The name ‘Philodendron’ means ‘tree loving’ in Greek and, believe me, there is plenty to love. When you think of philodendron, you may envision a houseplant with big, heart-shaped leaves, but there are actually several hundred species of these beautiful tropical foliage plants featured in a wide variety of leaf sizes, shapes, and colors. A majority of the species are vining, with leaves 3 inches (8 cm.) to 3 feet (91 cm.) in length, while others are in more of a shrub shape (self-heading).
While they have a reputation as great easy-to-grow houseplants, can philodendron plants grow outdoors? Why yes, they can! So let’s learn more about how to care for philodendrons outside!
Outdoor Philodendron Care
When learning how to care for philodendrons, it is best to consider the growing criteria for your specific variety; however, this article can help provide you with a general overview of outdoor philodendron care.
The first question you should ask is, “In my region, can philodendron plants grow outdoors?”. Given that philodendrons are tropical plants, you will only be able to grow them outside year round, with any measure of success, in a warm weather climate where temperatures do not dip below 55 F. (13 C.) at night, although 65 F. (18 C.) is more ideal since they really do not like the cold.
The rest of us, including myself, as I live in the Northeast U.S., will be carting our philodendron plants in their respective containers indoors and out, according to the season and the reading on the temperature gauge. Given that philodendrons can reach some significant height, I’m sure that some of us with container philodendrons will opt to keep our plants inside year round, but I prefer to give mine some outdoor time, as it really seems to boost growth.
When planting philodendrons in the garden, or when situating your philodendron container outdoors, you need to consider that philodendrons are forest dwelling plants that are best served in a location that provides shade and indirect sunlight. Full sunlight will cause yellow sunburnt leaves, and you don’t want that.
The soil should be kept consistently moist but never soggy, be well draining and rich in nutrients and organic matter. A light feeding every 3-4 months with granular food is also recommended when caring for your philodendron outside.
Another important consideration to make when caring for your philodendron outside is that they are toxic to people and pets, causing severe inflammation of the mouth and throat. Their sap is also known to cause skin irritation, so please be sure to wear gloves when trimming the plant and to disinfect pruning tools upon completion of pruning tasks. Pruning is not really a requirement for promoting growth for your philodendrons in the garden, but you may need to trim away dead or yellow leaves on occasion.
When to Put Plants Out
You can shift plants outside at any point in the growing season once night temperatures are reliably above 55° F. Most tropical houseplants need warmer temps to survive and thrive. If you move plants outside while nights are still cool, plants can be damaged to the point that they don’t recover. Placing plants on a covered porch or beneath a spreading tree can provide pockets of warmth, but it’s safest to wait until all danger of frost has passed and nights are warm.
Plant split leaf philodendron outdoors in an area where there is partial sun all day. Direct sunlight allows the philodendron to whistle and dry out. Water philodendron at least once a week.
Crops split leaf philodendron outdoors plant annually to remove dead stalks, leaves and flowers. Prune early in the spring while philodendron is still dormant to prevent damage to new growth. Pruning encourages new spring growth and helps to reduce the risk of disease and pest infestation. Use standard planting soil in a plant enough depth to accommodate the roots of Philodendron if the plant will grow indoors. Fill plants with planting soil and place the philodendron in the middle before watering the ground. Make sure that moisture is drained from the bottom of the plants to prevent fungal problems.
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Layers of rich green, deeply divided leaves makes philodendron selloum the star of South Florida's tropical gardening.
These magnificent, massive plants bring the look of the tropics to any yard. They will grow in sun but do best in a part sun to part or full shade area.
This plant works as a tropical shrub, and may climb a nearby fence or tree (it won't hurt the tree). However, if you want a true climber, try 'Monstera deliciosa' philodendron - sometimes called "Swiss Cheese Plant."
Selloum grows a trunk eventually though you won't see much of it when the leaves droop over each other in dense layers.
These plants also work well in containers by the pool, on a patio or balcony, or even indoors.
If being big, fat and fabulous is too much of a good thing for the planting area you've got, there's a smaller lookalike variety, Hope philodendron, which only grows to 4 feet, and the smaller mounded Xanadu.
This plant contains toxins that can cause harm if ingested. Keep this in mind when placing it if you have any munchers in the family. If you have sensitive skin, wear gloves when handling.
This plant can grow 8 to 10 feet tall and 6 feet or more wide. It's a moderate grower that takes sun or shade but seems to prefer part sun to part shade.
These are tropical plants that do best in Zone 10, though they will do fine in Zone 9B if given cold protection. You can also grow them in large containers to bring inside during cold snaps.
Philodendrons are considered deer-resistant and generally bugs don't like them either.
Add composted cow manure to the hole when you plant.
No trimming is needed other than to remove an old leaf and stem. This plant can't be cut back for size, so make sure its ultimate height and width will work in your landscape.
If cold damages an established selloum it may die all the way back but send up new sprouts in spring.
Water regularly but give the plant time to dry out between waterings. Philodendrons cannot take a wet area - they'll rot.
Fertilize 3 times a year - in spring, summer, and autumn - with a quality granular fertilizer.
Place 5 feet apart and the same distance from nearby shrubs. If planting by a tree, you can go much closer.
Along a walk or drive, come in at least 4 feet - more if you can to accommodate the mature size. Come out from the house 4 or 5 feet.
These work very well in containers as long as you don't keep them overly wet.