Philodendrons are a common sight in many households. A famous tropical plant to have for many years but still as popular as ever. The most popular is probably the Monstera Deliciosa or Swiss Cheese plants. This plant can grow ginormously big and its humongous leaves are a sight to behold. If you can get your hands on a big one we envy you!
The name Philodendron comes from the Greek language and we love the meaning of it! 'Philo' means love, or passion, and 'Dendron' is the Greek word for tree. A free translation, then, would be "Tree of love". This plant may have a Greek name, his roots lay in the rain forests of South America. Many Philodendron species are considered 'climbing plants', so you see them climbing their larger brothers and sisters all over the rainforest.
With big leaves like the ones found on a Philodendron you almost have to be an excellent air purifier! There are stomata on the leaves of all plants that absorb CO2 and release oxygen as a residual product. So technically it's simple; the larger the leaf, the more stomata and therefore the more oxygen production. Easy right?
Unfortunately this plant is toxic, so keep pets and small children at a distance. Cats especially have the habit of taking a bite from the leaves, which they will regret. The sap or juice in the leaves will cause a swollen throat, stomach cramps and a few other unpleasant side effects. Try to keep this plant away from pets and children by not buying one :). If your four-legged friend still thinks 'hey! a snack!' whenever she's near a Philodendron, take her to the vet. And maybe find a new home for your Philo!
Although it requires little water, it is still important to keep the soil slightly moist for your green friend. Since overwatering is the most common reason that Philodendrons die. The excess water causes root rot which is hard to come back from. So put a stick or finger in the soil every now and then to check how wet the soil is at the bottom of the pot before watering again.
The Philodendron is not too demanding when it comes to how much light it is getting. As long as you don't put it directly in bright sunlight. You can even place this houseplant in a shady spot in the house. As with all houseplants, it's recommended to turn the plant every now and then so that it doesn't grow towards the light on just one side.
The Philodendron is like a bear: hungry in summer and hibernating in Winter. You can give it some fertilizer every two weeks in summer. In the fall it's not really necessary, and avoid it all together in winter when it doesn't need it and all this food remains in the soil. Who wants to sit on top of a dirty old plate full of food! Seriously though, overfeeding makes the soil very acidic, which plant roots don't like so much.
It doesn't grow particularly fast, but as with all indoor plants, it is wise to give the plant a larger pot once every few years. This allows the roots to grow further, and also some fresh potting soil gives the plant new nutrients. Repotting it about once every two years is usually sufficient. It is best to repot at the end of the winter or the beginning of spring, so that your green friend can recover quickly from the move during its growing period.
The Philodendron is very sensitive to excess water. If you notice brown leaves on your plant, it is probably receiving too much water. Yellowish, limp leaves are often a sign that the plant finds it a little too bright in its current location. If this happens to your Philo, it's best to move it a metre further from your windows. You can safely cut brown leaves at the branch on the stem; the plant will eventually grow new ones.
Another great thing about the Philodendron; it isn't very sensitive to diseases. Yay! Especially the Monstera variety (also known as Swiss Cheese plant, due to its holes).