Anybody would fall in love with plants called “treehuggers,” which is what philodendrons are known for. In fact, the name philodendron comes from two Greek words:
- Phileo, or to love
- Dendron, or trees
These plants are naturally beautiful and easy to care for once you know what they prefer. So get comfy and read up on our deep dive into the world of philodendron care. You will learn where these plants thrive and how to keep one alive, as well as other tips on how to make it easier for you to care for them.
Philodendron Types and Varieties Guide: How to Identify Philodendron
Philodendron has around 450 species under its umbrella. For the most part, these plants have stout stems, and they have a climbing growth habit. As part of the Araceae family, philodendrons start their lives as vines. They then climb trees and disconnect from their roots and become epiphytes.
These plants are popular houseplants because they are accustomed to low light conditions in the wild. Philodendrons often have green leaves, but some species have red, purple, or copper in color. Similarly, leaf veins are sometimes white or red.
There is a variety when it comes to the leaves’ texture, size, and shape. Different species can have other characteristics, changing based on whether the plant is young or mature. Philodendrons that bear fruit often have orange to white berries.
Philodendrons are a curious lot. Younger plants do not grow towards the sun, but instead, they look for the shade of trees. As secondary hemiepiphytes, they creep towards tree trunks and then wrap their modified roots around them. They will then start to climb to the top, and then their stems die off.
When the stems die, the philodendron becomes an epiphyte with no roots touching the ground. But when the environment becomes too dry, these plants can easily send roots down to the soil and get moisture from the ground.
But even as most philodendrons share the same habits and plant characteristics, you will still find these plants in different forms, shapes, colors, and sizes. It depends on what type or a variety of philodendron that you have.
Different Species of Philodendrons
Many people mistake philodendrons with other members of the Araceae family, such as pothos, monstera, and anthurium. Even within philodendrons, you might find that they don’t really look alike.
Here are some of the most popular philodendrons and how you can identify them.
A native to the tropical climates of the Caribbean and Central America, the Philodendron hederaceum grows from 10 up to 20 feet (three to six meters). Its main distinguishing trait is the heart-shaped leaves that maintain a sheen even as it grows to 12 inches (30 centimeters) long.
This evergreen vine can be slow to grow, but you can see it trail or climb, depending on whether you give it support. So indoors, you can put this philodendron in a hanging basket, or you can give it a moss pole or some other support for it to climb up.
Quick Care Guide:
- USDA hardiness zone: 11 and 12
- Bright but indirect light, or lower light levels
- A slightly moist and well-draining soil
- Temperature: 70 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit (24 to 27 degrees Celsius)
- Medium to high humidity
A Philodendron bipennifolium has large leaves ad is a perennial climber. These conditions translate to needing special support to keep your plants healthy.
The leaves can reach up to 18 inches (46 centimeters) long, with an olive green hue. The leathery texture of the leaves resembles a horsehead or a violin, which gives this plant its common names: fiddleleaf and horsehead philodendron.
Remember that your fiddleleaf philodendron can only get as tall as the support you give it.
Quick Care Guide:
- USDA hardiness zones: 10b and 11
- Prefers neutral to moderately acidic soil with a pH of 5.6 to 7.3
- Prefers dappled light to full shade
- Plant in humus-rich soil in a big pot that will accommodate its rootball
- Constant watering except in the winter
- Give it a tall totem or support pole if you want taller plants.
The Philodendron domesticum has glossy leaves that are shaped like an arrow. The leaves can grow 22 by nine inches (56 by centimeters) in length and width when it matures outdoors.
Like most other philodendrons, you can grow the spade leaf indoors.
Quick Care Guide:
- USDA hardiness zones: 9b to 11
- Prefers slightly acidic soil with pH 5.0 to 6.0
- Moist soil or sphagnum peat moss
- Dim or dappled sunlight
- Temperature: 55 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit (12 to 26 degrees Celsius)
The Philodendron bipinnatifidum is widely known as the tree philodendron. Unlike most philodendrons, this one doesn’t climb. Its leaves rise on the stalks that it produces.
The huge leaves can reach up to three feet (91 centimeters) long and are best described as glossy, with waves at the margins. This plant blooms with small flowers surrounding an upright spadix that is covered by red to purple spathe.
Outdoors and in the best conditions, the tree philodendron can grow up to 15 feet (4.6 meters) tall. The semi-woody shrub can have trunks that measure six inches (15 centimeters) in diameter.
Quick Care Guide:
- USDA hardiness zones: 9 to 11
- Prefers moist, well-draining, and fertile soil
- Keep out of the full direct sun, grows best in part shade
- Watering: Regular, as this plant is drought intolerant
- Temperature: 60 degrees Fahrenheit (15.6 degrees Celsius) or warmer
How to Grow Philodendron From Seed
Growing philodendron plants from seeds can take a long time before you can have a sizable plant, plus it will take a lot of care to grow the seeds into seedlings. But it’s well worth it if you want a slightly different version of the mother plant. Plus, you will probably love seeing your philodendron grow from seeds to small seedlings and eventually growing strong and healthy.
You can buy philodendron seeds from garden centers, a local nursery, or from the list of trusted online sellers that we have below. Or you can just harvest these seeds when the philodendron plant you have flowers. To plant philodendron seeds, you can put them in about 0.33 inches (one centimeter) of fertile starting mix with many nutrients. You can use:
- Miracle-Gro Indoor Potting Mix
- The Next Gardener Organic Seed Starting Potting Mix
- Espoma Seed Starter Premium Potting Mix
You can move the seedlings to their individual pots once they become strong enough to handle without damaging them.
Pollinating Your Philodendron’s Blooms
If you have a problem pollinating the flowers of your philodendron’s bloom, you can do some manual pollination where you rub pollen on the bottom part of the spadix. This is the female part of its flower. You should do this at night when the flower will be most likely to reproduce. This manual pollination can help the flowers produce the fruits that contain the seeds.
Tips for Planting Philodendron from Seeds
- You don’t need to soak philodendron seeds before you plant them.
- Be patient. It will take two to around eight weeks for the seeds to germinate at 68 to 73 degrees Fahrenheit (20 to 23 degrees Celsius).
How to Propagate Philodendron
Aside from starting your philodendron from seed, you can also propagate a philodendron plant using stem cuttings. If you are impatient and want to multiply your philodendron a bit faster, then get stem cuttings from a plant you or your friends already have.
Choose a healthy stem on the plant and cut about three inches (7.5 centimeters) of the stem. Cut below a joint in the stem. Be sure to remove the leaves near the cut as you don’t want these leaves to be submerged in water. Put these cuttings in a jar full of water and find a place where the cutting can get medium light. The roots should appear in a few days to weeks.
When the cuttings have grown roots, you can transplant them in orchid soil combined with vermiculite and sphagnum peat that will sufficiently nourish your new plants. Water the cuttings regularly, but do not overwater the new plants.
Another good way to propagate philodendron plants is by air layering. Select a mature branch on your plant and cut this halfway through. The best way to cut is to make a 45-degree angle cut so there is a lower risk that the branch will snap off. Insert a piece of plastic in the cut and then wrap the whole cut site with moss.
Wrap the moss with plastic wrap and secure it with a piece of string. Once the roots form, you should cut the stem at about an inch (2.5 centimeters) below the cut site. Take off the plastic wrap and then transplant the new plant in a small pot with rich soil and a drainage hole.
Reminders When Air Layering
- It may take around two weeks before the roots are formed at the cut site.
- Prop the branch up with a moss pole or any other type of support.
Philodendron Growing Conditions
Whether you’re growing a new philodendron plant from seeds, cuttings, or air layering, you will need to make sure that you transplant the new plants into a pot that’s just the right size. You will need to use a fertile potting mix to provide the plants with the nutrients to thrive.
Make sure that you use a pot with a drainage hole because a philodendron plant will want moist soil without being waterlogged. Put the newly transplanted philodendrons in a location that gets indirect sunlight and shade for about eight to 10 hours per day.
Keep the temperatures at around 65 degrees Fahrenheit (18 degrees Celsius) and the humidity levels at approximately 60 percent. These are ideal for your new philodendrons to grow healthy. However, they will survive even when the temperatures fall to around 55 degrees Fahrenheit (13 degrees Celsius). These plants will die in frost.
How to Care for a Philodendron
Now that you have successfully propagated a philodendron plant from cuttings, seeds, or by air layering, your work is not done. Your plant will need continuing care so that it can thrive indoors or grow wild outdoors. The good news is that philodendrons are not known to be prima donnas, and they can survive with a little care from you. They’re easy to keep alive!
Philodendron Potting & Soil
Philodendrons prefer regular soil that is rich and well-draining. Aside from regular garden soil, you can use sphagnum peat moss or soilless potting mixes for your philodendron.
These plants will do best in slightly acidic soil, with a pH of 5.0 to 6.0. And because these plants don’t like it when the soil is overly wet, you will need to get pots with a drainage hole.
Some of our recommended pots include:
- Elly Décor 17 inch Large Round Modern Garden Planter
- La Jolie Muse Large Outdoor Tall Planters
- OMYSA Large Indoor Planter
- SINCSEFK Plastic Hanging Planter
- UPMCT Hanging Planters
Remember, however, that you shouldn’t put a small plant in a big pot because it will mean that the young philodendron won’t use up all the moisture in the soil. It’s like being waterlogged, which is really bad for your plant.
Philodendron Water Requirements
Philodendron plants like regular watering that leaves the soil moist. However, they don’t like to be standing in water. Once you rinse, make sure that the water drains out of the drainage hole.
When should you water your plants again? By checking the top two inches (5.1 centimeters) of soil. If it’s completely dry, it’s time to get out your watering can or gardening hose.
Philodendron Light Requirements
Most philodendron plants don’t like full sunlight. Remember that these plants tend to climb up trees in the wild, and harsh sunlight is filtered out by the canopies of leaves.
The leaves of philodendrons tend to scorch when exposed to full sun, too. As such, you should put your philodendrons in partial shade or dappled sunlight. You should put it safely away from windows that get direct sunlight. However, these plants need bright light to thrive, so you should also avoid putting it.
Best Philodendron Fertilizer
Your philodendron plants will require fertilizing every so often because they can be heavy feeders. You may get away with not feeding your philodendron, but that may mean having fewer leaves and not-so-healthy growth.
When it comes to fertilizers, you can never go wrong with a balanced fertilizer for your philodendron. You can try an organic fertilizer such as the Noot Organic Indoor Plant Food Liquid Fertilizer that helps make your soil more conducive for healthy growth. This product is specially formulated for house plants such as philodendrons, lilies, succulents, and others.
If you’re not fond of fertilizing too often, you can get a slow-release product such as the Simpilizer 12-Month Fertilizer granules. It has an NPK ratio of 12-3-8, making it a good product for keeping your plants’ foliage healthy.
You can also buy this Philodendron Fertilizer if you want something that’s specifically formulated for philodendrons.
Best Philodendron Companion Plantings
Companion planting allows you to have two or more plants in the same pot so that you can save space. Plus, you also have an easier time caring for different kinds of plants.
For instance, putting a philodendron and monstera together in the same plant makes sense because these two have the same care requirements. Some monsteras look like philodendrons too, so there’s no clashing of leaf colors and characteristics.
You can also try planting philodendrons with peace lilies or Scheffleras in the same pot. These plants like average to low light and prefers the same watering and humidity levels. If you like to mix your philodendrons with something more colorful, you can plant some coleus in the same pot.
Philodendron Diseases and Common Problems
You’d probably go for years without having any problems with your philodendron plants. These are not susceptible to a lot of pests. If anything, your philodendron has a higher chance of dying or getting sick from too little or too much water.
However, pests and insects that are common to all houseplants, such as aphids, scales, spider mites, and mealybugs, might be a problem with your philodendron plants. If your plant’s growing tips are dying out, it might be because you’re overwatering it, or it’s getting too little light. Similarly, overfertilizing your philodendron might cause the leaves to curl at the tips and then turn brown.
Philodendron Treatments and Maintenance
Aphids are easy to get rid of: sometimes, spraying water on them is enough to remove them from your plant. If there are many of them, you can use neem oil or insecticidal soaps to keep them away from your philodendrons. For mealybugs and other insects, a good dose of insecticides will be a good way to control them.
Maintenance of Your Philodendron Plants
If your philodendron starts getting crowded, you can report the plant in a container around two to three inches (five to 7.5 centimeters) bigger in diameter than the current pot. Repot your philodendron yearly before it pushes new growth. Use fresh potting mix or soil when you repot, and don’t let the newly repotted plant go thirsty.
It is not necessary for you to actively prune your philodendron. But if you notice that your plant is slow in growing, cutting back on the leaves may help it grow faster. Look for areas where there is stunted growth. Plus, it’s also a good idea to remove rotted roots. Pruning is also a good idea if you are trying to keep a philodendron from getting too tall.
Further, you will need to keep the leaves of your philodendron clean. The dust that collects on these leaves may clog the pores, but these can be easily removed with a damp cloth.
Where to Buy Philodendron Seeds Online
If you wish to expand your precious collection of philodendron plants, the first place you should go to is Etsy. The site has common varieties, as well as some of the rarer ones. You can find philodendrons of all colors and shapes on the site.
If you already have a particular type of philodendron in mind, you can try searching for them on Amazon. For instance, this lacy tree philodendron is on offer, where you can get 15 seeds with your order. Or check out these philodendron erubescens seeds.
Other places where you can buy philodendron seeds include:
Where to Buy Mature Philodendron Online
Check out Bloomscape if you want to get healthy philodendrons for your home. But if you’re looking for live plants to add to your growing philodendron collection, you can shop your heart out at Ken’s Philodendrons. You can also find live philodendron plants on Amazon, such as this neon cordatum.
Question: How do I get the leaves on my philodendron bigger and fuller?
Answer: To get a fuller pot of philodendron, you should start with many cuttings in a single pot. Having a pot full of philodendrons will help you achieve that fuller look.
Also, give your philodendrons bright and indirect light and fertilizers to help them produce bigger leaves. You should also prune your plant to encourage it to grow more.
You can always root the parts of your philodendron that you’ve cut from the mother plant. Another trick you can try is to stake your climbing pothos, so they are encouraged to grow bigger. This Planterina video will explain all of these in greater detail.
Question: What’s the difference between a philodendron and a pothos?
Answer: If you’ve ever mistaken a philodendron for a pothos, take heart: you’re not alone. A lot of people often make the same mistake, particularly confusing a heartleaf philodendron with a pothos.
It shouldn’t be surprising as both of these plants are from the Araceae family and are great climbers in the wild. So how do you tell them apart?
For the heartleaf philodendron, here are the things that you should look at to distinguish them from pothos. For one, the leaves have different textures and shapes. A pothos leaf would have waxy and thick leaves with a bumpy texture. You can also see the indented midrib and a spade-like form.
Philodendron leaves tend to be thinner and smooth to the touch. New philodendron leaves also come out of a waxy sheath called a cataphyll. Meanwhile, a new pothos leaf just unfurls when it’s ready.
Question: How should we take care of my philodendron when I live in an area with really cold winters?
Answer: If you have a philodendron growing in a pot outside, you might want to transfer it indoors for the colder months. These plants hate the cold and will die when it’s super cold.
If you do, be sure to keep them in an area that receives bright light. You can definitely get away with a little less frequent watering and avoid fertilizing your plant. You should also ensure that your philodendron doesn’t get hit by cold drafts.
Keep Your Resident Philodendron Alive
Making your home look more beautiful with cleaner air and lively greens is now very easy. You can get a philodendron plant and spruce up your place. And as you have learned, these plants are very easy to care for. All you need is to keep a few things in mind:
- Well-draining soil
- Bright but indirect light
- Regular watering
- Pots with drainage hole
- The occasional pruning and fertilizing
- Almanac: Aphids
- Britannica: Philodendron
- Clemson Cooperative Extension: Philodendron
- Flora de la Terre: 3 Monstera Companion Plants You Should Check Out
- Gardener’s Path: HOW TO GROW AND CARE FOR PHILODENDRON
- Gardening Know-How: Can You Grow Houseplants Together – Tips for Growing Companion Houseplants
- Gardening Know-How: Fiddleleaf Philodendron Care – Learn About Growing Fiddleleaf Philodendrons
- Gardening Know-How: Fiddleleaf Philodendron Care – Learn About Growing Fiddleleaf Philodendrons
- Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden: Philodendrons in Bloom
- Missouri Botanical Garden: Philodendron bipinnatifidum
- Missouri Botanical Garden: Philodendron hederaceum
- Plantophiles: Philodendron Domesticum Care – What you need to know
- Smart Garden Guide: How To Care For Heartleaf Philodendron (Philodendron Hederaceum)
- Stamen and Stem Blog: Know your plants: how to tell the difference between a philodendron and a pothos
- University of Florida IFAS Extension: PHILODENDRON BIPENNIFOLIUM HORSEHEAD PHILODENDRON
- Wikihow: How to Grow Philodendron
- YouTube: How I Grow Massive Pothos & Philodendron Vines: Tips You Need to Know!