Indoor air freshener plants – Philodendron

Philodendrons are one of the easiest types of houseplants to grow. They can grow in very low light conditions and are not disturbed by neglect. If you treat them right, though, your Philodendrons will flourish for many years to come. They will also benefit your family by removing formaldehyde in high concentrations from the air of your home, according to N.A.S.A.

They are native to the Tropics of the Americas and the West Indies. Philodendrons live in swamps, on rocks, or along rivers. They grow long vines with heart-shaped, green leaves. Their flowers are rare, but large and white like a lily.

Temperature
Philodendrons require a frost free environment. If you can provide this, they can grow in the shade outside. They thrive best in 60F-70F, but watch both night and day temperatures to satisfy this need. Night temperatures can vary widely from daytime temperatures in some locations. Indoor philodendrons can tolerate even lower temperatures, since they do not suffer frost.

Light
Indirect, bright light is ideal for philodendrons. Keep them from direct or intense light and they will flourish. Direct sunlight will burn the leaves and the plant’s growth will be stunted. Low light conditions will force the leaves to grow farther apart and smaller.

Water
The soil should be evenly moist most of the time. Avoid over watering, though, which is indicated by standing water. It is best to let the soil dry out a bit in between waterings. If they are over watered they become vulnerable to disease. Winter is a good time to reduce the water to your Philodendron.

While they can get by in low humidity for a time, Philodendrons prefer high humidity. Misting your Philodendron can help keep the leaves clean, while providing some of the moisture it needs.

Soil
Philodendrons prefer heavily organic matter as a growth medium. That is why you may find them often growing in the bark of large trees. The soil should contain rocks in the bottom and then sand mixed with the organic material in order to drain well.

Growing
Philodendrons can grow quite fast. Do not count on any flowers if you are growing your Philodendron indoors.

Many Philodendrons are climbers, but not all. You must know the species you are dealing with. In general, if it has waxy green, heart-shaped leaves, then it is a climber. Some send out aerial roots that can be trimmed when they look ugly or redirected to grow back into the soil.

As your Philodendron is still young and growing like a weed, you should re-pot it every Spring. You can simply replace some of the top soil for older Philodendrons.

The leaves accumulate dust. Clean them as often as you notice them getting dirty.

Fertilizer
If it is the start of the growing season, you will want to employ slow release pellets. During the rest of Spring and throughout the Summer, feed it half strength liquid fertilizer weekly.

Propagation
Take a cutting with two or more joints and many leaves. Make sure you get a clean cut. If you ask nicely, your local store may allow you to take your own cutting without charge.

Keep the leaves above the water and the rest submerged. Use a little root hormone if you would like a better chance of succeeding. Within five weeks your Philodendron will have its own roots.

Plant these 1” deep in a pot of soil and next to it place a long piece of wood for it to climb as it grows. Water it carefully for the first month or more, to keep the roots from drying out.

Problems
Yellow leaves can be a sign of over watering or too little light. Brown leaves that fall off is an indicator of under watering or too much heat. Curling brown leaves is telling you that you are using too much fertilizer. Pale leaves reveal that your Philodendron is not getting enough fertilizer. Brown areas indicate damage from sunburn, while black spots that the temperature has been too low.

However, Philodendrons are not prone to diseases. They are quite hardy plants.

They are occasionally infested with pests. Aphids, scales, mealybugs, and spider mites all love Philodendrons.

If your plant has root rot, it is most likely due to soil that does not drain well enough. Add more rocks to the bottom of the pot and sand to the mixture.

Do not let pets or children eat the leaves of the Philodendron, since they contain a toxin.

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