Plant collectors have come to refer to uncommon philodendron varieties as “unicorn” or “holy grail” specimens. Philodendron Longilobatum is one of these rare and highly sought-after philodendron species. They are difficult to find in the marketplace and are often mislabeled or misidentified. There is such incredible variety in the shape and color of the leaves, just one extra lobe (or point) can indicate a distinct species, so it is important to pay careful attention to the shape of the leaf.
To add to the identification complication leaves morph over their lifespan. Verifying the mother plant is a Philodendron Longilobatum will help to identify the plant being sold solidly.
Because rare philodendrons can be incredibly expensive, it is worth the extra trouble to get to know a Philodendron Longilobatum from a Philodendron bipennifolium or a Philodendron minarum, for example.
This plant is not likely to show up at a local garden center anytime soon, so you can be assured that the trouble and expense of getting ahold of a Philodendron Longilobatum are more than made up for by its truly extraordinary tropical character.
Philodendron Longilobatum Origin & Identification
Philodendrons all belong to the Araceae family of tropical climbing plants that have spike-shaped flowers called a spadix (a peace lily is a good visual for this flower form).
Members of this family are popularly known as “arums” or even “aroids.” The philodendron genus has around 500 different species. This broad range makes for incredible variety even within a collection of just one plant genus. Philodendron Longilobatum is a species that originates from the tropical rainforest climate of southeastern Brazil.
Identifying the shape and quantity of leaf lobes (leaf separations) is the easiest way to differentiate one Philodendron species from another. Each mature leaf of the Philodendron Longilobatum has two nearly detached leaflets at its top that resemble ears. Below the “ears,” each leaf has three (sometimes asymmetrical) pointed lobes on both sides. The lobes end around the leaf mid-point. The lower half of each leaf is oblong and pointed.
The glossy green leaves can reach up to 35” long x 8 inches wide.
Philodendrons are generally classified as “low light” plants, but most will be happier with some light exposure. Medium to bright filtered light is best for the Philodendron Longilobatum.
An east or west-facing window is considered medium light level. Bright filtered light would be in a south-facing window with a shade or filter cloth. Look for signs of scorching or sunburn, which will look like dry white patchy areas.
The soil for a Philodendron Longilobatum needs frequent drenching, followed by a brief period when the soil is allowed to dry out. This wet/dry cycle mimics conditions the plants favor in
nature and ensures good root health. Filtered water is best, especially if it is allowed to sit out in an open container at room temperature for 24-48 hours. This extra step allows
chlorine (used in municipal water treatment facilities) to escape the water and not damage the sensitive plant microbiome.
Getting humidity levels high enough around a Philodendron Longilobatum is critical to its long-term health. One of the easiest ways to set up an environment that mimics the high tropical humidity of its native habitat is to keep its pot on top of a tray of wet pebbles. This is also handy to catch the overflow from weekly or bi-weekly drenching. The pebble tray
does not need to be a whole lot larger than the pot –just a couple of inches bigger works well to keep the air around the plant moist.
Misting a Philodendron Longilobatum several times a week is another great way to keep the environment around the plant moist. Unfortunately, this is also probably the easiest method to lose track of. Combining occasional misting with a wet pebble tray will provide a bit of insurance; the plant has enough of the moisture it needs. Continuous spray mister bottles are propellant-free and really fun to use. One squeeze of the trigger
produces several seconds of uninterrupted mist and makes the misting chore a breeze.
Alternately, Investing in a humidifier is an easy guarantee of good humidity for a Philodendron Longilobatum.
Using a good slow-release indoor plant food should supply sufficient nutrients for a Philodendron Longilobatum. Osmocote indoor plant food is pelletized, so there is no mess and no odor. If you notice any yellowing or other signs of disease or stress, consider giving the plant an additional Calcium and Magnesium supplement (known as a Cal-Mag mix). If you
are using a general-purpose NPK fertilizer, look for one with a high Nitrogen mix.
The correct temperature range for a Philodendron Longilobatum is critical but easy. Room temperature (65-80 degrees Fahrenheit) is perfect for humans and tropical philodendrons. If you are planning to keep your plant outdoors, make sure to bring it inside if the temperature falls outside this range. Keep your plant away from drafty areas and avoid areas near air vents. Moving air can be a problem for Philodendron Longilobatum because it will quickly dry them out.
Philodendron Longilobatum Propagation
The really unique thing about this family of plants is that all philodendrons, including Philodendron Longilobatum, can be propagated in water. You can simply place a cutting with a leaf node (growing point) in water, and within a few weeks, roots should start to develop.
Just be aware that nutrient deficiencies can be a problem, and unless you are aerating the water, make sure the water is changed frequently. Once a good root system and a
few leaves are present on the baby plant; it will need to be moved to soil.
Another fun thing about Philodendron Longilobatum is its tendency to produce aerial roots. These roots appear like leafless green stems projecting out from the main mother stem.
When aerial roots make contact with soil, they produce “real” roots. You can take advantage of this quality and produce more plants!
The first step is to attach a cup of soil to the plant support at the same height as an aerial root. The root can then be placed under the soil and left to grow below the soil level. Once there is good new root growth, the plant can be separated from the mother plant using a sterilized knife or scissors.
Philodendron Longilobatum should be kept away from pets and children. The calcium oxalate crystals in the leaves will cause extreme discomfort for human and pet digestive systems if ingested. The stems and leaves contain a clear acrid sap that is a skin irritant.
Diseases and Pests
Root health can sometimes be a problem for Philodendron Longilobatum, especially those purchased overseas and subjected to standard U.S. entry processing. Make
sure your plant gets healthy new soil with exceedingly good drainage. Mixing 2 parts coco coir, 1-part compost or worm castings, 1-part vermiculite or perlite, and ½ part sand makes for great drainage and ensures good soil microbes.
Philodendron Longilobatum vs. Philodendron Bipennifolium ‘Green Dragon’
Philodendron Longilobatum has 3 lobes in its middle section in addition to the top leaflets, which make for a very complicated leaf shape. However, Longilobatum leaves do not call to mind any specific animal form the way Philodendron Green Dragon does. The Philodendron bipennifolium ‘Green Dragon’ will have 2 lobes and a less detached top leaf section. The ‘Green Dragon’ leaf resembles a head-on view of a dragon head and is smaller.
Philodendron Longilobatum vs. Philodendron Bipennifolium ‘Golden Dragon’
The same leaf differentiation as above can be applied to a Philodendron ‘Golden Dragon’ as to a ‘Green Dragon.’ However, ‘Golden Dragon’ leaves are either a bright acid yellow or green with yellow mottling across the leaf surface.
Philodendron Longilobatum vs. Philodendron Longilobatum ‘Lelano Miyano’ or ‘Leland Miyano’
In the ever-changing world of the houseplant marketplace, non-scientific names can sometimes be very confusing and arbitrary. The cultivar ‘Lelano Miyano’ or ‘Leland Miyano’ is sometimes offered by sellers with no apparent difference from the mother
plant species, Philodendron Longilobatum. Plants labeled as this cultivar of Longilobatum have the same glossy green leaves that can reach up to 35” long x 8 inches wide.
Philodendron Longilobatum vs. Philodendron Longilobatum ‘Narrow Form’
The ‘Narrow Form’ cultivar of Philodendron Longilobatum has a thinner leaf that grows to be about half the width of the mother species.
The world of houseplant collecting has definitely turned its attention to the once humble philodendron. There is a myriad of exciting leaf shapes and colors to choose from, ranging from the bizarre and bold to sweet and delicate. It is no wonder collectors can create dynamic combinations exclusively from the philodendron genus. Despite the high price and limited availability, Philodendron Longilobatum plants are relatively easygoing and unquestionably worth the splurge.
Where to Buy Philodendron Longilobatum
If you are interested in owning your own Philodendron Longilobatum or want to check the price, the Philodendron Longilobatum is available for sale from different sellers on Etsy.
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