Velvet Leaf Philodendron / Black Gold Philodendron
Philodendron micans is a gorgeous vining species that’s one of the few in the genus that’s small enough for terrarium life. With heart shaped leaves that have a characteristic soft velvety texture, this plant is really prized for its foliage. Oh, and the colours! Thanks to an iridescent sheen across the leaves, this plant exhibits a variety of beautiful metallic tones in its green and yellows.
Often grown as a houseplant in hanging baskets, the velvet leaf philodendron will do best in terrariums where it can be mounted high and allowed to cascade down. The leaves of Philodendron micans tend to stay fairly small at just a few inches, but the vine can grow for many feet. So, this plant will still need a fairly large terrarium to be able to grow out fully, or will need to be maintained.
At a Glance
Where to Buy Philodendron micans
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Terrarium Plant Guide
Philodendron micans Care & Growth
When it comes to lighting, Philodendron micans is a pretty versatile plant species. As a tropical vine that’s typically found climbing trees, it’s used to a mixture of dappled canopy light and low lighting conditions as the sun moves across the sky.
So, in a terrarium they’ll tolerate low light conditions but they won’t thrive. Ideally you’ll want a reasonably bright spot – behind a window screen or just out of direct sunlight – where it can get lots of indirect light.
Philodendron micans appreciates regular moisture, but the vining nature of this plant means it’s not used to sitting in water. They’d naturally undergo more of a soak-and-dry process in the wild, but in a terrarium they should do just fine in an evenly moist (never saturated) substrate.
Balancing regular moisture with sufficient drainage is the key to keeping this tropical vine happy. A coarser mix of orchid bark and/or sand can help with drainage and serves to aerate the roots as much as possible. Supplement with perlite or vermiculite if necessary.
Temperature & Humidity
Philodendron micans is often grown as a houseplant so you can expect this plant to comfortably grow in most household conditions. That being said, as a tropical species it’ll really appreciate those higher temperatures and humidities that a closed terrarium can provide.
The velvet leaf philodendron has a very scandent growth pattern, so you can expect this this plant to trail along the base of your terrarium, hang down if you mount it high, or climb your hardscape if you give it a little help to get started.
It can eventually grow to lengths of a couple of meters or more – so you’re likely going to need to cut it back at some point – but it’s very easy to manage. Plus, you’ll likely want to prune it occasionally anyway to keep the foliage bushier and healthier.
As with many other vines, propagating Philodendron micans is very easy indeed. Simply take a stem cutting with a few leaves just behind a root node (ideally at a 45° angle) and you can plant that directly back into the substrate.
Varieties & Similar Plants
Philodendron micans is quite the confusing plant from a naming perspective. It goes by a number of common synonyms (e.g. Philodendron scandens ‘Micans’) and it’s often argued to actually be a variety of Philodendron hederaceum. Technicalities aside, this particular plant is still often sold as Philodendron micans so it’s worth knowing.
The most common problem with growing Philodendron micans is growing it in an oversaturated substrate which can eventually lead to root rot. It’s easily done in a tropical terrarium setup, and we don’t have the luxury of letting them dry out between waterings – so just take care to maintain that water balance of even moisture.