Philodendron is a hardy and a forgiving houseplant that is hard to go wrong with. It is an excellent plant, to begin with if you are planning to grow some houseplants for the first time. But before you get started, consider gathering some knowledge about the plant so that you don’t make a mistake.
The philodendron comes from Central and South America’s tropical rainforests and demands warm temperatures and high humidity levels. The best way to keep your philodendron happy is to mimic the conditions that it is used to in its natural habitat.
You must avoid overwatering or over-fertilization that can cause severe damages to the plant. The care of the philodendrons will also depend on the seasons.
Now, let’s discuss some tips that can help you grow your philodendron without any worry. Reading these tips will give you a clear idea of the philodendron’s requirements and how you must care for them, so it never faces any challenge.
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10 tips for taking care of a philodendron
Here are some tips for you to take better care of your philodendron plant.
1. The lighting requirement can depend on the species of your philodendron
Philodendrons are versatile plants that can adapt to different lighting conditions. If you are looking for a plant that can grow in low light conditions, philodendrons might be the plant you need.
There are different species of philodendrons, but all of them can be divided into two main categories, vining and non-climbing. Vining philodendrons can thrive even in low light conditions, but non-climbing ones require bright indirect light.
If you want a thriving philodendron even in low light, opt for the popular Heart-leaf philodendron. This is a vining plant that will look great on a hanging basket.
However, we would suggest you provide medium to bright indirect light to your philodendron plant so that you can see consistent growth in the plant. This will also allow the soil to dry on time and prevent bacterial, fungal, or pest attacks on your philodendron.
But there is one thing you must be careful of: you must not expose your philodendron to direct sunlight.
The philodendrons hide under the tropical canopies in the tropical forests to protect themselves from the direct sun and enjoy dappled sunlight. They are no different from houseplants.
So, you must place your philodendron near a window that gets sufficient indirect light for the philodendron. You can use blinds to filter the direct sunlight or place the plant at a distance from the window.
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2. Rotate the philodendron, so it gets light on all sides
I think many houseplant owners often overlook this. But even this little action can save your philodendron from a lot of problems.
If you don’t rotate your philodendron, it will not get light on all sides. You might find that the plant is leaning to one side, and it can become so off-balanced that it can even fall over.
So, rotating is not something you should neglect if you want a plant that looks even on all sides. However, the rotation can depend on various factors.
If your philodendron is getting moderate indirect light, but the light exposure is only on one side, you must rotate it frequently. If you don’t do that, the plant will lean towards one side and lose foliage on the side that doesn’t get sufficient light.
Your philodendron can also get leggy on the side that receives less light.
Rotate the philodendron to 90-degrees at least once a month so that all the foliage is exposed to balanced light.
3. Do not allow the soil to go bone dry!
Although philodendrons do not enjoy sitting in soggy soil with excess water, it also doesn’t enjoy dried up soil.
While waiting for the soil to dry before you can water your philodendron again, remember that you can water the plant if the soil is 50-75% dry. If you follow this, the soil will never get bone dry.
The soil should hold some amount of moisture all the time. Before you water the philodendron, check the top one or two layers of the soil. If it feels dry, you must water the plant.
Philodendrons do not enjoy heavy soil mix as that will remain soggy instead of moist. Select a soil that is loose and supports proper drainage of water. A peat-based soil with some perlite added to it would be perfect for your philodendron.
If you are using a heavy potting mix, add some chunky elements to make it well-draining. You can add light compost to the soil as well.
4. You can grow your philodendron in water
Philodendron species like Heart-leaf philodendron or velvetleaf vine can grow in water permanently.
You can propagate your philodendron by taking a 6-inch long cutting from the plant. You must ensure that the cutting is healthy, or else the propagation might fail.
Use sharp and sterilized gardening shears to make a clean cut below a set of leaves.
Make sure that there are bare leaf nodes on the stem. You can do it yourself by pinching two or three leaf sets.
Now take the cutting and place it in a glass jar filled with clean water. The bare leaf nodes should be submerged in water, and the upper leaves should remain above the glass jar.
You must change the water every 3-4 days as the cutting requires clean water to grow roots. You might see roots coming out within two weeks.
There is no need to take the plant out from the jar after the roots have grown. Let it remain and grow in that jar. Keep changing the water after few days and place the jar near a window that gets indirect sunlight.
Keep the jar away from direct sunlight. If the window gets direct sunlight, you can use curtains or blinds to filter that light.
5. Philodendrons require high humidity levels
Philodendrons are tropical plants, and tropical plants are used to high humidity that boosts their growth in their native land. Therefore, these plants will require more humidity than most other plants.
If you can maintain high humidity levels inside the house with a humidifier and some misting, your philodendron will thrive with shiny foliage and show a lot of growth.
Misting also helps to remove dust from the leaves that allow the pores to open up and photosynthesize better.
Try to maintain a humidity range of 65-80% to keep your philodendron happy. It is entirely okay if the humidity levels drop below 55% during nighttime.
Philodendrons can tolerate different ranges of humidity levels. It will depend on the plant. While some plants will tolerate even 40% humidity levels, some will start curling if the humidity levels drop below 70%.
Observe your philodendron to understand its humidity requirements and adjust the humidifier accordingly.
You can place the philodendron in the kitchen or bathroom to increase the plant’s humidity levels if you don’t have a humidifier.
If you have a Heartleaf philodendron, you can place it in the bathroom. It can tolerate low light, so it will not face any challenges there.
There are other ways to increase the humidity, such as using a pebble tray, grouping with humidity-loving plants in the house, or keeping the plant near an aquarium if there’s one in the house.
You can also place few bowls of water near the philodendron. As the water evaporates from the bowls, it will add moisture around the plant.
6. Provide deep watering to your philodendron
The water requirement of the philodendron can depend on various other factors such as temperature, humidity, season, etc.
However, you can water the philodendron once every ten days as a rule of thumb.
Many houseplant owners make the mistake of watering lightly and frequently. This will not support proper growth as the plant requires water in all parts of the roots.
Watering lightly will not allow the water to reach the deepest roots, and the plant will not absorb enough water or nutrients.
On the other hand, if you water frequently, you might end up overwatering the philodendron, which is something it doesn’t enjoy at all.
Whenever you water your philodendron, water it thoroughly to let the water reach even the deepest roots and moisten the soil properly. Water till you see water dripping out of the drainage holes.
After giving the philodendron a good soak, wait for the top layers of the soil to dry out, and then you can water again.
You should avoid watering the philodendron if the soil is still wet.
7. Keep the philodendron away from cold drafts and heat sources
If you want to see consistent growth in your philodendron, you must take care of the temperature. All you need is to understand its requirements and maintain the correct temperature levels in the house.
Philodendrons do well in temperatures between 60-75°F But you must also make sure that the plant is not exposed to cold drafts or excess heat.
If you have a vining philodendron hanging from the ceiling in a hanging basket, it will require more water when the temperatures are high. These plants will experience higher temperatures closer to the ceiling, so they will need more watering.
You must not place the philodendron on the windowsills. Windowsills can have temperature fluctuations which are not suitable for any houseplant. During summer, the windowsills can get a lot of heat, while it can get chilly in winter.
You must not place the philodendron near heaters or open fires as it can make the plant dry and burn the plant’s leaves.
So, an ideal spot where the philodendron will experience the correct temperature levels is a few feet away from the window and away from the heaters.
8. You must keep your philodendron hydrated even when you are not in the house
Philodendron is not a succulent that can survive long periods without water, so if you don’t want to lose your dear philodendron when you are on vacation, you must find a way to keep it hydrated.
You can use the easy sink method by filling your kitchen sink with water. Next, you can place a towel or capillary mat on the draining board of the sink. Make sure that one end of the mat or towel is in the winter.
Now place the philodendron on top of the wet mat or towel. The drainage holes should be touching the mat or towel. This way, the roots will get moisture through the drainage holes that absorb the wet mat’s moisture.
Another way of keeping your philodendron hydrated is by using a water bottle. Prepare the water bottle by cutting the bottom of it. Make a little hole on the cap of the water bottle with the help of a hot skewer.
Screw the cap on the water bottle and insert the bottle inside the soil. Fill the bottle with water.
When you are away, the water will slowly drip inside the soil and provide moisture. The excess water will drain out of the drainage holes. Ensure that the drainage holes are working well, as any blockage can make the soil soggy.
9. Feed the philodendron with a well-balanced fertilizer
A well-nourished philodendron will display a lot of growth. If you give it the proper nutrition, it will reward you with healthy growth.
The three main ingredients of fertilizer are Nitrogen, Phosphorus, and Potassium. Nitrogen promotes healthy leaf growth, Phosphorus helps the roots grow and develop, and Potassium helps grow flowers and fruits.
Choosing a balance of the three is the best for your philodendron. You can opt for a 10:10:10 or 20:20:20 liquid fertilizer.
You can apply a diluted dose once a month from spring to early fall. Diluting the fertilizer will ensure that your philodendron is not getting an overdose.
Avoid fertilizing in winter as that is the dormant period when the plant rests.
10. Repotting and pruning your philodendron
Repotting is essential when you have a root-bound plant or waterlogged soil. However, repotting after every few years becomes necessary as the soil loses its capacity to hold nutrients.
You must prune the damaged parts of the plant and repot in a fresh soil mix to rejuvenate your philodendron. Use a pot with drainage holes.
Consider pruning the philodendron during late winter so that the plant can grow throughout the other seasons.
Pruning will boost the growth hormone, eliminate the damaged parts, and control the overgrowth of the plant. Pruning will keep your philodendron in shape and make it aesthetically pleasing.