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Our Plant Care: Philodendron

Philodendrons are some of the easiest houseplants to grow and care for. If you're looking for a low-maintenance indoor plant, consider a philodendron. The Philodendron genus contains hundreds of species of beautiful foliage plants. Their leaves are typically large, green, and glossy, adding a bit of their native tropical flair to your home. There are two types of philodendrons: vining and non-climbing plants.

The vining variety grows several feet, usually requiring some support structure to climb on, such as a trellis or around a basket. Non-climbing types have an upright growth habit and are excellent foliage plants for containers. In general, philodendrons have a fast growth rate. They’re best planted in the spring, but houseplants typically can be started with success at any time of year.


Light

Set the plant in a location with bright, indirect sunlight. Find a position near a window where the sun’s rays never actually touch the foliage. While it’s normal for older leaves to yellow, if this happens to several leaves at the same time, the plant may be getting too much light. On the other hand, if the stems are long and leggy with several inches between leaves, the plant probably isn’t getting enough light.


Water

When growing philodendron plants, allow the top inch (2.5 cm.) of soil to dry out between waterings. The length of your index finger to the first knuckle is about an inch (2.5 cm.), so inserting your finger into the soil is a good way to check the moisture level. Droopy leaves can mean that the plant is getting too much or not enough water. But the leaves recover quickly when you correct the watering schedule.


Keep your plant’s leaves looking and functioning their best by regularly wiping them off with a damp cloth.


Food

Feed your philodendron houseplants with FabGardenMama Organic Fertiliser, a balanced liquid foliage houseplant fertiliser, that contains macro-nutrients. Water the plant with the fertiliser monthly in spring and summer and every six to eight weeks in fall and winter.

Slow growth and small leaf size is the plant’s way of telling you that it isn’t getting enough fertiliser. Pale new leaves usually indicate that the plant isn’t getting enough calcium and magnesium, which are essential micro-nutrients for philodendrons.


Soil

Philodendrons like loose potting soil that’s rich in organic matter. The soil must have good drainage. For container plants, it’s recommended to replace your philodendron’s soil every couple of years or so. These plants are sensitive to salts that accumulate in the soil via watering, which can cause leaf browning and yellowing. You can periodically flush out some of the salts by watering your container thoroughly until water comes out of its drainage holes. But eventually, the soil will need refreshing.


Pruning

If your philodendron vines get too long or leggy, cut them back using sterilized pruning shears or scissors. The best time to do this is in the spring or summer. You can safely give your philodendron a light trim any time of year to remove yellowing leaves and trim spindly growth. It's best to cut just above a leaf node. Take your stem cuttings and use them for propagation.


These plants don’t have any serious issues with pests or diseases. But they can be susceptible to common houseplant pests, including aphids, mealybugs, scale, thrips, and spider mites. Treat pests with a natural insecticidal soap or horticultural oil.


Is My Plant a Pothos or a Philodendron?

Philodendron houseplants are often confused with pothos plants. While the leaves of these two plants are similar in shape, the stems of pothos plants are grooved, while those of philodendrons are not. New philodendron leaves emerge surrounded by a leaf sheath, which eventually dries and falls off. Pothos leaves don’t have this sheath. Pothos also need brighter light and warmer temperatures and are frequently sold in hanging baskets.


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