Types of Philodendron

Philodendrons are a diverse and fascinating group of plants, with approximately 500 species found within the Araceae family. They are native to tropical regions, and their striking beauty and adaptability have made them a popular choice for indoor and outdoor gardening enthusiasts alike. Whether climbing or upright, these plants offer an impressive array of shapes, sizes, and colours that can transform any space into a lush, green haven.

The various types of philodendrons can be broadly categorised into two groups: upright and climbing. Upright philodendrons are known for their bushy appearance, with large, imposing leaves that grow straight upwards. In contrast, climbing philodendrons are admired for their trailing vines, which can be grown in hanging baskets or allowed to climb up walls and trellises. Some popular varieties include the heartleaf philodendron, pink princess, lemon lime, and atabapoense, each with its own unique characteristics.

To identify and grow the perfect philodendron for your home or garden, it is essential to understand the plant’s specific needs and preferences. Factors like light, humidity, and soil composition all play a role in determining the success of a philodendron, making it the perfect opportunity to delve deeper into these captivating plants. In the following sections, we will explore the many philodendron cultivars, their unique traits, and tips for optimal care.

Popular Philodendrons

In this section, we’ll explore some popular Philodendron varieties. These plants are known for their striking appearance and relatively easy care requirements.

Philodendron Pink Princess

The Philodendron Pink Princess is a gorgeous and highly sought-after variety of philodendrons. Its distinctive, dark green leaves are splashed with patches of pink, making it a showstopper in any collection. This plant enjoys bright, indirect light and well-draining soil. Keep the soil relatively moist, but avoid overwatering as this can lead to root rot.

Philodendron Brasil

Another popular type is the Philodendron Brasil, which is an attractive, low-maintenance variety. Its heart-shaped leaves sport green and yellow variegation, giving it an eye-catching appearance. The Brasil prefers indirect sunlight and can adapt to various lighting conditions. It’s an excellent choice for hanging baskets or trellis displays, as it has a natural vining growth habit. When it comes to water, this plant thrives in well-draining soil and requires moderate watering.

Philodendron Black Cardinal

The Philodendron Black Cardinal is a stunning option for those looking for a more unique choice. With its large, dark leaves that appear almost black, this plant adds drama and elegance to any space. It prefers medium to bright, indirect light but is relatively more tolerant of lower light conditions than other varieties. For best growth, ensure that the soil remains moist but well-draining. Over time, the Black Cardinal will develop an arboreal structure, giving it a stunning tree-like appearance.

Types of Philodendron - Black Cardinal

Climbing and Non-Climbing Philodendrons

Philodendrons can be broadly categorised into two types: climbing and non-climbing. In this section, the focus will be on these two categories, discussing the characteristics of each and providing examples.

Climbing Philodendrons

Climbing philodendrons are known for their vining and trailing habits, making them excellent for decorating walls, shelves, or hanging baskets. These plants often have heart-shaped leaves, and their stems can be easily trained to climb on poles, stakes, or other supports. Some popular climbing philodendron varieties include:

  • Heartleaf Philodendron: a low-maintenance, lush houseplant with heart-shaped leaves and vining stems
  • Philodendron erubescens: a robust climbing variety with large, emerald-green leaves; also known as blushing philodendron due to reddish shades on the back of its leaves

Types of Philodendron - Climbing Philodendron

Non-Climbing Philodendrons

On the other hand, non-climbing philodendrons are typically more upright, growing as large shrubs with big leaves and sturdy, self-supporting trunks. They do not trail or climb like their counterparts and can be more suitable for use as floor decorations due to their size and structure. Some common non-climbing philodendron varieties are:

  • Philodendron Xanadu: an upright, non-climbing variety with large, split leaves and deep lobes; it can grow up to 3 ft (1 m) in height and have a spread of around 6 ft (2 m) outdoors
  • Burle Marx: a non-climbing variety known for its distinctive foliage
  • Philodendron Prince of Orange: a compact, non-climbing variety with orange-toned leaves
  • Lacy Tree Philodendron (Philodendron Bipinnatifidum, aka Philodendron Selloum): a non-climber with large, lobed leaves, often used as an outdoor or indoor focal point

Whether you prefer the vining aesthetic of climbing philodendrons or the sturdier presence of non-climbing varieties, there is a type to suit your preferences and available space. Considering these differences helps you choose the perfect philodendron for your garden or indoor space.

Philodendron Care

Philodendrons are easy-to-grow houseplants suitable for various indoor settings.

Light Requirements

Philodendrons thrive in indirect light, making them ideal for indoor spaces. Place your plant near a window with filtered sunlight, as direct sunlight may cause the leaves to yellow or burn. Some species can adapt to lower light conditions, but providing adequate light ensures healthy growth.

Watering and Humidity Needs

  • Watering: Philodendrons should be watered when the top 2.5 cm (1 inch) of soil feels dry. Over-watering can lead to root rot, while under-watering may cause wilting. It’s essential to strike a balance and adjust your watering schedule according to the season.
  • Humidity: These tropical plants prefer medium to high humidity levels. You can maintain the humidity around the plant by misting the leaves regularly, placing a tray filled with water and pebbles near the plant, or using a humidifier.

Temperature Preferences

Philodendrons grow best in temperatures ranging from 18°C to 27°C (65°F to 80°F). Avoid placing the plant near cold drafts, air-conditioning vents, or heaters, as extreme temperature fluctuations can harm the plant. Ensure the temperature stays above 12°C (55°F) to avoid causing stress to the plant.

Soil and Fertilising

  • Soil: A well-draining potting mix is necessary for healthy philodendron growth. You can use a standard houseplant soil mix and add perlite or orchid bark to improve drainage and aeration.
  • Fertilising: Feed your philodendron with a balanced 3-2-1 houseplant foliage fertiliser once a month during the growing season. Avoid fertilising during winter months when the plant’s growth slows down.

Pruning and Propagation

  • Pruning: Regular pruning is crucial to maintain the shape and size of your philodendron, especially for vining types. Remove any yellow, brown, or damaged leaves and trim back long, leggy stems during spring.
  • Propagation: Philodendrons can be easily propagated through stem cuttings. Simply take a cutting with at least one node and place the cut end in water or moist soil until new roots form. Once the roots are well-established, plant the cutting in a pot with well-draining soil.

Unusual Philodendron Varieties

Philodendron White Knight

The Philodendron White Knight is one of the rarer philodendron varieties known for its striking dark green and white variegated leaves. This plant can add a touch of elegance and drama to any indoor space. The White Knight is a climbing plant, making it ideal for use with a support structure like a moss pole or trellis. To properly care for this unusual philodendron, it’s crucial to provide it with:

  • Bright, indirect sunlight
  • Well-draining soil
  • Consistent moisture
  • Moderate to high humidity

Philodendron Imperial Green

Moving on to the Philodendron Imperial Green, this variety is admired for its lush, large leaves and compact growth habit. Its stunning, glossy leaves can create an attractive focal point in any room. The Imperial Green is an excellent choice for those looking for a low-maintenance houseplant that still provides visual interest. To promote healthy growth, ensure the following care requirements are met:

  • Bright, indirect light
  • Rich, well-draining soil
  • Regular watering to maintain consistent soil moisture
  • Moderate humidity levels

Philodendron Grazielae

Lastly, the Philodendron Grazielae is a unique variety with small, heart-shaped leaves that grow in a compact, bushy habit. This feature makes the Grazielae an excellent choice for small spaces or tabletop displays. The plant’s leaves emerge a brilliant red colour before maturing to deep green shades, adding a vibrant pop of colour to your home. To keep the Grazielae happy and thriving, provide it with:

  • Bright but not direct sunlight
  • Well-draining soil containing peat moss
  • Watering when the top layer of soil feels dry
  • Average to high humidity conditions

Types of Philodendron Leaves

Philodendrons are a diverse group of plants with nearly 500 different species, displaying a wide range of leaf shapes and colours.

Heart-Shaped Leaves

Heart-shaped foliage is commonly seen in several kinds of Philodendron plants, making them a popular choice among gardeners and plant enthusiasts. These leaves typically have a lush, jade green hue, with a smooth, glossy surface. The heartleaf Philodendron, also known as Philodendron hederaceum, is a prime example of this leaf type. It is an easy-to-grow plant that is often chosen for hanging baskets and planters due to its vining growth habit. Arrowhead Philodendron, or Philodendron hastatum, is another species that features heart-shaped leaves, but with a more pointed end, resembling an arrow tip.

Some Philodendrons with heart-shaped leaves include:

  • Heartleaf Philodendron (Philodendron hederaceum)
  • Brasil Philodendron (Philodendron hederaceum ‘Brasil’)
  • Arrowhead Philodendron (Philodendron hastatum)

Split Leaves

As the name suggests, split leaves exhibit distinct separations in the blade, creating a unique and eye-catching appearance. This classification of Philodendron leaves is often associated with the highly sought-after Monstera family. However, there are several Philodendron species with split leaves too, such as Philodendron bipinnatifidum (also known as lacy tree Philodendron) and Philodendron xanadu. These plants are characterised by large, deeply lobed leaves that can add a touch of tropical elegance to any indoor or outdoor space.

Examples of Philodendrons with split leaves are:

  • Philodendron bipinnatifidum (Lacy tree Philodendron)
  • Philodendron xanadu

Philodendron Pests and Toxicity

Common Pests

Philodendrons are susceptible to various pests, which may cause significant damage. Some of the common pests that attack philodendrons include:

  • Aphids: Small, sap-sucking insects that can cause leaf yellowing, distortion, and stunting. They can also transmit viruses to the plants, leading to further damage.
  • Mealybugs: These tiny, white, and cottony insects often dwell on the undersides of leaves and can cause plant weakening and sometimes transmit plant diseases.
  • Scales: Small, oval insects that are often found on leaves and stems. They feed on plant sap, causing weakening, yellowing, and potentially dieback.
  • Spider mites: Microscopic insects that live on the undersides of leaves and can cause leaf damage, a dull appearance, and sometimes webbing on the plant.

Regular inspection of your philodendron is essential to detect early signs of pests and take prompt action to prevent their spread.

Toxicity to Humans and Pets

Philodendrons are toxic to both humans and pets, as they contain calcium oxalate crystals. The following toxicity-related information is crucial for owners to be aware of:

  • Toxic parts: All parts of the philodendron plant, including leaves, stems, and roots, are toxic to most animals, such as dogs, cats, horses, and birds, and even humans.
  • Symptoms: Ingestion of any part of the plant can cause symptoms such as mouth irritation, swelling of the tongue and throat, excessive drooling, vomiting, and difficulty swallowing. Skin contact may also lead to itching, rash, or dermatitis.
  • Precaution: Keep philodendrons out of reach of children and pets to avoid accidental ingestion. Consider placing your plant on high shelves or hanging them from the ceiling, and make sure to handle them with care when trimming or repotting to avoid skin contact.

It’s essential to regularly inspect your philodendron plants for any signs of pests and to take prompt action if any are discovered. Understanding the plant’s toxicity to humans and pets is crucial for ensuring a safe environment for everyone.

Rare and Variegated Philodendrons

Philodendrons are a diverse group of plants with over 500 species, some of which are rare and highly sought after by plant enthusiasts. In this section, we explore three such rare and variegated Philodendron varieties: Philodendron Birkin, Philodendron Melanochrysum, and Philodendron Silver Sword.

Philodendron Birkin

Philodendron Birkin is a striking variety known for its unique variegation. The leaves of this plant showcase a blend of dark green and ivory-white pinstripes, giving it a sophisticated appearance. As the plant matures, the variegation becomes more prominent and well-defined.

To care for a Philodendron Birkin, provide it with:

  • Bright, indirect light
  • Well-draining soil
  • Moderate humidity

It’s essential to avoid overwatering, as this can lead to root rot. Allow the top few centimetres of soil to dry out between waterings.

Philodendron Melanochrysum

Philodendron Melanochrysum, also known as the Black Gold Philodendron, boasts velvety, dark-green leaves with a metallic sheen. This rare variety can grow quite large, with mature leaves reaching up to 90 centimetres in length.

To keep a Philodendron Melanochrysum happy, ensure it has:

  • Bright, indirect light (avoid direct sun)
  • Aerial support or a stake to climb on
  • High humidity levels

Maintaining consistent moisture in the soil is also crucial for this particular variety. Make sure not to let the soil become too dry.

Philodendron Silver Sword

The Philodendron Silver Sword, sometimes referred to as Philodendron hastatum, is known for its elongated, arrow-shaped leaves in an intriguing shade of silvery-blue. This variety is an epiphyte, meaning it naturally grows on trees, making it an excellent choice for a hanging basket or as a climbing plant.

For optimal growth, provide the Silver Sword with:

  • Bright, indirect light
  • A well-draining potting mix
  • Medium to high humidity levels

Similar to other Philodendron varieties, avoid overwatering the Silver Sword – allow the top portion of the soil to dry out between waterings.

Frequently Asked Questions

How many varieties of philodendrons are there?

There are over 480 known philodendron types, with many species showcasing unique appearances and growth habits.

What are the common varieties of philodendron?

Some common varieties include the Heartleaf Philodendron (Philodendron Hederaceum), which is well-known for its trailing vines and heart-shaped leaves, making it popular for hanging baskets. Another common variety is the climbing type, such as the Philodendron Brasil, that can be trained to grow around windows or poles.

How can I tell what type of philodendron I have?

To identify your philodendron, examine its leaves and stems. Look for long, lance-shaped, deep green leaves, with any markings or spots present. The stem should be green and smooth, often featuring aerial roots.

Which philodendron species grow the quickest?

The Philodendron ‘Cordatum’, or Heartleaf Philodendron, is known to be a fast grower. Its vining growth habit and deep green, heart-shaped leaves make it an attractive and low-maintenance choice for many indoor gardeners.

What are the care requirements for different philodendrons?

Philodendrons generally require moderate to bright indirect light, well-drained soil, and a humid environment. However, care requirements may vary slightly depending on the specific species. It’s best to research your plant’s type to ensure you provide optimal care.

How do the different philodendrons look?

Philodendrons showcase a wide range of appearances, varying in leaf shape, size, and colour. Their growth habits can range from trailing vines to upright and climbing forms. Some species might have large, lobed, or split leaves, while others can have smaller, heart-shaped, or lanceolate leaves.

Which philodendrons are best for beginners?

The Heartleaf Philodendron, known for its low-maintenance and adaptable nature, is an excellent choice for beginners. This variety can tolerate varying light levels and requires minimal pruning. Its trailing growth habit also makes it a beautiful addition to any indoor space.