Learn how to care for Philodendron Brasil, a gorgeous variety of philodendron hederaceum, which is often referred to as the “heart-leaf philodendron.” I’ll cover everything you need to know to keep this gorgeous cultivar happy and thriving.
How to care for the gorgeous Philodendron Brasil
It’s not often that I have a plant for 2 years without writing about it! In my defense, I have written about Philodendron Brasil’s parent plant, the traditional green heart-leaf philodendron (philodendron hederaceum). And I included Brasil in that post.
But this plant has gotten so popular that I think it deserves its own post now! I mean, look at it. The variegation is really beautiful. And when these plants are happy, they get big and bushy, trailing beautifully with stunning heart-shaped leaves.
What does this plant look like?
Philodendron Brasil has dark green foliage, much like its parent plant. However, the leaves have yellow, lime green, and sometimes cream variegation in watercolor-like markings.
Other types of Philodendron hederaceum that are more rare but look very similar to the Brasil are Philodendron hederaceum Cream Splash, Philodendron hederaceum Rio, and Philodendron hederaceum Silver Stripe.
Is Philodendron Brasil rare?
Native to Central America and the Caribbean, the Philodendron hederaceum–aka the traditional all-green heart-leaf philodendron–is not a rare plant. In fact, it is incredibly common. You can walk into most big box garden stores and find a small plant for a few bucks.
But while the Philodendron Brasil is slightly harder to find, it is not at all rare. I have seen big gorgeous baskets at big box home improvement store nurseries, and my local nurseries always have a variety of Brasil plants in different size pots.
Want more philodendrons? Check out my posts about How to Care for Your Philodendron Birkin and How to Care for the Philodendron Selloum, as well as my Philodendron Gloriosum Care and Silver Sword Philodendron Care guides!
How was it created?
I love going down rabbit holes and learning about how different plant cultivars were created. In my research, I found the Philodendron Brasil was actually created in the 1990s/early 2000s. According to the U.S. Patent database:
The new Philodendron was discovered by the Inventor in a controlled environment in Holambra, Brazil, as a single plant within a planting of the unnamed selection in 1991. The selection of this plant was based on its unique green and yellow green variegated foliage. Asexual propagation of the new cultivar by cuttings at Holambra, Brazil, and Sebring, Fla., has shown that the unique features of this new Philodendron are stable and reproduced true to type in successive generations.-Brasil’s Patent
So what does that mean? It means someone in Brazil found a cool variegation mutation in the plant, isolated that plant, and reproduced it successfully. You can read the full patent record here, which was filed in the year 2000.
Is Philodendron Brasil a pothos?
Literally one of my least favorite subjects. I swear I see people argue about this all the time in Facebook plant groups. Most people use “pothos” to refer to Epipremnum aureum, otherwise known as “devil’s ivy” or “golden pothos.”
But other people also use “pothos” to refer to other vining/trailing plants with heart-shaped leaves. It’s pretty confusing, and it’s why I always like to try to learn the actual name of the plants I have (though even that can be SUPER confusing—as an example, philodendron hederaceum also goes by the synonym Philodendron scandens).
So, by my definition, a Philodendron Brasil is not a pothos. I consider Epipremnum plants to be “pothos” plants. For example—marble queen pothos, cebu blue pothos, global green pothos, neon pothos, etc.
Philodendron is a totally different genus from Epipremnum. Though they are closely related, so that’s why they have a lot of similarities in size, shape, and growth patterns.
Philodendron Brasil care & lighting
Much like its parent plant, Philodendron Brasil can withstand a variety of lighting conditions from medium light to bright indirect light. The ideal lighting for your Brasil is bright indirect light, so close to a very sunny window or in bright shade outdoors (under a tree or covered patio, for example).
Direct sunlight can burn its leaves. However, it’s less likely leaf burn will be an issue with an indoor plant. Most of the plants I’ve burned have been during transitions outdoors for the spring and summer.
Is Philodendron Brasil a low light plant?
I have seen people refer to the Brasil as a low-light plant. That’s probably because it can survive in lower light levels, but it won’t look its best. Even its super hardy all-green parent plant starts looking scraggly in lower light levels.
If you notice that new growth on your Brasil plant is unfurling smaller and with less variegation (i.e., reverting to all green)—or if you notice the plant is getting leggy, meaning the space between the leaves is increasing—it likely needs more light.
You can trim off any leggy, small, or reverted all-green growth and move the plant to more ideal conditions. New growth should be better. Don’t be afraid of pruning—it can be an essential part of your Philodendron Brasil care routine.
How often should I water my plant?
Let the top several inches of soil dry out before you water the plant again. With all of the nooks in crannies in its vines, I also recommend spraying down the foliage when you go water the plant.
I generally do this in the bathtub, shower, or sink, but you could also do it outside with the hose. Rinse off all of the foliage with cold water, lifting up the stems and making sure to get the bottoms of the leaves, too.
Water the plant until water flows from its drainage holes. This deep watering will give it what it needs and nothing more—the excess will flow from the drainage holes.
Planting your Brasil in an appropriate soil mixture also helps to ensure your plant is getting the appropriate amount of water. If your soil is too dense—like garden soil—it will retain too much water, and the roots will suffocate.
I have almost all of my philodendrons in a high-quality indoor potting soil that I throw some extra perlite and coco coir into. Coco coir helps with moisture retention while still keeping the soil light and is a great alternative to peat moss. Perlite facilitates drainage.
If you haven’t watered your plant in a while and notice that the soil is beginning to “cake” and shrink away from the edges of the pot, simply break it up with a toothpick or fork again before watering the plant.
Philodendron Brasil care: Temperature & humidity levels
Philodendron Brasil does well in a variety of normal household temperatures and humidity levels. However, adding humidity and warmth will only encourage strong new growth on your plant.
I have taken my lemon-lime philodendron and my non-variegated heart-leaf philodendron outside for our humid Maryland summers. And they were SUPER happy. The new growth was huge, and they grew vigorously.
You can mimic this inside by adding a humidifier and making sure they aren’t in a drafty area. For example—somewhere near a door or old window. These spots are typically colder in the winter, which might not be the best for the tropical Brasil.
When should I repot my Philodendron Brasil?
I recommend repotting your Philodendron Brasil when its roots begin to grow out of its pot’s drainage holes or if the roots begin circling the bottom of the pot. This can cause the plant to become “root-bound.”
Some level of root circling or overgrowth is generally fine. However, if it goes on for too long, the plant may begin to suffer with limp or yellowing leaves and small, leggy new growth. Repot the plant generally every 2 or 2 years if it seems to be growing vigorously and use fresh potting soil.
How do I make my Philodendron Brasil grow faster?
The Brasil is a fairly fast grower when it is happy. It can grow up to several feet long. There is no secret sauce to making it grow faster, though. You can give it a diluted houseplant fertilizer if you’d like, but your best bet is to keep it in ideal conditions.
Bright, indirect light, well-draining soil, extra humidity, and warm temps. Obviously this means that the plant might not grow a ton in the fall and winter if you live somewhere colder. But it will rebound in the spring!
How do you make a Philodendron Brasil bushy?
But not all growth is good growth. As I mentioned earlier in this post, sometimes growth can be leggy and produce smaller-than-normal growth. Typically this means that the plant has less-than-ideal growing conditions.
Wondering how to make a Philodendron Brasil bushy? Trim that leggy growth off! I know cutting anything off of a plant can be hard…but pruning plants helps encourage fullness! If you begin pruning your plant early, it will encourage branching near the base of the plant.
That’s because, when you cut a stem, new growth will sprout off to the side right above the cut area. Since it grows out to the side instead of not straight down, this encourages fullness. I prune and trim a number of my trailing plants as part of their routine maintenance.
Propagating a Philodendron Brasil from stem cuttings
But don’t worry, you don’t have to throw those trimmed cuttings away! You can probably propagate them if they have a node or growth point on them. I generally throw my trimmings in a vase of water and treat them like a bouqet.
Once they’ve been in water for a while, the stem cuttings will begin to sprout small white roots from its growth points. You can transfer these cuttings to soil, and they will begin growing a new plant.
More questions about the lovely Brasil…
There are a few other things I want to cover about the Brasil. Mostly random things I’ve noticed or tips I want to share that don’t fall into one of the above care categories.
1. Why is my Philodendron Brasil turning red or pink?
If there are no other issues with your plant, don’t worry! New growth can have a pink or red tinge before turning into its expected gorgeous green.
2. Why is my Philodendron Brasil losing its variegation, and how do I get more variegation?
Occasionally Philodendron Brasil leaves will unfurl green and develop their variegation as they mature. However, it’s also possible for the plant to completely lose its variegation. This is often due to low light conditions.
To encourage more variegation in your plant, trim the stems back to the last variegated leaf. Then move the plant to more ideal lighting conditions. Remember, the plant will survive in lower light, but bright indirect light is best.
3. Why are my Philodendron Brasil leaves so small?
Small leaves on leggy stems are a sign of too little light. A lack of humidity can also lead to smaller leaves. To encourage larger leaves on your Philodendron Brasil, give the plant plenty of bright, indirect light, extra humidity, and warm temperatures. This will encourage large leaf growth.
Is a Philodendron Brasil toxic to pets?
Philodendron plants do contain calcium oxalate crystals. It’s best to avoid ingesting the plant because of this. Possible effects include gastrointestinal issues in pets and humans.