Philodendron rugosum is native to Ecuador. Also known as the Pigskin Philodendron, the plant is considered near endangered in its natural habitat. As a result, the Rugosum Philodendron is a rare variety and prized by collectors.
Philodendron Rugosum Appearance
The unique foliage on the Rugosum Philodendron makes this plant stand out among Philodendrons. The foliage is thick, leathery, and hide-like. The leaves wrinkle where they meet the stem, resembling pig ears. The plant grows 6 to 16 feet (1.8 to 4.8 meters) long, making it a candidate for hanging baskets. If grown in a pot, provide a trellis or moss pole for support.
Light Requirements for the Rugosum Philodendron
Provide bright, indirect sunlight from an East-facing window to encourage faster growth and larger leaf size . A South-facing window also works, provided the plant is set back from the sun’s direct rays. Avoid low lighting conditions as it slows the plant’s growth rate.
Watering Your Philodendron Rugosum
Allow the top 2 inches of soil to dry between waterings. To confirm if the plant is ready for water, insert your finger into the soil up to the first knuckle. The soil should be devoid of moisture up to this level. Water until the soil is thoroughly moist but never soggy. On average, once per week is good but adjust for your own temperature and humidity levels. Droopy leaves are a sign of either over or underwatering.
Soil and Fertilizer Requirements
Create a well-draining, aroid soil by mixing equal parts orchid bark, perlite, and peat-rich soil. Add a small amount of gravel to increase drainage if needed. Philodendron rugosum prefers a soil pH that is slightly acidic.
Use a soil testing kit to test pH levels if needed. Feed your plant with an organic fertilizer or a liquid, houseplant fertilizer once per month in the spring and summer.
Give feedings after watering your plant to dilute the fertilizer and avoid burning the plant’s roots. Withhold fertilizer during the fall and winter when the plant goes dormant and growth is slower.
Temperature and Humidity Levels
Keep your Philodendron rugosum in temperatures between 55 to 90 degrees Fahrenheit (12.7 to 32 degrees Celsius). The plant is not cold hardy and leaves will drop if it is kept for prolonged periods in lower than the recommended temperature range. Average household humidity of between 40 to 50 percent is adequate but higher humidity produces lusher foliage and larger leaves. Increase low humidity by placing a humidifier in the room or using a pebble tray, filled with small pebbles and water, underneath the pot’s drip tray.
Propagating Your Rugosum Philodendron
Propagating new Rugosum Philodendron by cutting is the easiest method and has the best results. Start a new plant by cutting a healthy stem 3 to 4 inches long from a mature plant.
The cutting needs at least two top leaves and two bottom leaves or exposed nodes. If bottom leaves are present, remove them to expose the nodes for new root growth. Let the stem sit and cure for one to two weeks to form a callus over the cut end. Once the cut has been calloused, fill a small pot with the recommended soil mix.
Poke a hole with your finger or a pencil into the middle of the soil and insert the stem. Ensure the stem is planted so the nodes are below the soil’s surface. Fill in the hole around the base of the stem to secure it and use a wooden skewer for support if needed. Place the pot in bright, indirect sunlight and keep the soil moist. Once the cutting has established a root system, and exhibits new growth, care for the plant as you would a mature one.
Caring for Philodendron Rugosum: Pests and Diseases
Spider mites and mealybugs are common pests to watch for on your plant. Spider mites leave tiny webs throughout the plant’s leaves and mealybugs will leave behind sticky honeydew excreted from the insect after feeding on your plant.
Treat both infestations with an insecticidal soap. If the infestation is caught early, wiping the insects away with a cotton swab dipped in 70 percent rubbing alcohol works as a spot treatment.
Root rot is caused by overwatering your plant or using a soil with poor drainage and is common among Philodendrons. Reduce waterings and, once the soil is dry, remove the plant from its pot.
Inspect the roots and look for any that appear dark and mushy. Use sharp and sterile shears to trim away any infected roots. Treat the remaining roots with a mixture of one part 3 percent hydrogen peroxide and two parts water. Use a spray bottle to generously mist the remaining roots. Transfer the plant to a clean pot with fresh, well-draining soil. If most of the root system is affected the plant likely cannot be saved.
Philodendron rugosum is a rare variety of Philodendron but worth the hunt if you can find this unique plant.
Rugosum adapts to a wide range of temperatures, making it an easy plant to add to your home. If you’re looking for a houseplant with out-of-the-norm foliage, this plant is for you.
Philodendron Rugosum FAQ
Yes, all Philodendrons are considered toxic and should be kept away from pets and small children.
Yes, occasion misting is recommended to increase humidity and improve foliage health.
Both provide ample support for plants grown upright in pots. The advantage of the moss pole is it can be misted with water to provide extra moisture and humidity for the plant’s leaves as they grow longer.
Caring for Philodendron rugosum means repotting your plant every one to two years when the roots begin to grow out the pot’s drainage holes. Remove old soil from the root ball and provide fresh soil in a larger pot.
Yes, you can grow this plant outdoors in USDA zones 10b and above. In other areas, moving your plant outside for the summer works well, but it must be brought back inside when temperatures cool off.