Easy Houseplants - Tree Philodendron
Tree philodendron is a wonderful houseplant with large, deeply lobed leaves. On some forms, the notched leaves show a ruffled edge that produce a very showy effect. Bright, medium green leaves can grow as large as 3 feet long. The plant is excellent for filling in empty spaces and creating a natural focal point in a room.
Often called by one of its Latin names, the main difference between forms such as Philodendron bipinnatifidum and Philodendron selloum is leaf size, how deeply the leaves are notched, and how ruffled the edges of the lobes appear.
Young plants do not show these deep notches but are heart shaped. As the plant ages and new leaves appear, slight differences show up. The change is gradual as the plant matures.
A native of south America, Tree Philodendrons also make attractive patio plants and may enjoy a summer vacation out of doors. Never allow them to suffer temperatures below 55 degrees Fahrenheit as they are tropical plants. Grow as an outdoor specimen in US Zone 9 - 11.
Tree Philodendron is occasionally called Lacey Tree Philodendron. It is not actually a tree but grows up a tree in the wild. It is called a tree because of its trunk like stem.
Tree Philodendron Care
Tolerant of low light in winter, Tree Philodendron prefers bright to medium light indoors and warm temperatures of 70 - 85 degrees Fahrenheit. Bright light does not mean you should set the plant in a window that faces south but several feet away from the window. Direct sun through glass can scorch a houseplant.
- Plant in a large container with drainage holes in the bottom. Place plant over a saucer or something to catch drained water so as not to ruin the floor.
- Plant in loose, well drained potting mix.
- Water enough to keep soil slightly moist, but not soggy.
- Do not allow drained water to accumulate in catch pot.
- Fertilize once a month spring through autumn. Some experts suggest fertilizing twice a month, but this sounds a bit heavy handed to me. If fertilizing every other week, offer the plant a weakened dose of liquid fertilizer.
- Dust off the large leaves occasionally. Mist to provide adequate humidity.
Tree Philodendron Problems
Poison Like many houseplants, Tree Philodendron can be toxic to children or pets if ingested, though how toxic they really are is questionable.
Brown Leaves usually indicate over fertilizing. Cut back on fertilizer. Remove damaged leaves.
Yellow leaves are often a sign of over watering, the main killer of indoor plants. Cut back on water and remove yellowed leaves; they will not revive.
Leggy plant or sprawling and droopy leaves mean that the plant is not getting enough light. Move to a brighter location, preferably an east facing window.
Moving the Plant Outdoors
You can move the plant outdoors in warm weather. Make sure to allow for some afternoon shade as the sun can become quite intense at that time of day. An area that gets morning sun is best.
Water every other day. Containers dry out quickly in hot summer weather.
Rain is so much better for plants than tap water!
Do not take the plant outside until your local frost date. One cold night can kill a tropical plant. Tropicals do best in temperatures above 55 degrees Fahrenheit.
After the plant matures it may become too large to move.
Confusing 2 Large Houseplants
Some people confuse Tree Philodendron and Monstera Deliciosa which is often called Split Leaf Philodendron. In fact, some refer to both plants as Split Leaf Philodendron. They are not the same and are not related.
Monstera Deliciosa or Swiss Cheese Plant is not a Philodendron at all. It's leaves, though deeply notched, are flatter and darker green than the leaves of Tree Philodendrons.
Leaves of Monstera have holes while Tree Philodendron does not.
Tree Philodendron grows from a single "trunk" and loses its leaves, exposing the trunk. Monstera does not.
© 2013 Dolores Monet