Philodendron Elegans: Care Guide, Tips, Problems & Propagation

philodendron elegans care

My experience with the Philodendron Elegans had its ups and downs. When I first received my plant, it looked amazing, and I was so excited to watch it grow. But then I realized it had the Mosaic virus, which was disappointing. I decided to replace the plant and got a much larger one, which is now doing exceptionally well. 

I love this plant – each new leaf is more glorious than the last, adding a cool jungle feel to my indoor plant collection. In this article, I will discuss how to care for this unique plant (as well as how to identify the Mosaic Virus). 

philodendron elegans on moss pole

All About Philodendron Elegans

Philodendron Elegans is considered a rare plant and won’t be easy to find at your local nursery.

Philodendron Elegans is native to Brazil and Columbia. It has leaves with thin, narrow lobes, deep fenestrations, and deep-set veins. They have a glossy sheen and are bright green when they first emerge, hardening off to a darker green.

philodendron elegans new leaf

It is a climbing plant that requires either a moss pole or a trellis to stabilize and grow large, impressive leaves. The plant can reach over 1.8 meters tall indoors, and the leaves can reach up to 60cm long. 

The Elegans is sometimes confused with the Philodendron Radiatum. Still, the Elegans is smaller than the Radiatum, with fewer leaf divisions. It is also confused with the Philodendron Mayoi due to its pinnate foliage. Still, the Mayoi has pale red petioles and veins, while the Elegans has green petioles and veins. 

How To Care For Philodendron Elegans

Lighting & Placement

I have found that this plant enjoys medium-bright indirect light. The leaves cannot tolerate too much direct sunlight as it does burn them, making them quite unsightly! When kept indoors, I recommend keeping it near a window that receives morning sun. 

An option is to use a sheer curtain to cut out some of the sun’s rays if you do not have an ideal spot for this plant.

Although this plant can get quite big, it is a slow grower. If you have a small plant, it may be some time before you need to consider a spot with more room for it. 

philodendron elegans mature leaf


Philodendron Elegans doesn’t like to be overwatered. I recommend checking the soil weekly using your finger. If the top 3cm of soil is dry, it’s time to water your plant.

Ensure that the water drains all the way through, and remove any excess water from your plant’s drip tray or decorative pot. 

If your plant does accidentally get root rot, it is not an absolute train smash. You can propagate the remaining stem to create new plants – this is something I had to do with my Verrucosum when it got root rot! 

Soil & Potting

The Philodendron Elegans will benefit from a chunky Aroid soil mix. It will most likely get root rot if the soil retains too much water, as this plant likes to live on the forest floor and climb up trees. I recommend the following soil mix:

  • 30% Perlite
  • 30% Pumice/Volcanic rock/Leca (or a combination)
  • 30% Coco chips and small bark chips
  • 10% Fine coco coir or peat moss

As for pots, I recommend a clear plastic pot with drainage holes, which helps you keep an eye on the roots. This can then be placed into a ceramic decorative pot to add stability as this plant benefits from a moss pole to reach its full potential! A moss pole gives the plant something to anchor and gives the ariel roots moisture. This results in the leaves growing large and can make propagation easier if you want to propagate it in the future. 

philodendron elegans aerial roots

Temperature & Humidity

The Philodendron Elegans is a tropical plant, so it likes moderate to warm temperatures of 19-27℃ all year round. In winter, you may find that the growth slows down, and the soil retains more moisture and needs to be watered less often.

I recommend investing in a heater if your room does drop below 10℃ in winter. All of your indoor plants will thank you for this!

They enjoy 60-80% humidity but can tolerate 40-60%. Lack of humidity can make the leaves turn brown and crispy, so avoiding the problem is better.

A humidifier can help if you don’t have adequate humidity levels. If you’re looking for a cheaper alternative, misting your plant frequently and a pebble tray can be introduced to help boost your humidity.

While this plant can benefit from good air circulation, keep it away from direct drafts. 


The Philodendron Elegans is known as a medium feeder. I recommend feeding your Elegans every 3-4 weeks during the growing season with a balanced liquid fertilizer with an NPK ratio of 4-5-5.

Alongside liquid fertilizer, I recommend using a slow-release fertilizer when repotting your plant to help it produce strong, healthy green leaves.

Avoid feeding your plant during the cold season, as growth with this plant is minimal and can result in root burn. 

Growth Rate & Repotting

The Elegans is a slow-growing plant, making each new leaf special and worth the wait. It can easily reach over 1.8 meters in height, and the leaves can reach 60cm in length. I have had my Elegans for 6 months, and it has only put out 2 new leaves! 

If you have a smaller plant, the leaves shape may be different. This is completely normal, and as the plant matures, the leaves will become more skeletal-looking.

philodendron elegans juvenile
Philodendron Elegans juvenile leaves

You only need to repot this plant every 1-2 years. Try to repot at the beginning of the growing season. Use a pot that is only 3cm larger than the previous pot to prevent root rot and repotting shock. I recommend using new soil when repotting to replenish nutrients. 

Propagating Philodendron Elegans

The Philodendron Elegans can be propagated in two ways: Air layering and cuttings. I recommend propagating during the growing season to get the best results.


  • Sterilize a blade using rubbing alcohol or use a new sterile blade to make a cutting just below the node. 
  • Cure the cutting by leaving it to callus overnight on a windowsill. 
  • You can then directly place the cutting in a glass of water into damp Sphagnum moss. Depending on your chosen method, you’ll need to replace the water every two weeks or keep the moss damp. Make sure that the cutting receives medium-bright, indirect light. 
  • When the roots reach 5-7cm in length, you can transfer your new plants into pots with the same soil mix you use for the mother plant. Keep the mix damp for the first few weeks to avoid the roots being shocked. 

Air Layering

  • Take a handful of damp Sphagnum moss and make a ball around the chosen node on your plant. 
  • Secure it in place using cling film, making sure any aerial roots aren’t touching the cling film.
  • Check on the moss ball regularly and ensure it stays damp by spraying water under the clingwrap through the top opening.
  • Once you see that the roots are large enough (5-7cm), you can cut the stem below the node with a sterile blade. 
  • Remove the moss and plant the cutting into a new pot. 
  • Ensure the new plant stays warm and receives enough medium-bright, indirect light. 

Common Problems

The Elegans is one of the easier plants to look after and tends to have very few issues. The only big issue I have had with this plant is Mosaic Virus which is unfortunately impossible to treat. Other problems you might face are yellowing leaves and leggy growth. 

Mosaic Virus

philodendron elegans mosaic virus
Mosiac virus on Philodendron Elegans

The symptoms of Mosaic Virus include yellowing or mosaic patterns on your plant’s leaves. It is commonly seen on Adansonii plants but can affect other indoor and outdoor plants.

People often mistake it for variegation, and to the untrained eye, you may be excited when you first see the symptoms. Unfortunately, it leads to poor growth, plant deformities, crinkled leaves, and eventual death. 

I had to throw my plant into the trash to avoid it spreading to the rest of my collection. I then contacted the grower, who noticed that a few of his other plants had the virus. He was able to partially refund me, and I was able to replace it with a plant from a different grower.

Yellow Leaves

If a fair amount of leaves on your plant are turning yellow, this may be a sign of overwatering. Let the soil dry out more between waterings, and check the roots for signs of root rot. If your watering is correct and the leaves are still yellowing, this may be a sign that your plant requires more fertilization. 

Leggy Growth 

Too little light may result in your Elegans becoming leggy and producing small leaves. I recommend moving your plant to an area with brighter light and see if the problem persists. If it does persist, this could be a sign that your plant is root-bound and needs a new pot.  

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