They’re relatively easy to care for, come in a wide array of leaf patterns and colors, and no houseplant collection would be complete without them. Of course, we’re talking about philodendrons.
In fact, you probably already own at least a few if you grow houseplants as a hobby. But if you’re a serious collector, here are five rare Philodendron types that you might not have heard of before.
1. Philodendron Hastatum “Silver Sword”
Although Philodendron Hastatum has become more widely available in nurseries, it is endangered in the wild. Most specimens are found indoors in the grow houses of professional growers and private collectors.
This climbing philodendron gets its name from its silvery leaves that resemble pointed spears or swords. With the right amount of support, the Hastatum can grow to a height of several meters.
If you can get your hands on a Hastatum, keep it in temperatures between 65 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit. Like most philodendrons, this plant is susceptible to root rot – try to keep the soil evenly moist but not waterlogged.
This rare plant grows underneath a canopy of trees in its natural habitat. Keep it in bright, indirect light and avoid direct sunlight.
2. Philodendron Florida Ghost
The elusive Philodendron Florida Ghost is a very slow-growing hybrid variety that looks similar to the Pedatum, but it often comes with variegation.
The Florida Ghost’s leaves have five lobes, and they change color as they mature. When the leaves first unfurl, they are white, pale green, or yellow and turn dark green over time – often with yellow or cream variegation.
The Florida Ghost can tolerate a little more light than other philodendrons, and placing it in a bright spot will enhance its variegation – but do not expose it to direct sunlight.
3. Philodendron Mamei
Philodendron Mamei, also known as Philodendron “Silver Cloud,” is a rare species native to the deepest forests of Ecuador, first described in 1883. Although the Mamei is rare, you might be lucky enough to find one at your local garden center.
As its name suggests, the “Silver Cloud” has green leaves with swirling cloudlike patterns of silver – but if you want your specimen to retain its beautiful markings, you need to keep it away from direct sunlight. If kept in optimal growing conditions, this plant will occasionally produce red flowers.
The “Silver Cloud” is a fast-growing climber that can grow up to three feet tall, and it needs to be kept in a temperature range of 60 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit.
4. Philodendron 69686
This rare philodendron is distinctive – both in appearance and name. The 69686 is native to tropical French Guiana and has dark, oddly-shaped three-lobed leaves.
Now, you may be wondering if the name of this plant has any special or spiritual meaning, but the truth is that the researcher who discovered it didn’t bother to name it – it simply ranked number 69686 when it was identified.
The 69686 grows upright like a shrub or tree – it can reach two feet tall when properly cared for. The conditions for this plant should mimic its tropical home, so it needs to be kept evenly moist, in a humid environment, and in a spot with partial shade.
5. Philodendron Spiritus Sancti
The final philodendron on this list is the extremely rare Spiritus Sancti. It’s named after the Brazillian state Espirito Santo – the only place it grows wild in the world. It’s a true unicorn.
With an estimated six plants remaining in the wild, the cost for one of these beauties can easily reach $10,000 and up.
The Spiritus Sancti’s leaves are around two feet long and, although the price for this almost-extinct plant is intimidating, its care is relatively easy. If you’re lucky enough to own one, place it in a spot with a relative humidity of 50% and water it frequently.