Philodendron: The Versatile Houseplant
It seems that the more of something I get the more I want. Such is the case with my new obsession, philodendrons. There is so much diversity in this family of plants I still think after years of growing them that I’ve only scratched the surface.
Philodendrons can grow just about anywhere. They are possibly the perfect houseplant as they're so easy to keep up with! Philodendrons grow best in medium or bright-light spots in rooms with natural sunlight but tolerate low light exceedingly well.
The most common types of philodendrons are the climbing type. Climbing types can easily be trained to grow around window frames, up poles or “totems”, or trailing down the sides of containers. The upright types or “self-heading” tend to have larger leaves that come in a large assortment of colors, shapes, and textures. Upright varieties are also slower growing but can become quite large if you let them.
Philodendron Growing Conditions
When growing philodendrons, it’s important to keep in mind that like many of today’s houseplants, they originated in lush tropical rainforest regions. They will develop best if you can simulate that environment.
Philodendrons prefer dappled, bright light, which mimics what is found under a tropical canopy. Philodendrons can be acclimated to nearly direct sunlight provided humidity levels are kept high, but they thrive in light shade.
Try to keep the growing media moderately moist at all times. Frequent misting during the growing season will keep the humidity level surrounding the plants high and also aids in the plant's ability to adapt to very high light levels. Philodendrons do not like to be kept soaking wet as this causes root rot so remember not to allow your plant to sit in a dish of water after watering. Keeping the plants moist by misting during the winter months when indoor air can get very dry.
There optimum temperature range for this group is variable, but no philodendron plant likes to go below 55 F for a long period of time.
Philodendrons like rich, loose potting soil. Choose a well-drained potting soil that tends to not stay wet for too long. Philodendrons prefer even moisture and do not like sitting in wet soils, so it’s a good idea to place a layer of stones on the inside bottom of the pot as well as underneath the pot when placing it in a dish. We’ve always seen great results with Espoma Organic Potting Mix.
We’ve found that a slow release of pelletized fertilizer such as Osmocote plus indoor/outdoor plant food works best when sprinkled onto the surface of the soil at the beginning of the growing season. If you prefer liquid fertilizer, we’ve had excellent results with Jack’s Classic Houseplant special fertilizer used the recommended rate once per month in spring and summer.
Re-pot your philodendrons every two years or so into a pot roughly two to 4 inches larger until the plant reaches a size that you’d prefer. Some of the climbing types of philodendron are fast growers, and you’ll find that they don’t mind being pinched every so often to help them maintain their shape. Philodendrons are rarely affected by insects so chemical use should not be needed.
Philodendrons do benefit from a gentle wiping of the leaves to remove dust build-up. Don’t be afraid to take your philodendrons outside during the warm months for a breath of fresh air. Just be careful not to place your plant into the direct sunlight when doing so.
List of Easy to Grow Philodendron
The new leaves of Prince of Orange will give you a rainbow of color with green, orange, and even some yellow. The unique foliage will brighten up any room.
Little Hope has a dense bush-like appearance. It’s deep emerald green glossy leaves give the plant a more elegant look and really attracts the eye. It removes any Xylene and Toluene from the air. Little Hope is a great choice for smaller areas or as a desktop plant.
It’s glossy green leaves give this plant a more edgy look and really attracts the eye. Philodendron Lickety Split has long, slender, highly serrated, finger-like foliage in a dark green color.
Déjà vu Philodendron has serrated, jungle-like foliage in a dark green color. It is one of the more abundant growers in the tropical evergreen plants and only will reach a height of 3 feet.
The Philodendron Congo Rojo is a fast grower with large spade-shaped foliage that starts off as copper-red, then ages to an emerald green on magnificent red stems.
This variety has heart-shaped foliage in tones of chartreuse and dark green, giving it a unique flair to your indoor decor. As it begins new growth the leaves start off as reddish-pink and transform to a reddish-orange before finishing off to their emerald green. This is a climbing or trailing variety.
Philodendrons are easy to grow just remember the key with philodendrons is to provide plenty of warmth, bright light, and moisture. If you’ve had trouble in the past with houseplants and are considering giving up on ever having a lush “interiorscape” in your home, or office give one of these a try these are sure to change your mind.
Until next time, see you in the garden,
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