The silver sword philodendron (Philodendron hastatum) is a unique species of Philodendron that is native to the tropical rainforests of Brazil. It earned its name thanks to its stunning silvery-green sword-shaped foliage which has a shimmery appearance under the right light. The silver sword philodendron is considered rare and can be difficult to come by. However, if you manage to get your hands on one this tropical aroid is surprisingly easy to care for and does well indoors as a houseplant.
All plants in the Philodendron genus are considered toxic to dogs and cats.
Light, Water, & Soil
Like most philodendrons, the silver sword philodendron prefers bright, indirect light. Avoid direct sunlight where possible as its silvery leaves are susceptible to sunburn and may develop discolouration. That being said, short periods of morning or evening sun are usually fine for the silver sword. This tropical plant can tolerate lower levels of light if needed but growth will become leggy over time.
Allow the top 2 to 3 inches of soil to dry out between waterings and then water well. I like to water my philodendrons in my sink or bathtub – soaking them thoroughly and then allowing the excess water to drain from the bottom of the pots. These philodendrons are susceptible to root rot so be careful not to overwater them.
As an aroid, silver sword philodendron requires a soil mix that is airy, rich, and well-draining. A chunky soil mix designed for aroids is best, and will also help to prevent root rot. I recommend combining one part potting soil, one part perlite, and one part orchid bark/orchid bark mix. You can also add some natural fertilizers to your soil mix such as worm castings, bone meal, or compost to make it extra nutrient-rich.
Propagating Silver Sword Philodendron
Silver sword philodendron is most easily propagated from stem cuttings. It is best to propagate a silver sword philodendron in the spring or early summer months when the plant is actively growing. Avoid propagating in the fall or winter months when the silver sword is dormant.
Silver sword philodendron can be propagated in water or in sphagnum moss, but I have found using sphagnum moss to be more reliable so I am going to cover that method below. If you wish to use water instead of sphagnum moss, simply put your cuttings in a jar or small vase filled with water and allow them to root for several weeks before transferring to soil. To propagate a silver sword philodendron using stem cuttings and sphagnum moss, follow these steps.
- Using a pair of clean scissors or pruning shears, take a stem cutting from your silver sword philodendron that has at least 3-4 nodes along the stem. A node is the place where leaves and roots grow.
- Remove the bottom 1-2 leaves from the stem cutting to expose the bare stem, and place the cutting in a jar or small vase filled with pre-moistened sphagnum moss. The exposed part of the stem should be surrounded by moss while the remaining leaves should sit above the moss.
- Put the jar or small vase in a plastic ziploc bag and close the top of the bag around the jar/vase, allowing the leaves to stick out the top of the bag. This means that the bag will be mostly closed, except for a small opening where the stem/leaves protrudes. This is to help keep the humidity around the moss and roots high and create an artificial greenhouse environment.
- Place your cuttings in a location that receives medium to bright indirect light. Ensure that the moss stays evenly moist at all times. Roots should begin to grow within 2-3 weeks. Once the roots have grown at least 2-3 inches long, the cutting can be moved from sphagnum moss to soil mix.
- Prepare a small plastic pot with some of your aroid soil mix and carefully plant your rooted cutting in the mix. Don’t worry too much about removing any sphagnum moss that is stuck to the roots – you don’t want to break them!
- Water the freshly potted cutting well and place it back in the bright location. Keep the soil evenly moist for the first 1-2 weeks to help the roots acclimate to soil, and then gradually start allowing it to dry out a little bit more between waterings.
This philodendron is a climbing philodendron and will grow vigorously if it is given a support to climb. Providing your silver sword with a moss pole or trellis is a great way to encourage larger leaves as the plant matures.
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Why does my silver sword philodendron have brown spots on the leaves?
Philodendrons are susceptible to a common plant disease called bacterial leaf spot. Bacterial leaf spot is usually a result of too much water on the plant’s leaves, which provides the perfect environment for bacteria and fungus to thrive. It is highly contagious and difficult to get rid of. The best way to treat leaf spot on a silver sword philodendron is to cut off any affected leaves and spray the plant with a copper fungicide.
What causes leggy growth on a silver sword philodendron?
Leggy growth, or an elongated appearance, is a result of a lack of light. Unfortunately, leggy growth cannot be reversed, but if you provide your silver sword philodendron with enough light it will prevent new growth from being leggy.
What causes yellow leaves on a silver sword philodendron?
Yellow leaves can be caused by a few different things including lack of light, too much light, and underwatering. Ensure your silver sword philodendron is exposed to bright, indirect light and make sure you are watering once the top 2 inches of soil are dry.
Why are the leaves on my silver sword philodendron drooping?
Drooping leaves are an indication that your silver sword is not receiving enough water and is in need of a good drink! The good news is that after being watered, the leaves should perk back up within a couple of hours.