Philodendron Mamei Vs Plowmanii: How To Tell The Differences

philodendron mamei vs plowmanii

From a distance, Philodendron plowmanii and Philodendron mamei appear identical. Sellers often mislabel them, so many houseplant growers aren’t sure which one they have, or if they have both, which plant is which.

Philodendron plowmanii has highly contrasting traits, while Philodendron mamei has more even traits. P. plowmanii has prominent veins, a distinct heart shape, streaks of silver, and a petiole with winged edges. P. mamei have smaller veins, an elongated shape, dabbled silver, and a simple petiole.

mamei vs plowmanii
Philodendron mameiPhilodendron plowmanii
OriginIt grows in rainforest canopies in Ecuador. It was discovered by botanist Thomas B. Croat.It grows on rainforest floors in Ecuador and Peru. It was named after botanist Timothy Charles Plowman.
Creeper or   ClimberCreeper.Creeper. 
Full sizeCan creep over a 15 ft (5 m) area.8 ft domestically, 30 ft in the wild

Philodendron Mamei vs P. Mamei ‘Silver Cloud’

Before I show you the differences between P. Mamei & P. Plowmanii, you should know that there are 2 types of Mamei out there.

Philodendron mamei has a cultivar called ‘Silver Cloud’.

Philodendron Mamei & Philodendron Mamei ‘Silver Cloud’

The Silver Cloud has a silvery-green cast with silver for specs and clouds. Its silver variegation covers more area than the original P. mamei.

How are Philodendron Mamei & Philodendron Plowmanii different?

They have different leaf shapes, leaf blades or laminae, venation, petioles, cataphylls or leaf sheaths, and stems.

Leaf Shape

Philodendron plowmanii has much more of a heart-shaped leaf. It grows wide, has distinct lobes at the base, and the tip looks like it got tugged down but otherwise retains the heart tip’s shape. On the margin, you will see a pinkish hue.

In contrast, the Philodendron mamei has a more arrow-shaped leaf. It’s elongated and has more space between the lobes at the base. The lobes also have perpendicular flaps near the petiole. On the margins, you will see a white to a yellow hue.

Lamina (Leaf blades)

The leaf surface area, or lamina, varies between the Philodendrons. 

Philodendron plowmanii has a richer green and a sheen that reflects lots of light. The silvery variegation follows primary veins outward and forward with the look of paint from a brush.

Philodendron mamei has a less-saturated color and lacks the reflecting sheen. Variegation can appear patchy or splattered.

The appearance of both species is the same with young and mature leaves. But the silver variegation may stand out more depending on the lighting the leaf developed under.

  • These plants will have fewer silver patches when grown in a bright location with low humidity.
  • If you want your plants to have more silver, give them medium light with high humidity & avoid direct sunlight.


The Philodendron plowmanii comes with many vein contrasts. It has deep, widely arranged primary veins and shallow, closely arranged secondary veins.

From a distance, the primary veins add to the color contrast and emphasize the leaf’s heart shape. They also show up darker when viewed from the underside.

Philodendron mamei’s veins don’t provide much contrast through their consistency. It makes them appear like green, wrinkly elephant skin. When viewed from underneath, the veins match the green of the rest of the leaf.


The difference in petioles stands out between these two species. 

Philodendron plowmanii has a flat petiole, and it is wider relative to the width of the leaf compared to the P. mamei. The edges of the petiole also have unique wings that ripple up and down like ribbons.

Philodendron mamei has a simple petiole. It’s shaped like a D, dipping in one direction, and it is narrower relative to the width of the leaf compared to the P. plowmanii.

Cataphylls (Leaf sheaths)

Cataphylls are leafy sheaths that protect the budding leaf until it’s ready to unfurl. On Philodendron plowmanii, cataphylls grow as short, yellow canals. The leaf they protect grows much longer than them before it opens. 

Philodendron mamei cataphylls are the opposite. They grow almost as long as the new leaf but have a pinkish color. 

Care Requirements

Both the Philodendron plowmanii and the Philodendron mamei have identical requirements. 

LightBright, indirect light
TemperatureKeep them at 65 to 80 °F (18 to 27 °C).
HumidityThey need 50 to 60% humidity minimum, ideally over 60%.
WaterWater about once per week or when the first 2in (5cm) become dry.
Soil Use a loose and well-draining soil or aroid mix. They like soil acidic at pH 4.5 to 6.
HardinessGrow them outdoors in USDA Hardiness Zones 9b to 11. They can be in pots on a patio when it’s warm but move them inside for the winter.
FertilizerDuring the growing season, fertilize every 4 to 6 weeks with a balanced fertilizer, or every 3 to 6 months with a slow-release fertilizer.
ToxicityPhilodendrons contain calcium oxalate. If eaten, it causes gastrointestinal problems in pets.
Common ProblemsThey are susceptible to root rot. While they like moisture, they still need lots of air. If their leaves turn yellow but aren’t crisp, the roots might be rotting.

As rainforest floor natives, they love indirect light that imitates the sun sifting through trees. Philodendrons live near streams & on trees in well-draining, slightly acidic material. Lots of humidity and light rain reach them. They also prefer temperatures between 60 and 85°F (18 and 27°C).

In your household, the plants will grow best near an east- or west-facing window with sheers or other plants filtering the light. 

Philodendron plowmanii and Philodendron mamei need at least 50% humidity but grow best with over 60%. If you don’t have a humidifier, you can keep the plants near other houseplants, mist the leaves, or keep a wet pebble tray under the pot.

If you want to keep the P. plowmanii and P. mamei outside during the summer, be mindful of the nighttime temperature and bring them inside as needed. During the day, keep them on a patio with shade cloths or some other shelter from direct light.


A close inspection of leaf shape, lamina, veins, petioles, cataphylls, and stems will help you to identify Philodendron Plowmanii and Philodendron Mamei correctly. You won’t have to worry about getting confused by an inaccurate label. And regardless of which one you have, they need the same lighting, temperature, humidity, and soil.

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