Have you heard of the shingle plant? Otherwise known as the Rhaphidophora Hayi, this cool plant grows up boards and poles. Rhaphidophora Hayi care is simple and straightforward as long as you remember a few things!
How to care for the unique Rhaphidophora Hayi shingle plant!
The Rhaphidophora Hayi (ra-fi-do-fora ha-yee), aka the “shingle plant,” is a rare climbing plant that probably looks a bit different from most other vines. Unlike most other aroids, the Rhaphidophora Hayi’s ovular dark green leaves only grow to be about 5 inches long. (Reminder, aroids are plants from the Araceae family and include many common houseplants like Monsteras and Philodendrons.)
What is a shingling plant?
They also remain flat and have a unique growing pattern. This beautiful aroid is also known as a “shingle plant” because, well, it grows in a shingling 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 from. Most Hayi plants that have more than a leaf or two will come growing up along a wooden board.
Rhaphidophora Hayi origin
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. The Lowland Rainforest of Subtropical Australia, home to the Rhaphidophora Hayi, has unfortunately been destroyed over the years. But it has since been put under the protection of Australia’s national environment law.
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 Hayi.
Where can I find a Rhaphidophora Hayi plant?
Rhaphidophora Hayi are trendy plants right now, but they are rare, so it might be hard to get your hands on one. Lucky for all of us, the mass-grower Costa Farms included Rhaphidophora Hayi in the 2021 Trending Tropicals collection labeled “shingle plant.”
Since Costa Farms supplies all of the big spots—Walmart, Home Depot, Lowes, and many more—you might get lucky enough to find one! I’ve never seen them in stores myself because they usually go so quickly, but my friend picked me up one from Walmart.
The best option to find a reasonably priced Hayi plant is probably on a local plant buy/sell/trade group. You can usually find them on Facebook for your area. Otherwise, you can check local nurseries, though their stock is always changing. Etsy is a great option for finding plants you can’t source locally.
For more plants you’ll love, check out my tradnescantia nanouk care guide, my raven ZZ plant care guide, and my scindapsus treubii moonlight care and propagation guide!
How much light does a Rhaphidophora Hayi need?
We know Rhaphidophora Hayi are epiphytic (grow on other plants) and hail from rainforests that have plenty of canopies and tree cover. So we can surmise that this plant will need tons of bright, indirect light. Aim for no less than 70% bright, indirect light.
They are pretty hardy, but overexposure to direct sunlight will burn their delicate leaves and possibly harm the plant. The shingle plant can tolerate low light conditions and do very well with artificial light, making them a great addition to your home or terrarium. (See my guide to using grow lights with houseplants for more.)
Shingle plant soil needs
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 a regular indoor houseplant soil that is heavily amended with peat moss. The peat moss 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 nutrients it needs without ever planting it in a pot.
Want more Rhaphidophora? Check out my Rhaphidophora Tetrasperma, aka “mini monstera” care and propagation guide!
How much water does a Rhaphidophora Hayi need?
This plant must be kept moist through spring and summer. You should be watering your Hayi about 3 times a week in warmer weather, allowing the top inch of soil to dry out between waterings to avoid root rot. It needs much
Since this is a climbing plant, misting every few days is also very important for its growth. During the winter you should cut way back on watering; misting and watering it once a week should keep it going without overwatering.
If your Hayi’s leaves turn yellow, you’re probably overwatering it. Back off watering and check your soil to make sure it isn’t too dense.
Rhaphidophora Hayi care and temperature & humidity needs
The shingle plant loves the warmth and hates the cold! It is native to Australia, so you can imagine it prefers warmer temperatures year round. Anything below or above 60 to 78 degrees Fahrenheit will stunt its growth and possibly kill it.
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. I wouldn’t stress too much about hot temps in the summer outdoors as long as it is in appropriate light.
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. On top of misting your plant regularly, you should also make sure the air around it stays very humid.
A good way to up humidity around your plants is to add a pebble tray with water, group it with other plants, or add a humidifier near the plants. You can also opt to keep your Hayi in a cabinet like an Ikea greenhouse cabinet to help keep moisture levels higher.
How to propagate 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 (thing peat moss and perlite), 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.
You could also take the approach it seems they took with this plant. Cut a single leaf with a node and root that (the bigger leaf that is half in the soil). You’ll plant that and eventually a new plant will sprout, which is the main plant climbing the board in this pic!
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 will find a way and just need a little help.
Here are a few things you can use to mount shingling plants. Whichever you choose, the plant will grab on and do its thing.
Moss pole or moss board. This approach is great because you can mist the moss with diluted fertilizer in water to provide more nutrients. 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.
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! Use the same method to secure the plant to the board until it starts grabbing onto it itself.
Tree branch. And why not consider just using a tree branch? After all, that’s what the plant uses in nature. 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.