Philodendron Rio : Unique & Cute Plant

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The philodendron rio is well-known for its unique variegation. It is also called the ‘heart-shaped philodendron rio’ that is categorized as a perennial type with pointy and dense foliage. It is included in the Araceae family.

The plant has glossy, heart-shaped, and green foliage with yellow or cream stripes in the middle leaves. Interestingly, the plant is a result of genetic mutation of the philodendron brasil. The philodendron rio is a climber which is why this plant is perfect with a stand.

Despite the unique appearance, surprisingly the plant is low-maintenance. It is originated from Central America.

  • Botanical Name: Philodendron Hederaceum “Rio”
  • Popular Name: Philodendron Rio 
  • Mature size: 30 inches tall and 30 inches wide for the leaves
  • Plant Type: Perennial
  • Sun Exposure: Medium to bright, indirect light
  • Soil Type: Well-draining soil
  • Soil pH: 5.5-6.0
  • Toxicity: Humans and pets

Care Guide

The plant doesn’t need a lot of attention, but it is very sensitive to direct sunlight, humidity, and dryness. You will need to provide an environment that mimics its natural condition. Besides, watering can be the trickiest part in caring for the philodendron rio as you overdo it, it will cause problems such as root rot and Erwinia blight disease.

Besides, The plan needs well-drained soil with a pH level between 5.5 to 6.0. Fertilizer is important in this case. You will need to fertilize the plant every 6-8 weeks during Spring and Summer only.


Water Requirement

You don’t have to worry about the watering part as long as the top 2-3 inches are not dry. However, you should not make the pot soggy too. It will cause a lot of problems when your plant has Erwinia blight disease and root rot.

When watering the plant, you will want to check the soil condition to see if it is moist or not. You can use the knuckle test. Check if the first or two of your knuckles. If it is moist, you don’t need to water the plant.

Another way to check the moisture of the soil is using the chopstick by pushing it through the soil and then seeing if the first 2-3 inches of it changes its color to a darker brown with some soil clinging to it. If yes, then watering is not necessary.

Light Requirements

Choose a place where the philodendron rio can receive bright light, but not direct sunlight. In this place, the plant will thrive well.

However, the philodendron rio can survive in a shady area, but it should not be too shady. If it is placed in a too shady area, the variegation will fade and the plant will become leggy.

On the contrary, direct sunlight can scorch the leaves. It is OK to place the plant under direct sunlight, but it should be the morning or late evening sunlight. And it should just few hours.

If you place the plant around the windows where it gets too much direct sunlight, use a sheer curtain to reduce the intensity of the sunlight.


The philodendron rio loves moderate humidity. It is recommended to provide a humidity level between 50%-60%.

If you are living in a low-level humidity area, the best thing you can do is to use a humidifier. You can also group the plants with your philodendron to create a mini biome so they can share humidity.

Another way to increase the humidity level is by placing pebbles on the tray that has been filled with water.


As a tropical plant, of course, the philodendron rio loves warm temperatures. Place the plant in an area with a temperature between 60-81 degrees Fahrenheit or 16-27 degrees Celcius.

The plant basically can survive in a colder area but attempt to not below 55 degrees Fahrenheit. Besides, avoid the philodendron from drafty areas for example windows or doorways.

Read also : Philodendron Warscewiczii , the Unique Split Leaf Beauty


The philodendron rio is not a heavy feeder. You won’t need to give supplements quite often because they still can grow without them. When you over-fertilize the plant, it will lead to yellow leaves and root burn.

Fertilizing is needed only to boost the growth rate and promote healthy-looking leaves.

As the plant is still in the nursery house, the grower often uses a slow-release fertilizer so you don’t have to be in a rush to feed the plant once it arrives at your house. After a few months, you will need to feed the plant with the liquid fertilizer every two months during spring and summer.


Pruning is necessary if you want to keep the plant short. Besides, it helps you shape the plant and remove weak, dying, and straggly leaves.

If you want to trim the plant, cut the few inches off, above the node.


Regular reporting isn’t necessary for the philodendron rio. If you need to, averagely it can be done every year. Here, you don’t want a large pot. Pick a pot that is 2-3 inches bigger than the previous one.

If the pot is too bigger, it will have too much moisture which will lead to root rot.

Potting the philodendron doesn’t have to be regular. As long as you see some indication like the roots growing through its drainage holes, then it is time to upgrade the pot.

Make sure you put 1/3 of the pot with the aroid mix before planting the plant and filling the gap until below the rim of the pot. Once you have done this, pat the soil and then water it.


The best propagation method that has a higher chance of success is using stem cutting. Here are the steps you can follow:

  • Use sterilized scissors
  • Take the stems near the nodes but make sure it has leaves left.
  • Next, cut the bottom leaves so they will expose the roots from the nodes.
  • Make sure you don’t cut all the leaves because it helps the plant grow in the new soil.
  • Just cut the excess stem because the new growth will start from the nodes.
  • Plant the nodes directly in the new soil mix or submerge them in the water.
  • New roots will start to appear after several weeks.


Unfortunately, the plant is toxic to humans and pets. It is better to place this plant away from children and pets.

The plant consists of calcium oxalate crystal which can cause severe irritation such as swelling around the mouth and tongue. In some cases, the person who is contacted with the plant can vomit too.

Pest and Disease

In most cases, the philodendron rio is disease-resistant and pet resistant. However, sometimes your plant is attacked by the following pests:

Spider mites – Spider mites are very common in attacking this plant. It makes the plant’s leaves turn brown or yellow. When your plant is attacked by spider mites, you have to deal with spider webs.

To move the spider mites, you can spray the philodendron rio using insecticide. Besides, you also need to quarantine the plants while dealing with this bug.

Scale Insects – The scale insect comes in gray, green, brown, or black colors. This bug develops a lump on the plant’s branch or stem.

To remove this bug, you can use a teaspoon of neem oil with four cups of water. It will remove the insects if the spread is not too bad. You can also other insecticide sprays for the philodendron rio which are mostly safe to use.

Aphids – Aphids can leave brown or black spots. To fix this issue, use neem oil or insecticidal soap. You can also make a dish solution that is free of fragrance. Mix a teaspoon of soap with a gallon of water. And then, you can spray it on the affected area.

Mealybugs – Mealybugs are another common bugs that attack the plant.

Dip a cotton swab in rubbing alcohol. After that, you can brush it over the plant’s leaves and stems.

In terms of diseases, the philodendron rio often experiences brown leaves, drooping leaves, root rot, and yellow leaves. All of these diseases are caused by different factors with some of them being caused by watering methods, temperature, light, and humidity.



The variegated plant is always the most interesting thing. The philodendron rio is a rare species with beautiful foliage. The plant brings a unique variegated leaf with mature green and cream, silver at the center of the leaf.

Growth Rate

The philodendron rio is a fast grower which it can double its size in just one year. In a year, the plant can grow up to 12-inch tall. When it is placed in a good condition, the philodendron rio can reach 30 inches.

Soil Requirements

The philodendron rio requires a rich and well-drained soil mix. In this case, you don’t need to add fertilizer until the repotting phase comes. Besides, make sure the soil mix pH is between 5.5-6.0. Furthermore, the soil mix should be moist. It is not wet, not soggy, and not dry. In this case, watering is important.


What Is The Difference Between Philodendron Rio and Brasil?

The most notable difference between philodendron brasil and philodendron rio is its leaf variegation. The philodendron rio has cream and silver variegation in the center of the foliage. Meanwhile, the philodendron brasil comes with lime green variegation. Besides, the Rio’s foliage is more elongated than the brasil’s.

Do I Need To Mist The Philodendron?

While many believe misting the philodendron can provide instant humidity, it is unlikely to do anything. When you over mist the plant, it will put the philodendron rio at higher risk of getting Erwinia blight disease.

A safer choice is using the humidifier at home, or placing some pebbles on the tray that has been filled with water can help you increase the humidity. Another way to do it is by creating a mini biome, in which you group the plants so they can share humidity.

Is The Philodendron Rio Rare?

Due to its growing demand and limited supply, philodendron rio is considered a rare plant. It is not easy to get the plant. If there is a chance to get this plant, this will be pricey. Compared to philodendron brasil, they are rarer, but not as rare as the philodendron birkin.

Why Is The Variegation Fading?

Fading variegation is not common, but the most common reason why your philodendron starts to lose its variegation is due to insufficient light. Therefore, try to position your plant around the bright area, but not under direct sunlight because it will scorch the leaves.

Why Is My Philodendron Rio Becoming Leggy?

When you find the plant is leggy, it is due to the low light condition. To fix this, place the plant around the bright area, but avoid direct sunlight. Besides leggy, low lights can make the plant lose its variegation and stunt its growth.

Read also : Philodendron Martianum : The Catchy Fat Boy Greenery

How Long Can A Philodendron Rio Live?

If you take care of it well and make sure you provide the required condition, the plant can live for decades. It depends on how you take care of the plant.

Is The Philodendron Brasil and Philodendron Rio The Same?

The philodendron rio and philodendron brasil are different plants, but it is believed that the Rio is a result of genetic mutation of philodendron brasil.

Does Philodendron Rio Have Consistent Pattern Over The Years?

The philodendron rio shows a similar pattern over the year. However, when you don’t provide the required environment, it will lose its variegation. For example, if you don’t provide the Rio with sufficient light, the philodendron will start to lose its beauty. The variegation will start to fade away and the leaves become leggy.

Is Philodendron Rio Expensive?

According to the demand, location, and also scarcity, getting the philodendron rio requires you to spend a lot of money. However, it is not the most expensive philodendron species. You still can find another variety out there with a crazier price.

How Do You Care Philodendron Rio?

The philodendron rio is considered a plant that is easy to care for. However, there are some aspects you need to know before bringing the plant into your house.

The rio plant needs indirect sunlight with a temperature between 60-81 degrees Fahrenheit. At this range, the philodendron will thrive well. Anything below 55 degrees will cause drooping and curling leaves.

On the contrary, if you place the plant under direct sunlight, it will also make the plant leggy because it is craving a cooler environment.

Another thing to be considered is watering. Watering is important in this case! Too little water can cause brown patches on the leaves. It will cause wilting and dry edges too. Make sure the soil is always moist, but not soggy.

In terms of fertilizing, you don’t need to fertilize the plant unless you are entering the repotting phase.

Remember that the philodendrons are sensitive plants. They can’t stand sudden changes in humidity and temperature. Due to this reason, it is best to place the plant away from the open windows because it often gives sudden changes.

Furthermore, you will also need to place the plant away from the air conditioning vents as it will dry out the foliage pretty quickly.

How To Make My Philodendron Grow Quickly?

Note that your philodendron rio is a fast grower under one condition: you provide an area that mimics its natural habitat. By doing this, you can make sure the plant will grow faster than other philodendra. Providing good care is important in this case such as good watering proportion, humidity, temperature, lights, and fertilizer.

How Many Times Do I Need To Water The Philodendron Rio?

The philodendron rio is a low-maintaining plant that can survive without water for about two weeks. The best method to check if the plant needs water is by checking the soil.

Generally, the top 2-3 inches of the plant determines if your plant needs a drink. If it is dry, water it soon, and vice versa. You can push through a chopstick or a knuckle onto the soil. Observe if the soil clings to it. Usually, moist soil will change the color of the chopstick to be darker too.

What Are The Most Common Problems On Philodendron?

Luckily the philodendron rio is problem resistant when it is placed in a good potting mix and given a watering habit. However, sometimes the philodendron will be attacked by some pests such as aphids, mealybugs, and spider mites. Besides, occasionally, your philodendron will need a new pot to prevent root rot from overwatering. Although, you have to pick a new pot that is two or three inches larger, not more than that. It is purposed to prevent the plant from getting submerged.


How Much Sunlight Does A Rio Plant Need?

The philodendron rio just needs bright, indirect sunlight. The plant best might be the east-facing window, but you should not open the window or let the sun rays fall directly on its leaves.

A few hours of direct sunlight in the morning and late evening are still good to help the plant thrive well. Just make sure you don’t place it under the direct sunlight too much as you will scorch the leaves.

Can A Philodendron Rio Revert?

Yes! The variegation of the Rio plant can revert. All of a sudden you get pure green leaves without their markable cream stripes in the center. However, you don’t have to worry about it. You can cut the variegation on the ends. After that, you will see that a new leaf will grow from its node and bring the possibility to continue the variegation.

How To Encourage Variegation?

It is very depressing when you have bought a variegated plant but it starts to lose its variegation. But, hey! You still can encourage the plant to bring back its unique look.

One thing to remember is that the variegated plant needs more sun than the solid green plant. Just bring the plant around a place that gets sufficient indirect sunlight.

Can I Propagate The Philodendron From Leaves?

No, you can’t propagate philodendron from a leaf. Leaves themselves don’t contain the necessary structure to grow a new plant.

But if you include the node, the brown rings that are located around the stem, then the possibility to grow a new plant is higher.

Can You Propagate Philodendron Without A Node?

No, you cannot grow a philodendron without a node. Just placing a stem without the node will not make it grow a new plant. Nodes are important in propagating the philodendron. They are the brown sections that encircle the stem. The nodes themselves contain information and the structure needed to build a new plant.

If you take the nodes in the stem cutting, you can place them either in the soil or submerge them in the water.

Can A Philodendron Grow In the Water?

The philodendron might grow in the water but for just the propagating process. In this case, you even need to change the water regularly to avoid root rot. A philodendron loves moist and well-draining soil, so once you find the roots have grown up, move the new philodendron into a new potting mix soon.

Can I Force Variegation?

Variegation is not an easy job. It is not easily induced and can be done at home. It is more related to the genetics of the plant. Unless the plant is a naturally variegated type, you cannot encourage variegation.

Why Does Some Variegated Plant Revert?

Variegated philodendrons can turn green due to several reasons. Some of the causes are hot and cold reactions. Or it can be the low-light levels.

Some believe that reversion is a form of a survival technique. A plant is stronger when it gets more chlorophyll. This is why when you place the variegated plant under direct sunlight, the one that gets scorched first is the variegated one rather than the green foliage.

Why Does Variegated Plant Need More Light?

Plants, including philodendrons with variegated leaves, need more light because of their two tones. As a result, they have less chlorophyll which is needed for helping them to grow. If the plant doesn’t get sufficient light, the plant will turn the leaves into all green so it will produce more chlorophyll and survive.

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