How to Plant, Grow, and Care For Philodendron Mamei
Thinking about adding a philodendron mamei to your houseplant collection, but aren't sure where to start? Otherwise known as the silver cloud philodendron, this beautiful variety can make a great addition to any indoor garden. In this article, gardening and houseplant expert Madison Moulton takes you through how to plant, grow, and care for philodendron mamei!
When it comes to building your house plant collection, chances are Philodendrons and Monsteras will top your to-buy list. With the sheer number of varieties and cultivars to choose from and the rising popularity of variegated houseplants, it can be hard to make the right first choice. But there is one type of Philodendron that is simple yet striking enough to be just perfect – the Philodendron mamei.
Known more commonly as the Silver Cloud Philodendron, Philodendron mamei is the perfect leafy house plant for first-time plant parents. It’s an incredibly low-maintenance plant, needing very little fuss to thrive.
While it may be plainer compared to some of its family members, it’s striking in its own right. The heart-shaped leaves are a classic Philodendron feature, but its silver markings make it stand out without being over the top. While the Philodendron mamei is easy-going, some of its needs require special attention. With this simple guide, you’ll have everything you need to know about the Philodendron mamei.
Philodendron Mamei Plant Overview
Plant Type Houseplant
Species P. Mamei
Native Area Tropics
Exposure Bright Indirect Light
Watering Requirements Moderate
Hardiness Zones 9-11
Pests & Diseases Spider mites, gnats, mealybugs
Soil Type Airy and well-draining
What Is It?
The Philodendron mamei is a member of the ever-popular Philodendron genus. While it has several similarities to its cousins, this plant stands out from the Philodendron crowd.
More commonly known as the Silver Cloud Philodendron, or the Quilted Silver Leaf Plant, this Philodendron crawls, acting as a ground cover in its natural habitat. It’s not as colorful as other philodendron cultivars, like the adored Pink Princess Philodendron or the Philodendron Birkin. Instead, its heart-shaped leaves are dark green with simple but stunning silvery variegation – hnce its common names.
As part of the Philodendron genus, the Philodendron mamei is also related to several other popular houseplants that fall under the Araceae or arumfamily. A few of the most prominent members of this family include Monsteras and Peace Lilies.
Like the rest of its genus and family, the unique Philodendron mamei hails from the tropics. It suits indoor climates well and it’s been proven to improve the air quality around it – more specifically, it helps filter formaldehyde.
Unfortunately, this beauty is toxic to both humans and pets – a common trait of members of the Philodendron genus. All parts of the this plant contain calcium oxalate crystals, which cause mouth and bowel irritation if ingested. It’s best to place it in a spot where your pets and young children can’t reach it.
History and Origins
The Philodendron genus was first discovered in the 1600s and officially classified in 1829. Its name is Greek, loosely translating to ‘tree hugger’ as this group of plants is often found climbing on or creeping over trees.
Philodendrons also hold significant symbolism. They symbolize abundance and health and it is said they were the inspiration for several famous artworks.
Philodendron mamei specifically was discovered in the rainforests of Ecuador during the late 1800s. Like so many of its family members, it was initially classified as terrestrial – meaning to grow from or in soil. However, in recent years, botanists have spotted it creeping over and up trees, causing it to be reclassified as an epiphytic plant.
Like the rest of the Philodendron genus, Philodendron mamei is native to the tropical regions of South and Central America. It originates from the jungles of Ecuador but can also be found in parts of Peru.
Due to these natural habitats, they thrive in warm, humid environments. Luckily, these conditions are similar to indoor climates and can be easily replicated with a few simple steps that we’ll get into later.
While ‘simple’ compared to other popular Philodendrons, the Silver Cloud Philodendron is hard to miss. Its large, heart-shaped leaves are deep, dark green, and have dustings of silver along the surfaces. Sometimes, these silver markings look like smears or smudges, creating a blotched effect on the leaves.
Not only do the leaves have striking, contrasting variegation, but their veins also run relatively deep, creating a ridged, pleated appearance. Despite this, the leaves are soft and glossy.
These stunning leaves grow from long, dark green, bunching stems that give the plant a bushier look. Adding to its beauty and the contrasting colors of the Philodendron Mamei are the red bases of these stems.
While the Silver Cloud Philodendron is technically a flowering plant like the rest of the genus, it rarely produces blooms. Its flowers aren’t as showy as its beautiful foliage and are usually pale white, resembling Peace Lily flowers. If your plant decides to flower, it will more than likely be during the warmer months of summer and spring.
Where To Purchase
The Philodendron mamei is typically labeled as a rare plant, but it has become easier to find thanks to its growing popularity. It should be readily available in most garden centers and nurseries. However, due to its continued popularity, it still carries the higher price tag of rare plants. Because it’s a relatively pricey plant, checking the health of your plant before carting it home is even more necessary.
You could also opt to purchase your Silver Cloud Philodendron online. Online shops often have more stock than local nurseries and are generally more affordable.
You may be tempted to purchase smaller plants, as they’re often the cheapest. However, its best to opt for larger, established plants. It may cost more, but they have a far better chance of surviving and thriving after shipping.
Silver Cloud Philodendrons are often grown as indoor plants due to their love of tropical conditions. However, depending on where you live, they can also make great additions to your outdoor space. The Philodendron mamei grows best in USDA zones 9 – 11, where the conditions are most similar to their natural habitats.
Wherever you decide to showcase your plant, you have to start with a strong, healthy plant. Before you bring your plant home from the nursery, check for any signs of pests, diseases, or growth issues. Always avoid purchasing if you spot problems, as their issues can quickly spread to your other plants.
If you’re lucky enough to be able to grow this variety outdoors, be sure to pick a plant that’s acclimatized to those conditions. Don’t pick a plant from the indoor plant section – they’re used to greenhouse conditions and will struggle to thrive. Plant under a tree or other spot that receives dappled sunlight.
When grown indoors, the Philodendron mamei is usually quite happy in the pot it came in, at least for a year. This creeper is a slow grower, and won’t need to be repotted often. However, if you’re wanting to keep your plant in a more decorative pot, follow the repotting instructions later on.
How to Grow
The Philodendron mamei is extremely easy to care for. It is low-maintenance and has very similar care requirements to other leafy houseplants, making it the perfect choice for first-time plant parents.
With the right care and focus on specific needs, like lighting, temperature, and humidity, your plant will thrive.
The striking silvery variegation is what makes this plant so special. Not just because it’s beautiful, but because it allows it to tolerate lower levels of light better than other variegated houseplants. And, because their variegation is reflective, they won’t lose their signature patterns.
While this variety can tolerate low light, too little light slows growth and will result in smaller leaves, producing a spindly, sparse-looking plant.
Direct light, on the other hand, can be just as damaging. The leaves of the Silver Cloud Philodendron are quite sensitive and can burn if exposed to too much direct sunlight.
The best way to keep your Philodendron mamei happy is by placing it in a spot that receives plenty of bright indirect sunlight. This replicates the dappled light of its natural environment. The perfect place is usually by an east-facing window, or in a bright room in front of a window covered by a sheer curtain. Sheer curtains are great ways to filter direct light, without darkening a room, especially for south or west-facing windows.
Avoid bare south or west-facing windows with consistent, direct sunlight. This sunlight is harsh and intense and can burn the striking foliage.
Keeping with most indoor houseplants, this variety loves moist soil, although they aren’t heavy water users. They’re not fans of soggy or waterlogged soil, which can result in several devastating problems.
Too much water or consistently waterlogged soil can cause root and stem rot at the base of your Silver Cloud Philodendron. In most cases, the silvery leaves will also begin to yellow. Too little water is the main cause of browning leaf edges and curling.
Finding the right balance when watering your Philodendron mamei seems daunting, but it’s relatively easy. Because these plants don’t like soggy soil, it’s best to let the top 2 inches dry out between waterings.
Many suggest watering your plants at least once a week. But, watering on a strict schedule can spell trouble. The conditions around your plants change daily, affecting how quickly the soil dries out. Instead, poke your finger into your soil every few days to test how dry it is. If the top layer of soil is dry, it’s time to water. If it’s still moist, give it another few days.
While watering correctly is important for the overall health of your plant, it doesn’t help if you’ve got the wrong soil. Most houseplants, including Philodendron mamei, require a well-draining, airy potting mix.
Avoid using garden soil for your indoor pot plants, as it typically doesn’t drain well and can harbor pests and diseases. Regular potting soil can work, but it is designed for outdoor container plants exposed to more sunlight than houseplants.
Instead, opt for specialized houseplant soil mixes. These contain just the right materials at the right ratios to allow the soil to drain well, but still retain enough moisture without suffocating the roots. You can find these houseplant soil mixes online or at your local nursery.
If you have a lot of houseplants, you may want to make your own houseplant mix. This is an easy task that allows you to tailor the mix to your plant’s specific needs and environments.
All you need is potting soil, perlite, and coconut coir – a sustainable alternative to peat moss. The perlite increases the space between the soil particles, which improves aeration and drainage and allows oxygen to reach the roots. The coconut coir helps the mix retain water without making it heavy.
To create the perfect mix, combine two parts potting soil, one part perlite, and one part coconut husk. Depending on your plant’s needs and the environment, you can add more or less of any of the materials.
Temperature and Humidity
Hailing from the hot, muggy rainforests of Ecuador and Peru, Philodendron mamei thrives in warm environments with high levels of humidity. Like most tropical plants, the Silver Cloud Philodendron isn’t a fan of the cold, not tolerating temperatures below 55F.
In their natural environments, this plant is used to a temperature range between 65F and 85F. Luckily, this temperature range is similar to comfortable indoor environments. Anything out of this range can stress the plant, resulting in stunted growth.
As is the case with most houseplants, the Silver Cloud Philodendron is more concerned with the humidity surrounding it. Your indoor plants are usually happy with at least 50% humidity, but the higher, the better.
If the humidity levels drop, usually during a particularly dry season, the plant’s leaves will begin to brown and dry out. This is a stress response to the lack of moisture in the air. If this happens, you need to increase the humidity around your plants. Here’s how to do it:
How to Increase Humidity Indoors
- Misting: This is the most popular recommendation for improving humidity. Misting your plants does have a slight impact on humidity, but only if done often. In order to have any impact on the overall humidity levels, you would need to mist at least 2 or 3 times a day. Unfortunately, the added moisture on the leaves can also do more harm than good, as it can lead to several fungal diseases.
- Pebble Tray: This is another highly recommended trick. Simply place your plant on a tray filled with pebbles and water. As the water evaporates, it increases the humidity surrounding your plants. While this method does work, it’s not as impactful in dry areas with very low humidity levels.
- Grouping Plants: Placing your plants close together increases humidity levels within the immediate area, but only slightly. If you do opt for this method, remember to leave enough space between the plants to allow for sufficient airflow. This will prevent the spread and proliferation of any diseases.
- Humidifier: Adding a humidifier to your space is the best way to improve humidity within your home. This may be a pricey investment, but humidifiers give you complete control over the humidity levels. You can replicate the Philodendron mamei’s tropical environment no matter the time of year.
Like most leafy houseplants, the Silver Cloud Philodendron requires fertilizer once every other month during its growing season – summer and spring. Liquid balanced fertilizer is the best choice as it provides the best nutrient ratio, giving your plant exactly what it needs at the right time.
Always follow the instructions on the packaging exactly. Different fertilizers come in different concentrations and may have different application processes. Depending on your fertilizer, you may need to dilute it or apply it less or more often. Overfertilizing can cause a build-up of salts in the soil, resulting in root burn. It’s always better to under-fertilize your plant than to go too heavy and risk your plant’s health.
One of the best things about the Philodendron mamei is its low-maintenance nature. There really isn’t much you need to do to keep this plant happy. But, there are a handful of simple things you can do to keep your Silver Cloud Philodendron looking its best.
As the leaves are large and flat, this planttends to attract and gather quite a bit of dust from our homes. As there is no rain to rinse this debris off, it’s up to us to clean the leaves. This is important as any dust on the surface of leaves reduces photosynthesis and hinders evaporation, which slows growth.
Every so often, wipe down the leaves with a clean, damp cloth. Be very gentle when doing this to avoid damaging the leaves and stems. Cleaning your plants is also a great time to check for any pests and diseases. If you spot anything of concern, act immediately.
Philodendron mamei doesn’t need to be pruned like other plants. However, if you need to contain its growth or remove unwanted foliage, prune away. Always use clean, sterilized tools when pruning your plants and cut just above a node. This encourages bushier, more compact growth.
Whether you’re a first-time plant parent or a seasoned green thumb, you’ll more than likely want to increase your stock at some point. One of the best ways to do this is by propagating your plants.
Philodendrons are some of the easiest plants to propagate, and Philodendron mamei is no different. There are a few ways to propagate, with the easiest being by stem cuttings. If you’re wanting to try a more technical approach, you can also propagate by air layering.
Before making any cuts, ensure all your tools are clean, sterile, and sharp enough to cut through the stems without causing damage. Remember, the Philodendron mamei is toxic and can cause irritation to the skin, so pop on your favorite pair of gloves before starting.
Choose a healthy, established stem with solid leaf growth to cut. Healthier stems have a higher chance of producing roots and growing into a healthy plant. Cut the stem just below the node – a small notch on the stem from which new leaves grow. Cut the stem at an angle to increase the surface area. This also keeps the cutting from sitting against the glass if rooting in water.
You can root the stems in two ways – in water or soil. Rooting in water is slightly easier and gives you the opportunity the monitor growth. On the other hand, rooting in soil produces stronger roots more suitable for soil growth after trasnplanting.
Before rooting, remove any small leaves at the base of the stem, especially if rooting in water. When rooting your Philodendron mamei in water, use distilled or filtered water as it encourages better growth. Replenish the water every few days and after a few weeks when roots are about one to two inches long, transplant your cutting into a pot with soil mix.
When rooting in soil, place the cutting in a small pot with a damp soilless potting medium. Once planted, place the container in a spot that receives plenty of indirect sunlight. Keep the mix moist but not soaking. Once roots have developed or new leaves begin to grow at the base of the stem, transplant it into your desired pot.
Air layering is a little more technical than stem cuttings, but it’s just as reliable. It is also less stressful for the plant, making it a slightly better propagation method.
Air layering is best done on older, healthy and well-established plants with thick stems.
As with stem cutting, start by picking a strong, healthy stem. Then, using a clean, sharp knife, make a small cut along the stem. A one to two-inch-long cut is usually ideal. Next, place a toothpick in the cut to prop it open.
Wrap the cut stem in moistened coconut coir or sphagnum moss. This helps keep the stem moist and promotes root growth. Seal by wrapping the stem in some plastic wrap. Unwrap the plastic every so often to re-dampen the medium.
After a few weeks, you’ll notice a few roots pushing through the wrap. Once this happens, you’ll know its time to transplant. Using a sharp, clean knife, remove the cutting below the root growth. Plant your new Philodendron mamei in a pot with fresh potting soil and water deeply and slowly. This encourages even more root growth and will anchor the cutting in place.
How quickly your plant grows or becomes root bound is plant-specific and care-dependent. Always avoid repotting unnecessarily or too soon, as it can result in shock and sometimes the death of your plant. You’ll know your Philodendron mamei is ready for a new pot once its roots begin poking out the drainage holes. Symptoms of stunted growth when every need has been met is another sign that your plant needs a bigger pot. To repot, follow these simple steps:
- Remove the plant from its existing pot.
- If it is stuck, gently squeeze the sides and carefully turn the pot on its side.
- Pull out the plant gently.
- Shake off any excess soil, leaving the roots exposed.
- Gently loosen the roots by teasing them, especially if they have begun to curl.
- Fill a new, slightly bigger pot with a houseplant soil mix as mentioned above.
- Choose a pot that is only one or two sizes larger than the current one.
- The new soil line should match the soil line of the old pot.
- Lower your Philodendron mamei into the pot and spread its roots outward.
- Fill any gaps around the roots with soil.
- Fill the pot with the soil mix until the soil line reaches a few inches below the rim.
- Gently press down around the base of the plant to push out any air pockets.
- This will help anchor them in place.
- Water immediately after repotting to prevent shock.
- This will help saturate the roots in the new soil.
The Philodendron mamei is not a needy plant. But, despite its easy-going nature, it’s not without its problems. Luckily, a lot of these issues are easily avoided through the right care, and many are easy to fix.
Even indoor plants attract their fair share of pesky bugs. In Philodendron mamei, the main pests you need to look out for are spider mites, fungus gnats, scale, and mealybugs. These pests mostly nestle on the undersides of leaves and feed on leaf tissue and plant sap. In many cases, they can either introduce or encourage the spread of diseases.
All these pests are easily removed with a simple application of neem oil. Neem oil is a natural pesticide that suffocates bugs and prevents their eggs from hatching. If you’ve got a case of fungus gnats, place sticky traps in the soil.
Yellowing leaves are one of the main problems that most houseplant parents face. There are several reasons why your plant may begin to lose its deep green hue. However, the main culprits are usually light and water – either too much or a lack of either.
Ensure you’re only watering when the top layer of soil is dry. When you do water, do so slowly and deeply to ensure the water reaches every inch of soil.
Yellowing leaves are also often the result of a nutrient imbalance. Depending on your fertilizing routine, you should be able to tell whether you’re overfertilizing or underfertilizing your plant. Either add fertilize or flush the soil and stop fertilizing and the leaves should return to normal.
In some cases, yellow leaves are just the result of aging. These will eventually fall off the plant and aren’t anything to worry about.
Browning leaves are like yellowing leaves – there are several causes, but it’s mainly due to lack of moisture.
If you notice the striking leaves of your Silver Cloud Philodendron browning at the edges and beginning to curl, you’re underwatering your plant. It’s also a symptom of low levels of humidity. You can increase the humidity levels in your home by following the tips above.
Brown leaves are also caused by exposure to direct sunlight. Just like us, plants get sunburnt. The best way to avoid this is by covering your light source with a sheer curtain. This filters the harsh rays without darkening the room.
The main result of overwatering your Philodendron mamei or having the incorrect soil is root rot.
The first signs of root rot are yellowing leaves, stunted growth, and squishy stems. Under the soil, the roots begin to brown and decay.
If caught in time, your plant may survive the ordeal. At the first signs of this disease, repot the plant and trim the affected roots. Use a well-draining, houseplant soil mix and ensure the new pot and sufficient drainage holes.
It’s always best to avoid root rot. Plant in the correct size pot with plenty of drainage, use the correct soil mix, and never water when the soil is already moist to prevent these problems.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is Philodendron Mamei Pet Friendly?
Like many other Philodendrons, the Philodendron mamei contains calcium oxalate crystals, which can cause skin and bowel irritation. It’s also toxic to humans, so it’s best to keep them far away from pets and children.
Should I Mist My Philodendron Mamei?
Misting plants is often the first trick many try in an attempt to improve the humidity around their plants. While it increases humidity levels slightly, it has very little impact long-term. Misting can also result in the cultivation of diseases.
Instead, opt for a humidifier – there are fewer chances of disease and it’s the most effective way of increasing humidity in your home.
The Philodendron mamei, orSilver Cloud Philodendron, is a truly spectacular plant. Its silver variegation is subtle yet striking. It is also an incredibly easy plant to care for, with very little fuss needed to keep to thriving. It’s a great addition to any collection, especially for busy plant parents focused on work or slightly fussier plants.