How to Care for Philodendrons?
Thought of as the quintessential low-maintenance houseplant, the philodendron is a trailing plant with bright green, heart-shaped leaves.
This plant is also very adaptable to the environment in our apartments. I also like that the philodendron is communicative — if you know what to look for, it will tell you what it needs.
This is a truly beginner-friendly plant and as you will see from my philodendron plant care tips below, it doesn’t have many special requirements
Philodendron Plant Care Tips
Houseplants have many benefits for our well-being, but to reap these benefits, we must know how to take care of them.
In what follows, I’ll highlight the most important aspects of caring for this beloved trailing plant.
Before I get into the requirements of this plant, I should mention that it requires space to grow.
The plant can spread wide and its length can reach 3 feet if left to grow on its own accord.
In terms of width, it can spread to twice its height. So, while the plant itself doesn’t require much in the way of watering and light, it does require a specific soil type and some maintenance like pruning.
Like most common houseplants, the philodendron requires bright indirect light. Positioning it close to a window can work well, provided they’re not exposed to direct sunlight.
And remember how I said the plant is very good at signaling what it needs? This holds true for its light requirements as well.
For example, if multiple leaves on your plant start to yellow, it means it’s getting too much sun, and you’ll need to reduce the amount of sun it’s getting.
Likewise, leaves that grow too far apart on leggy and slim stems, it means your plant is not getting the right amount of sun.
By watching out for these, you can adjust the plant’s position to one that the philodendron won’t “complain” about.
Watering the plant about once a week or so if usually enough to meet its watering needs.
You should let the soil dry out before the next watering, but only about one inch on the top.
You can easily assess if the soil is at the required moisture level by inserting your index finger into the soil. If the soil is dry on the portion up to your first knuckle, it’s time to water your philodendron.
If you notice the leaves drooping, it may mean that your plant may not be getting enough water, especially if the soil is dry.
Too much water can also cause the same, so always check soil moisture when watering.
Temperature & Humidity
As tropical plants related to the peace lily, philodendron houseplants do best in 65 to 85 F temperatures.
They don’t tolerate the cold and freezing temperature will kill the plant.
Make sure the air in your home isn’t too dry or try and mist the plant here and there if the humidity around the plant is very low.
Because this vining plant grows on trees in the wild, an all-purpose potting soil may not work out well in the long run, especially if it’s not the well-draining kind.
Look for a potting soil that’s designed for peace lilies and that combines soil, peat, orchid bark, perlite or other light and well-draining soil.
Philodendrons grow all-year round and should be fed with a water-soluble liquid fertilizer suitable for foliage.
Use the fertilizer monthly in the spring and summer and every 6-8 weeks or so during fall and winter.
If your philodendron isn’t getting enough fertilizer, it will let you know — its leaves will grow smaller and the plant itself will grow slower.
Yellowish, pale leaves usually mean that the plant is not getting some of the macronutrients it needs like calcium and magnesium, so choose a fertilizer that has these as well.
Overfertilization can also cause damage. The leaves will curl at the tip or the tip will brown.
Potting & Repotting
To prevent your philodendron from becoming root-bound and to encourage growth, frequent repotting is recommended.
When repotting, it’s a good idea to inspect the roots of the plant. Any soft and browned roots should be trimmed off. Only white and firm roots should remain.
Make sure to water your newly potted philodendron thoroughly and add more soil if needed.
Philodendron Plant Propagation
When it comes to propagating this creeper plant, there are two reliable methods you can use — by replanting pieces of stem or with root cuttings.
If you choose the first method make sure the stems have at least two joints. Place them in pots of sandy peat in a warm location.
My preferred method is propagation with root cuttings and repotting is usually a good time to do this.
I place root cuttings in a container with water and add a few pieces of charcoal.
Different Types of Philodendrons
There are over 400 philodendron varieties. Some varieties are vining, others don’t climb at all and sit tall like a tree. The ones below are my favorites:
The Brasil philodendron variety has heart-shaped leaves that are variegated down the middle of the leaf. The color of the variegation can be white, cream, or lime-colored. These features are made even more beautiful by the sometimes pink colored stems.
This is a rare variety. Its leaves are heart-shaped, and their texture is rather peculiar — leaves are thick with a rough, patterned texture.
Because it’s an endangered plant, it’s difficult to find commercially.
This variety is also known as the Blushing Philodendron or Pink Princess. It’s an exotic-looking variety that can climb up to 5 feet.
Its leaves are variegated and display colors such as black, pink, and dark green.
Xanadu philodendron is an upright philodendron type with lobed, starry leaves. It grows wide and stays compact.
This philodendron type features fluorescent green leaves and it’s a hybrid of the common philodendron.
Philodendron White Knight
A very rare variety, the White Knight philodendron features chalk-white splotches on green leaves. Its stems are purple or cream.
There are many more philodendron varieties that are commercially available, so if you’re still looking for a perfect match, keep researching the different varieties until you land on the one that’s right for you.
Philodendron Diseases & Pests
Some of the most common diseases to affect the philodendron plant include:
- Erwinia Blight, an often fatal disease that attacks at the soil level, with water-soaked lesions appearing on the plant.
- Pseudomonas leaf spot appear as dark-centered watery lesions that can measure 1 inch across.
- Red-edge leaf spot is caused by a bacterium that causes yellowish and reddish spots along the edges of leaves.
- Stress factors like overwatering, low temperatures, too much fertilizer can also cause damage to leaves.
Detecting the signs of disease early can help prevent the spread of the diseases. Because some diseases are fast-acting (they can spread as fast as within 72 hours), prevention is always the best treatment.
Philodendron Green FAQs
Need some more info on the philodendron plant? Here’s what else you should know:
Is My Plant a Photos or a Philodendron?
Photos and philodendron plants are often mistaken for each other. While they’re similar, there are differences that can help you tell them apart.
Photos plants are usually smaller, but their leaves are large. Photos leaves are also variegated or have yellow accents, while the leaves of the philodendron plant are usually a deep green.
Is the Philodendron Toxic?
The philodendron is toxic for cats, dogs and humans, so be careful with these plants if you have pets or small children in your home.
When handling this plant, wear gloves as your skin may get into contact with the sap of the plant, which can irritate your skin.
What is the Lifespan of Philodendron Plant?
Philodendron plants can thrive for a long time if conditions in their environment are ideal. Some varieties will live for only about 2 years, but many live longer than that.
Does the Philodendron Bloom?
No, this particular philodendron variety does not produce flowers at all, but the abundance of heart-shaped leaves make up for the lack of blooms on the plant.
The Monstera deliciosa or the split-leaf philodendron does produce flowers within three years after being planted. It also produces and edible fruit, which explains the other name given to this plant — fruit salad plant.
Philodendron plants are great for those that have the space to allow this plant to reach its full potential.
They’re not fussy, but they do have some requirements that should be looked after.
Once you offer them the right temperature, soil and enough light, they’ll reward you with lush green foliage that spreads and grows impressively.
Some varieties are prone to diseases, others are much hardier. Keeping them at the right temperature and making sure not to overwater them helps prevent most of these diseases.
If you’ve set your eyes on a particular philodendron variety, for best results, I recommend researching its specific requirements.