Rhaphidophora korthalsii syn. Rhaphidophora celatocaulis is a rare, lovely shingling plant. It has entire lance-shaped green juvenile leaves, which dramatically become in adult plants, becoming erect, large, split, and perforated.
Discover more about this adorable tropical liana. We will cover its growth habits and appearance (leaves, stems, and flowers). Also, there is something on care, propagation and any issue you may incur while growing this plant.
Lastly, if you are interested in buying this lovely plant, we have not just prices but also where to find it. Of course, the best places are Etsy.com and eBay.
Table of content
- Rhaphidophora korthalsii overview
- Rhaphidophora korthalsii description and appearance
- Rhaphidophora korthalsii vs. Rhaphidophora tetrasperma
- Rhaphidophora korthalsii care
- How to propagate Rhaphidophora korthalsii
- Common problems
- Where to find Rhaphidophora korthalsii on sale
Rhaphidophora korthalsii overview
- Scientific name: Rhaphidophora korthalsii
- Synonyms: Rhaphidophora celatocaulis, Pothos celatocaulis, and many others.
- Tribe: Monstereae
- Family: Araceae (aroids or arum family)
- Native habitat: It occurs in southern Thailand, Sumatra, and Java through Borneo, Philipines, Caroline islands, New Guinea to the Solomon Islands, and Vanuatu. You will also find it in the Ryukyu Islands and the eastern Himalayas.
- Toxicity: All plant parts are toxic to humans, cats, dogs, and other pets since they have insoluble calcium oxalates. Chewing will cause severe oral irritation, burning feeling redness, and swelling. Also, it will cause swallowing difficulties, drooling, loss of appetite and pets will paw. Please keep it out of your kids’ and pets’ reach.
- Care level: Easy
Rhaphidophora korthalsii description and appearance
To help correctly identify this plant and not confuse it with other similar species, here is a description of growth habits and appearance (leaves, stems, and flowers).
1. Growth habits
Rhaphidophora korthalsii is a massive, slender to robust liana, which may occasionally be enormous. The seedling grows towards the light (non-skototropic), juvenile shingles, and mature plants have erect large split leaves.
This tropical liana is native to southern tropical Asia to tropical western Pacific and East Himalayas. Here, it grows in primary and disturbed montane, hill, and lowland forests, including moss, peat-swamp forest, rocks, cliffs, and trees on varying soils, including ultrabasic and limestone.
2. Growth rate and size
Korthalsii is a fast-growing liana that can grow up to 65.6 feet (20 m) long. But at home, you will find juvenile, much smaller plants that will hardly go beyond 8 feet and need a climbing place.
R. korthalsii has smooth, bright green stems that look somewhat woody when older. In the juvenile stage, internodes are shorter. But as it grows into adulthood, they become longer (about 5.9 inches) and will have oblique leaf scars on nodes.
These stems have sparse to plentiful cataphyll, prophyll, and petiolar sheath fiber, especially towards the top. Also, they have hairy, dense clasping roots on nodes and internodes and densely scaly, robust feeding roots. However, they don’t have flagellate foraging stems.
Last but not least, the leaves form alternating architecture.
It has entire shingling (grow appressed to the climbing surface), slightly overlapping lance-shaped green leaves with a somewhat heart-shaped base. These leaves measure about 2-4.3 inches (5-11cm)long, 1.4-2.4 inches (3.5-6 cm) wide, and have a short petiole.
On the other hand, mature Rhaphidophora korthalsii leaves may be entire, pinnatifid, pinnatipartite, or pinnatisect. In simple terms, they are whole, shallow to deeply split, almost reaching the midrib.
These leaves are broadly oblong to elliptic lance-shaped, measuring 5.5-37 inches 14-94 cm wide to 3.9-17.3 inches (10-44 cm) broad and slightly oblique. The apex is acute to tapering, and the base truncated to faintly decurrent, and if you touch them, they feel membrane-like to papery sub-leathery.
Each pinna is about 0.4 to 3.9 inches (1-10 cm) wide, has small holes near the base, and 2-4 primary veins.
Last but not least, their sheathed petiole has a shallow groove and a prominent lower and upper genicula (knee-like bents). Also, their prominent membrane-like, slightly to very unequal petiolar sheath degrades, forms netted fibers that will eventually fall, and you have a somewhat corky scar.
They have solitary to several inflorescences. A membrane-like prophyll and one or more cataphylls subtend the first inflorescence to emerge. But the subsequent will have only one or more cataphylls.
The prophyll and cataphylls soon degrade, leaving persistent netted fiber that may partially conceal aggregated fruits.
Korthalsii has small dirty white inflorescence flowers on a spadix with a greenish to dull yellow, narrowly canoe-shaped spathe with a stout beak. This spathe will quickly fall after anthesis, leaving a sizeable straight scar at the spadix base.
When ripening, the fruiting spadix will be dark green to a dull orange, and the aggregate fruits have orange flesh.
Rhaphidophora korthalsii vs. Rhaphidophora tetrasperma
These two species have juvenile shingling plants, and their mature leaves are large, entire, and shallowly to deeply split. But you can easily distinguish them by considering the leaf shape and pinnae.
Rhaphidophora tetrasperma mature leaves are smaller but broader than korthalsii. Also, their pinnae don’t have holes (perforation) near the midrib to make them appear stilted as it is with korthalsii.
Also, tetrasperma may have rhombic holes next to the midrib while korthalsii don’t.
Lastly, the juvenile form of korthalsii grows predominantly as a shingling plant while in tetrasperma, only the seedling and the first few leaves of the juvenile plant may shingle.
Rhaphidophora korthalsii care
Here are the R. korthalsii care and growth needs.
- USDA hardiness zone: 11-12, not frost hardy, and it cannot survive freezing conditions for long.
- Humidity: Average to above average, 50% or more. Grow in a terrarium, mist your plants, have a pebble tray, or buy a humidifier if humidity is low.
- Temperature: 55-85°F (12.8-29 C) with 70-80° F (21-27°C) optimal. Avoid cold drafts, sudden temperature changes, and near heat emitting systems or AC vents.
- Light: Bright, indirect light for 12 hours a day. No direct sun and poorly lit homes need to grow lights. We recommend those with 10,000 to 20000 lux.
- Best soil mix: Use an airy, well-drained potting mix high in organic matter, slightly acidic (pH 6.0-6.5), but neutral is ok. See Etsy.com has the best aroid mixes.
- Watering: Thoroughly water when the potting mix’s top 1-2 inches dries. Usually, 4-7 days in the growing season and biweekly in spring and summer. But feel the soil, i.e., don’t follow a schedule.
- Fertilizer: Feed with an all-purpose, balanced, liquid houseplant fertilizer at least once a month at half-strength in the growing season only.
- Pruning: Requires regular cutting of damaged, diseased or dead leaves and removal of some branches in early spring to control growth and size. When pruning, use sterilized gardening scissors.
- Repotting: Repotting is after about a year or when rootbound. Use a pot 2-3 inches wider in diameter than the current one and do it in spring or early summer.
How to propagate Rhaphidophora korthalsii
Rhaphidophora korthalsii propagation is by stem cutting in soil or water. But it’s possible to use seeds (rare) and air layering.
The best time to propagate this or any other plant is in spring or early summer. Why? It will give you plant ample time to root and establish before fall, which is a non-growing season.
We will give you propagation in soil. But if you prefer using water, we will also talk about it but not in detail. These two are much or less the same.
1. What you need
- Nursery pot
- Potting mix
- Gardening shears
- 70-90% rubbing alcohol for sterilizing your gardening shears
- Rooting hormone. It’s optional but will ensure faster rooting and minimize rot. Buy either Garden Safe Brand TakeRoot or HydroDynamics Clonex. We prefer the latter as its gel, making it easier to apply. But both will work well.
- Transparent Ziploc bag. Not mandatory, but it will help lock humidity. If you have a greenhouse cabinet, you don’t need it.
2. Propagation steps
- Put your potting mix into the nursery pot and thoroughly water it until excess water flowers from drainage holes. Discard any that collects on the saucer.
- Select a mature stem with at least two nodes and cut it below the lower node with your sterilized gardening shear. If it has more than one leaf, remove the lower ones.
- Apply your rooting hormone on the cut end, covering the nodes you intend to plant into the soil.
- Poke a hole in the potting mix and plant your Rhaphidophora korthalsii stem cutting deep enough to cover at least one or two nodes. Press some soil around the cutting to ensure it remains upright.
- Cover the cutting with your plastic bag, leaving a small opening to allow your plant to breathe. Also, ensure the bag doesn’t touch leaves. You can use a stick to ensure so.
- Place your cutting in a warm place with bright indirect light.
- After every few days, remove the plastic bag for a few hours to give your plant a chance to breathe. Also, mist the soil to keep it moist (not soggy).
By the end of the 4th to 6th week, your plant will have rooted, added new growth, and maybe ready for transplanting. However, the exact time will depend on the prevailing conditions.
3. Water propagation
If you need to see your plant root, water propagation is perfect. After step 3 above, dip the plant in a jar of water, ensuring you don’t immerse any leaves.
Place your plant in a warm place with bright, indirect light and replace the water after every 3-4 days. Wait until the roots are long enough, 3-4 inches, and transplant.
You may encounter some problems or issues as you care for your korthalsii. Common ones include:
- Pests: When grown indoors, pets are uncommon. But may occur. Spider mites, mealybugs, thrips, scale insects, aphids, and whiteflies are the common ones. Use insecticidal soap, neem oil, or horticultural oils to manage these bugs.
- Diseases: With proper sanitation and healthy plants, diseases are unlikely except root rot. Nonetheless, your plant may have fungal and bacterial leaf spots that will cause lesions on leaves and stems. Treat fungal infections with fungicides, discard those with bacterial diseases and water your plant well to avoid root rot. Also, have a well-draining potting mix.
- Leaf discoloration: Rhaphidophora korthalsii leaves turning yellow likely indicate overwatering, while brown tips and edges are a sign of underwatering, low humidity, heat stress, or too much light. If they have black spots, it is likely a sign of pests or diseases. Other things like nutritional deficiency, rootbound, repotting shock, cold drafts, etc., can also cause discoloration.
- Leaves curling and drooping: Common reasons are underwatering, low humidity, heat stress, or too much light. Others are those that cause rapid leaf moisture loss or prevent water absorption.
Where to find Rhaphidophora korthalsii on sale
R. korthalsii is a rare plant you are unlikely to find in your local tropical specialty nurseries. But it is not impossible to find one, especially if you search online.
Our favorite place is Etsy.com and eBay. You will find vendors near you in these places, be it in the US, Canada, Australia, the UK, India, Philippines, New Zealand, etc. Some are also willing to ship to your location. But Etsy.com has more vendors and offers competitive prices.
The next place to try is Facebook and Instagram. They too have many vendors, some near you. Make sure you buy from a reputed and reliable vendor. See what other people are saying or reviews.
More places to buy this aroid include Steve’s Leaves and Jordan’s Jungle (USA), Araflora.com (Netherlands), Tropicsathome.com (Sweden), Shopannas.ca (Canada), Plantcircle.co (Germany), among other places.
Lastly, use search engines. Just google “Rhaphidophora korthalsii for sale” and see the recommendation you get. Buy only from vendors with locations or reputed.
We strongly recommend that you stake Rhaphidophora korthalsii, i.e., provide and train it to shingle on a flat board, moss pole, burlaw wrapped totem, etc. It’s one thing that the plant is beautiful about and will grow larger leaves. However, it’s not a must. Some people choose to let it grow on a hanging basket.
Use gardening Velcro, twist ties, or a soft string to attach your plant to the climbing stake until it attaches. Afterward, you can remove whatever you used to secure it.
The price of Rhaphidophora korthalsii is $20 to $60. How much you pay will depend on if it’s just a rooted cutting or growing on a moss pole or board. But we saw a variegated Rhaphidophora korthalsii going for over $700. We cannot confirm if it’s a genuinely variegated plant.