Philodendrons are a popular group of houseplants, known for their unique and attractive foliage, as well as their ability to thrive in various indoor environments. This group of plants belongs to the Araceae family, also commonly referred to as the aroid family. The question often arises whether philodendrons can be considered aroids or not, since both categories share certain characteristics and are sometimes confused with each other.
The answer is quite simple – yes, philodendrons are indeed aroids. The Araceae family includes a variety of fascinating and exotic plants such as Anthuriums, Monstera, and Peace Lilies, as well as Philodendrons. A characteristic that unites all aroids is the presence of an inflorescence, a combination of spathe and spadix, which is commonly known as the plant’s “flower.”
What Is an Aroid?
An aroid refers to a plant that belongs to the Araceae family, which is a diverse group of plants that share some distinguishing characteristics. The most notable among them is the unique inflorescence they exhibit, composed of a spathe and a spadix. This combination is often eye-catching and can range from beautiful to somewhat bizarre in appearance. The Araceae family comprises over 100 genera and more than 3,700 species, with most of them being native to subtropical areas1.
Some well-known aroid genera include:
Many popular houseplants are part of the Araceae family, such as Aglaonemas, Monsteras, Philodendrons, Pothos, and ZZ plants2. These plants are often chosen for their aesthetics, as well as their ability to tolerate low light conditions indoors, due to their growth habits as understory plants in the wild.
Aroids can vary greatly in size, shape, and habit. For example, the Corpse Flower, also known as Amorphophallus titanum, is a large aroid that can grow up to 10 feet tall, while the Peace Lily, from the Spathiphyllum genus, is a more common and manageable size for indoor cultivation3.
In the world of aroids, Philodendrons are a fan favorite, encompassing the classic Heartleaf Philodendron and various rare and unusual hybrids like the Philodendron ‘Pink Princess’4. With such a wide range of plants available under the Araceae umbrella, there is an aroid to suit every taste and environment.
Philodendrons are members of the Araceae family, also known as aroids. They are climbing herbs that grow stout stems and exhibit a unique combination of spathe and spadix, which together form the inflorescence. This feature distinguishes all aroids, including philodendrons, from other plants source. There are about 450 species of philodendrons, many of which begin their life as vines before transforming into epiphytes, which are plants that live upon other plants source.
These tropical plants are generally easy to care for and adapt well to interior environments. They display a higher tolerance for low light intensity and low humidity compared to some other houseplants source.
Philodendrons are native to the tropical regions of South America, specifically countries like Brazil, Bolivia, Argentina, and Paraguay source. However, they have also been found growing naturally along the East and Gulf coasts of the United States. This wide distribution is likely due to their adaptable nature and ability to survive in various environmental conditions.
As houseplants, philodendrons have become increasingly popular worldwide thanks to their striking appearance and relatively low-maintenance nature, making them an excellent choice for both novice and experienced plant enthusiasts.
Comparison with Other Aroids
Anthurium is another popular member of the Araceae family, also known as aroids. Like philodendrons, Anthurium plants have a unique combination of spathe and spadix inflorescence, which helps to distinguish them from other plants. These tropical plants are native to Central and South America, featuring heart-shaped leaves and vibrant, showy spathes.
In contrast to philodendrons, anthuriums may be more visually striking due to their colorful spathes ranging from red to pink and even white. They require bright, indirect light and well-draining soil to thrive. Regularly watering and maintaining high humidity levels can help these plants grow well indoors.
Monstera is another well-known aroid, commonly referred to as the Swiss cheese plant. This nickname stems from the distinctive holes that appear in its large, glossy leaves as the plant matures. Monsteras share some similarities with Philodendrons in terms of growth habits, as they both produce aerial roots that help them climb surfaces.
Nonetheless, Monstera plants are unique due to their natural growth in tropical rainforests, where they climb up tree trunks to seek light. When grown indoors, they benefit from regular pruning and some form of support to mimic their natural habitat. Like other aroids, Monsteras enjoy well-drained soil, and moderate to bright, indirect light.
In terms of care and maintenance, both Anthurium and Monstera are somewhat similar to Philodendron plants, as all aroids need well-draining soil, adequate humidity, and light exposure. However, Anthuriums may require slightly more attention to achieve the desired colorful inflorescences. On the other hand, Monsteras can grow quite large, necessitating occasional pruning and support. Despite these differences, they all make excellent indoor plants, providing lush greenery and unique textures to any living space.
Common Philodendron Species
Philodendron is a diverse genus belonging to the Araceae family, which is commonly referred to as the aroid family. There are approximately 450 species of Philodendron, native to tropical America. These species often start as vines and later transform into epiphytes, plants that grow on other plants. We explore some popular Philodendron species below.
Philodendron heartleaf: The heartleaf philodendron is a popular houseplant known for its long trailing foliage, heart-shaped leaves, and minimal care requirements.
Philodendron velvet-leaf: This species is admired for its dark green foliage with a velvety texture. Its large, heart-shaped leaves make it a favored choice for indoor growers.
Philodendron Brasil: A cultivar of the heartleaf, Brasil Philodendron is characterized by its green and yellow variegated leaves, as well as its ease of care and adaptability to various light conditions.
Philodendron Pink Princess: This stunning variety boasts dark green and pink variegated leaves. Due to its rarity, the Pink Princess is highly sought after by collectors and plant enthusiasts.
Philodendron White Knight: One of the rarest philodendrons, the White Knight features a unique combination of dark green and white variegated leaves, making it a valuable addition to any plant collection.
Philodendron bipennifolium: This species takes a different form, with leaves that resemble a fiddle or a horse head rather than the usual heart shape. It’s an excellent choice for those seeking an unusual variety.
In addition to being aesthetically pleasing, these Philodendron species are known for their air-purifying properties, making them an ideal choice for adding greenery to indoor spaces. While they all belong to the aroid family, each species brings its unique characteristics, enhancing the beauty and variety of any plant collection.
Care and Maintenance
Philodendrons, being part of the aroid family, thrive in bright, indirect light. They can tolerate lower light conditions but may grow more slowly. Dappled sunlight or a north-facing window is ideal for these plants. Direct sunlight should be avoided, as it can cause leaf burn and discoloration.
Proper watering is crucial for maintaining a healthy philodendron. They prefer consistently moist soil but do not tolerate waterlogging. Therefore, it’s important to allow the top inch of the soil to dry out between waterings. Overwatering can lead to root rot, while underwatering will cause the leaves to wilt and turn yellow. To ensure optimal watering, use a well-draining potting mix and a pot with drainage holes.
Some tips for watering philodendrons include:
- Water deeply but infrequently: This encourages deep root growth and prevents standing water in the pot.
- Use room-temperature water: Cold water can shock the plant’s roots, leading to poor growth.
- Adjust watering frequency based on the season: Philodendrons typically require more water during the growing season (spring and summer) and less water in the dormant season (fall and winter).
To support healthy growth, philodendrons benefit from regular fertilization. It’s recommended to use a balanced, water-soluble fertilizer diluted to half strength, applied every four to six weeks during the growing season. Reduce fertilization frequency during the dormant season to every eight to ten weeks.
Here are some additional tips for fertilizing philodendrons:
- Avoid over-fertilizing: Excessive fertilizer can lead to salt buildup in the soil, which may damage the plant’s roots.
- Use a gentle, slow-release fertilizer: This provides steady nutrition for the plant without causing sudden growth spurts or burning the roots.
- Always water the plant thoroughly after fertilizing: This helps distribute the nutrients evenly and prevents fertilizer from concentrating in one area, which could cause root burn.
Philodendron, an aroid plant, can be propagated in various ways. One popular method is through tip and leaf bud cuttings. This technique involves taking a portion of the stem with a node and a leaf attached, ensuring there is at least one point for the roots or leaves to grow. Spring or summer is the ideal time to perform this type of propagation, as the plant is actively growing during these months.
Another way to propagate Philodendron is through water propagation. With this method, the stem cuttings are placed in water to grow new roots. This is particularly useful for cuttings with minimal aerial roots, as it allows the grower to easily monitor root growth. Once roots are about an inch long, the cutting can be moved to a 3-4 inch-wide container filled with fresh potting soil for further growth.
A third option for Philodendron propagation is air layering. This technique is beneficial for leggy plants that have dropped their lower leaves. By creating a wound on the stem, covering it with damp sphagnum moss, and then wrapping it with plastic, the plant will grow new roots at the wound site. Once roots are visible, the new plant can be separated from the parent plant and potted individually.
To ensure successful propagation, it’s important to remember that Philodendron plants are considered heavy feeders. Providing them with proper nutrients and care will increase the odds of successful growth and propagation.
Potential Problems and Solutions
Philodendrons, as members of the Araceae family, also known as aroids, can sometimes face pest-related issues. One common pest that can bother these plants is the mealybug. To deal with this problem, try gently removing them using a cotton swab dipped in rubbing alcohol. Another potential pest is the spider mite, which can be treated with the use of insecticidal soap or neem oil.
Philodendron plants can become susceptible to certain diseases. Two major problems they might face are root rot and bacterial leaf spot.
- Root Rot: This issue usually results from over-watering and poorly drained soil. To treat root rot, remove the affected roots and repot the plant using fresh, well-draining soil. Ensure you do not over-water the plant and offer proper drainage in the future.
- Bacterial Leaf Spot: This disease can be seen as yellow or brown spots on the leaves. To manage bacterial leaf spot, remove affected leaves, provide good air circulation, and avoid splashing water on the leaves during watering.
A good preventive measure for both pests and diseases is to maintain proper care of your Philodendron by using a well-drained potting mix, and appropriate watering techniques. Additionally, it’s essential to monitor your plant regularly for any signs of problems and address them promptly. This will ensure a healthy, thriving Philodendron, a gorgeous member of the aroid family.
My name is Daniel Elrod, and I have been houseplant love ever since I was 17. I love how much joy they bring to any room in the home. I’ve always been amazed at how a few pots of flowing leaves can turn a drab and sterile office into an inviting place where people love to work at.