Philodendron verrucosum (Ecuador Philodendron) Care Tips

The Philodendron verrucosum is a dreamy plant known for its heart-shaped velvety leaves.

With bright neon-green veining, fuzzy petioles, and crimson undersides, it delivers equal parts luxury and party. Plus, as a primary hemiepiphyte, it has some other surprises in store as it grows.

That’s because they start their lives as epiphytes, clinging to trees, then they eventually root themselves in the ground like most other plants. But they change a lot in the process.

(The parents of this Philodendron were right – it was just a phase).

Also known as the Ecuador Philodendron, this fascinating tropical plant has a lot to offer. Though, as you might expect, with such a beautiful, interesting species, it isn’t the easiest plant to please – it can take a little know-how to nail.

Let me show you how. 

Philodendron verrucosum

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Philodendron verrucosum Care & Growth

Plant TypeFoliage, vine, large
LightingModerate, indirect light
Temperature65-80°F (18-26°C)
WateringModerate, even moisture
HumidityHigh humidity (60-90%)
Growth6-36 inches

Ecuador Philodendron Lighting

The Philodendron verrucosum is naturally found on the forest floors of Central America. Here, the light is highly dappled – making it perfect for a shady spot in the home. 

In fact, it’s well adapted to lower light conditions.

Philodendron verrucosum close up in terrarium
Phildodendron verrucosum isn’t too fussy with lighting conditions.

Mature plants have reddish undersides that reflect light back into the leaf to increase photosynthesis (yes, really), so it can make the most of what it receives. 

That being said, the brighter the indirect light, the faster growth you’ll see. 

Just make sure you limit the amount of direct sunlight it gets to an hour or two a day tops to avoid scorching. If you live in the Northern hemisphere, a North-facing windowsill is ideal. 

Watering

Unsurprisingly for a plant native to tropical Ecuador, the verrucosum loves its moisture.

But, in the jungle, water drains quickly, and growing them as indoor plants is very different. Saturated soil in the pot will quickly lead to root rot.

That’s right; you have not one but two demons to keep at bay: over-watering and under-watering, which can both lead to yellow leaves (Philodendrons are known for their melodrama, after all).

So, how do we best avoid this?

Firstly, a pot with a drainage hole and tray is absolutely essential

watering ecuador philodendron
I have mine in a plastic pot (with holes) inside a pretty pot (without holes) that serves as a drainage tray.

Test the soil regularly with your finger: when the very top feels dry but beneath the surface still feels a little moist, give your plant a good drink until you see water in the drainage tray, then tip away any excess. 

This way, your verrucosum is never sat in soggy soil and never left to dry out. Yay!

Philodendron verrucosum Soil / Substrate Options

While they love humid, wet spaces, these plants need light and aerated soil.

ecuador philodendron roots close up
It’s important not to swamp the roots.
  • If you want to make your own mix, start with spongey coco coir as a base to provide plenty of water retention, add in some chunky supplements (orchid bark, charcoal, pumice, etc.) to boost drainage and aeration, and earthworm castings for a natural fertilizer. 
  • If you want to grab a ready-made bag, choose a high-quality Aroid mix or an ABG-style mix that substitutes peat moss for something more eco-conscious. This one by EZ Botanicals is a great choice. 

Humidity & Temperature Requirements

As we’ve covered, the Ecuador Philodendron is a tropical gal – and tropical gals like tropical conditions. 

Central and South America offer delightful warm, humid weather, so it’s best to replicate that in the home with temperatures above 65°F (18°C) and a minimum of 60% humidity.

philodendron verrucosum with temperature and humidity guage
A good rule of thumb is that if you’re comfortable in the home conditions, your Ecuador Philodendron will be too.

A great trick to boost humidity is grouping plants, which I regularly use as an excuse to buy more. 😂

Naturally, if your plant is going in a terrarium project, you won’t struggle to achieve this.

philodendron verrucosum in tank terrarium
My verrucosum is the star of the show here.

Growth

Similarly to its hemiepiphytic growth cycle, the color palette of the Ecuador Philodendron changes as it matures. 

It will exhibit lighter coloring at first, only deepening to its trademark deep green leaves as it gets older. The faded red/burgundy undersides also come with age – like a fine wine.

young philodendron verrucosum
My young plant is starting to develop some of the characteristic coloring.
Philodendron verrucosum leaf
Here’s a huge mature Ecuador Philodendron I saw in the plant nursery – the color is so deep and rich.

And as you can see, it can get seriously big, though it will be somewhat limited by the space available to grow into.

If it gets too large for your liking, you can always grab your scissors to keep it in shape. And while you’re there, you might as well propagate them. 

That said, when it comes to terrariums, I’d only recommend using it in larger projects, I put mine into a small tank.

New leaves will grow in one at a time, curled up similarly to Alocasia leaves. 

How to Propagate Philodendron verrucosum

Propagating Philodendron verrucosum is easy-peasy, thanks to its aerial roots.

Snip the stem on either side of the node so you have one leaf and one node per cutting (except from the top cutting, where it’s best to leave two leaves). 

finger pointing to ecuador philodendron node
The node is easy to identify by the aerial roots.

Then stick it in a glass of water and watch the magic happen.

I have seen people on the internet propagate this plant directly into the soil too. I personally always favor water propagation, but if you’d rather give soil propagation a go, pop a plastic bag over the top to trap humidity.

ecuador philodendron cutting in water
I’m excited for this to root up so I can gift it to a friend.

Varieties & Similar Plants

Our darling heart-shaped Ecuador Philodendron has a couple of notable hybrids:

  • P. verrucosum x P. sodiroi – have given us the appropriately named Philodendron ‘Majestic.’
  • P. verrucosum x P. melanochrysum – have given us the equally appropriately named ‘Splendid.’

Both share similar light veining, delicious velvety texture, and eye-watering price tag (though I’m certainly starting to see those prices come down over time).

The Philodendron family is famous for its massive variety of plant types, shapes, and colors, and there are plenty of other family members to get acquainted with.

If you want to get your velvety fix in a more inexpensive package, Philodendron micans is an ideal choice, and its size lends itself to terrariums nicely.

philodendron micans close up
Philodendron micans may be common, but that doesn’t mean it’s not stunning.

For other suitable terrarium Philodendron species, check out: Philodendron hastatum, Philodendron Brasil (plus its original form, Philodendron hederaceum), and the gorgeous Philodendron Birkin.

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