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Philodendron Tortum: How To Grow And Care

Philodendron tortum is a relatively new addition to the houseplant world, sometimes mislabelled as Philodendron Bipinattifidum ‘Tortum’ or Philodendron polypodioides ‘Tortum’, though it is believed to be a distinct species. Along with a number of other philodendrons it is now more correctly classified within the Thaumatophyllum genus.

It is a rare option for ‘Phjlodendron’ collectors known for its dramatic, twisted and delicate foliage. From the Latin, we might call this twisted lacy tree philodendron. It resembles ferns, or palms, perhaps, with it spidery leaves.


In order to grow this Philodendron, you need to understand the basic conditions it requires, and grow it in the right location. The key things to think about are light, temperature, humidity and the soil or growing medium you choose to fill the container you choose. 


Because the scorching Brazilian sun would naturally be blocked out by taller trees in the rainforest, Philodendron tortum isn’t used to very intense light. However, that doesn’t mean it doesn’t still like plenty of light!

Find your plant a spot that receives bright but indirect light or only limited amounts of sun, like in the early morning or late evening. You can also supplement with some artificial lighting to help your Philodendron tortum thrive.


The average temperature in Manaus, Brazil (the species’ homeland) doesn’t drop below 24 °C/75 °F at any point during the year. This means that unless you live in a tropical climate, this species is definitely an indoor plant, except for maybe the warmest summer months.

If you feel comfy in your home temperature-wise, then your Philodendron tortum should be fine as well. Just be sure to keep this one away from drafty windows and A/C units. It probably won’t like temperatures below 15 °C/59 °F.


Rainforest plants love a bit of humidity! In my experience, my Philodendron tortum isn’t overly demanding and 50-70% humidity levels are fine. 

If your home is on the dry side, though, you might want to consider running a humidifier for this plant and your other tropicals.

If the humidifier doesn’t cut it, this plant is probably a good candidate for growing in a glass cabinet, in a terrarium, or under a cloche to help keep some humidity in.

Soil/ Growing Medium

When considering soil for a climbing, almost epiphytic aroid like a Philodendron tortum, you must think light and airy. They’re not used to being stuffed in heavy and dense potting soil. A special aroid mix is probably the way to go and will work for many houseplants.

A pre-mixed aroid soil should work for this species, but you can also mix your own. The 5:1:1 soil mixture also discussed in the post on Monstera care  will be a good candidate for this plant as well. It consists of the following:

  • Five parts pine bark
  • One part perlite
  • One part sphagnum moss

The pine bark and perlite ensure that excess water drains quickly and that the mix stays very light. Plenty of oxygen can reach the plant’s roots. The sphagnum moss is a water-retaining element that prevents the soil from drying out too quickly. 



Like other rainforest plants, Philodendron tortum likes a drink. Keep the soil lightly moist, watering as often as every other day if you use an aroid soil mixture.

If you’ve got your specimen planted in heavier soil, poke a finger in the soil first. It should be about halfway dry before you water again, which can take a few days during the summer months or more than a week in winter.


As mentioned earlier, I find my Philodendron tortum is a relatively prolific grower. This means it appreciates some organic fertilizer to help it along during the growing season, when it’s actively putting out new foliage.

You can use a diluted organic liquid houseplant fertilizer once or twice a month. Stop applying fertilizer during winter or if your plant isn’t doing well to prevent damaging it.

Potting and Repotting

You should always use a container with a drainage hole for your houseplants, as they don’t like standing in excess water. Wet feet can lead to rot.

In my experience, this is a pretty quick grower. You’ll probably end up repotting yours every 1-2 years. If the roots are sticking out of the drainage holes, that’s a good sign it might be time for a repot next spring.

Propagating Philodendron Tortum

Philodendrons are a breeze to propagate and this one is no exception. A mature Philodendron tortum specimen should have a clearly visible stem that you can take cuttings from. Just make sure each section contains at least one node and you’re good to go!

The cuttings can be rooted in soil or water, although most growers prefer giving them a dip in rooting hormone and placing them in a mini greenhouse. This can be as simple as using a plastic cup with some sphagnum moss. Here’s how it works:

  • Soak the moss lightly, so it’s moist but not dripping with water.
  • Stick the cutting in the moss.
  • Place the entire thing in a clear plastic bag to keep warmth and humidity in.
  • Wait!

Rooting cuttings is a breeze using this method. Once your new Philodendron is well-rooted, you can transfer it to a container with regular aroid soil.

Is Philodendron Tortum Toxic To Cats And Dogs?

Philodendron tortum is toxic to cats, dogs, and humans due to its calcium oxalate content, causing irritation with symptoms like swelling and a burning sensation in the mouth and throat