How to Care for a Philodendron Goeldii – 9 Essential Pointers!

This plant has gone through a bit of an identity crisis over the years, with its name being changed from Philodendron goeldii to Thaumatophyllum spruceanum (I prefer the first name, personally!). This hasn’t stopped the Philodendron goeldii from making its way into homes worldwide. Its tropical umbrella-style foliage (similar to the Schefflera) made of long finger-shaped leaves on horizontal stems makes it the perfect companion for your tropical plant collection.

close up of philodendron goeldii leaves

I managed to get my hands on the Philodendron goeldii when a neighbor gave me a cutting a few years ago; it’s been a really simple plant to look after. For example it has lower-than-normal temperature tolerance and humidity requirements. There are a few characteristics of this plant to take note of though, and I am more than happy to share these with you in this Philodendron goeldii care guide.

philodendron goeldii

Table of Contents

Does the Philodendron Goeldii Like Indirect Sunlight?

Due to the natural rainforest habitat of the Philodendron goeldii it is no surprise that this gorgeous plant thrives in bright indirect sunlight. Aim for around 6-8 hours of bright indirect light daily for the Philodendron goeldii, and it will maintain its fabulous dark green foliage.

ariel view variagated philodendron goeldii

The Finger leaf can be grown indoors next to an east or northeast-facing window. Full sun will scorch the leaves of the Philodendron goeldii, and if you need to diffuse the light entering the room, you can do so with a sheer curtain or drape. Suppose you are lucky to live in a warm climate where you can plant the Finger leaf outdoors, make sure you are planting in a shady spot away from direct sunlight.

Keep an eye out for any changes in your plant’s leaves. Insufficient light will cause them to turn yellow, prompting you to position them in a different location.

Shall I Water When the Soil is Dry? 

As with other Philodendron species, the Philodendron fun bun likes moist soil. During the peak growing months of Spring and Summer, you can expect to water twice a week (but watering frequency will vary depending on location, etc.) The best way to see if the soil is moist is to insert your finger into the soil’s top 2 inches (5 cm). If the soil is thoroughly dry, you can quench its thirst!

Try not to let the soil dry out completely between watering; it can cause the soil to become difficult to hydrate again later on. As with most plants, correct watering is essential for the Philodendron goeldii. A result of being left in standing water is root rot which will eventually kill the plant. 

When watering, ensure you let the excess water drain out of the pot before putting it in the drainage tray. Check the drainage holes in the pot to ensure they are free from any blockage and water can pass through easily.

Indications that you have over-watered the Philodendron goeldii are the leaves will turn yellow and become soft and mushy. Often you will see large brown spots emerge on the leaf’s surface, which is another sign of stress from over-watering.

Let the Philodendron dry out. Additionally try lowering the humidity in the room to allow it to dry faster. Remove the damaged foliage, as this will just consume the plants’ energy to try and heal themselves.

Underwatering can be just as damaging; not giving it enough water will cause the plant to dry out, turn crispy and fall to bits. A little bit like our skin when we are not hydrated properly!

orange watering can baby plants in grey pots

What Type of Soil Mix is The Right One?

The most suitable soil mix for the Philodendron goeldii is one that is rich and well-drained to help prevent root rot. Using sphagnum peat moss and Perlite will ensure proper water retention, and the organic matter will provide nutrients to the plant.

If you decide to create your own soil mix, you can mix three parts potting mix, one part perlite, and one-part moist sphagnum moss or coco coir. (Parts can be measured by trowel, yogurt pot, or any container for the amount you need).

Philodendron goeldii thrive in a pH of 5-8. You can test the soil by using a pH test strip kit or pH levels on a moisture meter- both of these are available online or in your local gardening stores. This is quite a large pH range compared to other plants, so by using a store-bought potting mix, you can achieve these results.

What Temperature Range is Best?

The optimum temperature range for the Philodendron goeldii to flourish is between 50-80 F (10- 26C). Although the lower end of this range is surprising for a tropical plant, I wouldn’t risk keeping it too cold for long periods of time.

Exposure to cold temperatures for too long will cause the leaves to wilt and drop. If you are keeping your Philodendron goeldii indoors, ensure you don’t keep the plant close to cold spots in your home. I keep mine in the corner of the room next to my TV. It’s big enough to stand alone and still be a feature.

Drafty areas such as windows and doors tend to fluctuate the temperatures and stress the plant. These temperatures are similar to our comfortable living temperatures, so there shouldn’t be any need to change your home’s environment too much.

If your house becomes seriously hot during the peak summer months, try to relocate your Philodendron goeldii to a shady spot outside in fresh air to let it breathe.

hand holding philodendron goeldii in black pot

Is Higher Humidity Suitable?

As the temperature of your home changes throughout the year, the humidity will too. In order to keep your Philodendron happy, you should keep the humidity levels between 60 and 80%.

You can measure your home’s humidity using a digital thermometer available online or in gardening stores. The higher the humidity, the more growth for your Philodendron goeldii. This will result in larger, darker green leaves. Although this is not always achievable, something to bear in mind nevertheless!

One of my best investments in ensuring the proper humidity in my home was buying a humidifier. I run it next to my plants, and it keeps the air moist even on winter days when the fan heaters are running. Humidifiers are fairly inexpensive, and you can find them online or even in some department stores.

Don’t be too quick to crank the humidity up to the maximum though; air circulation is vital too.

Some other ways to ensure proper humidity around your plants are to:

  • Stand the Philodendron goeldii pot in a small tray of pebbles with water
  • Mist the Philodendron goeldii using a spray bottle of water
  • Position your Philodendron goeldii (If you have more than one) together to create a miniature climate
  • Situate your Philodendron goeldii in a place with higher humidity, such as the bathroom, laundry, or kitchen.

A clear indication that the finger leaf is not receiving enough humidity is that the leaves will start to dry up and turn crispy. It’s very difficult to rectify this problem once it has been left for too long.

On the other hand, if there is high humidity with too much moisture surrounding your plants, you are inviting pests such as fungus gnats and other fungal diseases- these can be treated but are a proper nuisance.

hand holding philodendron goeldii on white background

Which Fertilizer is Best?

Luckily there are no fussy fertilizing requirements for the Philodendron goeldii. Using a balanced slow-release fertilizer, such as 10-10-10 once a month during the growing season. This guarantees the finger plant is getting the nutrients it needs. The ratio 10-10-10 indicates equal levels of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium, and when diluted and applied at half strength, it prevents the risk of potential leaf burn.

Leaf burn results from over-fertilizing, and it looks exactly how it sounds. The edges of the leaves turn from yellow to brown and start to crisp. It’s an ugly sight on your lush green houseplants and can’t be reversed once the damage is done.

If you are worried you have over-fertilized your Philodendron goeldii, try to flush the plants by running water through the pot using a spray hose attachment. As the water escapes the pot, the excess nutrients will leach out too.

When over-fertilizing has occurred, you will notice a white salty-looking crust on the soil’s surface. This excess nutrient build-up can cause the soil to clog up. Once the soil is clogged up with excess nutrients, it will starve the roots of oxygen and cause root rot.

If you forget the last time you fertilized the Philodendron goeldii, err on the side of caution and give it some time before you feed the Philodendron goeldii again.

How Should the Philodendron Goeldii be Propagated?  

Sharing your plants with neighbors and friends saves money and allows you to grow your collection of houseplants. When it comes to propagating the Philodendron goeldii, there are a couple of methods -stem cuttings in soil and air layering.

My preference is always stem-cutting propagation for aesthetic reasons, but I will share the details of both methods.

philodendron goeldii leaves close up

Stem Cuttings

To begin, use a sharp, clean pair of scissors or secateurs and cut a 3-inch (8cm)-long stem with a minimum of one growth node. The growth node is the little lumpy part which the leaf grows from. Keep the leafy part of the cutting at the top intact, which will be needed to provide energy to the plant.

To start with, prepare a separate pot with the same soil mix as the mother plant. This includes 3 parts potting mix, one part perlite, and one-part moist sphagnum moss or coco coir. (Parts can be measured by trowel, yogurt pot, or any container for the amount you need). Then push the bottom part of the stem into the pot about 2 inches (5cm), ensuring the leaves don’t touch the soil. Finally, spray the soil with water and place it next to the mother Philodendron goeldii plant.

After four weeks, it will develop roots, and you can transplant them into a new container. Care for the stem cutting the same way you have for the mother Philodendron goeldii plant for the best results. 

Air Layering

Air layering is a common method used by Philodendron lovers. Some gardeners believe it provides better results than stem cutting.

To propagate Philodendron goeldii by air layering, firstly, prepare a bag with moist sphagnum moss. Then cut a vertical strip on the edge of the bag so you can wrap it around the stem. Choose a healthy stem on the mother Philodendron goeldii plant. You want it to include one or more leaf nodes (the little lumpy part which the leaf grows from).

Next, you need to wrap the bag of moist sphagnum moss to the stem, and you can do this with tie wraps. When wrapping the bag around the stem, ensure you don’t wrap it so tight that you will strangle the Philodendron goeldii. You need to keep the bag in place for the next four weeks, and during that time, spray the sphagnum moss with water to keep it moist. When there is new root growth, you will see them start to escape the bag. You can take a healthy cutting to transplant into the soil at this point.

Is Frequent Pruning Necessary? 

Frequent pruning the Philodendron goeldii is unnecessary unless it gets out of hand or develops a bacterial infection. If you want to give the Philodendron goeldii a trim to keep it at a smaller size, you can do so at any time of year. 

When pruning, use a clean, sharp pair of scissors or secateurs and cut the stem at the base of the plant. Don’t cut below the soil surface. This will leave it open to get infected and rot. When pruning the finger leaf, don’t take too much off, as the plant needs its limbs to create energy for the rest of the plant.

What are Some Pests and Bacterial Diseases to Watch Out for?

Like many tropical houseplants, the Philodendron goeldii plant can fall victim to many pests and bacterial diseases. With a little bit of knowledge on how to control these wrongdoers, you will keep your gorgeous plant looking and feeling healthy.

Spider Mites

These are not the easiest to see in the first instance. However you can detect a spider mite infestation by yellow spots on the leaves and holes from where the spider mites have sucked the sap. Spider mites survive in dry conditions, and their presence can signify low humidity levels.

Using neem oil or a horticultural spray once a week can eliminate the spider mites and let your Philodendron goeldii recover.

spider mite on green leaf

Root Rot

Root rot is a common problem with the Philodendron goeldii plant and can often be detected by stunted growth, foul-smelling soil, or fungus growing on the soil’s surface. To check the Philodendron goeldii for root rot, remove the plant from the pot and look at the roots. If they are reddish brown and mushy, then they are not healthy.

You can remove these roots and replant them into a fresh potting mix to help your plant to recover. If the plant has been left too long in this state, there is a chance the rot has spread to the stems. This can likely end with you losing your plant.

Sooty Mold Fungus

Sooty mold fungal disease is a black fungal growth on the plants, stems, and branches. It looks exactly as it sounds – sooty. This disease results from sap-sucking pests (mealybugs, aphids, scale insects, etc.) that have left their honeydew all over the leaves. It covers the plant and reduces photosynthesize, weakening the Philodendron goeldii and eventually killing it.

Sooty mold can be wiped off the Philodendron goeldii, and you can use a damp cloth dipped in adrop of dish soap and cup of water solution. After you have cleaned the plant, you will need to address the initial pest that caused the honeydew spillage in the first place. Once the plant is free from sooty mold, use a neem oil and soap solution to protect the plant and stop the offenders from returning.

sooty mold fungus on green leaf

Scale Insects

Scale insects are brown, yellow, reddish, or white hard-bodied small insects. They don’t appear to move around your plant much, but they do attack in tribes and feed on all parts of the plants.

You will either notice the small insects by eye or see yellow or brown spots appear on the Philodendron goeldii leaves. Some gardeners will use insecticidal soap or rubbing alcohol to remove them. Take a cotton bud and soak it in rubbing alcohol or insecticidal soap and wipe it over the insects to remove them. Once the finger leaf is free from scale insects, use a neem oil spray to protect the plant against future infestations.

About the Philodendron Goeldii

The Philodendron goeldii is a perennial tropical plant that originates from French Guiana (the northeast coast of South America). The Philodendron goeldii, as it was once known, changed its name to Thaumatophyllum Spruceanum and moved into a new genus (Thaumatophyllum) after DNA studies proved it was different from the Philodendron genus. Other names you will see for this plant are Finger leaf and Philodendron fun bun!

One of the most distinctive features of the Philodendron goeldii is the ring-like stem where clustered leaves are formed. As the plant matures, the stem grows and holds up to 15 finger-shaped leaves.

Overall, the Philodendron geoldii will reach up to 4 Feet (121 cm) tall. Although it is a climbing plant with long stems, it doesn’t need any support growing. The Philodendron goeldii is a plant that won’t take over space but will be enough to liven up a corner of the room.

FAQ About the Philodendron Goeldii

Are Philodendron goeldii rare?

The Philodendron goeldii is considered a rare plant with its star-shaped leaves on a spiraling stem.

Is Philodendron goeldii a climber?

The Philodendron goeldii is a climbing plant but only grows to 4 feet (121 cm) tall and will stand up without support.

How do you take care of a Philodendron goeldii?

Take care of the Philodendron goeldii by positioning it in bright indirect sunlight for 6-8 hours. Keep the humidity levels between 60-80% and temperatures between 50-80 F (10-26 C). Water twice per week during the growing season (Spring and Summer) and use a balanced fertilizer once per month during this time too. Keep the finger leaf in rich, well-draining soil and avoid over-watering.

How often do you water a Philodendron goeldii?

During the summer, it is not uncommon to water the Philodendron goeldii twice per week. The best way to check if the Philodendron goeldii needs watering is if the first 2 inches (5 cm) of soil is wet.

Philodendron goeldii is a Pleasure to Own

It’s a great pleasure owning a Philodendron goeldii! They are easy to grow and require low maintenance. As the Philodendron goeldii matures, the beautiful umbrella-shaped spiraling foliage expands, contrasting with the other leaf shapes in my houseplant collection. It completes the tropical look in my living room. They make a perfect plant for a well-lit patio or cascading from a higher shelf. The Philodendron goeldii is a beneficial air purifier too, so a great plant for health-conscious plant lovers.

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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.

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