With beautiful, ruffled leaves and many nicknames, the Philodendron Atom is also known as the Philodendron bipinnatifidum Atom, Philodendron selloum Atom, Thaumatophyllum bipinnatifidum Atom, Lacey tree, or Philodendron Hope. While its identification is often confusing, its care needs are pretty straightforward as tropical houseplants.
Philodendron Atom enjoys warm, humid temperatures and prefers bright indirect light and can be easily propagated through stem cuttings as long as there are multiple nodes on the plant. With that said, Philodendron Atoms are pretty hardy and may tolerate a little wiggle room, making them great household plants.
How Do You Take Care of an Atom Plant?
Philodendron Atom has fairly straightforward care, which makes them an excellent Philodendron variety for beginners. Their care requirements are typical of other upright Philodendrons. Unless you have a variegated version of this plant, their leaves are relatively hardy and do not need extra special care.
Philodendron Atoms prefer bright indirect light, but they can also be medium to even lower light-tolerant plants. For optimal growth, they would like around 400 foot candles, which can be achieved in most eastern-facing windows or pulled back slightly from western or southern-facing windows.
However, they can tolerate around 200 foot candles if necessary. In lower light circumstances, you may have to monitor how much you water your Philodendron Atom, as they will not grow nearly as quickly as they would in brighter light conditions.
Since Philodendron Atoms are tropical houseplants, they will appreciate higher humidity levels. You may notice them develop yellow or brown tips if your humidity levels fall below 50%, so you want to be mindful of your climate. Ideally, they would love humidity levels above 60%, so you can add a humidifier or keep your Philodendron Atom in a space with higher humidity.
When watering the Philodendron Atom, ensure the plant is evenly and thoroughly watered, but only when the soil is nearly dried out, rather than sticking to a particular schedule. Philodendron Atoms are not drought-resistant but tend to be more forgiving than other Philodendron varieties in underwatering. This is especially when the plant is more mature and has a thicker stem.
Make sure that your Philodendron Atom doesn’t get “wet feet,” meaning that the roots are not sitting in wet soil for too long. Philodendrons are prone to root rot if the roots are sitting in saturated soil. A moisture meter is a great way to get an accurate read on the moisture levels in the soil.
The average household temperature from 65-75°F (18-23°C) is suitable for the Philodendron Atom. Philodendrons are native to tropical rainforest conditions, so generally, they will be happier with warmer temperatures up to 85°F (29°C), although they can tolerate lower temperature levels.
However, Philodendron Atoms are not frost tolerant, so ensure you don’t expose them to temperatures colder than 55°F (12°C).
Philodendron Atoms belong to the Araceae family, commonly referred to as Aroids, so choosing a soil mixture that is compatible with Aroids will ensure that your Philodendron Atom thrives.
Philodendron Atoms love a chunky soil mix because it allows the water to drain and provides great aeration. In addition, you can mix your own soil with plenty of orchid bark and perlite for an optimal growing substrate.
As for the pot, Philodendron can do well in various pots if you adjust your watering accordingly. Clay or terracotta pots are known for drawing excess moisture from the soil, so you may need to water your Philodendron Atom a little more frequently, but it is excellent for helping to prevent root rot.
On the other hand, glazed ceramic pots tend to retain moisture, so you may have to water your Philodendron Atom a little less frequently. Whatever pot you choose must have drainage to allow the excess water to escape the pot. This is crucial to avoiding root rot.
Disease and Pests
While they are hardy plants, you may encounter a few problems with your Philodendron Atom:
- Yellow or brown leaves due to overwatering or underwatering
- Fungal or bacterial issues
- Philodendron, in general, can attract many different houseplant pests, including mealybugs, spider mites, thrips, scale, or aphids. If you notice pests on your Philodendron Atom, isolate it and treat it immediately with insecticidal soap or neem oil.
- Shock due to extreme temperature swings, physical injury, or transplant shock.
Philodendron Atom Propagation
A Philodendron Atom has a similar growth pattern to Philodendron Birkin in that it grows upwards. You can only propagate a Philodendron Atom if there are multiple nodes on the plant, as a stem cutting or leaf cutting on its own will not produce roots.
If there are a few nodes on the plant (they will look like bumps where new stem growth emerges and may even have a few aerial roots), then you are safe to propagate your Philodendron Atom.
Step 1: Gather Materials
To propagate your Philodendron Atom, you will first need a few supplies:
- A sterile pair of pruning shears, scissors, or a knife
- Substrate for your cutting (this could be either sphagnum moss, soil, or distilled room-temperature water)
- A new pot (if you are using water to propagate, you can use a glass cup or jar instead)
- Rooting hormone (if desired)
Step 2: Cutting the Plant
Use sterile shears, scissors, or a knife to take your cutting to propagate. Make sure that when you cut, your new cutting has a node where roots can grow. Ideally, you would like a cutting with multiple nodes to maximize the likelihood of the cutting growing roots.
However, if you only have one node to work with, try to cut about half an inch to an inch of extra stem. This will allow you a bit of a safety net should the cutting start to rot.
Step 3: Allow Time For The Wound to Callus
Once you take your cutting, you should give it several hours for the wound to form a callus. This step can help prevent your new cutting from rotting before healthy roots form. Philodendrons, like many aroids, tend to rot while propagating. You can leave your cutting to callus from a half hour to several hours or overnight.
Step 4: Place Your Cutting In New Substrate
Once the wound has been callused, you can take your cutting and place it in its new substrate to form roots. If you are using a rooting hormone, apply the hormone to the node before putting it in its new substrate. Then, place it in bright, indirect light to encourage root growth. There are a couple of options:
- Place your Philodendron Atom cutting in water to form roots. Ensure the node is submerged, not the entire stem, to prevent rotting. You may want to trim away any leaves that might be submerged as long as there are still a few leaves to help with photosynthesis. Replace the water every few days to keep it clean.
- Place your Philodendron Atom cutting in sphagnum moss to form roots. Soak the moss in water and drain it out, so it is moist to the touch. Place your Philodendron Atom’s node in the moss. You may want to put the moss into a cup so your cutting can lean on the exterior walls. Keep the sphagnum moss moist either by misting or adding water, but take care not to soak the stem of your plant.
- Place your Philodendron Atom cutting directly into the soil to form roots. Philodendrons can still develop roots within the soil. However, many people prefer to use water or moss for propagation since they can monitor the root growth (or potential rot) much more closely. Keep your soil moist but not saturated, and ensure the node is in the soil without burying too much of the stem. When you water your cutting, ensure you water evenly so the roots will grow evenly. Do not attempt to pull your cutting from the soil, as this will prevent the roots from growing.
Step 5: Give Your Cuttings Ideal Conditions for Root Growth
Ensure you give your new propagation ideal conditions to encourage healthy root growth. Even though Philodendron Atom plants tend to be a bit more medium to even low light tolerant, you will want to give your cutting bright, indirect light.
Try not to keep your cutting up against a window during extreme weather conditions, particularly if you are trying to root it in water, as this could affect the temperature of the water itself.
Replenish the water as needed and keep the soil moist. Monitor the stem for signs that it could turn brown, which is rot, and trim away the rotted pieces before they spread. As long as the node remains intact, roots should start to grow within 1-2 weeks.
What is a Philodendron Super Atom?
Despite what the name suggests, Philodendron Super Atom is a dwarf cultivar of the Philodendron Atom. While Philodendron Super Atom is not an official, patented cultivar of Philodendron, you may find a smaller version of the Philodendron Atom labeled as a Super Atom.
How Do You Take Care of a Philodendron Super Atom?
Fortunately, Philodendron Super Atom has the exact care requirements as the Philodendron Atom, so if you are unsure which type of Philodendron you have, you can care for either variety in the same way.
Are Philodendron Atoms Rare?
Neither Philodendron Atom nor Philodendron Super Atom are considered botanically rare plants, but depending on where you live, you may find it easier or more challenging to find one.
Whether a houseplant is considered commercially rare depends on your location and how in demand the plant might be. While you may not find a Philodendron Atom as commonly as a Pothos, you should have no trouble finding one at a reasonable price.
How big does a Philodendron Atom get?
While the Philodendron Atom can grow up to 3 feet (0.9 m) tall, the Philodendron Super Atom will typically grow to approximately 11 inches (27 cm).
Philodendron Atom enjoys warm, humid temperatures and prefers bright indirect light to thrive and can be easily propagated through stem cuttings as long as there are multiple nodes on the plant.
To propagate your Philodendron Atom, remove a cutting with a node using sterile tools, allow the cutting to form a callus, and place your cutting in water, soil, or sphagnum moss. Roots should start to form in 1-2 weeks if given lots of bright, indirect sunlight.
Philodendron Atom is a great beginner-friendly plant regarding its care needs and ability to propagate. While you may encounter a few challenges, they are very hardy and forgiving plants that are easy to find and would make excellent additions to any home or plant collection.