Philodendrons make fabulous houseplants, and there are so many to choose from. You could grow nothing but philodendrons and still cover your home with plants. They cover the entire spectrum from small heart-shaped leaves to species that can grow giant, three-foot-long foliage and colors from glossy green to velvet black.
Philodendrons come in two basic shapes, vining and self-heading or upright. Vining philodendrons are climbers and can produce long vines with large leaves. Their size is generally limited to how far you allow them to reach. Self-heading types have a more typical houseplant shape. They can grow quite large if given a suitable container or grown outside in tropical climates. Both can be propagated.
From the common heartleaf philodendron, P. scandens, to the more exotic-looking dark-leaved P. melanochrysum, these plants can capture your imagination and, best of all, don’t require much attention or special treatment.
Philodendrons, along with their cousins pothos and Monsteras, are all members of the Arum family, Araceae. Arum flowers are characterized by a spathe and a spadix.
Learning to propagate philodendrons can provide you with more plants and give you an endless supply of gifts for your plant-loving friends and family. Or, you can ‘borrow’ a cutting from them to get your own plant.
- Ways To Propagate Philodendrons
- How To Grow Philodendrons From Cuttings
- To take a philodendron cutting:
- If rooting cuttings in water:
- Transitioning from water to soil
- If rooting cuttings in soil or another medium:
- How to Propagate Philodendrons by Air Layering
- To air layer philodendrons:
- Tips For Growing Lush Philodendrons
Ways To Propagate Philodendrons
Philodendrons are easy to propagate. Like many other houseplants, they will root readily in water and can also be propagated in a moist potting mix. Air layering is also highly successful with philodendrons.
How To Grow Philodendrons From Cuttings
To take a philodendron cutting:
- Select a piece of stem with at least one node and leaf. Two or three nodes and two leaves are better.
- A node can be identified by a swollen section of the stem. It commonly has a brown aerial root growing out of it and perhaps another leaf stalk. These aerial roots may be short, like little claws.
- Check out videos online if you need help identifying a node or air root.
- Cut an inch below the node with clean, sharp shears, ensuring the node is not damaged. Root your cutting in soil or water following the directions below.
If rooting cuttings in water:
- Place the new cutting in a clear-walled container filled with water. Make sure the node or nodes are submerged. Use a vessel that will keep the plant upright. Don’t submerge any leaves.
- Ensure the water is not heavily chlorinated.
Tip: If your tap water is treated with chlorine, you may need to use another source or let your water sit on the counter for 24-48 hours to allow the chlorine to dissipate. You can also boil it for 15 minutes if you are in a hurry, but don’t forget to let it completely cool before you use it.
- Change the water every week to keep it fresh. Place the jar in a brightly lit and warm spot out of direct sunlight.
- Watching for new roots is part of the fun. You may see white baby roots developing as soon as a few days, but more likely in 2-4 weeks, depending on the plant’s vigor and the environment. Look for strong, white roots an inch long before moving the cutting to a pot.
Transitioning from water to soil
Plants propagated in water can be a touch tricky to transplant into a regular pot and potting soil or soilless media. The roots that develop in water are not quite up to gathering moisture from the new media until they adapt. Two ways of easing the transition for your water-rooted cuttings are:
- Transplant your water-rooted cutting into a pot filled with wet coco coir fibers. Begin by thoroughly wetting the coco fibers. Wrap a few around the roots of your new cutting, and tuck it into a container with more fibers. Keep the medium moist. After a few weeks, transplant to a moist potting mix appropriate for your philodendron.
- Begin adding a little potting mix to your water vessel every day. Eventually, the entire jar will be potting media. Then transplant it into a regular pot.
If rooting cuttings in soil or another medium:
- Fill a small container with well-moistened light potting soil, or other media such as rock wool or damp sand. Ensure the media is well draining and does not compact.
- Plant your cutting in the pot, deep enough to cover the nodes where the roots will develop. Take care not to break off the air root. Your cutting may need a stake to help hold it upright until its new roots can take over the job.
- Firm the medium around the stem and place it in a bright location. Keep the medium moist but not soggy.
- In 3-4 weeks, you can check the progress of your new plants’ roots by gently giving the stem a little tug. Roots poking out of the bottom drainage holes or the growth of new vegetation is also a great indicator of successful rooting.
How to Propagate Philodendrons by Air Layering
Philodendrons will also root from a method called air-layering. With this technique, you are essentially just helping the plant to do what it would typically do in the wild: to grow new roots from an air root when it touches a suitable medium like a mossy tree trunk.
Air-layering is great for those tender-hearted plant parents who don’t want to risk cutting a piece off their favorite plant and the cutting failing.
To air layer philodendrons:
- Find a section of the stem that has a node and an air root. If the internodes are short, you can air layer two nodes simultaneously.
- Gently wrap wet moss or coco coir around the stem, covering the node completely. Use a nice handful.
- Wrap the moss in plastic wrap, or use an air layering pod. The pod or plastic wrap holds the medium in place and traps moisture inside.
- Keep your medium moist but not dripping wet.
- In 2-3 weeks, you will see small roots poking out the bottom or visible through the plastic. Congratulations, you have the makings of a new plant! Carefully remove the plastic. Cut the stem just below the moss and plant your new philodendron in a new pot with a well-draining potting mix.
Tips For Growing Lush Philodendrons
Philodendrons are tropical plants. Create conditions that mimic their natural home for a lush, stunning green specimen.
- Not too much sun! Philodendrons are typically found growing in or under the canopy in dappled sunlight. Many won’t appreciate the bright full sun. If your houseplant’s location is too bright, try a light, transparent curtain.
- Many philodendrons are epiphytes, meaning that they spend part of their life up in the air and not rooted in soil. Don’t plant them in heavy, poorly draining soil or potting mix. Add coco coir, orchid bark, or perlite to help with drainage.
- Let them dry out a bit between waterings. While it may seem that a tropical plant would want to be consistently moist, that is not the case. Don’t water until the top two inches of medium feels dry to the touch. Keeping the mix constantly moist can induce root rot.
- Watch the humidity. Philodendrons will do fine in average household conditions but won’t complain about a little misting or extra humidity. Group humidity-loving plants together if your home is drier than average. Using pebble trays or a small humidifier can also help.
- If you have a climbing, vining variety, give it something to climb! Your philodendron will create a stunning vertical display. Place a moss pole in the pot and use twine or clips to hold it in place until the air roots grab ahold. You can make your own moss pole if you are feeling crafty.
- A happy philodendron will grow larger and eventually need to be repotted. If roots are starting to poke out of the drainage holes, it could be a sign that your plant is ready to be repotted.
Lift the plant out of its old container, and trim off any mushy or rotten-looking roots. Give the top grooming, too, getting rid of any growth that is not lush and healthy.
Choose a new container that is one or two inches larger than the old one. Resist the urge to put a small houseplant in a large pot to save labor later.
Add fresh potting media and firm it around the roots to avoid air pockets. Ensure the crown is still at the soil surface and not buried.
Keep philodendrons away from animals and children who eat plants. They are toxic if ingested and will cause unpleasant reactions.