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Philodendron tortum isn’t a demanding houseplant per se. However, the rare species requires a meticulously arranged environment for optimum growth, whether indoors or outdoors.
This Philodendron Tortum care guide will equip you with all the knowledge you’ll need to successfully grow the plant.
The most important aspects of Philodendron tortum care are well-drained and nutrient-rich soil in a spacious pot, bright but indirect light, and medium to high relative humidity. The evergreen plant thrives indoors and outdoors with appropriate watering and fertilization.
Philodendron tortum is among the rarest species of the Philodendron Schott genus and Araceae Juss family. This perennial plant can live for decades with little but timely Philodendron tortum care. Additionally, you can grow these houseplants for a lifetime using simple propagation methods.
Philodendron tortum is a tropical forb native to the Amazonian regions of Bolivia and Brazil. Known for its attractive leaves, a Philodendron tortum grows reasonably fast from spring through summer. The plant has moderate drought tolerance but cannot endure frost.
One of the first steps you’ll want to take after buying or receiving a Philodendron tortum is to allow it to acclimatize in your house or nursery. The plant is vulnerable to stress during shipping, and it reacts similarly to the shocks of transplanting or repotting.
Additionally, exercise caution while introducing a Philodendron tortum to your garden or anywhere indoors, among other houseplants. An infected plant may cause an outbreak. Therefore, it’s usually better to let the plant be in the nursery pot or container it’s shipped in for a while.
Inspect the new plant for signs of bugs, mites, and other insect or pest infestations. Meanwhile, the plant will also adapt to your outdoor or indoor setting. Such cautiousness is necessary even when you propagate a Philodendron tortum. Otherwise, the baby plant will carry the same infestation.
Philodendron tortum needs sufficient watering during its growing season, which is from spring through summer. The houseplant does not need much water during winter when it is dormant.
The specific Philodendron tortum watering requirements can vary depending on the plant’s age, pot size, and immediate environmental factors. Moreover, you may need to tweak your watering routine based on the soil composition and how the houseplant responds to it at various stages.
Here are a few standard watering routines for Philodendron tortum in different circumstances:
- A baby Philodendron tortum in dense soil: twice a week for the first month.
- A baby forb in well-drained, chunky soil: twice or thrice a week for the first month.
- A growing plant in a medium sized pot: once a week throughout spring and summer.
- A mature plant in a large pot: once every ten days or so in spring and summer.
- A baby, growing, or mature plant in winter: when soil is almost dry or once a fortnight.
You should not have the same watering routine for all pot sizes and soils. A large pot can retain moisture longer than a smaller one. Additionally, the plant’s age is important because the root system and foliage growth determine how much water it requires.
Many gardeners and hobbyists touch and feel the soil to test its moistness before watering. This practice is useful, but only if you can perform the test at the right time. Don’t wait till the soil is completely dry.
Here’s the simple way to know if a Philodendron tortum needs watering:
- Put a finger into the soil to about half of its depth, three-quarters if you have a small pot.
- Feel the moisture in the soil at the depth you can reach.
- If the soil is moist, you do not need to water it immediately.
- Water the forb if the soil feels dry at the reached depth.
Furthermore, you must water the soil thoroughly and drain the excess. Philodendron tortum is a root-bound plant. It needs sufficient moisture but won’t cope well with soggy soil.
You may use the following tips to drain excess water from your Philodendron tortum’s pot:
- Elevate the pot over a tray, or the ground if it is outdoors, so that excess water drips out.
- If the pot is light or of manageable size, gently sway it up and down a few times.
- For a new pot, gently press the soil after watering to eliminate large air pockets.
In most cases, the nursery soil in which you may receive a baby Philodendron tortum is generic compost. Such composts are not suitable for the plant.
Additionally, free or well-draining soil is only one attribute of the growing medium necessary for this amazing forb. You need light but nutrient-rich soil for aroid houseplants like the Philodendron tortum. There are several options to choose from, subject to what is readily available.
Here are the soil requirements to ensure optimum growth of a Philodendron tortum:
- Multipurpose compost (peat-free).
- Chunky mix: orchid or pine bark, coconut husk or chips, or passive wood-based soil.
- Optional: charcoal, burnt rice hulls, and worm castings.
You can use equal parts of multipurpose compost (peat-free), perlite, and chunky mix. All the chunky mix options cited here are equally effective. So, you may choose an orchid, pine, coconut, or a wood mix depending on what you have or can easily arrange.
The optional components, such as activated charcoal, burnt rice hulls, or worm casting, will enrich the soil. However, you won’t need a lot, especially for small pots.
Some hobbyists use sphagnum peat moss in the chunky soil mix for Philodendron tortum. Ideally, you should avoid peat as it tends to retain moisture.
Moreover, adding vermiculite isn’t necessary because you don’t want excessive water retention. The only instance when you may consider adding vermiculite or sphagnum peat moss is in a very hot and dry climate, especially if you plan to grow Philodendron tortum outdoors.
Here are a few tips to prepare the soil for Philodendron tortum:
- Use a reasonably large container to mix the soil components, not a small or medium pot.
- You need to thoroughly mix the compost, perlite, chunky mix, and optional components.
- Try not to use massive bits of orchid or pine bark, coconut husk, or wood chips.
- Moisten the perlite before mixing it in because you shouldn’t inhale its dust.
- Add worm casting or slow release fertilizer to the mix before transferring the soil to a pot.
- Test the dry soil with your hands. It should be light and loose, not sticky and dense.
Philodendron tortum fertilizer requirements are fairly straightforward. During the growing season, you should add fertilizer every time you water a mature plant. Therefore, if you’re watering once every ten days or so, you should fertilize the soil an equal amount of times.
However, twice a month is generally an optimum routine for this perennial houseplant. Additionally, you may use slow release fertilizers or worm castings in the soil while potting a Philodendron tortum. In this scenario, you’ll have to tweak your fertilizing schedule from spring through summer.
You do not need to fertilize a Philodendron tortum during the winter or its dormant phase. The plant’s nutrient requirement spikes as new leaves begin to grow, unfurl and develop the lush sapphire green appearance.
Here are the fertilizers you may use for your Philodendron tortum:
- Worm castings.
- Slow-release fertilizer.
- 7-9-5 NPK fertilizer.
- Iron supplement.
- Multi-nutrient supplement.
- Fish and seaweed fertilizer.
You can also choose a combination of these fertilizers that works best for you. Using worm castings or slow release fertilizer reduces the need for other options. However, you may need an iron or multi-nutrient supplement for the desired foliage growth.
A substantial deficit of iron, magnesium or other essential micronutrients is the most common problem for houseplants like Philodendron tortum. Therefore, you should use these in moderation to prevent pale leaves, discoloration, or unusual pigmentation.
You may want to consider Brut Worm Castings Soil Builder. This organic fertilizer doesn’t contain any toxic substances. The fertilizer is suitable for both indoor and outdoor houseplants. Plus, it has no odor.
An even better option is the Wiggle Worm Soil Builder Worm Castings Organic Fertilizer. This bestselling product from Unco Industries Inc. is essentially a slow release fertilizer. Not to mention, you can also use this fertilizer for other houseplants, whether indoor or outdoors, flowers, or veggies.
A typical issue with many organic fertilizers is the bioavailability of the nutrients. Organic products don’t always break down or become bioavailable in the absence of sufficient microbes.
However, there are exceptions like the Miracle-Gro Water Soluble All Purpose Plant Food. The organic nutrients in this 8 oz (226 g) pack are readily available for your houseplants. For this reason, you’ll want to use this fertilizer once every week or fortnight.
There are many 7-9-5 NPK fertilizers available both in stores and online. One reliable option is the Dyna-Gro Grow Plant Food. This fertilizer has 16 essential nutrients with minimal soluble salts. Therefore, you won’t have to worry about soluble salts drawing water away from your tortum’s roots.
As a gardener or hobbyist, you’re probably aware that iron deficiency is the most common cause of leaf discoloration, be it yellowishness, paleness, or uneven pigmentation. Therefore, it is wise to use an iron supplement before you face evident problems in a Philodendron tortum.
Consider using something like the LawnStar Chelated Liquid Iron for Plants. This multipurpose supplement can prevent and treat discoloration and root damage by ensuring your houseplant has sufficient bioavailable iron in the soil. Furthermore, this product does not contain EDTA.
Like iron, magnesium is an essential nutrient for all Philodendrons, including tortum. Magnesium deficiency impairs foliage growth and can cause the leaves to appear unhealthy.
You may use the bestselling Botanicare HGC732110 Cal-Mag Plus, one of the highest-rated multi-nutrient supplements on Amazon.com. This fertilizer contains calcium and magnesium.
Additionally, it has iron, so you won’t need a separate supplement if you use this multi-nutrient fertilizer.
Last but not least, you may use Neptune’s Harvest Fish & Seaweed Fertilizer from Amazon. This multipurpose 2-3-1 NPK fertilizer is suitable for houseplants like Philodendron tortum, vegetable gardens, and flowering species.
Philodendron tortum thrives in bright, indirect sunlight or grow lights. Ideally, you should use dappled shade if you want to grow Philodendron tortum outdoors. Alternatively, you can place it inside your house, preferably somewhere it receives sufficient reflected light.
Do not keep Philodendron tortum in direct sunlight for several hours. However, the plant enjoys a couple of hours of direct sunlight in the morning or late afternoon. Keep this forb away from prolonged exposure to the scorching sun during peak hours.
You may encounter a conundrum while caring for a Philodendron tortum and other houseplants if there is limited space near the windows. A practical option is using mirrors. Use a few mirrors or reflective materials to bounce natural light in a room.
Philodendron tortum is a tropical forb, so it grows well in hot or warm climates. The most suitable temperature range is 68 °F to 86 °F (20 °C to 30 °C). However, you can assuredly care for this houseplant at around 59 °F (15 °C).
The absolute bottom line is 35 °F (1.7 °C). Philodendron tortum won’t endure the minimum temperatures of climates colder than the USDA Plant Hardiness Zone 10 (a). Therefore, you have to grow this plant indoors if you live anywhere other than the tropical south, east, west, or midwest.
The average relative humidity in the Amazon rainforest is around 80%, more during the rain season and slightly less in the dry season. You don’t need to recreate these exact conditions in your house.
However, you should try to have somewhere around 50% relative humidity for a Philodendron tortum.
A humidifier is an easy solution. If you don’t have one, place several houseplants close to one another. These houseplants lose moisture from their leaves through transpiration. Therefore, the moisture released in the air will increase the humidity around these plants, including the tortum.
Philodendron tortum does not require much pruning unless the horizontal growth becomes a tad too much for a given space. In such instances, you can prune the older leaves. Alternatively, you can provide the plant with something to cling onto as it grows.
Philodendron tortum is a climber. You may use a post, stick, or anything suitable so that the forb can grow vertically instead of expanding its foliage laterally. The plant’s slanted or horizontal leaves can droop due to weight, not necessarily because of weakness, malnutrition, or disease.
You can propagate a Philodendron tortum using its nodes and aerial roots. The entire process is simple if you select an appropriate shoot and cut it meticulously.
Follow these steps to propagate a Philodendron tortum:
- Identify a growing shoot with at least one node and two aerial roots.
- Ideally, select a shoot with two or more nodes and as many aerial roots.
- Check if this shoot has a partially developed leaf that is about to unfurl.
- Generally, a substantially grown but yet to unfurl Philodendron tortum leaf is pink.
- Do not cut a shoot if it has a considerably developed leaf about to unfurl.
- Pick a shoot that has only a short stalk that will eventually grow into a new leaf.
- Select a point below the nodes with aerial roots and a growing but short shoot.
- Go for a clean cut without hurting the rest of the mature Philodendron tortum in the pot.
- Let the cut portion callus for a while. You may sterilize this severed part of the shoot.
- Propagate this chopped potion in water if the aerial roots are tiny and need to develop.
- Otherwise, take the shoot with long aerial roots and pot it in well-drained and nutrient-rich soil.
- Always bury the nodes with aerial roots in the soil when you pot this plant to propagate.
Here are some of the best practices to correctly propagate Philodendron tortum:
- Do not propagate this houseplant when it is in the midst of unfurling a leaf.
- Always try to propagate during or just before spring, not in the summer.
- Never propagate in the winter when the plant is in its dormant phase.
- Avoid cutting at or through a node. You need a clean cut with the nodes intact.
- Let the cut portion callus before you place it in water or pot it in soil.
- Give smaller or shorter aerial roots up to 4 weeks in a jar of water to grow.
- Larger or longer aerial roots make a cutting suitable for potting after sterilization.
A Philodendron tortum will need at least two pots in its lifetime, excluding the container in which it was shipped from the nursery or seller. Therefore, you’ll want to repot the plant with care so that it doesn’t experience a shock or undue stress.
Here are some essential Philodendron tortum repotting tips:
- Select a pot size that will be sufficient for at least a year or one complete growing cycle.
- Clean and remove rotten, dead, and unhealthy roots before repotting.
- Do not cut or damage young roots when repotting or propagating a tortum.
- Check for disease or infestation and cure the problem before repotting.
- Follow the best practices regarding the soil, fertilizer, water, and light requirements.
- Prepare for a probable repotting shock and give the plant time to overcome the stress.
Here are some of the most common problems you may encounter when growing a Philodendron Tortum:
As explained previously, when a plant is malnourished or not getting enough sunlight, its leaves might start yellowing or browning. Keep in mind that this is only a cause for concern when it occurs in younger, supposedly healthy leaves. Older leaves are bound to change their appearance and become more wilted over time.
As mentioned, even though Philodendron Tortum doesn’t require excessive exposure to sunlight, this doesn’t mean the plant can be left in the shade for days on end. Therefore, you’ll want to continuously expose your Philodendron to bright, indirect sunlight to ensure optimal growth.
Philodendron tortum is vulnerable to aphids, mealybugs, scales, spider mites, and fire blight. Additionally, the evergreen plant is susceptible to root rot, leaf discoloration, drooping, and stunted growth.
However, this Philodendron tortum care guide should prevent the typical problems.
You can use neem oil, herbal soap, or isopropyl alcohol to disinfect your Philodendron tortum. These types of solutions work against aphids, mealybugs, scales, and spider mites. However, fire blight caused by Erwinia amylovora is an incurable bacterial disease for these houseplants.
Even after going through this guide, you may still have some questions about Philodendron tortum care and the possible issues you may have to face throughout its growth. Let me address the most common concerns.
Philodendron tortum is toxic as the plant has insoluble calcium oxalate. Therefore, the forb is toxic if ingested. The substance harms the throat, esophagus, and gastrointestinal tract. Additionally, its crystals can cause renal problems, among other medical conditions.
Philodendron tortum leaves turn yellow due to insufficient exposure to light and lack of nutrients. Do not worry about older leaves turning slightly yellowish if the younger ones are lush green. Provide fertilizers and sufficient light to avert discoloration and paleness.
Philodendron tortum leaves will root if you cut a shoot below the nodes, thus retaining the growing part. However, check if the aerial roots are whitish or greenish, as these are healthy and growing. Brown aerial roots and rotting shoots will not grow when repotted.
You can mist a Philodendron tortum, but it is futile if the ambient air is too dry and hot. Ideally, you should use a humidifier or place several houseplants nearby so that the moisture exuded through transpiration can increase the relative humidity in that space.
Growing a houseplant like Philodendron tortum is similar to cooking your favorite food. If you know a recipe and how to execute it, chances are the outcome will be outstanding.
I hope this Philodendron tortum care guide helps grow the most gorgeous, luscious plant to add to your gardening portfolio