Philodendron Atom Easy Care Guide (Must Read)

Philodendron Atom plants:

  • are easy to care for ✔
  • showcase beautiful unique foliage ✔
  • are low – maintenance and low – fuss plants that are perfect for beginners. ✔

For us, the philodendron atom ticks all the right boxes for the perfect indoor plant to add to your collection.

Philodendron Atom Care Guide

Welcome to today’s feature plant at the Garden Bench Top, where we will be putting another popular philodendron in the spotlight.

In this article, you can expect to learn how to successfully care for your beautiful atom plant. We will also take you on a biological journey to learn about the origins of the philodendron atom, its husbandry requirements, as well as how to propagate new plants.

So grab a cup of tea, and get ready to become intimate with this unique looking plant.

Philodendron Atom Care Difficulty

philodendron atom quick care guide

When you are given a plant baby from a dear friend, or see a unique plant at your local nursery, one of the first questions that pops into mind is ‘Am I going to kill this plant!?’

Just kidding, it would be more along the lines of ‘How difficult is this plant to care for?

Philodendron Atom plants are EASY plants to care for with low maintenance requirements.

The good news is the philodendron atom falls into the EASY to care for category. In fact, they are so easy, we highly recommend them to individuals beginning their plant parenting journey.

Once you find them a good position in your home, to keep your philodendron happy, all that is required is to keep them watered and follow the instructions in this care guide.

Easy as pie!


These wildly popular varieties of philodendrons would have to take the cake for the most unique looking foliage in the philodendron family.

We don’t know what it is about the philodendron atom foliage, but they always seem to remind us of deep-fried kale leaves. That gives you an insight into our dietary habits!

It is the combination of the deep green curly shaped leaves with a waxy surface that makes them glisten like they are covered in oil. It’s hard to resist the temptation to reach out and eat them! FYI – do not attempt to eat philodendron leaves, they contain calcium oxalate crystals, which are toxic to humans.

The atoms are smaller than their cousins in the Philodendron family, reaching a height of around 7-11 inches (20-30 cm) when fully mature. This makes them perfect as border plants for an outdoor garden bed. Or simply as a feature plant in your indoor plant collection.

Name Guide

Those familiar with our plant care guides will know we like to refer to plants by their botanical names. In this case, the Philodendron Atom. Even though this may be a mouthful to say, we find it helps to avoid any confusion between species and subspecies of plants.

If you want to get completely technical, the scientific name for this subspecies of Philodendron is Thaumatophyllum bipinnatifidum ‘Atom’. But we don’t think anyone is going to be able to use that in a sentence, let alone pronounce this name.

Sometimes, people use its common name to refer to the plant which is Tree Philodendron ‘atom’.


Being a subtropical plant, the Philodendron Atom originates from the continent of South America. If you wanted to see a Philodendron Atom in the wild, you would have to research the rainforests in countries like Brazil and Paraguay where the climate is warm and humid.


Those familiar with our care guides will know a lot of our philosophy stems from understanding a plants origins.

Once you have intimate knowledge of where a plant naturally thrives, you are able to adapt your conditions to suit the plants original climate. Mimicking a plant’s natural environment will give it the best opportunity to survive and thrive – meaning you have a fulfilling journey as a plant parent.

This is the perfect segue into our Philodendron Atom Complete Care Guide, because you will see how our instructions are based which are derived a lot from the plants’ country of origin.

Philodendron Atom Care Instructions

As mentioned earlier, the Philodendron Atom is a relatively easy plant to care for. One of the most challenging aspects of keeping this plant (all plants really) is finding the right position and conditions in which it can thrive.

Let’s take a look at what these plants like.


In their natural environment, the Philodendron Atom can be seen on the forest floors of Paraguay and Brazil. The climate in Paraguay and Brazil is characterized as warm and sunny with high humidity throughout the year.

From this information, we can tell the Philodendron Atom likes a lot of light. However, since they are forest floor dwelling plants, they cannot tolerate direct sunlight.

They will thrive in a position that receives plenty of indirect light for 6-8 hours of the day. Try to avoid places that receive long periods of direct sunlight, as this will dry and burn your leaves. Dappled morning or evening sun should be okay.

Temperature & Humidity

Once again, we can defer to the origins of the Philodendron Atom to help with finding the right temperature and humidity zones.

Coming from the tropical regions of South America, they are classified as subtropical plants. Which means, high humidity and warm temperatures are your friend.

Keep your plant in conditions that are 70-85° F with 60-65% humidity.

They prefer temperature ranges between 70-85° Fahrenheit (20-29° Celcius). Philodendrons, in general, can tolerate cooler temperatures at night (for example, 60-65° F). However, if the temperatures drop to anything lower, you may see your plant begin to struggle. If your area is susceptible to frost at times in the year, we recommend bringing your plant indoors.

Tropical plants love humidity, and the Philodendron Atom is no different. They love environments with medium to high humidity. If you are using a hygrometer to measure your humidity levels, target between 60-65% humidity in the space that you are keeping your beautiful Philodendron.


if you are struggling to maintain adequate humidity levels for your Atom, try making a DIY humidifier. We have put together a few ideas to help increase the humidity for your indoor plants without breaking the budget.

Best Soil & Supplements

If there is one thing you want to get right from the beginning, it is the soil your plants live in. This is particularly important for indoor plants, where they don’t have the additional help from the local bugs and worms to process the soil.

Tropical plants require plenty of moisture in their soil, but they do not like soggy soil. If you had to reread that sentence, we don’t blame you.

credit: tenor

The key is to have an indoor soil that has water retaining properties, yet it can get rid of any excess water to prevent any diseases (like root rot) from developing.

We like to use a special blend of sphagnum moss (coconut coir or peat moss will also work), vermiculite and perlite to create our DIY indoor soil mix. The perlite and vermiculite are porous and offer water retaining qualities, while the sphagnum moss is great for maintaining a light soil with good drainage.

Philodendron Atom’s love a nutrient rich soil, which means supplementing your soil with fertilizer and added supplements will help to maintain a healthy and vibrant plant. A slow-releasing all-purpose fertilizer that contains potassium, phosphorous and nitrogen is perfect for feeding the necessary nutrients to your Atom plant.

Water Requirements

We believe providing a generic watering schedule for your plant is a bit misleading.

The amount and frequency of your watering schedule can be affected by so many factors that are unique to your plant and situation.

Your soils’ water content can be affected by:

  • the seasonal temperatures,
  • humidity levels, and
  • whether your plant is in a growing phase.

Just to name a few.

Therefore, we generally default to using a method that we use to guide our watering schedule. It is called the finger test, and you can read about it HERE. Essentially, we use our fingers to test the water content of the soil. If it is dry, you water. If it is still moist, hold off on watering and check again in a few days. Simple right?

During the warmer months, we do recommend checking the soil more often to ensure your Philodendron is receiving enough water.

Other General Maintenance

Philodendron Atom plants are generally slow growing, so repotting won’t be an issue for a few years. However, it is still something that you should be on the lookout for. If you notice roots protruding from your plants’ drainage holes, then it is probably time to consider repotting.

Generally speaking, you will need to repot every 2-3 years. However, this will be impacted by your care routine and the location of your plant in terms of light availability.

Common Problems & Pests

As we briefly touched on earlier, rootrot is a common problem for Philodendrons that are overwatered and sit in soggy soil. Please refer to our soil recommendations in the section above for solutions.

When it comes to pests, unfortunately, Philodendron Atoms have no natural immunities to the usual suspects, like aphids, spider mites, scale and mealybugs. All the mentioned pests can be extremely detrimental to your plants’ health if allowed to go unchecked.

Prevention is the best treatment to avoid plague proportion pest problems. This involves checking your plant for pests on a regular basis. While you are performing your watering checks, give your plant a good once over and inspection to identify any pests as early as possible. Be sure to check the leaves’ underside as well.

Once you have identified a pest problem early, you can deal with it before it spreads or kills your plant.

How to Propagate Philodendron Atom

atom plant propagation

Our favorite method for propagating Philodendrons is by cutting.

It is one of the easiest methods for propagation, and we prefer this method because beginners can see the results when roots begin to grow – which is great positively reinforcement that you are heading in the right direction!

Before you begin, you will need:

  • sterilized sharp knife or a pair of garden secateurs,
  • distilled water
  • water absorbent growing medium (like peat moss or sphagnum moss)
  • small pot with drainage holes (very important!)

The propagation steps are as follows:

  1. Identify a stem to propagate from your mother plant. For the best chance of success, you should look for a stem that is healthy (no signs of stress or disease), tall (approximately 3-4 inches long) and has a clear leaf node. This is important, because you need to use your sterilized knife or secateurs to cut below the leaf node for the stem to root.
  2. Allow the stem to air dry on a bench that is in a room that is warm and humid for a week. Try to place it out of the way, so it isn’t disturbed or accidentally knocked onto the floor. The process of air drying allows the wound to heal and form a callous. This is necessary to prevent the stem from rotting or becoming infected while in the water or moist soil. NOTE – if the wound doesn’t look fully healed after 7 days, try moving the stem to a different location for a few more days.
  3. Prepare your propagating pot and soil. While your stem is drying, you can prepare for the next stage of propagation. Fill your pot with your choice of water absorbent growing medium (we like sphagnum moss). When your stem has healed, moisten your soil with the distilled water. We like to use the bottom – up watering method. Simply fill a container with distilled water and submerge your pot halfway up, and leave for 10 minutes. Your growing medium will soak up the water via the drainage holes. Lift the pot out of the water and wait 30 seconds while the excess water drains.
  4. Plant your stem in the soil by pushing your finger into the center of the pot a few inches into the soil. Carefully place the stem into the hole and make sure to fill the hole around the stem, to hold it in place. Place your stem next to your mother plant in a bright location.
  5. Ongoing care involves watering and fertilizing your stem until roots form and mature. The most important element you will want to monitor is the water content. Your Philodendron will need a constant source of water, so make sure you are checking on the moisture levels in the soil.

Once you have completed the propagation steps, it is simply a waiting game. After a month or so, you should see roots forming. When they have matured, you can graduate your stem cutting to a regular indoor potting mix.

Frequently Asked Questions

In this section we attempt to answer all your ‘other’ questions that may not be addressed in the care guide.

If you don’t find an answer to your question, please send us a message via our CONTACT page. We will endeavor to respond with a timely answer, and include it in our growing FAQ section below.

Philodendron atom vs Philodendron super atom

During your travels, you may have come across two names that confused you. The Philodendron Atom and Philodendron Super Atom.

Are they different names for the same plant OR are they different plants?

The super atom is actually a close cousin of the Philodendron Atom plant, only smaller and a dwarf version of the larger cousin (which isn’t even that big to begin with).

Both are equally beautiful and magnificent in their own right. But if you are looking for a smaller plant to add to your collection, go for the Philodendron Super Atom.

How big does a philodendron atom get?

When mature, Philodendron Atom plants can reach heights of around 7-11 inches (20-30 cm) tall. They are slow growers, so it may take a few years to reach full maturity. However, this will depend on the level of care and position of your plant.

Can Philodendron Atom Plants Tolerate Sun?

Philodendron Atom plants naturally grow on the floor of Brazilian and Portuguese tropical forests. So, they do not tolerate direct sunlight. They will thrive in indirect light or morning and evening dappled sunlight.