How to Plant and Grow Philodendron

A philodendron is the perfect houseplant for new plant owners.

Philodendrons are possibly the easiest houseplants you can grow. Whether you choose upright or trailing/climbing types, they are perfectly happy in a home setting. Even beginner gardeners are usually successful at growing these plants. Philodendrons are extremely low maintenance and can sit idle for long periods.

Heartleaf Philodendron on white table in living room
Dean Schoeppner

The most common varieties of philodendrons are the climbing type. With heart-shaped leaves and a deep green color, these plants are a wonderful accent in any home setting. Climbing varieties can be trained around windows, up poles, or down the sides of containers. The upright types tend to be larger-leaved and have a more compact habit. Upright varieties are also slower growing but can become quite large if you let them.

They may look like harmless houseplants, but philodendrons are toxic to humans and animals, so position them out of reach of children, dogs, and cats.

Philodendron Overview

Genus Name Philodendron
Common Name Philodendron
Plant Type Houseplant
Light Part Sun, Shade, Sun
Height 1 to 3 feet
Width 1 to 6 feet
Foliage Color Blue/Green, Chartreuse/Gold, Gray/Silver, Purple/Burgundy
Special Features Good for Containers, Low Maintenance
Propagation Stem Cuttings

Where to Plant Philodendron

Save your sunniest windows for other plants. Philodendron plants prefer a an indirect light environment—not too difficult to locate in most homes. A location near a window but out of any direct sunlight works well. Philodendron with leaves that aren't all green can handle a little more indirect light than those with all-green leaves. You'll know the plant is getting too much light if its leaves turn yellow.

Philodendron Care Tips


Philodendrons are native to tropical rainforests, where they ruggedly climb up trees. When translated into a home setting, these plants prefer dappled light, much like the canopy of a tropical rainforest. Upright varieties are much more accepting of bright sun, but they appreciate some spotted shade. Colored-leaf varieties need a good amount of bright light to show their best colors. When in too much shade, they tend to fade to a dull green.

Soil and Water

Choose a well-drained potting medium that will not stay wet for too long; philodendron prefers even moisture and does not like sitting in wet soil. Upright varieties are much more tolerant of drought but also prefer evenly moist soil.


Philodendrons benefit from regular doses of fertilizer monthly during the spring and summer months when growth is most active. This can be done with either liquid fertilizer or slow-release pellets. The rest of the year, cut back to once every two months.

Potting and Repotting Philodendron

Repot your houseplant every two years with fresh soil. When plants sit in the same soil for long periods, they can accumulate salt deposits from the water, which leads to leaf burn (browning and yellowing of leaf tips and edges). You can thoroughly flush the soil by running water through it until the water coming out the bottom of the pots runs clear.

Pests and Problems

Although they spend their lives indoors and are typically pest-free, philodendron plants are susceptible to the usual garden suspects—aphids, mealybugs, scales and spider mites. Any time you bring a new plant into your home, you may expose your philodendrons to these. Treat them as you would in the garden with insecticidal soap or neem oil.

As vining types of philodendrons continue to grow, they can become long and leggy. These plants don't mind being cut back, so feel free to cut off gawky growth; it will encourage new shoots to form at the point where they were cut.

How to Propagate Philodendron

Climbing types of philodendrons are exceptionally easy to propagate, and they make great gifts! Because these plants have nodes containing preformed roots, they can start forming new plants quickly. Cut a 5-inch portion of the stem of an existing plant, making sure the cutting contains at least one leaf and a node. Stick the stem in a glass of water, making sure the node is submerged. Eventually, roots form from the node, and the process is a new plant.

You can also put a cutting in potting soil. In this case, dip the bottom half of the cutting containing a node in rooting hormone before putting it in a pot with drainage holes. Keep the soil moist but not wet. The result is new roots and leaves in only a few weeks.

Types of Philodendron

'Brasil' Philodendron

‘brasil’ philodendron
Marty Baldwin

Philodendron 'Brasil' is a hybrid that looks like a cross between heart-leaf philodendron and pothos. Its leaves have a variable broad central band of chartreuse.

Elephant Ear Philodendron

elephant ear philodendron
Tria Giovan Photography, Inc.

Philodendron domesticum has glossy green spade-shaped leaves up to 2 feet long. It is also called spade leaf philodendron (Philodendron hastatum).

Fiddle-Leaf Philodendron

fiddle-leaf philodendron
Marty Baldwin

Philodendron bipennifolium has violin-shaped leaves to 10 inches long. It is a vine that will climb a support pole if given the chance. It is also known as panda plant (Philodendron panduriforme).

Heartleaf Philodendron

heartleaf philodendron
Marty Baldwin

Philodendron hederaceum oxycardium is a durable vining houseplant with slender stems and heart-shaped leaves. It grows well in hanging baskets, trained to a moss pole, or draping over the edge of a shelf.

Red-Leaf Philodendron

red-leaf philodendron
Dean Schoeppner

Philodendron erubescens has reddish-purple stems and large coppery red leaves.

Split-Leaf Philodendron

splitleaf philodendron

Philodendron bipinnatifidum, also called lacy tree philodendron (Philodendron selloum), has large, deeply lobed leaves that arise from a central stem. It can spread to 6 feet wide and 8 feet tall.

Tree Philodendron

tree philodendron
Denny Schrock

Philodendron bipinnatifidum is also called split-leaf philodendron. This tropical plant has a semi-upright habit and grows 10 feet tall and wide in warm regions. Grow it as a houseplant and enjoy its glossy leaves and vertical habit.

Velvet-Leaf Philodendron

velvet-leaf philodendron
Marty Baldwin

Philodendron hederaceum hederaceum looks like heart-leaf philodendron at first glance, except its leaves are covered with fine, velvety hairs, and the new growth is bronze.

'Xandu' Philodendron

‘xandu’ philodendron
Hetherington & Associates

Philodendron 'Xanadu' is a hybrid that grows 3 feet tall and wide. It prefers bright light and does not form aerial roots like other philodendrons.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Do philodendrons like to be root-bound?

    Although they tolerate being root-bound better than many plants, it isn't their preference. Keep your philodendron healthy by repotting it regularly as the plant grows.

  • Do philodendrons clean the air?

    They do. Philodendrons filter toxins including formaldehyde, but it is unclear how many plants you'd need in your home to make a real difference. It is a good idea to enjoy these plants for their attractive foliage rather than any nebulus health benefits.

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