The Philodendron is a flowering plant from the family Araceae. Its name is derived from the Greek word, Philo ‘love’ and dendron ‘tree.’ At present, this family has 489 accepted species, and there are 16 types of indoor Philodendrons. This plant has a diverse growth habitat; it can be epiphytic, Hemi-epiphytic, or occasionally terrestrial.
Being native to America, they start growing as vines and then become epiphytes. Their shapes, sizes, and textures vary with types, but generally, they’ve glossy green leaves, and their parallel veins are light-greenish and reddish-white. They sometimes produce a berry-like orange fruit in their active growth spells. There’re two types of indoor philodendrons, climbing, and self-heading, and they attain a maximum size of 8 feet indoors.
Philodendrons are generous to habitats like rainforests. They require low light, but they grow best in medium-bright indirect sunlight. They can also thrive in filtered sunlight, but excessive sunlight will burn their leaves. If the leaves become leggy, it means that the plant is receiving inadequate light. Their ability to grow in low light makes them a perfect indoor houseplant.
These plants require moderate watering depending upon the prevailing conditions. These should be watered once per week or when the soil is drying out. The general ruling is to keep the soil moist and avoid sogginess. Lukewarm water is preferred over the faucet or cold water because it will cause root rot. Overwatering and underwatering will cause drooping of its sturdy leaves.
Being from tropical regions, Philodendrons are generous to room temperature ranging between 15°C – 30°C. They can endure higher temperatures but tend to react to lower temperatures. It’s advised not to place it near windows, vents, or doors with cold drafts to protect it from damage. Continuous spells of cold will cause them to freeze and die. For ideal growth, they should be kept at room temperature.
Any humidity level works fine for these plants, but higher levels of humidity encourage the growth of larger and shiny leaves. Their tropical nature allows them to endure lower levels, but regular misting is required for ideal development. Philodendrons require low humidity levels in the winter months, but they require frequent misting in the summer months. Excessive humidity will cause leaves drooping.
A 20-20-20 fertilizer is ideal for optimum growth of Philodendrons. Small dosages should be fed from the spring through the fall. This will excel their growth process, but one has to be careful not to over-fertilize them as this will kill the plant. Being epiphytic, they require a good combination of 30% soil, 20% peat, 40% orchid bark with charcoal, 10% perlite.
Philodendrons are toxic as they contain calcium oxalate. If ingested, it causes chest pain and burning sensations. Moreover, calcium oxalate causes swelling of lips, mouth, tongue, throat, and difficulty in breathing. These should be kept out of children and pets contact-range because its ingestion is fatal and life-threatening.
These plants are a good source of air-purification. Their large leaves and ariel roots gather air pollutants and volatile organic compounds VOCs and release fresh oxygen. These VOCs can irritate the eyes, nose, throat, cause difficulty breathing and nausea. It can absorb moisture from the air, thus acting as a mini humidifier.
The ideal time for repotting is during active growth months. Generally, when the roots grow out from the pot, it should be repotted into a slightly bigger-sized drainable pot to continue its growth. It should be watered moderately initially, and the use of fertilizer isn’t recommended for two weeks. Gentle handling is required for a successful repotting.
Philodendrons don’t require additional care. Basic requirements of light, watering, temperature, and humidity should be kept checked, and any excessiveness or shortage in these factors will result in plant damage. Relocating them to a new position might disturb their growth pattern. Due to their poisonous toxicity, they should be kept away from the reach of children and pets.
Following are the common issues,
- Yellowing of leaves
- Drooping of leaves
- Wilting of plant
- Softening and blackening of stems
Following are the diseases,
- Spider Mite
- Scale Insects
With timely supervision, these problems can be solved quickly.
Either climbing or self-heading, Philodendrons can always be a good addition to the house. Their VOCs-combating and humidifier abilities make this plant a good air-purifier. Their little maintenance, yet the majestic appearance, makes them a good houseplant.