How to Care For Rhaphidophora Decursiva

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Rhaphidophora decursiva are a species of aroid in the Rhaphidophora genus. They’re native to tropical forests in China, India, and a few surrounding countries.

They have big, shiny leaves that are fenestrated and Monstera-like.

I think they’re a great option for people that want an unusual, striking plant that isn’t too tricky to look after.

Is Rhaphidophora decursiva easy to care for?

Yes, in my opinion.

They’re happy with indirect light, they don’t need crazy high humidity, and they don’t have a hissy fit if you look like you’re thinking about repotting them.

The only issue I have with mine is it’s somewhat bizarre (and changeable) growth pattern BUT this shouldn’t be an issue so long as you give it something to climb.

Does Rhaphidophora decursiva need bright light?

Like many climbing aroids, the more light you give them the better.

HOWEVER, mine lives a good six feet away from a north-facing window and it’s growing well. I might not see those really mature leaves with half a dozen splits, but it does produce fenestrated leaves.

Rhaphidophora decursiva leaves are dark green, which often suggests that it’s not expecting to receive a lot of light.

Does Rhaphidophora decursiva need high humidity?

Like many chill aroids, Rhaphidophora decursiva would absolutely love to live in humidity levels of 60% and above, but won’t make a fuss if your humidity is around the 40% mark.

In my experience, growth is faster and bigger, and they climb better in higher humidity. If you’re looking to mature the leaves then higher humidity is a must.

Do Rhaphidophora decursiva need warm temperatures?

They won’t grow in temperatures below 15˚C/60˚F, but mine got to 10˚C/50˚F last winter and it didn’t deteriorate.

There are more likely to be issues like pests and root rot at lower temperatures, but as long as you’re taking good care of it then there’s no reason Rhaphidophora decursiva won’t get through winter.

they won’t appreciate frost though, so if you keep yours outside, bring it in well before the risk of frost.

What soil does Rhaphidophora decursiva need?

Mine really seems to prefer soil that retains a lot of moisture, so it’s in a 2:1 mix of terrarium soil (ABG mix) and leca. That aerates the soil well but leca retains more water than orchid bark.

As always, tailor your soil mix to your routine as much as your plant’s needs (within reason). There’s no point putting your plant in a super airy mix if you’re not going to water it often enough.

I’ve also found that Rhaphidophora decursiva use water quite erratically (like an Alocasia – sometimes it needs watering every four days, other times it can go two weeks) so I like to use my moisture metre for it. The denser soil helps in terms of metre accuracy.

What type of pot does Rhaphidophora decursiva need?

I would stay away from terracotta, just because it dries out super quickly, and Rhaphidophora don’t like to be dry. That being said, if you’re a chronic overwaterer, it could be the answer to your dreams.

Does Rhaphidophora decursiva like to be rootbound?

As long as you can ensure they’re getting adequate moisture to the roots, they don’t really mind.

They’re not too picky about being repotted and don’t panic about it. I’ve repotted mine when it was producing new growth and it didn’t cause so much as a blip.

They don’t do the obsessive root-growing thing that Monstera do, and they don’t collapse in a sad pile before slooowly recovering like their cousin tetrasperma.

How often should you water Rhaphidophora decursiva?

More often than not, I water my Rhaphidophora decursiva once a week. However, I usually check it a couple of times a month, because sometimes (I assume when it’s getting ready to produce a new leaf) it can be dry four days after watering.

I use a moisture meter for mine (I know, I know, a lot of people hate them) and water when it hits 2 or 3. If it’s four, I’ll mist the top of the soil using a pump action pressure sprayer. I honestly don’t know if it’s necessary or I just like the sprayer.

How to fertilise Rhaphidophora decursiva

I’ve found mine to be a heavy feeder. How did I come to this conclusion? Because when I was fertilising my plants every time I watered, it just kept growing and growing and looking better and better.

I feed it about every two weeks now with the General Hydroponics Flora Grow series(purely because I cba to make up nutrient water that often) and it’s doing well.

Is Rhaphidophora decursiva toxic?

Yes, most aroids are. Rhaphidophora decursiva have calcium oxalate crystals in their leaves which can cause discomfort in the mouth and a stomach upset if they’re eaten.

While they are toxic, it’s usually more of a ‘keep a close eye on them’ situation, rather than an ‘immediately rush them to the emergency room/vet’ one. Of course, if you’re worried, call the vet/doctor.

How to propagate Rhaphidophora decursiva

Rhaphidophora decursiva can be propagated through stem cuttings. You need a node to grow a new plant, so you can’t propagate from a leaf with no stem (it’ll probably root and give you a zombie leaf though).

I’ve successfully rooted a Rhaphidophora decursiva in soil (I just kept the surface of the soil damp using a sprayer), but water is easier. Moss or perlite is another option.

Here’s what a node looks like:

Rhaphidophora decursiva node

There’s usually an aerial root and a leaf/petiole coming from it too. Simply snip below the node and put the bit you cut off in water.

You should get roots in a couple of weeks. Speed up the process by adding nutrients to your water, a Pothos cutting to your water, or just changing the water every day.

Rhaphidophora decursiva are flowering plants, so you could technically propagate it from seed, but I’m not sure whether they’d bloom in. er. captivity without a lot of extra TLC.

They can also tissue cultured, if you fancy setting up a lab.

Is Rhaphidophora decursiva rare?

Tissue culture has done weird things to rare plants. Rhaphidophora decursiva are certainly not rare in the houseplant trade. I got mine from my local garden centre, but you can buy loads on Etsy.

As for whether or not it’s rare in the wild…I don’t know. They seem quite widely distributed, so I guess they’re not particularly rare.

Is Rhaphidophora decursiva expensive?

No. You can pick one up for around £30. At the time of publishing anyway. You never can tell where houseplant prices are going to end up!

Is Rhaphidophora decursiva fast-growing?

Mine grows in fits and starts. It got all overexcited at the start of the growing season, and then trailed off a bit around July. Now September’s hit he’s raring to go again.

Is Rhaphidophora decursiva a climber or a crawler?

It’s a climber, and I strongly suggest getting it on a pole asap. They have heavy stems and leaves and can end up growing in a crawly fashion.

Mine had two growth points when I bought it, and could best be described as looking like it was doing ‘cactus arms’.

I put my Rhaphidophora decursiva on a Kratiste pole and it really, really, liked it.

Here’s the video in which I repot it and get it on the pole.

It reached the top, and the aerial root started doing weird things, so I ended up chopping and propping.

Alternative names for Rhaphidophora decursiva

The most common in the Dragon tail plant, which I don’t use, but I do agree with – it does indeed look like a dragon’s tail.

But we’ve also got:

  • Monstera decursiva
  • Monstera multijuga
  • Pothos decursivus
  • Rhaphidophora affinis
  • Rhaphidophora eximia
  • Rhaphidophora grandis
  • Rhaphidophora insignia
  • Scindapsus decursivus

I don’t think these are actual alternative names so much as they are botanists trying out different names as they try to work out which genus the plant belongs in.

Decursia comes from the word ‘decursive’ which means ‘extending down the blade, having the base of the blade extending down the stem as two wings.

tbh I’m not sure if this is a Rhaphidophora decursiva or an epipremnum, but mature RD leaves look a lot like this

If you look at mature forms of the plant, it’s a pretty good name for it!

Caroline Cocker

Caroline is the founder and writer (and plant keeper) of Planet Houseplant

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