Philodendron ilsmanii ‘Jose Buono’: Care, Maintenance & Common Problems

philodendron jose buono care

Most plant parents choose a type of Philodendron as their first houseplant. They’re resilient & beautiful, making them great for beginners. Although, few plant parents have heard of the Philodendron ilsmanii (scientific name) “Jose Buono”. This cultivar can be hard to seek out and a bit more expensive than your typical houseplant. With that in mind, you’ll want to make sure you’re equipped to get the most from your plant.

All About Philodendron Jose Buono

Origin of Philodendron Jose Buono

Like many Philodendrons, the Jose Buono grows in tropical, rainforest-type environments. Yet, the exact origin of the Jose Buono cultivar is unknown. Jose Buono is identifiable with its unique variegation & leaf shapes. But it is like that of a few other cultivars, such as the Paraiso Verde & Imbe. Jose Buono has long, bilobed leaves with a stem that connects at the center of the leaf lobes and extends down to the pointed leaf tip. 

Is Philodendron Jose Buono Rare? 

Because of its slow-growing nature, Philodendron Jose Buono is a rare cultivar. You’re very unlikely to find this variety in a chain or box store. You’re most likely to find these in high-end plant shops or privately owned nurseries. You can find immature plants & cuttings between $20-$100, and some mature plants can be up to $500+

Does Philodendron Jose Buono Climb?

Yes, Philodendron Jose Buono climbs. In nature, they attach roots to the trunks of trees & grow upward.

It’s best to get your plant a moss pole made with sphagnum moss so it can climb and attach roots for extra support. Otherwise, it stunts plant growth and will not reach its full potential.  

philodendron jose buono leaf

How Big Does Philodendron Jose Buono Get?

In nature, this marvelous plant can reach heights up to 12′ tall. But indoors, it’ll only reach about 4′ tall. With proper care, your plant’s leaves could be up to 2′ (~61cm) long. 

Jose Buono is a fast grower as an immature plant & can reach maturity in a couple of months. But once it reaches maturity, you will notice that it does not grow as it did when it was immature.

Philodendron Jose Buono Variegation

Philodendron Jose Buono is like other cultivars, so what makes this one different? The leaves of P. Jose Buono are dark green with splashes of pale green and whiteThe variegation can present in a few ways: marbling, streaks, or spots. The white variegation of this plant sets it apart from similar cultivars like the Paraiso Verde. However, it is still much like P. Imbe.

Jose Buono vs Paraiso Verde

Distinguishing between Jose Buono and Paraiso Verde is as simple as looking at the primary color of the leaves. P. Jose Buono has dark green leaves, and Paraiso Verde has pale green leaves. Also, if it has pale to white variegation, it’s most likely to be a Jose Buono. 

philodendron jose buono vs paraiso verde

Paraiso Verde has dark green spots of variegation. When exposed to more light, you will notice the leaf color become a lighter green. The splashes of dark green also may not be as prominent.

Jose Buono vs Imbe

It’s tough to distinguish between the Philodendron Jose Buono and P. Imbe because they’re the same species of plantbut different cultivars. They have very similar variegation that is impossible to tell apart. In fact, many plant sellers confuse the two and sell Jose Buono plants as Imbe. 

Imbe is a rare cultivar nearly extinct in nature & is much less accessible than P. Jose Buono. This makes Imbe much more expensive than Jose Buono.

philodendron jose buono vs imbe

P. Imbe is a slower-growing plant that takes a few years to reach maturity from a young clipping. Imbe is also a much smaller, more compact version of Jose Buono with thinner, glossier leaves. The leaf pattern is also important to note because P. Imbe will have a spiral leaf pattern, whereas Jose Buono has an alternating leaf pattern.

Variegation Stability & Reverting

The Philodendron Jose Buono is a very stable variegation which means it is unlikely to revert.

Many people claim their plant has reverted because the leaves have turned dark green. But with more light exposure, the variegation is sure to come back in new growth.

Some refer to this as reverting, but that would mean the change is permanent & the variegation will not return to the plant. 

How to Care for Philodendron Jose Buono

Caring for your Philodendron Jose Buono is like caring for other cultivars in this family. There are specifics you can follow to ensure your plant is the most beautiful & healthy version of itself. 

LightBright, Indirect Light
WateringOnce per week or when the top 1” of soil is dry.
Soil MixChunky, well-draining. 
PotPlastic (best option) or Ceramic
Temperature60°-80°F, Not frost tolerant.
Humidity60-80% Relative Humidity
FertilizerLight-Feeder, every 3-4 weeks from early spring to mid-autumn

Lighting & Placement

When placed indoors, Philodendron Jose Buono thrives in a well-lit room that receives 6-8 hours of sun in the morning to early afternoonMorning sun is ideal because harsh afternoon sun can burn the leaves. If you prefer to have your plant outside, make sure to protect it from direct sunlight, which can damage the leaves.

philodendron jose buono light needs

Since Jose Buono is a climbing plant, add a trellis and place it in a well-lit corner of the room for an excellent accent for an otherwise dull corner.


The watering practice you follow for your Philodendron Jose Buono is important because they are prone to root rot. You want to make sure that your plant is ready for water & not leave excess water for the roots to marinate in. Experts say to water when the top 1″ of the soil is dry. This is great for people with moisture meters or who want to stick their fingers in the soil. I can’t speak for you, but neither appeals to me.

I have a moisture meter, but I prefer to stick to low-energy practices to keep the hobby from becoming exhausting. Instead of checking the soil, I look at the leaves

  1. Are the leaves curling? Give them a touch. 
  2. Do they feel soft and flexible instead of firm, like usual? Pick up the pot. 
  3. Does the pot feel much lighter than normal? 

If I answer yes to most or all the questions, I give it a nice drink.

When it is time to water, I find it best to mimic the natural habitat of the plant. I’ve found that the soak & drain method is the best, or even putting it in the tub for a few minutes with the shower head on. 

Soil & Potting

Your soil needs to be chunky, well-draining, and slow to break downYou won’t be repotting this plant often once it reaches maturity. Coco coir makes an excellent replacement for typical soil or peat-based mixtures. The coir breaks down slowly and has excellent drainage.

My recommended soil mixture for Philodendrons like the Jose Buono:

  • 1 part coco coir (soil base)
  • 1 part orchid bark (drainage)
  • 1 part perlite or vermiculite (drainage)
  • ¼ part horticultural charcoal (optional, reduce soil density)

When choosing a planter, you’ll want to choose a planter that doesn’t dry out too much. On the flip side, you don’t want the planter to retain too much water or cause the roots to be sitting in water. I choose plastic planters because they have great drainage but do not retain water for long periods.

Temperature & Humidity

The optimal temperature for your Jose Buono is 70°-80° F. The plant can tolerate temperatures down to 55°F, but lower than 50°F can cause permanent damage to your plant. If you keep your plant outdoors, be sure to protect it from frost — this plant cannot withstand freezing temperatures.

Used to the high humidity of the rainforest, Jose Buono needs a 60-80% relative humidity to grow well. In lower humidities, you’ll notice browning of the leaf tips or leaves failing to unsheathe. If you notice this happening, you may consider a humidifier. 

Misting is an option to help raise the humidity around the plant for a short time. We recommend that you allow the plant leaves to dry before misting them again. If water remains on the leaves for long periods, they can cause fungal infections to develop on the leaves.

jose buono white variegation


The Philodendron Jose Buono is a light-feeder, meaning it doesn’t need a lot of nutrients to do wellToo much fertilizer can burn the leaves & the beautiful white variegation is the most susceptible.

Use a diluted, nitrogen-rich fertilizer to fertilize your Jose Buono every month during the growing season. The growing season spans from early spring to mid-autumn.

The plant goes dormant during the winter months and will not need fertilizer. Applying fertilizer when your plant is not growing can burn the roots and the leaves & could result in the untimely demise of your plant.

Growth Rate & Repotting

The Philodendron Jose Buono is fast growing as an immature plant. However, it is a slower-growing cultivar, so you will only need to repot every 1-2 years once your plant reaches maturity. 

When you see roots coming from the bottom of your planter, it’s a sign that it’s time to go up a pot size. If you’re able to wait until spring or early summer, this is the best time to repot.

Common Problems

Though they are resilient plants, Philodendron Jose Buono isn’t without problems. Root rot, spider mites, mealy bugs, and dust are the usual problems with Philodendron Jose Buono. Spider mites can be a pain to deal with & get rid of for good, but it is unlikely you will be battling many problems at once with your Philodendron

Root Rot

Philodendron Jose Buono is prone to root rota root fungus. Root rot can destroy your plant if left untreated. To prevent this disease, don’t overwater & ensure your plant is in chunky, well-draining soil. If you’re like me and put your plastic planters into a decorative planter, make sure not to leave water standing in the bottom of your planters.  


Philodendron Jose Buono is resistant to most pests but sometimes can attract spider mites and mealy bugsKeeping the humidity at the proper range is often enough to keep spider mites at bay. Be sure to often check the underside of your plant’s leaves for pests. Regular pest treatment will help keep your plants free from pests.


Dust is a common problem in many large-leaf plants, especially when living indoors. When I notice my leaves are dusty, I will use a microfiber cloth water in a spray bottle. This is the best for the health of your plant compared to other products and “hacks” you may see for making the leaves of your plant shine. 

Philodendron Jose Buono Propagation

There are two ways to propagate your Philodendron Jose Buono, seeds & nodes. The most popular way to propagate is through node clippings. To get seeds from the plant, it will need to flower & pollinate, which is rare. And if you plant flowers, make sure to use those seeds quickly because, according to other plant experts, these seeds do not have a long shelf life.

Philodendron Jose Buono node clipping in water

To propagate nodes from your plant:

  1. Choose the parts you plan to prune – the ideal cutting will have at least 1 leaf in addition to the node.
  2. With a sharp, sterilized blade, make an incision along the stem.
  3. Put your pruned clipping in the rooting medium of your choice.
  4. Ensure that your plant has consistent & clean water until the roots develop.
  5. Once your plant has 2″ or more root growth, you can move the clipping to a chunky, aroid soil blend. I recommend waiting until your clipping has secondary roots, meaning the roots stemming from the plant node have roots growing from them.

You can use any rooting medium for your cuttings; the possibilities are endless. Choose from water, perlite, stratum, agar, leca, etc.

My personal preference is to blend my mediums. I like to use perlite, but it can get dusty when it’s dry, so I use a layer of stratum over the perlite to keep the dust in place instead of in the air.

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