Philodendron Melanochrysum: How to grow them indoors

Philodendron melanochrysum, is a type of vining philodedron that was once a rare tropical plant but due to it's striking dark green crystalline foliage, philodendron melanochrysum has become quite popular amongst plant collectors. Philodendron melanochrysum is a heartleaf philodendron with a thick beefy stem and dark green, velvety foliage with white vines branching out and running down the center. The new leaves have a beautiful, red-brown tint to them, giving them the name Melanochrysum--meaning black gold philodendron.

Image of a person's hand holding philodendron melanochrysum

Person holding Philodendron melanochrysum
Photo by feey on Unsplash

 

Philodendron melanochrysum natural habitat

Common Philodendron houseplants species are easy to take care of and make great, every day houseplants. But, Philodendron melanochrysum is one of the more temperamental tropical plants. And the key to successfully growing any houseplant, is to understand where they come from and how they grow in their natural environment.

Plants in the rain forest

Foliage in the rain forest
Photo by Johannes Hofmann on Unsplash

Philodendron melanochrysum is a type of flowering philodendron thats endemic to the wet foothills of the Andes--more specifically Columbia. This region of the Andes is very wet and experiences a range of temperatures.

philodendron melanochrysum on soil pole

Philodendron melanochrysum climbing soil pole

Philodendron melanochrysum is considered an understory plant because it grows under the tree canopy. In it's juvenile state, it's tiny heart shaped leaves will be similar to other vining philodendrons, but when the plant matures the leaves can grow up to 50 inches long.

Philodendron melanochrysum plant care

To successfully grow Philodendron melanochrysum plants, they require the right amount of humidity, bright indirect light, consistent watering and a chunky potting mix.

new leaf on philodendron melanochrysum

New leaf on Philodedron melanochrysum

Light

As mentioned earlier, Philodendron melanochrysum are understory plants. In their natural habitat, they receive dapple, indirect light. In household conditions, avoid putting the plant in a sunny south facing window. Instead, put it in a shaded window or a few feet back from a grow light. The dark lush foliage, will easily burn in bright light.

Soil

Like most Philodendron, Philodendron melanochrysum have fragile roots so root rot can quickly sneak up on you. To help prevent root rot and encourage root growth, a well draining soil is key. Using a mix of sphagnum moss, coco coir and/or peat moss will help retain moisture. And adding amendments like orchid bark, horticultural charcoal, and pumice will add the aeration the root ball needs. Lastly, make sure to place in a planter with drainage holes to ensure the roots aren't sitting in standing water. ode.

a shovel holding soil

Soil in a shovel
Photo by Neslihan Gunaydin on Unsplash

If you a have a struggling plant, repotting your Melano in a pot of fresh soil can help give it a new life.

Humidity and Temperature

The Philodendron genus thrive in high humidity and philodendron melanochrysum is no different. I'd recommend anything 50% and higher. If the humidity level is too low, the plants' leaves will die off or will get stuck in the cataphyll and tear before it completely unfurls. To help raise the humidity, stick your plant in a cabinet, greenhouse or place by a humidifier.

juvenile leaf on philodendron melanochrysum

Juvenile leaf on Philodendron melanochyrsum

For temperature, philodendron melanochrysum will like it warm but they don't want to bake. Keep the temperature above 65°F and below 80°F.

Watering schedule

Getting the watering schedule right with Philodendron melanochrysum has, personally, been my biggest achilles heel. In my experience, this plant doesn't want to dry out completely. Water the philodendron when the soil is about 75% dry. If you let it get too dry, it'll abort new leaves but keeping it too moist will lead to root rot. As long as your soil mixture is airy and it's in a pot with drainage holes, root rot shouldn't be a worry.

watering can in a garden

Watering can in a garden
Photo by Robert Linder on Unsplash

 

Fertilizer

Like with all plants, fertilizer is key in keeping healthy foliage. Use a balanced liquid fertilizer while your Philodendron melanochrysum is actively growing--usually in the spring and summer.

Propagation

Philodendron melanochrysum can be propagated easily by taking stem cuttings strategically at leaf node. You can learn more about propagation mediums and techniques in our earlier blog articles on how to propagate plants and advanced propagation techniques

plant in water vessel

Plant in a vessel with water
Photo by Kaylin Pacheco on Unsplash

Maturing Philodendron melanochrysum vs micans

A juvenile Philodendron melanochrysum could be mistaken for Philodendron micans because of it's a heart shaped, velvet leaves. Unlike Philodendron micans, Philodendron melanochrysum will grow smaller and smaller when not given something to climb. It's why you won't find Phildendron melanochrysum in hanging basket like you do with Philodendron hederaceum micans. 

trailing philodendron micans

Trailing Philodendron micans
Photo by feey on Unsplash

The secret to growing a mature plant, is to get it to climb some sort of support. In my personal experience, Philodendron melanochrysum grows best on aroid soil poles. But, if you want a more simple approach, grow it on a wooden plank--like the extendable cedar plank from Treleaf. Planks have the advantage of mimicking the Philodendrons natural environment and the aerial roots love to cling onto it with the right humidity. However, you'll most commonly see collectors growing Philodendron melanochrysum on a sphagnum moss pole. Whatever you choose, just ensure the humidity is high enough. With the right humidity, aerial roots will climb anything. Once the plant starts climbing, Philodendron melanochrysum will start to mature and you'll have huge leaves in no time.

philodendron melanochrysum on zella trellis from treleaf 
Philodendron melanochrysum on Zella trellis by Treleaf

You can read our blog here about the pros and cons of growing plants on sphagnum moss pole versus wooden planks.

Common pests and Plant diseases with Philodendron melanochrysum

Philodendron melanochrysum plants are no different than any other philodendron plants. Plant disease and plant pests are inevitable.

Thrips

Thrips seems to have a liking to Philodendron plants. If you see thin, white bodied insects on your leaves--you have thrips (link to pest article). Treat with a systemic or horticultural spray and keep the Philodendron melanochrysum out of direct sunlight.

Spider Mites

Spider mites, on the other hand, love velvety plants. And can be difficult to see, especially on dark green foliage. If you notice yellow stippling on your leaves, it's most likely spider mites. Even in high humidity, spider mites can attack. Treat with a miticide and keep away from direct sunlight.

Bacterial Leaf Spot

One common issue you may run into with Philodendron melanochrysum is bacterial leaf spot. Bacterial leaf spot is best identified by spots on the foliage surrounded by a yellow ring. This is caused by lack of air flow and water sitting on the foliage for too long. Cut off any infected plant leaves and treat with a copper fungicide. To prevent this from happening, introduce more air flow by cracking a window or setting up a fan.

Leggy Growth

Leggy growth is your number one sign that your plant isn't receiving enough light. Introducing your plant to bright indirect light will help with this problem.