The genus Philodendron has more than 700 species of epiphytic, terrestrial or semi-epiphytic plants that grow naturally in the rainforests of America – from Mexico in the north to Argentina in the south. Today, plants can also be found in Australia, Africa and Asia, where they migrated with humans.
The name of the genus comes from two Greek words: “phylon” – love and “dendron” – a tree, which directly indicates the way the vines grow, which climb the trunks of tall trees to the sun. Taxonomically, the genus Philodendron is still little known because there are many undescribed species.
Of the huge species diversity, only a few are grown as ornamental houseplants. Indoor philodendrons, namely their varietal forms, are valued for their beautiful, often colorful leaves and low maintenance requirements.
Leaves are usually quite large and can take on various shapes: lobed, heart-shaped, spear-shaped, oval, and others. There are vines with large feathery foliage.
A characteristic feature of plants is also the development of two types of leaves on one liana – adult and juvenile (imperfect), which can differ greatly from each other.
Usually, young leaves are heart-shaped and as they grow up they acquire a shape typical for a particular species; at a young age, the plant has only juvenile foliage. It is because of this feature that botanists in the past have had many difficulties in classifying representatives of the genus.
The plant has both underground and aerial roots that allow the vine to climb the tree, absorb water and nutrients from the environment. In nature, the vine forms large flowers, but at home, even with the best care, the philodendron does not bloom.
Besides decorative qualities, philodendrons are renowned air purifiers and have the ability to neutralize volatile formaldehyde.
However, it is important to consider that, like all aroids, this is a poisonous plant, especially dangerous for cats. In humans, its juice can cause rashes and skin irritation.
types of philodendron For Indoor
Philodendron scandens, also known as heart-shaped or climbing philodendron. The most popular liana in domestic culture with shoots up to 2 m long and numerous aerial roots.
The leaves are dark green, shiny, cordate or slightly elongated, large or small, depending on growing conditions. Young leaves are weakly pubescent and have a red tint on the back of the leaf blade.
If you do not provide the vines with support for growth on top, the leaves will remain juvenile. The climbing philodendron is the least demanding on growing conditions and is often used as an ampelous plant.
The variety of this species is Philodendron “Gold” with lemon-green foliage.
Philodendron Brasil is a natural mutation with stunning golden yellow variegated juvenile leaves.
Compact variety “Mikans”. Its color depends on the lighting, acquiring shades from dark green to purple or even rusty, and young leaves have a pink edging.
The warty philodendron (Philodendron verrucosum) is one of the most impressive species! Iridescent dark green, velvety leaves with bright, contrasting veins, red underside of the leaf plate and pubescent stems.
Philodendron Shangri La
Philodendron Shangri La with large leaves that have serrated, undulating edges. Their color is bright green with a light green tint along the edge of the leaf plate. Foliage may turn yellowish with age.
Philodendron selloum is a representative of one of the three subgenus of the genus Philodendron with very large carved leaves, similar to a monster.
Philodendron “Atom” is a dwarf variety of this species, which forms a low dense bush of large, corrugated, dark green leaves.
The blushing philodendron (Philodendron erubescens) is characterized by arrow-shaped leaves. In the juvenile period, the shoots, petioles and scales covering the leaves are almost red.
Mature foliage is dark green on top, and remains with a red tint on the underside. Liana is quite large, therefore it requires support and does not react well to errors in cultivation.
Philodendron varieties of this species
Pink princess pink filadendron with stunningly beautiful variegated foliage ranging from wine green to white and hot pink.
Philodendron “Imperial Red” (Imperial Red)
A very decorative cultivar with characteristic large, shiny young leaves, collected in a large rosette and colored in various shades of red. With age, the color changes from burgundy purple to dark green.
Philodendron “Medusa” is a compact liana with green-yellow, shiny foliage and red petioles.
Philodendron xanadu (P. Xanadu) with deeply dissected, dark green leaves and white veins. Unlike most species, this is not a vine, but a small bush that can withstand short-term drought.
Philodendron domesticum is the commercial name under which some hybrids are marketed.
The species is not described in botany. Usually glossy, arrow-shaped leaves of its hybrid forms reach 50 cm in length and 23 cm in width at maturity.
A popular hybrid is a philodendron “Lime Lemon”. This is a beautiful slow-growing liana with golden-green foliage.
Philodendron radiatum with huge leaves of tropical beauty.
Liana is characterized by low growth rates, maintaining a compact shape for a long time.
The Thai species Philodendron bipinnatum is represented by the irresistible Caramel Marble with colorful leaves in yellow, green, cream and pink tones. The leaves of the Marble White Philodendron variety are green-white.
Glossy, dark green leaves are very close together on the shoot. The rigid central stem remains upright as it grows.
Philodendron guitar-shaped (Philodendron panduriforme) is A beautiful, slow-growing species that is not often found in domestic culture. It is characterized by unusual three-lobed, dark green leaves.
Philodendron Giganteum is known for its giant glossy leaves that can grow up to one and a half meters long and 90 cm wide. Philodendron giganteum grows so fast that the leaves grow in size every day.
Philodendron hybr Birkin
Philodendron hybr Birkin is a variegated hybrid with creamy yellow and white contrasting stripes on a green leaf blade. As it grows, it retains its compact shape.
A varietal series of philodendrons “Silver” of different species with silvery-green leaves has also been bred.
philodendron care rules
For the successful cultivation of indoor philodendron, it is necessary to provide it with conditions that are as close to natural as possible.
The plant is considered shade-tolerant, so it feels great in dim diffused light. Exposure to direct sunlight in spring and summer causes yellowing and drying of foliage, loss of its shape and color.
The best place to grow is a room with east or west facing windows. In winter, location near south-facing windows is allowed.
With a strong lack of lighting, for example, in the depths of the room, internodes are stretched, the leaves become smaller, remaining in the juvenile form, and in variegated philodendrons they lose their colorful color.
The heat-loving vine requires temperatures around 18-25 ° C. In autumn and winter, a decrease of up to 16 ° C is allowed. The plant is very sensitive to cold – drafts and temperatures below 13-15 ° C are destructive for it.
In nature, the high humidity of tropical forests allows the liana to grow large leaves, but at home the philodendron has to adapt to drier conditions.
The plant loves constantly moist, but not wet soil. To avoid waterlogging, use pots with drainage holes and water after the topsoil has dried.
Remember that the soil dries more slowly in plastic and ceramic glazed pots than in clay and terracotta pots. In winter, when the plant slows down its growth, watering is slightly reduced.
To provide the liana with high air humidity, it is necessary to regularly spray the green mass. In spring and summer, they moisturize every day, and in winter, every 2-3 days is enough.
The philodendron pot can also be placed in a larger container filled with expanded clay or small pebbles and water. The bottom of the pot should not be immersed directly in water, as this can lead to decay of the roots.
For spraying and watering, use only slightly warm, soft, settled water, otherwise the plant will start to hurt.
Fertilizing and transplanting
Caring for a philodendron at home includes top dressing, which in nature he receives with rainwater, from decayed foliage near the roots and with the waste products of insects.
During the growing season, fertilizers are applied every 10-14 days. It is best to use a liquid balanced, mineral fertilizer intended for decorative deciduous plants, but the concentration is slightly reduced.
Since the end of autumn and winter, fertilizer is not used in the care of the philodendron.
From time to time, when the roots are completely entwined with an earthen ball, the vine is transplanted into a larger pot, but not too large, since the green mass grows best when the roots are a little crowded.
The best time to transplant is late winter or early March.
The soil for the philodendron should be light, breathable, and fertile. A soil mixture based on a substrate for representatives of orchids (50%) with the addition of equal parts of high peat or a special substrate based on it, universal flower soil, and vermiculite is ideal.
At the bottom of the pot, a drainage layer of fine gravel or expanded clay must be laid out.
Supports are also a very important part of philodendron care, as they stimulate mature foliage in vines and support long shoots.
The support is installed during transplanting, guiding along it. An alternative is to grow small vines with juvenile leaves in hanging planters.
Philodendrons at home are easily propagated by leafy or stem cuttings, which are taken in February or March. The stem cutting should have at least 2-3 leaves.
It is best to choose shoots on which aerial adventitious roots have developed. The use of a rooting hormone is optional.
Prepared cuttings are planted in a wet mixture of sand (vermiculite) and peat and kept at a constant temperature of 21 to 24 ̊C, away from direct sunlight.
The rooting process usually takes 4-5 weeks, provided the soil is constantly moderately moist. Then the seedling should be transplanted into a fertile mixture.
An alternative is to root the cuttings in water. Root formation in this case is faster.
As for the bush and large philodendrons, a well-developed leaf is taken for reproduction, which is cut off or carefully torn off with a part of the base of the trunk – the “heel”, and then placed in water.
The second method of reproduction is by dividing the root system. The procedure is carried out during transplantation, cutting the root ball with a sterile instrument into 2-3 divisions, which are then planted in separate pots.
Only adult specimens are suitable for this breeding method. But after dividing, the vine can recover for some time.
Withering and yellowing of philodendron leaves is most often a sign of improper care. For example, excessive fertilization results in dark spots on the leaf blades.
At the same time, a lack of nutrients (calcium and magnesium) causes the development of chlorosis – yellowing or discoloration of the leaves, on which dark streaks remain.
Browning of the tips of the leaf plates can be the result of watering with hard and/or cold water, hypothermia, irrigation or dry indoor air.
On contact with cold glass in winter, dark necrotic spots appear on the leaves.
Waterlogging of the soil gradually leads to the development of root rot, which in turn causes yellowing and wilting of the philodendron, the base of the vine darkens and softens.
In this case, you should immediately remove the affected roots, treat them with a fungicide, and transplant the vine into a new pot and soil.
Major pests: thrips, mealybugs, scale insects.
An attacked indoor philodendron should be treated with a soapy or oil solution, the shield must be removed manually beforehand.
In case of severe damage, they are treated with a chemical insecticide.