How to Keep Your Black Gold Philodendron Looking Beautiful

About Philodendron melanochrysum


It’s not difficult to see why this Philodendron is coveted among collectors of rare Aroids and casual houseplant hobbyists alike: it’s quite the looker!

“Melanochrysum” means “black gold,” which refers to the very dark green color on the foliage of adult plants and the way their leaves seem to almost sparkle in the sun. 

Young specimens of Philodendron melanochrysum already start out quite stunning, with heart-shaped leaves that have a distinctly soft and velvety texture and prominent leaf veins. New leaves emerge reddish or coppery in color and take a few weeks to turn fully green. 

As the plant matures, it climbs upward in typical Philodendron fashion and becomes downright spectacular, gradually producing larger and narrower foliage. The leaves on an adult plant can grow up to 2 feet long!

Philodendron melanochrysum vs. micans

An immature Philodendron melanochrysum can look deceptively like one of its cousins in the same genus, the more popular P. hederaceum var. hederaceum (generally sold as Philodendron micans or velvet leaf Philodendron). Both feature the same velvety, heart-shaped foliage, which emerges reddish in color and gradually darkens as it matures.

In order to tell a juvenile Philodendron melanochrysum apart from a P. micans, have a look at the leaf veins. The former tends to have brighter and more noticeable veins in a silvery-green color, while the veins on P. micans are usually a more neutral green. 

Once the plants mature a little, it becomes easier to tell the difference. Philodendron melanochrysum has thick, sturdy stems, while P. micans leaves will hang down without support as a result of its thin stems. This makes it a popular choice for hanging planters.

Other Philodendrons that can look very similar to the Black Gold Philodendron include P. gigas (which has somewhat narrower leaves) and P. ‘Splendid’, which is actually a cross between Philodendron melanochrysum itself and P. verrucosum. Its leaves are significantly more heart-shaped than that of its parent plant, which should help in telling the two apart.

(You can find a list of some of the most popular Philodendron varieties in my personal guide.)

The curious case of the pink Philodendron 

If you’ve been collecting houseplants for a while, you’ll know that pink plants are all the rage. (Stromanthe Triostar, anyone?)

Natural habitat

Like so many of our favorite tropical houseplants, Philodendron melanochrysum is naturally found in South America. Specifically, it grows in the Andean foothills of Colombia, in the departments of Antioquia and Chocó at elevations up to 2,600 feet. 

Caring for Philodendron melanochrysum

As mentioned in the introduction, as far as rare Aroids go, Philodendron melanochrysum isn’t considered too challenging to grow. I wouldn’t recommend it as a first houseplant, but if you’ve got some prior experience with similar tropicals, you should be fine.

The key to success with Philodendrons and other rainforest plant is to always keep their natural habitat and growth pattern in mind. You don’t have to turn your home into a hot, muggy jungle to grow them, but keeping an eye on factors like humidity does help!

Below, let’s have a look at a few good pointers that should help you get your Philo to thrive.

Light and temperature

In the wild, a Philodendron melanochrysum would receive indirect light only. Since it forms part of the rainforest understory, climbing taller trees but never quite reaching past the canopy into the sun, it’s not considered a bright-light plant. That doesn’t mean it likes to be kept in the dark either, though!

In the home, it’s still important to give your Philodendron a bright spot next to a window for the best results. Just be sure not to expose it to direct sun without proper acclimation, even indoors. Outdoors, you should definitely give your plant some shade to prevent it from burning. 

In terms of temperature, this is decidedly a tropical. It needs to be kept in a non-drafty space that’s room temperature or up, and will stop growing below around 60°F. It’s not frost hardy by any means. Keep yours nice and toasty if you want to see it grow well. 

Soil and planting

One of the most important factors when it comes to keeping your houseplants alive is to plant them in the right soil.

This is no different for a Philodendron melanochrysum. It requires good drainage and an airy medium, and is unlikely to do well in straight-up potting soil.

If you can find a pre-mixed aroid soil locally, that’s a great option for your Philos. They like a mixture that’s light and lets excess water escape with ease (thanks to gritty components like perlite and bark) but still retains some moisture (thanks to retentive components like sphagnum moss and coco fiber). It’s all about balance!

Those who own a bunch of houseplants may find it makes more sense to mix their own soil, as buying it pre-made does add up quickly. A mixture that would be suitable for a Black Gold Philodendron as well as other aroids and similar plants can consist of:

  • 1 part high-quality houseplant potting soil
  • 1 part perlite
  • 1 part fine orchid bark
  • 1 part sphagnum moss

In terms of planting, you can go for any kind of container that suits you, as long as it has a drainage hole in the bottom.

Young plants can usually support themselves, but as your Philodendron matures, it’ll really appreciate a moss pole or plant totem to climb. (This is true of most Philos, including Philodendron gloriosum, ‘Birkin’, and ‘Brandi’, if you’re an avid collector of different Philodendron types.)

Water and humidity

Watering Philodendron melanochrysum, like finding the right soil mixture, is all about balance. These tropicals are used to regular rain showers, but their roots are not equipped to deal with standing water. They’re prone to rot if the soil stays wet for extended periods of time.