What does a philodendron plant look like?

If your space could use a boost from plant life and you’re considering philodendrons, contact Ambius and set up a consultation with one of our designers today.

Read below for more details about philodendrons and see why they are so often used for interiors. Simply click on a question to be directed to the answer.

The philodendron is a type of flowering plant and is part of the Araceae family of flowering plants. They are characterized by their spadix, which is the stem encircled by the white portion which is known as the spathe. The spadix is actually a stem covered from top to bottom with tiny flowers (known as an inflorescence). Often times the philodendron is also known as being part of the arum family and sometimes referred to as aroids.

The family of plants containing the philodendron has about 114 genera and there are roughly 3,750 known species of plant. Originally a tropical plant, they have been transported to areas all around the world and found to flourish very well. In fact, they are considered a New World tropical plant and are among the most diverse within that group.

There are a couple of types of philodendron, and both are usually used with indoor plants:

  1. Climbing – as the name indicates, this is a type of philodendron with heart-shaped leaves which usually come in a very deep green color. They will start climbing up any kind of vertical surface nearby, which is why they are often planted with poles so they can be trained to grow upward on those. Otherwise, they will grow up the sides of windows, and down the sides of their containers.
  2. Upright – these types of philodendron usually have larger green leaves. They do not climb as wildly as the climbing variety and tend to take up less space. Upright philodendrons usually grow a bit slower than their climbing cousins, but left unchecked they can grow quite large anyway.

Which one works best for your office or interior space space depends heavily on the needs of your space, as well as light and watering conditions. A philodendron has the potential to take up a lot of space if it climbs up walls, windows or filing cabinets, so care should be taken to find the right type of philodendron for your space.

The phrase “split leaf philodendron” is most often used to refer to the swiss cheese plant, or Monstera deliciosa. This plant is not actually a philodendron, but it is related. The swiss cheese plant could work well in your office as well, adding some much-needed greenery with its sizable leaves.

You’ve probably seen a heart leaf philodendron at some point in an indoor space. This plant can be used in green walls, hanging baskets, or it can stand by itself. It can also sit beneath another plant. Heart leaf philodendron is a good match for multiple environments, such as offices or malls.

As the name suggests, the leaves are shaped like hearts. Though this makes them appear loving, they don’t love an overabundance of light. This plant should stay away from direct sunlight. Contact Ambius to learn more about whether the heart leaf philodendron would suit your environment.

The short answer to this question is yes. Philodendrons can be poisonous to both people and pets. Although they are very popular with homeowners and people who want to add some plant life to their office environment, they have to be very careful with them. This is particularly true of people with dogs, cats or children.

Philodendrons can climb down over the edges of their containers and trail along the floor. This is just the kind of inviting sight a dog or cat might find irresistible. They may be tempted to take a bite and this could have dire consequences. People who keep these flowering plants in areas where there are pets, need to make sure they are trimmed back and not within easy access for inquiring and curious snouts.

The symptoms of poisoning from ingesting a philodendron may be a burning sensation on the tongue or lips and throat. This can eventually lead to swelling of the lips and throat, which can block airways and be dangerous. Often, the later stages of philodendron ingestion include vomiting and diarrhea.

While a child or adult may be able to vocalize their distress, noticing the symptoms in a dog or cat is different. A pet who has ingested a philodendron may have diarrhea, dilated eyes, or itchiness, causing them to paw at their face or mouth area. They may start to vomit or express distress through cries and other vocalizations. If you suspect a pet has ingested part of a philodendron, take them to an emergency veterinarian immediately.

There are multiple types of philodendrons available. In fact, there are thousands of species of philodendron from around the world. Philodendrons could turn your property into a more vibrant place for visitors and employees alike. Learn more about some examples below:

Philodendron Red Congo

This is a hybrid philodendron and is relatively new on the market. This is an upright plant and grows very vigorously. What sets this one apart is the coloring. The leaves are brownish/maroon and nearly red in color when they are growing. When the leaves are open and the plant is an adult, the leaves turn deep green with traces of red.

Philodendron ‘Brasil’

Usually a tabletop plant, this is a new cultivar of philodendron combining the Philodendron scandens and Epipremnum species. These are a climbing variety that has already become very popular for people who have hanging baskets, as they look great hanging from windows and porches. They have a mixture of light and dark green leaves and grow best in warm weather.

The variegated coloring of Philodendron ‘Brasil’ could make it a great addition to your space. Get in touch with Ambius to see whether this type suits the environment of your property.

Philodendron hederaceum var. oxycardium

Philodendron hederaceum var. oxycardium is also known as heart leaf philodendron. It is a vining plant. The leaves are dark green in color and yet another type that could enhance the atmosphere of your premises.

What is Philodendron selloum?

The phrase “Philodendron selloum” is most likely referring to Philodendron bipinnatifidum, which can also be known as tree philodendron. The big leaves of this plant have parts that look a bit like fingers. This philodendron looks nice as a floor plant and should be exposed to bright, indirect light. It could really contribute to the visual appeal of your space and make for a welcoming atmosphere.

What is Philodendron ‘Prince of Orange’?

Philodendron ‘Prince of Orange’ leaves are shiny and orange in color when they are new, but they become green over time. The interiors of offices or other buildings can often become drab and dull, but this extra boost of color could contribute a little extra life to your property. Contact us to see if ‘Prince of Orange’ is right for you.

Philodendron and pothos can look similar, but they are actually different kinds of plants. Pothos plants fall under the genus Epipremnum. Pothos leaves can be a bit harder than philodendron leaves. Also, philodendron stems may be rounder, compared to lines that can be found in pothos stems.

The reason philodendrons make such good indoor plants is that they adapt to various lighting and water conditions and thrive indoors very well. The plants have large, green, dark leaves which allow them to absorb even the tiniest traces of light and water. Often, the reason philodendron leaves turn yellow is that people overwater them.

If you have an office that really wants to make interior spaces pop, a philodendron will grow along the top of cubicles and filing cabinets. They will grow up walls and along windows, too. Depending on your desired look, they can be cut back. But either way, it’s a good, fast way to add a lot of green, red, and other bright colors throughout an office.

Philodendrons tend to like warmer climates, but if the indoor areas can be kept warm, they will continue to grow and thrive even during the winter.

Taking care of a philodendron can be much easier when compared to other kinds of indoor plants, but it is not really “set it and forget it.” There are some things to remember. Try to keep the temperature between 65°F and 85°F and maintain some humidity in the air where the plant will be kept.

It is also important for dead leaves to be removed, a regular service performed by our Ambius technicians. If you do not want the plant to grow too large, regular pruning can be done as well.

The light requirements of philodendrons can vary with the leaf color. Philodendrons with solid green leaves can handle a bit less light, such as the light in an office cubicle. As a result, these ones could be perfect for your work environment. Philodendrons without solid green leaves can tolerate more light and should be exposed to indirect, bright light.

The best possible spot for philodendrons is somewhere near a window, but where the sunlight does not directly hit the foliage. Too much sunlight can cause the philodendron leaves to turn yellow.

If the vines on your philodendron become long, it uses more water and requires more maintenance. It also provides more space for pest problems. Pruning can help combat this issue. Simply cut above where another leaf is attached to the stem.

For the best philodendron plant care, look to the experts. Ambius knows how to properly prune philodendrons and keep them looking great. Contact us today to learn more.

Philodendrons do not need nearly as much water as some other plants. Over-watering them could actually harm them. If the plant is in high light or the temperature is warmer, it should be watered more often, but in low light or cooler temperatures, watering should occur less often.

In fact, the best way to keep them growing is to let the top layer of soil get dried out. Roughly the first inch or so, which is usually about the length of the tip of your finger to the first knuckle. If you can insert your finger that far and feel the dried soil at the top, the more damp soil below, then you are watering it right.

How can you tell if philodendrons need water? One red flag is a wilting plant. If you see it wilting, examine the soil to see if it needs water. If the plant is light in weight when you lift it up, it could be time to water. Yellow leaves can also be related to watering habits. So if you see a wilted philodendron or yellow leaves, assess soil moisture.

With Ambius, you won’t have to worry about whether or not your plants are getting enough water. Ambius understands the watering requirements of philodendrons and will take care to give them the appropriate amount of water so you don’t need to be concerned with it. Reach out to us to find out more about our services.

Philodendrons are a great option for the indoor environment. If you feel you could use a boost around your business with some philodendrons or one of the many other office plants we can install into your office, contact Ambius today. Our designers will discuss your indoor plant needs and find the right plants for your space.

Know your plants: how to tell the difference between a philodendron and a pothos

If you’ve read my blog before or perused my Instagram, you might be aware that I’m very passionate about taxonomy and plant identification! One of the most common mistakes I see beginner plant parents make is conflating a heart leaf philodendron (botanical name Philodendron hederaceum var. oxycardium) and a pothos (Epipremnum aureum). It’s true that they look similar upon first glance, but when you look a little closer, there are a world of differences! It’s also true that the two plants have relatively the same care, although I find the philodendron to be less drought tolerant and in need of more bright light in order to grow well. Nonetheless, I wanted to go over the differences and similarities so that you can be confident in your plant indentifcation. Expect more in a series of “Know Your Plants” posts!

First, let’s look at how the philodendron and pothos are similar: Both P. hederaceum var. oxycardium and E. aureum are in the same family Araceae and are both climbers in the wild. They will naturally grow up the sides of trees and other plants, buildings, telephone poles… whatever they can cling to with their aerial roots and travel upwards on. In the home, they’re each often displayed in hanging baskets and as trailing plants, even though many people give them trellises or moss poles to climb as well. The philodendron and pothos both have green, glossy leaves (except for the variegated and neon cultivars) that are a similar heart shape and tend to grow about the same size in the home (usually around the size of an adult’s palm). That’s about where the similarities end, so let’s breakdown how to spot the all the differences between these two popular houseplants!


How to Grow and Care for Philodendron Plants

Philodendrons will tolerate the level of humidity found in most homes, but high humidity promotes lush growth and shiny foliage, so it is a good idea to mist the plant regularly.

Repotting Philodendron Plants

Philodendrons grow best when their roots are slightly cramped, (but not too cramped), so don’t plant them in a pot that is too large.
When the roots begin to compact into a tight ball, the plant should be repotted into a planter that is 2-3 inches larger. Repotting should be done in late winter or spring, before the plant begins active new growth.
Good drainage is essential, so if there are no drainage holes, be sure to fill the bottom of the pot with clean stones or broken crockery.
Use a good commercial potting soil or a mixture consisting of equal parts of loam, sand and peat moss, with some chopped charcoal, gravel, broken crocks or brick added.
Newly potted plants need to be carefully watered during the first month or so, to be certain that the roots don’t dry out completely.
Never allow the soil to become saturated or soggy. It’s especially helpful to mist the leaves of newly planted Philodendrons two or three times a day.

It is also a good idea to add a moss stake or other type of pole to the planter at the time of repotting if this is a climbing or vining type of Philodendron. As the plant grows, it will need some sort of support.
The are several types of plant poles available at garden centers.
Some types of Philodendrons produce aerial roots which will cling to whatever support they find.
These roots should never be cut off completely, but they can be trimmed back if they become too long, or begin to die back.
It is far better to attach these roots to the support pole, or lead them back to the pot where they can grow into the soil.

Propagating Philodendrons and Growing them from Seed

Depending on the type of Philodendron grown, propagation can be accomplished by stem cuttings, by air layering,
or by offsets removed from the parent plant. Pieces of stem that contain at least two joints can be inserted as cuttings in pots of sandy soil or in a mixture of sand and peat moss.
The pots should be kept at 70-75 degrees F., and shaded from direct sun until they are well rooted.
Trailing varieties will often root at any point where the stem comes in contact with the soil.
Pin the stem securely onto the soil in a separate pot with a hairpin or a bent piece of wire.
It will be rooted in 4-8 weeks, at which time you can sever the new plant from the parent.
Offsets are new plants that emerge from the base of the plant or from the roots themselves.
Once an offset has a sufficient root system to support itself, it can be removed from the parent
by cutting it off with a sharp clean knife.
Philodendrons can also be grown from seed, but this is a long, slow process to get a specimen sized plant.
The seeds must be kept moist and at a temperature of 75-80 degrees F. for germination, which take from 15 to 30 days.

Above: To propagate a new pothos from your existing plant, start with a six-inch piece of stem that has several leaves.

Both indoors and outdoors, if your pothos gets too leggy give it a prune to control the shape and corral the length. Discover yellowing and withering older leaves with dry edges? You probably let it dry out too much for too long. Solution? Give your struggling plant friend a good soak of water.

N.B.: All parts of this plant are poisonous if ingested by humans or animals.

Above: To propagate, trim a stem so that a growth node (the spot from which a leaf sprouts) is a half-inch from the bottom. Pot the stem into water and wait for roots to sprout from the growth nodes.

Cheat Sheet

  • Grow pothos in a container that rests on a bookshelf or ledge, or in a hanging container so that it’s superior cascading habit can be appreciated. Can grow to about six to 10 feet over time.
  • Because it helps clean the air of toxins, especially formaldehyde and benzene fumes, which are often found in recently painted or furnished rooms, pothos is perfect for offices and living rooms, and because it also helps remove carbon monoxide from the air, consider putting this plant in your bedroom to ensure enough oxygen while sleeping.
  • Consider repotting your pothos if the roots have consumed the pot. Choose a container one size larger than what you are taking it out of and add fresh potting soil.
  • Propagating pothos is also easy from cuttings. Simply place a cut stem that has a node on it in a glass of water and wait for it to root. Then plant in a small container.
  • Varieties such as ‘Neon’, with chartreuse leaves will brighten a dark corner.

Above: Variegation is a mutation that can be genetic or random (if only a few variegated leaves appear on an otherwise green plant, it may revert over time to a plant that has solid green foliage).

Keep It Alive

  • Grow pothos indoors, preferably with bright, not direct light, although it also will tolerate low-light conditions. Tip: Pale leaves means too much sun, and loss of variegation means too little.
  • Pothos likes to have its soil dry out between waterings and therefore accepts erratic watering care. It definitely dislikes soggy roots. Tip: The leaves droop when the plant is thirsty and needs a drink. But don’t let this wilt-y stage go for too long or you will start to see leaf drop.
  • Grow in any well-draining potting soil.
  • Pothos is a light feeder, but you can give it a monthly snack with a balanced fertilizer formulated for houseplants.
  • For more growing and care tips, see Pothos: A Field Guide to Planting, Care & Design.
  • Read about more of our favorite houseplants in Prayer Plants: A Field Guide to Planting, Care & Design. And see more tropical plants in Tropical Plants 101 and indoor plants with exotic foliage in Houseplants 101. For more inspiration:
  • Fiddle-Leaf Fig Trees: A Field Guide
  • How to Make an Orchid Bloom Again
  • Philodendrons: A Field Guide
  • How to Keep an Indoor Citrus Tree Happy
  • Succulents & Cacti: A Field Guide
  • Maui Beach Cottage with a Tropical Garden
  • Orchids 101: A Field Guide

Looking for a hanging houseplant which trails like crazy and is a snap to maintain? Your search ends right here. I started my horticultural career in the interior landscape trade where we literally put thousands of these plants into offices, lobbies, hotels, banks, airports, and malls. This is all about pothos care – the easiest and toughest trailing houseplant now and back then.

Pothos are 1 of the most popular houseplants. Besides being easy to maintain, they’re easy to find and will barely put a dent in your wallet. You can buy a beautiful pothos in a 6″ pot with long tails for under $10.00. And, if you want to add that lush tropical vibe to your home, this plant will do it.

Lucy, who used to work here at Joy Us garden, wrote this post (with a little help from me) about her experience with pothos care. This was the very 1st houseplant she ever bought and it thrived. It gave her the confidence to move on to other houseplants. If you’re new to the indoor gardening, by all means give this plant a go and you’ll feel your thumbs getting greener!

Pothos Care and Growing Tips

How to Use Pothos

Pothos is a trailing plant & is great in hanging containers. I have 1 of mine in a ceramic pot (it’s still in the grow pot) which sits atop my armoire & trails down the side. In a large container with a floor plant, pothos look great & do well as an underplanting. Think of them as an alternative to moss! I’ve also seen them growing over hoops and on a tall piece of wood or bark as well as in dish gardens & in living walls.

Pothos “Marble Queen” planted in a lush living wall in a mall in La Jolla, CA


You can buy them in 4, 6, 8 & 10″ grow pots. The 6 – 10″ pots often have hangers which you can snap off if you wish to remove it. I bought mine in a 6″ pot & the trails were about a foot or so long.


These are the ones that I’ve seen: Golden, Marble Queen, Jade, Neon, En Joy, Glacier, Jessenia, Blue, & Silver. The Silver Pothos is a different genus but is grouped in with the others.

Growers in different parts of the country, mainly Florida, California, Texas & Hawaii, grow different pothos so you may not be able to find all of these. Golden, Marble Queen & Jade are the pothos I’ve worked with & seen most often.

This post on Pothos care applies to all varieties. Just know that some will prefer more light. More on that under “Exposure”.

Growth Rate

Pothos are moderate to fast growers. If you have it in low light, the growth rate will be slower. In their native environments they climb up trees & they can reach 60′. That’s why they’re considered to be invasive, hard to get rid of & have earned another common name: Devil’s Ivy. Fortunately, we don’t have to worry about this in our homes!

This is a Golden Pothos. It’s an old standby & trails like crazy.

Pothos Care as an Indoor Plant


Low+ to high. Moderate light is the sweet spot for Pothos. They’ll tolerate low light but won’t grow much at all. Just remember, low light is no light. In low light conditions, a Golden Pothos will lose its variegation & revert to solid green. That makes the Jade Pothos best for lower light. Their leaves also get smaller if they’re not getting enough light.

Pothos Neon (I love this 1 with its vibrant chartreuse color) does best in medium to high light. Just keep any pothos out of any hot, sunny windows. They’ll burn in no time. High light is fine but make sure it’s at least 10′ away from the window.

If your pothos is getting light from one side only, you’ll want to rotate it every now and then. Those leaves will really lean towards the light source.

These Pothos Neons need moderate to high light to keep their foliage bright & jazzy.


I water mine thoroughly until the water drains out of the pot & let the soil go almost dry before watering again. Here in the desert (I live in Tucson) that’s once every 6-7 days in the warmer months. It’s less often in the winter; maybe every 9-10 days.

How often you water yours depends on how warm your home is, pot size, type of pot, etc. I’ve done a houseplant watering 101 post & video which might help you out. Pothos are subject to root rot so it’s better to keep them on the dry side rather than too wet. In the colder months, water less often.


This isn’t a big deal when it comes to pothos care. They tolerate a wide range of temps. If your house is comfortable for you, it’ll be for your pothos also. Just keep them away from cold drafts and heating or air conditioning vents.


I don’t fertilize mine but that might change. I’ll let you know. Right now I give my houseplants a light application of worm compost with a light layer of compost over that every spring. Easy does it – 1/4 to 1/2″ of each. Read about my worm compost/compost feeding right here.

Liquid kelp or fish emulsion would work fine too as well as a balanced liquid houseplant fertilizer (5-5-5 or lower) if you have that. Dilute any of these to half strength & apply in spring. If for some reason you think your pothos needs another application, do it again in summer.

You don’t want to fertilize houseplants in late fall or winter because that’s their time for rest. Don’t over fertilize your pothos because salts build up & can burn the roots of the plant. Don’t fertilize a houseplant which is stressed, ie. bone dry or soaking wet.

Pothos Glacier is one of the newer varieties with smaller leaves & white/green variegation.


Any high quality organic potting soil that drains well is the best. Just make sure it says it’s formulated for houseplants on the bag. This is the one I’m using & am very happy with.


It’s not at all hard to do. If your pothos has long trails you might have to gently tie them up to keep them out of the way while you’re doing the repotting. I usually go up a size – from 4″ to 6″ pot as an example. If your 6″ pothos is large & extremely pot bound, then you can jump to a 10″ pot.

Spring & summer are the best times to repot your pothos. I plan on repotting my Pothos En Joy next spring so I’ll do a post & video on that for you.


You can prune your pothos to control the length. Doing this will stimulate new growth at the top too. Pinching or pruning off the tips of the trails (1-2 nodes back) will also do this.

I’ve seen pothos stems with a bit of growth at the top, no growth in the middle & a bit of growth at the ends. Cut those ends (along with the bare middle), propagate them & plant back in the pot. This will rejuvenate your plant.

This little brown bump I’m pointing at is a root emerging off of the stem.


Propagating a pothos is so easy. I always propagate mine in water with great success. Roots form off the nodes of the stems so they’re already on their way for you.

Remove enough leaves off the stems so you can get them in water. It’s best to keep the leaves out of the water. Fill your glass or jar with enough water to cover 2 nodes or so. Keep the water at this level & change it out every now & then. More roots will be appearing in no time!

The longest I’ve kept my pothos stems in water was 8 months & they looked just fine. I’ve heard that they can be in the water for a long time & actually grow.


When I lived in Santa Barbara my pothos got mealybugs. I spotted them early on & took action. On commercial accounts, I also saw pothos with spider mites & scale. I’ve done posts on mealybugs, spider mites & scale so you can identify & treat.

Pests can travel from houseplant to houseplant fast so make you get them under control as soon as you see them.

Pet Safety

Pothos are considered to be toxic to pets. I consult the ASPCA website for my info on this subject & see in what way the plant is toxic. Here’s more info on this for you. Most houseplants are toxic to pets in some way & I want to share my thoughts with you regarding this topic.

This one’s called Pothos Silver Splash. It’s in the genus Scindapsus whereas the other ones mentioned here have a different genus; Epipremnum. All are in the same family though.

Good To Know Regarding Pothos Care

Pothos are subject to root rot so overwatering will lead to its downfall.

Yellow leaves on a pothos can mean too much water (the leaves usually brown a bit towards the center 1st), too dry, too much sun, or too much fertilizer.

Limp leaves can mean too little water.

Small brown tips are just a reaction to the dry air in our homes.

The type of pot a pothos is a plant in doesn’t matter. I’ve grown them in plastic pots & also directly planted in terra cotta. Fiberglass, resin or ceramic would be just fine too. Make sure the pot has a drain hole(s).

I once had a viewer ask this so I want to include it: “can you make the spacing of the leaves on pothos stems closer?” The answer is no. If your pothos loses any leaves up & down the stems, new ones won’t appear where the old ones were. The smaller leafed varieties (like En Joy which you see in the lead photo) grow quite tight with the leaves closer together on the stems.

You can find this plant, more houseplants and lots of info in our simple and easy to digest houseplant care guide: Keep Your Houseplants Alive.

I know there’s a lot of info here but this plant is really easy to maintain and has been very long lived for me. The 2 best things you can do to grow a pothos: give it bright, natural light and don’t over water it. It’s a keeper!

Happy gardening,

Philodendron Houseplants: How To Care For A Philodendron Plant

For generations, philodendrons have served as a mainstay in interior gardens. Philodendron care is easy because if you watch for the signals, the plant will tell you exactly what it needs. Even inexperienced houseplant owners will have no trouble growing philodendron plants because they adapt readily to the conditions inside the home. This makes learning how to care for a philodendron incredibly simple.

Philodendron houseplants thrive indoors year round without complaint, but they enjoy an occasional stay outdoors in a shady spot when the weather permits. Taking the plant outdoors also gives you a chance to flush the soil with plenty of fresh water and clean the leaves. Unlike most houseplants, philodendrons don’t experience as much stress when moving from indoor to outdoor settings.

How to Care for a Philodendron

Philodendron care incorporates three basic needs: sunlight, water and fertilizer.

Sunlight – Set the plant in a location with bright, indirect sunlight. Find a position near a window where the sun’s rays never actually touch the foliage. While it’s normal for older leaves to yellow, if this happens to several leaves at the same time, the plant may be getting too much light. On the other hand, if the stems are long and leggy with several inches between leaves, the plant probably isn’t getting enough light.

Water – When growing philodendron plants, allow the top inch of soil to dry out between waterings. The length of your index finger to the first knuckle is about an inch, so inserting your finger into the soil is a good way to check the moisture level. Droopy leaves can mean that the plant is getting too much or not enough water. But the leaves recover quickly when you correct the watering schedule.

Fertilizer – Feed philodendron houseplants with a balanced liquid foliage houseplant fertilizer that contains macro-nutrients. Water the plant with the fertilizer monthly in spring and summer and every six to eight weeks in fall and winter. Slow growth and small leaf size is the plant’s way of telling you that it isn’t getting enough fertilizer. Pale new leaves usually indicate that the plant isn’t getting enough calcium and magnesium, which are essential micro-nutrients for philodendrons.

The two main types of philodendron houseplants are vining and non-climbing varieties.

  • Vining philodendrons need a post or other supporting structure to climb on. These include blushing philodendrons and heartleaf philodendrons.
  • Non-climbing philodendrons, such as lacy tree philodendrons and bird’s nest philodendrons, have an upright, spreading growth habit. The width of non-climbers can be as much as twice their height, so give them plenty of elbow room.

Is My Plant a Pothos or a Philodendron?

Philodendron houseplants are often confused with pothos plants. While the leaves of these two plants are similar in shape, pothos plants are usually variegated with splotches of yellow or white color. Pothos is a much smaller plant as well and is often sold in hanging baskets.

This post shares all about how to care for Philodendron. There are a ton of different varieties, and Philodendron plants are some of the easiest houseplants to take care of!

Let’s talk about Philodendrons today! If you have houseplants, you probably have a Philodendron hanging out somewhere. If you don’t have houseplants, Philodendrons are a great gateway plant. That’s because they are durable, patient, and tolerant of your plant misgivings.

How to Care for Philodendron

Philodendron is actually name of a large genus of plants in the Araceae family. In fact, it’s the second-largest genus in the family. The most common houseplant Philodendron variety is probably the heart-leaf Philodendron, or Philodendron hederaceum. This plant is often confused with the pothos plant, which itself has many varieties. (Learn how how to care for pothos plants and how to propagate pothos plants from cuttings.)

They share a similar leaf shape; however, they are totally different plants. Pothos plants typically have very shiny and waxy-looking leaves, while the heart-leaf Philodendron leaves have a more matte finish. Here is a picture showing a comparison.

One cool thing about Philodendrons is that they have juvenile leaves and adult leaves. That is, all of the leaves aren’t the same, even on one plant. The plant gradually morphs from juvenile to adult leaves over its life, so it isn’t something you’ll probably notice. However, it’s a trait that has made differentiating between different species difficult.

In addition to being a wildly popular houseplant, Philodendrons can be grown outdoors in the shade, typically preferring moist soils. They are found all around the world.

Want more plant care content? Check out my posts on how to care for snake plants, how to care for prickly pear cactus, how to take care of succulents indoors, how to care for string of pearls, and how to care for rubber plants!

Philodendron Types and Varieties

There are two main types of Philodendron plants: climbing/vining/trailing plants and non-climbing plants that grow up and out. Heart-leaf Philodendron (Philodendron hederaceum) is an example of a type that will vine or trail and looks likely in a hanging basket.

The Fiddle-Leaf Philodendron (which is NOT a fiddle-leaf fig) and Xanadu Philodendron (aka Winterbourn) is an example of a plant that grows up and out—in fact, it can grow two times as wide as it does tall. These plants can actually get quite large, too. Here’s a huge Xanadu Philodendron at my local nursery. If I had 80 bucks to blow and the space…this sucker would so be mine.

Xanadu Philodendron

Philodendrons have different kinds of roots—aerial and subterranean. Aerial roots grow from the plant’s nodes and help the plant attach itself to things and collect nutrients. Subterranean roots are what you typically think of when you think of plant roots.

Aerial roots help the climbing varieties climb. Don’t cut them off! You can attach the roots to something like a pole or twine on a wall to help the plant climb. Likewise, you can put the stem and aerial root back into the pot and cover with a bit of soil. This will re-root and begin to grow, giving the plant a fuller appearance. I do this with some of my pothos plants, especially if they are getting leggy (stems with sparse leaves).

Philodendron Light Requirements

Philodendrons generally prefer medium light and thrive in bright indirect sunlight. They are well-known for their ability to tolerate low light, but they won’t thrive. As with pothos plants, leaves might develop smaller, and the stems might become more leggy and sparse. Too much direct sunlight with burn the leaves, which is no good. Find yourself a sunny window and you’ll be good to go.

Roots, Soil, and Water

When talking about how to care for Philodendron, water is a critical topic to cover. Watering Philodendrons thankfully isn’t rocket science. You can—and should—let Philodendrons dry out between watering. Don’t over-water and avoid soggy soil—one tell-tale sign of over-watering in a Philodendron is the leaves turning yellow and drooping. Under-watering? Leaves browning, crinkling, and falling off.

You can give your Philodendrons a bit of fertilizer while it’s actively during during the spring, summer, and wall. Let it chill during the winter with no fertilizer and less water. The less a plant is actively growing, the less water it needs. All Philodendrons like well-draining soil.

Philodendron friends like to be snug in their pots, much like snake plants. (Learn more about how to care for snake plants and how to propagate snake plants.) Don’t plant them in pots that are too big. When their roots become really compact, re-home them into something a few inches bigger. See the round up of my indoor planter DIY’s to help you decorate with houseplants.

Like many other houseplants, good drainage is critical to Philodendron health. Use a well-draining high-quality potting soil. If your pot doesn’t have a drainage hole, learn about how to plant in pots without holes to prevent root rot.

Temperature and Humidity for Philodendrons

Speaking of winter, Philodendrons do well in a variety of normal household humidity levels. Misting your little lovelies with a water bottle will promote growth by adding a bit of humidity, though.

Philodendrons also do well in normal household temperature settings. They won’t do well the colder it gets and will die in freezing temps, so if you have them outside in a shady spot for the summer, bring them in during the winter for hibernation.

Propagating Philodendrons

Philodendron propagation is pretty easy but can differ depending on the plant type. Methods include rooting stem cuttings, air layering, and removing babies from a parent plant. To propagate by cuttings, cut a stem with a few nodes on it and stick it down in to a small pot with sandy soil. You can also remove babies (offsets) from their mother plants to create new plants. Wait until the baby has its own sufficient root system, though.

If you’re propagating a trailing variety, you can grow roots by putting the cutting in a jar of water/ They can successfully root at a node that comes into contact with soil. Take a stem from an existing plant—don’t cut it off—and lay it over another pot with soil in it. Gently bury the node areas and water. After 1–2 months, it should root. You can then cut the stem to separate the two plants.


According to the Internet, Philodendron toxicity risk in children is low, and fatal poisoning is extremely rare. One study of 127 children found only one child showed mild side effects. Opinions about toxicity in cats are also mixed. As with most plants, it’s probably best to keep them away from your kitties and little kids that aren’t old enough to understand you shouldn’t eat them. Thankfully many Philodendrons look beautiful hanging out of reach. 🙂



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This semi-tropical plant is a great value for the shadier spots in your garden. They only grow to three feet by five feet at maturity, but in our climate they would be lucky to get larger than 2 ½ by 3 feet. They are a plant that will live year round in Zone 10, but will survive in sheltered spots in zones up to 8B (where we are).

It has a mounded habit with smaller textured leaves compared to its larger cousin – split leaf Philodendron. It prefers shadier spots, but will adapt to sunny locations. Very few insects will feed on this plant, as well as being relatively fungus free, it is almost the perfect plant!

Remember, to plant slightly mounded with a soil amendment. Fertilize the roots when planting, and follow up with an all-purpose fertilizer during the growing season. It is not a thirsty plant, it actually prefers to dry out between watering.

So if you are in need of an easy to care plant that loves the shade and takes little to no care, AND one that adds texture and a backdrop to your more colorful shade plants; this is your plant!

Philodendron ‘Xanadu’

Philodendron selloum ‘Xanadu’

Synonyms: Philodendron ‘Winterbourn’.

Philodendron Xanadu is one of the most widely cultivated plants in Brisbane, used by councils, educational facilities, fast-food restaurants and the like as a reliable green space filler. Although loathed by some for its ubiquity, there is still good reason to love this plant. It grows extremely well in South-East Queensland, surviving on natural rainfall alone if it must. It is a consistently tight growing plant with a few pest and disease issues, making it an exceptionally low-maintenance plant.

Xanadu was developed in the late 1980’s from the Tree Philodendron (P. selloum), and was given the name “Winterbourn”. In Australia it was trademarked as Xanadu and the name has since stuck. It is useful as a low- or mid-ground planting in subtropical gardens. It’s also used a lot as a verge plant or on round-abouts and roadsides. Common to see it filling large planters or pots in alfresco dining areas and the like.

In landscaping applications, it is particularly useful as an under-planting, where it will clump and cluster around taller species. Being a Philodendron, it is quite tough and competitive, so grows well under trees or in crowded plantings. It takes anything from full sun to full shade. Xanadu is occasionally grown as an indoor plant, where it should do well if not over-watered. However, the leaf shape will be more attractive and deeply lobed if grown outside in sun. Will handle light frost, but leaves will burn badly.

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