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What Are Philodendrons?
Philodendrons are tropical plants native to Central and South America. These evergreen perennials belong to the Araceae family—the same family as pothos plants. There are hundreds of philodendron species, each with its own unique cultivars. The most common philodendron plants produce long vines or stems adorned with thick, waxy, dark green leaves. They can be planted indoors year-round and are fast growers. Depending on the species of philodendron and the size of the container they're planted in, they can grow anywhere from one to six feet long and equally wide.
2 Types of Philodendrons
Philodendrons belong to one of two categories: vining or non-climbing.
- Vining: Vining philodendrons have aerial roots and produce cascading vines that look great in hanging baskets or climbing up a trellis. Monstera deliciosa, or Swiss cheese plant, is commonly mistaken for a vining philodendron. The internet-famous plant is sometimes erroneously labeled as a split-leaf philodendron.
- Non-climbing: Non-climbing philodendrons grow upright.
4 Philodendron Varieties
If you're looking for a true philodendron plant, consider picking up one of these philodendron varieties.
- Lacy tree philodendron: Also known as Philodendron selloum or Philodendron bipinnatifidum, this non-climbing philodendron grows glossy green, serrated leaves.
- Heartleaf philodendron: Also known by the scientific name, Philodendron hederaceum, this is one of the most popular varieties of philodendron. These climbers produce waxy, heart-shaped, deep green leaves. It is sometimes mistaken for pothos plant due to having many similar characteristics.
- Philodendron Brasil: Also known as the variegated heartleaf philodendron (Philodendron hederaceum ‘Brasil’), this variety features yellow variegated leaves. Variegation is the term for different color zones that appear on the leaves.
- Blushing philodendron: Also known as a red-leaf philodendron (Philodendron erubescens), this climbing variety has reddish stems and leaves.
How to Plant Philodendron
Follow these steps to get growing.
- Choose a pot with drainage holes. By allowing excess water to escape, a pot with drainage holes will reduce the risk of overwatering your plant.
- Use well-draining potting soil. Using well-draining soil with some sand or perlite in the mix will further reduce the risk of overwatering and root rot.
- Place the plant in a spot with bright light. Philodendrons thrive when placed in indirect light. In their natural tropical habitat, they rarely ever receive direct sun. However, they're resilient and will tolerate nearly all light conditions—including direct sunlight and low light in small quantities.
How to Grow and Care for Philodendron
You do not need a green thumb to grow and care for philodendrons. That being said, there are a few plant care tips to follow to help your plant thrive.
- Water your plant every seven to 14 days. Give your plants a thorough drink every one to two weeks. If your plant gets yellow leaves and they start to drop, you're likely overwatering the plant. To avoid this, let the top inch of soil completely dry out between waterings.
- Prune your philodendron regularly. Pruning your plants helps encourage new growth and keeps your plants from getting leggy. Snip off dead leaves to make way for new leaves. Keep your clippings—they can be used for propagation.
- Employ propagation to control the size of your plant. To propagate your plant, use a sharp pair of garden clippers to clip off three to six inches of stem. Gently remove the bottom leaves, leaving four to six leaves on the stem. Plant the stem about two to three inches deep in moist soil, making sure the soil is firm around the stem and none of the leaves are buried.
- Keep an eye on pests. Philodendrons can fall prey to common pests like mealybugs, spider mites, and aphids. Keep pests at bay by maintaining the health of your plant. You can also spray your plant with neem oil or a diluted dish soap solution if necessary.
- Fertilize your plant monthly. Pale new leaves typically indicate that your plant isn't getting enough calcium or magnesium. Fertilizing your plant with a water-soluble houseplant fertilizer once a month will keep your plants healthy, strong, and beautiful.
- Keep your plant away from children and pets. Philodendrons can be poisonous to people and pets if ingested, but they're not lethal. If you have pets or children, it's best not to use them as a floor plant.
- Repot your plant as necessary. Philodendron houseplants are typically sold as mature houseplants and don't require repotting. However, as your philodendron grows, you may want to move it to a larger container, or use propagation to start a brand new plant.