Philodendron with no leaves - can it be saved?
March 26, 2018 9:56 PM   Subscribe

Six months ago I received an amazing gift - a mature philodendron monstera with a 4' tall, 5" wide trunk (aka swiss cheese plant). I put it somewhere where it didn't get enough light and over the next 3 months all the leaves died. Now I have a slowly withering trunk with no leaves. If I put it somewhere that works better for it (filtered light, etc.) could I revive this or is it compost?
posted by arnicae to Home & Garden (5 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Give it two months. Philodenrons don't require much light - they're an understory plant, often climbing up much larger trees. They're remarkably tough and resilient, for the most part. Give it moisture, give it (if you wish) a bit of dilute fertilizer. Mostly, give it time and some benevolent neglect. If it isn't showing signs of recovery in 6-8 weeks, compost it.
posted by Emperor SnooKloze at 10:09 PM on March 26, 2018 [2 favorites]

Leaf death could easily be from overwatering. Try letting the soil get quite dry on top, but not so dry that it starts to shrink and crack and actively repel water, before moistening it again.
posted by flabdablet at 4:42 AM on March 27, 2018 [1 favorite]

Take it out of the soil and see if the roots are healthy. You can get a cutting of the stalks, put them into water and see if it roots and produce leaves. I’ve done that and produced very healthy plants from a dying philodendron.
posted by Yellow at 7:40 AM on March 27, 2018 [1 favorite]

Yep, check the roots, be patient, take a cutting, move the plant, but not into a completely different scenario, I agree this sounds more like overwatering than lack of light.
posted by SaltySalticid at 8:50 AM on March 27, 2018

I have had a lot of success repotting plants that aren't doing well, then watering them generously in the sink once allowing for complete drainage, then moving them to a new location -- almost always more sunny but sometimes the opposite as needed. At that point, I don't water for a few days and then play it by ear. This totally revived an aloe recently and other plants as well. I'd also consider switching the type of pot you have -- some prefer plastic with ample drainage, others like a tin with no drainage, etc. but you don't always know till you try. I have started using soil specifically for cacti, succulents, and tropical plants, too; while I can't say it's been a guaranteed recipe for success, all those plants are doing quite well so I'm keeping it up.

I bought two mature philodendron monstera about a year ago: one is at home, which is rather dark and has easy access to frequent watering, and the other is at work, which is sunny as can be and without easy access to water. Both are both doing well but their leaves look totally different due to the different conditions. I hope that this plant revives itself for you but do keep in mind that its new healthy may take awhile to develop and may also look different than when you first got it. Good luck!
posted by smorgasbord at 4:35 PM on March 27, 2018

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