The philodendron micans or velvet leaf philodendron is a beloved philodendron variety with velvety soft leaves. This care and propagation guide will cover watering, fertilizing, propagation, and much more so your philodendron micans plant can thrive and grow long and healthy.
Ahead, I’ll delve into every care facet of the velvet leaf philodendron so you can witness the beauty of this plant firsthand. I’ll even talk about propagation and common plant pests and diseases, so make sure you keep reading!
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- Philodendron Micans or Velvet Leaf Philodendron Overview
- Caring for a Philodendron Micans
- Propagating a Philodendron Micans
- Common Issues with Philodendron Micans
- Philodendron Micans Common Questions
Philodendron Micans or Velvet Leaf Philodendron Overview
As always, I like to begin with an explanation of the plant in your care. This is especially important when you’re growing a specific variety of indoor plants such as the philodendron micans.
The philodendron micans is one of 450 other philodendron species. Better known as the velvet leaf philodendron, the micans grows natively across the Caribbean and Mexico’s more tropical areas.
If you’ve ever tended to other philodendron species, then you know that most varieties have large smooth leaves while other species still have smooth heart-shaped leaves.
It’s the latter that the velvet leaf philodendron possesses. Unlike most philodendron species though, the mican’s heart-shaped leaves are velvety or velvet-like and covered in fuzz.
Don’t worry I’ll take a few close up pictures of my own philodendron micans leaves so you can see up close and personal what they look like if you’re not yet familiar with these velvet heart shaped leaves.
This gives the leaves a velvety texture, hence the nickname velvet leaf philodendron.
A healthy micans will develop long stems in which the leaves emerge. The leaves might look brownish or reddish underneath. That’s natural, but too much browning can be indicative of a care mistake.
The tops of the leaves are usually green but can have tints of bronze.
In maturity, the philodendron micans can grow to trail many feet in length.
I consider my own philodendron mican mature as I propagated it from a leaf over 5 years ago. I’ve trimmed my philodendron mican and pruned it every year in Spring or Summer and it’s trailing vines are more than 5 feet in length.
Caring for a Philodendron Micans
If you just brought home a beautiful philodendron micans you’ll want to get every part of its care right so it grows bushy and has as many leaves on those trailing vines as it can grow while remaining healthy.
Let me explain how to keep the velvet leaves and your philodendron micans thriving.
Philodendron Micans Watering
When is it time to water a philodendron mican? When at least the top two inches of its soil feels dry to the touch.
Some indoor gardeners wait until it’s three inches of dry soil. I’ve found that in milder seasons like the spring and autumn, this can be o.k.
I wouldn’t recommend waiting that long in the summer though. During the Summer months your philodendron micans will need to be watered much more often than other seasons throughout the year.
Curling leaves on your philodendron micans is a sign of improper watering habits, let me explain:
The philodendron micans may begin to curl those fuzzy leaves inward when it’s not had enough water. However, leaf curling can also be indicative of overwatering your philodendron micans.
Speaking of overwatering, it’s one of the worst things you can do for the velvet leaf philodendron. This species is sensitive to standing water.
I’ll talk about this further later, but oversaturating your potted philodendron micans plant in water, especially without proper drainage, can lead to root rot, a plant disease that can drown your indoor plant in the water your pouring on it.
Philodendron Micans Light Requirements
One of the biggest care mistakes you can make when growing the philodendron micans is assuming that its large velvet like leaves can tolerate full sun.
If your philodendron’s furry leaves are receiving too much sun, such as full sun or direct sun, you’ll quickly see leaf burn as well as browning leaves and burnt edges along the length of your philodendron micans beloved leaves.
Bright, indirect sunlight passes from a window to your velvet leaf philodendron, but with a medium blocking some of the sunlight along the way.
For example, a curtain on your window prevents the full brunt of the sun from reaching your plant.
Some indoor gardeners stick to medium, indirect light instead, which is dimmer still than bright, indirect sunlight.
Philodendrons can grow and even thrive in low light, but some species are better at doing this than others. Try not to go any darker than medium, indirect light for the velvet leaf philodendron.
Philodendron micans can be fast growers, especially in the Summer months, but if you’re only providing yours with low light, its growth rate will slow down greatly.
Where in your home or office should you position the micans? A northerly-facing window is a safe bet, as these windows never receive direct sun.
Easterly-facing windows are also good, especially in the morning when the sunlight these windows receive is quite bountiful. The sun is never direct though, so you don’t have to worry about leaf scorching.
Best Soil for a Philodendron Micans
Potting soil is a suitable growth medium for the philodendron micans, but it must drain exceptionally well.
I recommend making a custom potting mix for your plant.
Take one part potting soil and combine it with several soil amendments. You might add coconut coir or peat moss (one part), perlite (one part), and orchid bark (one part).
If you’re not quite familiar with some of these soil amendments and what they do, allow me to explain that to you now.
Coconut coir aka coco coir is natural coconut fiber that comes from the fruit’s outer husk. This soil amendment is a fantastic choice for soil aeration.
Peat moss or sphagnum moss is great for keeping the soil loose and airy. It’s also a beloved soil amendment for retaining nutrients. That said, you will have to pick between peat moss and coco coir.
Perlite is small chunks of volcanic glass that can increase soil drainage and aeration. The amendment also retains water, but not excessively.
Finally, chunks of orchid bark in your mican’s pot will further promote water drainage.
Best Type of Pot for a Philodendron Micans
Knowing what you do about the philodendron mican’s dislike of standing water, put it in a porous pot. I’d recommend terracotta, clay, or ceramic.
Since these materials are so porous, they’ll absorb water on contact. There’s less of it to pool around the bottom of the soil near the roots, which means your velvet leaf philodendron might be able to prevent the grisly fate that is root rot.
Since the micans is quite a sizable houseplant in maturity, be sure to handle carrying its pot with care. Unlike plastic, terracotta and clay cannot take a beating. After one mishap, they will shatter.
Philodendron Micans Ideal Temperature and Humidity
A common misconception when growing tropical plants is assuming they need high temperatures. Not the philodendron micans!
The philodendron micans sweet spot, when it comes to ideal temperature, is between 68 and 78 degrees Fahrenheit.
This is a nice, comfy room temperature range. You can leave your heat on in the winter and your velvet leaf philodendron will be fine.
In the spring, you’re free to open a window. When summer arrives, as long as you have an air conditioner on, the micans should be comfortable.
You must get this plant’s temperature range right, as the velvet leaf philodendron is not the least bit frost-tolerant.
The micans can handle temperatures down to the low 60s, but once the mercury drops to 55 degrees, the philodendron micans is going to experience signs of cold stress.
Its growth will stop, and it might begin shedding leaves. You need to move the plant to a warmer area immediately to prevent cell death from cold exposure.
I know that the mid-50s aren’t freezing cold for the average person. I always like to say though that what’s cold to a plant is very different to what feels cold to us.
As for the velvet leaf philodendron’s heat tolerance, it doesn’t need temps over the mid-70s. It’s okay if the room gets a bit balmier in the low 80s, but don’t keep pushing the temperature beyond that.
Heat stress is just as detrimental to an indoor plant as cold stress. The former causes sun scalding (in severe cases), dried leaf edges, browning, and wilting.
Besides the temperature in your home, keep your philodendron micans away from artificial sources of cold and hot air such as a radiator or window air conditioning unit, a refrigerator or freezer, and any drafty doors and windows in your home or office.
Now let’s talk about ideal humidity for your philodendron mican: The philodendron micans likes 40 percent humidity at the very least and up to 80 percent humidity at most.
You have to remember, the velvet leaf philodendron grows in some naturally very humid areas, so it appreciates you replicating those conditions in your own home.
Since the average relative humidity in a home or office is no higher than 50 percent, you will certainly need methods for making the mican’s space more humid.
The bathroom could be the perfect spot to grow your velvet leaf philodendron, as it doesn’t get tons of sunlight and the humidity is usually high.
Best Fertilizer for a Philodendron Micans
How do you make the trailing vines of the philodendron micans grow faster? You feed it an all-purpose fertilizer.
The fertilizer must be balanced, containing an even mix of the macronutrients phosphorous, nitrogen, and potassium.
Propagating a Philodendron Micans
You’ve enjoyed growing the philodendron micans so much that you’d love to propagate your plant and give it to all your friends and family.
Here’s how to propagate the velvet leaf philodendron in both soil and water.
Propagating a Philodendron Micans in Soil
Growing your velvet leaf philodendron in soil is a more traditional option, but you aren’t as easily able to track how well it’s rooting. Well, unless you have X-ray vision, that is.
To select a piece of the philodendron to propagate, look for a vine with several leaves but not an overabundance.
Find the leaf node, which is the swollen area of the stem where new growth emerges. Trim the micans ¼ inch under the leaf node.
Fill a pot with the same potting mix I recommended earlier. The pot should be large enough to support a growing philodendron but not too big. That can stifle growth.
Insert the micans cutting into the soil so the leaf node is in the soil mix. Keep the leaves above the surface of the soil.
Provide bright, indirect light for your growing philodendron. Maintain moist soil but never allow it to get soaking wet.
If you want to make conditions extra-humid for your philodendron micans cutting, you can cover the growing plant in a large plastic zippy bag. You will have to open the bag a few times per week so your plant can breathe.
By following the above routine, in several weeks, your velvet leaf philodendron cutting should have sprouted roots. You can tell whether that’s happened by gingerly pulling on the plant.
You’re not trying to rip the philodendron out of the soil. You just want to see if the plant resists when you pull. If it does, then congratulations. Your micans has rooted successfully!
Propagating a Philodendron Micans in Water
The first part of the propagation process for the philodendron micans is the same when growing a cutting in water. That is, you want to look for a healthy cutting with some leaves and trim it ¼ inch under the leaf node.
Next, take a jar and fill it nearly to the top. Keep the water temperature lukewarm.
Then insert the philodendron micans cutting into the jar, ensuring the leaf node is submerged. Trim any leaves that are in the water or shift the cutting until the leaves are not wet.
Place your velvet leaf philodendron cutting where it can receive bright, indirect light. About every week, replace the water with a fresh jar.
You’ll see roots in several days, but I recommend giving the roots a couple weeks to establish themselves. Otherwise, they won’t be strong enough to adjust to the soil when you move your philodendron cutting.
Common Issues with Philodendron Micans
Even if you follow the above care routine to the letter, keeping your philodendron micans healthy can be challenging due to the pests and diseases this plant species can sometimes attract.
Let’s talk about what to look for as well as how to treat pest issues and diseases so your velvet leaf philodendron can grow up healthy and strong!
Pests Common to Philodendron Micans
Some indoor plants are more pest-proof than others. The philodendron is not one of them.
Insects from mealybugs to fungus gnats, aphids, and scale insects will try to make their home on this plant’s large leaves.
Here’s an overview of these insects and helpful removal methods.
Where it’s moist and warm, mealybugs tend to follow. That explains why this tiny, multi-legged pest species is such a frequent irritant of the philodendron micans.
You can suffocate the mealybugs with dish soap or rubbing alcohol. Some indoor gardeners make a mixture of soap or alcohol and water, putting it in a spray bottle and misting their plants.
I’ve found that dipping a cotton swab into the alcohol and dish soap mixture and then using the soaked cotton swab to methodically apply the mixture to the plant has better results than misting the plants with it.
Yes, taking the time to wipe down your entire plant with a soap and alcohol drenched cotton swab takes A LOT OF TIME but I’ve found that doing it this way can be very satisfying and affective.
I recommend testing any treatment on a small portion of the velvet leaf philodendron’s foliage before applying it to the entire plant, just to ensure there are no adverse reactions.
Not only can fungus gnats invade your philodendron micans, but these teeny-tiny critters might dig deep into the plant’s soil as well.
I’d suggest a combination of water (four parts) and hydrogen peroxide (one part) to rid your plant of fungus gnats. When the velvet leaf philodendron’s soil has dried out, then dump the ingredients directly into the soil.
From fluffy white woolly aphids to blackflies and greenflies, the number of aphid species is in the 4,000s! These disease-spreading bugs are hard to stifle since the females can be born already pregnant.
You can fight them off your velvet leaf philodendron with rubbing alcohol, neem oil, or even a gardening hose if the aphids are only loosely hanging on.
The microscopic scale insects can be hard to detect until their numbers grow. By that point, they could have done some serious damage to your velvet leaf philodendron.
That’s why it’s a good idea to flick them (using a toothbrush or chopstick) off your plant if/as you see them. Rubbing alcohol kills the small scale insects quickly too.
Diseases Common to Philodendron Micans
Ah, but it’s not only insects that can make growing a philodendron micans difficult. The following fungal and bacterial diseases affect the velvet leaf philodendron as well.
I’ve touched on root rot throughout this article, but it deserves a more thorough explanation now.
All plants survive on water and oxygen. Too much of one and too little of another throws them out of balance.
Overwatering depletes the philodendron’s oxygen until it’s choking. The standing water seeps into the roots and kills them one by one.
If your velvet leaf philodendron has root rot, you may be able to save it by removing the dead roots using pruning shears.
You’d then have to repot the plant and hope for the best. Oh, and please, water your philodendron less going forward.
However, if your micans doesn’t have enough healthy roots left, then it might not survive the bout of root rot.
Moving on to bacterial diseases now, if your velvet leaf philodendron has bacterial blight, it’s caused by the Carotovora E. chrysanthemi or Erwinia carotovora bacteria.
Your plant will have small spots that are dark green in color. The spots begin on the leaves and very quickly expand to the plant’s petioles.
If the leaves are infected to the point where they rot, they’ll collapse. They’ll also have a terrible odor.
If your philodendron micans has bacterial blight, prune the dead or dying leaves immediately. Reduce overwatering as well.
Bacterial Leaf Spot
The Xanthomonas campestris bacteria could lead to bacterial leaf spot in your micans.
The leaf margins will develop spots that almost look translucent at first. Then those spots turn brownish-red with yellow rings.
Again, pruning the affected leaves is crucial to stop the spread of disease. That’s the best you can do besides limiting overwatering.
Philodendron Micans Common Questions
I bet you thought I’ve provided all the information there is to know about the philodendron micans, right? Not quite yet!
Here are some common questions that tend to come up when indoor gardeners buy this plant.
Can the Philodendron Micans Grow Flowers?
Yes, it is! The philodendron micans flowers are commonly white or green and are quite renowned for their beauty.
That said, you’re not likely to see them, sorry. Velvet leaf philodendron blooming is considered rare.
Is the Philodendron Micans Toxic to Pets?
Yes! The philodendron micans is toxic to cats and dogs, just as other philodendron species are.
The plant is only mildly toxic, but it can still lead to swallowing issues, vomiting, excessive drooling, and swollen lips, mouth, and tongue in pets.
Please bring your pet to a veterinarian immediately if you suspect they ate your philodendron micans, no matter how small an amount.