If you’ve ever wished you could completely change your name and identity, the gorgeous Philodendron goeldii is for you. It switched genera in 2018, but try not to be confused. It’s still the same plant!
If you’re looking to add a new and unique tropical plant to your collection, good for you! We’re here to help you learn the ins and outs of Philodendron goeldii care, from ideal growing conditions to propagation tips.
Table of Contents
Philodendron Goeldii Plant Care Guide
History, Habitat, and Characteristics
Thaumatophyllum spruceanum, formerly and commonly known as Philodendron goeldii, sports an extraordinary pineapple-like growth structure. Warmly referred to as Fun Bun, its foliage is truly unique among houseplants.
The leaves are long and relatively narrow, radiating outwards in a spiral-like pattern that forms a ring around the stem. This growth pattern, resembling fingers on a hand, has given Philodendron goeldii the common name “finger leaf.”
Hailing from northern South America, the finger leaf is quite the adventurer in its natural habitat. Found in flooded or semi-flooded areas, it often grows as a hemi-epiphyte — a plant that partially grows on another one. Only, unlike most epiphytes, the aerial roots that grow from finger leaf’s trunk anchor it into the ground rather than on other trees.
This difference in growth pattern led to the name change we mentioned above. Botanists have had their hands full with a few Philodendron species and recently placed several in a new genus — Thaumatophyllum. Despite the name change, it remains a proud member of the aroid family, which includes a diverse array of over 100 plant varieties.
Philodendron goeldii’s native habitat comprises tropical rainforests with varying light conditions. From its position on the forest floor, finger leaf will enjoy dappled sunlight. So try to recreate these conditions by giving it bright, indirect light. West-facing windows are the most ideal for this level of light.
Remember, as a tropical plant, Philodendron goeldii needs a fair amount of light, so a north-facing window will likely be insufficient. If your finger leaf isn’t getting enough light, it may show signs of it, such as slow growth or weak stems. Place the plant close to a suitable grow light if it can’t receive more ambient light from a window.
As Philodendron goeldii matures, it can handle almost full sun, but proper acclimation is crucial. If you do attempt this, increase the light gradually and keep an eye out for signs that your plant is getting too much light.
When your finger leaf plant gets too much direct sunlight, you’ll spot burnt leaves, discoloration, or small holes in the foliage. To prevent this, use a sheer curtain to filter harsh sunlight or position it near a southwest-facing window for bright, indirect sunlight.
Water your Philodendron goeldii when the top few inches of soil have dried out. Try not to let the entire plant dry out, though. Finger leaf plants do well in soil that’s consistently moist but never wet. Use room-temperature distilled or filtered water to avoid buildup of chemicals and minerals in the soil.
This plant’s tuberous roots help it hold onto water, and its succulent stem aids in water retention. So how can you tell if your plant is receiving the right amount of water?
Signs of insufficient water include wilted, curled, or yellow leaves. If you notice these signs, increase the frequency and amount of watering, and remove any dying leaves to prevent them from attracting pests. One way to tell you’re watering enough each time is to water until it flows from the drainage holes.
On the other hand, too much water can lead to yellowing leaves, mushy stems, or soil that remains consistently moist, the precursor to root rot. If you start to see these signs, cut back on watering and let the soil dry out before watering again.
Temperature and Humidity
Finger leaf plants thrive in average indoor environments, so keep the temperature between 60 and 85°F (15-29°C). Temperatures near the equator, where finger leaf is native, don’t fluctuate much. So as a tropical plant, your Philodendron goeldii needs protection from extreme temperature fluctuations and cold drafts.
If things are getting too hot or too cold for your finger leaf, it will exhibit signs of stress — for example, wilting, shriveling or yellowing leaves. If you see these signs, move the plant away from any drafty windows and avoid placing it near heating or cooling vents.
This houseplant can tolerate normal household levels of humidity, about 30%-40%, but prefers humidity over 50% to truly thrive. Brown leaf tips or curling leaves can indicate low humidity, while mold or other fungal diseases on the plant may suggest too much moisture.
To raise humidity:
- Place a tray of water and pebbles beneath your finger leaf plant to increase humidity as the water evaporates.
- Run a humidifier nearby for a few hours each day.
- Group the finger leaf with other plants for shared moisture through transpiration.
- Keep the plant in a room with naturally higher humidity, such as a bathroom or kitchen, making sure it has adequate light.
Soil and Planting
A well-draining soil mix combining potting soil with a bit of orchid bark, plenty of perlite, and some coco coir is ideal for your Philodendron goeldii. If you’re not familiar with coco coir, it comes from the husk of coconuts, and it’s a much more eco-friendly alternative to sphagnum peat moss.
This combination keeps the soil airy and well-draining, setting the stage for healthy plant roots and avoiding dreaded root rot.
Because finger leaf grows at a moderate rate, and can even grow quickly with the right care, you’ll probably have to repot within a year. Do so during the spring and summer, when the plant is at its strongest and new growth is active.
Use the soil combination described above, and repot your finger leaf in a pot a few inches taller and wider than the last pot. Just make sure it has ample drainage holes.
It’s a good idea to repot your finger leaf outdoors to keep things neat. Fill your new pot with a few inches of soil. Gently remove your finger leaf from its pot and place it in the new one, being sure that the top of the soil is as near the top of the pot as possible, to give the roots room to grow.
Secure the roots in the soil, filling in the extra spaces around the plant and being careful not to cover the base too much. If you put excess soil around the base of the plant, the trunk will get too much water, which can lead to rot.
Feed your Philodendron goeldii with a well-balanced fertilizer during the spring and summer growing season. If using a synthetic fertilizer, a 20-20-20 or 20-10-10 mix at half strength is recommended. For those opting for organic fertilizer, simply follow the directions on the packaging.
Keep an eye out for signs of over-fertilization, such as yellowing leaves, wilting, or root burn. Should this occur, flush the soil with plenty of water to wash away excess fertilizer salts and adjust your future fertilizing practices accordingly.
Propagating Philodendron goeldii allows you to create new plants from your existing ones (and the more the merrier, right?). We’ll cover two methods of propagation: stem cuttings and air layering using moist sphagnum moss.
Method 1: Propagating Philodendron goeldii with stem cuttings
- Pick a healthy stem from your plant that has at least one node, making sure it’s free from disease or pests.
- Snip the stem using sterilized pruning shears or a sharp, clean knife, cutting just below a node. Aim for a cutting roughly 4-6 inches long.
- Let the cutting callus by placing it in a cool, dry spot for a few hours or overnight, which helps prevent rot when planting.
- Prep a small pot filled with well-draining potting mix and slightly dampen the soil.
- Pop the cutting into the pot, positioning the callused end in the soil and burying the node beneath the soil line. Press the soil gently to ensure a snug fit.
- Set up the right conditions by placing the pot in bright, indirect light and maintaining humidity around the cutting. Keep the soil lightly moist but not soggy.
- Watch for progress, such as new growth, which signals a successful propagation. As the cutting establishes its roots and begins to grow, continue your regular Philodendron goeldii care routine.
Method 2: Air layering Philodendron goeldii with sphagnum moss or coco coir
- Select a healthy stem on your plant, ensuring no signs of disease or pests.
- Create a slanted cut halfway through the stem, about an inch below a node.
- Wedge a toothpick or small wooden stick into the cut to prevent it from closing.
- Wrap damp coconut coir around the cut stem, completely covering the wound.
- Encase the coir with clear plastic wrap or a plastic bag and secure with twine or gardening tape.
- Keep an eye on the air layer, frequently checking for root development and ensuring the moss remains moist.
- Sever the new plant once roots are well-developed, cutting the stem just below the new roots using sterilized pruning shears.
- Plant the rooted cutting in a well-draining pot and follow the care instructions for your Philodendron goeldii.
Caring for a Philodendron goeldii is usually a breeze, but occasionally, you might encounter a few issues. We’ll get into how to fix these problems.
When you notice the leaves on your Philodendron goeldii curling up, it’s likely due to insufficient humidity, which prevents the leaves from unfurling smoothly. This issue is particularly common during the colder months, when indoor heating tends to reduce humidity levels.
To combat this, create a more humid environment for your plant by placing it on a tray filled with water and pebbles, making sure the pot stays above the waterline. It’s also a good idea to run a humidifier near your plants for a few hours each day.
If you have a lot of time on your hands, one fun method of raising humidity is misting the leaves with a spray water bottle regularly. While you’d have to do this pretty consistently for it to be effective, many plant collectors enjoy misting because it gives them a chance to spend time with their plants.
If your Philodendron goeldii has wilting leaves, it might not be getting enough water. Tropical plants typically need consistently moist soil (but don’t overdo it!).
First, check the soil moisture — if the top few inches are dry, it’s time to water your plant thoroughly, allowing excess water to drain out from the bottom of the pot. Remember not to let the plant sit in standing water, which can cause root rot.
To prevent wilting in the future, develop a consistent watering schedule based on the needs of your Philodendron goeldii. This approach ensures the soil remains evenly moist without becoming waterlogged, keeping your plant happy and healthy.
Pests and Diseases
Philodendron goeldii is a hardy plant, usually avoiding most pest problems. That said, it’s always best to be prepared. Keep a close eye on your plant, watching for troublemakers like mealybugs, scales, and spider mites, especially on the underside of leaves.
Spider mites are typically identifiable by the small webbing they create around the plant. Like spider mites, mealybugs are easy to identify as well. They form a cotton-like layer on plant leaves. Scale insects are small, flat organisms that don’t even look like insects at first glance.
All these pests suck the sap and nutrients from your plant’s leaves, eventually killing them. If you happen to find any of these unwanted guests, follow these simple steps:
- Separate the affected plant from other plants to prevent the pests from spreading.
- Gently wipe the leaves and stems with a damp cloth or give the plant a gentle shower to dislodge the pests.
- For pests that won’t come off with a gentle spraying, you’ll need to gently wipe them off with a damp cloth. You may also need to remove leaves and sections that are heavily infested.
- Follow up by treating your plant with an insecticidal soap like neem oil, carefully following the label’s instructions. Remember to cover both sides of the leaves and along the stems. Keep your plant out of harsh sunlight and extreme temperatures while you’re treating it.
Root rot occurs when a plant’s roots sit in waterlogged soil too long, leading to anaerobic conditions, stunted growth, and sometimes plant death (noooo!). Keep an eye out for yellowing, wilting leaves and a rotten smell coming from your finger leaf.
If you suspect root rot, don’t worry! Here’s how to save your plant:
- Remove the plant from its pot and inspect the roots. Trim away any black, mushy, or slimy roots using sterilized scissors.
- Grab a new pot with adequate drainage and fill it with fresh, well-draining soil. Add perlite, pumice, or LECA (lightweight expanded clay aggregate) for further aeration and drainage.
- Replant your finger leaf, taking care to water only when the soil is dry and always ensuring the pot drains well.
Though rare, fungal diseases can crop up in Philodendron goeldii, especially with high humidity. Look for white, powdery patches on leaves, stems, and soil.
If you spot a fungus issue, follow these steps:
- Isolate the plant to protect your other plants.
- Prune off affected leaves and stems (remember to use sterilized scissors).
- Use a fungicide to treat your plant, making sure to follow the label’s instructions.
Remember, prevention is key. Ensure proper air circulation and avoid overwatering to reduce the likelihood of fungal infections. You may need to cut back on humidity if you’ve been using any of our recommended techniques.
That’s a wrap for our guide on growing Philodendron goeldii! Now you’re equipped with all the knowledge and tips necessary to help your finger leaf thrive in your indoor garden.
Philodendron goeldii care summary:
- Provide bright, indirect light by placing your plant near a southwest-facing window or using a sheer curtain to filter sunlight.
- Water thoroughly when the top 1-2 inches of soil is dry.
- Monitor temperature and humidity levels, aiming for temperatures between 60-85°F and humidity above 50%.
- Use a well-draining soil mix containing orchid bark and perlite to encourage healthy root growth.
- Fertilize with a well-balanced solution during the growing season.
- Propagate through stem cuttings or air layering.
So whether you call it the Philodendron ‘Fun Bun,’ or you’ve already moved over to thaumatophyllum spruceanum, we hope this guide has been helpful! Remember, the key to successful plant care is patience — and drainage!
If you have any questions or need further assistance, feel free to reach out. Happy growing!
Is Philodendron goeldii rare?
Philodendron goeldii is a relatively rare plant in the world of houseplants. Originating from tropical rainforests, it’s not as commonly found in plant shops as other varieties. But don’t let its rarity discourage you!
With a little patience and research, you may find Philodendron goeldii at specialty plant nurseries or online retailers. Remember that fewer people will have this unique plant in their collection, so your Philodendron goeldii is sure to be a conversation starter.
What is the new name for the Philodendron goeldii?
Philodendron goeldii has been reclassified and is now known under a new scientific name, Thaumatophyllum spruceanum. This change reflects the ongoing study of plant taxonomy and the discovery of new information. No matter which name you prefer, be assured that the care requirements remain the same.
Is Thaumatophyllum spruceanum care different?
Despite the change in name, Thaumatophyllum spruceanum care remains identical to the former Philodendron goeldii. To ensure your plant thrives, continue to provide a well-balanced blend of bright, indirect light and moist soil.
Is Philodendron goeldii a climbing plant?
Philodendron goeldii is not a climbing plant. Unlike most true philodendrons, this variety grows upright, forming a more compact and bushy shape. Its leaves extend outwards from a central stalk, making for an eye-catching display. Considering this, it should be no surprise that the genus changed to Thaumatophyllum.
Is Philodendron goeldii toxic?
Yes, Philodendron goeldii is toxic, like many other Philodendron species. Its leaves contain calcium oxalate crystals, which if ingested, can cause irritation of the mouth, throat, and stomach in humans and animals.
To ensure the safety of your pets and young children, place your Philodendron goeldii in an area that is out of reach or inaccessible to them. Better safe than sorry!