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Homalomena: Basic Care & Varieties

homalomena care guide

Homalomena is a genus of the family Araceae. Homalomenas are native to the humid tropics and sub-tropics of southern Asia, Latin America, and the southwestern Pacific. There are at least 135 known species of Homalomena. These herbaceous plants are grown as houseplants for their assortment of stunning foliage. 

While Homalomena is not a new houseplant genus, these plants just recently started showing up at big box stores in states across the US. Before this, you could find Homalomenas in smaller plant shops. The recent emergence of Homalemena varieties in chain stores has sparked curiosity among many plant lovers who are less familiar with this plant. 

Additionally, many houseplant shoppers don’t realize they are looking at a Homalomena due to the major differences in the foliage among its species. Although this genus contains many varieties, most of them are not commercially available as houseplants yet. 

Let’s delve into care tips for Homalomenas and look at some of the most common Homalomena favorites in the houseplant community.

General Care of Homalomenas

These plants enjoy similar care to their relatives, the Philodendrons. However, like any plant genus, they have a few unique care needs. 

Temperature

Homalomenas thrive in a warm environment. They are more sensitive to cold drafts than most other tropical houseplants. Provide an environment with a temperature range of at least 60 degrees F and up to 90 degrees F (16-32 C). 

During colder months, avoid placing your Homalomena near drafty areas such as your entryway door. For optimal health of your Homalomena, grow it in temperatures of 70-80 degrees F. 

When cold-stressed, their leaves will droop. They usually perk back up when moved out of harmful temperatures. After cold stress, you may see some damage, such as crispiness on the ends of some leaves and yellow leaves. Your Homalomena may lose a leaf or two near the base of the plant but should recover. Be sure to check overall plant health, as drooping leaves can also point to other issues not associated with temperature. 

Light

Homalomenas tend to require less light than Philodendrons but burn more easily in direct light than their relatives. They thrive in medium indirect light. The waxy-leaf varieties (Rubescens) are more tolerant of occasional direct sun than the velvety-leaved varieties (Camolflauge and Selby). 

These houseplants also tolerate low light and will continue slow growth in lower light conditions. Keep in mind that in low light, it will be crucial that you keep your Homalemena in well-draining soil to prevent root rot.  

Water

Are these plants secretly the close relatives of Peace Lilies? Given their thirst drama, you’d think so! Homalmenas love water. 

Water your Homalemena as soon as the top half of the soil becomes dry. This typically shows up around a 4 on a moisture meter. They don’t like to dry out. 

If your Homalemena gets thirsty, it will certainly let you know! This is especially true for varieties with more velvety-textured leaves (Camolflauge and Selby). They can look healthy one morning and be drooped over dramatically by that afternoon if they get too dry. Therefore, you’ll need to check the soil regularly as your key indicator of the best time to water. 

If your plant experiences drought stress regularly, you’ll likely observe yellowing bottom leaves that die and crispiness on large leaf edges. Don’t worry; your Homalemena will quickly recover and grow new leaves. Once you’ve figured out how to catch their watering in time, this plant becomes easy to care for. 

Humidity

The recommended humidity range for Homalemenas is 45-75%. Like most tropical plants, they thrive in any supplemental humidity you can provide. 

Homalomenas can grow in average household humidity, but you may find that varieties with velvety leaves can get crispy leaf edges in low humidity (below 40%). Varieties with green waxy leaves are less particular, though they all grow more rapidly in higher humidity. 

Soil and Pot

Homalomenas grow best in loamy, well-draining soil mixes containing a peat base for a level of moisture retention. They respond well to gentle organic fertilizers and grow best in slightly acidic soil. 

Homalomena soil mixture recipe:

  • 30% Peat
  • 30% Coarse Sand or Perlite
  • 30% Organic Potting Mix
  • 10% Worm Castings 

Like other plants in the family of Araceae, they are susceptible to root rot when grown in pots without drainage holes. Since they are also sensitive to drying out, we don’t recommend planting your Homalomena directly in a terracotta pot. 

Plastic nursery pots with multiple drainage holes work best. For aesthetics, you can place them in a decorative ceramic or terracotta cover pot. 

Fertilizer

In the growing season, feed twice monthly with half-strength liquid organic fertilizer. In the Winter, no additional feeding is needed beyond the slow-release fertilizers in the soil mix (worm castings). 

Common Varieties of Homalomenas 

Homalomena Rubescens Emerald Gem

Photo Credit: Etsy

  • Found at big box stores, plant nurseries, and online
  • Susceptible to thrips
  • Fairly slow grower
  • Has better drought tolerance than other varieties

Homalomena Rubescens Lemon Lime

Photo Credit: Foliage Factory

  • Found at online
  • Has better drought tolerance than other varieties

Homalomena Rubescens Red Stem

Photo credit: Planterina

  • Found at plant nurseries and online
  • Susceptible to thrips
  • Fairly slow grower
  • Has better drought tolerance than other varieties

Homalomena Selby

Photo Credit: Logee’s

  • Found at big box stores, plant nurseries, and online
  • Easily becomes drought stressed
  • Cannot tolerate direct sun
  • Fast grower

Homalomena Camouflage

Photo credit: Watson’s 

  • Found at local plant nurseries and online
  • Easily becomes drought stressed
  • Cannot tolerate direct sun
  • Often compared to the Aglaonema Tricolor but is less expensive and easier to care for than the Tricolor

Rare Varieties of Homalomenas 

Black Homalomena

Homalomena Rubescens Variegated

Lookalikes 

The Apoballis Acuminatissima Lavallaei, commonly referred to as “Purple Sword,” was previously classified as a Homalemena. This beautiful plant is no longer classified as a Homalemena. However, you may still see it labeled as such on occasion. It has purple stems and backsides of its leaves, which have a similar velvety texture to the Homalemena Selby and Camouflage. 

Looking at the Purple Sword, it is understandable that it was once thought to be a Homalomena.

Photo Credit: Tezula Plants

Takeaway

Homalomenas can be dramatic when underwatered and exposed to cold temperatures but are otherwise easy to care for. Like their relatives, the Philodendrons, the Homalemena genus contains a wide variety of plants that can look very different from one another. Many of us who enjoy having Homalomenas hope to see more varieties at big box stores next year. 

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