How To Grow And Care For Philodendron McDowell

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Due to how new this plant is, Philodendron (fil-oh-DEN-dron) McDowell can be pretty difficult to get hold of.

This perennial cultivar is a cross between Philodendron pastazanum and Philodendron gloriosum.

Flamboyant Philodendron McdowellPin

John Banta created it in 1988, naming it after a friend of his, Dean McDowell. It has the official name of Philodendron pastazanum x Philodendron gloriosum McDowell.

Most refer to it simply as Philodendron McDowell.

As with most members of the Araceae family, McDowell is a hardy plant with very forgiving care needs.

Philodendron McDowell Care

Size And Growth

This fast trailing plant can reach up to 6.5′ feet long under the right conditions, although it usually reaches only 24″ to 36″ inches tall indoors.

Its dark green, puckered, heart-shaped leaves have prominent white to cream veins, making for a striking contrast.

Flowering And Fragrance

As with most Philo plants, McDowell is unlikely to bloom domestically.

If you wait 16 years for the plant to achieve sexual maturity and keep it under near-perfect conditions, you might discover that insignificant white inflorescences appear between May and July.

Light And Temperature

McDowell prefers bright light but not direct sunlight.

Indirect or filtered light works best. Or you can place the plant in a spot where it will get direct morning sun and light afternoon shade.

It also has a reputation for growing well under artificial light, such as grow lamps.

Unlike most types of philodendrons, McDowell is more strict on its humidity needs and grows best at 65% to 75% percent.

Levels below 60% percent can result in yellowing or brown tips, so be sure to give this plant a humidifier or pebble tray.

You can grow McDowell in your garden in USDA hardiness zones 9b to 11.

It’s most often grown on patios or porches. It can be brought outside zones 4b to 11 and overwintered indoors for summer.

It can handle temperatures between 55° to 80° degrees Fahrenheit. Yet it prefers temperatures between 65° to 75° degrees Fahrenheit.

McDowell is not considered frost-tolerant.

Watering And Feeding

Test the soil with your finger and water using the soak-and-dry method once it feels dry 2″ to 3″ inches down.

This species isn’t drought-hardy, so be sure the soil never dries out completely.

McDowell is sensitive to chlorine and fluoride, so avoid giving it tap water.

Instead, use room-temperature distilled water or natural rainwater.

If you have to use tap water, let it sit out for at least 24 hours to allow any toxic gasses to escape, then run it through a filter.

When watering, avoid getting the leaves wet. Instead, pour slowly and evenly onto the soil until you see water seeping from the drainage holes or the soil can no longer absorb as fast as you’re pouring.

Miracle-Gro’s organic philodendron liquid fertilizer is an excellent choice for this plant when used as directed on the packaging.

Or, you can feed the plant a balanced liquid houseplant fertilizer every 4 to 6 weeks in spring and summer.

Be sure to add the fertilizer at least 6″ inches from the base of the plant to help lessen the risk of burns.

Avoid using fertilizer for two months after repotting. Instead, allow the plant to pull nutrients from its fresh potting soil.

Cut back on feeding in the fall and winter while the plant is dormant.

Soil And Transplanting

These plants prefer rich, well-draining soil with plenty of organic material.

Choose a good cactus or African violet potting mix at the very least.

It’s best to mix ⅓ of your soil or potting mix with ⅓ perlite or vermiculite and ⅓ organic material.

Possible organic components include:

  • Coconut coir 
  • Compost
  • Peat or sphagnum moss 
  • Orchid bark

Repot frequently as the plant grows. Graduate one size up whenever you see roots beginning to poke from the drainage holes.

Once mature, you’ll likely be using a 15″ to 20″ inch pot. At this point, you’ll only need to report every 2 to 3 years to replace the potting medium.

The best times to plant are in spring or summer, preferably in the evening.

Grooming And Maintenance

As this plant gets larger, you’ll want to start pruning it for shape and health.

Pinch the stem tips and remove any damaged or diseased foliage.

How To Propagate Philodendron McDowell?

There are two options for propagating McDowell:

  • Stem cuttings
  • Division

If you gain access to seeds, don’t plant them unless you’re not concerned with what plant sprouts.

Philodendron McDowell Pests Or Diseases

This cultivar isn’t frost-tolerant. So bring it indoors well before temperatures are low enough to produce frost.

McDowell shares the philodendron’s famous resistance to pests and disease. Yet, fungal infections or root rot can occur if the plant gets too wet.

Common pests such as aphids, mealybugs, scale, spider mites, thrips, and ticks can infest the plant when it’s in poor health or near an already infected plant.

As with all philodendrons, McDowell contains high levels of calcium oxalate crystals. As a result, they are toxic to humans and pets if consumed.

Philodendron McDowell Uses

Being a creeper, this philodendron grows best in hanging pots or as a groundcover.

However, it can be trained to climb trellises or other supports with some work.

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