How to Care for Philodendron Atabapoense – 9 Integral Tips

Whether you are a plant enthusiast or have just heard about the Philodendron atabapoense you are probably wondering how this rare and endangered plant species has captured the hearts of many plant growers. Apart from its unique and stunning appearance, what makes the Philodendron so special, and why should it be given the attention it deserves?

As a horticulturist, I understand the importance of certain tropical plants’ role in nature. The Philodendron atabapoense plays a significant role in the world of plants as it is valued for its distinctive oblong-shaped leaves with purple undersides. The rare climber plays an important role in the awareness of preserving biodiversity. The natural habitat of the Philodendron atabapoense is threatened by deforestation, making it an endangered plant species. For me owning a Philodendron atabapoense is like doing my bit for conservation!

Although the Philodendron atabapoense is an easy plant to care for it is not for the faint of heart. Showcasing its large and impressive appearance, it demands attention and commands respect! If you are searching for a plant that will add a touch of elegance and style to your home, look no further than the Philodendron atabapoense.

philodendron atabapoense

Table of Contents

How Much Sunlight is Necessary for a Philodendron Atabapoense?

The Philodendron atabapoense is happy in bright indirect sunlight and can tolerate shade similar to that of the Amazon rainforest undergrowth. In 6-8 hours of bright indirect sunlight the Philodendron will maintain its deep green color and will avoid becoming leggy or stretched.

The best place to situate the Philodendron atabapoense is near a bright east-facing window. Avoid direct light, which will scorch the leaves.

philodendron atabapoense in front of fence

If your home lacks indirect light, you can grow the Philodendron atabapoense under artificial light. Fluorescent lights are a cost-effective option, and I use a T5 bulb with a full spectrum of light.

Another option is growing with LED lights as they can provide more intense light that is similar to natural sunlight.

Does the Soil Need to Stay Moist?

Evenly moist soil is favored by the atabapoense plant, and it is essential to avoid letting the soil dry out completely between watering. The best way to check for soil moisture is to check the top two inches of the soil. After sticking your finger in the soil, if it comes out clean, then you can give the green baby a drink!

When watering, allow the excess water to drain out of the drainage holes in the pot before putting it back on the tray. The atabapoense plant is like other Philodendron plants and is susceptible to root rot.

hands holding soil

Root rot happens when the soil becomes clogged up and the roots are starved of oxygen. During the growing season, you may need to water more frequently. However, when the temperatures are cooler during the dormant period, it can be allowed to dry out a little more between waterings.

What Potting Mix Is Best?

The atabapoense philodendron enjoys a rich, well-draining soil mix, and you can create your own at home with a few materials.

To create the perfect soil mix for your atabapoense plant, use 1 part peat moss, 1-part orchid bark, 1-part potting mix, 1/4-part Perlite. When measuring parts, you can use a garden trowel, pot, or any scooping container to measure the ratios. Depending on how much you require for the size of your Philodendron atabapoense you can measure accordingly. Any commercial potting mix is suitable to use. You can purchase this in bags from your local garden center or department store.

philodendron atabapoense in green pot on white background

Avoid using heavy clay and sandy soils that retain too much moisture as these result in root rot.

Regarding the pH level for the Philodendron atabapoense they enjoy a pH level of 6.1 to 7.3, which is slightly acidic to neutral. You can test the pH levels of your soil mix by using pH test strips. Ph test strips are available from gardening stores or online and really straightforward to use.

When potting your Philodendron atabapoense, check the drainage holes at the bottom of the pot. Once, I bought some pots, and the holes weren’t drilled through properly. If the water can’t escape the drainage holes, it leads to pooling and will rot the plants’ roots.

What Is the Temperature Tolerance?

One of the great features of the Philodendron atabapoense is its tolerance to a wide temperature range. Compared to other tropical plants it can withstand cooler temperatures. The Philodendron atabapoense desires a temperature range of 60- 80F (15 -29C).

With that being said try to store the Philodendron away from cold draft areas such as frequently opening windows or doors. The Philodendron atabapoense needs protection from cold temperatures (below 50F (10C) to be precise).

philodendron atabapoense white pot white tiles

Maintain consistent temperatures in the home during the winter, and your Philodendron atabapoense will thank you for it!

My house gets pretty chilly during the winter, so when I am feeling the cold, I know my plants are too. I heat the house with a radiator rather than a fan to avoid drying out the air. Try to keep your Philodendron atabapoense away from direct heating sources, especially fans. These heaters will dry the leaves and turn your beloved plants crisp if they are too close!

How Much Humidity?

When you consider how warm and sweaty the Amazon rainforest must be, it comes as no surprise that the Philodendron atabapoense loves high humidity. The ideal temperature range for the Philodendron Atabapoense is around 65-70%. These levels are quite a bit higher than the average household humidity (30-40%), so there are some ways you can adjust the humidity for your plants.

hand holding philodendron atabapoense white background

Here are some simple ways to increase humidity around your plants:

  • Mist the leaves of the Philodendron atabapoense- use a spray bottle of distilled water to ensure there is no calcium staining on the leaves.
  • Place the plant in a bathroom, kitchen, or laundry- these rooms commonly produce a lot of steam, naturally raising the humidity.
  • Alternatively, position your plants in a group- by grouping your plants together, you will create a microclimate, and they will keep the moisture between themselves.
  • Install a humidifier- not only are these great for controlling humidity for your plants, but they provide many health benefits too. Humidifiers are available online or in department stores and are relatively inexpensive.
  • Pebble tray- use a small tray with pebbles to sit the plant on. Put a small amount of water in the tray. The water transpires and provides humidity to the plants.

When raising the humidity levels in your home, be sure to monitor your plants for any fungal diseases. Unfortunately, this is one of the problems with tropical plants that love high humidity.

Because my Philodendron atabapoense is on the rather large side and is already growing under artificial light, I have created a dedicated area in my house where it is grouped with my other ‘special plants’. So far, grouping the plants together and using a pebble tray has proven sufficient in providing adequate humidity, and there is no sign of drying out.

What Fertilizer Is Best?

Regular fertilization assists with promoting the healthy growth of the Philodendron atabapoense. Use a balanced, water-soluble fertilizer with a ratio of 20-20-20 or something similar such as 10-10-10. Either of these ratios is fine, it will just change the dilution rates.

During the growing season (Spring to Fall), apply the fertilizer every 2-4 weeks. Whether you are new to fertilizing plants or know what you’re doing, always follow the directions on the label for dosage. Also, use half-strength if the plant is young.

young plants including atabapoense

Over-fertilization can be a pain in the a*** and challenging to correct. During the dormant period (winter), reduce fertilization or stop altogether. In the colder months, the Philodendron atabapoense will naturally slow down with leaf growth, so it doesn’t require extra nutrients.

Signs that your Philodendron atabapoense needs fertilizer (especially during the growing season) is growth will slow down, and the leaves will turn a pale green color. Contrary to this, over-fertilizing will cause the leaves to burn at the edges, and you will likely notice a salty crust on the top of the soil. This salty crust is the unused compounds left from the fertilizer, and they block up the soil, which later causes root rot.

In addition to fertilizer, I like to add a layer of compost to the top of the soil. This adds some extra nutrients as the plant is watered. You can add manure too, but personally I don’t like the idea of having manure inside the home!

How Do I Propagate the Philodendron Atabapoense?

As the Philodendron atabapoense is facing extinction due to the destruction of the Amazon, propagating it to produce more plants is highly valuable. Not only can you offer your friends and family a rare plant species, but it costs you next to nothing!

The Philodendron atabapoense can be propagated through stem cuttings or division. Personally, I prefer stem-cutting propagation with most of my plants as it feels less risky. Dividing the roots is a gentle job, and I’m quite heavy-handed.

Stem Cutting

Stem cuttings can be taken from healthy, mature plants and rooted in water or a well-draining potting mix. Here is how to do it:

  1. Firstly, cut a stem 3-6 inches (7-15cm) long with at least two nodes. Nodes are the knobby part where new growth is formed. Remove the lower leaves, leaving a few leaves at the top.
  2. Then, place the stem cutting in water or potting mix, and ensure that the cut end is buried. If propagating in water, make sure you change the water every other day, so it doesn’t become scummy.
  3. Finally, keep the cutting in a warm, bright, but not direct sun location. Preferably next to the mother plant- she was happy enough there, so her baby should be too!

Maintain soil moisture but avoid letting it become waterlogged, and mist the leaves regularly to maintain humidity.

young philodendron atabapoense on black table

Division Propagation

Division is another method of propagation that can be done when the plant has outgrown its pot and has a mass of roots.

Here is how to divide the roots of the philodendron atabapoense:

  1. Tap the sides of the pot so that it loosens up the soil.
  2. Carefully remove the plant from its pot, gently tease away at the roots, and divide it into smaller sections. You may need to use a clean, sharp pair of scissors if the stems are too thick to break off.
  3. Each section can be potted up in a container with the same well-drained soil mix used for the mother plant.
  4. Continue with the same watering and care routine as the mother plant and the roots and new foliage will continue to grow. 

In a few weeks, roots should develop, and the cutting can be potted up in a container with a well-draining soil mix.

What Problems and Pests Can Occur?

The Philodendron atabapoense is no different from other plants when it comes to pests and problems. They are susceptible to all the usual common culprits such as spider mites mealybugs, yellow leaves, root rot, and slow growth.

Here’s a rundown on the mentioned pests and how you can fight them off:

Spider Mites

These tiny pests suck the sap from the leaves and cause yellow and brown spots along with stunted growth. You can mist the leaves regularly and keep the plant clean by using a damp cloth.


These cottony-looking critters move around the plants stems and leaves in masses and pierce holes to suck the sap from your prized plant. They excrete a sticky fluid which causes a secondary infection of sooty mold. Double whammy!

As soon as you see any of these, be armed with a neem oil soap solution or insecticidal soap. Mix 1 teaspoon of neem oil with 4 drops of dishwashing soap and 1 liter of water. Apply the spray once a week and watch the numbers reduce. They wont die instantaneously, but over time you won’t see them anymore- it all depends on how big the infestation is and your control method.

Root Rot

roots of a plant exposed

A common problem with philodendron plants is root rot resulting from over-watering or high humidity. Root rot can be identified by checking the root system for reddish brown roots.

Normally a foul smell will come from the soil too. You can help the plant to recover from root rot if the problem hasn’t been left for too long. Gently remove the plant from its pot, check the roots, and cut any affected roots from the base. After removing the rotted roots, pot the plant into fresh new soil, and it will be good to go again.

Yellow Leaves

Yellowing leaves can be caused by various factors. This can include too much direct sunlight over-fertilization or insufficient humidity. Be sure to check the changes in the environment for your philodendron plant and adjust accordingly.

Slow Growth

Slow growth can result from insufficient light, low humidity, or under fertilization. The Philodendron atabapoense is known to be a fast grower, so any changes during the spring and summer months will prompt you to take action.

Overall, it is important to be vigilant and to take action quickly if you notice any pests or problems with your Philodendron atabapoense. Regular inspection, proper care, and prompt treatment can help keep your plant healthy and thriving.

Is the Philodendron Atabapoense Toxic?

Philodendron atabapoense contains calcium oxalate crystals that are toxic to pets and humans. Be sure to keep the Philodendron atabapoense away from any curious beings and wear gloves when handling.

About the Philodendron Atabapoense

philodendron atabapoense with climber against white wall

As a native to South America, specifically the Amazon rainforest, this vulnerable but hardy plant is unfortunately facing the threat of extinction. Known for its glossy green leaves with deep cuts and burgundy undersides, these rare plants grow to an impressive 15-20 feet (4.6-6.1m) when in their natural habitat. The leaves of the Philodendron atabapoense can grow up to 30 inches (76cm) long and 10 inches (25cm) wide, making it an absolutely astronomical plant!

As a part of the Araceae family, the Philodendron atabapoense is known to bloom tiny inconspicuous flowers on spikes called spadix. This waxy spike is surrounded by a modified leaf known as a spathe. This flower formation is similar to other plants in the Philodendron genus and is not the main attraction for keeping them- the impressive foliage is!

One thing that sets this fast-growing plant apart from other plants is its laid-back approach to absorbing sunlight and nutrients. The Philodendron atabapoense thrives in low-light environments and can tolerate temperatures lower than other tropical plants.

When potting the atabapoense plant, you can use a moss pole or bamboo stick to help it climb. The aerial roots of the plant are used to attach themselves to vertical structures. You are letting the plant reach its full potential by providing a climbing structure.

Despite its hardiness, the Philodendron atabapoense is facing the threat of extinction due to the destruction of its native habitat- The Amazon rainforest. This has left the plant vulnerable, and their numbers are rapidly declining- even more reason to get your hands on one!

The importance of conservation is stronger than ever, and by protecting the remaining habitats of the Philodendron atabapoense we can ensure that this striking species will continue to be a part of our world for generations to come.

FAQ About the Philodendron Atabapoense

Is Philodendron atabapoense rare?

The Philodendron atabapoense is a rare philodendron species and is facing extinction from the destruction of the Amazon rainforest. If you can get your hands on one of these plants, you are assisting with the conservation of this stunning plant.

Is Philodendron atabapoense a climber?

Yes. The Philodendron atabapoense is a climbing plant that can be grown with a moss pole or bamboo stick. Installing a climbing frame or trellis will ensure the philodendron can reach its maximum height.

How do you take care of a Philodendron atabapoense?

Proper care for the Philodendron atabapoense includes protecting it from freezing temperatures and anything under 50F (10C) watering regularly and fertilizing it during the spring and summer months. The philodendron atabapoense needs indoor humidity levels of 80-90% so you will need to provide extra care to keep it thriving.

Is atabapoense a Billietiae?

The atabapoense philodendron is a different species. The billietiae is green with slightly rose-colored undersides. The atabapoense philodendron has burgundy undersides.

Is Philodendron atabapoense fast-growing?

The philodendron atabapoense has a fast growth rate that can reach its mature height within 2-3 years when given proper care.

Do Philodendrons need big pots?

Philodendrons are quite happy in small pots. Providing them with too much soil can risk root rot. Always pot up your Philodendron to the next size up from what it is currently in.

Conserve the Philodendron Atabapoense

The Philodendron atabapoense is a true gem in the world of plants. It has a unique stunning appearance combined with its passive nature, making it a truly remarkable species. With conservation efforts, we can ensure that this rare and endangered beauty will continue to thrive for many years to come. Whether you are a beginner gardener or already have an indoor jungle, the Philodendron atabapoense will be sure to add a touch of class to your home. 

Ready to Branch Out into the World of Houseplants?

Don’t just sit there like a potted plant, spice up your space with some leafy green friends! Check out all the necessary tools for you to add a little green to your life. We’ve stocked our houseplant hub with various care guides to get you on your way to being the greatest green thumb around!

Photo of author
Alex Tinsman
An avid plant and flower lover! Ever since he was little, plants, flowers, and shrubbery of all kinds filled his life. Alex credits this fascination with nature's beauty to his mother and grandmother who were - and still are - dedicated gardeners. It's now Alex's mission to pass that same love for plants onto others and show them it's as easy as pie to bring nature inside.

Make Your Leafy Dreams Come True :)

If you want to start your plant journey on the right foot, you need the best quality plants, whether you’re a beginner or a veteran. Check out the most popular and unique plants available from Léon & George, the most reputable folks in the plant world. Click below! 

Leave a Comment