Philodendron atabapoense is a rare climbing plant with lovely, elongated dark green leaves with a burgundy underside. It is easy to grow, purifies the air, and will give your home a charming tropical backdrop.
What does this plant look like (leaves, stems, or flowers), and what are its growing habits, care needs, and common issues or problems?
We have answers to all the questions and many others, including Philodendron billietiae x atabapoense hybrid and Philodendron atabapoense vs. billietiae comparison. And if you want to buy this plant, Etsy.com, eBay, Facebook or Instagram are the best places.
- Quick overview
- Description and appearance
- 1. Growing habits
- 2. Size and growth rate
- 3. Juvenile and mature Philodendron atabapoense leaves
- 3. Stems
- 5. Flowers
- Philodendron atabapoense vs. billietiae
- Philodendron billietiae x atabapoense
- Philodendron atabapoense care
- 1. USDA hardiness zone
- 2. Temperature
- 3. Humidity
- 4. Light needs
- 5. Best soil mix
- 6. Watering
- i. Overwatering
- ii. Underwatering
- 7. Fertilizer
- 8. Pruning and grooming
- 9. Repotting
- 10. Staking or support
- Problems or issues
- Where to buy Philodendron atabapoense
- Frequently asked questions
- Scientific name: Philodendron atabapoense (G.S. Bunting)
- Family: Araceae (arum family or aroids)
- Native habitat: Venezuela and Brazil
- Toxicity: All parts are toxic to dogs, cats, and humans. Why? It has insoluble oxalic acid.
- Care level: Easy or low maintenance
- Similar looking plant(s): Philodendron Billietiae and Philodendron curvilobum
Description and appearance
1. Growing habits
Philodendron atabapoense is a climbing, evergreen hemiepiphyte plant. A hemiepiphyte spends part of its life cycle as a terrestrial plant (on the ground) and an epiphyte (growing on host trees).
This lovely flowering plant is native to southern Venezuela to the Amazonia region in Brazil. It occurs at 100 to 300 m (328-984 feet) above sea level.
Lastly, its preadult form looks distinctive from the adult form. Also, it isn’t uncommon to find juvenile plants creeping surfaces in their natural habitat as they seek a place to climb. But adult plants are mainly climbers.
2. Size and growth rate
Philodendron atabapoense is a fast-growing aroid that grows about 15-20 feet (4.6-6.1m) long or more while in its natural habitat. But inside your house, it will grow up to about 6 to 8 feet, and you need to give it a climbing place.
3. Juvenile and mature Philodendron atabapoense leaves
It has arrow-shaped elongated or triangular-oval dark green leaves with burgundy, maroon, or wine-colored underside.
P. atabapoense mature leaves can reach up to 30 inches long (2.5 feet), and they are papery, firm but somewhat brittle. These leaves have a slightly undulating pale yellowish pink margin, midrib and posterior ribs are pale yellowish-green. Also, the midrib has wine-colored spots.
On the other hand, the juvenile leaves are smaller and appear gray-green on the upper side. Also, their shape slightly differs from the mature leaves as their anterior lobes may not be as pronounced.
What about leaf stalk? This adorable aroid has rigid or firm green petioles with burgundy or wine-colored spots. The upper part is rough and pinkish-wine.
Also, these terete petioles are convex on the underside towards the apex, while the lower side has a sheath.
Atabapoense’s scandent climbing stems have internodes that are slightly longer than thick and grow aerial roots on nodes.
These stems also have green cataphyll with ivory margins and sparse wine-colored dots. Their outer surface has double-keel, and they shed early (deciduous).
Mature Philodendron atabapoense will produce inflorescences in pairs. Like other Philo plants, each has a spathe (bract) and spadix (bear tiny inflorescence flowers), and peduncle (flower stalk). But it will hardly bloom indoors or under cultivation.
Their peduncle is green with purplish spots towards the apex, and the spathe is green outside with a pink-wine margin and purplish-brown inside but whitish on the blade.
Lastly, the spadix has three sections, i.e., the bottom female, middle male sterile, and top fertile male part, while fruits will be pale greenish-yellow when still young.
Philodendron atabapoense vs. billietiae
These two species bear a close resemblance. So, many people may find it hard to tell the difference. They have narrowly, arrow-shaped dark green leaves. Also, their cataphylls are deciduous, margins slightly undulating, among many other similarities.
Look at their leaf blades, petiole, and cataphylls to quickly tell the difference. Philodendron atabapoense leaves have a maroon, burgundy, or wine red on the underside and have a pale yellowish pink margin. Also, while their midrib is paler, it is not so conspicuous.
On the other hand, Philodendron billietiae has pendent leaves clustered towards the top of the stems. The leaf blades are paler on the underside and have a translucent or reddish margin. Also, the lighter midrib is so conspicuous, their surface may appear ruffled, and younger leaves are reddish.
Besides leaf blades, P. atabapoense has green petiole with burgundy spots. And towards the upper side, it is rough and pinkish-wine. P. billietiae, on the other hand, has broadly spreading bright petiole orange (sometimes olive green, pale yellowish-orange, or golden yellow). These petioles are widely grooved and have a bit rough purplish lineate.
Lastly, in both plants, the cataphylls shed early. But P. atabapoense has green cataphyll with a double keel on the outer side, sparse wine-colored dots, and ivory margins.
On the other hand, P. billietiae has green to pale orange cataphylls with a D-shaped apex. These cataphylls are rarely double ribbed and may occasionally be brown or orange towards the base.
Philodendron billietiae x atabapoense
This lovely Philodendron billietiae and Philodendron atabapoense hybrid by an unknown creator is yet to get an official name. Some people label it as Philodendron Billietiae Black.
It has elongated pendent arrow-shaped, oval-triangular leaves that resemble P. billietiae. But they are darker on the upper side and maroon like P. atabapoense on the lower surface.
The midrib is paler, margins slightly undulate, and the petiole has a reddish tinge, especially towards the apex.
Lastly, if you are interested in P. billietiae x atabapoense plant, be ready to spend between $140 and $200. Etsy has many vendors who have it.
Philodendron atabapoense care
Philodendron atabapoense requires a warm (65 to 85°F) humid (50% relative humidity or more) area with bright, indirect light. Its soil should be well-drained, aerated, and high in organic matter.
Water it when the top 2-3 inches of the potting mix feels dry and feed it monthly with a liquid houseplant fertilizer during growing months.
Lastly, repot it after 2-3 years, give it a climbing totem or trellis, and don’t forget to remove any dead, damaged, or disease leaves or clean leaves.
Here is P. atabapoense care in detail:
1. USDA hardiness zone
USDA hardiness zone for P. atabapoense is 10-11. It cannot tolerate freezing temperature for long and isn’t frost resistant. Only people in these areas or 9B that doesn’t experience frost can grow it outdoor all year.
The ideal temperature range is 65 to 85 degrees Fahrenheit (18-29°C). Don’t let temperatures fall below 55°F (12.8°C). Also, sudden temperature changes, cold drafts, and heat stress (placing it near a heat source) will stress this plant.
This tropical rainforest plant loves humidity. So, provide it with average to above-average humidity, ideal being 60% or more. But it can tolerate a bit lower level.
Too low humidity will cause leaf scorch (brown margins and in-between veins), leaves curling, yellowing, your plant drooping, etc. The symptoms resemble those of underwatering or too much light.
Therefore, if in very low humidity, mist your plants, have a pebble tray, or move them to humid rooms like the kitchen or toilet. But to control humidity effectively, get a humidifier. It will ensure you and your family are also comfortable.
LEVOIT Humidifiers Top Fill, 6 Liter, Cool Mist is an excellent brand. It will run for up to 60 hours, covers up to 505 square feet of space, and is not noisy. Also, you can connect it to third-party voice assistants like Alexa and Google.
4. Light needs
P. atabapoense needs bright, indirect light but will not mind medium indirect light. Too little light will make the plant grow slowly and have smaller paler or yellowish new leaves. Use grow lights.
On the other hand, avoid direct sun as it will cause leaf scorch and make your plant look washed-out or bleached. It doesn’t matter whether you have a north, east, south, or west-facing window. Place your plant at a distance where no direct sun hits it, except for a little early morning sun on the east-facing window.
5. Best soil mix
Grow your P. atabapoense in chunky or airy, well-drained soil high in organic matter. A slightly acidic to a neutral potting mix (pH6.1-7.3) works the best.
Get an aroid mix from Etsy.com Alternatively, you can make yours at home. Add perlite, peat moss (or coco coir), bark chips, and compost to your potting mix. Your objective is to create a potting mix that drains, is nutrient-rich, and airy.
Water this aroid when the potting mix’s top 2-3 inches feels dry. It may be after 4 to 7 days in the growing months and biweekly in fall and winter.
We don’t recommend following a watering schedule. Instead, water when the potting mix feels dry up to your first finger knuckle. Or, if you can get a soil moisture meter like XLUX, water when the reading is three or less (or in the red or dry zone).
Lastly, when watering, thoroughly saturate the potting mix until water flows from drainage holes. Then, pour any water that collects into a saucer or cachepot.
A soggy potting mix will cut oxygen from the roots. Signs include yellowing of lower leaves, stunted growth, wilting (which doesn’t improve with watering), and leaf edema. Others are leaves falling, brown splotches, etc.
Hold on watering, ensure potting mix drains (avoid heavy or compacted soils), and provide optimal conditions (light, temperature, and humidity). Also, ensure air circulates, and your pot’s drainage holes are open.
A dry potting mix with leaves drooping or wilting, curling, leaf scorch, etc., may indicate that your plant needs watering. Immediately give it a thorough drink and ensure your potting mix holds moisture.
They need feeding once a month with a balanced, liquid fertilizer for houseplants at half recommended strength in growing months. But you can also use a balanced, slow-release formula for houseplants.
Miracle-Gro Indoor Plant Food (Liquid), NPK 1-1-1, is a good brand of fertiliser for all your Philodendron plants. Feed twice a month. You will see results almost instantly.
However, Osmocote Smart-Release Plant Food Plus Outdoor & Indoor is okay if you prefer slow release. Sprinkle a teaspoon per 64 square inches and work the granules into your potting mix, about 1-3 inches deep.
8. Pruning and grooming
Remove dry, discolored, dead, or diseased leaves with sterilized gardening shears. Also, clean dusty or dirty leaves, and during early spring, you can cut stems back to control size and growth.
Repotting is after 2-3 years or when rootbound (roots growing from drainage holes or spiraling around the pot wall and forming a hard mass). Use a pot that is about 2-3 inches wider in diameter.
10. Staking or support
As a climbing plant, you should provide and train this plant with a moss pole, trellis, totem, or any other climbing place.
The best way of propagation Philodendron atabapoense is by stem cutting in water or soil. But you can also use air layering.
To propagate this aroid, you need a stem cutting with a node, i.e., you cannot use a stem without a node, aerial roots, or leaves with the petiole.
Lastly, we recommend propagating in spring or early summer to give your plant ample time to reestablish before the non-growing months. The steps to follow are similar to those of Philodendron micans or any other climbing Philo.
Problems or issues
Issues you may have include pests, diseases, drooping or wilting, leaf discoloration, and curling. Let us look at these issues briefly.
- Pests: These plants may have aphids, thrips, scale insects, mealybugs, and mites. Lucky, they are uncommon. If you notice bugs, use insecticidal soaps, horticultural oil spray, or neem oil.
- Diseases: While uncommon, this plant may have fungal and bacterial leaf spots and blights. Isolate new plants and practice proper sanitation to prevent the spread of these diseases.
- Root rot: It’s a prevalent problem to anyone who overwaters their plant or uses a heavy, compact potting mix. Repot your plant, removing any decayed roots with sterilized gardening scissors.
- Leaves are turning yellow: Overwatering is the number one reason. Nonetheless, heat stress, underwatering, lack of nutrients, low humidity, and too much or too little light may cause.
- Browning of leaves: Does your plant have brown tips and margins? Underwatering, low humidity, heat stress, direct sun, or fertilizer burns are possible causes. It may be pests or diseases if you see brown spots, while brown splotches are due to overwatering. Also, cold drafts can cause sudden browning.
- Leaves curling: Your plant is trying to prevent moisture loss or protect itself. Causes are underwatering, low humidity, too much light, and heat stress. Also, anything that affects water absorption or causes moisture loss may be a cause. Here, things like root rot, fertilizer burns, repotting shock, rootbound, etc., come to play.
- Leaves drooping: Drooping and wilting happen when plant cells don’t have enough water to remain rigid. Causes are similar to those of leaves curling.
Where to buy Philodendron atabapoense
Do you love this plant and would you like to buy it? Etsy.com should be your first choice, followed by eBay. Both these have vendors from the US and the UK, Canada, Australia, Germany, etc. Also, you will find those willing to ship to your location.
Next, try Instagram and Facebook. They, too, have many online sellers. If still, you haven’t found your plant, try searching for “Philodendron atabapoense for sale on google or other search engines. Several vendors should pop up.
Frequently asked questions
Yes. Philodendron atabapoense is a hard-to-find or rare plant that requires some digging to find one on sale. None of the big box stores or large-scale horticultural growers don’t have it. Also, you are unlikely to find it at your local plant stores.
The price of Philodendron atabapoense is $50 to $200 for a cutting to a rooted medium plant, depending on where you buy it. But most vendors sell it for $70 to $150.
No. We haven’t seen any so far, but we cannot rule out the possibility. The only one we have seen is Variegated Philodendron billietiae which goes for as high as $5000 on Etsy. It has lovely cream to whitish variegation.