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Complete Philodendron Guide + FAQs

Types of Philodendron

The Philodendron is amongst the most popular genus of houseplants, but with nearly 500 species confirmed as of 2015, there is a dizzying array to choose from. Due to the large number of species that are within the genus, a wide variety of growth methods are shared amongst them - however many of those sold as houseplants have basic care requirements in common.

Find out more about the Philodendron genus and how each plant differs below, as well as tips on how to care for your Philodendron, where to position your Philodendron, and other useful facts.

Philodendron Scandens

A native of South America, Philodendron Scandens is popular for its heart-shaped leaves and for the fact that it’s very easy to care for.

Whilst the plant is toxic to animals and humans, like many of its relatives, it can easily tolerate low light levels, making it a great choice for anyone short on light and looking for low-maintenance houseplants to get them started.

Philodendron Scandens 'Brazil'

This fast-growing relation of Scandens can be told apart from its sibling thanks to its vibrant neon green leaf variegations.

This plant is just as easy to look after as well and can be grown as a climbing plant if you choose.

Philodendron ‘Micans’

This velvet, matte variation of Philodendron scandens is also known as hederaceum and is typically found in Central and South America.

Similar to its siblings, this plant is a quick grower and, as a result, can get ‘leggy’ sometimes, meaning that the plant’s leaves can grow sparsely unless they’re clipped back from time to time.

Philodendron Verrucosum

This distinctively coloured variation of Philodendron is hemiepiphytic in its native rainforest environment, meaning that it spends a large part of its life growing on other plants.

These plants differ from other varieties of Philodendron in that they require a little more care, namely the support of a sphagnum moss pole and more frequent fertiliser feeds.

Philodendron Erubescens ‘White Princess’

The ‘White Princess’ is native to Columbia and is named for its white variegation, which manifests as sporadic splashes across the green leaves.

Due to this variegation, the plant is less adept at photosynthesis, so grows slower than other members of the Philodendron family.

Philodendron Xanadu

Technically speaking Philodendron Xanadu is no longer part of the family. In 2018, this plant, along with its sibling Philodendron Selloum, were renamed under the new name: Thamatophyllum.

This decision came after scientists recognised that their tree-like trunks and the way they shed leaves made them genetically different to plants within the Philodendron group.

Philodendron goeldii

Philodendron goeldii is another member of the Philodendron group that has been reclassified, now known as Thaumatophyllum spruceanum, the plant is native to Central and South American, and is often found growing in partially flooded areas.

Its long stems and palmate leaves set it apart from most other Philodendrons.

Philodendron Birkin

Glossy oval-shaped leaves with eye-catching white striped variegation make this plant very high in demand.

Unfortunately, it’s often very difficult to get hold of this type of Philodendron as it’s produced by tissue culture, as opposed to traditional reproduction methods.

Philodendron ‘Narrow’

The narrow, serrated edge leaves that are typical of this plant are why it’s also known as ‘Tiger tooth’ by some house plant enthusiasts.

Whilst this grows in a self-heading formation, it can also climb if given a sphagnum moss pole to support it.

Philodendron ‘Narrow’ Ring of Fire

‘Ring of Fire’ is one of the most sought after Philodendrons, due to its vibrant variegation which can see its leaves range from dark green to light yellow, to orange.

Growing to an ultimate height of 60cm, this plant can grow well in a shady spot, but will produce more leaves if left in brighter conditions.

Philodendron ‘Pink Princess’

The ‘Pink Princess’ is another Philodendron that is highly prized by collectors, thanks to its pink variegation.

Due to the limited supply of this plant, it’s sold very rarely, so if you happen to find one, it may be a good idea to snap it up before someone else does! Native to Columbia, it will happily climb a moss pole if you give it one.

Philodendron ‘Cherry Red’

The rich red colour that this Philodendron gets its name from shows itself when new leaves unfurl, over times the foliage grows more green, so the overall colour of the plant is continually changing as time goes on.

As each leaf ages they become coarser in texture and predominantly ribbed.

Philodendron Hastatum ‘Silver Sword’

A blue-grey hue to the leaves of the ‘Silver Sword’ set it apart from its relatives, as well as its long arrow-shaped leaves.

The plant has been placed on the endangered species list as its natural habitat has eroded over time, however it can live peacefully in your home if you wish.

Philodendron ‘Lemon Lime’

The light pink or yellow leaves that grow from Philodendron ‘Lemon Lime’ make it a popular choice, and is a result of a natural mutation.

This mutation was then replicated by tissue culture which led to the popular breeding of this attractive plant.

Philodendron ‘Florida Ghost’

The ‘Florida Ghost’ gets its name from its unusual white variegation which is displayed by new leaves.

Each leaf matures to a lighter green over, leading to an ever-changing foliage display throughout the year. This plant is much in demand, and as such can be difficult to procure on a regular basis.

Philodendron Squamiferum

This peculiar species of Philodendron is often confused with the massively popular Monstera deliciosa, due to its similar shaped leaves.

There are some key differentiators between the two, including the layer of fine red hairs that cover the leaves of the Philodendron Squamiferum.

Philodendron ‘Florida Beauty’

This Philodendron can be distinguished by its easily recognisable leaf shape. Each leaf is multi-lobed, dark green and features a single large lower lobe with pink petioles (stalks connecting the leaf to the stem).

The ‘Florida Beauty’ is a hybrid plant that is also adept at climbing if given support.

Philodendron ‘Weeks Red’

‘Weeks Red’ is another hybrid plant that has its roots in Miami. Ron Weeks is the man behind this curious creation, a giant Philodendron that grows in a rosette shape.

Its leaves are of a hastate shape, meaning they grow in a triangular, spear-like shape, and can grow up to 4 feet long. The stems also feature trademark red spots.

Philodendron ‘Cobra’

The Philodendron ‘Cobra’ is another plant that is frequently confused with the Monstera group of plants, although that might be because this plant is often sold as Monstera Standleyana as well.

Its lance shaped leaves are dark green with the occasional white fleck or streak.

Philodendron ‘Millions’

Bright, wide, shiny leaves make Philodendron ‘Millions’ an ideal statement plant and it’s also perfectly suited to indoor conditions.

‘Millions’ is frequently bought for its impressive sculptural leaves and can happily grow in low indirect light if the situation requires.

Philodendron ‘Golden Dragon’

The exotically variegated ‘Golden Dragon’ gets its name from the fine gold speckles that appear on its mature dark green leaves.

Besides being a helpful cleaner of the air, the plant also has a distinctive leaf shape, often being compared to a mask. This plant is also known by the name, Lime Fiddle.

Philodendron ‘Prince of Orange’

This hybrid plant has its roots in the 1980s, when Cora McColley patented the variant in Orlando. Since then the plant has become sought after for its unique orange hue of young leaves.

As in the case of the ‘Pink Princess’, this orange colour turns to green over time, however the pink petioles remain throughout its lifespan.

Philodendron ‘Rojo Congo’

‘Rojo Congo’, sometimes known as ‘Red Congo’, is a native to South American.

This plant gives the appearance of being a self-heading plant, however it’s also perfectly capable of climbing as well which can be supported by a moss pole. The leaves unfurl in a rich red colour, maturing to a dark green as they grow.

Philodendron ‘Imperial Red’

Large, leather leaves are a signature trait of this Philodendron, which takes its name from the bright red colour of its leaves when they first unfurl.

Each leaf starts out this way, before maturing to red-purple through to a dark, rich green. This plant is bushy in nature, as opposed to its siblings which tend to be climbers by nature.

How to Care for Philodendron

Do philodendrons need sunlight?

Philodendrons need a small amount of sunlight to stay alive, however they are better suited to low light conditions than many. If they don’t receive enough light, then they may grow to be leggy with sparse leaf distribution. 

Can philodendron grow in low light?

Philodendron can grow in light, but they will do so at a much reduced rate compared to when they are placed in moderate to bright indirect light. You should take this into account when finding a place for your Philodendron to grow.

Can philodendron grow in shade?

Philodendron much prefer growing in shade, as opposed to direct light which can damage their leaves. Ideally you should emulate the bright, dappled light that they would receive in their natural rainforest habitats.

How fast does philodendron grow?

Philodendron is a fast grower in its natural habitat, where it has ample indirect light, humidity and moisture to do so. You can emulate this fast growth at home by providing your philodendron with conditions that are as close as possible to its native habitat.

Should I cut the brown tips off my Philodendron?

You can cut brown tips off your Philodendron if they are small-leaved or vining varieties that usually have multiple leaves to depend on. In larger leaf varieties, leaves that have turned completely brown can usually be gently pulled away from the plant completely, without causing damage to the stem.

How often should you water a philodendron?

Philodendrons should be watered frequently during the active growing months (summer) and less during winter when the plant is likely to be in cooler conditions. Allow the top half of the soil to dry out between each watering, and be careful not to overwater.

What does an overwatered Philodendron look like?

An overwatered Philodendron exhibits wilted or brown leaves, even though the soil is consistently moist and may also collect a white, crusty layer of salt on the surface of the soil. New leaves can often quickly turn soft or brown when the plant is being overwatered.

Should I mist my philodendron?

Misting your philodendron can help emulate the humid environments which it hails from and encourage healthy growth. You can also apply insecticidal soap to keep pests at bay, and gently wipe leaves with clean cloths to encourage healthy, shiny foliage where possible.

How do I make my philodendron fuller?

Make your philodendron fuller by carefully pruning or pinching back its foliage, especially where the plant has grown excessively leggy. This is easier to accomplish with vining type philodendrons, but more difficult with self-heading varieties where incisions must be made using sterile pruning shears or a knife.

How do you revive a dying philodendron?

Revive a dying philodendron by first understanding what is causing it to suffer. Assess its living conditions, and discern how much indirect light it receives throughout the day. Check its soil and adjust your watering schedule, over watering is a common cause of dying Philodendron.

Useful facts about Philodendron

Is it OK to sleep with philodendron in your bedroom?

Philodendron is a popular choice for a bedroom plant as it has been linked to the NASA Clean Air Study which assessed houseplants’ ability to clean common household toxins from the air. Not all Philodendrons are non-toxic however, so you may need to take care if you have pets or children in the room.

What is the best houseplant to clean the air?

Philodendron cordatum, Selloum philodendron and Elephant Ear Philodendron were all featured in NASA’s Clean Air Study. Each plant was proven to purify the air of formaldehyde, although other members of the group were not tested, an assumption has been made amongst houseplant owners that this trait is shared by all Philodendrons.

Is my plant a pothos or a philodendron?

Find out if your plant is a pothos or philodendron by taking a closer look at their leaves. Pothos’ leaves tend to be larger, thicker and waxier, whereas Philodendron leaves are typically heart-shaped, thinner and have a softer texture.

Where to position a Philodendron

What is the best houseplant for low light?

Philodendrons are amongst some of the best houseplants suited for low light, especially those with little to no variegation. Philodendrons that feature variegation will require more light to grow at a normal rate than those without.

Is philodendron a good indoor plant?

Philodendrons make for good indoor plants, as they are mostly native to rainforest so can thrive in low light conditions if necessary. With this being said, the plants still require a moderately temperate environment and watering to encourage proper growth throughout the year.

Can Philodendron plants live in the bathroom?

Philodendron plants can live and thrive well in a bathroom, as long as they are cared for in the usual fashion.

What is the best plant for a bathroom with no windows?

Philodendron may not be best suited for being placed in a bathroom with no windows, as these plants do require at least a small amount of indirect sunlight to survive. If you are able to open a door and let some light into the bathroom when it’s not being used, then a Philodendron would potentially thrive in the humid, moderate conditions.

Where should I put a Philodendron in my house?

Where you place your Philodendron in your house will depend on what species you’ve chosen. Philodendron ‘Imperial Red, for example, is a bushy plant that won’t grow to the same height as a ‘Silver Sword’, which could grow as tall as 3m. You should also assess the amount of light a spot receives before placing your Philodendron, making sure to avoid placing it in direct sunlight.

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