How to Care for Philodendron Plants?
As one of the most popular indoor foliage plants, the philodendron can be a rewarding house plant thanks to its fast growth rate and adaptability.
Native to Central and South America, philodendron plants come in two varieties, both easy to care for — vining and non-vining varieties.
As long as you understand the basic plant care needs including light, water, temperature and soil requirements, there’s little else to worry about in caring for a philodendron.
Obviously, some philodendron varieties may need special care, but in this article, I will focus on the general requirements of philodendron plants.
Size & Growth
There’s a lot of variety in terms of the size philodendrons can reach at maturity. Some species will grow tall, others will trail, reaching as much as 20 ft in height/length and 6 ft in width.
Although they’re generally considered fast-growing plants, some varieties like the Philodendron Birkin have an average growth pattern, making it easy for you to maintain the plant at a reasonable size.
And not all philodendrons will dazzle with their prolific growth, the Philodendron Burle Marx maxes out its height at only 2 feet.
Therefore, with so much variety, you’re sure to find a philodendron that will meet your needs.
For the most part, philodendrons will thrive in bright, indirect light. If you’re unsure about the light requirements of your philodendron variety, you can’t go wrong with ensuring that your plant has access to bright, indirect light.
The only major concern with these plants is usually bright, direct light. Because these plants generally have leaves that are prone to scorching when exposed to direct light, keep your philodendron protected from the strong rays of the sun.
Low light conditions can also work for some varieties like the ever-so-popular Heartleaf Philodendron or the Philodendron Brasil.
When in doubt about the light requirements of your philodendron, bright, indirect light will usually do the trick.
Philodendrons dying off because of overwatering is something that I often see happening to novices. That’s because philodendrons enjoy evenly moist soil, but not soggy or wet soil.
While watering needs may also be slightly different from philodendron variety to philodendron variety, for the most part, these plants will do well neither with overwatering nor with drought.
To ensure you’re watering these plants correctly, use the following tip that has never failed me so far: Water your philodendron only when the top inch of the soil starts to dry out.
Don’t re-water when the top inch of the soil is still wet, and you can avoid overwatering issues without making your plant go dry.
Besides watering this plant correctly, you also need to plant it in a potting mix that will drain well.
Philodendrons will thrive in a rich soil that’s well-aerated and drains fast. Therefore, regular potting soil alone will not do. What you should do is amend the soil with either perlite, peat, or coarse sand.
Ratios also matter, so aim for one part peat, one part perlite, one part regular potting soil. You can substitute perlite for coarse sand.
This soil mix will also retain just enough moisture and humidity to keep the plant well-hydrated but without causing root rot.
Temperature & Humidity
Philodendrons thrive in average room temperature, so it’s not accidental that these plants have adapted so well to indoor conditions.
The temperature range that’s ideal for these plants is between 65-75 degrees Fahrenheit. You should be careful not to expose the plant to temperatures below 55 degrees.
As for humidity levels, philodendrons are good with average to high humidity. Some varieties will thrive better when humidity levels around the plant are increased.
Using a humidifier when the air is dry or using a tray with pebbles and water can both increase humidity levels and have beneficial effects.
Some philodendron plants do better when they’re moved to naturally more humid areas of the house such as a bathroom or a kitchen, provided that they can get enough light.
If your philodendron exhibits small leaves and a slow growth pattern, helping along the plant with fertilizer can do wonders for its growth and development.
But be careful with the fertilizer. Use a liquid, balanced fertilizer that’s formulated for foliage plants and feed monthly during the growing stage.
Cut back on the frequency in fall and winter and resume normal fertilizing in the spring.
Potting & Repotting
If you have a philodendron variety that has a fast growth pattern, you’ll need to monitor its growth and transfer it to a different pot when it outgrows its current pot.
Once the plant matures, it will slow its growth and you may only need to transfer it to a bigger pot every 2-3 years.
When repotting, don’t oversize the pot, choose a size bigger, otherwise, it can lead to overwatering issues.
How to Propagate Philodendrons?
One of the easiest ways to propagate a philodendron is through stem cuttings. Choose stem cuttings of 4-6 inches in length with 2-3 leaves on and cut below a leaf node.
Root them directly in water or in a moist potting mix, and you should see roots emerging in about 2-3 weeks. Keep the cuttings out of direct light, but make sure they have access to bright light.
Keep the mix moist so it doesn’t dry out but it also doesn’t become soggy or replace the water often to prevent it from becoming cloudy.
You can also propagate through air layering or plant division, which works best for philodendrons with an upright growth pattern.
Although philodendrons are easy to take care of, you may have noticed that they have specific requirements especially when it comes to light requirements, watering and humidity.
Even if it’s true that they’re easy to grow, if you don’t know how to manage their needs, they can easily dry out or die off because of root rot.
However, once you understand their basic requirements, you’re going to have an easy time growing any philodendron variety you want.