Philodendron care information
With their stunning leaves, ranging from elongated and heavily lobed to heart- or paddle-shapped, philodendrons make a bold statement in the home or office. While most philodendron are a shade of green, some varieties like to show off with a with splashes of creamy white, silver, light green, yellow, pink, red or orange variegation. The variegation patterns can vary from leaf to leaf, creating a dynamic and visually appealing display. Whether you're looking for an easy-to-grow varietal or one of the rarer, "unicorn" specimens, you're sure to find it in a philodendron.
As philodendron mature, they vine, climb, creep, crawl or grow bush-style, depending on the varietal. Climbing or vining types are suitable to climb up supports (such as a moss pole, coir pole or trellis) as well as for hanging baskets. Creeping varieties can often be trained to climb, though this is not ideal - they prefer a longer pot, or a series of connected pots, to slowly spread out into. Bush-style varieties usually do not require any special support, until they reach a much larger size.
Care and Maintenance
Remember that each plant is unique, so closely monitor your plant and adjust its care based on its response. By providing the right conditions, you'll be rewarded with a stunning and healthy plant that adds a touch of tropical elegance to your indoor space.
Provide bright, indirect light for your philodendron. It can tolerate lower light conditions, but its coloration will be most pronounced and attractive in moderate to bright indirect light. Avoid exposing it to direct sunlight, as this can scorch the leaves. Like most houseplants, philodendron prefer the southern sun, so a location set back from a south-facing window usually provides great lighting for your plant. East- and west=facing windows also provide good light for philodendron, and it is just a bit less intense. This means that you can usually place your philodendron closer to east- and west-facing windows, when compared to south-facing windows. Many home growers find success using grow lights across various spectra, depending on the type of plant.
Philodendron are from tropical climates, and so enjoy warm, humid environments. Maintaining tropical conditions in the home or office, though, is usually impractical outside of a dedicated growing space. Should you have such a space, try to maintain a temperature between 75-85°F (24-29°C). Luckily, philodendron generally do well in moderate home or office temperatures between 65-80°F (18-27°C). Be sure to keep your philodendron away from cold drafts and sudden temperature fluctuations. To encourage more rapid growth in your philodendron, keep the philodendron at the upper end of the recommended range, or even slightly higher (depending on the type).
Water the plant when the top inch or so of the soil feels dry, and be cautious not to overwater, as philodendron are sensitive to soggy soil. Water thoroughly when needed, but ensure that the pot has proper drainage to prevent waterlogged roots. Some growers practice bottom watering to minimize the chances of root rot. To bottom water your philodendron, fill a separate, larger container with small, but adequate, amount of water, and then place their potted philodendron into the shallow pool of water that you poured into the container. After some amount of time (30 minutes to several hours, depending on watering needs and substrate type), the philodendron is removed from the pool of water and placed back in its ideal location.
SoiL and substrate
At a minimum, philodendron require a well-draining potting mix to prevent overwatering. A mix of regular potting soil, leca, bark, perlite, and peat moss or coconut coir works well, and many home growers have formulated unique chunky aroid mixes that work well for the plants in their collection - experimentation is encouraged! Other growers utilize hydroponic or semi-hydroponic setups for their philodendron. While a fully-hydroponic setup would not require any soil or substrate, semi-hydroponic setups often blend certain chunky or nutritious media (perlite, moss, bark, rocks, pon) and place it atop a leca reservoir. This allows the philodendron to establish its roots in a very aerated substrate blend, with access to water should they need it.
Generally, you should feed your philodendron with a balanced, diluted liquid fertilizer at least every 4-6 weeks during the growing season (spring and summer). Fertilization can be reduced or eliminated during the off-season or winter months, if you prefer a more low-maintenance approach. Many home growers fertilize much more often, though, often with each watering. In the properly-balanced amount, frequent fertilization can encourage growth and help to maintain overall plant health. To take your fertilization game to the next level, try supplementing with silica, kelp, aquarium water, sea salt solutions or other mineral/elemental blends. Just like with substrate mixes, many experienced home growers prefer unique, highly-tailored fertilization regimens - it never hurts to ask other enthusiasts what's worked for them!
Philodendron are from tropical climates, and so enjoy warm, humid environments. Maintaining tropical conditions in the home or office, though, is usually impractical outside of a dedicated growing space. Should you have such a space, try to maintain a humidity level in excess of 70% for your philodendron, as this replicates their natural environment and will result in a healthier, happier plant. Absent such a setup, philodendron can tolerate, and even do quite well, at average indoor humidity levels. If humidity is insufficient, philodendron leaves may curl or even fail to unfurl at all. If your philodendron displays these characteristics, misting the plant, running a humidifier or using a humidity tray can help. Ideally, pair increased humidity with increased temperature!
Trim any yellowing or dead leaves to maintain the plant's appearance and encourage new growth. As philodendron age and mature, older leaves may transition off naturally - don't be alarmed! If you prefer to grow your philodendron in a more compact form, or would like it to fill out its pot more, you can cut back leggy stems or vines. This will cause your plant to grow from the cut area, somewhat replicating a branch on a tree. If you're feeling bold and spicy, you can create new plants by propagating your cuttings.
Repot your philodendron when it becomes root-bound or outgrows its current container. Most philodendron do well when slightly rootbound, though, and are fairly slow growers to boot. The takeaway? Your philodendron probably needs much more infrequent repotting than you think! Should it be necessary, though, repotting is best done in the spring or at the start of the growth season.
Dust and other debris can accumulate on the leaves of your philodendron, hindering their ability to absorb light and taking away from their aesthetic appeal. Wipe the leaves gently with a damp cloth or give the plant a shower occasionally to keep it clean.
Pests and Diseases
Keep an eye out for common houseplant pests like spider mites, thrips, aphids, and mealybugs. If you spot any pests, take action promptly with appropriate treatments. Just like with soil blends and fertilizer regimens, most experienced growers have a deep knowledge of tips, tricks and concoctions to target those unwelcome visitors - be sure to reach out and ask!
To ensure even growth and avoid the plant leaning towards the light source, rotate it every couple of weeks. If you desire your philodendron to grow toward the light source, the plant should not be rotated. Experienced and experimental indoor growers create stunning plant walls and other plant displays through the careful placement of their plants in relation to the grow lights and natural light. There's no wrong way to do it - rotate away (or not) and watch your beautiful philodendron thrive!