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How to Care for Philodendron Plants

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How to Care for Philodendron Plants, Philodendron Care Guide


Nothing breathes life into our contemporary urban spaces like houseplants! Green, leafy houseplants bring nature’s touch indoors and soften the harsh lines of concrete structures. Among all the most wonderful foliage houseplants, Philodendrons stand out thanks to their fast-growing, easy nature, and verdant, lively leaves. With many benefits, Philodendron easily has become one of the most popular genera of houseplants, suitable for various indoor settings. These plants are recommended even for beginners due to their forgiving nature and adaptability. 

The Philodendron genus consists of over 400 species. Native to the Americas, primarily found in Central and South America, they belong to the Araceae family, which is the same family that includes other popular houseplants like Pothos. These evergreen perennials thrive in the lush, humid rainforests of their natural habitat. The name "Philodendron" has Greek origins, with "philo" meaning love and "dendron" meaning tree. This name reflects the plant's growth habit of climbing and clinging to trees in their native environment. In their native tropical habitat, they have thrived under the verdant canopy, but they've also proven to be remarkably adaptable as indoor houseplants. In their native tropical habitat, they have thrived under the verdant canopy, but they've also proven to be remarkably adaptable as indoor houseplants.

The genus includes a diverse range of species, each with its unique characteristics, making them a favorite choice for indoor gardening and décor. Most Philodendrons are very forgiving and easy to grow. While they are forgiving plants, providing them with an optimal environment will help them thrive and maintain their attractive appearance.

Popular Philodendron Plants

  • Philodendron Cordatum: The Cordatum is a classic among Philodendron varieties. It features heart-shaped leaves with a glossy green surface. Its timeless charm and easy-care nature make it a favorite among plant enthusiasts.
  • Philodendron Cordatum Brasil: This variegated version of the Cordatum displays green heart-shaped leaves with striking golden-yellow stripes. The contrast between the two colors adds a lively and cheerful touch to your plant collection.
  • Philodendron Red Congo: This striking variety is known for its vibrant, reddish-purple leaves. Its bold coloration and large, glossy foliage make it a standout choice for adding a touch of elegance to any indoor space.
  • Philodendron Birkin: The Philodendron Birkin is characterized by its unique variegated leaves. The dark green foliage is adorned with creamy-white stripes, creating a captivating and eye-catching pattern that sets it apart from other Philodendrons.
  • Philodendron Prince of Orange: As the name suggests, this Philodendron variety showcases vibrant orange new growth that matures to a rich green. Its foliage is heart-shaped and adds a pop of color to your indoor jungle.
  • Philodendron Jungle Boogie: Jungle Boogie is known for its deeply lobed and highly textured leaves. The foliage resembles the appearance of a lush, tropical jungle, and it's a captivating addition to any plant collection.
  • Philodendron Micans: The Philodendron Micans is treasured for its velvety, rich green leaves with a bronzy undertone. The soft texture of the leaves and its trailing growth habit make it a delightful choice for hanging planters or decorative displays.

Are Philodendron plants toxic?

Philodendron plants contain calcium oxalate crystals. These microscopic crystals, found throughout the plant, serve as a natural defense mechanism to deter herbivores in the wild. While they're an ingenious adaptation in the wild, they can be toxic to humans and pets if ingested. These crystals can cause a range of symptoms, including irritation and swelling of the mouth, tongue, and throat, as well as digestive issues. In severe cases, ingestion can lead to more serious health problems. Therefore, it's essential to keep Philodendrons out of reach of children and pets and to exercise caution when handling them. If ingested, it's advisable to seek medical attention or consult with a veterinarian.

Philodenron Cordatum Brasil, How to Care for Philodendron, Philodendron Plant Care Guide

The Philodendron Cordatum Brasil is a variegated version of Philodendron Cordatum.

Philodendron as Wonderful Air-Purifying Houseplants

Beyond their captivating beauty and easy care, Philodendron plants offer another remarkable quality: they are wonderful air-purifying houseplants. These tropical gems, known for their lush foliage, actively contribute to improving indoor air quality, making them a valuable addition to any home. 

One of the key ways Philodendrons enhance air quality is through their ability to filter out common indoor pollutants. They excel at removing airborne toxins such as formaldehyde, xylene, and ammonia. Philodendron plants act as natural air purifiers, capturing these pollutants and converting them into harmless compounds, effectively cleansing the air we breathe. Moreover, Philodendrons release oxygen during the photosynthesis process, which can help increase oxygen levels in your home. 

Philodendrons As One Of The Best Low-Light Houseplants

Philodendron plants are renowned for their adaptability, and one of their standout features is their ability to thrive as low-light houseplants. These versatile beauties can brighten up even the darkest corners of your home while adding a touch of greenery and elegance to your space.

Philodendrons have adapted to their natural rainforest habitats, where dense canopies can filter out much of the sunlight. As a result, they have developed a remarkable tolerance for low light. Their large, dark green leaves are designed to maximize light absorption, allowing them to make the most of whatever light they receive.

While they may not grow as rapidly or produce as many leaves in low light as they would in brighter conditions, Philodendrons remain healthy and vibrant. Their ability to adapt to lower light levels makes them an ideal choice for offices or rooms with limited access to sunlight.

Philodendron Cordatum, How to Grow and Care for Philodendron Cordatum, Philodendron Cordatum Care Guide

Philodendron is one of the houseplants that can tolerate low light.

Types Of Philodendrons

There are 2 types of Philodendrons: Vining Philodendrons and Non-Climbing Philodendrons. 

Vining philodendrons

They are characterized by their ability to produce long, cascading vines. These plants often exhibit aerial roots that help them climb or trail. Vining Philodendrons are an excellent choice if you're looking to add a touch of greenery to your space by hanging them in baskets or allowing them to climb up trellises. They are well-known for their adaptability and resilience, making them ideal for indoor gardening. Some popular vining Philodendrons include the Heartleaf Philodendron Philodendron Cordatum, and Philodendron Cordatum Brasil.

Non-climbing philodendrons

As the name suggests, grow upright and do not produce long vines. These Philodendrons create a bushier appearance and are often favored for their compact, lush growth. Their leaves can be quite diverse, featuring different shapes, sizes, and colors. Non-vining Philodendrons are perfect for those who prefer a more traditional houseplant look and don't want to deal with training or supporting vines. Examples of non-climbing Philodendrons include Philodendron Red Congo and Philodendron Prince of Orange.

Each type of Philodendron offers a distinct visual appeal and growth habit, allowing you to choose the one that best suits your indoor gardening preferences and the aesthetics of your home. 

General Care for Philodendron

What is the best light for Philodendron?

Lighting is a crucial factor in the care of Philodendron plants. These houseplants are adaptable and can tolerate a range of light conditions, but the ideal lighting depends on the specific species. Many Philodendron species thrive in bright, indirect light. This means they should be placed near a window but should not receive direct sunlight. A sheer curtain or some distance from a sunny window is often ideal. It's also essential to protect Philodendrons from direct sunlight, especially during the hot afternoon hours. Direct sun can scorch their leaves, causing them to turn brown or yellow. 

While they do best in brighter conditions, Philodendrons are known for their adaptability to low light. They can tolerate low-light environments, making them suitable for offices or rooms with minimal natural sunlight. However, in low-light situations, their growth may slow down, and they may not produce as many leaves. The Philodendron Cordatum and Philodendron Cordatum 'Brasil' are examples of species that can tolerate lower light conditions.

Philodendron Prince of Orange, How to Grow and Care for Philodendron, Philodendron Plant Care Guide

Philodendron Prince of Orange is well-known for its attractive appearance.

When should you water your Philodendron?

Proper watering is essential to keep your Philodendron plants healthy. Overwatering or underwatering can lead to various issues, so it's important to strike the right balance. Philodendrons prefer consistent, moderate watering. They like to stay evenly moist but not waterlogged. Before watering, check the top inch of the soil. If it's dry to the touch, it's time to water. If the soil is still moist, wait a few more days before checking again. The frequency of watering depends on factors like the temperature, humidity, and the size of the pot. During the growing season (spring and summer), when the plant is actively growing, you may need to water a bit more frequently. In the dormant season (fall and winter), reduce the watering frequency.

What is the soil that Philodendron prefers?

Philodendrons prefer slightly moist, well-draining soil to prevent waterlogging, which can lead to root rot. You can use a high-quality commercial potting mix formulated for houseplants. If you prefer making your own mix, you can combine houseplant soil with peat moss, perlite, and pine bark. This provides a good balance of moisture retention, good aeration, and proper drainage.

Do Philodendron plants need fertilize?

Philodendrons generally benefit from a balanced, water-soluble fertilizer. During the growing season, which is typically in spring and summer, you can fertilize your Philodendron once a month. Reduce or eliminate fertilization during the dormant period in fall and winter when the plant is not actively growing. Always follow the specific instructions on the fertilizer label to ensure that you're providing the right nutrients in the right amounts. Remember that your Philodendron's fertilization needs can vary based on factors like the plant's age, the type of fertilizer used, and the growing conditions.

Philodendron Birkin, How to Grow and Care for Philodendron, Philodendron Plants Care Guide

One of the most popular plants in Philodendron genus is Philodendron Birkin.

What is the best temperatures and humidity levels for Philodendron?

Philodendrons are tropical plants and thrive in warmer temperatures. The ideal temperature range for most Philodendron species is between 65°F to 80°F. They can tolerate occasional drops to 50°F but It's important to protect your Philodendrons from cold drafts and sudden temperature fluctuations.

Philodendrons naturally come from humid rainforest environments, so they appreciate higher humidity levels. Aim to maintain indoor humidity levels between 40% and 60%. If your indoor air is too dry, you can use a humidifier or place a humidity tray filled with water and pebbles near your Philodendron to raise the humidity around it. You can also group your Philodendron with other houseplants to create a microclimate of increased humidity.

Extra Care for Philodendron Plants

What is the appropriate pot for Philodendron?

When potting a Philodendron, choose a container with drainage holes and made from a porous, plant-friendly material like concrete, terracotta, or ceramic. Plant your Philodendron in a pot that's just the right size for the current root system. The pot should allow some room for growth but not be excessively large, as overly spacious containers can retain too much moisture.

When should you repot Philodendron?

The best time to repot a Philodendron is during the growing season in spring or early summer. This timing aligns with the plant's natural growth cycle. You should repot your plant every 1-3 years, depending on its growth rate, or when it has outgrown the old pot and become rootbound. The new pot should be 1 size, or 10%, larger than the original one. When removing the plant from its old container, handle the roots carefully to avoid damage.

How to prune and shape your Philodendron?

Pruning your Philodendron is essential for maintaining its health and appearance. You should prune to remove dead or damaged leaves, encourage new growth, and control the size and shape of your plant. To do this, use clean, sharp pruning shears or scissors and cut at a 45-degree angle just above a leaf node. This will promote new growth from the cut tips. Philodendrons tolerate pruning well, and you can propagate the cuttings to grow new plants. Prune your Philodendron as needed, checking for dead or damaged leaves regularly, and shaping it once or twice a year to maintain your desired look.

Shaping your Philodendron is a method of controlling its growth and appearance, especially for vining Philodendrons. Philodendrons are versatile, and you can create various shapes, such as bushy or more elongated forms, depending on your preference. To shape your Philodendron, regularly prune the plant to remove excess growth and direct its growth pattern. You can also use stakes or trellises to encourage upward growth or train the vines in a specific direction. Shaping your Philodendron allows you to customize its appearance to suit your indoor space and style.

Philodendron Micans, Philodendron Plants Care Guide, How to Grow and Care for Philodendron
Philodendron Micans is the perfect trailing plant for any home

Photo by JK Studio Th

How can you propagate your Philodendron?

Philodendrons are typically propagated through stem cuttings, and this method works well for most types. The cuttings can be rooted in both soil and water. When propagating in soil, you'll want to select a healthy stem with at least two leaves, cut it just below a leaf node, remove any excess leaves, and allow the cut end to callus before planting it about an inch deep in well-draining soil. Water the soil lightly, and provide some humidity to encourage root development. In water propagation, follow a similar process but place the cutting in a container with water instead. Once roots have developed, you can transplant the cutting into a larger pot. 

Alternatively, you can root a stem cutting in water. Follow similar steps as propagating in soil, just make sure you use clean, distilled water and change the water regularly 1-2 times a week. Rooting would be faster in water, but transferring baby Philodendrons from water to soil can be a bit challenging. You can experiment with both methods to see which works best for your plant. 

What are the common problems when caring Philodendron?

Common problems with Philodendron plants include leggy growth due to insufficient light, yellowing leaves from overwatering, brown leaf tips caused by low humidity, potential infestations of pests like mealybugs and spider mites, and the risk of root rot due to overwatering and poor drainage. These issues can be addressed by providing appropriate lighting, moderate watering with soil dryness checks, maintaining humidity, inspecting for pests regularly, and ensuring well-draining pots with proper drainage.

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