Philodendron Brasil Care Guide
Brasil baby! Wow what a looker. With every leaf unique, it's hard to stick to owning only one Philodendron Brasil. Also called a variegated heartleaf Philodendron. Oh, and if you see it spelt Brazil (with a 'z'), not Brasil (with an 's'), it's not a different plant. Brasil is the 'correct' spelling, but really, who cares when you have these leaves to look at every day. Lucky you. Before we jump in, if you have the OG green Heartleaf Philodendron, and she's happy and healthy, get a Brasil with confidence. Same care required (maybe with a smidge more light). We give the handsome Brasil a 2 out of 5 LTLC Rating (border-line 1.5 for being so easy care, with a few considerations). Check out the full guide below...
Light, temperature & humidity
Some Philodendron tolerate low light (although they still prefer medium to bright light), but with his extra variegated leaves, you'll want to give this dude brighter light to boost that variegation and feed that growth for bigger, more variegated leaves. Bright, indirect light is the way to go, even a little sunlight for short time, provided it's not a scorching time of year (we'd go for early morning light in summer, or winter sunlight - no hot afternoon summer sun!). If you're not sure what the sun's going to do, or how long he'll be in direct sun in the spot you're thinking of for your Brasil, then go for somewhere with no direct sun instead. Play it safe. Don't risk burning those precious leaves! Near a sunny window with sheer curtains to protect from direct light would work too, but he'll also be fine in medium light.
The Brasil like it on the warmer side, but will handle down to about 13 degrees at night or in winter, a bit cooler if all other conditions are good. His happy range is about 16 to 24 degrees. This chap's definitely a humidity fan. At least 40% humidity is a good minimum. He'll be okay with typical NZ humidity, but if it's extra dry (maybe you have an HRV or DVS, or air con / heat pump running), then consider regular misting, a pebble tray, or ideally a humidifier. The fave humidifier for our own collection is the Crane humidifier (we got ours from Mighty Ape). These smooth leaves benefit from a good shower or heavier mist every so often to stop dust build-up blocking light from being absorbed.
We like a mix of about 2/3rd's potting mix, and 1/3rd something free draining mixed in - our go to is perlite. We've heard sphagnum peat moss, a peat vermiculite or peat and perlite mix all work well too. You want a mix that retains water but still lets the excess drain out pretty fast so you avoid a soggy bottom.
Let this chap dry out a bit between watering. Over-watering is much worse than being too dry. Lightly moist is his happy place. We water again once the top 2cm to 3cm is dry. About weekly in summer, and fortnightly in winter, but best to dip a finger in his soil and decide what he needs and when. The drier the air and more light he gets, the more often he may need water, so upping the humidity is a clever solution too if you want to water less.
We give our Philodendron gang a full drench each water then let them drip dry and back to their shelf or cover pot. If you're going to water in position, then tip out excess water from the saucer or cover pot within 30 minutes. Always go for a pot with drainage hole for these boys. No wet feet! A soggy bum is almost guaranteed to be a one way ticket to plant-heaven so keep him well drained.
All our Philodendron and Pothos get a half dose of Groconut mixed in every time we water. Plant Runner is superb also if you suspect your chap's depleted the nutrients in his soil (a good option if you're noticing any changes in growth or leaf health). We sell both under the feed & grow category if you want to give them a go.
Philodendron Brasil pro tips & problem solving
The usual list of culprits could be responsible for this one, but in our experience it's most likely due to vining down not climbing up, a lack of humidity, or he's in need of a feed. If everything else is fine but the leaves are just not that big, give your Brasil something to climb up that offers fibres to hold on to. Support plus going up, not hanging down, produces much bigger leaves in our experience (we have both climbers and hangers in our collection). Higher humidity also helps him produce bigger leaves. Another possible reason is a lack of something, although if it's due to this you'll usually find other signs of health issues too, so check more signs below. A good feed with Groconut or Plant Runner could be just what he needs.
Less variegation, reverting to full green
This one's almost always a light issue. Being variegated, he has higher light requirements than his green heartleaf sister, so consider a change in position, otherwise yes, he might revert to full green. If your chap's chucked out a fully green leaf already, consider chopping it off, back to where the last leaf was still variegated. You can also check the stem to see if there's an obvious variegation stripe or not. We've propagated fully green leaves before and find the new plant always turns out to stay reverted (a free way to get yourself a heartleaf Philodendron!).
Fully lime green leaves with no variegation
You could also have the reverse problem of a reverted green leaf, and have a fully lime leaf instead. This isn't a death sentence as it sometimes is with other variegated plants as even the lighter green on a Brasil has chlorophyll to keep him going. Up to you on whether you want to chop back to the previous variegated leaf or keep the fully lime one. Just keep in mind the next leaf is also likely to continue fully lime, or have minimal variegation also. We like to make the call to chop back sooner rather than a few leaves later when you have to chop more off. Doing it sooner only loses one leaf worth of nutrients feeding the rest of the plant so has less impact on the plant as a whole.
Usually just a sign of an old leaf near the end of its life. If it's only on one side of the plant though, he could need a new spot, as focused yellowing on one side and/or on newer leaves, is usually a sign of too much light. If it's not just one old leaf going yellow, or one area on the side he gets the most light, yellowing leaves can be a sign of a more serious problem. The most common cause in that case is over-watering. If the soil's too wet, let him fully dry before you need water. Consider using paper towels on the top soil and under his pot to absorb the excess also if it's looking really dire. Keep changing them until they've stopped absorbing the excess.
We see this a lot with these guys but luckily it's not normally a biggie. The most likely cause is under-watering, having left to get dry for too long. An easy fix. It can also be that the air is too dry, or your boy is cold and needs a warmer spot. Check for draughts, take him out of the path of the air con or heat pump, or give him a water if he's dry, and he should come right pretty fast.
Drooping or wilting leaves
If your boy's gone droopy or wilted, that's another sign of thirst. If his soil's dry, and he's really not looking good, try a bottom soak for about 20 minutes and let him absorb what he needs roots-first. We find bottoms-up can be better for recovery.
This one's on you! There's nothing wrong with him as such, but dusty leaves will eventually harm his health. Those lovely smooth leaves tend to be a dust magnet, so wipe frequently with a damp soft cloth or take him in the shower, or just go a bit overboard so he's dripping after misting and let him air dry.
Normally just due to older leaves that have shriveled and dried. Every spring we have a good hunt around all our jungle for old leaves to be removed. It's a good time to tidy up to make room for all that lovely new spring growth.
Philodendron can be rapid growers, so if those roots are busy growing out of the pot, lift your Brasil out of his pot to take a look. If he's root bound, repot one size up. If you want him to grow wider, try two sizes up (about 5cm more in diameter), to encourage him to fill out more.
Sadly, no, the Philodendron Brasil is not pet safe, same as the rest of the Philodendron family. Nibbling or digesting the leaves can irritate the mouth, throat and stomach, and if your pet has a bad reaction, could cause swelling which can cause breathing issues. Keep your Brasil out of reach of curious pets and kids. They're safe to touch, just a big no-no for eating!
LTLC Rating (Love That Leaf Care Rating)
Almost a 1 out of 5, but we decided to give the Philodendron Brasil a 2 out of 5 on the very unscientific LTLC scale (based on our own experience owning them in NZ conditions). He's an easy care chap provided you remember to water about once every week or two as needed - but not too often - and if you have a spot for him that's bright but not in direct sunlight. Voila! Variegated gorgeousness to admire at home. Brownie points for being so insta-worthy too. In our books no collection's complete without this handsome chap.