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Turquoise Puya

Philodendron squamiferum

Philodendron squamiferum is a terrific, rare species from tropical rain forests in South America.  The vine is unusual for its long, red stems that are covered with soft, fuzzy red hairs!  The plant also has distinctively-shaped leaves with 5 lobes.  The attractive foliage is glossy and grows from 12 to 18 inches long.  Overall, this is an exceptionally handsome collector's plant - and it happens to be very easy to grow!

Philodendron squamiferum

The plant lives as an epiphyte in the wild, growing high up into trees.  In cultivation it grows at a moderate pace, so it won't become rampant and take over, like some Philodendrons.  You may tie it to a wooden post, trellis, or other support.  The leaves of young plants are shaped somewhat like a violin, and eventually form large, distinct lobes as the plant matures.  The bristly stem of each leaf is almost as long as the leaf itself.  The hairs are green on some plants, but on mine they are red.  The plant hasn't flowered for me yet.  A picture of the flower spadix is here.

Philodendron squamiferum

An old botanical print showing younger leaves

It grows well for me indoors between 60 and 80 degrees F.  It reportedly does fine in warmer temperatures.  I don't know how cool it can handle.  It probably cannot tolerate frost.  It grows well in bright, indirect light or part sunlight.  It does not need a lot of sun to thrive, and might need protection from strong afternoon sun.  Like most Philodendrons, it likes a loose, fertile soil mix.  A typical mix is equal parts of potting soil, fine orchid bark, and perlite, pumice, or coarse sand.  Aim to keep the soil evenly moist, but not soggy.  Over about 40% humidity is recommended.  In the right conditions, it's an easy, low-maintenance plant that's rarely bothered by pests.

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Photo #2 by Daderot

 

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Turquoise Puya

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