Home > Great Big Greenhouse Blog > September 2014 > EASY CARE HOUSEPLANTS: HYBRID PHILODENDRONS

EASY CARE HOUSEPLANTS: HYBRID PHILODENDRONS

Everyone is familiar with the Heart-leaf Philodendron (P. cordatum).   In a long list of philodendron species on a grower’s availability, this is the plant listed simply as Philodendron—everybody knows they mean the long green vine that your grandmother and great-grandmother loved, that grows around the window in tiny dark restaurants, the last plant to die in the office dish garden, etc.  Almost as well known is the Tree Philodendron, sometimes called Elephant Ear, Philodendron selloum.  Over time, it’s large soft lobed leaves stretch out on long petioles in a circle that can take over most of the floor space in your living room.

While many of the philodendrons grown as houseplants are climbing plants or tree dwellers (philodendron means “tree loving”), the non-vining so-called “hybrid” philodendrons are self-heading or arborescent (tree-like or upright.)  Their larger spade-shaped leaves are spaced very closely together on the stem, giving them the support needed to grow more upright, although over time they may need to be staked or cut back.  These hybrids were produced from plants growing in shady forest conditions, so that they are adapted to very moderate light levels. 

Most of these hybrid philodendrons have brightly colored new growth which ages to a dull or dark green.  Philodendron ‘Autumn’ has coppery-red new leaves, P. ‘Moonlight’ has chartreuse new growth, and P. ‘Prince of Orange’ has shiny orange new leaves.  ‘Pink Princess’ has pretty pink growth that darkens to burgundy with age.  Other varieties include ‘Black Cardinal’, ‘Majesty’, and ‘Imperial Red’.  Most often sold in 6” pots, these hybrids can grow into attractive floor plants, eventually filling three gallon containers or larger.

Brighter light will help to maximize their leaf color.  Philodendrons prefer warm temperatures, 70⁰F or better.  Allow the soil to dry slightly, and provide good drainage.  Fertilize monthly spring through fall, less frequently in winter, with a balanced formula houseplant fertilizer at half strength.  Pot up gradually, as needed.  All aroids are toxic if ingested, so keep plants away from small children and pets. 
Posted: 9/10/2014 by Margot | with 0 comment(s)
Filed under: MargotGunn, TheGreatIndoors
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