Caring for a silver sword philodendron isn’t as challenging as you might think once you’ve established a proper plant care routine you can follow. In this care guide for a silver sword or philodendron hastatum, that’s exactly what I’ll show you how to do.
To care for the silver sword philodendron:
- Water when the first inch or two of the soil dries out
- Provide bright, indirect light
- Use loose, well-draining soil
- Select a clay, terracotta, or ceramic pot
- Set temps to 65-80°F and 50%+ humidity
- Fertilize monthly with a balanced blend
This extensive guide to growing a silver sword philodendron will cover in detail the above care facets. I’ll also discuss the diseases and pests that can riddle this plant and answer some common questions, so keep reading!
How to Care for a Silver Sword Philodendron
As I have in my other plant care guides, let’s begin by discussing the silver sword philodendron so you can get to know the plant you now proudly own.
The Philodendron hastatum or silver sword philodendron was once called the Philodendron domesticum. The name change occurred to make identification of this plant easier among all the different philodendron varieties.
The nickname for the silver sword philodendron is utterly fitting. Unlike many philodendron types that grow wide leaves, the foliage of the hastatum is decidedly narrower. You know, like swords.
As for the “silver” part of the nickname? That comes from the very distinct silver coloration of the leaves.
Rather than a variegated pattern, the silver sword philodendron’s foliage is a single color. It almost looks like someone painted your plant with silver makeup, but I promise, it’s all-natural!
The Philodendron hastatum is a Brazilian native that can reach heights of 10 feet in maturity. This is a rather fast-growing plant, and it will happily trail its vines upward, downward, or wherever in your home or office it can get a good grip.
Philodendrons produce flowers incredibly rarely, and it usually takes 15 years for the opportunity to even present itself. Thus, I would recommend you stick to admiring the foliage of the silver sword philodendron above all else.
Caring for Silver Sword Philodendron
Today can be the day you begin growing a healthy, happy silver sword philodendron. Per the intro, here are my recommended care requirements.
Watering a Silver Sword Philodendron
When the silver sword philodendron’s soil dries out at least an inch deep, it’s time to water this indoor plant.
Some indoor gardeners will wait until two inches of the soil feel dry. During certain times of the year, this is perfectly acceptable.
For example, in the autumn and winter and perhaps even in early spring when the temps aren’t too hot, water sticks around longer in the soil, so it’s okay to let the soil get drier between waterings.
In the summer though, or for those in warm climates, if the soil feels dry down to an inch, it’s best to water your silver sword philodendron that same day.
As always, I recommend the fingertip test as your most accurate gauge for tracking when it’s time to water this philodendron.
Some varieties of the philodendron are moderately drought-tolerant, such as the Philodendron Xanadu. That doesn’t extend to the silver sword philodendron, so please don’t forget to water yours for too long!
If you do, then it can exhibit signs of dehydration such as dried leaves with brown tips. That’s a surefire way to diminish the beauty of the hastatum!
The bigger risk when it comes to caring for the silver sword philodendron is overwatering it. Like many indoor plants, the silver sword is at risk of root rot if you make a habit of drowning the poor thing in water.
I’ll discuss this further later, but root rot is a plant killer regardless of species.
When you do water the silver sword philodendron, this plant prefers lukewarm water. The hastatum can be somewhat sensitive to the chlorine that tap water contains, much as is true of other philodendron varieties, most of all the pink princess philodendron.
If you can use rainwater or distilled, purified, or filtered water instead, your plant will be healthier for your extra efforts.
Silver Sword Philodendron Light Requirements
To recreate the native South American rainforest environment that the silver sword philodendron calls home, provide bright, indirect light for the indoor plant.
All you need for this is a window with a curtain, as the curtain prevents direct sunlight from coming through.
Northerly-facing windows never receive direct sunlight, making them an optimal spot for positioning your silver sword philodendron.
Direct sun is the biggest enemy of the silver sword philodendron. You have to worry about the usual foliage scorching, which can turn the plant’s gorgeous silver leaves brown or black.
More so than that though, yellow discoloration will occur when the plant receives too much sun. You can say goodbye to that pristine silver coloration!
On the opposite end of the spectrum, a hastatum that’s getting too little light will grow smaller leaves. The stems will begin to arch towards whatever light source is closest, and the stems will be long and leggy.
This means the stems are growing while the rest of the plant stagnates. Move your silver sword philodendron to a brighter area, stat!
Best Soil for a Silver Sword Philodendron
To keep water in the pot for only as long as required, give the silver sword philodendron loose, well-draining soil.
You can select potting soil and add amendments or buy an organic, rich potting mix. You’ll fertilize the hastatum anyway, so it will get its nutrients from somewhere.
Sphagnum or peat moss is always a soil good amendment to add. This moss will retain its shape for its life in the soil, providing aeration.
Vermiculite, which is a mineral harvested from phyllosilicate, will retain nutrients, and hold onto water. Both are released gradually so your plant doesn’t dry out too soon.
Good potting soil or mix for the silver sword philodendron should also include perlite, as the small white particles are excellent for drainage and aeration.
Best Type of Pot for a Silver Sword Philodendron
To significantly lessen the risk of standing water for the silver sword philodendron, opt for a pot made of a very porous material. I’d suggest clay, terracotta, or ceramic especially.
Try an unglazed pot initially. If you feel like these porous materials are sucking up the moisture in your hastatum plant’s soil too quickly, then replace the pot with a glazed version of the same material.
Glazing terracotta or clay reduces its porosity to a degree. Compared to a plastic pot, these materials are still more porous, but not as much as unglazed terracotta or clay.
Tote your silver sword philodendron around only as much as you have to. You don’t want to break its fragile pot!
Silver Sword Philodendron’s Ideal Temperature and Humidity
Despite its balmy origins, the silver sword philodendron does best in temperatures between 65 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit.
This is good, old-fashioned room temperature. You shouldn’t have to adjust your thermostat for this philodendron variety in either the winter or summer.
Keep the thermostat no lower than 60 degrees. The silver sword is anything but cold-tolerant, so the symptoms of cold shock can come on fast.
Plus, it won’t take long before necrosis can occur, killing the plant’s cells due to the cold exposure. The silver sword philodendron can even die if it’s in the cold for too long, so take heed!
I do want to mention that although temps under 60 degrees aren’t cold by your standards, they are by this plant’s standards. That’s what matters.
The hastatum is much more tolerant of warmer weather, but even still, it doesn’t require temperatures over 80 degrees.
What this indoor plant does like is high humidity over 50 percent.
Many homes and offices have a relative humidity range of 30 to 50 percent, so you’re just at the borderline of what the silver sword prefers.
I would recommend creating more humidity than just what’s in your home or office. For the indoor gardeners growing the philodendron at work, you can plug in a humidifier in the corner of your office. That will do the trick.
You can use a humidifier at home too or put your silver sword in a bathroom where there’s plenty of humidity every day.
Triple-check that the plant isn’t exposed to cold or warm drafts from sources throughout your home or office such as a fridge, radiator, air conditioner, or a drafty door or window.
Best Fertilizer for a Silver Sword Philodendron
The silver sword philodendron needs an equally balanced fertilizer. As you browse your options, look for a package that reads something like 10-10-10.
This label denotes that the fertilizer contains the same amounts of nitrogen, potassium, and phosphorous. Since all three macronutrients support healthy growth, it’s unsurprising the hastatum requires them.
In the spring, the silver sword philodendron’s growing season begins. It will continue throughout the summer into the autumn.
You only have to fertilize the silver sword once per month during its active growing season with a balanced fertilizer.
I highly recommend using a liquid fertilizer blend for easy application and be sure to dilute it with water before you add it to the plant’s soil. Moisten the soil too.
In the autumn and winter, when the plant is less active, you might wait to fertilize it until six or eight weeks have passed.
By following this schedule, you shouldn’t have to worry about overdoing it on the fertilizer. That said, it’s still a good idea to flush the silver sword philodendron’s soil maybe once or twice a season to remove the excess minerals.
After all, as you’ll recall, the silver sword doesn’t like chlorine and minerals in its soil!
Where to Buy Silver Sword Philodendron
Here is a link to the ETSY store where I purchased my own Silver Sword Philodendron online. This is the only store I’ve used for this particular plant and they did a wonderful job.
In addition to going above and beyond with how much care went into their packaging prior to shipment, they were quick with getting my order out. Unless they’ve changed their policy, they offer free shipping on their houseplants.
Common Issues with Silver Sword Philodendron
In addition to the care routine you’ll create for your silver sword philodendron, you must also watch out for common afflictions that can impede the growth of your plant.
From insects to bacterial diseases, let’s assess the issues you should be ready to diagnose.
Philodendron types tend to attract their fair share of multi-legged critters, but that’s not so much the case for the hastatum. Only two insect species will commonly propagate on your silver sword, and those are the mealybug and the aphid.
With a penchant for subtropical and greenhouse plants as well as indoor plants, the mealybug will of course gravitate towards your silver sword philodendron.
What doesn’t help matters much is that the mealybug prefers warm, moist places such as a humid bathroom or a warm corner with a humidifier.
Mealybugs produce honeydew, which is a sticky type of liquid. Without removing the honeydew manually, mold will grow where the stuff was, leading to noticeable black spots.
Fortunately, you can easily rid your silver sword philodendron of mealybugs without using harsh chemicals like pesticides. A 70-percent concentration of isopropyl alcohol mixed with water that’s misted on your plant kills the bugs on contact.
However, phytotoxicity can occur, which is leaf burning. I recommend spot-testing with a small amount of the mixture on your silver sword philodendron first.
If the plant experiences no ill effects, then proceed with the treatment.
Wooly white aphids, greenflies, blackflies…all are a nuisance! The aphid will gladly suck up all the sap your hastatum has and then some. Your plant is then left in a vulnerable, weakened state.
Making one care mistake could spell the end for your plant in this condition, not to mention that the diseases I’m about to discuss will be that much harder-hitting.
For the brave indoor gardeners, you can flick aphids off your silver sword philodendron when/as you spot them. Make sure you flick them into a bucket so the insects can’t easily reach your plant again.
If flicking by hand is way too unpalatable, know that you can use a chopstick or another long instrument for the job.
Dish soap and water is also a deadly combination for these tiny bugs.
If your indoor garden attracts its fair share of ladybugs, those pretty insects will eat the aphids. Problem solved by Mother Nature!
Next, let’s delve into the diseases that could potentially affect your silver sword philodendron while it’s in your care.
I said I would, so I want to get back to root rot now.
Root rot is a common plant disease caused by overwatering. It can affect nearly any indoor plant, including other philodendron varieties and species outside of the hastatum, as mentioned.
Plants require oxygen and water for survival, and by taking away oxygen and adding too much water, your plant begins to die.
The roots will rot, as the name implies, becoming mushy and black and then eventually perishing. Symptoms can and will spread to the rest of the plant, including leaf discoloration, wilting, and stunted growth.
The best treatment for root rot is amending your watering habits. You can remove your silver sword philodendron from its swampy conditions, trim away the rotten rots, and repot it, but it might not make it.
That said, I always recommend at least trying to save your plant so you can say you did all you can for it.
Xanthomonas Leaf Spot
The bacterial infection Xanthomonas leaf spot is caused by one of two bacteria strains, the Xanthomonas campestris or the Pseudomonas syringae.
Bacterial leaf spot will indeed lead to unappealing patches on the leaves that look like they’re constantly wet. The spots are necrotic and will turn black as they die.
Worse yet, those spots can grow and affect other leaves on the plant.
You can disinfect your silver sword with quaternary ammonia or hydrogen peroxide, but in more serious cases, you might have to use a chemical to rid your philodendron of the bacteria.
Fire blight or Erwinia blight is more common in pear and apple trees but can affect the Philodendron hastatum as well.
The biggest risk with this disease is how quickly it can spread. It’s not unheard of for entire apple orchards to die due to a case of fire blight!
Overwatering could contribute to this bacterial disease. You’ll notice that the philodendron’s twigs look wet even when they aren’t. Then they will mystifyingly dry out and die.
Copper bactericides have been proven effective for this plant disease.
Silver Sword Philodendron Common Questions
Do you still have some questions about the silver sword philodendron? You know I’ve got answers for you!
Is the Silver Sword Philodendron Rare?
Do you like rare plants that have a nice story in addition to stunning looks? Then you’ll love the silver sword philodendron.
Indeed, this philodendron variety is regarded as rarer than many others. Unfortunately, the reason isn’t nearly as pretty as this plant’s foliage.
Habitat destruction of native rainforests the hastatum grows in naturally reduces the number of these plants.
Is the Silver Sword Philodendron Toxic to Pets?
It’s a hard balancing act keeping an appealing indoor garden that your pets won’t get sick from if they eat.
That indoor garden will have to exclude the silver sword philodendron. This plant species is toxic to four-legged friends.