The name philodendron is derived from the Greek words philo (love) and dendron (tree). This classic plant is among the most popular houseplants, and considered one of the easiest to grow. Lacy tree philodendrons, also commonly known as lacy leaf philodendron, are a large upright vine native to the rainforests of Brazil. It requires space to grow them indoors, since they tend to spread wide. They grow to a height of approximately three feet, but its width can be nearly twice its height.
In addition to being easy to care for, the philodendron plant can help purify the air.
Philodendron Plant Overview
There are about 400 species of philodendron, a member of the family araceae. Philodendrons fall into two basic categories: vining and non-trailing (also called self-heading). Vines are a perfect choice for a hanging basket or climbing a trellis, while upright types such as lacy tree philodendrons can make a dramatic statement in any space. They are beautiful and exotic plants, and can reach astounding heights in their native environments.
As a tropical plant, philodendron is particularly effective at helping the clean the air we breathe. To take advantage of its air purification qualities for a healthier home environment, place philodendron plants in every 100 square feet of living space and let it do what it does naturally.
Philodendron are sometimes confused with pothos plants, but you can tell the difference by the leaves. They are similar in shape, but pothos leaves usually are variegated with yellow or white splotches.
Types of Philodendron
The philodendron family is a big one, including many species and cultivars in a variety of shapes, sizes, and colors. Here are a few of the most popular:
Lacy Tree Philodendron
P. bipinnatifidum is also known as split leaf philodendron. It is actually an upright vine, but with a four inch diameter trunk and long, rope-like roots, you can see where it gets its name. The enormous half-lobed leaves are its main attraction. They blossom in their natural habitat, but this rarely occurs indoors.
P. scandens is a popular climber with dark green, heart-shaped leaves that are typically two to four inches long. Its long stems can grow to four feet. It is also known as the sweetheart plant. It can tolerate very low light, and is known as one of the most dependable and toughest of all houseplants. It will thrive for years with little care.
P. erubescens is a sturdy climber that grows vigorously, up to 20 feet. It has 10 to 16 inch dark green arrow-shaped leaves that are red to copper on the underside. The stems are reddish-purple while young. Red-leaf philodendron likes medium light and several cultivars are selected for their color.
Philodendron Plant Care Tips
Philodendron care is simple, as the plant can readily adapt to any indoor environment. It can thrive indoors year round, and grows well in a west or southeast window.
Light: Philodendrons grow best in medium light and bright indirect sunlight. Older leaves turn yellow naturally. However, if you notice several yellow leaves at once, it could be an indicator that the plant is getting too much sun. They will tolerate low light, but if the stems become leggy with several inches between the leaves, you may need to move the plant to a brighter location.
Water: Water when the top inch of soil dries out. Take care not to overwater, since philodendron will rot if kept soggy. If the leaves are brown and falling off, the plant is likely not getting enough water. Droopy leaves can mean the plant is getting either too much or not enough water, but they should revive once you correct the issue.
Temperatures: The ideal temperature for a philodendron is between 65 – 78°F during the day, and around 60°F at night.
Toxicity: Philodendron should not be consumed by animals or humans. Lacy tree philodendrons are toxic to cats and dogs. Being educated on poisonous plants can help you avoid any accidents all the while enjoying your greenery.
Pests and Problems: Philodendron are not prone to insects, but you may encounter aphids and mealybugs. You can wipe off mealybugs with cotton balls dipped in rubbing alcohol. Periodically showering the plant with water and applying insecticidal soap will help keep pests at bay.
Other tips: Philodendron are tropical plants, so higher humidity will promote lush growth and shiny foliage. It will tolerate lower humidity levels, but misting the plant regularly will help it thrive. Brown leaf tips usually indicate that the humidity level is too low.
You’ll also want to keep dust off the leaves by washing them regularly with a soft, damp cloth. Otherwise, the pores will become clogged.
Rotate your lacy tree philodendron regularly to maintain an even shape, and consider carefully repotting your plant every few years to prevent it from bursting a pot that is too small.
If you aren’t sure you have a green thumb or if you know you have a brown one, the readily adaptable philodendron might be right up your alley. Warmth, light, and moisture are the keys to success with philodendron. In return for their care, they will help improve your indoor air quality and grace your home or office with a jungle-like beauty.