Philodendron 15°C/60°F; Tropical America

Many and fine species are in this genus, some quite majestic and much too large for the average living room, while others like the Sweetheart Plant, P. scandens, with small heart-shaped leaves and habit, are ideal for room decoration. As one wishes, P. scandens can be encouraged to trail or climb depending on requirements. All of the philodendrons will appreciate the maximum amount of humidity that can be provided, and this will mean use of a larger container filled with peat for plunging plant pots, and regular spraying over of the foliage. P. hastatum has much larger green leaves that are arrow-shaped, and will develop into a plant of substantial size if a stout support can be provided. In fact, with all members of the aroid family it will considerably improve their performance if a thick layer of sphagnum moss can be wired to the supporting stake – this will encourage the aerial roots to work their way into the moss, so helping the plant to obtain additional moisture. The moss should be maintained in moist conditions by regular spraying, or by using a watering can to moisten the moss from the top of the support. When doing this, be careful not to get the soil in the pot too wet. Ideally you should endeavour to provide conditions that are warm, moist and shaded -in bright sunlight plants take on a very hard, less green appearance that is not so attractive. Besides the upright growing types of philo-dendron there are numerous plants of much more squat habit that are more suitable for some locations. Many of the latter grow from short trunks that become most attractive as some of the lower leaves are naturally shed.

Architecturally speaking, one of the finest of the lower-growing philodendrons is P. wend-landii, which produces leaves that radiate away from the centre of the plant in the shape of a shuttlecock-alas it is ever in short supply as most of the larger types of philodendron forever seem to be. Almost all the smaller-leaved plants may be propagated from individual leaves with a piece of stem attached, while the larger-leaved ones are, surprisingly enough, raised from seed.

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