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Rhaphidophora hayi is a fascinating tropical climber with a unique growing habit.
It’s commonly called the shingle plant because its leaves lie flat against its support, overlapping like shingles on a roof or wall.
While it was a rarely-seen houseplant in the past, it’s become quite trendy and widely available.
|Medium to bright indirect sunlight
|Water if the top 2 inches of soil are dry
|55 to 80ºF (13 to 27ºC)
|10 to 12
|Rich, quick-draining, loamy
|6.1 to 6.5 (mildly acidic)
|A balanced feed once a month in spring and summer
|Every 1 or 2 years
|Beginning of the growing season
|Root in soil
|Toxic to humans and pets
|5 feet as a houseplant
|Rarely blooms indoors
What’s Unique About Rhaphidophora Hayi?
The Rhaphidophora hayi plant is native to the north-east coast of Queensland, Papua New Guinea, and the Bismarck Archipelago. It grows in the tropical lowland rainforests close to the Pacific Ocean.
Rhaphidophora hayi plants are climbers in the aroid family.
However, unlike most other epiphytic plants, Rhaphidophora hayi grows flat against a horizontal surface, creating an interesting two-dimensional effect. They must be given support to grow properly.
Growing Rhaphidophora hayi is pretty easy once you’ve taken care of that essential growing condition.
Its distinctive flat growing habit gives you interesting options for how to display this tropical plant in your home.
Rhaphidophora Hayi Care
In the lowland tropical rainforests where Rhaphidophora hayi originates, it’s used to a hot, humid, and shady environment.
You shouldn’t have too much trouble providing a fair approximation of those growing conditions in your Rhaphidophora hayi plant care.
For good shingle plant care, make sure it stays warm and moist and out of the full sun.
Because the tree canopy filters the hot tropical sun in its native rainforests, Rhaphidophora hayi light requirements are for bright but indirect light.
Shingle plant light needs are between 10,000 to 20,000 lux, which is usually quite easy to supply using natural light, no matter what direction your windows face.
An east or north-facing window will probably be bright enough to give your Rhaphidophora hayi the light it needs.
A south or west exposure can be more challenging, but all you need to do is set your Rhaphidophora hayi out of the full sun, or hang a sheer curtain to shade it.
In the lowland rainforests where Rhaphidophora hayi is found in the wild, these epiphytic plants are used to rainfall every 2 out of 3 days in summer. Even in the winter “dry” season, it rains every 3 or 4 days.
Consequently, Rhaphidophora hayi’s watering needs are fairly high, with the soil staying consistently moist.
Rhaphidophora hayi watering should not be done on a strict schedule, since the soil may not dry out at the same rate over the growing season.
Instead, check every few days and water shingle plant whenever the top 2 inches of the soil are dry. This will naturally be more often in summer than in winter.
In the tropical south Pacific, the daytime highs stay above 85ºF (30ºC) all year, while the nights are consistently around 75ºF (24ºC).
The Rhaphidophora hayi temperature range is between 55 to 80ºF (13 to 27ºC), so you will have no trouble with an adequate temperature for shingle plant.
It will be quite happy in a normal heated indoor space.
However, if you want to give your Rhaphidophora hayi a real taste of tropical heat, move it outdoors in summer.
Its temperature tolerance drops right off below 55ºF (13ºC), though, so make sure that you don’t leave it out too long into the fall.
It has no frost hardiness at all.
The lowland tropical rainforests of the south Pacific are steamy. In Papua New Guinea, for instance, the humidity stays between 80 to 90% all year.
You will need to satisfy your Rhaphidophora hayi humidity requirements to keep it growing well.
The ideal humidity for shingle plant is around 70%, which obviously is not suitable for your entire home.
Instead, you need to create a higher humidity level in the immediate vicinity of your Rhaphidophora hayi.
Because of its flat, climbing growing habit, you can use your Rhaphidophora hayi as a piece of living wall art in your bathroom, which naturally has a higher humidity level.
The best long-term solution is to use a humidifier. Regular misting of the leave is also very helpful. It’s best to do that first thing in the morning.
Rhaphidophora hayi soil has to be loose and well-draining, while still retaining a consistent amount of moisture.
The recommended pH level for shingle plant is 6.1 to 6.5, or mildly acidic.
In the rainforests, it usually roots in the ground before climbing rocks or trees, so its epiphytic roots do a lot of the work gathering nutrients as it grows.
You can use an aroid soil mix for your Rhaphidophora hayi with great success.
However, there is a way to not use any soil for shingle plant. You can attach your Rhaphidophora hayi to a moss board. Water them by soaking the whole board thoroughly once a week.
Rhaphidophora hayi fertilizer should be used during the growing season to ensure strong and healthy growth, but be careful not to use too much.
A good fertilizer for shingle plant is a standard indoor liquid mixture with a balanced fertilizer ratio of 10-10-10.
Once a month, right after watering, dilute the solution to half the recommended strength and pour it evenly over the soil surface.
If you are growing your Rhaphidophora hayi on a moss board, simply add the fertilizer to the soaking water when you water.
Do not use any fertilizer in winter when your Rhaphidophora hayi will be dormant.
Potting & Repotting
Rhaphidophora hayi repotting should be done every 1 to 2 years.
It’s time for repotting shingle plant when the roots fill up the pot and grow out of the drainage holes.
Only go up one pot size, as you don’t want too much soil in proportion to the root ball.
You will want a pot with some weight to it, as the board that your Rhaphidophora hayi needs can be top-heavy.
A glazed pot is best to retain the soil moisture, but it must have drainage holes.
If you need to replace the board, carefully detach the roots from the old one, and secure the vine to the new one with string until the roots reattach.
Always replace the potting soil, as the old mix will be depleted after a couple of years.
You will not need to do much Rhaphidophora hayi pruning, as its natural growth habit is very attractive.
Of course, you will need to trim off dead or damaged leaves. Not only do they detract from the look, but they can also attract insects or harbor disease.
Aside from that, cutting shingle plant should be limited to occasional shaping as it climbs up its board.
However, do not remove more than a quarter of the foliage in any one growing season, as that can harm your Rhaphidophora hayi.
Use sharp, sterilized scissors, and wear gloves to protect yourself from the irritating sap.
Rhaphidophora hayi propagation is extremely easy, even for a beginner gardener.
To propagate shingle plant using stem cuttings, cut a 4 to 6 inch length of stem with several nodes and a few leaves.
Strip off all but the top leaves and set the stem in moist soil with at least one node buried. You can also lay it atop some damp sphagnum moss.
Keep it in a warm, humid atmosphere. The easiest way is by covering the pot with a plastic bag.
Within a few weeks you should see new roots forming. Remove the bag and give it a small, flat surface to start climbing.
You can also half bury a leaf, and a new stem will grow out of it and start to climb.
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