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philodendrons

Philodendrons

The last couple of decades have seen many hundreds of thousands of these leafy Philodendrons absorbed into gardens around the country. As members of the delicious monster family they are technically related to the arum lily.

Most suitable climate for Philodendrons

They like a warm and humid subtropical climate, but they will also grow in other regions as long as it doesn’t get too cold in winter. They are also good houseplants, so if your climate makes them unhappy outdoors, you can still have the pleasure of growing them inside.

What Philodendrons need

Location: full sun to shade outdoors. Houseplants require bright, natural light.

Soil: in nature, philodendrons grow in dense forests in very humus-rich, cool, moist soil. Use lots of compost and leaf mould when you plant them in the garden, and good quality potting soil for container plants.

Water: water very regularly – philodendrons like moist but not constantly drenched soil. Potted plants must not stand in saucers of water because they will rot.

Fertilizing: feed in spring, midsummer and autumn with fertilizer granules specially formulated for foliage plants and lawns. Renew the mulch around the plants at these times too. Potted plants can be fed every four to six weeks using a liquid fertilizer for houseplants.

Maintenance: clean the leaves of houseplants with a soft, damp cloth. Dusty leaves are more prone to pests such as mealy bugs and red spider mites.

In a nutshell

  • Plant more than one in a large shaded garden.
  • Lush tropical appearance.
  • Easy grower.
  • Perfect for patios and as houseplants.

Cultivars

  • Philodendron ‘Rojo Congo’ is a large plant with thick, shiny, smooth-edged leaves. Its new foliage is brown to coppery red, maturing to dark green with a reddish blush, but the fleshy leaf stems remain bright red. It is fast growing and can reach about 3 x 3 m in size.
  • The gigantic old Philodendron selloum (lacy tree philodendron), a tropical foliage plant with spectacularly big, deeply lobed leaves held on long fleshy stems, was a very popular shade plant in days gone by. In areas where the temperatures never drop below –3 °C, gardeners planted these evergreens in the deep shade of large trees, and they grew into giants that rapidly swallowed up the surrounding beds. These large, luscious plants have now given way to smaller hybrids that don’t take up as much space. Of the new varieties, Philodendron ‘Hope’ is the one that attracts the most attention. It is a compact grower with a more manageable size of approximately 1 x 1 m. The foliage is serrated and has a light (almost pale) green to yellowish hue.
  • Philodendron ‘Xanadu’ is a compact plant that grows quickly. The serrated, smallish leaves have veins that colour to a deep red when they age, as do the long, slender stems. ‘Xanadu’ is an ideal container plant for both indoors and outdoors, it likes semi-shade and is hardier against the cold than most other philodendrons. It creates a lovely tropical look when planted en masse in a shaded garden. Plant size about 1 x 1,5 m.