It’s not uncommon for plants to gain their common names based on the shape or coloration, but Philodendron pedatum (fil-oh-DEN-dron ped-AH-tum) has a unique claim to fame for many a Philodendron fanatic.
The plant is aptly called oakleaf philodendron (alternately spelled oak leaf) and looks as though an oak tree suddenly turned into an epiphyte.
As with many members of the Araceae family, this is a perennial native to the rainforests of South America, or more precisely, Brazil and Venezuela.
Oddly enough, while there’s no debate regarding the common name, this plant has had a wide range of alternate botanical titles over the years, some of which are still used as synonyms by growers.
These names include:
- Caladium pedatum
- Philodendron amazonicum
- Philodendron laciniatum
- Philodendron laciniosum
- Philodendron quericifolium
Philodendron Pedatum Care
Size & Growth
One of the faster-growing philodendrons out there, the oakleaf is an avid climber that can reach 9′ feet in height with the proper support and has a 1′ foot spread.
Bamboo, moss poles, plastic mesh, and PVC make for excellent supports, although moss poles also help provide humidity.
New leaves are a dark green and generally oblong but go through a metamorphosis as they get older.
Deep lobes form, giving the foliage their distinctive oak leaf shape, and can grow up to 14″ inches under ideal conditions (although you’re more likely to get 6″ to 8″ inch lengths).
Flowering And Fragrance
You’ll likely never see one of these planets bloom indoors, but an outdoor specimen may develop insignificant brownish-green to brown blossoms.
Light & Temperature
Bright, indirect sunlight for around 6 to 10 hours per day is ideal for your oakleaf, although it can also tolerate partial shade.
Dappled or filtered sunlight are also great options, but direct sunlight can scorch the leaves.
Stick it in the kitchen or bathroom so you can get cleaner air in exchange for a more humid environment.
Philodendrons can handle almost any humidity level as long as there’s at least a little and it isn’t swimming.
Try to give your oakleaf around 60% percent humidity for the best results, although 40 to 80 is also a good range. Much higher, and you may invite fungal infections.
Where it’s too humid, use a dehumidifier (this is also a great way to provide your plant with purified water), and use a pebble tray or humidifier when the humidity is too low.
Just be careful not to leave the plant too close to a vent, air conditioner, or other sources of drafts, as the sudden temperature shifts can cause stress.
Average household temperatures are perfect for oakleaf, which doesn’t grow well outdoors throughout most US.
Avoid straying outside of a 50° to 85° degrees Fahrenheit range, and aim for something closer to 60° to 75° degrees Fahrenheit.
Having slightly cooler nights (5° to 10° degrees Fahrenheit cooler than day temperatures) can be very healthy for your Philodendron and has a similar effect as the light levels in an average day/night cycle.
Watering And Feeding
While philodendrons love moisture in the air, they don’t like standing in the bathwater.
Use your finger to check the soil and only water when it feels dry 1″ inch down.
Go slowly and thoroughly until you see moisture beginning to seep from the drainage holes.
This method (also known as the soak-and-dry method) helps prevent over-or underwatering. It avoids the need to account for variables like humidity, temperature, and light levels, affecting how quickly a plant consumes water.
In between waterings, consider giving your oakleaf some balanced liquid houseplant fertilizer.
One dose per month (according to the label instructions) in spring and summer is enough to satisfy this heavy eater.
Avoid feeding the plant in fall and winter, as this is its dormant phase.
Soil & Transplanting
As an epiphyte, your oakleaf doesn’t require a lot out of its soil so any quality potting mix will do.
Consider amending the mix with peat moss or perlite to help ensure it’s well-draining and has a slightly acidic pH, although the plant can survive in acid to neutral levels (5.5 to 7.0).
Alternatively, you can plant an oak leaf in nothing but moss or a mix of moss, perlite, or vermiculite.
Despite being a somewhat fast grower, you’ll only need to repot your oakleaf Philodendron every 2 to 3 years.
If you see roots peeking out of the drainage holes, you’ll want to graduate the plant to a slightly larger container.
When repotting, always discard the old medium and replace it with new. It eliminates mineral wastes and replenishes the plant’s natural food supply.
Grooming And Maintenance
Prune our oakleaf in the spring and fall to remove damaged or diseased leaves, but avoid going overboard.
You can also trim some of the aerial roots that aren’t holding the plant up, so long as you leave 1” to 2″ inches in length for later propagation.
These rules also apply when pruning the plant for shape.
The only other bit of maintenance is to wipe the leaves down every week with a neem leaf shine or a damp cloth to remove any dust or little invaders.
How To Propagate Philodendron Pedatum
Stem cuttings are, by far, the most common method for propagating nearly all philodendrons, including oakleaf.
The stem cuttings may further be rooted using soil or water before transplanting it to their permanent home.
Other viable methods for this climber include air layering, root division, or (if you’re lucky enough to get one to flower) seeds.
Oakleaf Philodendron Pests Or Diseases
Oakleaf philodendrons share the same hardiness against pests and disease as most plants in the genus.
However, this doesn’t mean they can’t become infested or infected. Mealybugs, scale, spider mites, and thrips are the most familiar foes you’ll run into.
Left unaddressed, they can leave behind honeydew, attracting common fungal spores such as sooty mold and powdery mildew.
Root rot is the leading disease risk, which can be avoided by practicing good watering habits.
Note that all philodendrons contain calcium oxalate crystals.
While these are present in many foods we eat (in much smaller quantities), the crystals are toxic to cats and dogs.
Humans (big or small) that ingest Philodendron will suffer less dangerous symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, and a higher risk of developing kidney stones.
Philodendron Pedatum Uses
These excellent climbers will touch the ceiling in due time but will never overrun their corner of the room.
That said, corners are an excellent place for them, as well as climbing up the sides of bookshelves.
They can also be allowed to cascade from hanging baskets to make it a little harder for your little two to four-legged family members to reach.
Finally, philodendrons are considered clean air plants, meaning they absorb toxins from the air, thus providing more than just beauty.