The jungle in the living room with little care and little work does not have to remain a dream, you just have to set up a few philodendrons and let them grow. More precisely, a philodendron, because the tree friend is so easy to care for and propagate that you will also get to your living room jungle very quickly with this one philodendron.

The philodendron – a vigorous plant genus

The philodendrons (also known as tree friends) are a genus of plants from the arum family. They are evergreen herbaceous plants, root climbers, which can also grow epiphytically, or bush-shaped plants. They can reach heights of up to 6 m and have mostly developed in rainforests, in tropical America and the Caribbean.

The leaves offer a wide range of different shapes, and it is not only because of this decorative variety that tree lovers are among our most popular ornamental plants. They are particularly suitable as house plants, are indestructible even with beginners, are generally easy to keep, and usually only become a problem when they grow over their heads (which can be changed quickly, see below ).

Because the philodendron wants to be sprayed with water more often, it also makes the dry heating air more bearable for us humans, especially in winter. In addition, it also cleans the air for us, it can very easily remove harmful formaldehyde (poisonous chemicals, including in paints, disinfectants and cosmetics), carbon monoxide (e.g. in exhaust gases) and benzene (e.g. in exhaust gases) Filter or absorb air and render it harmless.

Beware, the philodendron is poisonous

Or rather, “eat philodendrons”, none of the plants of the genus should be able to be nibbled by small children or pets, and adult carpenters should also be careful when it comes to caring for them: The plants contain a wide variety of poisonous substances that cannot yet be precisely identified by science. they are mostly simply referred to as “hot substances”. However, one is certain that the philodendrons contain calcium oxalate crystals and soluble salts of oxalic acid, so contact with the sap can quickly cause skin irritation.

And as nice as it is when you have found a location for your philodendron where it develops one flower after the other every few months – this could be so annoying for people with sensitive noses: the flowers of most philodendron varieties have a scented smell quite clearly like carrion, which insects find really tasty, and the scent should encourage them to pollinate. Some philodendron species can also generate very high temperatures, they heat the inside of their flowers to over forty degrees using certain plant cells that function like batteries, so they can exude the fragrances of their flowers even better and attract even more insects – the living room stinks but then a little bit.

Types of philodendrons

In total there are somewhere between 450 and 620 species of philodendrons. However, only a few representatives of the species are offered commercially as houseplant because they can withstand it in our part of the world. Here are some common indoor philodendrons and what they need:

  • Probably our most common philodendron is the climbing philodendron Philodendron hederaceum, commercially available under the synonym Philodendron scandens, which comes from Mexico and tropical America. It has thick, leathery leaves that lie somewhere between squashed hearts and eggs, and can climb up trellises and moss sticks. He would like to be in partial shade, but can also tolerate shade (but not full sun), likes temperatures around 20 degrees in summer and can be kept cooler in winter, but not below 15 degrees.
  • The Philodendron elegans is a climbing species with long tendrils that forms leaves that look a bit frayed, with a larger gap between the individual leaf parts. The whole plant looks very space-consuming and elegant due to the generous leaf shape.
  • The “frayed tree friend”, the Philodendron laciniatum, which is also sold under the synonym P. patum, is also well known. It forms strong round petioles, is considered to be very resistant and basically develops three-part leaves that are very variable in shape. This philodendron can withstand a little more light than its colleagues; in a place that is too dark, its leaves develop only small in size and not in the typical shape.
  • The small-leaved philodendron or Philodendron grazielae developed in Peru and Brazil, where it climbs trees in the rainforest as a climbing plant several meters in length. It has heart-shaped leaves that are up to 5 cm wide, have a dark green sheen and are close to the tendrils.

Overall, these species are not that demanding in terms of temperatures, especially they can withstand a cool location in winter. So these are suitable tree friends for a winter garden that is kept cooler in winter. The following species like it a little warmer, even in winter, in winter it shouldn’t get colder than 18 degrees for their taste. So they are the right philodendrons for year-round living room housing:

  • The Philodendron bipennifolium is a robust climbing species from southern Brazil, which develops elongated heart-shaped to an anchor-shaped, glossy dark green leaves. Depending on the light intensity to which the plant is exposed, the shape of the leaves will change slightly.
  • Philodendron erubescens, also known as Baumlieb, is a well-known climbing plant native to Colombia. It develops a greenish to red trunk, leaves dark green above and reddish colored below and partly deep pink tinted bracts. The cultivar “Green Emerald” is usually used from Baumlieb, but there are also brightly colored varieties available.
  • The Philodendron melanochrysum, also known under the synonym P. andreanum, also comes from Colombia and also climbs, but develops somewhat lighter green leaves in the youth stage, which later turn bronze-green with striped accents.

Of course, those were by no means all tree lovers that we can cultivate, you can also buy the varieties Philodendron bipinnatifidum or selloum, P. gloriosum, P. impolitum, P. radiatum, P. rugosum, P. sagittifolium, P. squamiferum, P. stenolobum × selloum, P. tuxtlanum and P. warszewiczii, you will definitely find the philodendron that has exactly the right leaf shape and color, the right growth shape and size and the right demands on the ambient temperature for you.

If you are missing exactly that plant in all the descriptions that you previously thought was a philodendron, this is because the window leaves or monstera are also often traded as philodendrons. When we started selling them, some Monstera were still called Philodendron, e.g. B. the “Monstera adansonii”, which at that time had the botanical name “Philodendron pertusum”. That changed in the following years, now the genus Philodendron and the genus Monstera are considered to be separate subfamilies of the arum family.


Except for the subtle extra wishes of the individual species, all tree lovers want the same care: They all come from tropical rainforests, and in which there are very specific conditions that they want to have replicated as well as possible with us – at least if they are should thrive really well.

First of all, there is a very nutritious but well-drained soil in the rainforest, so the philodendrons would like to be placed in a very nutritious humus soil here too. The temperatures in South America are constant all year round, with a clear predominance of temperatures above 20 degrees and never (except for mountain peaks) below zero, which is why the philodendrons want to be warm rather than cool here.

In the rainforest they grow almost completely in the shade, only the uppermost branches stretch into the light in the treetops, and so the philodendrons can handle a slightly more shady place here, too. With an emphasis on one thing, the light intensity in Germany really doesn’t compare to that in South America (much worse, much farther from the equator). That is why the Philodendron can be kept in light to partially shaded locations with us and do not like direct sunlight, but are only satisfied with really dark locations in absolute exceptional cases – these are then probably the species that crawl along the ground in the rainforest, However, you should then be informed about this growth habit.

What there is naturally in abundance in the rainforest is moisture, which is why it is called that. So: A philodendron always wants to have slightly moist soil, and that is probably the most difficult part of keeping it. Because “slightly damp” does not mean “wet”, and a lot of hobby gardeners mean watering their darlings so well that they almost manage to drown aquatic plants. Philodendrons shouldn’t be watered until the top has dried up, and they really don’t like waterlogging at all. If you want to see flowers (despite possible “odor hazards”), you should even keep your philodendron very tight for a while during winter – plants are different from us in this regard, without fear of extinction, reproduction is often put on the back burner …

Otherwise, a philodendron is also used to a lot of moisture in the air around it, so much moisture that the wallpaper would fall off the walls in your living room. Alternatively, you can spray the leaves regularly with a water sprayer or the leaves with a damp cloth, this at least partially replaces the lack of humidity for the plant and keeps the leaves always shiny.

In the rainforest, growth also takes place at a completely different rate than on the German field, and the philodendrons like to do “turbo growth” here too – but only if you provide you with the right nutrition in the form of regular full fertilizers, During the growth phase in summer every 2 weeks, in winter you always get some green plant fertilizer once a month.

Pruning and propagation

Cut philodendrons? No question, no problem and no consideration necessary. If you are used as a monkey swing in the rainforest, you are used to losing a shoot every now and then … No, seriously, you can prune a philodendron as and where you want. Also like in the middle, both the part that has been cut off and the remainder will sprout again (the part that has been cut off, of course, only if you put it in the ground).

You can also cut away several individual parts, all of these parts can be used as offshoots for propagation. The tips can be planted directly, stem or stem parts are simply cut into round hand-length pieces and stuck in potting soil) with a part in the air), they will all develop into new plants.

What you shouldn’t cut away, however, are the aerial roots, which are an essential part of the philodendron. With them the philodendrons take up nutrients in the same way as with the roots in the earth. These nutrients can be transported more easily to the upper parts of the plant with the aerial roots, and they can absorb moisture from the environment with the aerial roots, so aerial roots are anything but superfluous.


If you like greenery around you and clean air without investing too much work in caring for indoor plants, a philodendron is the plant for you. The philodendrons are offered in so many types that “your” philodendron could even meet special design requirements.

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