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Complete Philodendron Guide + FAQs

Types of Philodendron

Philodendron is the largest genus in the Araceae after Anthurium with 700 or more species, it is also one of the most popular genus of houseplants (Croat, 1979, 1983a, 1988, 1990). The large number of species within the genus means there is vast variety to choose from. 

Genus name comes from the Greek ‘philo’ meaning loving and ‘dendro’ meaning tree.

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

Philodendron scandens (syn. Philodendron hederaceum, Philodendron oxycardium).

Native from Mexico to Tropical America, Philodendron scandens is popular for its heart-shaped leaves (cordate) and for the fact that it’s very easy to care for.

  1. P. scandens has a climbing growth habit, in their native environment, roots normally anchor the plant to the soil while the stem is also held to the tree by the same roots which grow from the nodes found at intervals along its own length. The gaps between the nodes are called internodes, these produce buds which mature into petioles which are the stem-like structure which support the leaves..

Whilst the plant is toxic to animals and humans when ingested, like many of its relatives, it can easily tolerate average to slightly lower light levels, making it a great choice for anyone short on light and looking for low-maintenance houseplants to get them started. It’s worth noting that the less light Philodendron scandens receives, the more vining the plant will become as internodal gaps increase in size. Given that this plant has a climbing growth habit, the addition of a trellis or moss pole will likely increase leaf size.

Philodendron scandens 'Brazil'

This plant is a cultivar of Philodendron scandens, it’s leaf blades are splashed with chartreuse stripes. ‘Brazil’ was discovered as a naturally-occurring whole plant mutation​​ by Ruben Ernesto Acosta in a controlled environment in Holambra, Brazil. 

Philodendron ‘Micans’ (syn. Philodendron hederaceum var. hederaceum)

This Philodendron has velvety leaves and looks a little like Philodendron melanochrysum. Philodendron ‘Micans’ is a fast grower and, as a result, can get leggy sometimes, just trim it back and propagate the cuttings. 

Philodendron verrucosum

This breathtaking plant has grown in popularity over the past few years and is becoming more widely available. P. verrucosum is hemi-epiphytic, beginning its life as a terrestrial plant and then climbing up a host tree. It’s leaves are dark and velutinous and the petioles are covered in pubescence.

These plants require a little more care than other Philodendron but they are so worth it.

Philodendron erubescens ‘White Princess’

Philodendron erubescens is native to Colombia, however, ‘White Princess’ is a cultivar of unknown origin. It has a self-heading growth habit and spectacular white variegation, which manifests as sporadic splashes across the green leaves. White parts of the leaves are without chlorophyll and more likely to age faster.

Philodendron ‘Birkin’

This plant has been a real heartthrob in the recent times, it’s thought to be a sport (spontaneous chimeric mutation) of Philodendron ‘Rojo Congo’. The glossy oval-shaped leaves with eye-catching white striped variegation make this plant particularly eye-catching.

Philodendron ‘Narrow’

The narrow, serrated edge leaves that are typical of this plant are why it’s sometimes called ‘Tiger tooth’ by some.

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

Philodendron ‘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.

It isn’t widely available so snap one up if it’s on your list!

Philodendron ‘Pink Princess’

The ‘Pink Princess’ is another Philodendron that is highly prized by collectors, thanks to its pink variegation. It’s an incredibly fast grower and does well to be chopped back every now and then to encourage more variegation.

Philodendron ‘Cherry Red’

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

Philodendron hastatum ‘Silver Sword’

The blue-grey hue to the leaves of this plant set it apart from its relatives, as well as its long arrow-shaped leaves.

Mature individuals in the wild are considered to be in decline, although Philodendron hastatum was last assessed in 2010.

Philodendron ‘Lemon Lime’

This Philodendron cultivar was discovered as a natural mutation, the chartreuse leaves and cordate leaf shape make it a popular choice.

This plant is currently in tissue culture which has increased its availability.

Philodendron ‘Florida Ghost’

Now this is a very special and sought-after plant, the ‘Florida Ghost’ gets its name from its unusual white variegation which is displayed by new leaves. In time, those leaves become a mint green, then a darker green. It’s a very fast grower and like a lot of other Philodendron, it is easy to propagate, my preferred substrate for propagating this plant is sphagnum moss

This plant is much in demand, and as such can be difficult to procure on a regular basis.

Philodendron squamiferum

This is one of my favourite plants in the genus, it was also very popular during the 1950’s, I know the bristly petioles aren’t for everyone but I love them. It’s juvenile leaves are ovate to lance-shaped then they morph as the plant matures and become highly lobed. 

Philodendron ‘Florida Beauty’ (Green)

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). There’s lots of speculation about the origin of this hybrid, is it Philodendron squamiferum or Philodendron pedatum?

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 petioles also feature that small red spots.

Philodendron ‘Golden Dragon’

The exotically variegated ‘Golden Dragon’ gets its name from the fine gold speckles that appear on its mature dark green leaves. It is thought to be a cross of Philodendron bipennifolium.

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 thought to be a hybrid of Philodendron tatei and Philodendron ‘Imperial Red’. 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, coriaceous (leathery) 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 cultivar was discovered growing among several hundred random seedlings which were obtained in 1977 from Bamboo Nursery, Opapka, Florida. The patent number of this plant is USPP6337P.

Philodendron lupinum

Philodendron lupinum is endemic to State of Acre in Brazil. it’s velvety leaves are broadly cordate in the juvenile form and as the plant matures, the leaf blade become sagittate or panduriform. This prolific plant would benefit greatly from a trellis or moss pole. 

‘Lupinum’ means relating to wolves, this is in reference to the shallowly pedate leaf blade resembling a face of a wolf.

How to Care for Philodendron

Do Philodendrons need sunlight?

All plants require light to survive, they use carbon dioxide, water and light to produce sugars and oxygen.

 6 CO2 + 6 H2O + light --> C6H12O6 + 6 O2

Philodendrons can survive (just about) in as low as 50 foot-candles but are most suited to at least 200FC for good growth.

Can Philodendron grow in low light?

Philodendron can grow in lower light, but they will do so at a greatly 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. Climbing plants will have larger internodal spaces when positioned in lower light, plants become leggy when seeking light.

Can Philodendron grow in shade?

Philodendron prefer growing in bright indirect light, as opposed to direct light which can damage their leaves. Bright shade or dappled light would also allow for growth, Philodendron verrucosum in particular do well in this position.

How fast does Philodendron grow?

Philodendron are typically fast growers in their natural environments, where they have optimal conditions for growth. In the home environment, it can be difficult - near impossible - to emulate the conditions they experience in the tropical rainforests they inhabit. Overall, Philodendron require bright indirect light, moist soil (given adequate sunlight) and average to higher humidity.

Should I cut the brown tips off my Philodendron?

You can cut brown tips off your plant but that’s purely for aesthetics, in the wild and certainly in my house, the plants age naturally.

How often should you water a Philodendron?

As a general guide, Philodendrons should be watered frequently during the active growing months (summer) and less during winter when the plant is likely to be in lower light levels and cooler conditions. The frequency of watering is dependent upon the light your plant is receiving.

What does an overwatered Philodendron look like?

An overwatered Philodendron may exhibit yellow or brown leaves - this is also a sign of inconsistent watering too. A potting mix that is constantly wet may also have a white layer of saprophytic fungus on top - this is completely harmless but is a definite sign you need to reduce watering and may need to give your plant more light. New leaves can often quickly turn soft or brown when the plant is being overwatered.

Should I mist my Philodendron?

Misting has minimal impact on increasing humidity for the plant. If the water doesn’t dry quickly, it can lead to fungal spots on the leaves.

How do I make my Philodendron fuller?

If you have a climbing/trailing Philodendron, you can prune your plant by taking cuttings right below the node. You could propagate the cuttings in sphagnum moss or just put them back in the soil.

How do you revive a dying Philodendron?

First of all, it’s important to find out what is the cause of the suffering; assess the conditions you provide the plant, how much light the plant receives, it’s position in relation to a window, the potting mix it is in, whether or not the plant is planted into a pot without drainage, do you remove the plant from the pot cover when you water?

It’s also important to check the plants’ roots; rotten roots tend to be dark in colour and mushy, healthy Philodendron roots are full and creamy-white. Using sterile snippers, cut away any rotten roots, if the potting mix is dense and holding on to a lot of moisture, change it for an airy, well-draining mix.

Philodendron FAQ’s

Is it OK to sleep with Philodendron in your bedroom?

Yes; they release a very small amount of CO2 into the air during the night when they are not photosynthesising but humans and pets actually produce more so don’t worry about it. Fill your bedroom with your favourite plants!

What is the best houseplant to clean the air?

NASA’s Clean Air Study is from 1989, the information is considered outdated and like a lot of scientific information that is relayed, crucial details are lost. For example, the experiments were carried out in labs, plants were put into plexiglass air tight containers the size of boxes not regular room environments. Michael Waring of Drexel University (ph.D in Indoor Environmental Science and Engineering) calculated that “You would have to put 1,000 plants in a 3.1 metre by 3.1m by 2.4m office to have the same air-cleaning capacity of just changing over the air once per hour, which is the typical air-exchange rate in an office ventilation system.”

Choose your plants based on the conditions you can give them, open your windows, get some fresh air and enjoy.

Is my plant a pothos or a Philodendron?

Pothos is a common name for Epipremnum, their leaves tend to be larger, waxier and thicker than Philodendron. They are separate species but part of the same family - Araceae. Epipremnum leaves emerge from a current leaf, Philodendron emerge from a cataphyll. Philodendron have a more obvious sinus and cordate leaf blades, their aerial roots are slim and spindly, emerging in groups of up to 6 per node. Epipremnum produce one short aerial root per node.

Where to position a Philodendron

What is the best houseplant for low light?

I’d recommend Epipremnum aureum for spaces with less than 50 foot-candles.

Is Philodendron a good indoor plant?

This is subjective; do you like the genus Philodendron, can you provide the plant you’re interested in with conditions required for growth? Philodendron are considered a low maintenance option due to their tolerance for average light and home humidity but truthfully you will get more from your plant if you provide it with optimum conditions.

Can Philodendron plants live in the bathroom?

Does your bathroom have a window, will your plant see the sky from the position you’re aiming to place it in? Providing the plant is receiving adequate light,  the additional humidity a bathroom provides would be be great.

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

The best plant for any room without windows would be a faux plant; your plant would be dying from the moment you put it there. If you’re willing to use grow lights then that means you have ample choice!

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