Philodendron Silver Sword Care
Silver Sword Philodendrons, also called Philodendron hastatum 'Grey', is an absolutely stunning plant to see in person. They truly do have silver leaves, not just a silvery sheen on other plants with the word "silver" in their common name. As this plant matures, the leaves will change shape. While young, the leaves are elliptic, as the plant grows older, the leaves become sagittate. The plants will more readily begin producing mature leaves if given a support to climb, such as a moss pole. This plant can grow to six feet tall when in a pot, though in the wild, they grow much larger. These plants are quite the stunner all on their own, and luckily, they are easy to care for, as well! Let's get into it.
Like other philodendrons, Silver Swords have adapted to life below the rain forest canopy where light can be dim. They thrive in bright, indirect light. If being placed outdoors for the summer, avoid direct sun, as this will cause the leaves to burn it is best to keep them in shade or in an area with morning sun and afternoon shade. When grown indoors, it's much more likely that the plant will be lacking light. If the light is too dim, the plant will become leggy and reach for the light. If your plant begins etiolating (reaching for the light and stretching), it would be beneficial to invest in a grow light. Be sure to mount it at least 15 inches away from the plant or keep it on a dimmer setting.
Watering Silver Swords is very similar to watering other philodendron species. Overwatering is easy to do if you water without checking the soil beforehand. Don't water until the top few inches of the soil are dry. When it comes time to water, no matter if you water from the top or the bottom, the soil should be completely saturated. If watering from the top, this means continuing to add water until it flows out of the bottom of the pot. If watering from the bottom, this means allowing the plant to soak in adequate water until the top of the soil is moist, as well. Depending on the size of the pot, this could take minutes or hours. Overwatering isn't the quantity of water that you give during watering, but the frequency at which it is watered.
Philodendrons, like many other popular house plants, prefer water that is well draining while also having high levels of organic matter (the "dirt" part of potting soil). Silver Swords are no different. They can survive and thrive in regular potting soil just fine, however if you tend to over water your plants, you may want to gravitate toward a more chunky mix. The Aroid Soil mix offered under the "Supplies" section of my store would be brilliant for those who tend to water too frequently. It's a chunky mix containing coco coir and fortified with worm castings. If you choose to use regular potting soil, be sure to not over water and thoroughly check for dryness before watering again.
Just like every plant, Philodendron Silver Sword needs nutrients to survive. This means you should keep fertilizer on hand. It is best to use a balanced fertilizer
where the numbers are all the same (i.e. 7-7-7, 10-10-10, etc.). Every fertilizer is required to have these numbers on the box. There are several different types of fertilizer, such as slow release granules, water soluble, and liquid fertilizers. Because of this, it is best to follow the directions given to you by the fertilizer, as each type has its own application methods. Slow release fertilizers are often mixed into the soil to provide a small burst of fertilizer every time you water. These often last about six months before another application is needed. Liquid and soluble fertilizers also fertilize when you water, but you have to be mindful on how much you're mixing into the water and how often you fertilize. Mixing too high of a concentration can burn the roots. This can happen with slow release granules, as well, though it is not as common. Following the directions provided on the packaging will ensure this does not happen.
Philodendrons often slow their growth during winter with diminished light. They often do not need as much fertilizer as they do while growing quickly during summer.
While these are very pest- resistant plants, they still can get infestations. A few that are more likely to infest this plant would be as follows.
Scale is a type of sap-sucking insect. The common name scale comprises about 8,000 different species. They look like brown lumps along stems and often on the undersides of leaves. Sometimes they are overlooked before the infestation gets out of control. Their camouflage often makes them look like a leaf scar, or the area where a leaf was before falling off. They're often found on new growth. Because they have a hard shield covering them, many of the methods that control mealybugs are not effective, despite them both technically being scale insects. Soft bodied scale can be controlled via rubbing alcohol, though this will not effect hard bodied scale. They should be physically removed and crushed as you do so. Systemic pesticides will kill any that are not physically removed. If you prefer to avoid the use of pesticides, Aphytis melinus, and Lindorus lophanthae are to beneficial insects that will target scale for control.
Mealybugs are a form of soft bodied scale that are much easier to control than hard bodied scale species. They look like white ovals that are often fuzzy, though as juvenile instars, they do not have the waxy covering. They often hide in new growth on the underside of leaves, on stems, and in tight crevices. They can also be treated with a systemic pesticide, though if you would prefer, beneficial bugs that target mealybugs include mealybug destroyers, green lacewings, and ladybugs. They can also be controlled with a spray made of water and 70% isopropyl alcohol. For more detailed information, take a look at the post titled Mealybugs and How to Deal With Them.
Spider mites are tiny insects that suck the sap of your plants. They're so small that often times, their webbing or the yellow pinpricks they cause are noticed before they are. Spider mites can be treated with a variety of insecticides, from systemic pesticides, insecticidal soap, and, of course, predatory insects. There are over 1,200 species of spider mites, and not every predator will go for every mite species. Luckily, the two-spotted spider mite is much more common than other spider mites. Amblyseius cucumeris and Neoseiulus fallacis are two beneficial insects that will target several species of mites.
Overall, Philodendron Silver Sword is a relatively pest-free, easy houseplant that will thrive if given the proper conditions and a support to climb. With leaves appearing as if they are made of pure silver, they are a stunning addition to any room or collection.
As always, if you have any questions on your plants, please don't be afraid to reach out!