Growing Philodendron atabapoense Indoors

Growing Philodendron atabapoense Indoors can be a rewarding experience. Read on to learn about its requirements.

Endemic to the wet, tropical biome of Venezuela and the Amazon rainforests, Philodendron atabapoense is highly prized for its exotic foliage color, impressive appearance, and easy maintenance. Learn everything about growing this rare tropical beauty with this extensive care guide!

  • Botanical Name: Philodendron atabapoense
  • Popular Names—Atabapo Sword, Heart Leaf Philodendron
  • Reaches a height of 3-4 feet indoors
  • Prefers bright, indirect sunlight
  • Grows in a temperature range of 60-85 F or 16-29 C
  • Toxic to pets and humans


What is Philodendron atabapoense?

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Member of Araceae family, Philodendron atabapoense is a tropical epiphyte plant with foliage displaying a unique, elongated lanceolate shape. The foliage can grow up to 18 inches long and about 4 inches wide, with new leaves unfurling in a striking red hue before maturing to a deep, glossy green. While the exotic burgundy undersides, along with the stems, create an exotic contrast with the dark green.

With an impressive height of upto 4 feet, the aroid’s easy maintenance nature makes it a wonderful addition to apartments, condos, and co-working spaces.

Is Philodendron atabapoense Rare?

Yes, Philodendron atabapoense is a rare tropical plant native to Colombia and Venezuela’s Atabapo River region. Its limited distribution, slow growth, and specific environmental requirements contribute to its scarcity in cultivation. Additionally, conservation efforts and strict export regulations protect the species from overharvesting, further enhancing its rarity in the market.

Philodendron atabapoense vs billietiae

  • Appearance: Philodendron atabapoense has larger, elongated leaves than Philodendron billietiae, which has smaller, more rounded, heart-shaped foliage. The former has reddish-purple stems, while the latter sports green stems.
  • Growing Habit: Philodendron atabapoense tends to grow in an upright pattern, while Philodendron billietiae has a more trailing growth habit.
  • Native Place: Philodendron atabapoense is native to South America, specifically Colombia and Brazil, while Philodendron billietiae is native to Central America, specifically Costa Rica and Panama.
  • Ease of Care: Philodendron atabapoense is generally considered easier to care for than its competitor, as it is more adaptable to different light conditions and soil types. Also, the plant is easier to propagate due to its larger stem size.

Ideal Pot Size

When growing Philodendron atabapoense indoors, it is important to choose the right pot size to allow the plant to thrive. A pot that is too small can lead to root crowding and stunt the plant’s growth, while one that is too large can cause overwatering and other issues. The best bet is to get a pot that is slightly bigger than the plant’s root ball.

To start with—a 4-6 inches pot with ample drainage holes is good enough. You may repot it to a one-size bigger container when you find the roots outgrowing the pot. Ceramic, terracotta, or plastic pots—you may opt for any of them suitable options as long as they have drainage holes in the bottom to prevent water buildup.

Philodendron atabapoense Propagation

Propagating Philodendron atabapoense through stem cuttings is an easy and efficient method. Follow these steps for successful propagation:

  • Select a mature stem that has several nodes and is free of disease and pests.
  • Use a clean and sharp pair of pruning shears to cut a stem of about 10-15 cm long just below the node.
  • Dip the cut end of the stem in a rooting hormone powder, brushing off the excess.
  • Fill a small pot with a well-draining potting mix and plant the cutting into it.
  • Water the cutting thoroughly and keep the soil moist but not waterlogged.

Place the pot in a bright spot but away from direct sunlight. Check the cutting regularly for root growth, and hold back on watering when you find the stem developing roots that will take a few weeks.


Philodendron atabapoense Care

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Native to the tropics, Philodendron atabapoense prefers dappled sunlight. Direct sunlight will scorch the leaf edges, so it is best to place the plant near a north or east-facing window that’ll receive a few hours of the mild morning sun, keeping away the harsh afternoon heat.

If you notice that the leaves are turning yellow or brown, it may be a sign that the plant is receiving too much direct sunlight. At the same time, stretchy growth indicates a lack of sun exposure. Keep an eye on the symptoms and do the needful.


The ideal soil for Philodendron atabapoense must be well-draining and rich in organic matter. A mix of peat moss, perlite, and vermiculite will provide the necessary nutrients and drainage. Alternatively, orchid or cactus mix can also meet the plant requirements well.

If the soil is too heavy and dense, it can cause root rot, which can be fatal to the aroid roots. Ensure that the soil is well-draining to prevent water from accumulating at the bottom of the pot.


Keep the soil moist but not soggy to mimic the native environment of the plant. To maintain the same, follow a weekly deep watering session by saturating the medium until excess water seeps out of the drainage holes. Repeat the process when the top one inch of the medium feels dry to the touch.

It is also important to use room-temperature water to prevent shock to the plant. Also, reduce the frequency of watering during the plant’s dormancy in winter.

Temperature & Humidity

Philodendron atabapoense thrives in warm temperatures between 60-85 F or 16-29 C. Avoid exposing the plant to temperatures below 50°C (10°F) as this can cause damage to the foliage. Keep the plant away from sudden temperature fluctuations such as heating or cool vents to prevent plant shock.

This tropical aroid prefers high humidity levels between 60-80%. To increase humidity, you can use a humidifier, place a tray of water near the plant, or group it with other humidity-loving plants.


Feed the plant with a balanced liquid fertilizer, diluted to half its strength, every 6-8 weeks only during the growing season in spring and summer. Over-fertilization can lead to root burn and foliage damage. So ensure not to fertilize the plant in the colder months during its dormancy, and always use a diluted feed.


Remove any yellow or damaged leaves to promote new growth. You can also trim the stems to encourage a bushy structure. Always use clean and sharp pruning shears to prevent damage to the plant. It is important to regularly inspect the plant for any signs of damage or disease and prune accordingly.

Major Troubleshooting Tips

Wilted or Yellow Leaves: If you notice that your Philodendron atabapoense’s leaves are wilted or yellow, it could be a sign of overwatering. Make sure the pot has ample drainage holes, and the soil drains well. Let the medium dry out between waterings. Also, check if the plant is receiving too much direct sunlight, as this can also cause the leaves to turn yellow. If the leaves are yellowing from the tips inward, it may be a sign of too much fertilizer. Cut back on fertilization and increase the amount of water to flush out excess nutrients.

Curling or Crispy Leaves: If the leaves are curling or becoming crispy, it could be a sign of low humidity. Increase the humidity around the plant by using a humidifier, placing a tray of water near the plant, or grouping it with other plants. Also, check if the soil is moist or if the plant is receiving too much direct sunlight. If the issue persists, it may be a sign of pest infestation.

Leggy or Sparse Growth: Majorly a sign of insufficient sunlight. Move the plant to a brighter location or provide artificial light to promote healthy growth.

Pests: Philodendron atabapoense is generally resistant to pests, but it can still be affected by spider mites, mealybugs, and scale insects. If you notice any signs of pest infestation, such as webs, sticky residue, or tiny insects on the leaves or stems, treat the plant immediately with a neem oil solution or insecticidal soap spray. Isolate the plant from other plants to prevent the infestation from spreading.

Where to Buy Philodendron atabapoense Plant?


You may get Philodendron atabapoense for Sale in local nurseries and garden centers. However, considering the plant’s rarity, online marketplaces such as Etsy, eBay, and Facebook Marketplace would be a more viable option.

When purchasing online, make sure to research the seller and read reviews to ensure the plant is of good quality. It is also important to consider shipping times and weather conditions to prevent the plant from being damaged during transit.


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