Houseplants

Philodendron: tips for planting and caring for the tree lover

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The Philodendron is very easy to care for and also forgives small maintenance mistakes. However, in order for it to prosper, there are a few things you should consider.

© lucysavi / stock.adobe.com

Philodendron is a species-rich plant species that is at home in the rainforest. The climbing plants impress with their thick, glossy leaves and interesting leaf shapes. As a houseplant, the philodendron is extremely frugal and undemanding. This also earned the plants the nickname "bachelor plant". Even if the philodendron forgives one or two maintenance mistakes, the basic planting and care tips should be known to every room gardener.

Particularities

The philodendron belongs to the family of the arum family and occurs in about 250 species. The home of the plants, also known as tree friends, is in the tropical rainforests of South America and the Caribbean.

There the lianas twist along the tree tops and with their aerial roots find a secure hold on the tree bark. The air roots are able to absorb nutrients and moisture. The nutrient requirement is mainly covered by the main root, which is anchored in the ground.

Philodendron as a houseplant

As houseplants, heights of three to four meters are reached. A climbing aid is a prerequisite for the species-appropriate cultivation of the tropical climbing plant. For some small-leaved species, the placement in hanging baskets has proven itself.

Philodendrons are not only attractive houseplants, they can also help to improve the indoor climate. Toxins such as benzene or formaldehyde are filtered out of the air.

Is Philodendron Toxic?

Most species release toxins when consumed. If in doubt, cat owners in particular should seek advice from a veterinarian. Cats have a habit of nibbling on houseplants. The toxins can cause kidney damage.

An overview of some pretty varieties

The species-rich plant species gives the hobby gardener a lot of variety. Climbing and non-climbing species with large, striking or rather small and filigree leaves ensure exceptional eye-catchers in the living room.

varietyheightparticularities
Philodendron bipennifoliumto three meters
  • fast growing
  • heart-shaped leaves that grow longer with age
  • strong stems
Philodendron bipinnatifidumabout a meter
  • no climbing plant
  • arrow-shaped leaves
  • short, thick trunk
Philodendron erubescensabout two meters
  • needs climbing aid
  • shiny leaves
  • Stem purple
Philodendron laciniatumabout 1.5 meters
  • slowly growing
  • long petioles
  • shiny leaves
Philodendron imbeabout three meters
  • fast growing
  • thin leaves
  • Stems often discolored reddish

Choose the right philodendron

The most beautiful climbing plants

  • Philodendron laciniatum
  • Philodendron imbe
  • Philodendron elegans
  • Philodendron bipennifolium

The most beautiful upright growing species

  • Philodendron bipinnatifidium
  • Philodendron selloum
  • Philodendron Xanadu
  • Philodendron atom

Plant philodendron

Find the right location

Only the Philodendron bipinnatifidum
can go outside in summer - © settapong / stock.adobe.com

The jungle plant feels comfortable in a bright but not full sun location. Especially the bright midday sun should be avoided. The plants also manage in unfavorable locations. If the stand is too dark, however, the growth form of the leaves suffers and the intensive leaf green is lost.

Tip: If the location is too shady, the plants develop long shoots with small and widely spaced leaves.

The philodendron should receive sunlight for at least two to three hours a day. This can be achieved if the plants are positioned about five meters from the south window, four meters from the west or east window and three meters from the north-facing window.

Since there is usually a relatively low level of humidity in closed living rooms, the jungle plants should be sprayed regularly.

Outdoor cultivation is only recommended for Philodendron bipinnatifidum. This species can move to a bright and partially shaded spot in the garden and on the terrace in summer. All other species are cultivated all year round as houseplants and are less able to cope with the cool night temperatures in our latitudes.

Shortly:

    • bright
    • partial shade
    • airy
    • wet

Choose the ideal substrate

The tree lover needs a nutrient-rich and loose substrate. The soil should be well drained. The irrigation water must be able to drain freely.

The ideal substrate consists of potting soil, compost, peat and leaves. You can also get a suitable soil if potting soil is mixed with coconut fibers in a 1: 1 ratio.

Shortly:

    • relaxed
    • permeable
    • nutritious

Planting a Philodendron - step by step

1. Select location
2. Prepare the substrate
3. Adjust the planter
4. Create drainage in the bottom of the vessel
Pour in soil 6. Insert the plant
7. Fill the substrate completely
8. Attach climbing aid
9. Press the substrate well
10. Water the plant

The Philodendron can be repotted immediately after purchase. The soil is often of poor quality or the plants have already completely rooted the planters. The chosen plant pot should be of sufficient size, then it will have to be repotted less frequently and it is sufficient to apply a fresh layer of soil every now and then and to upgrade the substrate.

The climbing plants need a climbing aid. The aerial roots need a firm hold, which they cannot find on dry plant sticks or branches. It is therefore advisable to provide the trellis with a layer of sphagnum (swamp moss).

Initially, the shoots can be tied to the growth aid. The sphagnum should be sprayed with water every day so that the aerial roots can find a hold.

Tip: Use sufficient height climbing aids. An extension afterwards is difficult.

Cultivate Philodendron

Water the philodendron properly

Spray Philodendron with water at least once a week - © SPINOKIM / stock.adobe.com Although the water consumption of the jungle inhabitant is quite low, the plants must not dry out under any circumstances. Pouring requires a bit of sensitivity. The plants are sensitive to excess water. It should therefore be irrigated rather sparingly. If the floor is slightly dry, you can water again.

The bale should always be kept moist. Bale dryness, waterlogging and a heavy, permanently moist soil are not tolerated.

Tip: It is best to use warm rainwater for watering the philodendron.

The regular spraying of the jungle plant should not be forgotten. Depending on the location and the prevailing climatic conditions, spraying takes place weekly to daily.

Shortly:

    • regularly
    • moderate
    • Avoid dry bales
    • Avoid waterlogging
    • spray frequently

Fertilize the philodendron properly

During the growing season, the plants need conventional liquid fertilizer for green plants once a week. The dosage must be adjusted to the moderate nutritional requirements of the philodendron. Over-fertilization should be avoided. No fertilizer is required between November and March.

Shortly:

    • moderate nutritional needs
    • Liquid fertilizer during the growing season
    • no fertilization necessary in winter

Cut Philodendron

Under suitable site conditions, it is not uncommon for the philodendron to literally grow over its owners' heads. The plants tolerate pruning and shoots that have become too long can be shortened at any time between spring and late summer.

Depending on the nature of the drives, different cutting tools are used:

    • young shoots = knife
    • woody shoots = secateurs
    • thick woody shoots = pruning shears or saws

It is important that the cutting tools are sharp so that the interfaces heal as quickly as possible and that crushed and torn cutting edges do not damage the plant.

Multiply philodendron

The plant can be propagated by cuttings and sowing. The non-climbing species can only be propagated by sowing.

Propagation by cutting

© SPINOKIM / stock.adobe.com Propagation by cuttings is ideal for climbing plants. These can be cut below a leaf knot. A cutting should be about 20 centimeters long. All lower sheets are removed. If they came into contact with the substrate, the cutting could threaten to rot.

The cuttings are placed in a peat-sand mixture. To accelerate the shoot, the planters should be covered with a plastic cover. The plant pots are set up bright but not sunny.

If the propagation is successful, the first new shoots should appear after three to four weeks. The plastic cover can now be removed. The young plants are irrigated sparingly and can receive a weak fertilizer every month.

After about half a year, the plants have developed sufficiently and can move to a larger planter.

Tip: For small-leaved species, it is advantageous to put several young plants in one planter. The philodendron then appears denser and bushier.

Propagation by seeds

Proceed as follows when growing from seeds:

1. Provide the planting bowl
2. Prepare growing soil
3. Spread the seeds on the substrate
4. Cover seeds with soil
5. Place the planting bowl in a bright and warm place
6. Wait for germination

A peat-sand mixture is also suitable as a substrate. The seeds are placed about one centimeter deep in the soil and should germinate within a few weeks at temperatures between 24 and 27 degrees. From a height of five centimeters, the seedlings can be pricked off and moved to separate planters.

Diseases and pests

In general, the plants are hardly susceptible to diseases and pests.

Occasionally, the following pests were observed:

  • spider mite
  • mealybugs
  • Scale insects
  • thrips

The spider mites can be easily identified in the bulges of the leaf margins. When spraying the plant with water, the webs can be seen particularly clearly. If the webs reminiscent of small cotton balls appear on the leaves, it is probably an infection with mealybugs or mealybugs.

Scale insects are often overlooked because they have adapted very well to the leaf color. On closer inspection, however, the bulges of the small back armor can be clearly seen. If philodendrons are haunted by thrips, the otherwise robust plants quickly lose vitality and the infected leaves die off.

Hibernate philodendron

No special precautions need to be taken when overwintering the plants. The tropical plants are left in the warm living room all year round and do not require a special resting phase.

Tip: The species Philodendron bipinnatifidum is an exception. This plant prefers temperatures of around twelve degrees between November and March.

In the low-light period, the plants significantly slow down their growth. The nutrient requirement is correspondingly lower.

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