23 Philodendron Varieties Perfect for Filling Out Your Houseplant Collection
If you’d like more indoor greenery, use easy-care philodendrons to “phil” up the empty spaces in your houseplant garden.
Philodendron means “tree-loving,” due to the fact that the vining types of this plant “embrace” tree trunks in South American rainforests. Because so many of the 700 or more philodendron species originated in the filtered sun or shade beneath those trees’ canopies, most thrive in bright, indirect light.
The vining philodendron varieties often need a totem (moss-filled or moss-covered pole) to climb, while tree types can do without such support. The recent popularity of philodendrons and other aroids has the prices of rarer types climbing out of the affordable range, but you still can purchase many common types for more down-to-earth dollar amounts.
1. Birkin Philodendron: Philodendron ‘Birkin’
With its spiffy pin-striped appearance of narrow white variegation on green leaves and its tidy under 3-feet stature, this new cultivar doesn’t hang about. Instead, it supports itself as an upright philodendron should. Though the name refers to a handbag that can only be afforded by moneyed types, the plant actually is more reasonably priced than most variegated philodendrons these days.
2. Bloody Mary Philodendron: Philodendron ‘Bloody Mary’
Whether named for a tomato-infused cocktail or an often-vilified British queen, this climbing or dangling plant is changeable. Its new leaves darken from orange to red, for not quite blood-colored leaf blades, before turning dark green on top with red stems and undersides. That might be called a truly royal flush!
3. Blushing Philodendron: Philodendron erubescens
Only the leaf stems and backs redden on the original species of this climber, though cultivars such as ‘Red Emerald’ may blush all over their heart-shaped leaves’ faces, too. For a truly jungle feel, give this blushing plant a chance to shine by adding a pole it can climb or letting its vines drape downward.
4. Brasil Philodendron: Philodendron hederaceum ‘Brasil’
The spelling of this cultivar’s name appears off, but it may be named for a mythical island just off the coast of Ireland rather than for a South American country. At any rate, it is colorful, with splashes of lighter green and/or yellow across its dark green leaves, accompanied by coral-colored leaf stems. Place this trailing lovely on a bookshelf or in a hanging basket.
5. Elephant Ear Philodendron: Philodendron domesticum
Also known as Spade-Leaf Philodendron, this plant makes leaves up to 2 feet long—perhaps as large as an Asian elephant’s ears, but definitely not approximating those of an African elephant. It can either climb or cascade, according to its owner’s preference. The large leaves are waxy; perhaps the elephant-ear philodendron needs a giant Q-tip!
6. Fiddle-Leaf Philodendron: Philodendron bipennifolium
This climber also goes by the name of Horsehead Philodendron. It produces 18-inch dark green leaves that occasionally resemble a fiddle and sometimes narrow down to a more ears-up-top and nose-down-below look. This “horse” will need a post to hitch itself to if you don’t want it rambling all over your living room.
7. Finger-Leaf Philodendron: Philodendron goeldii
The glossy leaves of this plant radiate out from a central point like fingers from a palm. Some of the larger leaf clusters may have upward of a dozen “fingers,” much more than a human palm can boast. This philodendron has a trunk, so it should be able to stand on its own and add a lush tropical feel to any room with moderate light.
8. Flask Philodendron: Philodendron martianum
The Flask Philodendron is also called ‘Fat Boy,’ and both descriptions probably refer to the swollen look of its pudgy cylindrical petioles. This plant sometimes stands 10 feet high in its native habitat. However, a Florida site estimates that it will only grow to about 2 feet there with 1- to 1½-foot leaf blades. Another common name is Von Martius’ Philodendron, and the plant sometimes is incorrectly identified as cannifolium instead.
9. Heart-Leaf Philodendron: Philodendron hederaceum var. oxycardium
A viner with heart-shaped foliage that frequently appears in dish gardens, this common philodendron type usually makes small valentine-like leaves about 2 inches long when its foliage is left to dangle about on its own. However, the plant reportedly will heart you with leaves at least 4 inches long if you give it a post to climb on.
10. King of Philodendrons Philodendron: Philodendron speciosum
Unless you live in a mansion, this big-leaf philodendron might be a bit too large for your living room, since it reportedly can make leaves up to 6 feet long and flowers 2 feet tall. Actually, mansion dwellers may be the only ones who can afford it, since the price of such a rare aroid tends to be on the large size, too.
11. Lacy Tree Philodendron: Philodendron bipinnatifidum
The deeply cut leaves on this tree philodendron grow up to 3 feet long and lend it a lacy look. The “tree” itself can reach 15-foot heights outdoors, perhaps up to 8 feet indoors. Also known as Anchor Philodendron because it throws out aerial roots to secure itself, this large and lavish plant should soon anchor itself in your affections as well.
12. Mottled Imbe Philodendron: Philodendron ilsemanii variegata
Sometimes called ‘Jose Buono’ as well, this climbing philodendron has narrow leaves up to 2 feet long splashed and spattered with white, as if you had forgotten to cover it while painting the wall above it. Due to that rare variegation, the mottled philodendron is one of the pricier ones, so you might want to consider those white patches a form of silver plating!
13. Narrow-Leaf Philodendron: Philodendron stenolobum
With long slender leaves in the 2- to 3-foot range once they mature, P. stenolobum sometimes escapes the forest to plant itself in the ground. Therefore, it can be either self-supporting or climbing, as its owner chooses. Although sometimes misidentified as the broader leafed P. williamsii, it isn’t the same species.
14. Oak-Leaf Philodendron: Philodendron pedatum
The deeply cut leaves of this climbing plant appear on reddish stems and do, in fact, often resemble oversize oak leaves. However, their appearance reportedly can vary quite a bit according to the plant’s maturity or lack of it—and whether they appear in the wild or in your living room.
15. Pigskin Philodendron: Philodendron rugosum
Due to the leathery and almost plastic patina of its leaves, which can reach 2 feet in length in the rainforest, this plant—now becoming endangered—also is known as the Naugahyde philodendron. If you grow it, then, you may have to assure your friends that it really is real!
16. Pink Princess Philodendron: Philodendron erubescens ‘Pink Princess’
A cultivar of the Blushing Philodendron, this climbing plant can grow to 4 feet tall and wears pink, which almost is a requirement for little princesses! Its young leaves actually unfurl green with white variegation, but gradually darken to a purple-tinged, nearly black. That dark background, liberally splashed or streaked with girly hot pink, makes this cultivar one of the most striking of all the different types of philodendron.
17. Red Spike Philodendron: Philodendron ‘Florida Compact’
Similar to the Oak-Leaf Philodendron—which is one of its parents (the other being the Hairy Philodendron)—this reduced-size hybrid remains small enough for a hanging basket. With hand-sized leaves and red stems, from which the “spike” in its common name derives, it can either trail over the edges of its pot or climb a support.
18. Silver Sword Philodendron: Philodendron hastatum ‘Silver Sword’
Calling a spade a spade can be tricky with philodendrons, as so many of them go by the spade-leaf moniker, including P. hastatum. Fortunately, this climbing cultivar also is described as a silver sword, due to the metallic sheen of its leaves, which—when mature—actually can appear more like an arrowhead than a sword.
19. Skeleton Key Philodendron: Philodendron elegans
This climbing plant may resemble an actual skeleton more than the key named for it, since its pinnate leaves have a rib-cage look. They reportedly can grow up to 2 feet long. You may need that key to unlock the identity of your species, since this one often gets confused with P. radiatum, AKA P. augustinum.
20. Hairy Philodendron: Philodendron squamiferum
The climbing hairy philodendron usually sports violin-shaped five-lobed leaves from 1 to 1½ feet long. The ruddy scales on its petioles make them look as red and hairy as the biblical Esau. Like many other epiphytes that live on trees in the wild, this plant reportedly grows best with the bark type of orchid potting mix added to its soil.
21. Velour Philodendron: Philodendron melanochrysum
The species name of this climbing plant might sound a bit melancholy. However, it also is known as ‘Black Gold’—perhaps in reference to its often steep price! This climber boasts copper-colored leaves when young, which gradually “narrow down” to 2-foot-long greenish-black ones veined with lighter green for a plush look.
22. Velvet-Leaf Philodendron: Philodendron verrucosum
Also called the Ecuador Philodendron, this one features greenish-black leaves with yellow-green ribs and reddish hues on their backs. Those leaves usually grow 1 to 2 feet long in the wild. The “velvet” for which it is named appears on the leaf stems as well as the surface of the leaves.
23. Velvet-Leaf Philodendron No. 2: Philodendron hederaceum ‘Micans’
Although sharing a common name with the plant above, this less expensive Velvet-Leaf Philodendron actually is a more colorful cultivar of the popular Heart-Leaf Philodendron mentioned previously. Its plusher leaves have subtle variations ranging through shades of green and bronze, often tinged with pink or purple, but it reportedly is as easy to grow as the solidly green version.