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Philodendron: Large, Low-Maintenance Tropical Houseplant

Philodendrons are a genus of plants that have become the most common large, tropical houseplants to grow. Growing philodendrons is exceptionally easy due to their adaptable nature. And with more than 400 species to choose from, there's a plant for everyone


Other names for this plant...

Varies based on species

About Philodendron

One of the most exciting characteristics of philodendrons is their growth rate. These fast-growing indoor plants sprout new leaves almost daily. They're also effortless to grow as they are happy in nearly all environments and can handle a bit of neglect. This makes them an excellent choice for those who want houseplants without hassle.

Botanical Name

Philodendrons are a genus in the family Araceae. Within the genus, there are nearly 450 species. These species can be divided into climbing varieties and non-climbing, upright varieties.

Other Names

Because there are so many species of philodendron, there are many common names by which they're known. Each species has both a botanical name and a common name.

Plant Type

Philodendrons are classified as flowering herbaceous perennials. Herbaceous perennials are plants without woody stems whose foliage dies in the winter and reemerges in spring and summer.

Philodendrons are evergreens, however, and never completely die back. While their growth rate may slow during the winter months, most indoor environments are conducive to continued growth.

The philodendron genus is additionally categorized in the following manner:

  • Hemiepiphytes These are plants that begin terrestrial and later become epiphytes. Epiphytes are plants that live on other plants in a non-parasitic way. They piggyback on other plants and take advantage of the resources surrounding their host.

In the case of philodendrons, some begin as vines and later become epiphytic.

The seedlings of these plants emerge and grow toward the nearest host, most often a tree. Once they've established themselves, the terrestrial roots die, and the remainder of the plant grows on the tree.

  • Terrestrial Plants - A plant with roots that grow in soil are terrestrial.


Evidence of philodendrons can be traced back thousands of years. They're considered tropical plants native to South America and the Caribbean. Now, species of philodendron can be found worldwide.


Although the physical appearance of philodendrons can vary by species, they all share some general characteristics.

  • Most philodendrons have light to deep green leaves. There are some species outside of this norm, however, that feature green and white leaves.

  • While the leaves of philodendron plants are typically large, the shape can vary. Lobed, oval, and spear-shaped are a few of the many forms they may take.

  • Philodendrons produce specialized leaves called cataphylls that help protect new leaves as they form.

Philodendrons have large, tropical, heart or arrow-shaped leaves.

Types Of Philodendron

There are both vining and upright, non-vining philodendrons. Both make excellent houseplants. The one you choose will depend upon your space and personal taste.

Below is a list of the 5 most popular vining and non-vining species of philodendron.

Popular Vining Philodendron

  1. Green Heartleaf Philodendron (Philodendron Hederaceum). Sometimes referred to as the sweetheart plant, the heartleaf philodendron is appropriately named for its signature heart-shaped leaves. This species is slower growing than most but long-living.

  2. Heartleaf Philodendron (Philodendron hederaceum 'Brasil')Cultivar of the common heartleaf philodendron with variegated leaves. Aptly named Brasil for its resemblance to the Brazilian flag.

  3. Philodendron Brandtianum (Philodendron Brandtianum). Easy to grow with grey, mottled leaves.

  4. Philodendron Micans (Philodendron Micans). One of the most popular philodendron houseplants with velvety leaves.

  5. Oak leaf philodendron (Philodendron Pedatum)Extremely fast-growing variety with large leaves that resemble oak leaves.

Popular Upright Philodendrons

  1. Xanadu (Philodendron Bipinnatifidum). Large, leathery leaves are the hallmark of this compact plant, often wider than tall.

  2. Pink Princess (Philodendron erubescens). A highly popular houseplant due to its bubblegum pink variegation.

  3. Gloriosum (Philodendron Gloriosum). Unique variety having large, heart-shaped leaves with white veining.

  4. Moonlight Philodendron (Philodendron'Moonlight'). Stunning lime green and yellow leaves make this variety one of the most popular with growers.

  5. Birkin (Philodendron' Birkin'). Slow-growing variety with red tones to its leaf and white striping.

Philodendron Styling 

Upright philodendron plants are grown in containers. Depending on the size, they can make an impressive entryway or corner display. Smaller varieties can be displayed on tables or shelves.

Philodendron climbers do well in hanging baskets where the vines can drop freely. If grown in a ground container, they'll need a moss pole or trellis to climb as they grow.

You can also group your philodendron with plants that enjoy similar conditions, like peace lilies or lemon lime Dracaena.

Pair Philodendrons with other tropical plants.


All species of philodendrons are highly adaptable. While they enjoy bright light, they'll also grow well in low light, and some can even thrive in the shady spots of your home.

Generally, ideal lighting is bright but indirect light.


Philodendrons like even and regular watering and moist soil, but they should be allowed to dry out between watering. Typically weekly watering is sufficient to keep your philodendron happy, but the climate in your home can impact your plant's water needs.

Drier environments may mean more frequent watering, while high humidity may mean less. You'll learn to recognize your plant's needs as you get to know it.


Philodendrons do well in temperatures ranging from 65-85 degrees Fahrenheit. Since this range is typical in most homes, philodendrons won't need any special adjustments.


Philodendrons are tropical plants and prefer humid environments — the more humid, the better. Their ideal humidity level is between 65-80% which is more than what's normal in most homes. Regularly misting your plant can help compensate for the drier air of your home, or placing them in areas that get the most moisture, like the bathroom or kitchen.

But given their resiliency and adaptability, philodendrons will also grow and be content at lower humidity levels.


The best potting mix for your philodendron will be slightly acidic, well-draining, and incorporate organic matter and elements like perlite and peat moss to help preserve moisture. The best way to achieve this is by combining standard potting soil with compost and other organic ingredients.


It's only necessary to prune a healthy philodendron if you're trying to keep growth under control, and this should be done at the beginning of the growing season if possible.

Pruning dead or diseased portions of the plant can encourage healthy growth in your philodendron, and this can be done at anytime.

Be sure to use clean, sharp shears and prune where the portion being removed meets the stem.


The rapid growth rate for philodendrons can be supported with a standard 20-20-20 fertilizer easily found in any plant care center. Fertilizing once a month during the growing season is sufficient, with reduced feeding during the winter.

Height & Growth

The size of philodendrons can vary significantly by species. Most indoor varieties can reach 8-10 feet tall and six feet wide, but there are smaller and dwarf species. Vining philodendrons can reach 10-12 feet long.


No part of a philodendron should be eaten. All species are considered mildly poisonous to both humans and pets.

Philodendrons contain tiny calcium oxalate crystals. When ingested, calcium oxalate will cause lip, mouth, and throat irritation and digestive distress.

Medical attention should be sought if a philodendron is eaten.


Philodendrons are toxic to pets.

Common Problems 

  • Root rot. A result of over-watering or poor drainage. Be sure to allow your plant to dry out in between watering and consider repotting if the current container doesn't have enough drainage holes.

  • Yellowing leaves. Yellow leaves are usually due to over-watering.

  • Pests. Philodendrons aren't usually bothered by pests, especially indoors. But occasionally, spider mites, aphids, or mealy bugs can infest them.

  • Browning leaves. Over-fertilizing or under-watering can cause the leaves of your philodendron to brown.

How To Propagate Philodendron

When it comes to philodendrons, propagation is easy. The most common propagation method is by taking stem cuttings and submerging them in water to root. Be sure to cut just below the nodes when doing this.

You can also place cuttings directly into the soil. Use the same soil and watering methods you would with established plants.

Philodendrons are easily propagated through stem cuttings that grow quickly during the growing season.

Frequently Asked Questions

How long do philodendrons live?

When cared for correctly, philodendrons can live for 15-20 years. The record for the longest-living philodendron is a lacy tree philodendron (Philodendron selloum), clocking in at 40 years.

Do philodendrons need a lot of water?

Philodendrons like evenly and consistently moist soil but dislike being soggy or sitting in water. Typically watering once a week is sufficient.

Can philodendrons live in shady spots?

Philodendrons are one of the most resilient houseplants available. Their most vigorous growth occurs in bright, indirect sunlight but will also grow in low-light and shady areas.

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