How to Grow Philodendron Melanochrysum

A philodendron melanochrysum in a basket planter with other tropical plants in the background.

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Philodendron melanochrysum plants, also commonly known as black-gold philodendron, are a rare type of vining philodendron that have become popular as houseplants due to their gorgeous foliage. Their velvet leaves come in shades of dark green with brilliantly contrasted yellow veins and can get as large as 24 inches long. While these plants can be difficult to come across, they are surprisingly easy to care for once you finally have one in your possession. 

Botanical Name Philodendron melanochrysum 
Common Name  Black-gold philodendron, melano plant 
Family  Araceae 
Plant Type  Perennial, vine 
Mature Size  3-5 ft tall, 1-2 ft wide (indoors); 12 ft tall, 8 ft wide (outdoors)
Sun Exposure Partial 
Soil Type  Loamy, moist but well-drained 
Soil pH  Acidic 
Bloom Time  Summer 
Flower Color  Green, white 
Hardiness Zones  9a, 9b, 10a, 10b, 11a, 11b 
Native Area  South America
A close up shot of philodendron melanochrysum leaves with bright white/yellow veining.

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Philodendron Melanochrysum Care

Native to the tropical regions of South America, philodendron melanochrysum appreciate warm conditions, dappled light, and consistent watering. Regular pruning is usually not necessary when these plants are grown indoors, but occasional pruning may be required if your plant is getting too large for your space. As these plants mature, it is recommended that you provide them with some type of structure to climb, such as a moss pole or trellis.

If you have a mature plant, you may get the chance to see it bloom—although their blooms are not nearly as spectacular as their velvet foliage. In fact, many growers choose to cut off the green flower spathes in order to redirect the plants energy back to their beautiful foliage.

Light

Philodendron melanochrysum naturally grow as forest understory plants where they receive dappled, indirect light. When grown indoors, it is best to try and replicate these conditions by choosing a location for your melanochrysum that receives bright, indirect light. Avoid exposing these tropical plants to prolonged periods of direct sunlight as the leaves can burn easily. 

Soil

When it comes to choosing the right potting medium for your philodendron melanochrysum, stick to mixtures that are well-draining but moist, and high in organic content. Many growers choose to grow their philodendron melanochrysums in pure sphagnum moss as it is organic, airy, and retains water well. Alternatively, you can make your own soil mixture at home by combining one part peat moss, one part perlite, and one part orchid bark mix.

Water

These tropical plants require regular watering in order to grow well. As a general rule, you should water your philodendron melanochrysum once the top 2 to 3 inches of soil has dried out. Water your plant thoroughly until water drains from the pot’s drainage holes.

Temperature and Humidity

Philodendron melanochrysum grow well in standard household temperature and humidity levels. However, they grow best in above-average humidity where possible. If you have a greenhouse or can place a humidifier near your plant—it will appreciate it!

Fertilizer

Nutrient-rich soil is important to the health of the philodendron melanochrysum, and they benefit from regular fertilization during their active growing period. Use a balanced liquid fertilizer once a month from the early spring to the late summer.

Propagating Philodendron Melanochrysum

As with most vining philodendrons, philodendron melanochrysum are easy to propagate by stem cuttings. This is a great way to reuse any trimmings that are left over from pruning and create new plants for yourself or your friends. Here’s how you can propagate your philodendron melanochrysum in a few easy steps:

  1. Using a pair of sharp, clean scissors or pruning shears - take cuttings that have at least two nodes along the stem. 
  2. Remove the bottom 1-2 leaves on each cutting to expose the nodes, leaving 1-2 leaves on the top of the cutting.
  3. Place the cuttings in water, ensuring that the exposed nodes on the bottom of each stem are fully submerged, and put the cuttings in a location that receives bright, indirect light. 
  4. After a couple of weeks you should notice small roots beginning to sprout from the cuttings. Once the roots are at least an inch long you can replant the stem cuttings in a pre-moistened, well-draining potting mix.
  5. Return the potted cuttings to a location that receives bright, indirect light and keep the soil consistently moist for the first 1-2 weeks after planting to help the cuttings acclimate. 
  6. After a couple of weeks you can begin to cut back on watering and let the soil partially dry out between waterings.

Common Pests & Plant Diseases

When grown indoors, philodendron melanochrysum are relatively well-protected from most pests and diseases. That being said, watch out for signs of common houseplant pests such as scale, mealybugs, fungus gnats, and spider mites; and diseases such as root rot, bacterial leaf spot, and fungal infections.

Common Problems With Philodendron Melanochrysum

Common problems with philodendron melanochrysum are usually a result of improper light or watering. Luckily, these plants are pretty resilient and if the issue is caught early enough, it is likely that they will make a full recovery.

Yellowing Leaves

Overwatering is the most common cause of yellowing leaves on a philodendron melanochrysum. Cut off any affected leaves and ensure that you allow the top couple inches of soil to dry out between waterings. 

Browning Leaves

Brown, crispy leaves are usually an indication that your plant is not receiving enough moisture, or it is getting too much direct light (i.e. sunburn). Sometimes however, older leaves turning brown and falling off are just a natural part of the leaf's life cycle and are no cause for concern. If you notice newer leaves developing brown spots, this is a larger cause for concern.

Leggy Growth

Leggy growth is a common issue for many vining plants, and is an indication that your plant is not receiving enough light. Choose a spot that receives at least 6-7 hours of bright, direct sunlight.

FAQ
  • What’s the difference between the philodendron melanochrysum and philodendron micans?

    While both of these velvet-leaf philodendrons may look similar at first glance, there are a couple of distinct differences that will help you tell them apart. First, the leaves of the philodendron micans are much smaller and thinner than the leaves of the philodendron melanochrysum—which can reach up to 24 inches long! Second, the philodendron micans has a burgundy undertone to its leaves, while the philodendron melanochrysum is dark green with yellow or ‘gold’ veining.

  • How fast does philodendron melanochrysum grow?

    Philodendron melanochrysum are known for having a moderate growth rate. When they are happy, they can grow as much as 6-12 inches per year.

  • Why are philodendron melanochrysum so expensive?

    These gorgeous vining plants are rare and highly sought after—a combination that results in high prices. They can also be pretty difficult to find at most nurseries or garden centers and you may need to go for private collectors or rare plant specialists in order to get your hands on a philodendron melanochrysum.