One of the challenges in growing philodendron plants is watering them correctly. These plants will tolerate some neglect in their watering schedule but if you want them to thrive, it’s best to meet their watering needs accordingly.
Because of their tropical background, philodendrons enjoy moisture and humidity but only to a certain point. Therefore, neither too little, nor too much water is acceptable.
Below, I’ll cover the essentials of watering philodendron plants, focusing on how often to water philos and what else you should know about their watering needs.
How Often do You Water a Philodendron?
I generally water my philodendron plants once a week. That said, my watering schedule changes depending on the season and indoor temperature.
Because my indoor environment is not the same as your indoor environment, I don’t recommend sticking to a frequency-based schedule.
Instead, what I recommend is to assess the moisture level of the potting mix every time. I found that this is the safest way to water philodendrons.
Based on the soil moisture assessment method, you should only water your philodendron when the top couple of inches of the soil is dry.
You can easily assess that by sticking your finger up to the first knuckle. If the soil is dry or drying out, water your philodendron. If it’s still moist, check back in a few days.
When watering the plant, water until you see water coming out of the drain holes. Allow for all the excess water to pool in the saucer, then empty the saucer.
Soil moisture is a good indicator of when you should water your philodendron next. Leaves drooping is also a good indicator but drooping leaves can also be a sign of overwatering, so it’s not the most reliable way to decide if you should water or not.
Watering frequency is also determined by light conditions, indoor temperature and humidity levels. In low light, lower temperatures and high humidity, you’ll need to water less often.
When temperatures rise, there’s lots of light and low humidity levels, you’ll need to water more often.
Therefore, you’ll need to water your philodendron by accounting for these aspects. Philodendrons take much better to low watering than they do to overwatering.
Of the two, overwatering seems to be by far the most dangerous for philodendrons, so when in doubt, maybe don’t get too generous with the watering can.
What Type of Water is Good for Philodendrons?
As with most houseplants, lukewarm water or room temperature water is the best for watering philodendrons. If the water is too cold, it can induce temperature shock. Warm or hot water isn’t good either.
As for the type of water you should use, rainwater is one of the best for watering plants, but if you can’t source rainwater, tap water will do.
The only concern is chlorine in tap water. But because chlorine can evaporate from water, you should leave tap water to aerate overnight before watering your houseplants.
Alternatively, if you have a water filter that filters your tap water, you can use filtered tap water to water your philodendron plants.
Household water filters usually use activated charcoal filters, which are excellent in removing chlorine and chlorine by-products from tap water.
Can Philodendrons Die from Overwatering?
Yes, unfortunately, philodendrons cannot tolerate overwatering. When overwatered, the roots of the plant will start rotting. This in turn will cut off the supply of nutrients to the plant causing it to start dying off.
Soil type and correct watering go hand in hand to ensure that your philodendron is thriving. Philodendrons don’t do well in regular potting soil because it’s too heavy, retaining too much water and being prone to compaction.
Regular potting soil needs to be amended with fast-draining substrates such as peat, perlite, coarse sand or coconut coir.
A good mix is one part perlite or coarse sand, one part peat, and one part regular potting mix. Philodendrons can be grown in 100% peat moss or other soil-less mixtures such as peat and vermiculite or peat and perlite.
Even though philodendrons don’t enjoy having wet roots when grown in a substrate, interestingly, as I will explain below, philodendrons can be grown in water.
Should You Mist Philodendron Leaves?
When humidity levels are low, philodendrons do enjoy some misting that will increase the humidity levels around the plant.
But whether a philodendron will tolerate regular misting or not, depends on the philodendron variety and how sensitive its leaves are.
As a general rule, misting once or twice a week is fine with most philodendrons. But you should ideally use chlorine-free water to avoid potential damage to sensitive leaves.
You should also be watchful to the amount of water that pools on the leaves. When overdone, misting can lead to fungal leaf problems.
Likewise, moist leaves may attract certain pests, so it’s important not to go overboard with the misting, especially that there are other ways to increase humidity around your plants.
You can use a humidifier or a humidity tray if the air in your home is too dry for these plants. You can even try moving philodendrons to rooms with naturally more humidity like a bathroom or a kitchen.
Can You Grow Philodendron in Water?
Yes, you can grow philodendron plants in water, especially trailing varieties. It may seem to contradict what I mentioned about how philodendrons don’t enjoy wet roots, but that only applies to plants grown in substrates, where fungi and soil can lead to rotting processes.
Even when grown in water, you need to change the water often and remove any leaves that may be on the surface of the water to prevent clouding and rotting.
The downside of growing philodendrons in water is that their growth maxes out at a certain point, so the plant will not reach its height or length expected at maturity, which may or may not be a problem for you.
Philodendrons can best be watered correctly by checking the moisture level of the substrate. Overwatering has no beneficial effects for the plant, so don’t get overzealous with the watering can, you’ll just end up doing more harm than good.
Besides watering these plants correctly, make sure you also use a well-draining, well-aerated potting mix that’s rich in nutrients.