- Philodendrons can either be vines, meaning they follow, or self-directed, meaning they grow upright.
- Allow philodendron soil to dry out between waterings and keep it in bright, indirect sunlight.
- All philodendron plants are toxic to pets and should be kept out of their reach.
Plant lovers, from the most experienced pickers to the so-called black thumb themselves, often choose philodendron for its ease of care for nature and lush foliage. While there are nearly 500 species of philodendrons, which are part of the Araceae family, there are 10 common species that make the perfect ornamental houseplant.
Annette Gutierrez, co-owner of Los Angeles-based Potted Plant Store, shares her best care tips for the most famous philodendron.
Karma vs. Self-Orientation
Philodendrons are classified as either vine (also called climbing) or self (also called erect). Grape plants are classified as textural plants, which trace or grow a vine toward a support such as a tree or bough. The self-oriented philodendron has an upright growth habit that naturally grows on the forest floor towards the sun.
“Self-oriented varieties have a short distance between nodes, so the stems are thicker to grow more compactly,” Gutierrez says. “Vine cultivars have long distances between the nodes, which facilitates their propagation.”
According to Gutierrez, understanding whether a philodendron is feeding on itself or turning on itself is important in choosing how to display it.
“Self-oriented cultivars can get quite large and make beautiful specimens of plants on a table or even on the floor,” Gutierrez says. “Vinegars look lovely in hanging baskets flowing from the top of a bookshelf or similar spaces.”
Gutierrez also notes that philodendrons can be self-installed to grow, with their vines spreading across walls to frame a window or room.
1. philodendron velvet (Philodendron hederaceum var. hederaceum)
Also known as Philodendron micans, this heart-shaped philodendron is soft to the touch and usually a rare find for its beauty, popularity and low-maintenance nature. This amazing houseplant is native to the tropics of eastern Mexico and the Caribbean.
When the leaves first bloom, they start out with a bronze tint, later fading to iridescent, deep jade green, rust, and even purple depending on the amount of light they receive.
2. Variegated heart leaf philodendron (philodendron hederaceum ‘Brazil’)
This beloved plant, also known as philodendron brazil, is known for its heart-shaped leaves and split lemon and lime colors. This species is native to the tropical rainforests of South America, so it prefers slightly higher humidity and light weekly fog. As with most variegated or spotted plants, adequate light is needed to keep their leaf colors and patterns vibrant.
3 – Ecuadorian philodendron (P. revenge)
The Ecuadorean philodendron is a display climbing plant named after its place of origin in the Ecuadorean bush. Its velvety leaves can grow several inches long and are easily recognizable by their brilliant colors and quilted patterns. This unique philodendron can frequently be purchased online rather than at your local nursery.
“This is a rare and amazing species,” Gutierrez says. “The leaves have an unusual reddish color under the leaves, and neon green veins.”
4. Oak leaf philodendron (philodendron pedatum [Laciniatum])
Native to Venezuela and Brazil, this philodendron is easily recognizable by its name with its unique glossy oak leaves somewhat similar to the cannabis plant. While an oak leaf philodendron will cascade from a hanging basket, it prefers climbing a moss or coconut pole for maximum support.
5. Philodendron Patricia (Croatian philodendron Patricia)
As one of the newer plants of the genus Philodendron, Philodendron Patricia can grow up to 30 feet tall. Its narrow pod-shaped leaves are wavy in the color of dark juniper. American botanist Dr. Thomas Croat discovered this plant in the early 1980s and named it after his wife Patricia.
“This philodendron is crazy about its long leaves that can grow to be gigantic — even though they probably aren’t in such a small indoor space,” says Gutierrez.
1. Winterbourne (Thumatophyllum xanadu)
Winterbourne, or philodendron xanadu, has a tropical appearance, a bit like a mixture of palms and monsters. Its large, shiny leaves make the ultimate statement indoors and can grow in clumps several feet wide when grown outdoors.
“This is great outside and is loved by landscape designers as an interesting addition to adding shade to any garden,” says Gutierrez.
2 – Rogo Kongo (philodendron tate)
Rogo Kongo, or red Congo, philodendron is striking in its appearance, which is defined by its full green leaves, dark woods and garnet-colored stems. Freshly rolled leaves also contain a reddish hue that fades to green with maturity.
It is recommended to spray and gently wipe the leaves weekly to keep this plant looking beautiful and to allow its leaves to cleanly absorb light and moisture from the air.
3. The white wave (philodendron birkin)
The white wave philodendron, also known as birkin, is loved for its attractive leaves etched with white stripes. This plant will do best in a bright, humid bathroom, but like most philodendrons it can tolerate low light conditions.
“No paper is ever alike, so it’s a true showy beauty with the white stripes that sweat with its glossy leaves,” Gutierrez says. “It’s a very easy and fun houseplant.”
4. Prince of Orange (philodendron s.)
If there is one philodendron representing its native tropical niche, it is the Prince of Orange. This vibrant houseplant has lime green, yellow-purple and creamy orange foliage reminiscent of a South American sunset. Prince of orange, which Gutierrez calls “cool,” is a hybrid that can reach two feet tall and change color from shades of orange to shades of green as it matures.
5. The Pink Princess (philodendron erubescens)
Another gorgeous hybrid, the pink princess philodendron is equal parts beautiful, rare, and expensive. Its multicolored leaves are strewn with bright pink, emerald green and white spots. Propagating this philodendron is best left to the professionals because its pink hues are not always guaranteed through home breeding.
“This plant is not only very expensive because its pink color is hard to achieve and can go back to green often, but it is also very difficult to reproduce,” Gutierrez says. “It’s a gamble but it’s worth it if you find one at an affordable price.”
Philodendron Care Basics
Since philodendrons have a general care routine, it is best to treat the plant according to these instructions, slightly adjusting watering, humidity, and light depending on the plant’s growth and health.
Pot and fertilizer: Well-drained soil containing peat moss is best for philodendron. For fertilizer, it is recommended to apply a balanced, water soluble fertilizer of NPK 20-20-20 per month during spring and summer.
exposure to light: “Philodendrons love bright, indirect light when they’re indoors,” Gutierrez says. “Outside they prefer being in the shade, but outside shade doesn’t equate to low light indoors.” Since there is a greater risk of exposure to direct sunlight outdoors, philodendrons prefer a protected and controlled level of brightness indoors.
Watering Frequency and Humidity: Philodendron enjoys watering every seven to 10 days, allowing the soil to dry out between waterings. Gutierrez cautions against overwatering or underwatering, which can cause leaf stress. “Yellow leaves usually mean over-watering, and brown leaves usually mean underwater,” Gutierrez says. “The brown leaf tips mean it might be a good idea to get a humidifier.”
temperature: “In sunny areas like Los Angeles, most philodendrons do just fine outside, preferring temperatures in the 70s and 80s,” Gutierrez says. “But they definitely need to be protected from the cold and brought indoors if you live in an area where temperatures are below 35 to 40 degrees. [Fahrenheit]. “Philodendron’s internal temperatures should be kept in the range of 65 to 70 degrees [Fahrenheit].
Common problems: While pests and diseases are uncommon with philodendrons, bacterial blight, mites, mealybugs, and root rot are the most common problems philodendrons may encounter. To treat pests and diseases, remove the affected plant from other plants and use an insecticidal soap.
Reproduction: While philodendron self-propagation is best left to professional growers, it is easy to propagate philodendron vines. First, Gutierrez instructs to cut a vine with at least four or five leaves above a node.
Place the cutting in a vase or test tube filled with water, which works best for propagating philodendron because the tubes have narrow tops and prevent the plant from falling off very easily. Next, place the cutting on a north or east-facing window to avoid direct sunlight, allowing it to grow roots 2 to 3 inches long in the next month or two. Move the new philodendron to a new pot of soil containing peat moss and water it weekly.
Philodendrons are loved for their unique shape and vibrant appearance. And with the right care routine, their bold and forgiving nature can reward any plant owner with years of growth and prosperity.