Want to add a little tropical or jungle feel to your home? Try some philodendrons. These lovely plants feature large, shapely foliage that will instantly change the look of any room.
But that’s not all, they’re easy to care for and a very practical choice even if you have a brown thumb or are just very busy.
To learn more about this wonderful plant, read on.
Philodendrons are perennial houseplants that are native to the rainforests of the tropical regions of Central and South America.
They’re commonly found in homes and offices because they’re quite easy to grow. The key is listening to what it needs and knowing the signs to watch out for.
Similarly, keeping in mind that they’re tropical plants also helps. That’s because this influences their preferences.
These houseplants are known for their large and wide, beautiful leaves, which add a different dimension to any indoor environment. Sort of reminding you of the jungle or rainforest.
That said, you’ll generally find two basic kinds of philodendrons, each with its own characteristics.
- Climbing or vining philodendrons grow on structures they can cling or climb on this makes them perfect for trellises, walls, or other vertical spaces. Their long vines also make them ideal to hang in pots or baskets allowing their stems and leaves to overflow from the sides.
- Non-climbing or self-heading philodendrons are more upright. But, they still spread out fairly wide covering their height or twice their height. Thus, making them better suited for pots on the floor or tabletops as long as you give them enough space. They likewise grow much slower than their climbing counterparts.
Besides their unique looks, philodendrons also help clean the air in your home.
Philodendron Plant Care
Philodendrons like bright, indirect sunlight. This means that they do best when their leaves are not in the direct path of the sun’s rays.
Here, you have a few options, all of which work well. You can keep them near a window just away from direct sunlight. You can likewise place them where they received dappled light or have some sort of thin screen or curtain to slightly filter the sunlight.
Too much sun exposure will cause its foliage to turn yellow. So, when you see many leaves do this at the same time, it’s time to move it to somewhere where there’s less direct sun exposure.
On the other hand, if your plant starts growing taller or becoming leggy, it’s telling you that it’s not getting enough sunlight.
As a general rule of thumb, philodendrons whose leaves are solid green can tolerate less light. This means you can place them in the middle of your room or office under fluorescent lights and they won’t have any problems.
Those that don’t have solid green leaves prefer more light. Thus, exposing them to bright, indirect light is a good idea.
Temperature & Humidity
As tropical plants, philodendrons enjoy moderate to warm weather. This makes it comfortable in zones 9 to 11, where the temperatures range from 65 to 85 degrees Fahrenheit.
As such, you can keep them outdoors if the climate stays within this range. But, once the mercury drops to 55 degrees or below, it is time to bring them indoors.
Temperature is less of a problem if you prefer to keep it as a houseplant. That’s because most homes have temperatures set to between 65 and 75 degrees.
However, the problem with keeping these lovely plants indoors is providing it with enough humidity. This especially becomes a problem during winter when the air indoors becomes very dry.
When this happens, you can mist them every 2 to 4 days. Or, keep them above a pebble tray with water which requires less work for you.
Philodendrons like soil that’s moist, but not wet or soggy.
So, avoid overwatering which leads to root rot. However, they’ll need to be watered more when the weather is hot.
Drooping leaves is a sign that you have a water problem. Unfortunately, it doesn’t tell you if you’re giving it too much or too little. So, you’ll need to assess how much you’re currently watering it and decide from there.
On the other hand, wilting is a telltale sign that it’s not getting enough water. If the pot feels light when you lift it up, it will likely be low on water as well.
The good news is, once you adjust, it will quickly bounce back.
With philodendrons, you want to wait for the top inch of soil dry out before watering again. An easy way to do this is to insert your finger into the soil up to the first knuckle. If it feels dry, then it’s time to water the plant.
Because they’re not fans of too much water, keep your philodendrons in well-draining soil. They likewise appreciate it when the soil is rich in organic matter and acidic (pH of between 4.5 to 6.0).
Thus, you can use a combination of sand, loam, and peat. You can likewise use sphagnum peat moss by itself.
Fertilizer is key to growing healthy philodendrons. It affects their overall size and foliage.
This is why it’s important to regularly feed them during their growing season. You can use a liquid houseplant fertilizer every week or slow-release pellets. Both of which work very well.
Doing so ensures that they have large, beautiful leaves that are brightly colored.
If your plant is smaller than it should be, or it is producing tiny leaves, it’s a sign that you’re not feeding it enough. Similarly, pale-colored leaves mean that it’s not getting the micronutrients it needs, especially magnesium and calcium.
Once winter comes along, you can reduce the frequency to once a month.
As they grow, philodendrons can look unruly. If this happens, you can prune them to keep them looking neat and tidy.
Similarly, as their vines get longer, they’ll likewise consume more water and need more regular care, not to mention take up more space.
Pruning is a good way for you to limit all of these things.
Propagating philodendrons is fairly easy. But, it’s important to know what you’re dealing with. That’s because different methods are better suited for the type of plant you have.
These are best propagated via stem cuttings. Here, you can cut off a healthy stem that’s about 3 to 6 inches long. Ideally, you want to choose stems that have a few leaves on them.
Once you have the cuttings, dip the end in rooting hormone. This is an optional step. But, I’ve found it immensely helpful as it improves the cutting’s ability to root. Thus, boosting your odds of success.
Next, place the bottom end into a glass of water. Within a few weeks, you should start seeing roots develop.
Finally, you can move the new young plant into a pot.
Self-Heading (Non-Climbing) Philodendrons
Self-heading philodendrons are different. They’re not propagated via cuttings because they have large stems and short internodes.
Thus, they can be easier or harder to propagate depending on what you have.
If you grow them outdoors, you might be able to propagate with seeds. That’s because they flower outdoors, but rarely indoors.
That said, some varieties send out plantlets. Here, you can allow the plantlets to grow before potting them separately.
For hybrids that don’t produce seeds, tissue culture is used.
In their native environments, philodendrons can grow up to 8 feet tall. And, while they don’t get anywhere near that height indoors, some varieties of these houseplants are very fast growers.
This means you’ll need to repot them from time to time.
In general, the climbing varieties grow faster than the self-heading varieties. For these, you can expect to move them to larger pots every year or so.
The latter will only need to be repotted occasionally.
One thing worth noting is that philodendrons are toxic to both pets and humans. There’s no problem holding or touching them.
But, because their stems and leaves contain high levels of calcium oxalate, ingesting them can cause gastrointestinal problems. Some symptoms including vomiting, diarrhea, and swelling of the mouth or throat.
Thus, it’s a good idea to keep them away from the reach of young children and pets who might accidentally consume parts of the plant.