Philodendron Plant Care

Overview

Philodendrons are from the family Araceae. There are between 400 to 700 known species. In addition, there are many hybrids grown throughout the world. All philodendrons do not look the same because of the species variations. There are several leaf types from heart shape, to oblong, to long and narrow, and arrow shape. Philodendrons can be grown in the landscape, but are better known as one of the most popular houseplants.

Growing Philodendrons

Most typically philodendrons are houseplants. They are quite hardy and good for offices and other indoor areas. The plants can be bought in local garden centers or from taking cuttings of an existing plant. Houseplants can be propagated from cuttings directly from stems, but also from roots or leaves. The type of cutting depends on the plant but the most popular way is to take directly from the stem. To take a stem cutting, it's best to cut from the tender part of the plant, cutting just below a leaf and taking 6 to 7 inches of stem. Plant them in a mixture of sandy peat moss. Once roots are formed, they can be potted or moved to the garden.

Caring for Philodendrons

Philodendrons are one type of that plant that does not require extensive care. The plant should be in well-draining soil and only needs water occasionally. The leaves will turn yellow if it is being over watered. Philodendrons grow best in low light or indirect sunlight. For this reason they make good office plants or for rooms with regular artificial lighting. The leaves will spot or burn in direct sunlight. Low light and less fertilizer go together. The indoor varieties can be fertilized but at half the strength of a fertilizer mixture than most other plants. They need even less food in the winter. The bigger leaf varieties need more nitrogen in the fertilizer. The temperature for these plants should be above 65 degrees Fahrenheit. Leaves should be wiped off of dust from time to time as household dust clogs the pores of the leaves and can stunt plant growth.

In the Landscape

Outdoors, the philodendron provides striking foliage for the landscape. If the soil and light conditions are ideal, they can produce a flower that looks much like a calla lily. Their leaves are generally green with some types having leaves with a copper or red tone on the underside. Some types start out with red leaves that turn green as they mature. There are also philodendron that climb such as the Caramel Cream or the Golden Spear. They like to climb trees and can bring a tropical look to the landscape. Philodendron bipinnatifidum, or split leaf philodendron, is a tree type. It is a semiwoody shrub with enormous glossy leaves and single erect stems without branches. It tends to eventually fall over as the plant gets too large to hold itself up.

History

Philodendrons are jungle plants that flourish in low-light conditions. They are native to the West Indies, and South and Central America. The name philodendron comes from the Greek words for love and tree. The name is considered appropriate because some species have heart shaped leaves and because of the fact that people really love their philodendrons.

Warning

All parts of the philodendron are toxic to people and pets. Chewing the plant will result in a burning or swelling of the mouth, and even the esophagus. It is especially important to keep them out of range of small children and animals. If the plant is ingested, call poison control immediately.

Keywords: philodendrons, philodendron houseplant, care philodendron

About this Author

Sheri Engstrom has been writing for 15 years. She is currently a gardening writer for Demand Studios. Engstrom completed the master gardener program at the University of Minnesota Extension service. She is published in their book "The Best Plants for 30 Tough Sites." She is also the online education examiner Minneapolis for Examiner.com.