Rhaphidophora Hayi Care And Propagation

Rhaphidophora hayi is a beautiful plant with an unusual ‘shingling’ growth habit, where it climbs up surfaces in a zig-zag pattern, and makes a fascinating display in any home.

It also looks perfect scrambling up terrarium walls, creating a natural backdrop to what otherwise might be a bare surface.

You might assume that this plant is complicated to care for, but as long as you bear a few things in mind, especially the humidity needs, its care regime is a breeze!

Interested in growing your own Rhaphidophora hayi? Here’s what you need to know.

The Shingle Plant At A Glance

Rhaphidophora hayi is not the most common species grown as a houseplant, but if you like unusual climbing plants, this is certainly one to consider.

This beautiful aroid stays on the small side and grows flat against a vertical support, with dainty bright green leaves that get about 5 inches long when the plant reaches maturity.

This plant calls the tropical lowland rainforests of Australia, New Guinea, and Asia home, so as you might imagine, it needs plenty of moisture and humidity to thrive.

It can be difficult to source this plant unless you turn to online sellers, depending on where you live, but the hunt is worth it.

Get the conditions right from the get-go, and you may find you can’t get enough of this gorgeous plant!

Rhaphidophora Hayi Support

Rhaphidophora hayi is a climber and needs some sort of support to grow properly, but don’t let that put you off. 

Even if you’ve never trained a climbing plant before, this is a simple part of its care, as the plant will do the work for you as long as you start it off.

As a shingling plant, the best way to show off the unusual growth habit of a Rhaphidophora hayi is to train it up a plank or board. 

This showcases the growth pattern in a way that bamboo stakes can’t do, as it shows off the way the plant clings flat to the surface, rather than fanning out.

If wooden boards or planks aren’t something you would want, you could use a pole or board made of moss. 

There are several advantages to this. The aerial roots will grow into the moss, and you can also provide the plant with plenty of moisture by dampening the moss, or even spraying it with diluted fertilizer to give your plant a boost.

If you prefer an even more natural look, you could use driftwood or tree branches to give your Rhaphidophora hayi the support it needs, but make sure they are sterilized, as you don’t want to introduce any nasties to your plant!

To encourage your plant to climb, gently tie it in with soft string or vinyl plant tape to start with, and it will start to produce aerial roots to fix itself to the support.

How To Extend Support For Rhaphidophora Hayi

Rhaphidophora hayi grows fairly quickly, and before you know it, your plant will be reaching the top of its support.

If you’re using a wooden board, you can swap it out for a larger one, and encourage the plant to wrap around the whole thing instead of just tying it into one side of the board, which means the plant will use the support for longer.

If you’re using wood, make sure you stain, seal and protect the wood and allow it to dry before using. You don’t want the wood rotting away underneath the plant!

For moss poles and boards, you can make your extenders and lash them to the original using zip ties or coated wire to give your plant the vertical room it needs.

If you find that your plant is outgrowing its support too quickly, and you don’t have the materials or patience to extend the support right now, why not trim and propagate your plant?

This will make sure that the plant doesn’t topple over, and it also means you’ll get a few backup plants out of it, too.

Is Rhaphidophora Hayi A Good Terrarium Plant?

Rhaphidophora hayi is a good option for terrariums that need some life, height, and color at the very back, as their shingling habit makes a great backdrop for any terrarium.

Terrariums can sometimes look completely bare at the back without a climber or two, so Rhaphidophora hayi is a great choice to naturalize the look.

The higher humidity levels and generally warmer, more sheltered environments in a terrarium are perfect for Rhaphidophora hayi, but as it has a fast growth habit, you may need to prune it occasionally to keep it from taking over!

If your home is particularly dry, you may find it difficult to grow this plant outside an enclosed environment such as a terrarium, as it needs at least 70% humidity. Just something to keep in mind.

How To Care For Rhaphidophora Hayi

Rhaphidophora hayi isn’t that difficult to care for, but there are some things to bear in mind. The closer you can mimic this plant’s native conditions, the healthier it will be.

Ideal Light For Rhaphidophora Hayi

Rhaphidophora hayi is not the most demanding plant when it comes to light. These epiphytes are used to low light in their natural habitat in the rainforests, but indoors, this translates to bright and indirect light.

Prolonged exposure to direct sunlight will mean that the leaves will burn, so be careful not to put this plant in a window that gets sun for most of the day. 

Any leaf damage cannot be reversed, you can only cut the damaged parts from the plant, so best to avoid it where you can in the first place.

A better location would be a Northern or Eastern-facing window, preferably as close to the window without touching the glass as possible.

Rhaphidophora hayi will survive in lower light levels to an extent, or, you could give this plant what it needs through a grow light if you don’t have a suitable window for it.

A grow light is the perfect solution for terrariums.

Soil Requirements For Rhaphidophora Hayi

As this plant is an epiphyte, dense soils are a no-no. 

Heavy soil doesn’t give Rhaphidophora hayi enough drainage, where the soil will take too long to dry out, and the dense nature of the soil will also mean that the roots will struggle to get the oxygen they need.

Rhaphidophora hayi needs light, well-draining soil that still provides it with plenty of nutrition, such as an aroid-specific soil mix. 

If you don’t have a lot of aroid plants, it doesn’t make much sense to buy a specially-formulated compost mix, but you can easily make your own. 

Chances are you already have what you need, too.

You could use houseplant soil for Rhaphidophora hayi, provided that you amend it by adding some orchid bark, perlite, and maybe even some sphagnum moss.

You could try taking cuttings and experimenting with different soil mixes to see which works best, or using pure sphagnum moss as another option.

Rhaphidophora Hayi Temperature And Humidity

This is a tropical plant, so it won’t thank you for cold temperatures. Aim for stable temperatures between 60°F and 78°F for best growth, avoiding any extremes that would otherwise damage or kill your plant.

These temperatures are around household levels, so don’t worry too much, but keep your plant away from drafts and sources of heat.

This plant is a little more demanding when it comes to humidity. Rhaphidophora hayi loves humidity and is used to plenty of it, so it will protest by not growing at all if the humidity is too low.

Aim for 70% humidity to keep your Rhaphidophora hayi happy and healthy. This can be difficult to do in very dry homes or warm dry climates, so you may want to invest in a humidifier to make it easier.

You could also put it near other houseplants, which helps create a microclimate or to make it even easier, grow your plant in a terrarium or greenhouse cabinet, so you can control the humidity levels without a fight.

When To Water Rhaphidophora Hayi

Rhaphidophora hayi should not be allowed to dry out, as this will damage the plant.

Aim to keep it continually moist, by letting only the top inch or so of soil dry out in between watering. This will help keep the plant hydrated, but not so much that it suffocates or rots in too much water.

Exactly when your plant will need watering again depends on the unique growing conditions in your home, and these can change more often than you might expect, so make a habit of checking the soil regularly with a finger to see if your plant needs watering.

Reduce the frequency of watering during fall and winter, as it won’t need as much, but again, don’t let your plant dry out completely.

If you’re growing your Rhaphidophora hayi up a moss support of some kind, it’s a good idea to mist this regularly, but try to avoid misting the plant to boost humidity.

Rhaphidophora Hayi Propagation Guide

Rhaphidophora hayi is satisfying as it is an easy plant to propagate. During the growing season, you can use stem cuttings or leaf cuttings to make new plants.

Always take more cuttings than you want to grow, as not all of them will make it. 

Stem Cutting Propagation

Each stem cutting should be about 5 inches, having at least a pair of leaves and 2 nodes attached.

If you have any rooting hormone powder, dip the cut ends into it before planting them up.

You can either plant up your Rhaphidophora hayi cuttings in soil or use a mixture of damp sphagnum moss with some perlite. Either will do, but the sphagnum moss route tends to work better.

For best results, put your cuttings into a tray and pop a clear lid over the top to lock in moisture and warmth. 

Air this out every few days to stop fungal problems, and keep things on the moist side, never letting the moss dry out completely.

Put the tray somewhere warm, in a bright indirect position, and you should see roots forming within a month, more likely to be a week or two.

The higher you can keep the humidity and the warmer the temperature, this will help your cuttings root as fast as possible.

When the roots have reached more than an inch or two long, you can plant the cuttings up in separate pots. 

At this point, it’s a good idea to keep the plants covered for a little while longer, to keep up the high humidity as the plants get used to their final soil mix.

Leaf Cuttings

If you want to get as many new plants out of your original Rhaphidophora hayi as possible without taking a lot of cuttings, single leaf cuttings is the better method.

Using sharp and clean scissors, cut a single leaf from a healthy stem, keeping a node attached to the leaf.

Again, plant it into damp sphagnum moss with some perlite, or a light, well-draining soil mix. For best results, use a tray and several cuttings, and put a clear lid or plastic bag over the top.

Put the tray in indirect sunlight, and once new growth appears, your cuttings have rooted. 

You may want to wait a little while before transferring your new plants into their pots, as the bigger they are, the quicker they will recover when you move them.

Final Thoughts

Rhaphidophora hayi is not the most widely grown plant, but it offers a unique look with its shingling growth habit.

It can be difficult to grow this plant outside a terrarium or greenhouse cabinet as it needs consistently warm temperatures and higher humidity levels.

You could put this plant in a bathroom or kitchen that sees a lot of use, or consider investing in a humidifier to make things easier if you don’t want to put this plant in an enclosed environment.

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