Let’s cover a few crucial details before digging into today’s plant. First of all, Philodendron gloriosum (fil-oh-DEN-dron glo-ree-OH-sum) isn’t a cheap plant.
They can run well over $100 dollars for a single plant! While there’s a wonderful payoff in its glorious foliage, it’s also a slow grower.
Second, the plant has spread from its native habitat of Columbia throughout most of Central America and down to Brazil and Argentina. Yet, it’s on the threatened list.
So owning one is helping to keep the species from becoming endangered or extinct.
Philodendron gloriosum’s botanical name translates to “glorious tree lover.”
But, it’s one of the few philodendrons that is purely a terrestrial creeper.
This proud perennial is a shining example of why the most cherished plants in the Araceae family tend to be grown for their foliage instead of their blooms.
Philodendron Gloriosum Care
Size and Growth
The glorious foliage on this plant reaches 24″ inches long (and up to 36″ inches in the forest).
- Its velvety matte green leaves start with pinkish veins that mature to a creamy white.
- They carry the famous and recognizable cordate (or heart-shaped) design.
- The vine only grows to around 36″ inches in length.
- Its slow growth rate means it could be a while before it reaches full size.
- Leaves tend to appear one at a time, and it can take more than a month for the leaf spike to open and another month for that leaf to mature.
Incidentally, a cultivated hybrid of Philodendron gloriosum and Philodendron melanochrysum (the black-gold Philodendron) creates the Philodendron’ Glorious.’
It may well be the only Philo plant to upstage gloriosum.
Flowering And Fragrance
As is common in philodendrons, the gloriosum can produce a white inflorescence from May to July.
However, it’s rare to see these blooms in domestic plants and almost unheard of when grown indoors.
Light And Temperature
As with most rainforest plants, gloriosum needs protection from direct sunlight as it scorches easily.
It needs bright, indirect sunlight for at least 8 hours per day, although dappled sunlight or filtered light will also work.
Yet, shade is not this plant’s friend. It will suffer in light levels most philodendrons are comfortable with, becoming leggy and stunting the leaf size.
A grow lamp placed at least 24″ inches away from the plant is an excellent way to ensure it gets enough light.
Gloriosum prefers a high humidity level of 60% to 80% percent as a rainforest plant.
But it can handle normal household levels (usually in the 40% to 60% percent range).
Give the plant a pebble tray or place it near a humidifier for the best results.
Also, you should avoid misting this plant due to the velvety leaves.
Misting won’t benefit such plants and will harm the leaves due to the slower evaporation rate.
This plant fares best in a temperature range of 65° to 85° degrees Fahrenheit during the day and nighttime temperatures of 60° to 70° degrees Fahrenheit.
Only attempt to grow gloriosum outdoors in USDA hardiness zones 11 to 12, unless it is in a container you can bring indoors.
Additionally, the plant hates drafts and other sudden temperature shifts.
Also, high winds can damage the leaves, so place your plant with this in mind.
Watering And Feeding
It’s easy to overwater this plant if you aren’t using the soak-and-dry method.
Here are the following steps to consider:
- Stick your finger in the soil and water if it feels dry 1″ inch down.
- Use room temperature rainwater or distilled water (which you can harvest from an AC or dehumidifier if you have either running in the house).
- If it has sat out for 24 hours, you can use tap water and preferably run through a filter, but this should be a last resort.
Gloriosum is sensitive to the chemicals and mineral salts found in unfiltered tap water. More about the best water for houseplants.
It’s also quite common for growers to overfertilize gloriosum, developing it faster.
Sadly, this not only won’t speed up growth, but it can also cause serious chemical damage to the plant.
Give the plant a balanced liquid houseplant fertilizer at half strength monthly in spring and summer.
Cut back in fall and winter so the plant can enjoy a rest period.
Soil And Transplanting
Overwatering can be a significant issue, so choose loose, well-drained soil.
Perlite can help with drainage as needed.
A mildly acidic to slightly alkaline soil pH of 6.0 to 7.5 is acceptable. However, keep it close to 6.5.
Adding activated charcoal to the soil is beneficial for this particular species.
Orchid mixes tend to be perfect, especially if you add a bit of perlite and charcoal.
Or, you can also make your own soilless potting super-mix using the following:
- 2 parts Peat moss
- 2 parts coconut coir
- 1 part sphagnum moss
- 1 part vermiculite
- 1 part perlite
- 1 part pine bark chips
Again, you may wish to add some activated charcoal to this mix, although it’s optional.
As this plant is a creeper, rectangular containers work best.
Once your gloriosum creeps its way over the edge of the container, it won’t have anywhere to take root and may begin to shrink.
As strange as it may sound, a section of gutter can make for the perfect planter. Just poke a few drainage holes into the bottom.
Expose the top of its rhizome, and repot when you see roots beginning to poke out of the holes or above the soil level.
Another fun container option:
- Place a series of rectangular containers in a line
- Allow the plant to climb from one container to the next
- Set them close enough to allow the vine to root
Grooming And Maintenance
Philodendron gloriosum is a low-maintenance plant. Only prune away diseased or old leaves where they meet the stem.
You can also prune away leggy stems to use for propagation.
Aim to do any pruning in summer and do so sparingly.
Gloriosum will take a long time to recover.
How To Propagate Philodendron Gloriosum?
Stem cuttings are the best way to propagate gloriosum.
It’s also possible to use seeds or leaf cuttings, but these are far less efficient.
Air layering is not an option as this particular Philodendron is neither an epiphyte nor a hemiepiphyte.
Philodendron Gloriosum Pests Or Diseases
While relatively easy to care for and generally pest and disease-free, gloriosum has a low tolerance for cold, drafts, or heavy winds.
These potential problems should only show up if a nearby plant has an infestation:
- fungus gnats
- spider mites
Bacterial leaf spots may result from improper watering or misting, and overwatering may cause root rot.
At the same time, a few common fungi such as sooty mold and powdery mildew may appear on an infested plant.
All philodendrons contain calcium oxalate crystals. These are potentially deadly to pets and mildly toxic to humans.
The crystals are present in many vegetables in small amounts.
Yet the quantities found in philodendrons can cause the following:
- Mouth and throat irritation
- Kidney stones
Uses Of Philodendron Gloriosum
This plant is perfect for decorating broad surfaces such as the tops of bookshelves.
It doesn’t fare well in hanging baskets due to the need for soil contact.
As it’s a low grower, consider adding tall plants behind it for a lovely display.
Outdoors, it makes for a lovely border plant. But keep it above the ground, so its leaves don’t get damaged.
Two hybrids worth noting are the following:
- Philodendron’ Glorious’ (Philodendron gloriosum x Philodendron melanochrysum)
- Philodendron ‘Dean McDowell’ (Philodendron gloriosum x Philodendron pastazanum).