Published on May 15, 2020

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Framed art by Ann Smiga Greene. photography by Nicole Laemers

A velvet sofa is one way to add texture to a room, but did you know you can do the exact same thing (for way less money) with greenery? Known for its ultra-soft leaves, which has earned it the nickname velvet leaf philodendron, the philodendron mican is basically like an Anthropologie couch in plant form. But don’t be fooled by its luxurious surface—turns out this pick of the bunch is actually fairly easy to care for. 

According to Nicole Laemers, the visuals director at Little Leaf Shop in Washington, D.C., and proud owner of a philodendron mican, this species is similar in aesthetic and temperament to the heartleaf philodendron, as well as some pothos. “Philodendron means ‘tree lover,’ because in their natural habitat they love to climb and vine through the jungle,” explains Laemers. To add to the whimsy of its cascading vines, its foliage color ranges from deep green to rich purple, with the new leaves emerging a vibrant chartreuse. Here’s what you need to know to help yours thrive: 

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Photography by See D Jan/Getty Images

How much light does it need? 

Medium-to-bright indirect light is best for this houseplant, so try to position it near north-, east-, or west-facing windows. If a south-facing window is your only option, Laemers suggests hanging a sheer curtain to block out some of the rays so the leaves don’t burn. 

How often should I water it? 

When the top one to two inches of soil feels dry (to test, simply stick your finger into the dirt), it’s time to give the plant a drink. Because this species likes warm temperatures and high humidity, mist it periodically—especially during the summer months. Just be sure not to ever let it sit in water, as this will lead to root rot (there is such a thing as too much love). 

How should I pot it? 

You’ll know when it’s time to find a new home for your plant when the roots form a tight ball or begin poking out of the drainage hole. Laemers suggests upgrading to a pot that’s two to three inches larger than the previous planter (it’s best to do this during late winter or spring before the growing season begins). The philodendron mican looks especially gorgeous when it’s hanging from the ceiling or displayed on a shelf, so do those lush vines justice and put it in a high place. You can even train it to grow up a trellis or a moss pole if it’s situated on the floor or a tabletop, adds Laemers. Using small hooks or staples, attach the vines to the desired surface, and over time it will start to latch on.

Do I need to trim it?

This plant grows pretty quickly, and while cutting isn’t totally necessary, the stems are easy to propagate in water (just be sure to snip it at a node). “They’re perfect for passing along to a friend,” says Laemers. As long as your plant is receiving bright, filtered light and water when the soil is dry, it will be the gift that keeps on giving. 

See more plant-care stories: 
Skip the Monstera—The Philodendron Xanadu Is the Lush Plant You Need
How to Care for a Monstera—Even If You’re Not a Plant Pro
Everything You Need to Know About the Fiddle-Leaf Fig

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