Everyone’s heard of philodendron, but do you know how many varieties there are? Over 400! You could only own philodendrons and have a full on jungle with no two plants alike. They get bonus points for being easy to care for and living a long time (maybe even longer than you!).
We’ve highlighted 7 of these exciting houseplants in this blog and included tips and tricks to keep them thriving.
Philodendrons are often confused with pothos and monstera, which is understandable considering they all belong to the genus Arum of the plant family Araceae. While it’s easy to tell the difference between some varieties, others look remarkably similar to each other. An easy way to tell philodendrons from monstera is that philodendrons have pinnation (splits from the edges of the leaf to the spine) rather than fenestrations (circular shaped holes in the leaves) which are what you see in many monstera varieties.
Climbing varieties of philodendron don’t resemble pothos much at all, which makes it easy to differentiate between the two. Heartleaf philodendron (or philodendron cordatum) and philodendron brasil do resemble pothos, but when you know what to look for they are still easy to identify. Vining varieties of philodendron have heart-shaped leaves (hence the name) that tend to be thinner and softer than pothos’ thick, waxy leaves that have straight edges rather than curving inward.
The different varieties of philodendron are incredibly diverse. The Greek origin of the word breaks down into “philo” (love) and “dendron” (tree) – which makes sense since they love to grow on and up trees in their natural habitat. Upright varieties require a moss pole for stability once they reach a certain size, and are known to grow wider than they are tall. Vining varieties can also be trained to grow up a moss pole, but they look amazing in a hanging basket or used to create a living wall. Philodendrons come in an array of colors and variegations, making it easy to add another (and another). Across the board, these reliable plants are easy to care for, long-living and great at purifying the air in our homes.
Now that we’re all on the same page, let’s jump into the specifics of 7 varieties that you can find in our greenhouse right now.
Philodendron Dragon Tail
This upright philodendron is known for its shiny, thick leaves that start out small but get very large and form splits with maturity. As it grows, it will need a totem for support. Avoid putting this plant in direct sunlight, but keep it in bright, dappled light to keep it growing quickly. Your Dragon Tail can adapt to lower light, but it will slow its growth.
The brasil used to be rare, but now it’s pretty easy to find, making it a perfect choice to bring an exotic feel into your collection. It doesn’t take much to keep this fast-growing vine happy – just keep the soil moist & keep it in bright, indirect light (the brighter the light, the more variegation you’ll see, but direct light will result in burnt tips.) Let it create a natural waterfall of color in your home, or train it to climb a moss pole for even bigger, more impressive leaves.
Philodendron Paraiso Verde
This variety of philodendron is rare, but that doesn’t mean it’s difficult to take care of. While you still want to avoid direct sunlight, the Paraiso Verde requires brighter light than other varieties to keep up the stunning variegation on these large 7”-10” leaves. Some direct morning sun won’t hurt, but make sure it’s only exposed for a short period of time. Really keep it thriving with added humidity. These beauties might cost a little more, but you’ll be rewarded with a fairly quick growth rate, and they’re easy to propagate.
Another exciting, rare variety to add to your collection is the Philodendron Atabapoense, and it’s even easier to care for than the Paraiso Verde. Collected for its long leaves that can grow to about 3” wide and 24” or longer. They start out light green on top, maturing to a dark, rich green and a brownish-red on the underside. Plant it in a well-draining medium, provide filtered sunlight, keep the soil moist and you’re going to be successful.
If you’re running out of room, the Dwarf Rojo Congo is a great option. This variety doesn’t trail or climb, although you can still provide it with a pole for support as it fills out. The Red Congo Dwarf has smaller leaves and is more compact than most varieties. Its glossy oval leaves start out red and mature to a dark green, with hints of burgundy showing throughout its lifetime. Keep it happy with medium to low light and a drink when the soil is nearly completely dry. No added humidity required.
Philodendron Florida Mint
You may have heard this variety also called Florida Ghost. The Florida Mint is a highly sought after, rare variety that is named after its new leaves. They come in cream or white and transition to a minty-lime color before maturing to a dark green. Keep your Florida Mint located in very bright, indirect light for the full effect. Don’t let its well-draining soil dry out, but it doesn’t like wet feet either. Watering it about once a week in the summer will keep it happy, and less frequently in the cold months.
Philodendron Ring of Fire
Another fairly rare variety, although they are getting easier to find, is the Philodendron Ring of Fire. All the colors featured on the Ring of Fire are truly amazing – varying from orange to red to bright pink and nearly every shade of green. Like other philodendrons, your Ring of Fire prefers bright, indirect light but it can adapt to lower light levels. This variety is pretty easy going when it comes to watering, just don’t let it completely dry out.
For most philodendrons, the humidity levels of the typical home is just fine, but spoiling them with a regular misting won’t hurt. Most varieties prefer a drink when the top ¼ – ½ of soil has dried. Another way to keep these large-leafed houseplants happy is to regularly clean their leaves with a spritz of water and a microfibre towel. Keeping the leaves clean helps them to “breathe” – our plants require oxygen just like we do to convert food into energy.
Ready to start your collection? Or to expand the one you’ve already got started? Come see us in the Garden Center. We bring in new varieties often and are always on the lookout for the next trending Philodendron to add to your collection.