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The Ultimate Rare Plant Care guide: Syngonium Podophyllum Albo Variegata

Updated: Mar 11, 2023

Buying a new rare plant is very exciting for plant collectors, either to add to your own collection or to buy for propagation and selling for your small shop.


It can be easy to get caught up in the buzz of caring for your rare plant, but assuming a plant’s care and getting it wrong can very easily lead to a rapid decline (and even death) of your new purchase.


So if you’ve just purchased a Syngonium podophyllum albo variegata, or are considering purchasing one, this blog will tell you everything you need to know about this rare plant including its history and appearance, care advice, investment profitability, and how to propagate it.


Syngonioum podophyllum albo variegata full plant
A full plant of Syngonioum podophyllum albo variegata.


History, classification and distribution of Syngonium podophyllum albo variegata

Syngonium podophyllum albo variegata is the white variegated form of Syngonium podophyllum, a globally common houseplant.


The first record of Syngonium podopyllum in 1753 by Swedish botanist Carolus Linnaeus (1707-1778) as Arum auritum in his Species Plantarum, which was the first work to record and apply binomial names to plants.


S. podophyllum was later renamed and recorded as Syngonium podophyllum in a series of reviews by Henry Schott (1794-1865), an Austrian botanist famous for his extensive work and specialisation on aroids. These works included Synopsis aroidearum (1856) and Prodromus Systematis Aroidearum (1860).


Syngonium podophyllum taxonomy

Domain: Eukaryota

Kingdom: Plantae

Phylum: Spermatophyta

Subphylum: Angiospermae

Class: Monocotyledonae

Order: Arales

Family: Araceae

Genus: Syngonium

Species: Syngonium podophyllum


Distribution

S. podophyllum is native to many central and South American countries (shown in green). It was later introduced to many of the Caribbean islands, Florida and some South-East Asian countries (shown in purple).


Distribution map of 'Syngonium podophyllum'
Distribution map of 'Syngonium podophyllum' on Kew Royal Botanical Gardens: Plants of the World Online, 2022


What does syngonium podophyllum albo varegata look like?

Syngonium podophyllum albo variegata is a climbing aroid with arrow shaped, pointed leaves. These leaves have 2 lobes which become larger and more separate from the main body of the leaf as the plant matures. They have bright green leaves and stems with chimeric white variegation which appears both mainly sectoral.


Stem variegation on Syngonium podophyllum albo variegata
White stripes of variegation shown on the stem.

The variegated parts of the plant appear white due to the lack of chlorophyll - a green pigment in plants. Hence I'd recommend an equal level of variegation (between 40-60%) for optimal growth and appearance, as too much variegation will limit the growth rate of the plant.


Syngonium podophyllum albo variegata half moon leaf
A 'half moon' variegated leaf (50/50 green and variegation).


is Syngonium podophyllum a good rare plant Investment?

For those of you interested in buying this rare plant to propagate and sell for profit, you’ll be happy to hear that the return on investment is pretty fast for them for the following reasons.


  • They grow incredibly quickly - once they have around three leaves or so, they will put out a new leaf at least every two weeks to a month (in optimal growing conditions).

  • They are easy to propagate - around 9/10 of your propagations will be successful for these plants which is a very low failure rate.

  • They root very fast - in water (with a heat mat and lots of light), these rare plants will begin to root within one to two weeks.


It is good to keep in mind that the level of variegation on a cutting will considerably affect the value of that leaf, with more variegation increasing the value of the leaf as this is more desirable.


Looking at the rare plant market, their value has significantly declined. This decline has slowed and the value appears to be currently relatively stable, and a single-leaf rooted cutting with around 50% variegation will sell for £5-£10.


Syngonium podophyllum albo variegata half moon leaf.
An example of a well variegated that would be ideal for selling.

How do I Care for Syngonium podophyllum albo variegata?


Caring for Syngonium podophyllum albo variegata is easy and they make amazing houseplants for beginners! If you’re looking for a great variegated houseplant to practise propagation, or simply a new variegated plant to add to your collection, these rare plants are the perfect choice.


Light

I recommend providing these Syngonium in as much light as possible. The more light they receive, the faster they will grow!


Keep your rare plant within three metres of a large South/West facing window, or one metre of a small East/North facing window. Avoid putting them in intense direct sunlight as the variegated areas are very prone to burning (although it will be fine in very weak easy morning/evening sunlight).


Watering

I like to water these plants when the soil has completely dried out as I've found they can easily develop root rot if not. This is around every 7 days in the summer and up to every 14 in the winter, depending on how warm your house is. I like to use filtered water for my rare plants to avoid any mineral/salt build-up in the soil but this is not essential.


Temperature

I recommend growing these Syngonium in temperatures between 21-28 degrees Celsius for the fastest growth. They are tropical plants and Amazon rainforest temperatures do not normally fall below 17 degrees Celsius, so I wouldn't recommend growing them in temperatures below this for long periods of time. This is because they are not adapted to these temperatures and will not grow and may die.


Humidity

For best growth, grow these Syngonium in 60+% humidity as they naturally originate and grow in tropical regions. High humidity levels also encourage the growth of aerial roots which can be trained back into the soil or on a moss pole to add extra support to the plant as a climber.


However, they will also happily grow in natural household humidity levels down to around 30%.


what is the best Substrate and Maintenance for Syngonium Podophyllum albo variegata?

Like most Syngonium, the S. podophyllum albo variegata prefers to be kept a little root bound. Keep your plant in a pot size in which their roots are snug and fill the pot, as this will allow the soil to dry out fast enough between waterings.


Soil and fertiliser

I use my general aroid soil mix which is perfect for growing these! As an enthusiastic overwaterer, I designed my soil mix to be very well-draining in order to prevent my Syngonium from staying too wet and developing root rot.


The Botanical Collector - Aroid Soil Mix
My chunk aroid mix used for my syngonium.

I recommend you use the following 5 components in your substrate:


1. Coco coir

This provides the plant with key nutrients (including Phosphorus and Potassium) and is great for structure and water retention.


2. Perlite

This makes the soil well-draining and provides aeration which is essential for allowing the roots to 'breath' (they respire too!) and for helping to prevent the dreaded root rot.


3. Pine bark chips

These give the soil mix a chunkier composition and help with water retention. The roots absolutely love a chunky soil mix as this helps to encourage thick and strong root growth to support the plant and also helps to keep air pockets in the soil and aid drainage.


4. Ground charcoal

This acts as a filter to remove impurities from water, preventing mould from forming on top of your soil and this helps to absorb excess moisture in your soil mix.


5. Worm castings

These act as a natural organic fertiliser by slowly breaking down in the soil to release Nitrogen, Phosphates, Potash and 'live bacteria, fungi and microbes' (Willy Worms).


Repotting

When repotting, I recommend only increasing the pot size by one or two sizes larger. This allows the roots to adjust to the new space without being swamped by large amounts of empty soil (which holds excess moisture and often leads to root rot). One of the easy mistakes to make with this rare plant is to repot it into a pot size too large, so only repot up one pot size at a time.


Depending on the growth speed of your philodendron, I estimate repotting it around once every year. If you suspect your plant may need repotting, simply pull it out of the pot and check the roots!


How do I Propagate Syngonium Podophyllum Albo Variegata?

If you’re interested in propagating your Syngonium, either to add more into your pot or for selling, you’ll be pleased to hear that these plants are incredibly easy to propagate!


My preferred method of propagation is water as they root very quickly and require very little maintenance. Other methods, such as using sphagnum moss and perlite, will also work well with these Syngonium.


You can learn more about different propagation methods for aroids such as Syngonium in my blog post here.


Syngonium podophyllum albo variegata roots
The roots on a cutting propagated in water.


To summarise...

These rare plants have so many positives which make them perfect for beginner investors or private collectors. Their ease of care, fast growth and stunning appearance make them a very optimal rare plant for many, particularly beginners.


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