Lovely, low maintenance and well-suited for virtually every home and office location—philodendron is the perfect indoor plant. It’s also quite easy to grow, even if you’re new to gardening.
The word “philodendron” is a combination of Greek words “Philo” which means “love” and “dendron” which means “tree”. The literal meaning is “tree loving”, which makes philodendron the ideal plant to showcase your love for nature. While they’re best known as houseplants, they’re also great for outdoor containers.
In this article, you’ll learn about:
The plant’s profile
Choosing the right philodendron varieties for your needs
Tips on growing philodendron plants
Taking care of philodendron plants
Philodendron: Plant profile
Philodendron plants belong to the Araceae family. These tropical plants are native to parts of South and Central America. The World Checklist of Selected Plant Families (WCSP) recognizes 489 different philodendron species. Most of these species have large, glossy green leaves.
Philodendron plants have two broad types:
The vining varieties can grow up to 10 feet long. These require a support structure such as a trellis, basket or a philodendron pole.
The non-climbing varieties have an upright habit and are excellent for decorative containers. The following are some of the most popular philodendron varieties:
Philodendrons contain calcium oxalate which is toxic to both humans and animals. Philodendron poisoning can cause a burning sensation or blisters in the mouth and throat. Ingesting philodendron can also lead to diarrhea, excessive salivation, corneal damage and swelling of the eyes, tongue and mouth.
Selecting the right Philodendron varieties for your place
Philodendrons offer a merry, myriad mix of decorative plants. Choosing the right one for your place can be quite challenging. The best and the easiest way is to use these search criteria:
Everyone is familiar with the gorgeous bright green leaves. But philodendron plants also offer plenty of other leaf colors. These include variegations in shades of lime, yellow, pink, white and crimson.
Consider your favorite or preferred colors and the area’s existing color scheme. This will help narrow down your plant search.
Philodendron leaves occur in multiple shapes, from the famed heart shape to palm-like, even oval. Some philodendron varieties have lobed leaves that look like fingers.
Look up images of different varieties. This will help you identify the ideal ones for your space’s design and theme.
Philodendron plants come in a wide array of sizes, ranging from varieties that fit into small pots to trailing varieties that can grow to over 10 feet long. There’s also the large philodendron tree that can grow up to 15 feet tall.
Consider the space you have at your disposal and the plant’s mature height before picking a variety to grow.
Do you want to use philodendron plants in hanging baskets or to cover a fence or trellis? Look into vining philodendrons. Note that all vining philodendrons require a support structure. In addition, the vines are vigorous growers and can get a little wild.
Philodendron vines are perfect for covering empty/unsightly spots and adding a vertical element to your space.
The second option is self-heading philodendrons. These varieties grow upright and are sturdy enough to support the top for years.
These philodendron varieties don’t require any support or training and are easier to manage than vining philodendrons. So, if you’re looking for tall, lesser-maintenance philodendrons, look into the self-heading types.
The location where you want to place the philodendron determines the varieties you can grow. Most philodendron varieties relish brightly lit planting sites that receive indirect sun.
Others, such as Heart-shaped philodendrons can thrive in lower light conditions and are ideal for indoor areas away from the windows.
How to grow Philodendron plants
The most crucial aspect of growing philodendrons is providing the plants with the right growing conditions. The site should offer the ideal light conditions for the chosen variety. It should also be spacious enough to support the plant’s future growth.
Philodendrons relish acidic soils and a humid environment. Note that temperatures under 55 degrees Fahrenheit can damage the plants.
You can grow philodendron plants using stem cuttings or seeds. If you’re using a stem cutting, make sure the stem is at least 6-inch long. Place it in a pitcher containing water.
Stem cuttings will develop 2-3 roots in 10-14 days’ time. At this stage, you can sow the stem into a container with standard potting mix.
If you want to grow philodendrons from seed, make sure you buy high-quality seeds from a reputed supplier. Sow the seeds at a depth of one-third of an inch. Allow a separation of at least 2 inches between adjacent seeds.
Once you’ve sown the seeds, cover the pot with plastic. Make sure to supply water often enough so the soil remains moist at all times.
Depending on the soil temperature, seed germination can take anywhere from 2-8 weeks (up to 2 months). Once the seedlings are big and sturdy enough to be handled, you can move each of them to individual pots.
Caring for your Philodendron plants
Philodendrons should always be irrigated with lukewarm water. Avoid using cold water.
Young plants need to be watered regularly so the soil never completely dries out. Once they’re established, you can water them once every couple of days. During the colder months, you can reduce the watering frequency to once every 3-4 days.
Fertilize the plants every 1-2 weeks during spring and autumn months. Use a balanced water-soluble fertilizer for the task. This will help your plants attain optimal health and look their best.
Philodendron plants seldom encounter any serious pests or disease related problems. Make sure, however, to always supply water at the soil level. Also, avoid watering too late in the day. Excess moisture and wet foliage can attract insect pests and support fungal growth. Watering the plants the right way will reduce the risk of these issues.
Whether you’re looking to beautify your home or office, enjoy the benefits of biophilia or simply trying your hand at gardening, growing philodendrons is the right move. We’d suggest you get down to it right away.