The genus Philodendron (fil-oh-DEN-dron) has some of the most spectacular perennial foliage plants in Araceae family.
So popular are philos that people have discovered countless cultivars. The expansive list of Philodendron species includes variations to appeal to almost every taste.
One species is the famous heartleaf philodendron (Philodendron hederaceum), aka ‘Micans.’
It is the parent of many cultivars and a native of the Caribbean and Mexico.
Sometimes it is also referred to as the velvet-leaf philodendron.
The micans Philodendron is beloved and yet the source of frustration for botanists.
They have given it and its siblings over 20 different names over the years due to its habit of constantly changing in appearance.
These changes have also confused growers about whether the plant is a cultivar or an alternate species name for another plant.
Velvet-Leaf Philodendron Care
Size And Growth
When allowed to trail, this fast-growing hemiepiphyte will achieve a height of 6″ – 12″ inches and a width of 12″ – 18″ inches.
The 3′ foot long vines will cling to a provided bamboo pole or other support, altering the appearance of this height.
Of course, what makes this plant pop isn’t its size.
The heart-shaped leaves unfurl to a mature width of around 3″ inches with deeply packed nodes to allow full appearance and easy propagation.
They’re soft and velvety to the touch, with a somewhat iridescent surface that can change the appearance of hues depending on how the light hits it.
Colors can include the following:
- Dark green
The hairy reddish undersides can add copper, bronze, and rust tones.
Flowering And Fragrance
You won’t miss the absence of green to white inflorescence that appears in spring to summer when this plant grows in prime conditions.
It seldom blooms indoors is a boon among growers, who usually cut away any blooms as soon as they appear.
Light And Temperature
Philodendrons prefer life under a canopy, so they scorch easily in direct sunlight.
The velveteen leaves on micans are sensitive to light. Therefore, only expose them to bright, indirect light or dappled sunlight.
But try to avoid too much shade, as this will darken the leaves.
It’s not uncommon for growers to place this plant where light angles and intensity change throughout the day.
Brighter lights will allow the maroon tones of a leaf’s underside to shine through. In contrast, lower light will make the leaf appear greener.
An average household humidity level of 40% – 60% percent is enough for a healthy velvet-leaf philodendron. Also, higher levels will encourage even faster growth.
Never mist any plant with fine-haired or velvety leaves, as this can cause damage to the foliage.
As tropical plants, they don’t like the cold and won’t survive the winters outside USDA hardiness zones 10a through 12.
It’s a perfect container plant, meaning you can bring it outdoors when the weather is warm enough.
Be sure to avoid sources of drafts or sudden temperature shifts.
During the day, keep micans at average household temperatures of 65° to 75° degrees Fahrenheit.
Nighttime temperatures should stay above 55° degrees Fahrenheit.
Watering And Feeding
Philodendron ‘Micans’ enjoy the soak-and-dry watering method.
Follow these steps:
- Stick your finger in the soil and water only if it feels dry 2″ – 3″ inches deep. This testing method works for both indoor and outdoor plants.
- Water the plant slowly and evenly, being careful not to get any water on the foliage.
- Use room temperature distilled water or natural rainwater.
- If you cannot avoid using tap water, run it through a quality filter.
- Then, let it sit out for 24 hours to dissipate the toxic fluoride and chlorine gasses.
- Stop watering container plants when water seeps through the container’s drainage holes. Garden plants have had their fill when the ground stops absorbing water.
Despite being a fast grower, the heartleaf philodendron is a light feeder.
Still, feed it regularly to help encourage this growth rate. More on fertilizing Philodendrons.
Here are the following tips to consider:
- Give it a monthly dose of balanced liquid houseplant fertilizer during the spring and summer.
- Then, cut back for fall and winter.
- Dilute the fertilizer according to the package instructions.
- If there are no instructions for philodendrons or similar plants listed, dilute by half.
Soil And Transplanting
As with most plants native to rainforests, micans prefer rich, humusy soil with excellent drainage.
Use a standard potting mix or garden soil with peat moss and perlite.
Still, a more fulfilling mix has one part each of potting soil, coconut coir, orchid bark, and perlite.
Or create a soilless potting mix using coco coir as the base.
Mix the following components together:
- 8 parts coconut coir
- 3 parts orchid bark
- 3 parts perlite or vermiculite
- 2 parts activated charcoal
- 2 parts pumice
- 2 parts worm castings
To reduce root rot, repot or replace potting medium every 2 to 3 years. Do this during the spring.
Rootbound plants will need a new pot no more than 3″ inches larger than the old one.
Grooming And Maintenance
Due to its fast growth rate, micans thrive with regular pruning in spring and summer.
Use sterilized pruning shears to remove damaged, diseased, or dying leaves and leggy growth.
Plan your cuts to take advantage of the plant branches where you snipped to get a fuller appearance.
How To Propagate Philodendron Micans?
Stem cuttings and air-layering are both excellent options for propagating your velvet-leaf philodendron.
Cultivation through seed is also possible – if you manage to get hold of some seeds, that is!
Velvet-Leaf Philodendron Pests Or Diseases
This philodendron cultivar is intolerant of cold. However, even a light frost can do permanent damage.
Potential pests are:
- fungus gnats
- spider mites
These are more likely to crop up if you have infested plants nearby.
The honeydew left by some of these pests can invite fungal infections like:
- sooty mold
- powdery mildew
The primary disease risks are the following:
- Erwinia blight disease
- root rot
As with all philodendrons, micans contain high levels of calcium oxalate crystals.
These are increasingly dangerous when ingested the smaller you are.
So it can kill cats and make small children and dogs sick.
Adult humans tend to have mild symptoms such as nausea or mouth irritation.
But they can potentially develop kidney stones due to the indigestible nature of the crystals.
Uses Of Philodendron Micans
Velvet-leaf philodendrons are wonderful climbing plants that can bring elegance to any spot.
They’re also excellent choices for hanging baskets.
These clean air plants will also help filter toxins from the air in whatever room you place them in.