Philodendron Ilsemanii and Its Unique Mottled Appearance

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If you take a look at Philodendron Ilsemanii, you may be mesmerized by the unique look, appearance, and touch of colors. The plant is popular for its leaves having white and green splashes of colors. Because of the unique pattern, the leaves are often said as sprinkle of colors, especially with the random dotted splashes. Not only the plant is visually pleasing, but it is also easy to care and grow as it only needs minimal and basic needs.


  • Botanical Name: Philodendron Ilsemanii Sander
  • Family: Araceae
  • Genus: Philodendron
  • Temperature: Loves it between 55 degrees and 88 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Humidity: Prefer humidity level between 70% and 90%
  • Soil: Loves moist and rich mix
  • pH level: 5 to 7

About Philodendron Ilsemanii

Among plant enthusiasts, Philodendron Ilsemanii is considered the ‘unicorn’ which makes it quite rare. Its another name is Mottled Ilsemanii variegated, referring to those sprinkles of colors of the leaves. As a climber, the plant does have aerial roots, which would climb up provided supports (like poles or sticks) for better growth. It is believed that it would grow bigger when it is able to climb up something.

As the name suggests, aerial roots won’t be immersed within the ground. On the contrary, you can see these roots clearly as they are ‘found’ in the air. Although the care and guide are pretty simple and basic, make sure that you do provide enough space to ensure its maximum growth. This is one of the biggest genera of plant, which means that your plant can grow quite tall and big. Only have one if you are sure that you can provide everything it needs.


Soil Requirements

Don’t go with the regular potting mixture because it won’t be enough for your Philodendron Ilsemanii. You want to choose the one with rich contents and have high organic matters. It’s also important that the soil doesn’t quickly dry out. That’s why you should choose the soil having plentiful of nutrients, while containing coconut or sand fibers. It should also have good permeability, allowing the water to reach the roots and hydrate it.

Basically, you want to go with soil that isn’t only rich and healthy, but with also good permeability. It would ensure that water can get to the roots immediately, while keeping its moist level altogether. The plant is able to handle acidic pH to neutral, which means that pH level between 5 and 7 would be ideal.

Water Requirements

Philodendrons have different preferences when it comes to water. For Ilsemanii Philodendron, you only need to water it when the topsoil is completely dry. Touch the soil, and then insert your finger up to your first knuckle. If it feels dry, then it’s time to water it. But if it feels moist, then you don’t need to water it just yet.

In summers and springs, you may have to water the plant twice to three times a week. Each Ilsemanii is different; you need to develop your own watering habit. When you water it, observe and monitor its condition. Only by doing so, you can learn about its habit and behavior. However, winter months may be different. You water it less because the plant is trying to conserve energy for dormancy, so you won’t need to water or fertilize it too often.

Remember, this plant can’t stand flooding or standing water. It’s recommended that you always check whether there is excess water coming out from the drainage holes after each watering. Overwatering can be a huge problem for this plant because it may lead to root rot.

Light Requirements

As a tropical plant, Philodendron Ilsemanii loves bright but indirect sunlight. It can’t tolerate direct sun at all because the light would burn the plant, and it will die. You need to remember the native condition of the plant is being shaded by canopy of trees, so the plant gets filtered lights only – NOT direct light.

The best way to place your plant is close to the windows getting the most sunlight. It’s also a good idea to place the plant behind the curtain, which will act as a shade to filter out the incoming sunlight. You want your plant to get the most morning as well as evening sunlight, not the one during the daylight because it would be too hot.

Read also : Philodendron Painted Lady : A Gorgeous Rare Plant You Should Have at Home

Temperature and Humidity

Philodendron Ilsemanii likes warm temperature. Extreme temperature (too cold or too hot) isn’t advisable. The plant will be happy and healthy when places in temperature between 55 degrees and 88 degrees Fahrenheit, which is similar to 12 degrees and 31 degrees Celsius. It’s not frost hardy plant, which means that you should be able to keep it alive (and well) all year round.

However, it won’t do any good with temperatures below 55 degrees Fahrenheit. If you start to see signs of discoloration, it means that your plant is suffering. If you place the plant outdoor, it would be a good idea to bring it inside. The plant considers indoor temperature to be ideal and it can tolerate such a condition.

The plant also appreciates medium to high humidity level, set between 70% and 90%. In the wild, the plant would be found ‘grouped’ with other plants. This is also another reason why they love high humidity level. You can try to imitate the same condition. To increase the humidity at home, try to group your Ilsemanii with other plants. This would increase the humidity level. However, make sure that you provide enough space between one plant to another, so they aren’t exactly packed or being too jammed together.

There are also other inexpensive ways to increase the humidity level, such as:

  • Misting the leaves. Some people suggest misting the leaves. But it is not advisable to mist or spray the leaves to the point of being too wet or too drenched.
  • Placing the pot on top of pebbles within the container. Fill the container with just enough water. It shouldn’t be too much because the bottom side of the pot shouldn’t touch the water.
  • Buying a humidifier which would increase the humidity level within the room.
  • Some people would place their plant inside the bathroom, close to the window. It is considered ideal because it means that the plant not only gets the needed sunlight, but it stays within the proper humid environment
  • Avoid rooms with AC, draft, air vents, or fans. The plant can’t take winds


Philodendron Ilsemanii loves extra healthy food. You can apply the fertilizer once every two weeks. If your plant is healthy and strong, once a month is okay. However, you may want to reduce the frequency when it’s winter time. Remember, your plant is in a dormancy period, which means that it doesn’t need a lot of food or water.

There are several types of fertilizers you can use for your Philodendron Ilsemanii:

  • Liquid fertilizer. It can be heavily diluted and then mixed with water. Some people may use it together when they are watering
  • Synthetic fertilizer. This is typically the slow release one, usually applied for each plantation time
  • Natural fertilizer. It usually includes worm castings, manure, compost, coffee or tea grounds, and such things alike. You can also go with the ready-mix that is available at the shop.

Remember, over fertilizing is just as bad as overwatering. It can damage the roots, making your plant die. It’s better to refrain the fertilizer application so it won’t be too much or too often. For some people, once a month would be enough. Do it vigorously during the active growing times, usually in springs and summers.



Repotting is needed by Philodendron Ilsemanii, especially if it grows big and it experiences rootbound. If you see roots coming out from the drainage holes, then you need to change it to a bigger container. The new pot should be at least 2 inches bigger than the current one. Don’t forget to re-pot during spring time.

Before the repotting, water the plant. Do it several hours before the process begins. Also do it after the transplant. After moving it to a new pot, don’t fertilize just yet. Hold the application for at least two to three weeks. Give your plant enough time to settle first in its new surroundings.


Philodendron Ilsemanii can be grown through stem cuttings. But before you start the steps, there are some things to keep in mind:

  • Only do it in summer or spring. The temperature, the environment, and everything would be ideal for growth support
  • Before doing the cutting, water the plant first. Do it several hours before doing the cutting
  • Make sure that your shears or scissors are sharp and clean. Sterilize them before each application to prevent any spread of bacteria or germs
  • Prepare the potting mix and the pot.

Take a cut on the stem that has more than a node. Once you are done, plant it in the already prepared potting mix and then cover it with a plastic wrap. Ensure that it gets the needed elements of sunlight, food, and water.

You may have to wait for more than 2 weeks to see roots showing up. In this stage, the plant is pretty slow. Give it a time to grow. As long as you can provide the needed elements properly (water, fertilizer, humidity, and sunlight), you should be able to see roots coming out.

Read also : Philodendron Spiritus Sancti: The Extremely Rare and Expensive Philodendron


Does Philodendron Ilsemanii considered an indoor plant?

Yes, it is an indoor houseplant that will survive, be happy, and be content inside the house. Indoor temperatures are considered ideal for proper and maximum growth. A lot of people say that it is an easy plant with low maintenance level, so it’s not fussy or complicated.

Is Ilsemanii rare?

It’s hard to say. The plant can actually purchased online through well-known growers, but it is rarely offered by sellers or collectors. Consider it as a yes, because the unique color patterns and the ‘mottled’ appearance makes this plant one of a kind.

When mature, how big can Ilsemanii grow?

In active (growing) period, the plant can grow to 3 feet up to 20 feet in height. Make sure you have enough space for the plant – both related to the container and also the space for placement

Is it true that Philodendron Ilsemanii can help clean the indoor air?

Yes. It’s because Philodendrons are basically the best plants to purify the air. The plant can effectively clean the air as well as trapping dust particles. You should try having one at home and see how the air quality improves after the plant exists.

Is Ilsemanii toxic?

Unfortunately yes. Most Philodendrons are toxic because they have special substance that can cause irritation to the digestion system as well as the skin. It can cause rashes, itch, swelling, and inflammation. If it is ingested, it can lead to vomiting, stomach upset, as well as swelling of the tongue, lips, and mouth.

Should I fertilize my plant?

Fertilizer is like an extra supplement or vitamin. It can help with better growth. But it’s more functional and helpful when your plant is suffering from stunted growth or other growth issues.

Can I use coffee grounds as the fertilizer?

Coffee ground is basically a natural fertilizer, so yes. But then again, you need to remember that you use the fertilizer the most when your plant is suffering from stunted growth. Of course, feel free to use the special fertilizer for houseplants. 

Is pruning Ilsemanii always needed?

Only when your plant shows sick or damaged signs, such as wilting, discoloration, and damaged. Other than that, if your plant looks healthy, fresh, and fine, then you won’t have to prune it if you don’t want to. However, some people suggest that pruning encourage better growth. So, you decide!


Is Ilsemanii a climber?

Yes. Like most Philodendrons, Philodendron Ilsemanii is a climber. If you want it to climb, provide a pole or a support. You can also consider growing the plant in a hanging basket.

Is Philodendron Ilsemanii same as Philodendron Imbe (Jose Buono)?

The answer is NO. The white pattern in Ilsemanii could stay until it gets mature, while the white pattern in imbe would turn to light green when it gets mature.

Final Words

Ilsemanii is definitely a unique plant that may need extra care, but it’s not fussy or complicated. As long as you can provide the needed elements, your Philodendron Ilsemanii should be well and fine.

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