Philodendron Dean McDowell Care Guide 
philodendron dean mcdowell plant

Plant lovers are always on the lookout for new additions to their collections, and the philodendron McDowell has become a popular choice in recent years. This striking plant, developed by John Banta in 1988, boasts a unique name with an interesting backstory. But beyond its captivating name, the Philodendron McDowell is also a hardy and forgiving plant, making it a great choice for both novice and experienced plant enthusiasts. In this blog post, we’ll explore the fascinating history and care needs of the Philodendron McDowell.

Table of Contents

    What is the Philodendron McDowell?

    The Philodendron McDowell is a stunning hybrid that was developed in 1988 and named after the creator’s friend, Dean McDowell. It is a cross between the Philodendron Gloriosum and the Philodendron Pastazanum. This plant is a hardy member of the Araceae family and has forgiving care needs, making it easy to grow. Its growth rate is about one new leaf every 4-6 weeks if treated well. Distinctive for its horizontal stem that creeps along the soil, this Philodendron establishes strong roots and produces impressive heart-shaped leaves. Due to its main stem’s horizontal growth pattern, this plant typically grows up to a height of only 3 feet (91cm).

    How to care for Philodendron Dean McDowell?

    To care for this plant, place it in bright filtered light, ideally on East, West, or South-facing windowsills. Do not overwater, instead only water when the topsoil is dry to the touch. As a terrestrial creeper, it requires a rich organic potting mix that is also well-draining and airy. Indoor potting mix with perlite, orchid bark, and charcoal, is ideal.

    The humidity levels should be kept between 65-75%, which can be maintained with the use of humidifiers if necessary. Average room temperatures are suitable, and monthly fertilization with liquid houseplant fertilizer will boost its growth. These are the essential details for taking care of Philodendron McDowell.


    Philodendron McDowell is a vegetation that grows low to the ground in its natural environment. Due to the thick layers of trees, it does not receive any direct light from the sun. As a result, when kept outside, it prefers to grow in partial shade.
    When kept indoors, it flourishes in bright but indirect light. It is recommended to place it near an East, West, or South-facing window.
    If your Philodendron McDowell develops long petioles (leaf stalks) and longer internodes (lengths between nodes), it is a sign that it requires more light.
    However, you should avoid exposing it to harsh sunlight as it may burn its leaves. To adapt your plant to more light, gradually increase its exposure to sunlight over a week or two. Nonetheless, never place it under direct sunlight in the afternoon.


    Your Philodendron McDowell flourishes in moderate temperatures ranging from 55 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit (13-27 degrees Celsius). However, this plant may take some time to respond to unfavorable temperature fluctuations, which can be observed through yellowing leaves and slow growth.For those residing in mild climates within USA hardiness zones 9b-11, this plant can thrive outdoors. You can easily find out which hardiness zone your location falls within.

    If you live outside this range, it would be best to keep your Philodendron McDowell as an indoor plant, as it will likely be much happier in a controlled environment.

    Watering Philodendron McDowell plant

    When it comes to taking care of your Aroid, watering is an important aspect. However, overwatering can be a common problem. The good news is that watering your Philodendron McDowell is a simple task that can be easily mastered.To get it right, water your plant when the top 2 inches of soil feels dry. You can check the soil moisture level by sticking your fingers into the soil. If the soil feels dry to the touch, then it’s time to water your plant. plant

    For best results, use room temperature water, preferably rainwater or distilled water. However, tap water can also be used. Water your plant slowly, near the base, and avoid wetting the foliage. A long-spouted watering can is ideal for this purpose.

    Water the plant until excess water starts to escape from the drainage hole at the bottom. Then, empty the saucer. Wait until the top 2 inches of soil is dry before watering again. This method will allow you to adjust your plant’s watering schedule as its growth rate slows and seasons change.

    Pot type and size for McDowell Philodendron plant

    For plants with a creeping habit and established root systems, a container that is wide enough is required.

    A pot with a width of about 10-20 inches (25-50cm) and a depth of 10 inches (25cm) would be perfect, depending on the size of the rootball.

    It is important to use a container with drainage holes so that the plant’s roots do not sit in stagnant water, which can result in root rot. Terracotta planters are preferred as they are breathable.

    Humidity requirement for Philodendron Dean Mcdowell

    For optimal plant health, maintaining humidity levels between 65-75% is best. If you notice yellow halos or browning tips on your Philodendron McDowell, it’s a sign that the air is too dry.

    A simple and effective solution to this issue is using a humidifier.

    While misting your plant can provide temporary relief, it’s not a long-term solution for increasing humidity levels.

    Keep in mind that most houseplants thrive in high humidity, so investing in a humidifier can benefit all the plants in your home.

    Best soil for McDowell plant

    As a land-dwelling Philodendron, your plant is accustomed to growing in areas near the forest floor that are rich in nutrients. For optimal growth, they require an organic and nutrient-dense growing medium instead of the climbing plants suitable for epiphytes.

    It’s crucial to provide your plant with an airy potting mix that retains moisture while also providing excellent drainage.

    Our preferred medium for your Philodendron includes:

    • Two parts high-quality potting mix
    • One part perlite
    • One part orchid bark
    • A pinch of charcoal

    Alternatively, you can substitute vermiculite or coconut coir for perlite. All three ingredients serve the same purpose of lightening the mix and improving its drainage properties.

    Best Fertilizer for Philo McDowell

    For those who have unfertilized Philodendron McDowells that tend to grow pretty slowly, using a slow-release fertilizer like Osmocote or a high-quality liquid fertilizer like Dynagro can make a huge difference in growth.

    If choosing the liquid fertilizer option, the foliage-pro version should be used, as the increased nitrogen encourages lush leaf growth.

    During the spring and summer months, it is recommended to fertilize every four weeks at half-strength, but hold off on fertilizing in winter and autumn.

    If you have just purchased a Philodendron McDowell, be sure to check with the seller if slow-release fertilizer has already been added to the soil to avoid double-fertilizing and burning its roots.

    Pruning dean mcdowell mature plant

    To maintain the growth of your Philodendron McDowell, utilize a set of well-maintained disinfected garden shears to carefully eliminate any sections that appear wilted or lifeless. Pruning assists in focusing plant energy on fresh growth.

    Repotting philodendron McDowell

    Regarding repotting Philodendrons, it is not necessary to do it frequently. You only ought to consider it when the roots have emerged through the drainage holes of the existing pot. For the purpose of reducing transplant shock, it’s advisable to water the plant the day before repotting. It is also important to use fresh soil so that nutrients can be replenished.


    To propagate your Philodendron McDowell, using stolon cuttings is the simplest method. The stolon is the main stem of the plant that runs horizontally on the ground; therefore, the first step is to wait until the plant is well-established with a minimum of 4-5 leaves before propagating. Stolon Propagation in Few Steps:

    • First, locate a healthy section of the stolon with at least a single node and a leaf, as new growth emerges from nodes.
    • Carefully remove the identified part of the stolon, including the node(s) and the leaf, using a sterilized shear or knife. It is essential to use a sharp blade to limit harm to the parent plant.
    • Fill a container with evenly moist potting mix.
    • Place the stolon cuttings gently on top of the soil (no need to bury it) and use your finger to press it into the soil.
    • In a warm spot with indirect light, place the container.
    • Keep the soil equally damp, but avoid overwatering.
    • Within 4-6 weeks, new roots should emerge at the cut ends.
    • Treat your new plant as you would any other Philodendron McDowell!

    Toxicity of Philodendron McDowell

    Philodendron McDowell, being a member of the Araceae family, possesses toxicity that can cause harm to both humans and animals if ingested. Thus, it is important to keep this particular plant out of reach of children and pets. On the other hand, if you’re searching for plants that are safer to have around pets and children, it may be worth considering Hoyas and Peperomias.

    leaves issues of Philodendron McDowell plant

    There are a few reasons why your plant’s leaves might be fading in colour. First, it could be a sign of overwatering. If the soil is consistently damp or waterlogged, the roots can’t absorb oxygen, leading to yellowing leaves. To remedy this, let the soil dry out before watering again. Additionally, make sure there’s proper drainage and that the pot isn’t sitting in a saucer of water.

    On the other hand, yellowing leaves might also be a sign of not watering enough. If the soil is bone dry, your plant can’t absorb the necessary nutrients it needs, leading to leaf yellowing. Make sure to water your Philodendron McDowell plant when the top inch of soil is dry to the touch.

    Now, let’s explore brown spots on your plant’s leaves. Brown spots can indicate several issues, but a common one is bacterial blight spots. This bacterial infection typically starts at the leaf’s edges and progresses inward, causing brown, water-soaked lesions. To remedy this, you’ll need to remove all affected leaves and sterilize your pruning shears to avoid spreading the bacteria. Additionally, make sure to keep the leaves dry and avoid overhead watering.

    Lastly, crispy, dry leaf edges are usually a sign of low humidity. These plants prefer high humidity, so if you’re living in a dry climate or have the heating up during the colder months, this could be the cause. To increase the humidity around your plant, consider investing in a humidifier or placing a tray with water and pebbles near your plant’s pot.

    Common Pests and Diseases

    Philodendron McDowell plants are prone to three common issues: root rot, mealybugs, and spider mites. For more details on pets and diseases of philodendrons see our article.

    Root Rot

    Overwatering plants may result in root rot, which can make Philodendron McDowell leaves turn yellow. It is best to check if the soil is damp to determine if your plant is slightly overwatered. In severe cases, the plant needs to be taken out of its pot and the roots inspected. Healthy roots are thick and white, while black or brown roots indicate root rot. Sterilized shears should then be used to remove the infected roots before the plant is repotted in fresh soil.


    Mealybugs are attracted to overwatered and overfertilized Philodendron McDowells. White, segmented insects around 1/10 to 1/4 inch long are easy to spot. Neem oil spray is an effective preventative measure, but you must ensure your watering practices are on point.

    Spider Mites

    Hard to spot due to their small size, Spider Mites are identified by the tell-tale webbing on the underside of Philodendron McDowell leaves. They suck the sap from plants, which can prevent them from getting all the nutrients they need. Neem oil spray and insecticide soap are both effective treatments against Spider Mites. A guide on how to get rid of spider mites is available.


    What are the most common issues with Philodendron McDowell?

    The three most common issues with Philodendron McDowell are root rot, spider mites, and mealybugs.

    What causes root rot in Philodendron McDowell?

    Root rot is caused by overwatering your plant. If you see your Philodendron McDowell leaves turning yellow, chances overwatering may be the cause. Check if the soil is damp to confirm.

    How do I save my Philodendron McDowell from root rot?

    To save your plant, you’ll need to use sterilized shears to snip off the infected roots, then repot them in fresh soil. Consult our step-by-step guide for details!

    What are mealybugs and how can I prevent them in my Philodendron McDowell?

    Mealybugs are a common pest that attacks Philodendron McDowells, attracted to overfertilized and overwatered plants. The best way to prevent these bugs is to ensure your watering practices are on point, and you don’t overfertilize! You may use a dilute neem oil spray as a preventative measure.

    How do I identify and get rid of mealybugs in my Philodendron McDowell?

    Mealybugs are easily spotted as they appear as white, segmented insects about 1/10 – 1/4 inch (1/4 to slightly over 1/2 cm) long. Check out our guide on identifying and getting rid of mealybugs.

    What are spider mites and how can I get rid of them in my Philodendron McDowell?

    Spider mites are another common houseplant pest that sucks on your plant’s sap, depriving it of nutrients. Neem oil spray and insecticide soap are both effective against spider mites. Check out our guide on how to get rid of spider mites for more details.

    What is Philodendron Dean McDowell Care?

    Philodendron Dean McDowell is a tropical plant that loves warm temperatures and high humidity levels. It thrives in bright, indirect light and well-draining soil. This plant is relatively easy to take care of, making it an excellent choice for novice gardeners.

    How do I care for my Philodendron Dean McDowell?

    To care for your Philodendron Dean McDowell, you need to provide it with the following:

    • Adequate light: Place the plant in bright, indirect light. Direct sunlight can scorch the leaves and make them turn yellow.
    • Proper watering: Water the plant when the top inch of the soil feels dry. Don’t let the soil dry out completely, as it can lead to leaf drop.
    • High humidity: Philodendron Dean McDowell loves high humidity levels. You can increase humidity by misting the leaves or placing a humidifier nearby.
    • Fertilizer: Fertilize the plant during the growing season (spring and summer) with a balanced liquid fertilizer.

    What is the best lighting for my Philodendron Dean McDowell?

    Philodendron Dean McDowell prefers bright, indirect light. You can place it near a window facing east or west, or use a sheer curtain to filter the intense sunlight.

    How often should I water my Philodendron Dean McDowell?

    Water your Philodendron Dean McDowell when the top inch of the soil feels dry. Don’t let the soil dry out completely, as it can lead to leaf drop. Overwatering can also cause the roots to rot.

    How do I propagate my Philodendron Dean McDowell?

    You can propagate Philodendron Dean McDowell through stem cuttings. Take a cutting of about 6 inches from the parent plant, making sure it has at least one leaf node. Dip the cut end in rooting hormone and plant it in a pot filled with well-draining soil. Keep the soil moist, and the cutting should start rooting within a few weeks.

    What are the common pests and diseases that affect Philodendron Dean McDowell?

    Philodendron Dean McDowell can attract pests like spider mites and mealybugs. You can treat these pests with insecticidal soap or neem oil. The plant is also prone to root rot if overwatered.

    What happens if I overwater or underwater my Philodendron Dean McDowell?

    Overwatering can cause the roots to rot, leading to plant death. Underwatering can cause the leaves to turn yellow and fall off. To avoid these issues, water the plant when the top inch of the soil feels dry.

    How do I fertilize my Philodendron Dean McDowell?

    Fertilize your Philodendron Dean McDowell during the growing season (spring and summer) with a balanced liquid fertilizer. Follow the instructions on the package for the right dosage and frequency.

    Why are the leaves of my Philodendron Dean McDowell turning yellow or brown?

    Yellow or brown leaves can be a sign of overwatering, underwatering, or low humidity levels. Make sure to water the plant correctly and increase humidity by misting the leaves or using a humidifier. If the issue persists, check for pests or diseases.

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