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Rhaphidophora Hayi Care and Propagation

Learn how to care for Rhaphidophora Hayi, a cool plant with a unique shingling growth pattern.

How to care for the unique Rhaphidophora Hayi!

The Rhaphidophora Hayi (ra-fi-do-fora ha-yee), aka the “shingle plant,” is a climbing plant with a shingling growth pattern that probably looks a bit different from most other vines you might be familiar with. Unlike most other aroids (plants from the Araceae family), the Rhaphidophora Hayi’s ovular dark green leaves grow to be only about 5 inches long.

Rhaphidophora Hayi plant climbing a wooden board

Rhaphidophora Hayi care overview

  • Rhaphidophora Hayi (shingle plant) is an epiphytic plant native to the tropics of Asia, New Guinea, and northern Queensland, Australia. 
  • Its ovular green leaves grow flat in a shingling pattern against a support.
  • Prefers bright, indirect light.
  • Plant in rich, well-draining soil that retains moisture without being heavy.
  • Water when the top inch or so of soil dries out.
  • Needs high humidity and warm temperatures to flourish.
  • Propagate through stem cuttings.
  • Mount to a moss pole or moss board, a wooden board, or even a branch.

Background & origins

The Rhaphidophora Hayi plant comes from the beautiful tropics of Asia, New Guinea, and northern Queensland, Australia. These plants are native to wet, lowland rainforests, some of which has unfortunately been destroyed over the years.

A lowland rainforest is marked by tall trees with many large canopy covers, under which grow an incredibly diverse selection of plant species. As you can guess, a lowland rainforest is very humid, wet, and warm—an environment you should try to emulate for the best possible Rhaphidophora Hayin growth conditions.

Hayi plants are famed for their unique shingling growth pattern. Shingling is when a climbing plant’s leaves grow flat, pressed flat against the tree or trellis, rather than growing outward or fanning. 

They are also epiphytic—which means it must grow on a supporting tree or plant—from which it will derive some of its nutrients. As houseplants, Hayis are typically sold growing on wooden boards or moss poles.

woman holding a gorgeous shingle plant

Check out my care guides for tradnescantia nanouk, raven ZZ, and scindapsus treubii moonlight!

How much light does it need?

We know Rhaphidophora Hayi are epiphytic (grow on other plants) and hail from rainforests that have plenty of canopies and tree cover. So it makes sense that this plant will need tons of bright, indirect light. Near a sunny window will typically do the trick.

These plants are pretty hardy, but overexposure to direct sunlight can burn their delicate leaves, which is something you can’t reverse. They can also tolerate medium light levels, but keep an eye on growth to make sure your plant isn’t suffering. If it seems to be too dark, consider adding a grow light.

Rhaphidophora Hayi plant climbing a wooden board
Rhaphidophora Hayi plant climbing a wooden board

What soil is best?

The Rhaphidophora Hayi does best in rich, well-draining, airy soil. An aroid mixture is your best bet because it will hold moisture without becoming soggy and heavy. A dense soil without proper drainage will most certainly cause root rot. 

My Hayi is in an indoor houseplant soil that is heavily amended with coco coir or fine moss. This amendment does a great job of helping the soil retain moisture without being too heavy or dense. I try to take cues from the soil the plant comes in, and it was a very mossy soil. 

You might be wondering—if this is a climbing plant, why does it need soil? It only becomes epiphytic once it reaches a tree, until that point, it takes its nutrients and water from soil. However, some people skip the soil altogether and grow Hayi on a moss board, which will give your plant the support it needs without ever planting it in a pot.

Rhaphidophora Hayi plant climbing a wooden board

Want more? Check out my Rhaphidophora Tetrasperma care guide!

How much water does it need?

This plant must be kept moist through spring and summer. You should allow the top inch of soil to dry out between waterings to avoid root rot. This usually means watering the plant about twice a week in the summer in my growing conditions—less when the temperatures cool off and the days shorten.

If your Hayi’s leaves turn yellow and the soil has been consistently wet, you’re probably overwatering it. Back off watering and check your soil to make sure it isn’t too dense. If the oldest leaves are yellowing and falling off and the soil is dry, it’s probably due to underwatering.

Rhaphidophora Hayi plant climbing a wooden board

Temperature & humidity needs

This shingling plant loves the warmth and hates the cold. Anything below 60 degrees or above 85 degrees Fahrenheit could lead to issues. Higher temperatures could likely just warrant more water, while lower temperatures are riskier—they can kill the plant.

Rhaphidophora Hayi plants kept inside won’t have any issues with temperatures since our homes are usually within that range. However, if you’re planning on growing it outdoors, you’ll need to move it inside for the fall and winter months.

If there’s one thing you should know about Rhaphidophora Hayi care, it’s that these plants love humidity. Wet, lowland rainforests are extremely humid places. At least 70% humidity is preferred; if the air is too dry, the plant will simply not grow. The leaves will also remain small.

A good way to up humidity around your plants is to add a humidifier. I also generally don’t recommend misting plants because it provides an only temporary boost in ambient moisture around the plant. However, I love misting my Hayi in addition to using a humidifier. I find that the board can hold a bit more moisture, which is great for helping the plant’s roots attach themselves.

shingle plant climbing a wooden board

How do you mount shingling plants?

Mounting a shingling plant might seem daunting if you’re never done it before. But honestly, it’s really easy. Remember that these plants are literally BORN to climb. They just need a little help. Here are a few things you can use to mount shingling plants:

  • Moss pole or moss board—Use soft string or vinyl plant tape to gently tie the plant up onto the pole or board. It will eventually grab on and not need the string supporting it. You can also mist the moss with diluted fertilizer in water to provide more nutrients.
  • Wooden board—Mine came attached to a wooden board. This is a really easy approach. Just grab a piece of thin wood from the hardware store or a craft store and let it climb! I use rubber bands to secure the plant in place.
  • Tree branch—And why not consider just using a tree branch? I’d recommend removing the bark from a branch and sanding it smooth first. You can use my tutorial for how to strip and finish branches for decor—just skip the step about staining and sealing the branch.
Rhaphidophora Hayi plant climbing a wooden board

What about my plant outgrows the board?

Since these are such fast-growing plants, your Hayi will likely outgrow the board quickly. I replaced my board with a larger one when this happened to my plant—and I encouraged the plant to wrap around the board instead of just climb up it.

To remove the plant from the original board, use a spray bottle to soak the plant. Spray down the back of the plant, making sure you soak the roots that the plant uses to attach to the board. This will make removing the plant easier.

When I added a new board, I moved both plants to one side of the board instead of having one on either side. After a few months, and a few rubber bands to hold the plant in place, it started to wrap around the board all on its own!

It should be a while before it outgrows this board! I just got mine from the craft plywood section at Joann Fabric and Craft. You can also get them at Home Depot or Lowes. Make sure to stain and seal the board first to prevent rot.

shingle plant climbing a wooden board
New growth wrapping around a board

Propagating a shingle plant

Hayi plants are incredibly easy to propagate. Stem cuttings are the best way to go about it. Take some sharp sheers and cut a piece of stem about 5 inches long with two or three nodes. Dip the base of the cutting in rooting hormone powder, and plant it with one node in soil.

Some nodes will be out of the soil, and that’s ok. This is a climber, so there are nodes up the stem. You can use a rich, well-draining soil and keep it in a warm, extremely humid place away from direct sunlight. 

For my recent Hayi propagation, I used a mixture of damp sphagnum moss and perlite in a little plastic cup. I just laid the cutting in there and covered it in a plastic bag before setting it in my greenhouse cabinet. And it went NUTS!

While roots can typically take around a month to grow, I swear that mine was sprouting gorgeous new roots in about a week. A week! That shows the power of humidity with this plant. 

Once you have good root growth, you can plant it in soil if it isn’t already. You can also give it something to start climbing. Make sure to keep the well-draining soil damp and mist the plant once you remove the plastic humidity bag. Then begin to care for it as normal.

Rhaphidophora Hayi plant propagation
shingle plant cutting
New roots sprouting from the stem

In conclusion…

Rhaphidophora Hayi is a cool plant with a unique shingling growth pattern—it certainly stands out in a collection of more common houseplants! This plant thrives in high humidity, bright indirect light, and needs well-draining soil.

Regular watering and misting are essential, as is providing a suitable structure for it to climb. Propagation is straightforward, offering a simple way to expand your collection or share with others. Have you tried growing a Hayi? Share your experiences and tips in the comments below!

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collage of plants that says all about caring fo the shingle plant
gorgeous shingling plant with text overlay that says all about caring for Rhaphidophora Hayi

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