What is the Best Soil for Philodendrons?

You’re probably aware that light and correct watering will determine how well your philodendrons do indoors. But soil type is just as important as these two elements.

As a beginner, you may not think twice about planting your philodendrons in regular potting soil. Well, I’m here to tell you that maybe you should think twice.

A good potting mix can mean the difference between a healthy plant that’s thriving and one that’s barely just surviving.

Philodendrons aren’t fussy about most things but choosing the best soil from the get-go means that there are few other things you’ll need to worry about when it comes to caring for philodendrons.

In what follows, I’m going to explain why philodendrons need a certain type of substrate and which is the best soil for a philodendron.

Best Soil for Philodendron

With humid tropical forests as their native lands, philodendrons are accustomed to nutrient-rich soil that’s humid, yet drains well.

Have you ever wondered why philodendrons in the wild are accustomed to heavy rainfalls, while in pots they’ll die if they’re overwatered? It’s because the soil in which they grow drains fast and it’s well aerated.

The huge body of vegetation above the ground in tropical rainforests also creates a massive supply of nutrients to the trees and plants that grow there. So, philodendrons need nutrient-rich soil that’s high in organic matter.

Knowing this, we can draw the following conclusions as to the soil that philodendrons need:

  • Fast draining soil that doesn’t hold too much water
  • Lightweight and well-aerated to keep the roots in good health
  • Rich in nutrients to meet the nutritional needs of fast-growing philodendrons

Regular potting soil does not meet all these requirements. It’s too heavy, prone to compaction and holds onto too much water, all things that are damaging to philodendrons.

Therefore, you should seek out substrates that help with drainage yet aren’t deficient in nutrients.

Available options include peat-based soils, mixes amended with perlite, coconut coir, and compost.

There are plenty of commercially available mixes formulated to meet the needs of philodendron plants (usually mixes created for tropical plants), but you can create your own mix as well, especially if you have multiple philodendron plants.

DIY Philodendron Potting Mix Recipe

There are a few recipes for philodendron potting mixes that you can use to create your own philodendron potting mix.

– Recipe 1

You can use the one part perlite, one part peat moss, and one part regular potting soil recipe. You can substitute perlite for coarse soil. This will improve drainage.

– Recipe 2

The second option is to mix 50% peat with 20% compost and 30% regular potting soil. This mix also matches the needs of philodendron plants in that it’s loose enough to allow good drainage and rich enough in organic matter to meet the nutritional needs of philodendrons.

– Recipe 3

You can also use 50% potting soil and add 50% coconut coir.

– Alternatives

Know that philodendrons will grow in 100% sphagnum peat moss as well. Soilless mixtures such as peat-vermiculite or peat-perlite are also a good option.

Unless you want to grow philodendrons in water — which you can, by the way — you should choose one of these recipes or experiment with these recipes to see which works best for your philodendron.

Can You Use African Violet Soil for Philodendrons?

If you already have African Violet potting mix at home, you can use it for your philodendron plants as well.

African violets are native to tropical eastern Africa, so they’re also tropical plants and their soil and water needs are similar to that of philodendron plants.

Most African violet mixes available on the market are a mix of sphagnum peat moss, aged forest products, perlite, hummus, and/or compost.

African violet potting mixes are highly porous, which is great for philodendron plants that need their roots to be well-aerated and the soil to drain fast.

Therefore, African violet soil mixes check off all the needs of philodendrons plants, so you can go ahead and use that instead of mixing substrates yourself.

Can You Use Cactus Soil for Philodendrons?

Cactus or succulent soil mixes aren’t an exact match for philodendrons, but they can work for them too, with a little adjustment.

Most cactus soils contain sand, perlite and stones or coarse sand, and a bit of compost, so a lot of inorganic materials to improve drainage and keep the mix relatively dry.

Because cacti and succulents have a slow growth rate, they don’t need that many nutrients as a philodendron. They also don’t need that much moisture, but philodendrons do enjoy evenly moist soil.

Therefore, if you can tilt the balance of inorganic materials in favor of organic materials in the composition of cactus or succulent soil mixes, you can use them with success for philodendron plants as well.

Is Pumice Good for Philodendrons?

Just like perlite, pumice is also added to soil to improve aeration and drainage. Pumice is a volcanic rock that’s highly porous, and it’s mostly used in cactus or succulent mixes to improve soil structure, drainage and aeration.

Pumice also favors the growth of beneficial microorganisms in the soil such as mycorrhizae. Another advantage of pumice is that it contains trace minerals, and it absorbs excess moisture from the soil, preventing root rot in plants that are prone to it.

Therefore, you can add pumice to philodendron potting mixes to improve drainage and aeration and boost the growth of beneficial microorganisms.

Conclusion

The best soil for philodendrons will meet all that philodendron plants need to thrive. When combined in the recommended quantities, the substrates I discussed in this article offer good drainage, adequate levels of moisture, and organic materials that supply philodendron plants with needed nutrients.

Root rot issues stemming from incorrect watering are also reduced when the potting mix is loose and well-aerated.

All these substrates and soil amendments can be easily sourced online or from your local garden center, allowing you to create your own mix. Alternatively, there are plenty of commercially available mixes you can buy for your philodendron plant.

Philodendrons   Updated: April 4, 2022
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