Especially in urban areas, houseplants can help connect you to nature. Texas A&M University estimates indoor gardeners choose from 250 different plants to grow in their homes and philodendrons (Philodendron spp.) are among the most popular. The genus contains more than 275 species, from vines to upright plants that can grow quite tall.
Philodendrons Clean the Air
All homes harbor polluted air, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Sources include tobacco smoke, household cleaners and furniture manufactured from pressed wood products. A lack of ventilation in the home makes this worse. NASA scientists studied indoor air quality and discovered certain plants clean toxins from the air by pulling the air into their roots where it’s converted into plant food. It turns out some plants are better at cleaning the air than others and three varieties of philodendron made the list: heartleaf philodendron (Philodendron scandens “oxycardium”), Selloum philodendron (Philodendron selloum) and elephant ear philodendron (Philodendron domesticum). Heartleaf and elephant ear philodendrons grow outdoors in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 10 and above, while Selloum philodendron grows outdoors in USDA zones 8b through 11.
You Control the Size
Climbing philodendrons are usually grown in hanging pots or baskets and may end up sweeping the floor. Controlling the vines is a snap by pinching off sections. Even the size of the larger, upright philodendrons can be controlled by cutting the stems back. Another way to control a philodendron’s size is by taking a tip from bonsai growers and trimming the roots.
Philodendron species vary in the amount of light they need and many do well in a somewhat shady corner of the house. These plants require less frequent applications of fertilizer than their sun-grown cousins. The philodendron’s main requirement, as a tropical plant, is consistently moist soil. Plant the philodendron in a quality, moisture-retaining potting mix to cut down on how often you need to water.
Easy to Propagate
Southerners hold a charming tradition of sharing plants with friends, family and neighbors and call these shared treasures pass-along plants. It’s easy to participate in the tradition when you grow philodendrons, because many are a snap to propagate. Philodendrons can be propagated by tip and leaf bud cuttings. Heartleaf philodendrons can be propagated by taking 1-inch stem cuttings that contain one node and an attached leaf, while others merely require pinching off a stem and sticking it in soil.
- Texas A&M AgriLife Extension: Houseplants
- Clemson Cooperative Extension: Philodendron
- Cornell Cooperative Extension of Oneida County: Philodendrons
- University of Florida IFAS Extension: Cultural Guidelines for Commercial Production of Interiorscape Philodendron
- United States Environmental Protection Agency: An Introduction to Indoor Air Quality (IAQ)
- NASA: Plants Clean Air and Water for Indoor Environments
- University of Minnesota Extension: Houseplants Help Clean Indoor Air
- Foliage Houseplants; James Underwood Crockett
- Tropicos: Philodendron Schott
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