The many types of Philodendrons are among the most popular members of the Araceae family, but this doesn’t mean they aren’t without some controversy.
A great example of a controversial Philo is Philodendron sodiroi (fil-oh-DEN-dron so-DEE-roy).
The plant’s name itself is controversial, as it isn’t an official scientific name.
Instead, it’s a placeholder name pending an ongoing debate by botanists about whether the plant is its own species or a variant of Philodendron ornatum.
Even worse, there are many similar plants commonly referred to as Philodendron sodiroi aff (aff is a botanical designation meaning it’s affiliated or associated with another plant.
A cultivar of Philodendron sodiroi was created using radiation treatment known as mini sodiroi and sometimes marketed alongside the parent plant with no distinction.
However, this cultivar (now called Philodendron sodirini) never reaches maturity, causing the leaves to remain in their juvenile size.
Philodendron sodiroi is native to French Guiana but can be found in neighboring countries.
Its similarity to P. ornatum means it’s sometimes marketed under that name, making it difficult to find this lovely perennial.
Other common names for the plant include silver leaf philodendron and sodiroi ornatum silver.
Philodendron Sodiroi Care
Size And Growth
This is a fast-growing plant, capable of adding 1′ to 3′ feet to its height in a single year.
It’s capable of reaching a mature height of around 8′ feet tall with proper support (larger if grown outdoors) but is more often pruned to a smaller 3′ to 5′ feet tall.
At this shorter height, sodiroi is often twice as wide as it is tall, with leaves that measure 5″ to 8″ inches long when they mature.
Of course, its foliage steals this show, and there’s plenty to love.
Each heart-shaped leaf is glossy dark green with silver patches on the upper surface and light green on the undersides.
They have a bright green midrib to match the main vining stem and are supported on petioles with a slight reddish tint.
Flowering And Fragrance
As with all philodendrons, getting this plant to bloom in captivity is rare, and doing so indoors is almost impossible.
Even if you do manage to get your plant to bloom, the inflorescence is unremarkable.
Light And Temperature
Philodendrons love sunlight, but that doesn’t mean direct light is good for them.
Silverleaf philodendron is an epiphyte, which means it’s a plant that climbs trees to get more access to light without harming that tree.
Direct afternoon sun can easily scorch the leaves, but a lack of light can lead to stunted growth and loss of variegation.
The best lighting is bright, indirect sunlight, or full sun in the morning or evening with afternoon shade.
Humidity is an important part of a sodiroi’s needs, and average household humidity is often not enough for optimum growth.
These plants prefer a higher humidity level, but the exact amounts are sometimes difficult to pin down due to affiliated plants being marketed as sodiroi.
However, it can be said that 40% percent is the lowest this plant can handle, and 80% percent is the highest.
A range of 50% to 70% percent works well, with 60% percent being the best choice, as this encourages the best growth without a significant risk of fungal infections.
You can achieve this higher level by grouping plants, providing a pebble tray, or using a humidifier.
You can grow this Philo outdoors in USDA hardiness zones 9b to 11, and indoor plants can be brought outside when the weather’s warm as far north as zone 4a.
The plant has a tolerance range of 50° to 80° degrees Fahrenheit, but anything below 45° degrees Fahrenheit or above 85° degrees Fahrenheit can do permanent damage to it.
Ideally, you will want to keep the plant in temperatures of 65° to 80° degrees Fahrenheit during the day and a few degrees cooler at night.
Keep in mind your sodiroi may start to go dormant when temperatures dip below 60° degrees Fahrenheit.
Watering And Feeding
As with most plants, the soak and dry method is best for your silver leaf philodendron.
In the case of this plant, you will want to water when the soil is dry 1″ inch down (generally around the first knuckle if you’re using the finger trick).
Here’s how to do it:
- Use room temperature water, preferably natural rainwater or distilled water, and pour slowly and evenly.
- Work your way around the plant, ensuring you don’t get the foliage wet.
- Stop when the surface can no longer absorb at the same rate you pour or when you see water beginning to seep from the drainage holes.
When feeding your Philo, it’s important to use a quality liquid houseplant fertilizer.
Slow-release fertilizers may sound better on the surface, but the various nutrients and micronutrients dissolve at different rates.
This means plants may be getting too much of a nutrient, then too little once that nutrient runs out.
On the other hand, liquid-soluble fertilizers distribute the nutrients throughout the soil, which means less chance of chemical burns.
As a result, the plant can get the nutrients they need without waiting for it to be released by the pellet or stick.
Feeding your plants on a proper schedule is crucial to growing strong, thriving plants all year round.
But, just like with water, less is more when it comes to fertilizing your Philodendron Sodiroi.
Feed your plants 3 to 4 times per growing season, spring through summer, with diluted liquid fertilizer.
You should average every 6 weeks or so. More often than that, you could cause more harm than good.
Aim for a balanced mix of 12-12-12, diluted to half strength, and apply once per month during spring and summer.
Cut back in fall and winter as the plant enters its dormant phase.
Soil And Transplanting
Be VERY careful when following online guides regarding soil pH for this plant.
Recently, there has been a growing trend for philodendron guides to recommend toxic acidity levels and refer to it as “slightly acidic.”
Acidity levels safe for philodendrons are slightly acidic (6.1 to 6.5) and neutral (6.6 to 7.3), although 6.5 to 7.0 is best.
However, many guides out there recommend a dangerous soil pH of 4.5 to 6.0.
Strongly acidic (4.5 to 5.0) and highly acidic (5.1 to 5.5) will kill most plants.
Moderately acidic soil (5.6 to 6.0) is safe for a handful of plants but will still kill a philodendron.
Keeping this in mind, well-draining, loamy soil is perfect for your sodiroi.
An African violet mix can be an excellent choice for potted plants, especially if you add some perlite.
You can also use a standard soilless aroid mix or only some of the ingredients for a cheaper mix.
A popular option is equal parts of the following:
- Orchid bark
- Peat moss
Add a little activated charcoal to give the soil more aeration and aid in filtering.
While sphagnum moss is also viable, it has a more neutral pH than peat, so only use it if you’re worried the soil or soilless mix may be too acidic.
Of course, you can also augment this mix using other ingredients, such as organic compost, coconut coir, and worm castings.
This is a fast-growing plant, but one that actually likes a bit of root binding.
As a result, you’ll only need to repot it every two years.
Early spring is the best time, as the sodiroi will have a chance to recover from any shock when it begins its growth for the year.
Give the plant a new container one size larger if it’s showing signs of being root-bound (including roots poking out of the potting medium or the drainage holes.
Also, replace the potting medium entirely when repotting to remove toxic mineral buildup and provide fresh nutrients.
Grooming And Maintenance
To encourage photosynthesis, you will want to wipe the leaves down every few days.
Also, as the plant is a fast grower, regular pruning can help shape your sodiroi and get rid of damaged or diseased foliage.
How To Propagate Silver Leaf Philodendron?
Chances are, you’ll never see your sodiroi bloom, so it can be difficult to obtain seeds.
Thankfully, it’s easy to propagate this plant through air layering or stem cuttings.
Sodiroi Ornatum Silver Pests Or Diseases
As with most philodendrons, this plant has no specific resistances but is generally pest and disease-free.
If your plant isn’t cared for properly or has been exposed, it can become infested by the following:
- Fungus gnats
- Spider mites
It can also suffer from fungal infections if not watered properly.
Be warned that all philodendrons contain large quantities of calcium oxalate crystals considered toxic to both humans and pets.
Philodendron Sodiroi Uses
These plants are considered clean air plants, meaning they help remove toxins from the air.
They look great when allowed to climb a moss pole, trellis, or other surfaces.
However, they also look great in hanging baskets.