Philodendron as houseplants: How to Grow, care and support them indoor
Philodendrons are a type of flowering tropical plants in the Araceae family. It's known to have been first collected as early as 1644. Since then, the Philodendron genus has grown to have so many species, 489 to be exact, with hundreds that are still undescribed. The leaves on the Philodendron plant are typically large, green, glossy and often times heart shaped. And can be grown as a climbing philodendron or in hanging baskets. Some plants like Monstera deliciosa are mistakenly called split leaf philodendron.
Philodendron plants are understory plants, native to many different parts of the Americas and West Indes.
Philodendron plants are great with tolerating low light. That makes them great indoor plants. If you have a shady spot with indirect light or window, any of the Philodendron varieties would be perfect. If you want to introduce your Philodendron plant to bright indirect light, or have a sunny window with too much light, make sure to slowly acclimate your plant so it can tolerate the higher light. The leaves can easily burn if you place them in bright light too quickly.
While some Philodendrons, are crawlers and others are climbers, they all would benefit with a chunky potting soil. Use a potting mix (like coco coir or Fox Farm) with equal parts of horticultural charcoal and bark and place in a pot with drainage holes will ensure your Philodendron is happy. This potting mix will also help with root rot as some Philodendron have a smaller root system and are more susceptible to root rot. Repotting the philodendron with fresh soil every other year ensures good health for the plants.
Humidity and Temperature
The amount of humidity a Philodendron needs, really depends on the species. Many of the upright and vining philodendron plants can tolerate normal house humidity, unless you're in a drier climate. But, typically, the more expensive the Philodendron, the more humidity it will need.
Plant corner with humidifier
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If your Philodendron has velvet leaves or you notice the leaves get stuck before they fully unfurl, you'll need higher humidity. You can clump your plants together to create a micro-environment or place near a humidifier.
Philodendron plants do great in normal house temperature. And if you plan on growing your plant outdoors, be aware of freezing temps or any time it drops below 55 degrees Fahrenheit.
When considering your watering schedule with your Philodendron houseplants, make sure to check the soil moisture before you water. Philodendron do like a bit of moisture but can easily rot. Water when the soil is almost completely dry. And be wary of limp leaves. If your soil is dry and your plant has limp leaves, then it's thirsty. But limp leaves plus moist soil, means there's root rot.
Watering Ric Rac Cactus
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In my experience, the crawling and upright Philodendrons are more tolerable with a missed watering. While, the vining can throw a fit and drop leaves.
Types of Philodendrons
Heart leaf Philodendron
Heartleaf Philodendron like Philodendron Brasil, Philodendron scandens, and Philodendron Rio are botanically known as Philodendron hederaceum. They're types of vining philodedrons with heart shape leaves that often grown in hanging baskets.
However, these vining philodendrons can be grown as climbers. Attaching the vines to a moss pole or wooden plank is a great to grow your vining species. Growing them as climbers gives your plants a chance to size up its leaves and mature faster.
Heart leaf Philodendron
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Philodendron selloum, Philodendron bipinnatifidum, or Lacy Tree Philodendron has be reclassified to a completely different genus, its now known as Thaumatophyllum bipinnatifidum. But, Philodendron or not, this plant is a statement plant.
Lacy Tree Philodendron
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It's a non climbing Philodendron that spreads out rather than up. It has dark green, deeply lobed leaves that can grow up to 5 ft tall. As a houseplant, it takes up a lot of wingspan. Putting it in a corner next to a window or under a grow light, makes the perfect statement.
Philodendron gloriosums aren't the easiest houseplants but is well worth the work. This is a crawling Philodendron houseplant with velvet, dark green heart shaped leaves with silver, glittery white veins.
Philodnedron gloriosum leaf
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Philodendron gloriosum doesn't do well in direct sun, instead it thrives in medium to low light. They also require humidity of atleast 40% but will thrive in higher humidity. And with it's crawling growth habit, will need a pot that's longer rather than a deep pot.
Philodendron plants like Pink Princess, Black Cardinal, and Dark Lord are all considered Philodendron erubescens. It has large waxy foliage and has an up right growth pattern. This Philodendron thrives in dappled light or low light.
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Philodendron melanochrysum is a type of vining Philodendron. The foliage comes in shades of green with the new leaves having a bronze color. This plant is grown as a climber and will grow up to 6ft in length. This is one of the more finicky Philodendrons, click here if you want to read our complete care guide for Philodendron melanochrysum.
Philodendron melanochrysum on modular Treleaf trellis
Philodendron plants are easy to propagate by taking stem cuttings. Most people tend to propagate in the Spring and summer when the days are longer and warmer but if you have a controlled, indoor environment, you can propagate all year long.
Using clean shears, cut below the leaf node, finding the aerial roots will help locate the node. After taking the cutting you can place it in your choose of medium; soil, sphagnum or peat moss, perlite, etc. Click here to learn the pros and cons of various propagation methods. With bright light and humidity your cutting should have roots within six to eight weeks. If the leaves turn yellow on your cutting, its fine. As long as the stem isn't rotted, your cutting will root just fine.
Supporting your Philodendron
Many of the Philodendron that are grown in hanging baskets or as a trailing Philodendron are often considered epiphytes. Epiphytes are a type of plant that cling and grow up other plants, often times trees. As they start to grow up towards the sun, the mature and triple and size. This is something that can be easily be achieved with any of the trailing vines.
The easiest way to support your Philodendron and get the bigger leaves is by support it on a wooden plank. Wood mimics their natural environment and it takes minimal effort for your plant to attach its aerial roots to the wood. The key is to have a humidity level of at least 40% and attaching the plant to the wood and soon as it emerges and hardens off. Many times, just the support alone is enough to help the plant grow mature foliage. If you want a more aesthetic alternative to wooden planks, our Zella planks work great. And another plus point, they are extendable and grow with your plants.
Alternatively, many people use sphagnum moss poles to grow Philodendron. Moss has a tendency to dry out quickly and it needs to be consistently moist for the plants aerial roots to fully grow and attach to it.
Click here if you want to read all about growing plants on moss and planks.
Pests and Problems
Houseplant pest are inevitable and Philodendron are no different from other plants. In my experience, Philodendron houseplants are susceptible to spider mites and thrips.
Common signs of spider mites; yellow stippling on foliage, webbing around the area where the leaf and stem meet, webbing on the foliage or little clear insects moving around. To treat, you can use equal parts of dish soap and water. Quarantine the plant and treat the plant for two weeks.
Common signs of thrips are leaves start to turn yellow (not just lower levels but new leaves), deformed new growth, tiny holes in the foliage or tiny thin white or black bodied insects on the underside of the leaves. To treat for thrips, you need quarantine plant and spray with a systemic spray or dish soap and water. Spray plant for six to eight weeks.
Thips larvae on Philodendron melanochrysum
One popular method to treat plants for pests is to use neem oil. This method isn't effective for an active outbreak but is good for preventative method. Also, a good solution to clean your leaves.
Click here to read more about houseplant pest and treatment.
Common Problems With Philodendron
One common problem you may run into with Philodendrons is the leaves getting stuck and not fully unfurling. This is often a common sign of low humidity. To help a stuck leaf, you can raise the humidity by placing them in a greenhouse or placing by a humidifier. You can also spray the stuck leaf with water every day until the leaf unfurl. This is especially useful while the leaf is out of the cataphyll and trying to open.
Another common problem you may have when you grow philodendron, is leaf disease. This will appear as rings on your foliage with an outer layer or yellow. This is known as bacteria leaf spot and can spread. This often happens from water sitting on your leaves. To treat any sort of bacteria, you can spray the plant with a fungicide. You should also cut off any leaves that are badly infected.
Photo by vadim kaipov on Unsplash
Next, add proper air flow to your plant area. This will ensure no excess water is sitting around and will help you grow philodendron successfully.
My last tip to protect your Philodendrons from pest and disease is to use plant food or a liquid fertilizer. The extra nutrients will help strengthen the Philodendron from the inside out. And plant that is healthy and happy is less likely to fall victim to pests and disease.