In the world of indoor plants, we have a large catalog to choose from where we can find easy-care species with few needs. When we are looking for a simple alternative, with voluminous leaves and that occupies a good space that we need to cover, the genus philodendron ( Phylodendron ) includes a large catalog of plants that we can grow as an indoor plant.
All these plants have their origin in humid areas such as Central America or South America, especially in humid environments such as swamps or tropical forests. Within this genus we find up to 120 species of great botanical importance, but at the level of indoor cultivation, only a few stand out.
In this article we want to tell you about the main characteristics of growing philodendron as an indoor plant , with advice on its care and some additional tips.
Philodendron belongs to a very varied genus of plants ( Araceae phanerogams ) and with more than 700 described species. From there, entering a lower classification, we find 120 similar species of herbaceous and shrubs that are fast growing and adapted to humid and tropical environments.
Over the years, they have been able to adapt, with a little care, to species grown indoors, where pleasant temperatures are maintained throughout the year, but with much lower humidity. Some of these species become climbers, but in general, we speak of long trunks, very large leaves and bright green.
A well-known indoor species is the one known as Philodendron ( Philodendron bipinnatifidum ), a plant that visually looks a lot like the one known as Adam’s rib . The big difference is that the philodendron, in attractive conditions and with a good container, can grow several meters in height. In fact, the main control over growth as a houseplant is made with the size of the pot and the development of its roots.
VARIEDADES DE FILODENDRO
- Philodendron scandens – A climbing species known as a ‘climbing philodendron’, which produces many heart-shaped leaves and can also be grown in hanging pots.
- Philodendron cordatum: this philodendron is smaller in size and its cultivation is quite common in pots, developing many heart-shaped leaves, being usual to grow it in hanging pots.
- Philodendron appendiculatum: It is traditionally known as güembé, a herbaceous and shrubby species with large, petiolate leaves.
- Philodendron bipinnatifidum: its shape is similar to Monstera deliciosa (Adam’s rib), but in good
- Philodendron lacerum: climbing plant with very large and serrated leaves, similar to P. bipinnatifidum but more elongated. It grows in environments with high humidity.
- Philodendron tweedianum: a jungle species with large leaves, heart-shaped and without teeth, that inhabits tropical forests and in conditions of high humidity.
- Philodendron undulatum: it has serrated leaves and grows in jungle areas of South America. Its leaves are very large and can exceed 80 cm in length.
- Philodendron xanadu: it can be grown in pots, with a very striking appearance and much production of smaller serrated leaves than previous varieties.
We can find more than 120 different species of philodendron
MAIN CARE OF PHILODENDRONS
For the philodendron species grown indoors, the maintenance conditions, light needs, temperature and water are practically the same. Although we will develop point by point, the priorities of this genus of plants are to guarantee relative humidity with sprays, moderate watering and very fertile substrates for the correct development of their roots.
WHERE TO LOCATE AT HOME
To find the best possible location, we have to find a strategic point where there is very good lighting but without direct sun, since its leaves can be damaged.
As the relative humidity of the environment of our house is not so easy to control, we can remedy it by making 1 or 2 sprays a week , especially in summer, to increase the relative humidity in the foliar area of the philodendron.
At the temperature level, we will not have any problem if we take care of it as an indoor plant . In specific climatic zones, outdoor cultivation will be done in semi-shade, protected from higher plants that allow it to reduce the incidence of sunlight.
Read more: 7 indoor plants with flowers to care for at home
CHOICE OF SUBSTRATE
The philodendron needs a substrate that favors moisture retention and, as a priority, that is very fertile . Therefore, when choosing between the different varieties, peat is a great ally in the incorporation of nutrients to the roots. However, we also need to combine this substrate with a fertilizer program with irrigation, which we will discuss later.
The contributions of organic matter or compost benefit the accumulation of humidity and fertility. Therefore, it is not advisable to use high amounts of inert substrates such as vermiculite or perlite, since although some of them retain moisture well, they do not provide nutrients to the plant, and it forces us to depend more on the continued supply of fertilizers.
The philodendron lives in areas with high rainfall and relative humidity. For this reason, all the species that represent this genus are used to growing with continuously moistened soils or substrates.
The waterings must have a sufficient frequency that allows to maintain a stable humidity in the substrate, preventing it from drying out before the next watering.
In summer, we will water 1 or 2 times a week, and in winter, with 1 watering per week or 1 every 10 days will be enough, since the losses of water due to evaporation inside the house are lower.
In any case, we recommend, before the next watering, insert your finger and test the humidity of the substrate , to calculate the amount of water you really need.
Although the philodendron grown with stable temperature produces new leaves and stems throughout the year, starting in spring it increases its production considerably. At this stage is when it is advisable to provide fertilizers through irrigation, keeping it that way throughout the summer.
To prevent it from overgrowing or accumulating many salts in the substrate, it is recommended during spring and summer to provide 1 irrigation out of 3 with fertilizer. For this, we can look for fertilizers to plant greens , that is, for those species that do not have flowering or fruits, where nutrients such as nitrogen, magnesium or iron are very important.
To avoid excessive concentration of salts, it is advisable to add between 1 and 2 ml of fertilizer for each liter of water. We recommend a higher dose in the first irrigation contributions in spring and gradually reduce it during the summer.
A common way to form new philodendron plants from a stem of another plant is by using cuttings . This operation is recommended to be done in spring and summer, selecting a stem that we will place in an inert substrate such as coconut fiber or vermiculite, since they retain moisture very well, so that we stimulate root production more quickly.
To speed up the process, you can also find products based on rooting hormones, especially based on auxins, such as seaweed .
PLAGUES AND DISEASES
Inside the house, problems related to pests and diseases are much less likely. Quite the contrary to balcony plants, which we mistakenly think will suffer the same fate.
The philodendron, being a plant that continuously emits new stems, especially in spring, with many tender parts, is a delicacy for many sucking organisms such as spider mites , whiteflies , mealybugs or aphids .
If we have any problem of this type, taking advantage of the fact that in the hottest months (where the presence of these insects tends to increase), we must spray the leaves to increase the humidity, we can introduce a mildly aggressive product such as potassium soap , vinegar or oil of neem .
Against spider mites, the hydrogen peroxide that we have at home also works very well, as it has a great oxidizing power. We can use a dose of 2 ml per liter of water (2 ml / L), but we must apply it quickly, since in contact with water (10 to 20 minutes), in a short time it loses all its potential.
Among the products related to philodendron cultivation , we recommend choosing a substrate rich in peat or organic matter, fertilizer for green plants and potassium soap, which will allow us to control any pest that may appear sporadically.