The diversity of the Philodendron species, also known as tree friends, is enormous. They climb, crawl, grow on the ground or in the treetops. Find out about the best types of Philodendron here.
But which of the many species should you choose? To make the selection a little easier, we have compiled the most popular types of Philodendron here as an overview for you.
Types of Philodendron: how many are there?
The approximately 487 species of Philodendron are native to the tropical forests of South and Central America. Those that grow on the ground are terrestrial plants, and those that grow on trees as perching plants are known as epiphytes. There are also hemiepiphytes, which are plants that begin their lives high up in the treetops and then grow their roots toward the ground, where they make contact with the earth.
In order to give your philodendron houseplants the most ideal conditions possible, we’ve included information on whether the following Philodendron species grow epiphytically or terrestrially in nature.
Terrestrial and epiphytic species:
As mentioned, some Philodendron species grow on the ground in the soil of the tropical rainforest. Others hold on to the trunks of larger trees with their aerial roots; they are so-called epiphytes. Their elevated, often climbing growth allows more access to light, which is scarce in the dense rainforest. However, epiphytes are not parasites. Rather, they are content with using some of the tree’s dead, loose bark and coarse organic material that collects in cracks in the bark as substrate. Accordingly, these two types of Philodendron require different soils in order to come to life as houseplants in the UK:
- For terrestrial philodendron species, for example, our Plantura Organic All Purpose Compost is a good choice. It has a loose structure, which it retains for a long time, and yet can retain water. It is also enriched with important nutrients. The soil should be permeable and slightly acidic, but also retain moisture well.
- For the epiphytes and hemiepiphytes among the philodendrons, a mixture of universal soil, expanded clay and pine bark in a ratio of 1:1:1 is suitable. Expanded clay and pine bark provide additional aeration and a stable, slightly acidic pH.
All species generally do best in a warm, semi-shaded location with indirect sunlight, temperatures of around 25°C and high humidity. Philodendron species do not like temperatures below 15°C . Because they grow high in the treetops, epiphytes tolerate slightly more light than terrestrial species.
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The most beautiful types of Philodendron at a glance
In addition to the popular heartleaf philodendron (Philodendron scandens), there are numerous other species suitable for keeping as houseplants. Of the many Philodendron varieties, some have differently coloured or patterned leaves.
Philodendron gloriosum, has large, heart-shaped leaves with leaf veins that stand out brightly against the dark green background. It is a terrestrial growing, creeping plant. In accordance with its natural habitat, this species of Philodendron requires a semi-shaded place in the room. The creeping shoots become an eye-catcher in any hanging pot. The rhizome should still partially protrude from the soil when planted.
This species has heart-shaped, but very elongated leaves of velvety dark green with light yellow leaf veins, which can grow up to 60 cm long under ideal conditions. Because the leaves appear almost black, Philodendron melanochrysum is also called Black Gold Philodendron. It is a hemiepiphytic, climbing species that can grow up moss sticks, for example. At the same time, the leaves hang down vertically, typical for the species. Philodendron melanochrysum is very heat-dependent and requires temperatures above 18 °C, especially in winter. Likewise, high humidity is necessary for keeping the plant healthy.
The Philodendron verrucosum grows as a hemiepiphyte on trees at first, but roots downward into the soil over time. The species has velvety, dark green heart-shaped leaves with light leaf veins. The long, creeping or climbing shoots can either be draped upward on a climbing support or displayed hanging in a hanging pot. The petioles are covered with light green, protruding hairs. The substrate for Philodendron verrucosum should, first of all, be permeable, but also provide a good water supply.
- Philodendron verrucosum ‘Red Back’: With dark red leaf underside.
- Philodendron verrucosum ‘Micro’: Small leaves up to 10 cm long.
The special feature of Philodendron erubescens is its red coloured petioles. These are complemented by heart-shaped green leaves up to 40 cm in size. The species is also called the blushing philodendron. Although the foliage is green, in its natural habitat the plant develops flowers enclosed in a red bracts, the spatha. Sometimes young leaves which are just forming are also coloured red initially. This climbing plant begins its growth on the ground and climbs up trees. Should it lose contact with the ground, it can live entirely as an epiphyte. In general, this species grows rather slowly.
- Philodendron erubescens ‘Pink Princess’: an unusual variety with pink variegated leaves.
With this type of Philodendron, it is the leaf shape that makes it so special. The Philodendron squamiferum has deeply lobed leaves, resulting in four small lobes and a large central lobe. Its reddish, hairy shoots serve as an additional eye-catcher of this climber. This hemiepiphyte first grows in the tree crown and then develops long roots that reach the ground.
Known to us as the split-leaf philodendron (Philodendron bipinnatifidum), this variety grows neither as a creeper or climber, but upright on its own. With age, the lower leaves are shed, leaving a decorative stem with leaf scars. The tree philodendron is itself a tree and grows up to 2 m high as a houseplant. The leaves also grow quite large, up to 1 m. They are arrow-shaped or incised, depending on age. This terrestrial plant requires warm soil and average room temperature, which ideally drops to about 16 °C at night.
- Philodendron bipinnatifidum ‘Xanadu’: Horsty; about 130 cm tall; lobed leaves about 40 cm long.
- Philodendron bipinnatifidum ‘Burgundy’: Leaves with a reddish underside.
- Philodendron bipinnatifidum ‘Little Hope’: Smaller and more compact than the rest of the species.
Tip: The species and its varieties are still sometimes known by their old botanical name Philodendron selloum, but this is no longer current.
The Philodendron sagittifolium is quite variable in appearance – that is, its leaves can vary in appearance depending on the plant and its age. It often has leathery, dark green leaves that are deeply incised, giving it a distinctive arrow shape. It grows as a hemiepiphyte partly in the treetops and partly on the ground. Sustained high humidity and sufficient warmth at 20 to 23 °C are important when keeping this species as a houseplant. It should never be colder than 18 °C, even in winter.
The Monstera is a close relative of the philodendron with similar requirements, and is equally known to us as a window lover. Let us show you how to plant and care for your Monstera in our article.