Rhaphidophora Cryptantha is a very unique plant known for its tropical, shingling qualities. Depending on your climate and whether you want to grow it indoor or outdoor, it may require a lot of care, but if you know how to keep it healthy then it can grow into a beautiful option for homeowners.
This article covers:
- What Rhaphidophora Cryptantha is and what it looks like
- How to care for it including the optimal light, soil, and watering schedule
- Common problems and what you can do about them
Table of Contents
What is Rhaphidophora Cryptantha?
Rhaphidophora Cryptantha is a shingling plant that grows like a vine horizontally or vertically. It is native to Papua New Guinea, portions of Africa that are tropical, and Southeast Asia.
They can also be found in other tropical locations around the world. It is a perennial, tropical aroid of the Araceae family and is commonly referred to by the names shingle vine, shingle plant, or shingling.
The Rhaphidophora Cryptantha plant has compact circular leaves with gorgeous silver-colored veins. This gives it a dense, scaled appearance. When provided support, caregivers can encourage growth in specific directions.
It doesn’t prefer cold climates, but with indoor use and proper care, it can grow well almost anywhere. As a tropical plant, it also likes moisture and humidity.
They can grow very large when they have enough space to do so, up to 8 feet long in some cases. When growing in interior conditions, it is unlikely to grow so large, but it can still get pretty big. Typically, it will grow outward until it finds something to climb, and then it will climb.
You can watch this video to learn how to get Rhaphidophora Cryptantha and other vines to climb:
How to Care for Rhaphidophora Cryptantha
There are several factors to consider when growing a healthy Rhaphidophora Cryptantha. You have to provide the right amount of light, sufficient water, proper soil, and ensure that it has lush foliage.
Let’s look at each of these factors to examine the best way to care for your Rhaphidophora Cryptantha plant.
You should never place Rhaphidophora Cryptantha into direct sunlight because it can burn the leaves leading to brittle tips and yellow discoloration.
Since it is used in rainforests, it likes protection from the sun’s rays. Indirect light that is very bright is best, but it doesn’t like artificial lighting very much. Artificial lights may work somewhat, but for healthy, expansive growth you should strive for natural sunlight.
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While it will be healthiest in bright indirect light, it can withstand low to medium indirect light as well. If you are growing it indoors, then you want to strive for 70 to 85% bright indirect light, but the direction of the window doesn’t matter as much.
South, West, and East facing windows will all work, but you may have to play around with the distance and location before finding the perfect light conditions.
If you are growing it outdoors, then you want to partially shade the plant with filtered light at about 30 to 40% shade cloth.
Temperature and Humidity
Rhaphidophora Cryptantha doesn’t like the cold and will be susceptible to frost. Indoor growth is usually just about right as far as temperature goes because the shingle vine likes it around 55 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit.
You should avoid leaving the plant in temperatures below 50 degrees though. For outdoor use, you will have to move the plant indoors once it gets this cool or cold.
The shingling vine likes humidity and lots of it. In fact, it prefers ranges of 60 to 80 percent humidity. It can do well in lower levels though, but you don’t want it super dry and should avoid placing it too close to heaters that can prevent moisture accumulation.
Bathrooms are a great indoor growth location for Rhaphidophora Cryptantha because they are well-lit near windows for indirect light and they are also humid with moisture coming from the shower.
You can also use humidifiers if you don’t want the lengthy vine in your bathroom.
Try to keep the soil around the Rhaphidophora Cryptantha plant constantly moist, but never soaked. This will mimic the conditions of a rainforest that the shingling calls home. In addition to watering, you should try to mist the plant often.
When the soil is too wet, it can cause root rot, but when it is too dry it can lead to poor growth.
Try to water once the top 2 to 3 inches of the soil are dried out completely. Typically during the growing season, this will equate to once to twice a week.
During the Winter and Fall, that will decrease to once every couple of weeks. You want the water to go through the soil and out the drainage holes in a pot as well, which means you need the right type of soil, which we will cover now!
Rhaphidophora Cryptantha needs soil that allows the water to flow and drain so that it does not get flooded. Sandy soils are bad for the root systems of this plant type.
You also need soil that has plentiful organic matter or humus. The best soil option is probably aroid mix, but it isn’t too picky and can grow in well-drained loamy soil, sphagnum moss, and other types as well.
Just don’t use a soil type that does not drain well, like clay, or some that don’t retain moisture, like sand.
You can make your own soil mix with potting soil, perlite, and peat moss. Perlite boosts the drainage ability and the peat moss will increase acidity and moisture.
The best soil will be slightly acidic with a pH somewhere between 6.1 and 6.5, but up to 7.3. A neutral pH is also fine as long as all the other optimal environmental conditions are correct.
Feeding a shingling vine plant food is necessary for rapid growth and healthy coloration. Once a month during the growing season, you want to use all-purpose liquid fertilizer made for houseplants.
You can also use slow-release formulas by placing the fertilizer a few inches away from the base of the plant or the stem. You should always avoid any fertilizer containing urea and never use too much fertilizer.
You can dilute fertilizer if you notice any changes in the coloration or density of the foliage.
Rhaphidophora Cryptantha doesn’t require a lot of pruning, but you do want to occasionally take off any dead or harmed leaves using a sterilized pruning knife or scissors.
This can make it look better and encourages faster-growing conditions. This is most likely to work best in the lower parts of the vine. If the plant gets too large for you, then you can trim more, but be careful not to trim any of the leaves closer to the base or stem.
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Is Rhaphidophora Cryptantha Toxic?
Unfortunately, this lovely plant is toxic to both animals and humans. It can cause toxicity in dogs, cats, lizards, and other pets, and all parts of the plant matter have toxic properties due to insoluble calcium oxalates called raphides.
These can impact gastrointestinal tissues and skin because of the sharp crystals.
Symptoms of toxicity include pain and irritation in the mouth, pawing at the mouth, drooling, and trouble swallowing.
This can coincide with a red mouth, tongue, and lips. People with sensitive skin and children may also have skin irritation from touching the plan too much. While it does not cause serious reactions, you want to avoid using the plant around pets and children.
Common Problems with Rhaphidophora Cryptantha
There are some common problems that you want to be aware of when growing your Rhaphidophora Cryptantha plant so that you can address them immediately and keep your plant beautiful and healthy.
Caterpillars and Grasshoppers
These bugs and insects will eat up the leaves of the plant and you may notice that holes and gnaw marks start to appear. This is obviously not good! However, you can easily remove the bugs and then spray the plant with insecticides, which should rapidly eliminate the issue.
Brittle leaves are not usually caused by insufficient watering, but by too much direct sunlight. This burns the leaves and leaves them dry and damaged. If this is the case, you just need to get the plant some shade or create a better environment with proper, indirect lighting, preferably natural lighting.
Withering is usually caused by improper soil. Sandy soil is the most common cause, but even the right type of soil may lose its effectiveness after a while.
If you notice withering and always water the plant correctly, then it is time to repot and use new soil. This should fix the issue pretty quickly, but remember to change pots for Rhaphidophora Cryptantha during the growing season if possible.
Final Thoughts on Rhaphidophora Cryptantha
Rhaphidophora Cryptantha is a uniquely tropical plant with shingling vines that can add lovely beautiful green and silver to your outdoor or indoor nursery. As long as you utilize indirect sunlight and water effectively, you should have a healthy plant for years to come.
Just keep an eye out for grasshoppers and caterpillars that can munch on the toxic leaves!