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How to Care for Philodendron Golden Dragon

Exotic leaf philodendrons are having a moment right now! Plant enthusiasts demand more leaf variations for their collections, so the marketplace has exploded with Philodendrons in various leaf shapes, sizes, and colors. The Philodendron’ Golden Dragon’ is a curious name that describes very different plants. Philodendron Golden Dragon refers to a large, evenly tooth-edged leaf or a dragon-head-shaped leaf variety. In the marketplace, plants sold as ‘Golden’ varieties may be a bright green color, have yellow mottling, or be a true golden yellow. The true golden yellow dragon-head shaped leaf Philodendron Golden Dragon is sometimes sold for astronomical amounts of money because they are very rare and shockingly beautiful. 

Light 

Light requirements vary based on which variety you have (either bright green, mottled, or bright yellow). As a general rule, the lighter the leaf color, the higher the light level required to maintain it. The true golden yellow variety requires the filtered bright light of a full-sun south facing window covered with a light filtering screen or sheer curtain. A 50-75% open privacy shade, for example, on a south-facing window, would allow lots of light into the room, but the light wouldn’t be harsh enough to burn delicate leaves.  

The mottled or light green varieties prefer either an east or west-facing window. Take care that a west facing window’s afternoon light doesn’t burn the leaves. Monitor for signs of sun scorch (dry white areas), which indicates the sun is too harsh. If the true golden yellow variety of Philodendron Golden Dragon has to live in lower light levels, it may revert back to a more typical medium green hue. Because of the exorbitant cost of P.’ Golden Dragon,’ taking care to give it proper light will be an important step in protecting this investment in exotic beauty.

Humidity

Humidity is typically very low in air-conditioned and/or heated houses. Humans are typically much more comfortable breathing moistened air; the same is true for many houseplants. Happily, having a few plants around can dramatically boost the moisture in our homes’ air. To ensure the plant has the humidity it needs, there are several things you can do:

  • Consider buying a houseplant humidifier for the holidays this year! This is a fairly easy way to keep moisture in the air, and the plants will thrive.
  • Make sure the soil is covered with moss or pebbles. This helps trap moisture in the soil. Sphagnum moss looks very pretty and has a tidier appearance than bare soil.
  • Mist the plant whenever you think of it. (Consider adding a mister to your plant’s holiday list as well). A light spray of water will emulate a miniature rain shower which the plants miss when kept indoors.
  • Keeping the plant pot on a dish of wet pebbles is another easy way to ensure good humidity.

Watering

The Philodendron should be drenched with water and allowed to dry briefly before another drenching. Usually, this means watering just a few times a week. Too long of a dry spell could lead to a wilting plant—but hopefully, you have created a moisture-retaining insurance policy for them by frequently misting, having a humidifier nearby, covering the soil, and keeping the pot on top of a tray of pebbles.

Perils of Over-Watering Philodendron’ Golden Dragon’

Please don’t kill them with kindness! Apart from never watering, the most common way people kill their plants is by over watering. (Ask me how I know this.) You bring a darling little plant home from the store, and you want it to thrive and be with you always—so you water it every time you look at it—because, for a plant, water is love, right? Actually, no. Plant roots need oxygen, and while damp or moist soil is ideal for the roots, soaking wet soil or standing water in the bottom of a pot will eventually lead to poor health. Unhelpfully, yellowing leaves can signal both over-watering and under-watering. For an already yellow-leaf plant, look for signs of wilting. Any change in color, leaf edge color change, and especially leaf drop all indicate a problem.

Potting

Philodendron pots need excellent drainage! The container must have holes in the bottom for water to move through. Terracotta allows air exchange for the roots better than any other material. This means the soil and roots in a terracotta pot will tend to dry out faster than in a glazed terracotta or ceramic pot.  

Indoor Potted Plant Soil Mix for Philodendron’ Golden Dragon’ 

A well-draining indoor potting soil mix will work well for any philodendron. An easy Do-It-Yourself mix consists of: 1-part coco coir, 1-part compost, 1-part perlite, and 1-part vermiculite blended. This blend makes a very good indoor potting soil. Before adding any soil, however, fill the bottom of the planting pot with a few inches of rocks, coco coir, wood charcoal, or even dried eggshells. This will ensure water moves down through the soil. Philodendrons can survive standing water better than most house plants, but over time this can harm overall health and lead to disease.

Potting a Philodendron’ Golden Dragon’

Plants should be lifted from their pots and moved to a larger container when roots start to become visible at the surface. Since these philodendrons are climbers—a vertical pole secured in the pot will allow the plants to take on their natural vertical form. A 12-18-inch sphagnum moss-covered stake works well when the plant is small–sizing up when necessary. Allowing the plant to climb vertically will mean easier future propagation because, in climbing, the plant produces many aerial roots. Without a central pole, the plant will not usually produce aerial roots and will take on a much more open form. 

Temperature

Room temperature, between 60 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit (room temperature), is the ideal temperature range for P.’ Golden Dragon.’ Remember, they are originally tropical understory plants and need protection from extreme temperatures. Bring the plant indoors when the temperature falls below 59 degrees Fahrenheit. You should also keep the leaves away from any particularly drafty areas or HVAC vents. Blowing air will dry them out very quickly. 

Fertilizer

Pelletized slow-release fertilizer works very well to replace nutrients that slowly leach out of the soil with watering. Osmocote Smart-Release Plant Food for indoor plants is a pelleted form of 11 nutrients essential for plant development. This product is extremely easy to apply and has no smell (I’m looking at you, fish emulsion). Read the package for the exact amount of fertilizer recommended, but a treatment no more than once a season is usually sufficient. 

How to Propagate the Philodendron Golden Dragon

Aerial Root Propagation

To propagate from aerial roots, secure a small cup of potting soil mix to the vertical climbing pole to position the root in the cup of soil. The contact with soil will encourage the plant to root. Keep the soil moist, and within a month or so, lots of small root hairs will have developed. The newly rooted sections can then be carefully cut away from the mother plant and transplanted into a larger pot.

Stem Cutting Propagation 

Another way to propagate Philodendron Golden Dragon is by clipping off a small section of the stem, including a leaf growth point. When taking a cutting from any plant, you must first sanitize the scissors or knife with rubbing alcohol to give the new plant the best chance for survival. The stem section below a leaf growing point (or node) can then be placed into soil and kept moist or in water that is changed frequently.  

The cut section of the stem will sprout new roots under the leaf growing point within a month. These small plants can then be transferred to a larger pot. I usually stake these little ones up with a chopstick (or similarly sized stick) to keep them upright until they’ve developed roots and can support themselves.

Changing Leaves of Philodendron’ Golden Dragon’

When propagating a P.’ Golden Dragon,’ it is important to keep in mind that new immature leaves often look quite different from the mature form. Leaves will not have the full character of the species or variety (color or form) until they are mature. This can be tricky for the plant-selling marketplace, where people buy and sell plants that look nothing like the plants they will ultimately become. 

Good plants to pair with Philodendron’ Golden Dragon’

Plants with contrasting foliage and a need for filtered bright light and high humidity would be good partners for a P.’ Golden Dragon.’ The smallish round leaf and puffy texture of the deep purple Peperomia (Peperomia caperata ‘Red Ripple’) would make for a great textural contrast. Yellow and purple are complementary colors rarely seen together in houseplants and would be positively other-worldly companions. 

Philodendron ‘Golden Dragon’ Toxicity

It is important to note that Philodendrons are toxic to people and pets if consumed. Sap from the stems and leaves may cause skin irritation. 

Distinguishing Philodendron’ Golden Dragon’ From Other Similar Philodendron Varieties

Determining an accurate Philodendron species can be confusing if the scientific name is not specifically identified. Usually, plant sellers list only the genus, Philodendron, along with a common name. The species’ names are rarely identified. Determining the species is nearly impossible unless you are the plant breeder who knows how the hybrid or cultivar has been developed. In the marketplace, common names often seem to be applied at random. The same common name can refer to completely different origin species. ‘Green Dragon,’ ‘Mottled Dragon,’ ‘Golden Dragon,’ ‘Minarum,’ ‘Fiddle,’ and ‘Lime Fiddle’ are often used interchangeably for plants in the same genus but which may not be in the same species. I will detail below what these names typically indicate.

Philodendron ‘Golden Dragon’ vs. Philodendron’ Green Dragon’

‘Golden’ vs. ‘Green is a tricky distinction because it is made at the discretion of the plant seller. The scientific names for the Philodendron Golden Dragon are broadly either Philodendron minarum or Philodendron bipennifolium. The dozens of hybrids and cultivars of these two species has resulted in a lot of overlap in the shape the leaves take on. For both species, Philodendron Golden Dragon is a true golden yellow (though, to add to the confusion, sometimes ‘Golden’ is sold as a green leaf with yellow mottling). The ‘Green of both species will be the glossy dark green of the regular variety.  

Philodendron ‘Golden Dragon’ vs. Philodendron’ Camouflage Dragon’

P. bipennifolium ‘Golden Dragon’ and P. bipennifolium’ Camouflage Dragon’ are both typically cultivars of the P. bipennifolium. Philodendron Golden Dragon has solid yellow leaves, while P. ‘Camouflage Dragon’ has white, yellow, and green marbling across the entire surface of the leaf. The variegated Philodendron Golden Dragon cultivar has bolder and more distinctive color patches of a solid cream, light green, and yellow than the ‘Camouflage Dragon.’

Philodendron ‘Mottled Dragon’ vs. Philodendron’ Golden Dragon’ 

P. bipennifollium ‘Mottled Dragon’ is again a cultivar of P. bipennifollium with leaves that have a light smattering of yellow stippling. The Philodendron Golden Dragon is bright yellow and typically does not have stippling or markings.

Philodendron ‘Golden Dragon’ vs Philodendron’ Camouflage Dragon’ vs Philodendron’ Mottled Dragon’

The gold and white speckling of the P. bipennifolium ‘Mottled Dragon’ is subtler than the P. bipennifolium’ Camouflage Dragon.’ P.’ Camouflage Dragon has dramatic white and green marbling across the entire leaf surface. The gold speckles of P. bipennifolium’ Mottled Dragon’ do not cover the entire surface like the coloration on the P.’ Mottled Dragon’ leaves. The P. bipennifolium ‘Golden Dragon’ is a solid yellow color with no markings or color variation.

Philodendron ‘Golden Dragon’ vs Philodendron Minarum

The wordFiddleor Violin’ in the common name usually refers to a plant from the Philodendron minarum species. This is because of a leaf shape that has a waist or indention. The leaf shape is botanically classified as ovate-triangular. The P. minarum standard leaves are larger than P. bipennifolium ‘Golden Dragon’ (10-16 inches wide x 16-19 inches long). P. bipennifolium ‘Golden Dragon’ leaves are smaller (10″ -13″ long) with distinctive spikey lobes that resemble a Chinese-style dragon head. The ‘Golden Dragon’ cultivar has bright yellow leaves.

Philodendron ‘Golden Dragon’ vs. Philodendron’ Lime Fiddle’

The P. minarum Lime Fiddle’ has an indented leaf shape and a vibrant green color due to some bright green mottling and a bright green midline. P. bipennifolium’ Golden Dragon’ has slightly smaller solid yellow leaves with no markings and a leaf shape that resembles a dragon head. The leaves of the P.’ Lime Fiddle’ are also slightly larger than the P.’ Golden Dragon.’ 

Philodendron ‘Golden Dragon’ vs Philodendron pedatum ‘Oak Leaf’

Philodendron pedatumOak Leaf’ is easily confused with the P.’ Golden Dragon.’ The leaves of P. pedatum are smaller and wider, and each leaf resembles an 8-inch-long oak leaf. The Philodendron Golden Dragon leaves are slightly larger, yellow, and dragon-head shaped. The P. pedatum ‘Oak Leaf’ is a medium green.

Philodendron Longilobatum vs. Philodendron ‘Golden Dragon’

Philodendron Longilobatum has a very long and narrow leaf shape that is 1 ½ longer than wide. The leaves are 31″ -36″ long—so they are quite a bit larger and more sword-like even than the smaller, solid yellow, narrow dragon-head shaped leaves of the P.’ Golden Dragon Narrow Form’ cultivar.

Conclusion

The considerable financial investment in any of the rare philodendrons is more than made up for by their relative ease of care and beautiful foliage. Largely resistant to pests and disease, a Philodendron Golden Dragon is a visual joy and should be included in any home needing a warm tropical boost.

Where to Buy the Philodendron Golden Dragon

If you are interested in owning your own Philodendron Golden Dragon or want to check the price, the Philodendron Golden Dragon  is available for sale from different sellers on Etsy.

Click Here to Check Price on Etsy

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