Philodendrons… the tropical foliage plants belonging to the Aroid family (family Araceae).
They are part of the popular family that brings us the peace lily – Spathiphyllum, Chinese evergreen – Aglaonema, Flamingo Flower – Anthurium, and even the ZZ Plant – Zamioculcas.
There are somewhere between 400-700 species of known Philodendrons.
The exact number has not be defined only varying reports from authorities that have different figures. There are also numerous man-made hybrids grown throughout the world.
Many of these tropical plants are grown as ornamentals in the landscape and also as indoor house plants. The name “Philodendron” comes from the the Greek words philo or “love” and dendron or “tree”.
These plants display a wide array of beautiful foliage for the landscape. When things are right soil wise and light, they will bear flowers similar to those of white flowers of Calla Lilies.
Philodendrons due vary on leaf shapes depending on species. The leaf shapes include:
- Heart Shaped (Philodendron scandens oxycardium)
- Long and Narrow
- Deep Lobed
- Arrow Shaped (Philodendron domesticum)
- Ovate Shaped
These leaves are usually a green color. Some of the leaves may have an underside that is a copper type red tone. They also may have veins that are red in color.
When some species are just early in their development, their leaves could be red and then as they mature they turn green. Some hybrids produced today develop deep burgundy colored leaves as they mature – like Philodendron ‘Black Cardinal’.
Flowers can range in color from white to yellow and even cream.
One type of Philodendron is the climbing type that can shimmy up a tree. They adapt well to being grown in greenhouses or on the house on a totem and even can grow outside yer round when the climate is right.
When covering a tree the Philodendron brings a very tropical landscaping look and feel to a garden like the Central and South American jungles it calls home.
Philodendrons can also be found in some Pacific islands, Australia and parts of Asia although they aren’t native to those regions. Instead they were introduced or accidentally escaped.
Tree type philodendrons such as the Philodendron bipennifolium are a perfect addition to your outdoor living room and garden. Its large bold foliage with spathe and spadix is indeed a showstopper. This particular soil grown species can climb up on trees with the help of its aerial roots.
It is a shrub that grows upright and its leaves are lobes that are deeply divided. It can grow to be 10 feet tall.
The trunk of the tree is not very tall and thickens with age. The leaves are glossy and the flowers are greenish tinted white.
The best growing conditions are actually the cooler climates where it can get cold. Greenhouses probably are used for the coldest climates.
Potted Philodendrons Indoors
To plant indoors philodendrons do the following:
- Provide temperatures of 60-72 degrees.
- Require less light that other types of houseplants. Do not place them under direct sunlight.
- Use pots that drain well.
- Soil mixture of sand and peat moss with loam, and charcoal chopped up.
- You should pot philodendrons in the late part of winter or in the spring.
- Need to place broken crocks or bricks or stones in the bottom of the pot first. This prevents drain holes from being stopped up.
- Use an amount of potting soil, which allows the plant to sit 1” to 2” below the top of pot. Cover with soil.
- Gently water when you first plant them, and then allow soil to dry before watering. When the plant’s roots get set, the soil can be kept a bit moister.
Remember that in climates such as in the southern region in the USA philodendrons can be propagated in the shade outdoors. They do require a moist, well-drained soil that is highly rich in nutrients.
Philodendrons outdoors like P. selloum or P. Xanadu should be fertilized with a granular food once every 3-4 months lightly.
Indoors cleaning the plant leaves by wiping them with water or water and a weak soap mixture to remove dust and insects, is a regular part of philodendron care.
You may in some instances also need to wipe them with an appropriate insecticide to keep the insects away.
How to Propagate
You can propagate your own plants by planting cuttings that have at minimum 2 joints on them.
Plant them in sandy peat moss mixture. Place them in a greenhouse or a propagating box, the temperature should be between 70° to 75° degrees Fahrenheit.
When the roots get formed, you can move them to bigger pots.