How to Care for Patio Philodendron?
Although most of the world thinks of philodendrons as houseplants, these plants can thrive outdoors as well. Especially in USDA zones 9-11.
Even if you don’t live in those areas, you can keep philodendrons outdoors during the summer, and what better place for them than your patio?
Tall-growing philodendrons make excellent patio plants, but there are a few things you must be careful about when keeping these plants on your patio.
Here are my tips on how to take care of patio philodendrons.
Size & Growth
Philodendrons can be self-heading or trailing philodendrons; both offer an excellent display of foliage.
Self-heading ones have an upright growth pattern with thick stems that confer the plant a tree-like appearance. These philodendrons are especially suitable for growing on a patio.
Popular self-heading philodendrons include the Philodendron Birkin, the Philodendron Rojo Congo, and the Philodendron Imperial Green.
Trailing philodendrons are also suitable for patios, especially when grown in hanging baskets, allowing the stems to cascade down the side of the pot.
But these too can be trained to grow upwards with the help of a moss pole, for example.
The ever-popular Heartleaf Philodendron and the Philodendron Brasil are prime examples of vining philodendrons.
As for the size philodendrons can reach, there’s a lot of variety — some philodendrons reach 1-3 feet in height, others will grow to over 15 feet.
One of the problems I see people encountering in growing philodendrons outside or even on their patio is light exposure.
If your patio is not covered and there’s direct sun shining down all day, then maybe you should consider a different plant for your patio.
Although philodendrons do enjoy bright light, they can’t tolerate direct sun exposure, especially not throughout the entire day.
If your patio has a little direct sun in the morning, but partial shade during the day, it’s fine to grow your philodendrons on the patio.
Because they’re technically outdoors, the watering needs of patio philodendrons may be different from those of philodendrons kept indoors.
Regardless of that, monitoring the soil moisture level just like you monitor the moisture level of indoor philodendrons, works here too.
If the top layer of the soil is dry, you can go ahead and water your philodendron. If it’s wet or moist, don’t water your philodendron.
Outdoors, evaporation may be faster, so make a mental note of checking on your philodendrons more often.
One of the best substrates for philodendrons is a mix of peat, perlite and regular potting soil, one part of each. This creates a soil mix that drains fast but retains just enough moisture to keep philodendron plants happy.
If you’re worried about regular potting soil proving too heavy, you can use soilless mixtures such as peat-vermiculite or peat-perlite, both of which work for philodendrons.
Because in their natural habitat, philodendrons grow in soil rich in organic matter, so any soil mix designed for tropical plants should work for philodendrons as well.
Temperature & Humidity
The disadvantage of growing plants outdoors is how little control you have on things like temperature and humidity. And this applies to philodendrons as well.
In terms of temperatures, there are two things you should remember about philodendrons. One is that they thrive in average temperatures, with the range of 65-75 degrees F being the most favorable to them.
The second is that cold temperatures such as those below 55 F are damaging to the plant. Therefore, in areas where winter temperatures drop below this threshold, philodendrons need to be moved indoors from the patio.
Humidity is essential for philodendrons. If temperatures outside get too high and the air gets too dry, you will need to make arrangements for your philodendron such as misting them and watering them more often to maintain humidity levels.
Philodendrons benefit from regular fertilizing, so feeding your philodendron plants with a balanced liquid fertilizer every month will help keep them healthy and support the growth of foliage.
As you transition into fall and move your plants indoors, for example, you should cut back on fertilizer, reducing the frequency to only every 6-8 weeks instead of the monthly feeding.
Potting & Repotting
Trailing or vining philodendron varieties have a fast growth pattern, so replacing the pot is something you need to keep an eye on when the plant gets too big.
Simply choose a pot that’s a size bigger and transfer your philodendron ideally in early spring. Since you’re repotting, you also need to replace the potting mix to freshen it up.
Once the plant reaches maturity, repotting will not be needed as often. Repotting your philodendron every 2-3 years will be enough.
Even if your philodendron is a smaller variety, you still need to do some repotting to freshen up the potting mix, which can either become depleted of nutrients or get saturated from minerals present in the fertilizer.
Either way, you’ll need to change the substrate every 2-3 years to keep the plant in good health.
How to Propagate Patio Philodendron?
Philodendrons can be propagated through stem cuttings that are 4-6 inches long and feature a couple of leaves on the stem. You can root these in water or in moist potting mix.
If kept in bright, but indirect light and in a moist and warm location, the stem cuttings will root in about 2-4 weeks.
When the roots are long enough and the cuttings start having new growths, they can be transferred to their final location.
If you’re familiar with philodendrons as houseplants, know that they can be grown outdoors as well, whether on your patio or directly in the garden if you live in USDA zones 9-11.
The requirements of philodendron plants are the same whether they’re indoors or out. What changes is your ability to influence their environment — outdoors is much more difficult than indoors.
Even so, you can choose where to position your philodendron and how to water it so that it continues to thrive.
When moving a philodendron outside from indoors, make sure to first acclimate it, so that it doesn’t suffer a shock because of the change in their environment.