The term “Philodendron” refers to a large family of plants from the genus philodendron. It includes hundreds of different species that are closely related. These plants typically have beautiful, large, bright green leaves that give them a distinctive and unique appearance. Because they help purify the air around them, and due to their water, light, and soil requirements, they are an excellent low-maintenance addition to a home, office, classroom, or any other indoor space. They are also a great plant for homes with children and pets, as philodendrons tend to have low to mild toxicity levels (with a few exceptions) and don’t attract major pests– win-win!
There are hundreds of known philodendron varieties that come from all around the world. Here are the best ones that you can grow at home or in any other indoor space to liven things up! Throughout the article, we’ll refer to each philodendron species by its scientific name as well as its common names.
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Philodendron Scandens – “Heartleaf”
The Heartleaf philodendron gets its name from the distinctive shape of its leaves. They are generally a few inches long and resemble the shape of a heart. It also goes by the nickname “sweetheart plant”. The leaves are numerous and can cover the entire stems, which can grow up to 4 feet or more. If you do let it grow rather than trim the stems, they can climb and cascade out of the pot in beautiful and unique patterns. It can even be trained to climb a pole with some simple plant ties.
Philodendron Xanadu – “Winterbourn”
The Philodendron Xanadu is also known as the “Winterbourn” philodendron. It’s known for long, shiny, leathery green leaves, each with its own set of protruding lobes. As compared to the heartleaf, the Xanadu is not a climber, unlike other vining plants. Instead, it is relatively compact and grows within a confined space, although it’s one of the larger plants in the philodendron family. It can grow up to 4 feet tall and 5 feet wide in ideal conditions. This is one of the non-pet-friendly plants on the list, so beware if you have a dog or cat at home. Make sure your pets don’t try to ingest the leaves or stems.
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Philodendron Bipennifolium – “Fiddleleaf”
Fiddleleaf philodendron is naturally found deep in the tropical rainforests of countries in South America like Brazil, Argentina, and Paraguay. They thrive in warm climates and cannot survive in the cold. As the name suggests, their large leaves resemble a fiddle and generally grow to be about 8-12 inches long, although some can be up to 18 inches. They grow glossy dark green leaves throughout their lifespan. Like other philodendrons, the fiddleleaf requires very little maintenance, meaning that you get to enjoy its natural beauty without the hassle of constant upkeep!
Philodendron Monstera Deliciosa – “Swiss Cheese”
The philodendron Monstera is found primarily throughout Central America, in places such as Belize, Guatemala, and Panama. Their leaf’s nickname, swiss cheese, comes from the distinctive holes and gaps that form throughout the middle of the leaf. Scientists have theorized that the reason for the holes is to allow more light to pass through the surface of the leaf to reach the plant’s roots as well as the rest of the forest floor. This is especially helpful in low-light conditions such as forests that are shaded by a dense canopy. These holes generally grow larger proportionally with the size of the leaf and move towards the leaf’s edges. Eventually, they reach the edge and create finger-like outer sections on each leaf.
Philodendron Hastatum – “Silver Sword”
The philodendron hastatum is native to Southeastern Brazil, and although it is a relatively common household garden plant, it has become endangered due to excessive deforestation and habitat destruction. One of the most easily noticeable things that set the Hastatum apart from other types of philodendron is the shape and color of its leaves. While many other philodendron varieties take on a deep, dark green color, the Hastatum shows a more blue/green/gray hue. Adding a silver sword to your indoor garden can add a nice touch of variety in terms of shape and color. The leaves also have a long, skinny shape that comes to a point at the end furthest from the stem.
Philodendron Pedatum – “Florida Ghost”
The Florida ghost features stems that are much longer than that of your typical philodendron. It loves to climb when given the chance. Most of its leaves appear green; however, before new leaves have fully matured, they will start a white, creamy color. As the maturation process takes place, they will turn greener and greener, until they are finally solid green at peak maturity. Since leaves grow one at a time, this process usually involves one white leaf among several fully mature leaves. They also resemble the shape of a ghost, with a wide bottom, skinny top, and a lobe on each side that resembles arms.
The Philodendron Gloriosum is known for its larger leaves, which can grow up to 3 feet long and look like elephant ears! Be aware though, that as with other size estimates, this size is more commonly found in nature than in philodendron houseplants. Generally, each plant might only have a couple of leaves. Each leaf is green with yellow veins running through the middle. They do take a lot of time and patience to grow. Each leaf can take multiple months to open, and even longer to fully develop. However, these are so impressive looking that they are definitely worth the wait!
The philodendron tripartium, as the name may suggest, is also known as the three-lobe philodendron. Each stem diverges into three long, skinny leaf lobes that can be 6-12 inches long. As a climber, this indoor plant can reach heights of 3-5 feet tall with the proper care.
Yet another climber, the philodendron Bernardopazii will vine down towards the ground or climb nearby poles when given the chance. Its leaves are almost the size of that of the philodendron gloriosum, but take on a much longer and skinnier shape. The leaves have yellow veining throughout, which appears red on the underside of some leaves. It also may have red stems. Smaller versions of the plant carry the same leaf shape, but may only be a few inches long rather than a few feet.
The philodendron majesty looks vastly different from all of the other plants on this list. Instead of the typical green leaf color we have mentioned several times, the majesty’s leaves are a deep reddish-brown to black, depending on the age and individual characteristics of the specific plant. The stems and veins are also unique, and they appear mostly red on both the topside and underside of the leaf. Like many other varieties of philodendron, the majesty will climb if given the opportunity.
The uniqueness of the philodendron verrucosum is not in its color, but rather in its texture. That is, its leaves look similar to other philodendron species, but feel much different. Its leaf sheath is soft and velvety to the touch, rather than slick and glossy. In their natural habitat, these tropical plants will spend at least part of their lives attached to other trees, and their roots eventually reach the forest floor upon maturity of the plant. However, this does not impact the plant’s ability to be kept and maintained independently as a houseplant.
Philodendron Prince of Orange
Leaves on the philodendron prince of orange (predictably) start as a deep copper/rusted orange color and eventually progress to green as they reach full maturity. This gives the plant a wide array of colors throughout its life cycle. It can certainly liven up any indoor plant collection and add a splash of color. It comes in relatively small sizes and is compact, at only about 2 feet tall when fully grown. While the Prince of Orange is not a climber, is it still important to keep a careful eye on the plant in case it needs to be repotted. It can be a very fast grower. So much so, that it can double its size in less than a year under the right conditions.
Philodendron Domesticum – “Lemon Lime” or “Spade Leaf”
The philodendron domesticum goes by two nicknames: Spade leaf, for the shape of its leaves, and lemon-lime, for the two main colors, green and yellow. This is one of the larger species of philodendron and requires quite a bit of space when fully grown. Its spade-shaped leaves can grow to be up to 24 inches long and 6-10 inches wide. With many leaves on each plant, it’s easy to see how this adds up quickly and takes up a considerable area! The yellow and green hues for which the plant is named aren’t always predictable in how or where they show up. On some plants, the yellow and green sections are neatly divided into entire leaves or along straight lines. However, some are much less predictable. The yellow and green sections appear splotchy or spotty. In still other variations of the plant, the leaves are mostly green with small yellow freckles dotting the body of the leaf.
The philodendron Grazielae is yet another climber that can grow several feet tall under the right conditions. In its natural rainforest habitat, it will often attach itself to a tree trunk. This plant looks similar to the heartleaf philodendron mentioned earlier in the article in terms of shape, color, and glossiness. The only difference is that the leaves on the Grazielae are smaller and more numerous.
The philodendron Birkin is another great variety of philodendron to own. It is on the smaller side, with a maximum height of about 3 feet, and grows rather slowly. Check out our complete guide on growing and caring for philodendron Birkin for more.
Caring for your Philodendron
Although they do vary slightly from one species to another, philodendrons are closely related, and therefore have similar maintenance requirements. Consider the following tips as a general guide that covers most philodendrons. For more specific information and care advice, be sure to look up your species of philodendron for the best results.
Regardless of the species, philodendron plants need to be in a location where they will receive plenty of indirect light. So, instead of directly on the window sill, try placing your plant in a place with soft light. An easy way to tell if your plant is getting too much bright light is to check the color of the leaves. If they are a deep green color, you are good to go! However, if they have started to turn yellow, you may want to relocate the plant to an area that receives less direct sunlight or try leaving the blinds or curtains drawn for the sunniest parts of the day. Conversely, you can also tell if your plant is getting too much light by looking at the spacing between the leaves. If the leaves are very spread apart with several inches between them, the amount of light your plant is receiving might be insufficient. If your plant is getting too little light, on the other hand, try moving it closer to a window.
Read our Guide: The Best Grow Lights For Indoor Plants & Small Spaces
Philodendrons do best in normal room temperature conditions – right around 70 degrees Fahrenheit. As long as you keep the plant in a temperature-controlled environment like a home or office, this should be easy to maintain. You’ll want to be aware, however, to keep the temperatures above 55 degrees Fahrenheit if you leave the house for an extended time. Dropping below 55 can cause your plant some serious problems, or even cause it to die. For this same reason, it’s best to not put your plant outside during excessively hot (above 80 Fahrenheit) or cold (below 55 Fahrenheit) temperatures.
Philodendron plants require a light watering every couple of days, or just enough to keep the top inch of soil from drying out. An easy way to check on this is to brush around some of the soil with your finger and check for moisture. Once you have found a schedule that keeps the top layer of soil moist, you should be able to easily stick to it without having to test the soil before each watering and ensure your plants have nice healthy roots.
Other Care Tips
In general, philodendron benefit from a light, nutrient-dense, balanced liquid fertilizer about every 1-2 months. This helps encourage growth, while some fertilizers will even help with warding off harmful pests. Additionally, be sure to choose a pot that is large enough for your plant. In general, pick one where the root ball of the plant has at least 2-3 inches in all directions to encourage the healthy growth of new roots. Beware that they do attract minor pests such as spider mites.
Owning a Philodendron
With any philodendron on this list, you’ll have one of the most unique and beautiful container plants available anywhere. They truly make a fantastic addition to any greenhouse, home, or office. With all of the great varieties to choose from, you really can’t go wrong!