Planning to add a Philodendron variety to your interior decor? Then you have probably come across two of the most popular species – melanochrysum and micans. If you are puzzled about how these gorgeous plants differ from each other, then this guide is for you!
Philodendron melanochrysum vs micans – an overview
Both Philodendron melanochrysum and micans are highly sought-after varieties. Many growers want these philodendrons in their collection due to their stunning appearance and low-maintenance profile.
Also known as the Black Gold Philodendron, melanochrysum is a climbing vine native to the west Andean foothills of Colombia. Its leaves are shot through with pale-colored veins that create a somewhat unique pattern across the dark green foliage. These traces look like gold flecks, hence the species was named ‘melanochrysum’, which literally means black gold. Another feature that sets this variety apart is its large foliage and its height – plant collectors often display their melanochrysum in a roomy corner with lots of space.
Micans, on the other hand, is another Philodendron species known for its velvety, heart-shaped leaves. Unlike melanochrysum, micans has smaller leaves that generally only grow up to three inches wide. Due to its size and vining growth, your micans is best placed in a hanging planter from which the vines can trail down beautifully.
So, how can you tell micans from melanochrysum?
For a novice gardener, a young melanochrysum might be easily mistaken as a full-grown Philodendron micans because of its small leaves. But, as the plant becomes more established, its foliage will grow to its full size with its signature off-white vein pattern.
Philodendron melanochrysum vs micans – the differences
If you are confused about what makes these two Philodendron species different, here are some features to watch out for:
1. Pattern of growth
One major difference you might notice between melanochrysum and micans is the way they grow as vines.
Melanochrysum is a climbing variety of Philodendron that can grow either upwards or downwards from the pot. This type produces new leaves from the side of the plant that can reach up to 24 inches long, given the right growing conditions. Because of its vining tendency, it is best to add a climbing stick to the pot to help it grow neatly.
Micans, on the other hand, grows leaves in different directions. The vines can quickly become bushy and reach about 12 inches tall and 24 inches wide at maturity. Hence, you can grow your micans in a hanging planter for beautiful wall decor, or let the vines climb gracefully up a pole. Either way, their stunning trail and brightly colored leaves will never fail you.
2. Leaf color
Another significant difference you might notice between Philodendrons melanochrysum and micans is the color of their leaves during the unfurling stage.
Melanochrysum begins with bronze-colored leaves which, as they continue to grow, gradually transform into a velvety green color. The back of the leaves will be greener than the front side. The size of their leaves is larger, too – they can grow up to two feet in size!
The smaller and bushier leaves of Philodendron micans grow quite differently from those of the melanochrysum. During the unfurling stage, they change from a light green edged in pink to a deep, velvety green. You will also notice the back side of the leaves developing a purple-red or rusty orange color when exposed to light.
3. Leaf markings
Melanochrysum is well known among plant lovers for its striking leaf markings. Depending on the variety, these markings often come in a cream or off-white color, making a beautiful contrast to the velvety green leaves.
Unlike melanochrysum, micans does not have such visible markings on its leaves. Instead, this plant, also called the Velvet Leaf Philodendron, is adorned with simple, narrow markings.
Philodendron melanochrysum growth requirements
Although melanochrysum is a rare vining variety of Philodendron, this popular houseplant is relatively easy to care for. You might even see it bloom once it reaches maturity, although growers prefer to cut off the flower to encourage more growth of the beautiful leaves.
Here are some of the basics you need to remember once you have this lovely plant in your possession:
1. Indirect sunlight
Melanochrysum thrives in areas with bright, indirect sunlight, just like in its native environment where it grows under a canopy of trees. If you are growing it indoors, it is best to try to replicate these conditions for optimal growth. Be careful not to place your plant in a spot that gets direct sunlight, as this will likely burn the leaves.
2. Potting mix
Whether you grow your melanochrysum indoors or out, the rule of thumb to foster proper growth is to keep the soil moist without it becoming soggy or saturated. Most gardeners recommend adding peat moss combined with orchid bark and perlite. Another great alternative is pure sphagnum moss, as this provides a medium that is airy and slightly moist.
Nutrient-rich soil is also essential for Philodendron growth, so do not forget to add a balanced liquid fertilizer every month!
3. Ideal humidity and temperature
Melanochrysum can be cultivated in a greenhouse or your indoor garden, provided it receives the right temperature and humidity level. In general, these plants need a temperature of 70 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit to thrive. The humidity should be around 60% or higher, although they can also tolerate normal household humidity without a fuss.
4. Climbing pole
Adding a climbing pole to the planter will help your melanochrysum grow taller and reach its spectacular potential. A moss pole will allow it to attach its aerial roots as it grows and spreads. This way, you can also ensure that your melanochrysum grows neatly in the direction that you prefer.
Philodendron micans growth requirements
Like most Philodendron varieties, micans is low-maintenance and fairly easy to grow indoors. This houseplant is popular for its heart-shaped leaves and fast-growing vines, making it an excellent option for a hanging planter. It can also bloom, but most growers are more appreciative of its stunning foliage. Adding a moss pole or trellis can be useful to keep your bushy micans growing in an upright direction.
To achieve the best results, make sure to provide your micans with the following basic care requirements:
Due to its forest origins, your micans appreciates bright, indirect sunlight. You should never leave this plant under the scorching direct heat of the sun, or you risk burning its delicate leaves. Instead, grow it indoors near an east-facing window so that it receives a good dose of indirect light.
One important reminder about growing a micans – the amount of light it receives can greatly influence the color of its leaves. Brighter light results in red or maroon foliage, while low light levels can lead to deep green leaves.
2. Soil type
As with other Philodendron varieties, micans requires slightly moist, well-draining soil to grow healthily. A nutrient-dense potting mix is important, too, and most gardening experts recommend mixing the potting soil with peat moss, orchid bark, coco coir, or perlite to keep your plant happy. Avoid using compacted garden soil, as this will likely cause root rot.
If you do not feel like mixing your own potting soil, we can recommend a ready-mixed potting medium like African Violet Potting Mix to save you the hassle.
3. Watering frequency
The water requirements of your micans are similar to those of most houseplants. That means you should water it only when the top layer of soil has dried out. One method to check this is the finger test method. Simply insert your finger into the top two inches of soil to know whether or not it is still moist.
Another popular way is to insert a stick – moist soil should turn the stick slightly darker, but without much dirt clinging to the stick. If the soil is saturated, the stick will come out a bit messy; if the soil is dry, the stick will come out dry and without soil debris.
4. Temperature and humidity
Micans is a tropical vine, so it is no surprise that these Philodendrons appreciate warm and humid environments. In most cases, typical household humidity should be sufficient to keep your micans satisfied, but increasing the humidity level a bit will make it even happier.
Philodendron micans does best in temperatures between 65 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit. Avoid placing it near heating sources or cold drafts to prevent unsightly damage to the foliage.
Why is Philodendron melanochrysum so expensive?
Plants are often priced according to their unique beauty, variegation, scarcity, or demand. Melanochrysum is a rare variety of Philodendron and is greatly admired for its large and stunning foliage. Hence, it should be no surprise that there is a great demand for it among gardening enthusiasts.
Additionally, the more established a Philodendron is, the higher the price will be. So, if you decide to purchase a fully-grown melanochrysum, you should be ready for an expensive price tag!
Should I grow melanochrysum or micans?
Choosing which Philodendron variety to grow depends largely on your personal preference. If you are looking for a trailing vine to decorate your bare indoor walls, then the bushy micans might be your best bet. If you prefer a stunning ornamental plant to display in the corner of your living room, then melanochrysum is ideal.
Whichever of these gorgeous plants you choose is sure to bring beauty and joy to your living space!
Knowing the main differences between Philodendrons melanochrysum and micans will help you decide which variety to choose to decorate your living space. Thankfully, by simply observing some of the visual factors mentioned above, you should be able to differentiate between these two plants like an expert!
Image: istockphoto.com / seno aji putra