Philodendrons are tropical flowering plants and while they rarely, if ever, flower indoors, they certainly bloom in their natural habitat.
Not only do philodendrons bloom, but some varieties will also produce fruit if they’re pollinated. Again, outside of their natural habitat, it’s hard to get philodendrons to bloom. But it’s not impossible.
Below, I’ll cover everything you should know about philodendrons blooming including how their blooms look, when and how often they bloom.
Do All Philodendron Species Bloom?
There are around 450 species of philodendrons and while most philodendron species will produce flowers, some species are notoriously late in doing so.
For example, a split-leaf philodendron or the philodendron Micans may take as many as 15 to 16 years to bloom. Other varieties may mature sooner and produce blooms sooner.
As I mentioned, it’s rare for a philodendron to bloom indoors, but philodendrons kept in greenhouses and conservatories are much more likely to bloom because of the favorable conditions.
How do Philodendron Flowers Look Like?
Philodendron blooms are nothing like the blooms you’d expect from a flowering plant. This is perhaps one of the reasons why philodendrons have become popular for their foliage and not their blooms.
There are two parts to a philodendron bloom or inflorescence — the spadix and the spathe. The spathe is a leaf-like hood that encloses the spadix, a tubular structure that’s shorter than the spathe and features male and female flowers.
If you look at pictures online of philodendron flowers, you’ll notice that the spadix is usually white or yellowish and looks much like a peeled banana.
The spathe is waxy and usually bicolored, either yellow with cream or crimson red with green.
Sometimes the upper part of the spathe is one color, while the base is a different color. Or — my favorite — the inner part is one color, while the outer part is a different color, creating an interesting contrast, especially when one of the colors is red.
Philodendron plants are not self-pollinating, so the plant needs pollinators to help with reproduction. Beetles are usually the most widespread pollinators of philodendron plants.
To attract pollinators, the philodendron plant produces heat by burning stores of fat, unlike other plants, which usually burn simple sugars and carbohydrates. Burning fat, on the other hand, is a more efficient source of energy.
And philodendrons need that energy, because the spadix can reach temperatures of 114 degrees F.
On the spadix, the female and male flowers are vertically distributed. There are fertile male flowers separated on the spadix by a sterile zone of sterile male flowers, which are followed by fertile female flowers.
Unfortunately, when the fertile male flowers are producing pollen, the female flowers are not susceptible to fertilization, hence the need for pollinators or hand pollination.
Hand pollination simply involves rubbing pollen on the lower part of the spadix, where the fertile female flowers are located. Hand pollination is usually carried out at night, when the plant is most likely to reproduce.
For philodendrons grown in greenhouses or conservatories, the plant’s spadix heats up, even though there are no pollinators, but gardeners know this is the time to pollinate.
Later in the season, the philodendron produces fruit that are deemed as toxic because of the high calcium oxalate crystal content.
And going back to the point where I mentioned how the spadix looks a lot like a peeled banana, it turns out that the taste of the fruit is also similar to the taste of bananas.
How Often do Philodendrons Bloom?
Philodendrons bloom once a year, once the plant reaches maturity, which — as I mentioned — can take a staggering 15-16 years.
Once the plant does reach its ripe old age of blooming, it will start putting out blooms. Depending on the species, philodendrons can produce a single bloom or clusters of up to 11 inflorescences on short peduncles.
From stem to tip, a philodendron inflorescence is 12 inches. Plus, the blooms are fragrant.
It’s safe to say that since philodendrons take so much time to bloom, seeing a philodendron inflorescence is definitely a special occasion.
If you’ve never seen a philodendron bloom, look for them in botanical gardens or conservatories open to the public.
When do Philodendrons Bloom?
Philodendrons usually bloom in spring-late spring, from May to July. Unfortunately, blooms are open for only a short period of two days.
If there are more than one bloom on a philodendron plant, they usually open up at different periods during the blooming stage, so you can enjoy their blooming for longer.
As I mentioned, philodendron blooms are fragrant, and their fragrance is strongest at night, which coincidentally is also the time when the plant is most likely to reproduce.
However, as I explained above, the plant relies primarily on heat to attract pollinators, and not on its fragrance.
The temperature of up to 114 degrees F is actually maintained by the plant, regardless of the ambient temperature, which is impressive.
How to Make Your Philodendron Bloom?
You may understand by now that philodendrons take a lot of time to bloom. Therefore, the first thing you should do is arm yourself with patience.
Even other philodendron species that may mature faster can still take a long time before they put out blooms.
Know that philodendrons grown in greenhouses are much more likely to put out blooms, because of the environment that’s similar to that of rainforests.
Here are some things you should be careful about to increase the chances of your philodendron blooming indoors:
- Buy high-quality potting mix that meets the needs of philodendrons (lightweight, fast-draining, rich in organic matter)
- Maintain evenly moist soil and don’t allow the soil to completely dry out
- Maintain good levels of humidity (these plants thrive in high humidity)
- Make sure the plant gets plenty of bright, indirect light
- Fertilize your philodendron monthly during the growing season and every 6-8 weeks during winter
- Maintain optimal temperatures throughout the year
With these in mind, you can ensure that your philodendron plant receives the best possible care. But even so, your philodendron may take its merry time to put out blooms.
Don’t worry if your plant doesn’t bloom — it’s very rare for philodendrons to bloom outside of their natural habitat.
And after all, you’re keeping your philodendrons for their wonderful foliage and not their blooms.