Philodendron Spiritus Sancti: The Extremely Rare and Expensive Philodendron

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How popular Philodendron Spiritus Sancti is? Well, to be honest, it’s super popular. In fact, Spiritus Sancti is often known as the ‘Holy Grail’ of variant in the plant industry because of its rarity and the fact that you will have to spend extra a fortune to get one. Consider yourself lucky if you are able to find one and buy one. Finding this plant in the wild is just as hard, so consider yourself to have a double kind of luck when you get your hands on it from the wild.


  • Scientific name: Philodendron Spiritus Sancti
  • Popular and common name: Spiritus Sancti
  • Family: Araceae
  • Grown for: Narrow and long leaves
  • Growth habit: Hemiepiphytic
  • Origin: Brazil
  • Nature: Evergreen
  • Availability: Extremely rare, close to extinction

About Philodendron Spiritus Sancti

The plant has big pendant leaves that go up to 29 inches in length. As a hemiepiphyte, this plant sends its roots down to the ground. Then the seeds would germinate in the (tree) canopy, and their lives as epiphyte begins. Epiphytes alone refer to organisms that are able to live on other plants’ surface. Their sources of nutrients are from water, debris (like fallen leaves), rainwater and air.

Like it was mentioned before, the leaves are big, typically having dark green dull hue. The length can go between 22 inches and 29 inches, while the width can start from 4.5 inches to 4.9 inches. The petioles (name of stalks where a leaf is attached to the stem) are from 12 inches in length to 24 inches.

In some cases, the leaves shape look similar to bunny ears – or so people speak. The plant has thin leaf blades with four lateral veins and having elongated triangular shape. To help the growth, you can provide a moss pole or a stick, so your plant can attach itself to it.


Habitat and Geography

The origin of Spiritus Sancti is from Brazil, from the northeast area of Rio de Janeiro.  The plant is discovered on 800 meters above the sea level, pretty close to Atlantic Ocean. It was discovered in Espirito Santo state, close to Domingos Martins town in Brazil. It’s quite unfortunate and sad that this plant is endangered, very close to extinction. In fact, you can find more of this Philodendron Spiritus Sancti in cultivation rather than in its natural habitat in the wild. The rarity of this plant is the main reason why this plant is super costly and not easily found.

Lighting Requirement

Just like the others Philodendrons, Philodendron Spiritus Sancti loves bright sunlight, but indirect one. The plant is sensitive to direct heat as it can ‘burn’ it. After all, in the natural habitat in the wild, this plant grows under other tall trees that function as the canopy. This kind of filtered sunlight is what Spiritus Sancti loves the most.

A lot of people would place their plant close to the window. In this way, the plant can get the light it needs without hurting itself. It’s a good idea to allow it to get around 2 to 6 hours of direct and warm morning sun, but be sure to remove it once it gets too hot. This method is ideal if you don’t mind moving your plant around. But if you do, just make sure that it gets bright, but indirect, sunlight. It would also be ideal if all parts of the plant can get the similar sun exposure. If not, you may have to rotate it to ensure that no part is left untouched by the sunlight.

Be aware of these signs as they mean that your plant doesn’t get enough light or it does get too much light:

  • Your plant turns pale and somewhat yellowish. It fades because the chlorophyll doesn’t get enough light
  • The stems are leggy and the leaves don’t grow anymore
  • The plant somewhat looks unhealthy, and it experiences stunted growth
  • The leaves droop and you see burnt signs on them. It means that it gets too much sunlight.

Helpful tips in providing the light:

  • Make sure that the light source comes from above so all parts of the plant can get similar light exposure
  • You need to rotate your plant once in a while to make sure that it gets the same exposure
  • It would be a good idea to place your Philodendron Spiritus Sancti in a spot where the light can be reflected so it gets the needed light
  • It’s okay to take your plant outdoor in winters or during overcasts, but you must bring it back inside the house when the night comes
  • Consider buying artificial growing lights, especially if it’s difficult to get the natural light

Water Requirements

Philodendrons are quite picky when it comes to the right water amount. It needs just the right amount: not too much and not too little either. Some people would water the plant once a week, while some may water it twice to three times a week. You need to develop your own watering habit. As long as the top soil is dry, then you can water it again. To check, you can insert your finger to the first knuckle. If it is moist, then don’t water. If it is dry, then water it.

During winters, your plant doesn’t need too much drink because it will enter the dormancy stage. You can water it once in 10 days (12 days would be maximum). The plant likes moist soil, but not flooded or soggy. So, how to water it properly?

  • Only do it when the top soil is dry
  • Make sure that you water it until it sips out the drainage hole
  • Use room temperature water; not too cold or too hot water
  • Water shouldn’t accumulate at the bottom. Philodendron Spiritus Sancti definitely dislikes standing water too long.
  • Make sure that the water doesn’t contain too much salt content. 

Read also : Philodendron Melanochrysum : Favorable Velvet Leaf Climber

Temperature and Humidity

The plant loves warm temperature, homage to its native habitat. The most ideal temperature would be from 66 degrees to 76 degrees Fahrenheit (or between 19 degrees and 24 degrees Celsius). It doesn’t appreciate extreme or drastic temperature changes. If you are able to manage the temperature so it stays stable, your Philodendron Spiritus Sancti will grow happy and healthy. If it’s too cold, the plant would be even slower in growing. But if it’s too hot, the leaves would be burnt and cause too much transpiration or sweating. And you don’t want your flower to sweat too much.

The plant also loves humidity. It can do well in average humidity, but the ideal one would be 70%. If the level is too low, the plant would take forever to grow. Plus, it will likely curl, wilt, and droop.  Some tips to maintain the high humidity level are:

  • Use the humidifier
  • Place it on top of a pebble tray or close to one
  • Mist the plant occasionally. But make sure that the water is the filtered one. Plus, it shouldn’t contain too much chemicals and salt
  • Make sure that your plant is stay away from too hot spot or area

Soil Requirement

Never underestimate the soil as it is one of the crucial elements in successfully growing the Philodendron Spiritus Sancti. The plant loves airy, rich, porous, and well-draining soil having pH level from 5.6 to 7.5. Simply use commercial potting mix for houseplant.  Or you can create your own mix, by preparing these things:

  • One part of charcoal
  • One part of silica sand
  • Six parts of orchid bark
  • Three parts of pumice
  • Three parts of peat moss

If you have your own mixture ‘recipe’, just make sure that it is well draining and highly porous. As an alternative, you can mix perlite, coco chips, and sphagnum. Or simply use sphagnum peat moss only. These formulas can quickly drain the excess water, while holding some water sufficiently for the plant.

Fertilizer Requirement

The truth is, Philodendron Spiritus Sancti doesn’t really need fertilizer to help it grow. However, if you want to boost its potential growth, a little extra nutrition can help. A slow release liquid stuff will do. Do it during summer and spring months. Apply the fertilizer around once a month, but there’s no need to do it during winters.

It would be even better if you can use compost or other organic fertilizers because they are natural. Moreover, fertilizing the plant depends on the type of water being used. If you use distilled water, then fertilizing is a must because distilled water doesn’t provide minerals for the plant. Be careful when applying the fertilizer. Too much will make the plant become yellow, slow growth, wilting, browning (of the leaves), and defoliation. Too little will make your plant lose color, stem becomes weak, and the leaves size decrease.

Potting Requirement

The right pot having nice air circulation is crucial. Not only you want the pot to encourage proper drainage, but it should also allow good air circulation. Here are some things to think about when growing this plant:

  • Make sure that the pot has enough drainage holes. If there is only one, consider buying the ones with many holes or add the holes yourself.
  • Those who choose plastic pots as the containers often add holes to the side. It encourages better airflow
  • It’s also okay to use transparent pots. In fact, this is better as you can check your plant and its roots without disturbing the plant
  • When the leaves are growing bigger, they are going to be seriously big. You need to figure out a way so they can hang conveniently in the air. You can use a hanging basket or provide a certain kind of podium
mature plant – source

Repotting the Plant

This should be done to your Philodendron Spiritus Sancti once in 2 to 3 years, but if your plant grows quite fast, you may have to do it earlier. When repotting, do it in the early summer or the late spring. There are some obvious signs that your plant needs repotting. One of them is when you can see the root sticking out from the drainage holes. At the same time, you can also check whether the root is rotting or whether it is rootbound.


Regular pruning is needed if you want to maintain the uniformed growth pattern and its majestic appearance. Moreover, pruning also helps to keep your Philodendron Spiritus Sancti under control. Do it during fall or spring. Make sure that you use clean tools. It would be better to sterilize them before each usage. Don’t forget to wear gloves to protect yourself.


Philodendron Spiritus Sancti is toxic to animals and humans. Due to the calcium oxalate crystals, this plant can be dangerous when ingested or even touched. Irritation of the skin (such as rash or itch or redness with a bit burning sensation) is common. When ingested, there would likely be swollen tongue, irritation of the mouth, vomiting, breathing or swallowing difficulty, or drooling. You may need to get medical assistance when the symptoms happen. Always wear gloves when you have to handle the plant.


Propagating the plant can be daunting and challenging. But if you want your collection to add and expand, you need to go through this path. There are two ways to propagate Philodendron Spiritus Sancti: air layering and stem cutting.

Stem Cutting Propagation

As the easiest method, it’s best to do it at the beginning of spring because the days are basically longer. Do it in the early morning, during the non bloom period because the plant is still fresh. Make sure that the cutting is cool and moist before the propagation.

If you are doing the soil medium method, follow these steps:

  • Water your plant before starting the process. Do it several days before and do it thoroughly
  • Prepare gardening gloves and sterilized shears (or scissors)
  • Pick a healthy stem. Find the joint in leaf stem and cut three inches below it. Cut it within 45 degrees angle and then remove the leaves close to the cut
  • Keep 3 to 4 leaves (on the top side of the cutting). If you see other leaves, remove them
  • Let the cutting comes in contact with air. Do it for around a week until you see a callus formed on the cut area. Calluses are basically soft tissues promoting healing. Roots would develop faster when there is callus.
  • Prepare a porous, well-draining, and fresh potting mix.
  • Plant the cutting around 2 inches in depth within the soil. Don’t go too deep as you want to provide enough space for the roots to grow
  • Water your plant thoroughly. Then place it in the right area where sunlight condition is optimal
  • If you do it right, roots should start developing within a month.

If you are doing the water medium method, you need to do these steps:

  • Repeat the cutting steps as described before
  • Place the cutting in a glass jar, preferably the clear type. Use room temperature water. If it’s possible, let it sit before using it for the propagation. This way, the chlorine can be removed
  • Make sure that the water remains clean. Change it once every 3 to 5 days
  • If you do it right, you should be able to see root forming in 2 to 3 weeks
  • Wait for it to be longer (only a bit) before transferring it to the soil

Air Layering Propagation

  • Choose a healthy stem having aerial roots and also 3 to 4 inches of length
  • By using the sterilized knife, cut the stem. Make around 2 inches long and 2 inches deep of cut.
  • Insert a toothpick into the cut so it would be wider. Do it from both the bottom and also top of the wound.
  • Use wet sphagnum moss to cover the wound. Make sure that you have enough. A handful would be sufficient.
  • Wrap the sphagnum moss and stem with the (transparent) plastic. Don’t forget to poke two holes for breathing
  • Spray the moss ball once in two days. Root growth can be encouraged by keeping the plant moist
  • You should see the root growth within 3 to 4 weeks. After you have seen the roots, wait for around 2 weeks and then cut the stem
  • When you cut it, take several inches below the existing wound. Remove the wrap. Be super careful when doing this or you may risk damaging the roots
  • Plant that stem in a well-draining, fresh, and rich potting mix. Make sure to cover the roots.
  • Water it thoroughly. Place it in the most ideal location with proper sunlight, right humidity, and the right watering regime.

Read also : Philodendron Silver Sword – Beginners Guide On How To Take Care Of It


Is Spiritus Sancti Philodendron rare?

Yes. In fact, this is the rarest type because it is now considered an endangered species. That’s why it is considered the ‘Holy Grail’ of plant. Not many of them are being left in the wild. And the fact that plant collectors are ‘hunting’ it doesn’t help either. This what makes the plant super rare and also super pricey.

Is Spiritus Sancti a climber?

Yes, as a part of Philodendrons, this plant likes to climb. You can try adding up a pole or a stick, and see how the plant climbs it as it grows bigger. After all, the leaves are big and long.

How much is Philodendron Spiritus Sancti?

The cuttings alone can cost up to hundreds of dollars. It may seem more affordable, but you need to remember that it does take time (and a long one) for the cuttings to finally develop into a mature plant. If you want the already established one, be ready to spend at least $1,000. The general price is around $1,500 and $2,000. In some vendors, the price can even reach $10,000 for a mature (and also big) plant.

Why is the plant super costly?

There are several variables that contribute to the high price. First, finding one is difficult because of its endangered status. Due to the limited numbers and the high rate of poaching, the Spiritus Sancti can be super difficult to find, even in the natural habitat.  Second, the high demand from collectors and plant enthusiasts also contribute to the high price of the plant. Not to mention that most of them don’t really mind having to spend a fortune.

Third, the plant is slow grower, which means it takes longer time than the usual Philodendrons to reach maturity. Even when you propagate one or buy the cuttings, they won’t immediately grow. It may take years for one plant to reach maturity.

leaf details – source

How big can Spiritus Sancti Philodendron get?

This unique sword like plant can grow up to 65 inches (or 20 meters) in height. Yes, it is naturally a big plant. The individual leaf itself can grow up to 24 inches (or 60 centimeters) in length. It would be a centerpiece at your house!

Why the leaves curl?

There are only two possible causes: it’s too dry or it is too cold. Make sure that you place your plant in a warm room or spot, not close to the draft, air vents, AC, or even fans. In warmer months, mist the plant with water to improve the humidity.

Where to buy Spiritus Sancti while minimizing the possibility of being scammed?

Although the easiest way today is to make use of the internet, there is always a possibility of being scammed. Another alternative is to check your local nurseries. You can also try buying one from houseplant enthusiasts or collectors. eBay auction is one of the most popular ways today to get the Spiritus Sancti.

Are there any other plants whose price is as high as the Spiritus Sancti?

There are several plants that are considered rare, and they cost as high as Philodendron Spiritus Sancti. Such plants like Monstera Variegata Mint and Monstera Obliqua variegata are rare, making them super expensive to buy.

Is it okay to buy the seeds on the net?

It’s advisable NOT to buy the seeds, especially over the net. Because of the rarity, the possibility of being scammed is always high. After all, buying the seed is pointless because you’d better choose the cuttings instead of the seeds. Anyone offering you very affordable seed should be suspected. It’s 100% scam.

Is Philodendron Spiritus Sancti the same as Philodendron Santa Leopoldina?

No. Santa Leopoldina is a common name that is commonly used to address any plant having long pendant leaves. In fact, there are several plant species that are called as Santa Leopoldina. So, to avoid confusion, Philodendron Spiritus Sancti is completely different from Santa Leopoldina.

Final Words

You may have to perform extra work to get one. Once you do, make sure you care for it properly and carefully. But if you are able to follow all the guide and methods described here, your Philodendron Spiritus Sancti will grow just well – and you can even propagate one.

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