Total Philodendron Genus Guide

29 Jan 2022

The philodendron is an extremely popular plant and if you’re a new houseplant owner then this is one of the best ones to start growing.

In this guide, we’ll describe exactly what you need to know to grow a thriving and healthy philodendron.

Main Features

The philodendron is native to tropical areas in Central America and South America. It belongs to the Araceae family and there are two main categories of philodendron; vines and non-climbers.

It is regarded as a highly adaptable and hardy houseplant that can withstand environmental changes. This low-maintenance houseplant is also an evergreen perennial so its leaves will remain glossy and green year-round.

It is a popular houseplant not only because it’s simple to care for but its bright, bold and beautiful foliage makes for a great decorative piece. There is a variety of philodendrons, so you can choose the perfect plant for your home.

This genus is made up of hundreds of species and each sprout’s uniquely shaped and colored foliage. We’ll be discussing a few different types of philodendron below.

Fun fact: The philodendron is an air purifier that removes toxins from the air we breathe and it reduces air pollution too.

Philodendron Types

There are approximately 500 different species that make up the philodendron genus. Let’s take a look at the 10 common types below.

  • Philodendron bipinnatifidum: It is commonly known as the ‘lacy tree’ and ‘split-leaf’ philodendron. It has a tree-like and shrub appearance with sturdy stems that sprout heart-shaped, glossy, green leaves.
  • Philodendron scandens: The ‘sweetheart plant’ is a highly sought-after climber with stunning heart-shaped leaves that are often multi-colored.
  • Philodendron erubescens: It’s also referred to as the ‘blushing’ philodendron and it has waxy, dark green, and arrow-shaped leaves with a purple underside.
  • Philodendron melanochrysum: This species is nicknamed the ‘black gold’ philodendron and has velvety green leaves with intricate light green veins.
  • Philodendron cordatum: This variation’s foliage is heart-shaped with elongated and pointy tips. It is also a climber and its leaves are a dark, emerald-green color.
  • Philodendron gloriosum: This houseplant grows deep green leaves that are complemented with creamy-white veins.
  • Philodendron hederaceum: The ‘heart-shaped’ philodendron grows long vines with glossy, jade-green leaves that have a pointed tip.
  • Philodendron mamei: It has the nickname ‘silver cloud’ philodendron due to its appearance. This type of houseplant’s leaves are green in color with deep veins and are decorated with silver markings that resemble a cloud.
  • Philodendron verrucosum: Its heart-shaped foliage has prominent veins with a velvet-like texture. The top of the leaves is light green while the bottom part has a tinge of red.
  • Philodendron rojo: The ‘Congo rojo’ is a smaller hybrid that sprouts jade-green leaves atop vibrant red stems.

Fun fact: In ancient Greek ‘philo’ means love and ‘dendron’ means tree. This describes most philodendron species as they love to creep up trees.

What Does It Look Like?

A philodendron’s appearance will vary and is dependent on the species, however, they all share a few common characteristics.

Typically, it sprouts large, waxy, and green or bronze leaves that are often heart- or arrow-shaped. The new leaves will be covered by a sheath that eventually falls off as it matures.

The plant may be a vine which means that it will climb along a support structure or post placed near it. If it is a non-climbing houseplant then you can expect it to grow upright and produce a wide spread.

Philodendron vs. Pothos

The philodendron is often mistaken for the pothos houseplant. They are entirely two different plants with a few differences.

Their leaves may look similar but the pothos’ stem is grooved while the philodendron’s stem is not. The pothos leaves are also usually thicker and waxier than the philodendrons.

Unlike the pothos, the philodendron’s foliage will be surrounded by a sheath before it falls off. A final key difference is that the philodendron’s leaves are usually wider.

Philodendron vs. Monstera

This houseplant is also often mistaken for a monstera plant, however, they belong to a different family of plants and have slightly different characteristics.

The philodendron grows larger leaves with some variegation, whereas the monstera produces foliage with significant white variegation. The monstera is actually more closely related to the peace lily than the philodendron.

Another key difference is that the monstera doesn’t do as well when grown in a hanging basket and it requires more sunshine than a philodendron.

How Big Do They Get?

The size of a philodendron will vary across the different species. The average houseplant can grow up to 1 to 20 feet (30.5 – 609.6cm) tall and around 1 to 6 feet (30.5 – 182.9cm) wide.

How Fast Do They Grow?

Typically, this houseplant will grow an extra 4 inches (10cm) a week during the spring and summertime.

How Long Do They Live?

When well looked after the average philodendron will live for up to 10 to 15 years. A few experts have even managed to keep their houseplant alive for up to 30 years.


Just like the dumb cane, this houseplant contains insoluble calcium oxalates in its stem and leaves. This chemical has small needle-like structures that cause oral and skin irritation.

We’ll discuss how the plant affects both pets and people.

Are They Toxic to Cats and Dogs?

The philodendron is toxic to both cats and dogs. When ingested it can cause the following symptoms listed below.

  • Swelling of the throat
  • Excessive drooling
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • A burning sensation around the mouth

Even if your pet comes into contact with the sap, it may experience an itchy, red rash.

Please contact your vet if you suspect that your pet has eaten or touched the sap.

Are They Poisonous to Humans?

This plant’s foliage and stems are also toxic to people and can cause mild oral irritation and skin dermatitis.

Check out the list of side effects if you ingest the sap:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Swelling of the throat, tongue, and lips
  • Difficulty swallowing

You will need to seek out professional medical advice if either you or a child eats any part of this houseplant.

Philodendron - size, lifespan, toxicity, growth speed (infographics)

Philodendron Care

We’ll explore all the best practices when it comes to caring for your philodendron. When it receives the optimal care it’ll sprout glossy leaves year-round.

How Often to Water It

The philodendron prefers a slightly moist potting mixture but it shouldn’t be overwatered as it may develop root rot. Ideally, you should water it once or twice a week during the spring and summertime. In winter and autumn, you can water once every 7 or 10 days.

The best way to determine whether or not your houseplant needs to be watered is by feeling the soil. Once the top inch (2.5cm) is dry then you can water it deeply.

It is highly sensitive to being overwatered and most non-climbers are slightly drought tolerant. So you will need to allow any excess water to drip out through the drainage holes.


Philodendrons require efficient drainage as it’s susceptible to becoming waterlogged. You can ensure that excess moisture evaporates and drains out of the pot by planting it in a suitable container with lightweight soil.

A pot with drainage holes is imperative to prevent root rot and supply the necessary amount of oxygen to the roots. You can also mix in some sharp sand or gravel to enhance the soil’s ability to drain extra water.

How to Trim It

During spring or autumn, you can lightly prune your houseplant. It doesn’t require heavy or frequent trimming but it’s good to cut off any leggy, unhealthy, or overgrowing vines. It’s also important to snip off diseased growth to prevent further infection.

Follow the step-by-step guide below:

  1. You must always sterilize your pruners or pair of scissors with a rubbing alcohol mix or a diluted bleach solution.
  2. Snip off either the entire stem at the base of the main plant or cut it down to the soil line.
  3. Water your plant if needed and place it under bright sunshine.

How to Make It Fuller

You can create a fuller and bushier look by pinching off the tips of your philodendron’s vines or snipping off the leaves. If you cut off the foliage then make sure to cut it just above the leaf node. This will encourage more growth to sprout from the node.

When and How to Repot It

The philodendron should be repotted every 2 to 3 years during the springtime. When choosing the new pot it is best to go up by one size. If you increase the size too much then the plant may become waterlogged.

Here’s a quick guide on transplanting your plant:

  1. Water the houseplant a day before repotting it.
  2. Now, you can gently lift or slide the plant out of its current container.
  3. Shake it a little bit to remove some of the soil stuck to the roots.
  4. Fill the bottom of the pot with some potting mix and place the plant inside it.
  5. Add extra soil to the container so that the roots are fully covered.
  6. Pat the soil down to anchor the houseplant and place it back in its original home.

Environment Conditions

Light Needs

An indoor philodendron will thrive when placed under bright, indirect sunshine. It is best to find a bright windowsill where it can receive around 6 hours of sunlight a day.

To maintain a fast-growing and glossy houseplant, it should be positioned under direct sunlight for 2 to 3 hours a day.

If it is left to sit in a shady area it will survive, but it may produce leggy growth.

Best Soil

The plant prefers loamy and well-draining soil with a slightly acidic pH. The potting mixture must be airy while also retaining some moisture.

It flourishes in rich organic matter so you should add sphagnum moss, compost, perlite, or vermiculite to create the optimal potting mix.

Can They Grow in Water?

These houseplants can be grown in water permanently. If you opt to place it in a jar of water then you will need to provide it with fresh water every 7 to 10 days.

Additionally, the jar should only be filled up to 1 inch (2.5cm) below the rim. The water also mustn’t be too cold, so make sure it is around room temperature to avoid shocking the roots.

Best Fertilizer

Philodendrons love a well-balanced, liquid fertilizer with a ratio of 20-20-20. The fertilizer should be high in nitrogen and macro-nutrients to maintain waxy and vibrant foliage.

Ideally, you should feed it once every 2 to 4 weeks during the spring and summertime. You can reduce the number of times you fertilize it during the winter and autumn to about once every 6 to 8 weeks.

Pot Size and Type

The pot shouldn’t be too large as this will cause the plant’s roots to rot. The optimal width is about 1 to 2 inches (2.5 – 5cm) larger than the rootball’s diameter.

You can also choose between either a plastic or terracotta container. A terracotta is perfect for this houseplant as it allows for moisture to readily evaporate and drain out.

A philodendron looks fantastic when grown in a hanging basket, but make sure that a saucer is positioned underneath it. This will catch the water that drains out and prevent any damage to your furniture or floor.

Temperature Tolerance

It loves a warmer environment and is sensitive to the cold. The optimal temperature for this houseplant is between 70 and 80°F (21.1 – 26.7°C) during the daytime.

The plant shouldn’t be left in a cool room where the temperature drops below 55°F (12.8°C).

Do They Like Humidity?

The houseplant prospers in humid environments with a relative humidity level of 60 to 70 percent. If the humidity level dips below 40 percent then you will need to mist its foliage or position a humidifier near it.

Can It Grow Outside?

The philodendron flourishes when grown indoors and will do well year-round if placed under indirect sunshine and watered well.

You can only grow it outdoors if you reside in USDA hardiness zones of 9 through 11. When positioned outside you will need to mimic its native environment by placing it under dappled sunlight and watering it well.

A further consideration is the temperature at which it’s grown. The houseplant can only survive in warm regions so if the temperature drops below 55°F (12.8°C) then it must be brought inside.

Philodendron - care, water, light, pot, temperature, fertilizer (infographics)

Do They Flower?

Sadly, the philodendron rarely flowers indoors if at all. The houseplant can only bloom once it reaches its mature size during the springtime.

Typically, it will sprout a white spadix with a spathe once a year. The blooms will last for around 2 to 3 days before eventually withering away and falling off.

The houseplant doesn’t self-pollinate so if you wish to see these intricate flowers then you will need to pollinate them by hand.

How to Grow It

You can propagate a philodendron fairly easily or even plant its seeds. The best time to grow a new houseplant is during the spring and summertime as the days are longer and it’s actively growing.

We’ll go through each method of propagation below and guide you through growing a plant from seed.

Philodendron Propagation

You can grow your collection of houseplants by propagating it in either soil or water. Before attempting any of the methods listed below, you must clean your tools to prevent the spread of bacteria and disease.

Propagating in Soil

When propagating a philodendron in soil, you have a variety of methods to choose from. You can plant a stem cutting, divide the rootball, or air layer it.

Below, we’ll explain the precise process and steps required of each method.

How to Grow It from Stem Cuttings

You can grow a new philodendron by cutting off a stem and planting it in soil. Not only is it an easy method of propagation but it’s reliable too!

Check out the next guide to grow your own plant:

  1. Sterilize a pair of scissors or pruners and snip off a 6 inch (15.2cm) long stem. You will want to cut the stem below the aerial roots which sprout near the leaf node.
  2. Before planting the cutting in a pot with soil, you must cover the cut end with rooting hormone. This will encourage healthy root growth.
  3. Water the soil regularly to maintain a moist environment, and put the cutting by a bright windowsill.
  4. In around 2 to 3 weeks the cutting should have produced new growth. You can tell if you have rooted the cutting by gently pulling on it. If you feel some resistance then the roots have established themselves.
  5. You can then water and feed it as you would an adult houseplant.

This method is fairly simple and all you will need to do is slice off the pups attached to the rootball and then plant them. We’ll explain the exact process below.

  1. Water it well at least 1 day before you propagate it. This will ensure that its roots are healthy and lessen any shock experienced while separating the plantlets.
  2. Gently remove the houseplant and dust off the soil surrounding the roots.
  3. You can either separate the pup by pulling it off with your fingertips or slicing it with a knife.
  4. Prepare a new container with quick-draining potting soil and plant the division.
  5. Position the new plant in a sunny location and water it well.
  6. After 2 weeks you can then test if the roots have settled by lightly tugging on the division.
Air Layering

Air layering is a great way to propagate a creeper like a philodendron. It is a straightforward method of propagation as it only requires you to slice into a stem and pack some sphagnum moss around it.

Follow the steps below:

  1. Soak the sphagnum moss in distilled water for an hour.
  2. Use a sterilized blade and slice along the stem below the leaf node. Be careful to not remove the entire stem from the plant.
  3. Insert a toothpick into the cut area to prop it open and sprinkle rooting hormone in it.
  4. Wring the water out of the sphagnum moss and place it in and around the cut area.
  5. Now you will need to wrap clear plastic around the sphagnum moss and use some tape to secure it.
  6. Care for the mature plant as you normally would and monitor the cut area for any new root growth.
  7. Once new root growth begins to emerge, you can remove the plastic and sphagnum moss. Then cut the top section of the stem with the roots still attached to it.
  8. Repot the cutting in a new container and treat it as you would a mature houseplant.

How to Propagate Its Cuttings in Water

You can propagate a single stem cutting in a glass of water and watch its roots begin to grow within a few weeks.

Here’s a list of steps for a successful propagation:

  1. Use a sharp pair of scissors and cut a stem approximately 6 inches (15.2cm) long. Make sure to snip it off just below the aerial roots. These look like blunt thorns and usually grow close to the leaf node.
  2. Dip the cut end in rooting hormone and place it in a glass of room temperature water.
  3. Every 3 days you should fill the glass with fresh water. This will prevent any algae or bacteria from building up.
  4. Find a sunny area for the cutting and keep your eye out for root growth.
  5. In 2 weeks you should see new root growth and you can then plant it in potting soil.
  6. After transplanting it you can water it well and care for it like you did its mother plant.

Seed Planting

An entire philodendron can be grown from a tiny seed. All you’ll need to successfully plant its seeds is a tray, well-draining soil, a heating mat, and a clear plastic cover.

Let’s get started:

  1. Soak the seeds for 2 days before planting them.
  2. Fill a tray with potting soil and moisten it.
  3. Plant the seeds about 2 inches (5cm) apart and an inch (2.5cm) deep.
  4. Cover the tray with some plastic and place it on a heating mat set to 70°F (21°C). Make sure to keep the soil moist and position it in a sunny location.
  5. In 4 weeks the seeds will germinate and you can remove both the plastic bag and heating pad.
  6. When new growth emerges you can care for the seedlings as you would a mature plant.
  7. Once they’re large enough, you can repot them in their own containers.

How to Revive It

The philodendron is super simple to care for but it can become diseased or unhealthy if not adequately looked after. If your houseplant has run into a few health issues then take a look below as we explain what you’ll need to do to revive it.

Root Rot

Root rot is a common issue for many houseplants and occurs when a plant is overwatered for a prolonged period of time. Its foliage and roots may become mushy and discolored, and its growth will drastically slow down or become stunted.

If your plant hasn’t been suffering for too long then you can still revive it. The first thing you’ll need to do is stop watering it. Next, you can remove the houseplant from its container and cut off the unhealthy roots. Once the damaged areas have been removed then repot it in fresh potting soil.

Allow the plant some time to recover for a few days before watering it again.

Why Are the Leaves Turning Yellow?

The most common causes of yellow foliage are overwatering, a lack of sunshine, exposure to extreme temperatures, and a lack of nutrients.

All of these issues are easy to rectify and only require a few changes to your care regime. If the soil is very damp then cease watering it and allow the potting mixture to dry out before watering it again.

The philodendron loves sunshine so if it’s in a shady area then find a sunnier home for it.

It may be an adaptable houseplant, however, it cannot cope when placed in frosty or very hot areas. When the season begins to change, you may need to find a new location for the plant.

During the summertime, it’s best to place it in a cooler area, whereas during the winter you can find a warmer room for it.

The houseplant needs to be fed regularly so that it can support healthy growth. This is especially important during the spring and summertime. You will need to feed it more often if you suspect that your houseplant is nutrient deficient.

Bacterial Leaf Spot Treatment

If brown or yellow spots begin to cover the foliage then it is most likely suffering from a leaf spot disease. This is often caused by a damp environment or fungus. You will need to make sure that you’re not overwatering your houseplant.


When the leaves or stem begin to droop or become limp then your plant may be watered improperly, overfed, or placed in a shady location.

You will need to feel whether the soil is too damp or too dry so that you can tell if you’re either over- or underwatering it.

Once you have determined the problem then you can take the correct course of action. If the soil is too moist then water it after a few days, but if the potting mixture is too dry then water it well.

When your philodendron is fertilized too frequently the salts will build up in the soil. You will need to run a stream of water through the potting mixture for 15 to 20 minutes. This will flush the salts out of the potting mix and restore your plant’s health.

The houseplant needs to receive bright sunshine and a lack of sunlight will affect its health and appearance. Simply find a sunny location such as a windowsill for your plant.

Concluding Thoughts

The philodendron is the perfect houseplant. It’s a great plant for a new houseplant owner or can even be given as the ultimate anniversary gift with its beautiful heart-shaped leaves.

This easy-to-maintain plant isn’t too demanding and merely requires a bit of basic care. The most important thing to remember is that it must be watered properly, fed regularly, and placed under bright light.

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