Philodendrons are one of the toughest houseplants you can possibly grow. Whether you choose upright or trailing/climbing types, they are perfectly happy in a home setting. Even people with so-called "black thumbs" are usually successful at growing these plants. Philodendrons are very low maintenance and can sit idle for long periods. You can train them up a trellis or simply leave them to their own devices—philodendrons will survive no matter what.
- Part Sun,
- 1 to 3 feet,
- 3 to 8 feet,
- 8 to 20 feet
- 1 to 6 feet wide
Climbing vs. Upright
The most common varieties of philodendrons are the climbing type. With heart-shaped leaves and a deep green color, these plants are a wonderful accent in any home setting. Climbing varieties can be trained around windows, up poles, or down the sides of containers. The upright types tend to be larger-leaved and have a more compact habit. Upright varieties are also slower growing but can become quite large if you let them.
Philodendron Care Must-Knows
Philodendrons are native to tropical rainforests where they ruggedly climb up trees. When translated into a home setting, these plants prefer dappled light—much like the canopy of a tropical rainforest. Upright varieties are much more accepting of bright sun, but they appreciate some spotted shade. Colored-leaf varieties need a good amount of bright light in order to show their best colors. When in too much shade, they tend to fade to a dull green.
Choose a well-drained potting medium that will not stay wet for too long—philodendron prefers even moisture and does not like sitting in wet soils. Upright varieties are much more tolerant of drought but also prefer evenly moist soil. Philodendrons will benefit from fairly regular doses of fertilizer, especially during summer months when growth is most active. This can be done by using either liquid fertilizer or slow-release pellets. Repot your houseplant every two years with fresh soil. When plants sit in the same soil for long periods of time, they can accumulate salt deposits from the water, which leads to leaf burn (browning and yellowing of leaf tips and edges). You can thoroughly flush the soil by running water through it until the water coming out the bottom of the pots runs clear.
Climbing types of philodendron are exceptionally easy to propagate, and they make a great gift! Because these plants have pre-formed roots, they can start forming new plants quickly. Simply cut a portion of the stem with a leaf attached and stick the stem with the root initial in a glass of water or moist potting soil. Eventually, this root initial will form a new plant.
As vining types of philodendron continue to grow, they can become long and leggy. These plants don't mind being cut back, so feel free to cut off gawky growth; it will encourage new shoots to form at the point where they were cut. You can also root more cuttings from this excess material directly in the same pot to create a fuller-looking plant.
More Varieties of Philodendron
Philodendron 'Brasil' is a hybrid that looks a bit like a cross between heart-leaf philodendron and pothos. Its leaves have a variable broad central band of chartreuse.
Elephant ear philodendron
Philodendron domesticum has glossy green spade-shape leaves up to 2 feet long. It is also called spade leaf philodendron (Philodendron hastatum).
Philodendron bipennifolium has violin-shape leaves to 10 inches long. It is a vine that will climb a support pole if given the chance. It is also known as panda plant (Philodendron panduriforme).
Philodendron hederaceum oxycardium is a durable vining houseplant with slender stems and heart-shape leaves. It grows well in hanging baskets, trained to a moss pole, or draping over the edge of a shelf.
Philodendron erubescens has reddish purple stems and large coppery red leaves.
Philodendron bipinnatifidum, also called lacy tree philodendron (Philodendron selloum), has large, deeply lobed leaves that arise from a central stem. It can spread to 6 feet wide and 8 feet tall.
Philodendron bipinnatifidum is also called split-leaf philodendron. This tropical plant has a semi-upright habit and grows 10 feet tall and wide in warm regions. Grow it as a houseplant and enjoy its glossy leaves and vertical habit.
Philodendron hederaceum hederaceum looks like heart-leaf philodendron at first glance, except its leaves are covered with fine velvety hairs, and the new growth is bronze.
Philodendron 'Xanadu' is a hybrid that grows 3 feet tall and wide. It prefers bright light and does not form aerial roots like other philodendrons.