Quick plant care: Philodendron

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If you’re looking for an easy to grow, easy to care for and beautiful house plant, a Philodendron is the best choice for you. Whether you’re an experienced plant owner or a complete newbie, Philodendrons adapt easily to their environments so are one of the easiest types of houseplant to look after. 

The Philodendron family is made up of a huge number of different varieties so plants come in a range of colours and sizes. 

To help you understand whether Philodendrons are the right plant for you and how to care for them once you have them, we have compiled a full Philodendron care guide to help you.

What is it?

Philodendrons are fast growing and easy to care for plants that are popular with both beginners and seasoned houseplant owners. They’re available in a huge range of species (over 450!) and can be anything from a hanging vining plant to something more bushy. 

Where is it from? 

Philodendron are part of the Araceae family which is native to tropical America. Many species have adapted to live in the low light levels of the rainforest which is what makes they so easy to care for and more tolerant of neglect than other houseplants. 

Light conditions and location  

Make sure you keep Philodendrons away from draughts so they’re kept in a consistently warm environment and mist them in the morning so the water evaporates around the plant and the leaves don’t get soggy. 

Philodendrons are an extremely versatile plant and can survive in a number of different light conditions. However, to give your Philodendrons the best chance of thriving they prefer bright, indirect sunlight. If you find a window where the sun’s rays never touch your plants foliage, you should find it does well there. 

With Philodendrons, as the leaves age, it’s common for them to turn yellow but if you notice a number of leaves changing at the same time, it could be a sign that your plant is getting too much light and could do with moving somewhere else. 

On the other hand, if the stems of your plant are long and leggy, with several inches between the leaves, your plant probably isn’t getting enough light and will need moving to a sunnier spot.

In their natural environment, Philodendrons are rarely in direct sunlight so this is something that should be avoided for your house plant.

Water

Always keep the growing medium for your philodendrons moist if possible. Philodendrons can dry out extremely quickly, especially during the growing season so make sure you keep an eye on them. 

As a general rule of thumb, we allow the top inch of soil to dry out between waterings. Inserting your index finger into the soil up to your first knuckle is a good indicator of how dry the top of the soil is and when your philodendron might need more water. 

Drooping leaves are a sign of both too much or too little watering but, if you correct your watering schedule to suit your plant, they should recover pretty quickly. 

Whilst it’s important to keep on top of watering your philodendrons, it’s also important not to overwater them too! If they’re left soggy for too long, the roots will rot and your plant will start to die. Once the roots start to die, it can be difficult for your plant to recover. Make sure you use a pot with drainage holes so any excess water can escape. 

Temperature 

Philodendrons can survive in a range of temperatures but they don’t tend to like being kept below 13℃. Low temperatures can really stump their growth and prolonged exposure can be fatal but most household temperatures are enough for Philodendrons. 

Humidity

Like any tropical house plant, Philodendrons LOVE humidity. You can easily maintain the humidity around your plants by surrounding them with a pebble tray of water. We also recommend misting them regularly during the growing season, every couple of days, to keep them happy. In the winter, this can be reduced to every three or four days. 

Soil 

Philodendrons like to be planted in rich, loose potting soil that drains well and is high in organic matter. Make sure you choose a soil that will keep moisture for a long period of time but won’t remain wet for too long.  

Size 

As there are so many different types of Philodendron, it’s hard to say exactly how big they will grow but they can range in height anywhere between 1 to 20 feet and 1 to 6 feet wide. 

Good to know 

  • Fertiliser - if you fertilise Philodendrons regularly, you’ll find they start to produce larger leaves and stay healthier. They tend to need fertiliser more than other house plants so you can use it weekly in the summer months. 

  • Potting and repotting - many varieties of Philodendron are extremely fast growing so you might want to keep them in check and neat by pinching off new growth. To get the most from them, we recommend repotting them annually as you’ll find they outgrow their pots quickly! 

  • Toxicity - Philodendron’s stems and leaves contain high levels of calcium oxalate. This can be toxic to people and pets if eaten so always be careful when placing or handling your plant and wash your hands thoroughly. 

  • Air purifying -  not only are they a great addition to your home and collection, they’re also known for their air purifying qualities too. Philodendrons help to remove hazardous particles from your home and help to act as a biofilter for the environment in your home. Their thick, fleshy leaves and aerial roots take the toxins out of the air, purify the toxins and release pure oxygen back into the room.

Common problems to look out for 

  • Pests - Philodendrons are not one of the house plant varieties that are prone to insects but occasionally you might encounter aphids or mealybugs. You can shower your plants regularly or apple insecticidal soap to help prevent pests from invading your plants. 

  • Yellowing or browning leaves - this can be due to a number of problems so it may take a bit of trial to find out what’s causing it. However, one of the most common problems can be a lack of light. Try moving your Philodendron to a slightly brighter spot and remove the affected leaves. It can also be a sign of overwatering so try adjusting your watering schedule to make sure the plant’s not damp. Philodendron can be prone to root rot so look out for this. 

  • Slow growth - this can be as a result of moving the plant to a new location in your home. If you find the plant is thriving in one location, it’s best to leave it there if you can as a change of environment can have a detrimental impact. 

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