Philodendrons


Philodendron erubescens 'Imperial Green'



Contents

  1. Top Tips
  2. Location, Water, Humidity & Fertilisation
  3. Common Issues
  4. Origins, Temperature, Propagation, Repotting & Toxicity.

For queries or questions, comment in the section below or send us a message via this link!




Top Tips & Info

  • Care Difficulty - Easy to Moderate
  • A bright, indirect location is best, with the option for an hour of morning/evening sun during the autumn & winter months. Avoid placing it within a few metres of an operating heater, or in excessively dark locations to decrease the chance of root rot.
  • Keep the soil evenly moist, allowing the top few inches to dry out in between waters. Remember - the light levels directly govern the amount of water you'll give.
  • Reduce irrigations further during the colder months of the year, to replicate their much-needed dormancy period.
  • Supplement fortnightly in the growing period and monthly during the autumn & winter, using a houseplant-labelled feed.
  • Repot biannually using houseplant compost and the next sized pot. Scroll down to the 'Repotting' section to learn more about repotting a specimen that's attached to a moss pole.
  • Keep an eye out for Spider Mite & Mealybugs throughout the year and Thrips during the start of summer.




Location & Light - 🔸🔸

A bright, indirect location is best for all-round growth. If you're feeling a little extra, provide an hour of morning or evening sunlight during the autumn and winter months to keep the plant satisfied over the darkened period. Philodendrons that receive too much light will show symptoms of sun-scorch, that include pale-yellowed foliage, crispy brown patches and stunted growth. Alternatively, situations that don't boast enough light will result in slowed or elongated growth, mould developing on the soil and a heightened risk of root rot. Although most specimens will still do well in shadier spots, it's vital to decrease the amount of water to counteract the slowed rates of drying compost. Remember - the amount of light your plant receives will directly govern the frequency of waters that you should give.


Water - 🔸🔸

During the spring and summer, maintain proper soil moisture by only allowing the top third dry out in between irrigations. For confirmation, feel the weight of the pot; if it's still heavy from when you last hydrated, now isn't the time for another water. Reduce this slightly further during the colder months to replicate its dormancy period, and for the prevention of too moist soil. Also, try not to pour cold water directly into the compost as its root systems are susceptible to temperature change. Symptoms of this include slowed growth, yellow or brown edges that may travel to the leaf's centre, and a gradual decline of health. If you decide to use tap water, allow it to stand for at least 24hrs to allow the fluoride to evaporate and an increase of warmth within the container. Under-watering symptoms include stunted growth, dry spots appearing on the leaves and yellowing older leaves - this is either due to becoming pot-bound, too much light, or forgetfulness. Over-watering symptoms include yellowing lower leaves, mould developing on the compost and brown mushy patches developing on the leaves or stems. For more severe cases, remove the plant from the pot and inspect its roots. If you feel that root rot is to blame, remove the affected areas and replace with a fresh batch of houseplant soil within the same original pot. Click here to learn more about this disease, or directly contact ukhouseplants for tailored expert advice.


Humidity - 🔸🔸🔸

Provide moist air all year round, especially in winter, while the heaters are operating. To achieve higher humidity, create a pebble tray by placing it on a bed of stones in a saucer of water. Then, once a month, gently hose the foliage down to hydrate the leaves and wash away any thin layers of dust from its pores. Keep the tray topped up with water to provide a little pocket of humidity around the foliage.


Fertilisation - 🔸🔸

Supplement twice a month during the growing period, and monthly in the autumn & winter. Although a general-purpose fertiliser will still do the job, we'd recommend using a specific houseplant-labelled fertiliser as it'll support the vital thirteen nutrients that a Philodendron will need to grow.




Philodendron birkin



Common Issues with Philodendrons

An array of simultaneous cultivation issues will increase the chance of developing yellowed leaf-sections with browned halos. Firstly, the location may be too dark, with its compost staying too saturated in-between waters; if mould is growing across the soil, this is usually a bad sign. You're potentially using too cold water or tap water that hasn't been allowed to sit for 24hrs. This period of rest will not only bunk-up its temperature, but the harsh chemicals used to preserve water hygiene (fluoride & chloride) will begin to evaporate after a few hours. The final culprit might be lack of fertilisation, with regular feeds being paramount for long-lasting, healthy leaves. If the specimen hasn't been nourished in over two months, it'll begin to show signs of nutrient deficiencies seen in this article
If this common problem has occurred with your specimen, remove the affected leaves (not areas) and improve the growing conditions considerably. Fertilise regularly with lukewarm water and be sure to allow the top third to dry out in between hydrations. Its new growth should be problem-free, but if you'd like to speak to ukhouseplants for more advice, don't be afraid to send us a message via this link.

Pests could arise at any time, with infestations starting from the original nursery or via contamination in your home. With this genus, Spider Mite and Mealybugs tend to be the usual inhabitants, with the first being minute and almost transparent, roaming the leaves in search of chlorophyll and a site to hide its eggs. The latter, however, will stand out much more, with white cottony webs developing across the foliage and stems. Thoroughly check the plant's cubbyholes before giving it the all-clear, or click on the appropriate links to learn more about eradicating these issues.

Environmental Shock is a familiar occurrence with newly-located specimens, that usually results in stunted growth and lower leaf loss (rare). When a plant is relocated into a new, unfamiliar setting, the effects can be catastrophic. The humidity, temperature and light levels will all suddenly shift into different proportions, inflicting great stress the individual. There are two options of addressing this issue; either wait it out or relocate it into a more Philodendron-friendly environment. As long as the specimen appears healthy with little change to its pre-existing leaves, new nodular growth should emerge in the following months.

Root rot is a common issue with specimens sat in too moist or waterlogged soil for long periods. Symptoms include rapidly yellowing leaves, stunted growth and a rotten brown base. Take the plant out of the pot and inspect health below the soil line. If the roots sport a yellow tinge, you're good to go, but if they're brown and mushy, action must be taken immediately. More information about addressing root rot can be found on this link.

Curled leaves and brown leaf-edges are the result of too little water and over-exposure to the sun. Philodendrons are best located in bright, indirect settings, and those that haven't acclimatised to the harsh rays will show signs of sun-scorch and environmental shock. A splash of winter sunlight is acceptable as long as the soil moisture is regularly observed, with complete avoidance once summer comes along.

Too low humidity can cause browning leaf tips with yellow halos. Although this won't kill your specimen, you may want to increase the local moisture to prevent the new growth from adopting these symptoms. Mist or rinse the foliage from time to time and create a humidity tray whilst the heaters are active to create a stable environment for your specimen.

Yellowing lower leaves are a clear sign of over-watering, usually caused by too little light. Although Philodendrons can do well in darker locations, the frequency of irrigations must be reduced to counteract the chance of root rot. People don't realise that a plant's root system needs access to oxygen too; when soil is watered, the air will travel upwards and out of the potting mix. A lack of accessible oxygen for the roots will cause them to subsequently breakdown over the oncoming days. Click on this link to learn more about root rot and how to address it, and always feel the pot's weight for confirmation (heaviness = good soil moisture, & vice versa).

Always use lukewarm water, and if you choose to use tap water, allow it to stand for at least 24hrs before application. Philodendrons tend to be quite sensitive to temperature change, so pouring cold tap water immediately into the pot will not only add fluoride into the soil, but it could even cause yellowed leaf-edges over time.

If your specimen is located in a dark environment, use a chopstick to gently stab the soil in various areas. You should aim to enter the compost between the base of the plant and the pot's edge, as failure to do so may lead to damaging its lower portion. Leave the holes open for a few days before re-surfacing the compost to avoid it becoming overly dry. Not only will the gentle shift in the soil's structure mimic the work of small invertebrates in the wild (worms, etc.), but it'll also add oxygen back into the compost, thus reducing the risk of root rot. Repeat this monthly, or whenever you feel the potting-mix isn't drying out quickly enough.

The browning of the cataphyll shouldn't of be a concern, as it's a wholly natural process which affects all specimens across the world. Remove the brown section once it becomes dry and crispy, using a clean pair of scissors or peeling it back by hand.

Failed cuttings propagated via water - There are several reasons why the cuttings haven't rooted well, with the first being the time of year. Philodendrons are best propagated during the spring, with cuttings taken in the autumn or winter rooting much slower.
The second reason could be the cultivation environment - is there enough light to read a newspaper? If not, improve the growing conditions by increasing the amount of indirect light, avoiding the threat of excessive direct sunlight.
Moreover, the size of the cutting will play a big part in its success; smaller specimens (3cm in length or less) won't root appropriately due to the lower amounts of stored energy.
The water must also be replaced weekly to ensure nasty pathogens cannot breed and decay on the cuttings. If the bottom of the stem is brown and mushy, discard immediately as the rot will spread onto unaffected specimens.
Maintaining too dry soil or over-exposure to the sun will also prove unsuccessful for those that haven't acclimatised to the drier environment. Although water-logging must be avoided at all costs, be sure to maintain moist soil throughout the rooting development (the initial two months) to quicken the process of establishment. To escape falling in the trap of dehydration, wrap the cutting and its pot in a transparent bag for the first couple of weeks. As there'll be a poor root system to soak-up vital water, its leaves will be able to absorb the excess moisture trapped within the bag for hydration. For more help with propagation, be sure to send us an email or via DM on Instagram.



Philodendron bipinnatifidum



Origins

The genus, Philodendron, consists of 489 species ranging from southern Mexico to Northern South America, with all points in between. The genus was first taxonomically described in Schott in 1831, during a visit to the Americas. Its name comes from Greek meaning 'love or affection' (philo) and 'trees' (dendron), which refers their growth habits in the wild. Most Philodendrons are either epiphytes or hemiepiphytes, with the latter starting life as a seedling on the ground before needing support (by a nearby tree) to maintain vertical growth. In the wild, it's very rare to see one growing purely on the ground unsupported, due to their tendencies to fall over once they reach a certain height.


The Distribution of Philodendron.


Temperature

12° - 30°C   (54° - 86°F)
H1b  (Hardiness Zone 12)  - Can be grown outdoors during the summer in a sheltered location with temperatures above 12℃  (54℉),  but is fine to remain indoors, too. If you decide to bring this plant outdoors, don't allow it to endure more than an hour of direct sunlight a day as it may result in sun-scorch. Regularly keep an eye out for pests, especially when re-introducing it back indoors.


Spread

Up to 2.5m in height and 0.8m in width, with the ultimate height taking between 5 - 10 years to achieve. Philodendrons that naturally grow in the wild can reach heights of up to ten metres; however, with smaller root systems and less favourable growing conditions, they'll only grow to three metres indoors.


Pruning & Maintenance

Remove yellow or dying leaves, and plant debris to encourage better-growing conditions. While pruning, always use clean scissors or shears to reduce the chance of bacterial and fungal diseases. Never cut through yellowed tissue as this may cause further damage in the likes of diseases or bacterial infections. Remember to make clean incisions as too-damaged wounds may shock the plant, causing weakened growth and a decline in health.



The name of the species pictured above, (P. squamiferum) derives from Latin translating to 'scale-bearing', in reference to its unusual petioles.


Propagation

Via Seed or Stem Cuttings.

Seeds (Moderate) - Soak the seeds in lukewarm water for around 24hrs in a dark location, preferably on top of an operating radiator. The best soil to use is a Houseplant-labelled potting mix, however, multipurpose compost with added perlite and sand is just as good. Set the seeds around half an inch into the potting mix, resisting the temptation to compact the soil. Maintain evenly moist soil and allow the excess water to freely drain from the pot's base to prevent water-logged conditions. The ideal location for successful germination is in a bright, indirect setting with temperatures above 18℃  (64℉) with bottom-heat. Keep the pot in a transparent bag to provide a stable level of humidity, along with longer lasting compost moisture. Germination may take up to a four months, so don't discard any unsuccessful seeds until this threshold has been surpassed. Remove the bag once the seedlings produces its second leaf and then split them up into their own 3cm pots.


Stem Cuttings (Easy to Moderate)

  1. Hygiene is the most crucial element of successful propagation. The secateurs must be dirt-free with a fresh (or well stored) batch of compost. As you'll be cutting through vulnerable tissue, using uncleanly equipment will introduce harmful pathogens to the cutting and its mother plant.
  2. For stem cuttings, the best specimens are those located at the leading growths. You should aim for two nodes; the bottom for root development and the top that'll house the leaves. Never use diseased or weakened growth, as this will likely fail to root. If, however, the cutting is littered in Pests - fear not. Remove all of the affected areas using your fingers, including the eggs, 'HQ' and any webs. Wholly submerge the cutting for at least 48hrs to drown and each critter. Check the cubbyholes and under-leaves before placing in the compost; it's far easier to address a pest attack while the plant is mobile (i.e. without soil) than it would be in the soil. If the pests don't die after five days of full submersion, use an organic pesticide to help the eradication process and maintain water-submersion until thorough removal. For more information about an infestation and how it can be addressed, click here!
  3. Make the best incision possible to prevent the development of disease and remove the bottom half of the leaves.
  4. Decide on rooting the cutting via water or soil. The first option tends to have better success, especially if you're a new-time propagator. For the prior method, remove any rotten debris and replace the water every week with lukewarm tap water to prevent shocking the plant. Although collected rainwater is acceptable, the risk of harboured diseases is too high, especially with an open wound. Once the roots surpass 3cm, you can safely pot it up.
  5. For both options, (water & soil) use an aerated compost that has a fluffy texture with some perlite, too. Never use a poorly stored bag of compost as it'll promote larvae or perennial seeds to arise. ukhouseplants would recommend using 'Houseplant Compost' as it has a great balance between being water-retentive, but still 'airy' enough to promote root growth. Use a 7cm (3 inches) pot that has adequate drainage holes.
  6. Place a 2cm (0.8cm) layer of soil at the bottom of the pot, and then rest the cutting vertically in the middle. You may have the cutting for support.
  7. Fill the soil around its base, making sure that its bottom half is submerged and NOT the leaves.
  8. Never press or compact the soil; condensing it to support the cutting will push the oxygen above the soil line, suffocating the roots until they rot. If it needs support, introduce a cane or something that won't lead to compaction!
  9. Place the potted cutting in a transparent bag or box. Because of the lack of roots, it'll start to lose stored water very quickly. A confided environment will lock-in the humidity and reduce the rate of respiration and transpiration considerably.
  10. You'll rarely have to water the soil due to the high humidity. If the compost compacts itself after the first irrigation, level it out by adding more. 
  11. Open the bag every few days for fresh air. Be sure to keep the soil evenly moist, but NOT soggy - if it looks saturated, leave it. The surrounding humidity in the container will do its job by hydrating the leaves.
  12. Situate in a bright, indirect location away from any heat sources (i.e. radiators). Keep the temperature around 18℃ (64℉) as this is the optimum temperature for root development - you can even use a bottom-heat pad to speed-up the process. The roots will develop BEFORE the foliage, so bear that in mind if you're an impatient gardener. Safely remove the bag or box once new leaves emerge, as, at this point, there'll be a sufficient root system. Introduce a Pebble / Humidity Tray to maintain a good level of atmospheric saturation and to reduce the severity of environmental shock 
  13. Keep the soil moist and maintain a bright, indirect location away from direct sunlight and other heat sources. After around four months, transplant into a slightly bigger pot, keeping in mind transplant shock (where the root hairs are damaged or over-touched) and follow the care-tips provided above.


Flowers

As Philodendron is part of the Araceæ family, their flowers aren't showy. Much like a Peace Lily's flower body, their flowers consist of a white or green spathe (the spoon-like shell) with the spadix being the site pollination. Blooms can last up to five days and is usually visible during late spring or early summer around 30cm+ from the soil line.

Despite most Philodendrons' readiness to flower in the wild, those grown domestically will rarely flower.


Repotting

Repot biannually in the spring using a houseplant-labelled compost and the next sized pot with adequate drainage. Hydrate the plant 24hrs before the tinkering with the roots to prevent the risk of transplant shock. For those that are situated in a darker location, add a thin layer of small grit in the pot's base to improve drainage and downplay over-watering. Click here for a detailed step-by-step guide on transplantation, or via this link to learn about repotting with root rot.

If you're thinking of repotting a specimen that's growing up a moss pole, never remove the attached aerial roots as the disturbance could put further stress on the plant. Extend by purchasing another same-sized pole and pushing directly into the hollow hole in the original's top - its moss-like material may have to be cut off from the top to access the hollow centre. Get a long, sturdy stick that has a similar length to the two poles combined and place in the two's centre to support the weight. Always perform the repot BEFORE adding another pole, as it'll prove more challenging due to the weight distribution and overall balance. NEVER remove soil from the roots, or over-touch the root system, as this will cause transplant shock and possible death.

If you're still unsure of what to do, don't hesitate to send us an email or direct message to get our expert advice on transplantation.


Pests & Diseases

Keep an eye out for mealybugs, spider mite, scale & thrips. Typical diseases associated with this genus are leaf-spot disease, botrytis & root rot. Click on this link for further information about how to identify and address any of these issues.


Toxicity

Members of the Aroid family contain poisonous calcium oxalate crystals, with other specimens including Alocasia, Peace Lilies & ZZ Plants. When digested, it may result in vomiting, a sense of nausea and a loss of appetite.


Retail Locations

Homebase,  B&Q,  IKEA,  Dobbies,  Blue Diamond,  Online Stores.



If you need further advice with indoor gardening, never hesitate to send us a message or leave a comment in the section below. This could be about your own specific plant, transplantation into a bigger pot, pests or diseases, terrarium ideas, & more!



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