Philodendron Care

Find out how to care for philodrendron, an easy-to-grow, popular and very decorative houseplant that thrives indoors with the proper care.

February 05, 2020
Related To:

You see their heart-shaped leaves spilling out of pots and planters everywhere, from the doctor’s office to your neighbor’s bookshelves. Vining philodendrons are pretty, easy-to-grow houseplants that thrive in almost any light, whether it’s bright, indirect sunshine coming through a curtain or artificial fluorescents.

Heart-Leaf Philodendron with Heart-Shaped Leaves

Heart-Leaf Philodendron with Heart-Shaped Leaves

Trailing and Non-Trailing

I love them for their trailing habit, but you can also train the vines, which have aerial roots, to climb up a small trellis or a post covered with something they can grab onto, like rough bark or moss.

There are non-trailing philodendrons, too, in case you’re looking for an undemanding, upright plant to decorate a boring corner. These arborescent, or tree-like types need plenty of space if you grow them indoors, because they can reach 6 to 8 feet in height. With their broad leaves and strong trunks, they’re also great for creating a “jungle” feel in your landscape, although they’re natives of the tropics and won’t survive outside unless you live where the winters are mild.

Philodendron Plants By Window

Philodendron Plants By Window

Goof-proof and tough as nails, philodendrons unfurl an assortment of leaf colors, shapes and sizes. This group of plants makes an undemanding, true low-maintenance addition to any room. Ideally, give them a spot in medium to bright light, but most also grow in low light conditions. This collection includes (clockwise from bottom left) ‘Graziaele’ with heart shape leaves, large ‘Red Congo,’ Philodendron selloum, ruffle-edged ‘Xanadu,’ classic Philodendron cordatum and chartreuse variegated ‘Brasil.’

Photo by: CostaFarms.com

CostaFarms.com

Goof-proof and tough as nails, philodendrons unfurl an assortment of leaf colors, shapes and sizes. This group of plants makes an undemanding, true low-maintenance addition to any room. Ideally, give them a spot in medium to bright light, but most also grow in low light conditions. This collection includes (clockwise from bottom left) ‘Graziaele’ with heart shape leaves, large ‘Red Congo,’ Philodendron selloum, ruffle-edged ‘Xanadu,’ classic Philodendron cordatum and chartreuse variegated ‘Brasil.’

How to Care for Philodendron

Light

Philodendron prefer bright, but indirect sunlight. Yellow leaves may indicate your plant is getting too much light.

Soil

No matter what kind of philodendron you grow, or whether indoors or out, give your plant loose, rich, well-drained soil.

Watering

Water when the top of the soil feels dry to the touch, but don’t let the plant sit in water.

Fertilizing

Fertilize regularly, as most philodendrons are heavy feeders. The exception is when your plant is growing slowly, as it might in low light conditions. You can still feed regularly, but more lightly.

Keep Them Comfortable

One of the key things to remember about philodendrons is that while they’re happy in average home temperatures, they don’t like to drop much below 55 degrees F. If you grow them outdoors, bring smaller plants inside before the temperatures start to fall, or take cuttings from the vining types.

Happy Plants

Philodendrons also like humidity and appreciate being misted, but most are durable and adapt well to the dry air in most houses.

How to Take Cuttings

Cuttings are easy to root. Just start with a cutting about 3 to 6 inches long, and pinch off enough foliage to leave the bottom 2 inches bare. Drop it in a glass of water, and wait for roots to form. Cuttings also root easily in some moist vermiculite or good quality potting soil. (You can use a dab of rooting hormone on the end of the cutting first, if you want to speed things up.)

Types of Philodendron

Heartleaf philodendron is a popular variety of this pretty and low-maintenance houseplant.

Heartleaf philodendron is a popular variety of this pretty and low-maintenance houseplant.

There are many species and cultivars of philodendrons, so you're sure to find one you like.

Here are a few to try:

  • Heartleaf philodendron (P. scandens) – my favorite, this plant has dark green, heart-shaped leaves. Use it in dish gardens, hanging baskets or pots. It can take very low light, such as the exposure from a north window. A type of Heartleaf, ‘Aureum’ has beautiful chartreuse-lime foliage.
  • Red-leaf philodendron (P. erubescens) – This vining type has reddish-purple stems and arrow-shaped leaves that are coppery-red on the undersides. It likes medium light and grows vigorously, up to 10 to 20 feet.
  • Spade leaf or burgundy philodendron (P. domesticum) – As its name suggests, this climber bears green, spade or arrow-shaped leaves up to 2 feet long. It's sometimes called Elephant Ear Philodendron.
‘Red Congo’ Philodendron

‘Red Congo’ Philodendron

One look at this plant and it’s easy to see where it gets its name: ‘Red Congo’ or ‘Rojo Congo.’ New leaves are flushed with red-purple hues, while stems on new growth glow bright red. This is an upright philodendron that makes an ideal tabletop plant. Give it a spot in bright or low light, although brighter light yields the strongest leaf colors. ‘Red Congo’ is an air purifier, removing toxic chemicals from indoor settings. Use it in your bedroom to ensure fresh air for a good night’s sleep.

Photo by: CostaFarms.com

CostaFarms.com

One look at this plant and it’s easy to see where it gets its name: ‘Red Congo’ or ‘Rojo Congo.’ New leaves are flushed with red-purple hues, while stems on new growth glow bright red. This is an upright philodendron that makes an ideal tabletop plant. Give it a spot in bright or low light, although brighter light yields the strongest leaf colors. ‘Red Congo’ is an air purifier, removing toxic chemicals from indoor settings. Use it in your bedroom to ensure fresh air for a good night’s sleep.

  • Velvet-leaf philodendron (P. hederaceum hederaceum) – Tiny "hairs" give this plant's heart-shaped foliage a velvety appearance. The leaves start out bronze and mature to green. It grows 3 to 8 feet, although you can keep it trimmed back as much as you want.

It might surprise you to discover that the big, tree-like, "split-leaf philodendrons" aren't really philodendrons at all. They’re actually Monstera deliciosa, although they're related to their look-alikes. Their name is appropriate, because they can become giants when they're planted outdoors in a warm climate. Like philodendrons, they can't take frost, so try them in very large containers if you grow them indoors, or plant them outdoors only if you live in a warm-winter region.

Pothos

Pothos

For tropical plant versatility, it’s tough to beat pothos. This vining plant grows equally well in a hanging basket, on a totem or trailing along a table. Leaves have pretty green and gold or white marbling that increases with bright light. Plants tolerate low light levels, too.

Photo by: Costa Farms

Costa Farms

For tropical plant versatility, it’s tough to beat pothos. This vining plant grows equally well in a hanging basket, on a totem or trailing along a table. Leaves have pretty green and gold or white marbling that increases with bright light. Plants tolerate low light levels, too.

Not a Philodendron

Some people mistake the similar pothos plant for a philodendron but pothos is a smaller plant and generally boasts variegated white or yellow splotched leaves.

Other Easy-Care Houseplants

Next Up

Grow Guide: Adaptable Houseplants and Cutting Back Your Garden This Winter

Get the answer to the question: "Are there any really good plants for indoors?"

Mona Lavender

Meet a pretty-in-purple houseplant that’s easy to grow.

Bromeliads: How to Keep the Color Going

This easy houseplant lives for only a few years, but you can raise its "pups" to be as beautiful as the mother plant.

Plants That Help Clear the Air

Find out which plants help clear the air in your home.

5 Desk-Perfect Plant Pals

Ease your separation anxiety (from your houseplants) and make your boring office feel more like home with some perfectly styled buddies to keep you company at your desk.

How to Move Houseplants to Your New Home

These 5 tips will help ensure that your houseplants arrive at their new house in tiptop shape

Plants That Clear the Air

Some plants do more than just look pretty. Learn what these indoor plants can do for your air.

Propagating Schefflera

Follow this tip on propagating schefflera.

How to Grow Oxalis

No lucky charms needed for this easy-to-grow little plant

Spider Plant Indoor Care

Learn to care for this easy houseplant and how to fix the rare problems that could arise.

Go Shopping

Spruce up your outdoor space with products handpicked by HGTV editors.

What's New in Outdoors

On TV

Follow Us Everywhere

Join the party! Don't miss HGTV in your favorite social media feeds.