.
Although it appreciates being fertilized occasionally, potting in a suitable soil mixture with ample organic material is far more important.
You can stop fertilizing Squamiferum during fall and winter as the plant does not require any additional feeding and becomes dormant in terms of growth.
During warmer seasons, when the plant is in a growing phase, you can add a liquid fertilizer once a month. Always follow fertilizer mixing instructions carefully to avoid burning your beautiful plant.
Potting Requirements For Philodendron Squamiferum
There is no specific size pot recommended for Philodendron Squamiferum since the plant is a climber.
So long as the base roots contain enough nutrients and moisture, there is no holding this beautiful, red-stemmed plant back.
It is a good idea to keep your Red Bristled Philodendron in a pot that is big enough to retain moisture without drying out too quickly.
If the roots start looking cramped or the plant is no longer thriving, then repotting should take place during seasons when the plant is actively growing, which is spring and summer.
Although your Squamiferum may start as a small specimen from your plant nursery, it can grow to an impressive size. To become tall, it will need a support for its vining growth.
In nature, it would attach to the side of a tree and angle itself elegantly to seek out light from the forest canopy.
When selecting a pot for your Squamiferum, keep in mind that you will at some point need to add something for the plant to support itself on.
A moss pole works well and provides the perfect material for the aerial roots to attach themselves to.
Since this variety of Philodendron is relatively slow-growing, you might want to choose an extendable type of moss pole that can be added one section at a time, like this one from The Blooming Jungle.
Propagation Of Philodendron Squamiferum
Once you have one beautiful, red-stemmed Philodendron, you will want more. Despite being slow-growing and rare, it is one of the easiest varieties to propagate. Just be sure to only propagate Squamiferum during its active growing phase, which is spring or summer.
There are 4 methods that can be used to propagate this unmistakable looking Philodendron:
- Stem cutting started in water – Cut a section of stem below a root node between 3 and 6 inches in length. Trim any lower leaves off your cutting as you don’t want to put leaves into the water. Place the bare stem in a glass of water in an area where it will receive bright, indirect sunlight.
Keep the water topped up, and in around 2 to 3 weeks, you should observe new roots forming. When the roots are approximately 1 inch long, transfer to a suitable potting soil and keep moist.
- Stem cutting placed in soil – Follow the same method of preparing the stem cutting as the water method, but put the bare stem directly into a suitable, rich potting medium. Keep the soil moist to encourage the cutting to send out new roots.
This method can be a little more daunting as you won’t be able to see the roots forming like you can with the water method. Keep looking for signs of new leaf growth, and you will know that your baby Squamiferum has taken root.
- Air layering – This is a method that you can use to encourage the plant to develop roots around a node that you choose. Basically, you trick a node into sending out aerial roots. This is done while it is still attached to the parent plant, and you only remove the new plant once the new roots have developed.
To use the air laying method, find a healthy root node and wrap it in a layer of Sphagnum moss.
Follow that up with a plastic bag around the area which will retain moisture and create a warm, humid environment that will encourage root growth. Once some roots have formed, the stem can be removed from the parent plant and moved to its own pot.
- Seeds – During the spring or summer months, you may notice clusters of flowers that develop into berries that contain seeds. Growing new plants from these seeds is not impossible, but it will take a long time, so it isn’t usually a viable option for most people. Seeds are dried and laid out above the soil.
The layer of seeds must be kept moist and very warm and will only germinate after about two months. It will take another two years before Squamiferum develops its distinctive vine appearance, so growing this plant from seeds is definitely only for those who are really committed.
None of these methods should be tried unless your Squamiferum is an adult plant that is in good health.
However, if the plant has developed root rot, discarding the root and using one of the stem-cutting methods may be the only way to save it.
Diseases To Look Out For On Philodendron Squamiferum
Prevention is usually a much better solution to most houseplant problems than trying to cure the problem.
It is important to ensure that your Squamiferum is not kept in wet conditions, making it prone to developing fungus problems on the leaves or roots.
Water only, when necessary, don’t mist the leaves, and always ensure that there is good drainage through the pot.
Two main fungal issues can affect the health of your Squamiferum:
- Root Rot – this condition is common in many houseplants and develops due to overwatering or poor drainage. It isn’t easy to treat. If you suspect root rot, quickly remove the plant from its pot, save any unaffected root parts, and replant in clean soil.
- Erwinia blight – this is also called soft rot. This is the most common Philodendron disease and can prove fatal in only a few days. The combination of heat, moisture, and humidity creates favorable conditions for the development of this blight, which begins below soil level and quickly spreads.
Insect infestations can also occur, although they can usually be successfully treated if detected early.
- Spider mites – Use rubbing alcohol or insecticidal soap to wipe the leaves of your plant gently. If the damage is severe, prune the affected parts. Check all your other houseplants and ensure that the mites do not spread.
- Fungus gnats – This can be a pesky problem, but fortunately, there are ways to deal with it. If you see any of these bugs flying around the soil of your plant, spring into action without delay. They lay their eggs in the top of the soil around the plant’s stem, and the larvae damage the plant when they hatch. Once you have treated the problem, always ensure that the top layer of soil dries out before watering, as the gnats prefer moist soil to deposit their eggs.
- Thrips – Spray with an insecticide or use a solution of neem oil to remove thrips.
- Mealybugs – Mealybugs can be destructive, and you need several steps to eliminate them. Use a weak solution of manganese to wipe the leaves gently. Then follow up with a soapy water solution. Finally, rinse with clean water.
Frequently Asked Questions About Squamiferum Philodendron
Below we have answered some frequently asked questions about the Squamiferum Philodendrons plant.
Is the Squamiferum Philodendron A Climber?
The Squamiferum is a climbing variety Philodendron, so it can become impressively tall if it is trained to climb a moss pole.
How Big Can A Squamiferum Philodendron Get?
The plant leaves can be fascinating to watch as they unfold and move from the juvenile shape to a unique five-lobed shape reminiscent of an oak tree leaf, except much larger! Leaves can become 18 inches in length and have a gorgeous natural shine.
If you love the look of the Red Bristle Philodendron and would love to own one, first check that you have a suitable area to keep it.
Is the Is the Squamiferum Philodendron A Fast Grower?
When getting one of these unique plants, something else to consider is that unlike some other varieties of Philodendron, they are not fast growers.
Keeping it in optimal conditions will result in some growth during the warmer months but be prepared for a long wait if you need a plant to fill up an empty space quickly.
Should You Prune the Squamiferum Philodendron?
Squamiferum is considered a low-maintenance houseplant as it doesn’t usually require pruning or frequent repotting.
So long as it is planted in a rich, well-draining soil mix and provided with plenty of light and sufficient humidity along with regular watering, it will continue to reward you will its unusual color and healthy-looking green leaves.
Older leaves tend to fall off on their own as the plant grows, so you will only need to prune it slightly if you are shaping it.
Does the Squamiferum Philodendron Flowers?
The Squamiferum may develop flowers during the spring and summer months. The flowers form small, inedible pink berries that contain valuable seeds.
Look out for the development of cup-shaped leaves, which slowly unfurl to reveal a cluster of white and burgundy flowers. Watching them progress from furled leaf stage to berry form is an exciting progression.
Is the Squamiferum Philodendron Toxic?
If you have pets or children, keep in mind that, like all Philodendrons, the Squamiferum Philodendron plant is toxic, so it is best to keep it out of the way.
Leaves of all varieties contain calcium oxalate, which, if ingested, can lead to symptoms like increased salivation or a burning sensation in the mouth or throat.
Is the Squamiferum Philodendron Rare?
Yes, the Philodendron Squamiferum plants are relatively rare, and you may expect to pay about $50 for a small plant.
However, it can be grown readily from cuttings, so once you have established your plant and it is thriving, it can be multiplied. You will be able to share these unusual plants with friends and family.
Squamiferum Philodendrons Plant Care Conclusion
Although the Squamiferum variety does not require more care than other Philodendrons, it is a slow grower.
However, it is simple to propagate new plants using cuttings or air-laying during the warm growing seasons.
Philodendron Squamiferum has a unique appearance because of the bristly covering on the red petioles.
This vining plant can grow to impressive heights and does well if provided with a trellis or moss pole to cling to. It is an unusual houseplant that will be a unique addition to any Philodendron collection.