Philodendron hastatum, commonly known as Silver Sword Philodendron, is a rare species believed to be endangered in its native habitat due to massive deforestation. Listed as “Least Concern” on the Red List of Threatened Species, there’s no recent update on its population status. Regardless, it is commonly grown by collectors in North America and Europe.
When it comes to appearances, Silver Sword’s leaves have a different shape based on the plant’s growth stage. While a juvenile (young) P. hastatum will exhibit round and smaller leaves, an adult plant will come with longer, narrower and more elongated leaves. As the plant matures, lobes begin to form, the posterior region of the leaf becoming wider and larger than the frontal one, resembling a sword, hence part of its name. The other half of the name comes from the silver-hued foliage which offers a metallic shine in bright light. All in one, this philodendron species will make a great addition to any collection of indoor plants.
Online or in nurseries you might find this plant under the following synonyms Philodendron elongatum, Philodendron hastifolium and Philodendron disparile or under the name of Philodendron glaucophyllum (glaucophyllum meaning blue or greyish/bluish leaves). Sometimes it can even be found also as Philodendron domesticum, which is a totally different species, but due to a misunderstanding the name kept being associated with our hastatum.
And since most types of philodendron have their own particularities, let’s see what it takes to properly care for a Silver Sword.
1. General Information
|Scientific name:||Philodendron hastatum|
|Common names:||Silver Sword Philodendron|
|Native to:||the Southeast Region of Brazil (Rio de Janeiro and Minas Gerais states)|
|Toxicity:||Toxic to humans and pets|
|Mature size:||10 feet tall (3 m), 6 feet wide (2 m)|
|Hardiness:||USDA hardiness zones 9b to 11|
2. Silver Sword Philodendron Care & Growing Requirements
Silver Sword Philodendron might look high-maintenance, but that’s not actually true. Indoors, this houseplant will thrive with a moderate level of attention. If you get its watering and soil requirements right, everything else should go smoothly.
Philodendron hastatum is a moisture-loving species and it needs to be watered more frequently. While a bit of overwatering is tolerated, sitting in wet and soggy soil for prolonged periods can damage this plant. On the other hand, allowing the soil to completely dry out between watering can also cause issues.
The best time to water your Silver Sword is when the top of the soil feels dry to the touch. Keep in mind that the interval between waterings can vary based on household environment, seasons or type of soil used. For example, you’ll have to increase the watering frequency in summer and reduce it in winter, so make sure to adjust its schedule accordingly.
Improper watering could result in droopy leaves, so it’s best to pay attention to how your philodendron behaves.
While the Silver Sword philodendron can handle even low light conditions, it’s best to place it in a spot with bright, indirect light. This will keep its foliage healthy, preventing etiolation and leggy appearances. On the other hand, direct sunlight will burn its leaves, so make sure to avoid that at all costs.
As a hemiepiphyte member of the Araceae family, the best soil for a Silver Sword philodendron has to be rich in organic matter and offer proper drainage, root aeration, and moisture retention. Since this plant doesn’t like to sit in wet soil, make sure to avoid potting mixes that retain a lot of water. You can opt for commercial ones specifically created for Aroids or make your own.
If you decide to make your own potting mix, keep in mind that Philodendron hastatum likes a mildly acidic – neutral pH (6.1 – 7.5). You can use sphagnum moss for both reducing pH levels and increasing moisture retention. Perlite is another ingredient that you should take into consideration, as it will help the soil dry out between watering. And to properly feed your philodendron, check out worm castings, an organic fertilizer that won’t cause chemical burns.
The ideal temperature for a Silver Sword philodendron ranges between 65°F to 80°F (18-26 °C). Since this is also the average household temperature, you shouldn’t have problems growing a healthy looking plant.
In USDA hardiness zones 9b to 11, this philodendron species can also thrive outdoors.
Philodendron hastatum does best when the humidity levels are between 50 to 75%. If you notice the air getting drier, especially in winter, you should try to increase the humidity by using a pebble tray or by frequently misting your plant.
While not mandatory, fertilizing your Silver Sword philodendron during its growing season (spring-summer) is a good idea, especially if your plant looks like it’s struggling. This will promote healthier foliage and a faster growth rate. You can use a fertilizer with a balanced ratio (10-10-10), while making sure not to overdo it, as it can cause damage to its roots.
3. Silver Leaf Philodendron Maintenance
You should think about repotting your Philodendron hastatum when the roots are popping up from the bottom of the pot or trying to break the surface of the soil. The new pot should be around 2 inches (5 cm) larger than the previous one and also have drainage holes. This will give the plant enough space to extend its roots.
Also take into consideration adding a moss pole, as this will provide support to the stems and leaves, and will help your hastatum climb easily and progress through to maturity. After all, the best thing you can do for your plants is to replicate their native environment.
Pruning is usually done when your Philodendron hastatum is starting to get leggy or way too huge for your house. Even so, you’ll still have to remove yellowing or damaged leaves along the way.
When pruning your Silver Sword, always use sterilized shears and cut right above the nodes, as this will promote new growth and result in a bushier appearance.
The easiest way to propagate a P. hastatum is through stem cuttings. Simply cut off stem segments that have at least two nodes and a few leaves, put them in a glass of water, wait until roots develop – it usually takes up to a month, and then place them in a fresh potting mix.
Make sure to use sterilized pruning shears when cutting your stems! Also, check out our article for more information on methods used to propagate philodendrons.
5. Common issues
» Leaves Turning Yellow
While it’s completely normal for older leaves to turn yellow, if you notice multiple leaves turning yellow at the same time, your P. hastatum might not be receiving everything it needs. The first thing you’ll want to optimise is the amount of light it receives – both too much and too less light will lead to yellowing leaves, the former also being accompanied by brown tips.
If the leaves are also droopy, there might be an issue with the amount of humidity your philodendron receives, so check that too.
» Leaves Turning Brown
If the tips of the leaves are turning brown, the main culprit might be the lack of light. However, direct sunlight can also cause this, so make sure to adjust the amount of light your P. hastatum receives.
» Discolored Leaves
Discoloration of the leaves can be caused by improper light conditions, overwatering, underwatering, and overfertilization, so make sure to optimize all of these in order to grow a healthy-looking Silver Sword philodendron.
6. Philodendron Silver Sword Diseases & Pests
While Silver Sword philodendron is highly resistant to pests and diseases, it can occasionally become a target for spider mites, mealybugs, scale, thrips and whitefly, especially if the plant is unhealthy.
If you identify any of these pests, it’s better to isolate the plant and treat it with a pesticide like neem oil or insecticidal soap.
Philodendron hastatum is a desired houseplant amongst gardeners, and for good reason! Its unique foliage and the fact that it is easy to grow indoors make this plant a must-have.