Philodendron

This genus in the Araceae family has nearly 500 identified species with many more still undescribed, and the only other Aroid with more species are the Anthuriums. Philodendrons originated in the tropics of Central America, South America and the West Indies, but they are found in a wide variety of habitats throughout this range. Bright, indirect sun light and warm temperatures are preferred for most varieties, which makes them excellent houseplants.

Most Philodendrons are completely or partially epiphytic, so they are generally found growing in the forest canopy or up tree trunks in nature. In cultivation, most hobbyists will grow their plants in pots that do not give the plant a way to grow vertically, and this habit will typically cause leaf size to be smaller. Since hobbyists want their plants to get as large as possible, it is best to give vining Philodendrons a totem or another form of support to allow them to grow to their full potential.

As a collector, it is important to note that Philodendrons have a lot of natural variation from one plant to the next within the same species. To complicate matters even more, these plants are notorious for having up to three distinct leaf shapes on the same plant as it ages. Seedlings, juveniles and mature specimens of the exact same plant can each look quite different, and the transition from one stage to the next is rarely abrupt, which can result in plants that share traits of two of these metamorphosis stages.

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