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Silver Sword Philodendron Care

Today’s article is covering silver sword philodendron care!

All about silver sword philodendron care (philodendron hastatum)

Today we’re talking about silver sword philodendron care—aka the philodendron hastatum ‘silver sword.’ When I first got this plant, I had never seen one in person. I had seen people selling them online in plant groups, and I’d see them on Instagram plant accounts.

I really only see them occasionally popping up in plant nurseries where I live, and they are usually priced pretty middle of the road. Not super expensive, but also not super cheap. So when a friend of mine told me she saw silver swords at a Weis grocery store for $15 and asked if I wanted one—the answer was YES! Obviously!

woman holding a large Silver Sword Philodendron

Silver sword philodendron care overview

  • Philodendron hastatum ‘silver sword’ is known for its glossy, pointy silver and mint green leaves.
  • Native to the rainforests of Brazil; a climbing vine that adapts well to indoor conditions, favoring plenty of bright, indirect light.
  • Plant in well-draining soil and water only after the top few inches of soil have dried out.
  • Maintain temperatures between 65-85°F; appreciates extra humidity.
  • Yellowing leaves can indicate issues with sunlight exposure, watering practices, or natural aging.
  • Pruning and providing climbing support can encourage bushier growth and prevent legginess.
  • Propagate through division or stem cuttings in a variety
  • Toxic if ingested; keep away from pets and kids.
graphic providing an overview of the care tips outlined in this post

What is a philodendron silver sword?

This type of philodendron hastatum is nicknamed the “silver sword” because of its distinct glossy silver and mint green leaves that come to a sharp point, similar to a sword. The leaves are real show stoppers because they are highly reflective. Very fun to take pictures of this plant—it’s so photogenic.

The plant is native to the rainforests of Brazil. It grows abundantly in Rio de Janeiro, but unfortunately it is now on the list of endangered species of plants because of deforestation. It’s a climbing vine with a thick stem, so it can grow up a simple stake or climb across a trellis as it matures. The silver sword is relatively easy to care for and adapts to most indoor conditions.

I would not say that silver sword is a rare houseplant, but it is a bit harder to find than some more common houseplants. I have started seeing it pop up more and more in local nurseries. Prices can still be all over the place from pretty affordable to splurge levels. A lot of that pricing depends on the plant’s size and maturity.

Despite the fact that my plant came from a grocery store in 2020, I have still never seen a silver sword philodendron outside of an independent nursery. If you’re on the hunt for a silver sword, keep checking your local nurseries. You can also find them online for decent prices.

Silver Sword Philodendron leaf

Are there different types of silver sword philodendron?

I couldn’t find anything definitive on this. But I’m inclined to say that, yes, there are different types of silver sword philodendron. I say that because the type my friend got me (and herself) has grown beautifully, but the leaves have stayed relatively small.

Even as our plants have matured and gotten nice and bushy, the plant has not produced the large silver-sword-like leaves we have seen on other plants. I’ve included two photos below for comparison. The first is my plant; the second is a leaf on a plant at a local nursery.

If you know more about the different types of silver sword philodendron, I’d love to hear from you! In the meantime I’m inclined to believe that there is a regular variety and a narrow variety, which is what I have.

Silver Sword Philodendron
My silver sword philodendron
large silver sword philodendron leaf
Silver sword philodendron leaf at a nursery

How much light does this plant need?

These philodendrons grow beneath the canopies of the rainforest, so they are not big fans of direct sunlight. The silver sword’s unique leaves burn quickly, so the best place for it is by a window where no direct rays touch the leaves.

But make sure the plant still gets enough bright, indirect light. Indoors, I would probably err on the side of more light rather than less. I say that because even though burning is a concern, I had mine by my sunniest window in our old house. And I never had any issues—it grew beautifully!

I have also had the plant under broad-spectrum grow lights through the fall and winter. The plant experienced no adverse reaction to the lights despite being pretty close to them.

If the stems begin to appear long and leggy and you notice leaves growing further apart, it’s an indication that the plant is not getting enough light. This happens because the plant grows longer stems in search of more light.

In general, the plant can appear somewhat lanky even in ideal lighting conditions because its thick stems climb up poles and trellises. But if the plant looks healthy and full, it probably just needs something to climb. Don’t automatically assume you need to add more light.

leaf unfurling on a plant

How much water does the silver sword need?

The key to watering your plant is to ensure the top few inches of soil are dry before you water. If the plant’s soil is dry a few inches down, it’s time to give your plant a thorough soak.

For me, that generally means watering about once a week during the plant’s growing season in the spring and summer months. In the winter, I scale this back to about once every 10-14 days. Your schedule will depend a lot on the conditions you have your plant in.

Common guidance on caring for this plant indicates that you should not water the leaves. However, I do the exact opposite! I love to rinse down my plant’s foliage when I water my plants. I don’t do it every time I water the plant, but I’d say I generally try to do it once every few weeks.

Dust buildup on the leaves can prevent them from growing to their fullest potential, and cleaning the foliage like this is just something I’ve built into my plant care routine. I make sure to do it early in the day, though, so the leaves will have plenty of time to dry off.

Silver Sword Philodendron

Why is my silver sword yellow?

Yellowing leaves can mean a lot of different things. If leaves that get the most light start to yellow, the first thing to check is the sunlight. If it is receiving too much sunlight, the leaves can yellow and fade.

Yellow or droopy leaves can also be a sign of underwatering or overwatering. If the plant is consistently yellowing off its oldest leaves, it may be in survival mode. You might need to water it more—as was the case with me and my plant! I was letting it dry out just a bit too much for a while.

Yellowing and droopy leaves could also be a sign of overwatering, though. This would, of course, be coupled with consistently wet soil. Philodendrons are vulnerable to root rot, which occurs when the soil stays too heavy and wet and prevents the flow of oxygen to the plant’s roots. Yellowing leaves would not be isolated to the plant’s oldest leaves in this case.

Keep in mind that yellowing leaves can be natural in small numbers. But if several begin to yellow at once or on a schedule (e.g., a week after you’d last watered the plant), there might be something wrong.

Silver Sword Philodendron

What is the best soil?

Like most other philodendrons, this plant does best in well-draining soil that is loose and moist, but not overly wet. Additionally, since this plant is a climber it prefers soil with high organic matter. In nature the silver sword climbs on other plants, taking its nutrients from them (organic matter).

Soil plays a huge part in meeting the plant’s water and nutritional needs. You can use a generic well-draining potting mix designed for houseplants or indoor plants and add compost to increase the organic matter composition.

Silver Sword Philodendron
Silver Sword Philodendron leaf

Temperature and humidity needs

The philodendron hastatum is native to the rainforests of Brazil, which should tell you it prefers warmer temperatures. The optimal temperature to grow a silver sword is between 65 and 85 degrees Fahrenheit. It isn’t tolerant of cooler temperatures or frost, so the plant will suffer and possibly die if exposed to the cold for long periods of time.

If you’re growing it indoors, maintaining a good temperature shouldn’t be difficult. Just keep it away from radiators, vents, and drafts. I find that my plant is very tolerant of all normal household temps. A few cold snaps down into the 50s probably won’t kill it, either.

If you want your silver sword to really flourish and its leaves to look as metallic and stunning as possible, you have to artificially increase the humidity in your home. You can add a humidifier to boost humidity levels near your plant.

I have also kept mine in my Ikea greenhouse cabinet; since it’s enclosed, the ambient moisture from the plants tends to keep things a bit more humid even without a humidifier. During the winter months when the air becomes very dry, it’s important to watch out for yellow and droopy leaves as this is a sign it needs more moisture.

Silver Sword Philodendron

Curling leaves on a silver sword

If your philodendron silver sword’s leaves are curling, there are a few possible reasons for this. The first and most likely is probably a lack of water. If the soil is too dry, the leaves may start to curl as a sign of stress. Be sure to keep the soil consistently moist but not waterlogged—let the top few inches of soil dry out before watering the plant again.

Curling leaves could also be a sign that your plant is in a bit of shock from exposure to temperature extremes. If temperatures consistently drop below 60 degrees Fahrenheit or rise into the 90s, do an audit of the conditions to make sure temperature isn’t causing your plant to suffer.

For more silver plants, check out my care guides for scindapsus pictus, tradescantia zebrina, watermelon peperomia, and scindapsus treubii moonlight.

How fast does silver sword philodendron grow?

Generally speaking, many consider silver swords to be moderate to fast growers. With proper care and ideal conditions, your plant can potentially grow several inches per year. Give your plant plenty of bright, indirect light and water appropriately—extra humidity will probably help, too!

Keep in mind that growth rate also depends on the maturity of the plant and its size. A young plant will grow faster than a mature one. I can say that my plant usually throws out a couple new leaves on each growth point (there are three) every growing season.

After doing research, I was still unable to find exactly how big this plant can get. I found differing information. And earlier in this article, I also noted that I suspect there are two different types of philodendron hastatum “silver sword”—including a more compact/narrow version.

On some plants, it seems the leaves can get very large. And the plant can climb several feet tall. Because it is a climber in its native Brazil, giving it something to climb like a moss pole (as opposed to trailing in a hanging basket) might help to get the plant to its maximum potential. Their aerial roots will attach to surfaces on their own once you get the plant started climbing something.

baby silver sword propagation

How to grow a bushier plant

And what happens if your plant gets leggy? You might want to make your silver sword bushier. There are a few easy ways to do that, including pruning. Here are some tips.

  • Prune regularly: Cutting back the tips of the stems will promote bushier growth by encouraging the plant to branch out. I know cutting plants can be hard, but pruning is often a great thing for plants!
  • Provide a climbing support: Providing a support for the plant to climb on will help to keep it upright and prevent it from becoming too leggy.
  • Provide the right light: Go for bright, indirect light to encourage bushier growth. Light levels that are too low—even medium light levels—can encourage dull, leggy growth.
Silver Sword Philodendron

Propagating silver sword from cuttings

You can propagate your plant via division or stem cuttings. You can divide a silver sword philodendron only if you have multiple growth points in one pot. My silver sword had 5 growth points in it that I could have easily separated from one another and potted up separately.

Instead, I removed only the smallest plant in the pot and potted it up with fresh soil separately. Since the plant already had roots, it experienced very little shock in the process. Here’s that baby in my greenhouse cabinet:

baby silver sword propagation
Beautiful baby silver sword propagation

Propagating through cuttings in water

You may choose to take a stem cutting from your silver sword philodendron. To propagate your plant using a stem cutting, cut a healthy stem that has several nodes (the areas where the leaves emerge from the stem). Then clip the bottom-most leaves off leaving 1-2 nodes.

To root the plant in water, simply pop it into a clear container with water. Make sure all of the growth points are covered. Refresh the water every few weeks. You’ll eventually notice roots sprouting. Once they are a few inches long, transfer to soil and keep the soil moist while the water roots are converting to soil roots.

Silver Sword Philodendron plant

Propagating through cuttings in LECA

Another option is to use LECA—one of my favorite ways to root cuttings. I like LECA because it helps the plant grow stronger roots than water does—but, unlike soil, I can monitor root development. To propagate a cutting in LECA, add about 2 inches in the bottom of a mason jar.

Then nestle the cutting above this LECA layer and fill in around it with more balls to stabilize things. Add water to fill up the bottom two-inch LECA layer, but don’t submerge the cutting. Monitor water levels and keep the reservoir full.

The balls around the cutting will soak up moisture from the reservoir, but because the cutting isn’t submerged in water, the roots still have access to air flow. This is a recipe for strong roots! Here is a cutting I rooted in LECA. I left this one in for a while before transitioning to soil purely due to laziness.

silver sword philodendron propagation in LECA
silver sword philodendron propagation in LECA

Propagating through cuttings in soil

Of course you can also choose to plant the stem cutting directly in well-draining soil. If you choose to do so, keep the cutting moist and the humidity high to encourage rooting and new growth. After about six weeks, roots should sprout, and you may notice new growth on the plant.

Is philodendron hastatum toxic?

Philodendron hastatum is considered toxic to pets and humans if ingested. The plant contains calcium oxalate crystals, which can cause oral irritation, excessive drooling, difficulty swallowing, and vomiting. In more severe cases, it can cause swelling of the lips, tongue, and throat, which can lead to difficulty breathing.

I always recommend keeping plants—and especially philodendrons—away from children and pets if they are prone to nibbling. Better to be safe than sorry!

baby silver sword propagation

In conclusion…

The silver sword is a stunning addition to any plant collection. Its unique, sword-like metallic leaves literally take my breathe away when I look at it. Not to sound dramatic…but look at them!

How has your experience been with the silver sword philodendron? Share your stories or tips in the comments below…especially if you have a good source on the difference forms of this plant. I’d appreciate it! Happy planting 🙂

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Here is a link to the Dropbox folder with the guide!

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collage that says caring for philodendron hastatum 'silver sword' including pictures of the plant

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