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How to Care for a Philo Plant

close-up leaf of parsley image by Anatoly Tiplyashin from

There are well over 200 species of philodendron plants to choose from. Many of these plants are climbers but a few are not, including the philodendron tree. Philodendron is native to the jungles of South America where they grace the jungle floor with their large leaves and huge flowers. Hardy only in USDA Zones 9 through 11, many grow the plant indoors as a houseplant. The large plants are commonly used in malls and commercial buildings for the tropical look and feel they bring to atriums and large entryways.

Create a mixture of one part sand and two parts peat moss. Add two handfuls of chopped charcoal and mix together well.

Place stones on the bottom of the container to prevent the drain holes from getting clogged with soil. Fill the container to within 2 inches of the top with the soil mixture and push away the center for the plant.

Install a plant pole into the soil near the planting hole before planting the philodendron, so as not to disturb the roots. This is only needed if the type of philo is a climber.

Carefully remove the plant from the container you purchased it in and place in the planting hole. Cover the roots with soil at the same level it was in the container. Hand tamp down gently.

Water the soil gently to settle it into the roots immediately after planting. Keep the soil moist for about a month to allow the roots time to establish in the new container. Allow the soil to dry out slightly between watering after the first month.

Place the container in bright filtered light. Too little light will produce slow growth and smaller foliage. Direct sunlight will burn the leaves.

Apply a liquid houseplant fertilizer once you start to see growth. Repeat the application in spring and midsummer each year. Follow the manufacturer's recommendation as to amount to apply.

Mist the plant every other day during hot dry weather or when central heat or air conditioning is on. Use distilled water; the chemicals in tap water may harm the plant. Tropical plants like high humidity. If it is very dry in your home, you may want to invest in a humidifier to place near the plant.

Make a weak solution of mild dish soap and warm water and wipe the leaves of the plant off once a month. This will keep the leaves free of dust and pests.

Prune back vines or stems if they become too long, die or become diseased. Pruning should be done in winter or very early spring before the plant is in its most active growing season.


Planting philodendron outdoors is basically the same as in a pot, except you will want a location with dappled sun. Use a granular fertilizer instead of liquid and water well after spreading the fertilizer on the soil around the plant.

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