Anthurium vs Philodendron: Key Differences Explained

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Anthuriums and Philodendrons are two popular types of tropical plants that often grace indoor spaces with their lush foliage and vibrant colors. Both belonging to the Araceae family, these captivating plants share several similarities, but there are key differences that set them apart, making each a unique addition to your home or garden.

One distinction between Anthuriums and Philodendrons lies in their growth habits. While Philodendrons can boast self-heading or vining tendencies, Anthuriums are strictly self-heading, growing upright with stiff stems that support their weight for years. Another notable difference is their petioles – Anthuriums tend to have thin petioles, while Philodendrons typically sport shorter, fleshy ones.

It is essential to have a clear understanding of these distinct characteristics when deciding which plant is the best fit for your space. Whether you opt for the wild, jungle-like appearance of Anthuriums or the easygoing charm of Philodendrons, either option will undoubtedly enhance your indoor oasis.

Anthurium Overview


Origin and Habitat

Anthuriums, commonly known as flamingo flowers or laceleaf, are a part of the Araceae family, native to the tropical regions of Central and South America. These vibrant flowering plants thrive in rainforests, where they absorb plenty of indirect sunlight and enjoy high levels of humidity.

General Appearance

Anthuriums are appreciated for their stunning, heart-shaped flowers which consist of a central spadix surrounded by a brightly colored, waxy spathe. The central spadix is usually yellow or white, while the spathe exhibits various shades such as red, pink, purple, and white. The plants have dark-green, heart-shaped leaves that form lush, bushy foliage. When grown under ideal conditions, flamingo lilies bloom throughout the year.

  • Leaves: Dark green, heart-shaped
  • Flowers: Heart-shaped, central spadix (yellow/white) and colorful spathe (red, pink, purple, white)

Common Varieties

There are several popular anthurium varieties. Some of the notable ones include:

  1. Anthurium andraeanum: Known for its large, bright red or pink spathes, this variety is widely cultivated as an ornamental plant.
  2. Anthurium scherzerianum: Also called the flamingo flower, tailflower, or pigtail anthurium, it is named after its unique, curly spadix, which is often red, orange or white.
  3. Anthurium crystallinum: Distinguished by its large, velvety, heart-shaped leaves with striking white veins, this variety is a highly sought-after choice among plant enthusiasts.

With proper care, anthuriums can make excellent indoor plants, bringing a burst of color to any space while creating a tropical ambiance reminiscent of their native habitat.

Philodendron Overview

Heart Leaf Philodendron

Origin and Habitat

Philodendrons originate from tropical and subtropical regions, thriving in rainforests and other humid environments. They are a part of the family Araceae, sharing this classification with other popular houseplants like Monsteras and Anthuriums. Many Philodendron species have developed unique growth habits in their natural habitats, with some acting as climbers or secondary hemiepiphytes to reach the upper canopy.

General Appearance

Philodendron plants exhibit an array of leaf shapes, sizes, and colors depending on the species. Their leaves typically have parallel green, white, or reddish veins that start at the central vein and end at the leaf’s edge, giving them a distinct appearance. Many philodendrons possess vining or climbing growth habits, while others grow in a more upright and bushy manner. They often have fleshy, short petioles (leaf stalks) and can produce aerial roots, especially in climbing varieties.

Common Varieties

There are over 450 Philodendron species, but some of the most popular ones for indoor cultivation include:

  • Philodendron hederaceum (Heartleaf Philodendron): This vining variety has heart-shaped leaves and is an easy-to-care-for option that can be grown in hanging baskets or allowed to climb.
  • Philodendron bipinnatifidum (Lacy Tree Philodendron): This large, tree-like species grows upright and features large, deeply lobed leaves with a tropical look.
  • Philodendron gloriosum: Recognized for its velvety, dark green leaves with striking white veins, this species grows in a creeping, terrestrial manner.
  • Philodendron xanadu: Boasting deeply lobed leaves, the Xanadu is a compact, bushy variety that can be used as a statement piece or ground cover in the garden.

To summarize, Philodendron plants hail from tropical and subtropical areas and offer a diverse range of appearances for indoor gardeners. Whether you seek a climbing, vining, or bushy plant, there is a Philodendron variety suited for your aesthetic preferences and living space. Proper care and understanding of their unique habitat preferences are essential for successfully nurturing a Philodendron in your own indoor jungle.

Key Differences

Leaf Shape and Structure

One of the key differences between anthuriums and philodendrons is their leaf shape and structure. Anthurium leaves are typically heart-shaped, whereas philodendron leaves come in a variety of shapes such as lobed or pinnatifid, but generally have a more irregular appearance. In terms of leaf veins, philodendrons usually have green, white or reddish veins that are parallel to each other. In contrast, anthuriums have a captivating vein pattern that is more random and less symmetrical.

Growth Patterns

Another distinction between these two plants lies in their growth patterns. Anthuriums often have a climbing habit and grow in a vining manner, which can be witnessed in the example of pearl laceleaf anthurium. Philodendrons, however, exhibit both climbing and non-climbing habits, depending on the species. While some philodendrons are true climbers, others are self-heading and grow more like shrubs.

Flowering and Inflorescence

The flowering and inflorescence of anthuriums and philodendrons also differ. Anthurium flowers are identifiable by their signature “spathe and spadix” structure, in which a colorful, modified leaf (the spathe) surrounds a spike-like structure (the spadix). Philodendron flowers, on the other hand, are usually less showy and smaller in size, with a similar spathe and spadix structure but often less noticeable coloring.

In terms of petioles – the stalks that join the leaves to the stem – anthuriums generally have thin petioles, while philodendrons feature short, fleshy, and more robust petioles. This difference can be a helpful indicator when trying to determine the identity of a particular plant.

Care and Maintenance

Light Requirements

Anthuriums and Philodendrons have different light requirements. While mature Philodendrons tend to require more sunlight than Anthuriums, both species prefer bright, indirect light. Avoid putting these plants in direct sunlight, as it can damage their leaves. Anthuriums can tolerate lower light levels, while Philodendrons may struggle in such conditions, especially as they mature.

Watering and Humidity

Both Anthuriums and Philodendrons thrive in environments with high humidity, and both need to be watered regularly. When watering, allow the top 1 to 2 inches of soil to dry before adding more water. To maintain the plants’ humidity, mist their leaves or use a humidifier nearby. Overwatering and low humidity can lead to root rot and other issues, so take care to balance their moisture needs.

Soil and Potting

Anthuriums and Philodendrons require well-draining soil to encourage healthy growth. Use a mix of peat moss, perlite, or orchid bark for both plant species. When it comes to potting, these plants will benefit from being repotted at least once a year. This helps prevent root problems and ensures that the soil remains fresh and nourishing.

Fertilizing and Pruning

During the growing seasons of spring and summer, fertilize your Anthuriums and Philodendrons every other month. Use a balanced, water-soluble fertilizer to provide the necessary nutrients for optimal growth. Remember to follow the fertilizer’s instructions to avoid overfeeding.

Pruning is essential to maintain the plants’ shape and encourage new growth. Remove any yellowing or dead leaves and trim back leggy stems. This will keep your Anthuriums and Philodendrons looking healthy and vibrant throughout the year.

Potential Problems

Pests and Diseases

Anthurium and Philodendron plants may face various pests and diseases. One common pest affecting Anthurium plants is the mealybug. These small, white sap-sucking insects can quickly damage the plant, leading to wilting, leaf drop, and even death. It’s crucial to address mealybug infestations early and implement proper control methods.

Apart from pests, Anthurium plants are prone to diseases caused by improper watering. Overwatering can lead to fungal problems, due to anaerobic bacteria that develop when the plant’s roots are not allowed access to air. It is crucial to strike a balance in watering to prevent these issues.

Environmental Issues

Both Anthurium and Philodendron plants require specific environmental conditions to thrive. They both prefer:

  • Indirect sunlight exposure, to avoid burning from direct sunlight. Maintain proper placement, such as near windows to ensure adequate light.
  • Moderate to high humidity levels. It helps the plants’ growth and overall health.

Additionally, it’s crucial to repot Anthuriums and Philodendrons when necessary. The two main reasons for repotting include a deterioration of the potting media and when the plant outgrows its old pot. Annual repotting is recommended to prevent root problems.

Anthurium and Philodendron plants are also sensitive to nutrient deficiency, waterlogged soil, lighting problems, and temperature changes. Monitoring and addressing these issues promptly can help maintain plant health and prevent potential problems.


In comparing Anthurium and Philodendron plants, there are several key differences to consider. One significant distinction is their sunlight requirements. Mature Philodendrons generally require more sunlight than Anthuriums, as they tend to grow towards higher spots on trees where light is more abundant.

Another noteworthy difference is the appearance of their petioles. Anthuriums typically have thin petioles, while Philodendrons possess short, fleshy petioles, which can help in distinguishing the plants from one another.

When it comes to repotting, Anthuriums and Philodendrons should be repotted annually to prevent root problems. The ideal time to repot is when the potting media is deteriorating or when the plant has outgrown its old pot.

It is important to recognize that both Anthuriums and Philodendrons contain large amounts of calcium oxalate crystals, which can irritate the throat and esophagus if ingested. Therefore, it’s essential to handle these plants with care and keep them away from pets and children.

In summary, understanding the differences and similarities between Anthurium and Philodendron plants can help you provide the appropriate care for these beautiful and diverse indoor plants. With proper attention and maintenance, both plant types can thrive and make attractive additions to your home or garden.