Philodendron micans (The Velvet Leaf Philodendron) Plant Care Guide

Velvet Leaf Philodendron is a graceful tropical vine with soft-textured, heart-shaped leaves. Although it’s still known as Philodendron micans, or the common name Micans in the florists’ trade, it is now called by the botanical name Philodendron hederaceum var. hederaceum, a variety of the familiar Heartleaf Philodendron.

The beauty of Micans’s leaves is what attracts houseplant fans. They are heart-shaped with long, pointed tips and a greenish-burgundy cast that shimmers when the light is right. The undersides of the leaves are pinkish-purple, and new leaves emerge with a pink glow.

Micans, or Velvet Leaf, is an outstanding ornamental that will tumble over the sides of a hanging basket or climb up a moss pole or indoor trellis and add charm to any home or office.

This beautiful plant comes from tropical regions of Mexico, Central America, and the Caribbean. It is an epiphyte that roots in the ground and climbs up trees with its aerial roots. Since it is a tropical understory plant, it thrives in dappled light, warm temperatures, and high humidity.

Philodendron micans Care Guide

Philodendron micans  climbing

Even though Micans is an adaptable plant, it will do best if you can give it conditions similar to its native habitat.

Light

hanging Philodendron micans plant

Dappled light through the trees in its native habitat translates to bright indirect light indoors. Set your Micans in an east- or north-facing window that will give it bright light but no direct sunlight that could burn its leaves.

If this exposure isn’t available, you can set it back a few feet from a west- or south-facing window out of the direct sun. A sheer curtain in the window will also help to soften the light.

If you bring your plant outdoors in the summer, keep it under a tree, porch, or patio where it will get bright shade but no direct, hot sun.

Temperature and Humidity

The ideal temperatures for your plant are between 65 and 75 degrees F, well within the average household range.

Just make sure that your Micans is not in cold drafts from a window or air conditioner, or hot air from a heating vent.

When temperatures soar in the summer, keeping your plant indoors is best to avoid it wilting in the heat. On the other end of the scale, it will not grow well in temperatures below 60 degrees.

So, indoors or out, keep your plant in mild temperatures.

Since it is native to the tropics, your Velvet Leaf will grow best in humidity between 40% and 60%, higher than average household levels.

You can boost the humidity by setting your plant on a pebble tray with water or using a humidifier if you have one.

How Often to Water Philodendron micans

How often you’ll need to water your plant will fluctuate with the seasons and with the temperature, humidity, and amount of light in your home. The best way to know when to water is to test the soil rather than keeping a set watering schedule.

Philodendrons like partially moist soil – not too wet and not too dry. You can determine when to water by digging your finger (or a chopstick) down 2″ to 3″ into the soil. If it comes out dry, it’s time to water, but if it’s still moist, wait a week and test it again.

You can also tell by looking at the leaves, which will become droopy and soft when the soil is dry.

When you water, run it through the soil to thoroughly soak it, and allow it to drain out the hole in the bottom of the pot until no more water drips out.

Soil and Pot

Your plant needs light, well-draining soil that allows water to move through quickly and provides air spaces for plenty of oxygen to reach the roots. An organic potting medium amended with coco coir, orchid bark, peat moss, and perlite is a healthy recipe for Philodendrons.

Pots come in many shapes, sizes, and materials, but when you choose one for your plant, it will need at least one drainage hole in the bottom so that water won’t build up around the roots.

Fertilizer

Your plant should only need a little fertilizer if the soil has enough rich organic matter. But if you want to give it an extra boost to its growth, use a balanced, all-purpose fertilizer when it is actively growing.

A powdered or crystalline fertilizer mixed with water is a good choice once a month during the spring and summer, or a little bit of granular fertilizer or worm castings blended into the soil once in the spring.

Go easy on fertilizing, though, to prevent burned roots.

Since it is an epiphytic plant and uses aerial roots to climb, you can use a foliar fertilizing spray to encourage aerial root growth when your Velvet Leaf is growing up a moss pole.

Pruning

Philodendrons are fast growers, and under optimal conditions, your plant will grow 10 feet long or more indoors and will need pruning. Cut the stems to the desired length between the nodes (where the leaf and stem meet).

How to Propagate Philodendron micans: 2 Methods

Philodendron micans in water

After you’ve pruned your Philodendron, you can easily propagate the stem cuttings in soil or water to add more plants to your collection.

Both methods are effective and will root your plants within a month.

1. Water propagation

Cut the lengths of stems to about 4 or 5 leaves. Put the cuttings into a clean jar with fresh water, and remove all the leaves below the waterline, leaving the aerial roots attached. Set the jar in a warm, bright spot and change the water every few days to prevent algae from growing. You should start to see new growth forming at the nodes after about two weeks.

2. Soil propagation

Trim your cuttings to about ¼” below the bottom node and remove leaves on the bottom two or three nodes. Insert the cuttings into moist, loose soil and set them in a warm, light spot. Keep the soil moist, and you should see new roots in 3 to 4 weeks.

You can plant the cuttings right back in the soil of your original pot if there is room and the soil is loose and well-draining. As an option, you can dip the ends of your cuttings in rooting hormone to aid in root formation.

NOTE: You can set your cuttings out in the air for one to two days to allow them to develop a callus, or scab, over the cut end. This isn’t necessary, but it will prevent the stem from rotting.

Pests

Aphids, spider mites, mealybugs, and scale sometimes attack Philodendrons. Neem oil or insecticidal soap will take care of an infestation of the soft-bodied critters, but the hard-bodied scale needs a different method.

Scale can be controlled by tipping the pot to its side and running a stream of water over the plant to knock as many bugs off as possible. Then, wipe the plant down and remove the rest with rubbing alcohol.

Diseases

The most common disease of Philodendron plants is root rot, a fungal infection from overwatering. The fungus is already present, but dormant, in the potting soil, but too much water can cause it to increase in growth and rot the roots.

To treat root rot, tip the pot on its side and remove the root ball. Shake the soil off and wash the roots to see what they look like.

Healthy roots should be firm and white, but if they are black, mushy, and smell foul, cut them off with clean scissors or shears.

Treat the roots with a fungicide like Neem oil or a weak hydrogen peroxide and water solution to kill any remaining fungus. Replant your Philodendron in a clean pot with fresh potting mix, and remember to water it only when the soil is dry two to three inches down. 

Toxicity

All Philodendron varieties are members of the Arum family (Araceae) and are toxic to people and pets. They contain calcium oxalate crystals, which cause swelling and burning of the tongue, lips, mouth, and throat. 

Keep all members of your family safe by making your plant inaccessible to little hands and paws by setting it high on a shelf or in a hanging basket.

Author & Editor | + posts

Nancy has been a plant person from an early age. That interest blossomed into a bachelor’s in biology from Elmira College and a master’s degree in horticulture and communications from the University of Kentucky. Nancy worked in plant taxonomy at the University of Florida and the L. H. Bailey Hortorium at Cornell University, and wrote and edited gardening books at Rodale Press in Emmaus, PA. Her interests are plant identification, gardening, hiking, and reading.