Rhaphidophora decursiva Care

Last Updated on November 26, 2021 by Grow with Bovees

Have you ever thought of owning a plant that looks dramatic but is fairly easy to grow?

Then the Rhaphidophora decursiva plant might be the perfect houseplant for you.

The Rhaphidophora decursiva is a very easy-going evergreen tropical stunner, with an extraordinary climbing growth habit due to its amazing aerial roots, which will definitely add a dramatic effect to any indoor room or outdoor garden.

Today we will go through how to care for this beautifully fringed robust piece of greenery and talk more about what makes this great-looking, tropical plant so unique.

Classification of the Decursiva Plant

The Rhaphidophora decursiva plant is a very rare aroid belonging to the araceae plant family.

It’s more commonly known as the creeping philodendron, and it’s native to the Himalayan rainforests and tropical regions of China and India.

The genus rhaphidophora consists of about 100 different flowering, evergreen climbers. They’re tropical plants that are highly rated and recommended to grow both indoors and in outdoor situations.

The word rhaphidophora comes from the Greek language and translates to needle-bearer.

This term refers to the calcium oxalate crystals that are found in aroids. The name decursiva translates to downwards and refers to the hanging leaf growth and dangling branches of these plants.

Popular names for these basic plants include Monstera rhaphidophora, Monstera decursiva, Pothos decursiva, Philodendron rhaphidophora decursiva, Rhaphidophora affinis, and Rhaphidophora insignis.

The Rhaphidophora decursiva is often mistaken for the Monstera decursiva.

Tropical Plant Look and Growth

The Rhaphidophora decursiva is a much sought-after tropical climbing plant popular for two very eye-catching features.

Firstly its stunningly massive leaves with its deeply lobed branches and secondly its amazing climbing growth pattern.

When the decursiva sprouts, it presents with very small bluish-green ovate leaves, that grow larger and change shape as it becomes a mature plant.

It eventually develops broad leaves with deep lobes that come close to reaching the midvein. Bearing dark-green shiny leaves that are pointy-tipped and oval bodied, the decursivas fringed look eventually resembles the frond of a palm.

Their beautiful plant leaves become quite large with proper growth. They can reach a length of up to 40 inches and a diameter of about 20 inches wide when maturing in the wild.

The Rhaphidophora decursiva consists of aerial roots that give this plant its climbing abilities and in the wild, it can reach a height of higher than 50 feet tall also developing larger leaves.

Growing them as indoor plants makes for much smaller plants, whose lengths usually only reach about 5 feet in height.

Although this shrub is known for its magnificent foliage it can make flowers.

The flowers develop from a spadix that is spuddy, and is covered with yellow streaking. Tiny yellow flowers are spread across this stubby spadix. One might think that it resembles an ear of corn.

Unfortunately, this fabulous hardy plant is rarely found in nurseries and local garden centers. The easiest way to find a Rhaphidophora decursiva is to track it down from an online seller. 

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This plant is unfortunately toxic to pets and children when ingested.

The Rhaphidophora decursiva is generally a low-maintenance plant, but being a tropical plant, it does have some special care needs. To start you off with a few pointers, it does not do well in cold weather and thrives best when its living space is at average room temperature.

Good news, you do not have to be a plant expert with green fingers in order to manage this large epiphytic plant.

Let’s move on and talk about the specific care guidelines to follow when growing this intriguing plant which makes for great house plants. We’ll not go into detail about growing this plant outdoors.

Rhaphidophora Decursiva Care

Pot Sizes and Types

The decursivas deep-running roots and aerial roots initially grow from a root ball. When choosing a pot, make sure that its size is a bit wider and deeper than the root ball.

Keeping the roots contained in a pot that is too small, will limit the growth of the Rhaphidophora decursiva which has the potential to become a massive plant.

It is important to make sure that the pot you choose has drainage holes. Buy a saucer to place under your pot to protect your furniture from becoming wet.

Soil Requirements

One of the most important things to maintain when caring for the Rhaphidophora decursiva is the oxygen flow to its root ball in order for proper foliage growth to occur. Good oxygen flow can be maintained by using well-draining fresh soil when planting your shrub.

A custom potting mixture will provide for the best growing ground. Make sure that your mix is moist, mildly acidic, well-drained soil. Commercial potting mixes also create rich growing grounds and allows good airflow to the roots which in turn keeps a healthy plant. 

Potting mixes that contain peat moss should be avoided as they often become compacted and soggy. Mucky soil is not good ground for the healthy growth of the Rhaphidophora decursiva. Rather, mix some orchid bark or vermiculite into your potting soil.

These materials will lighten up the soil increasing the drainage and filling the soil structure with air pockets. An epiphytic plant like the decursiva really appreciates moist soil that is well-drained.

Water Requirements of the Rhaphidophora decursiva Plant

In order for the Rhaphidophora decursiva to multiply and develop deep-running roots, one must water correctly. Make it a habit to feel the top two inches of soil before watering the decursiva.

A good indication to water your shrub is when the top layer of the soil is dry before the soil dries completely.

When adding water to your pot, do so slowly and pour until the water starts flowing out from the drainage holes of your pot.

Generally, you would have to water your Rhaphidophora decursiva once a week. This is especially relevant when growing the decursiva indoors.

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During spring and summer seasons when conditions get warmer, you will most likely have to water the decursiva more frequently as this is the plant growing season.

And in colder temperatures during fall and winter seasons, the opposite applies, and watering will occur less frequently. Keep an eye on the potting soil to be certain that it carries consistent moisture.

Light Requirements

The Rhaphidophora decursivas natural habitat in the understory of rainforests which means that it’s most fond of bright but indirect sunlight.

The correct location in your house is crucial to ensure a fast growth rate. Placing the decursiva near an east or south-facing window filled with indirect light and out of direct sunlight would make for the best light conditions.

Direct sun or too much light, may cause your decursivas lovely leaves to scorch. Scorched leaves will carry leaf discoloration and leaves this fun plant with damaged leaves.

Keep an eye on the decursiva and if you notice signs of leaf distress, simply move your pot away from the window slightly, making sure that there is still an ample amount of bright sunlight.

If the light surrounding your decursiva is too dark, the growth of your plant will slow and herewith produce leaves that are smaller than if it had a good amount of bright indirect light.

In the colder months of the year or just at the start of spring, artificial lighting has shown to be of good effect when growing your decursiva.

Using LED growing lights will give your decursiva a head start on its growth in early spring. The growth of a larger leaf size is encouraged when adding some extra light.

Temperature and Humidity

Plenty of humidity makes for the best growing environment for the Rhaphidophora decursiva. Improving humidity requirements indoors is easily done by simply lightly misting the leaves once in a while.

Adding a water-filled pebble tray underneath your pot will aid in evaporation, which will in turn boost humidity levels around the decursiva. Make sure that your pot does not sit in the water.

Investing in a humidifier will also help with keeping moisture levels at 40-60% humidity consistently indoors.

The correct average temperature would range from 60° to 80° F. The decursiva isn’t fond of cold temperatures.

As with many other plants, the Rhaphidophora decursiva shouldn’t be placed near any cooling or heating vents. They’ll cause damage to your plant.

Adding Fertilizer

Due to the decursivas huge leaves, it’s in need of loads of nutrients, a monthly application of good quality fertilizer from spring to summer is essential.

Not enough fertilizer will cause slow or stunted growth. When your plant is dormant, which would be during the months of winter, fertilizer isn’t necessary.

You can use any houseplant fertilizer. The best fertilizer would be Ionic Cal-Mag Pro or Growth Technology Nitrozyme.

Climbing Structure

Providing a structure for the Rhaphidophora to climb up on makes for the best growth.

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Add a simple wooden stick to the pot and the decursiva will readily climb by branching out its air roots as it grows. It’ll even climb walls that are nearby.

How To Propagate Rhaphidophora decursiva

There are two ways of propagation in this case. One is the stem cutting method and the other one is known as air layering.

The cutting method is almost foolproof. Simply pick up some sterilized shears or scissors, (or clean them with hydrogen peroxide), and cut through the stem below the node at the part where the leaf connects with the main stem.

Removing some of the lower leaves and stem cuttings leaving in place the three top ones. Get a rooting hormone and dip the end of the stem cutting into this hormone followed by pacing it into your readily prepared potting soil. Don’t forget to add a climbing stick to the pot.

Next place a plastic bag around your decursivas container, making what we call a humidity chamber, and place it in a location with filtered light.

And finally start by lightly misting your cuttings every morning, watching it while it starts growing taller.

Pests and Problems

Although the Rhaphidophora decursiva is generally a healthy plant, it’s susceptible to a few common pests and plant diseases. These diseases may, among other things, cause leaf discoloration. Let’s continue by learning how to spot some of these issues.

Yellow Leaves

Yellowing leaves is most commonly caused by overwatering. Refer to the paragraph about watering requirements above to avoid this problem.

Brown or Bleached Leaves

When the Rhaphidophora gets too much sun, brown leaves are one of the first signs. To prevent further damage, move your pot to a better location. A damaged leaf will, however, not recover, pruning it will be your next option.

Mushy Stems

Poor soil drainage and overwatering cause mushy stems, which are initially caused due to root rot. Trimming rotted roots may be beneficial, but propagation is probably the best idea to save your decursiva.

Small Leaves

Small leaves indicate a need for repotting.

Mosaic Virus

This disease is transmitted when using contaminated tools and changes the leaves to a patchy yellow color.


The R decursiva is generally a pest-free plant, but overwatering encourages the occurrence of destructive pests.

Aphids, mealybugs and spider mites are some included pests. When pest infestations occur, and you have an infected plant, using commercial insecticides, neem oil or alcohol will help get rid of these pests.

Wiping the surfaces of the R decursiva leaves with a damp towel from time to time is a good idea. This action will keep your leaves clean and help prevent pest infestations and insects such as spider mites from occurring.

To Conclude

You should now be ready to grow and care for this lovely tropical climber. It’s easy to grow and perfect for beginner plant enthusiasts. So go ahead and seek one out. You will definitely not be disappointed.