All about plant fertilization

How and when to fertilize Philodendron


Philodendron is a genus of plants in the Araceae family, so far with more than 700 described species. They are small shrubs, in general the most striking of them are their leaves that vary in shape according to the species. They are highly sought after to decorate gardens and interiors, being able to grow perfectly in pots. In this article we will see how and when to use philodendron fertilizer, what type to apply and some of the most important care for your crop.

Fun fact: the etymological origin of the word “philodendron” is derived from the Greek words “philo” (love in Greek) and “dendron” (“tree”). This alludes to the climbing habit of these plants in trees, but whose roots are rooted in the ground.

1. Caring your Philodendron plant


The beauty of the foliage of these plants makes any environment look more welcoming. Whether climbing or non-climbing Philodendron varieties, either grows well indoors. But just as it is necessary to carry out maintenance and cleaning tasks with the carpets in your house, these plants also need certain care to stay beautiful.

In this section we will look at the most important care you need to take if you want to make sure you grow healthy and strong. And it is that, as with any plant, it is not enough to fertilize it, but you must perform other tasks.

Philodendron fertilizer
Philodendron plant
  • Light: although they can be adapted to receive direct sunlight, they are jungle plants, so they prefer semi-shade. In case you start to see that many leaves are yellow, it may be excess sun.
  • Soil: Philodendrons like soils rich in organic matter. In addition, as an essential feature, it must be well drainable soil. This will allow the water to not stagnate and will bring problems to the plant.
  • Temperature: The ideal temperature range is between 18 and 25 ° C. If exposed for a long time to a temperature equal to or below 12 ° C, it may be affected. It does not bear low temperatures.
  • Water and humidity: try to maintain a humid environment. You can do this by placing a tray of water near the plant and spraying it every three to four days. As for irrigation, you should keep the soil moist but always avoid waterlogging.
  • Propagation: These plants are very easy to propagate from cuttings. Cut a healthy branch and place it in water, you will see how in a couple of days it has started to develop roots. When you see that the roots have grown enough, transplant into a pot.
  • Fertilizer: the fertilization of the philodendron is a very good ally to boost its development. You will see that the leaves will grow longer and that overall health will improve.

2. What do the three numbers mean on the label of a fertilizer?


We cannot start talking about the use of fertilizers for philodendron without first explaining what the NPK values ​​are. You have probably noticed that in each package of fertilizer there are three numbers separated by a hyphen. Those numbers are what are known as NPK values.

The NPK letters represent the three most important nutrients in the development of any plant. N is nitrogen, the most important nutrient in the general development of the plant. P is phosphorous, closely related to root development. And K is potassium, a nutrient that helps transfer nutrients.

On the other hand, each of the three numbers represents the percentage by weight of each nutrient, with respect to the total weight. This explanation may not be entirely clear to you, so I have prepared a short example.

“Suppose you have a 1kg bag of 15-20-15 fertilizer. So 15% is nitrogen, 20% phosphorus and 15% potassium. That is, 150g is nitrogen, 200g phosphorous and 150g is potassium”

I hope that with the previous example this concept has become clear to you, which I think is quite simple. 😉

3. Best fertilizer for Philodendron


There are a variety of fertilizers that can be used on a houseplant like this. Although in general we can separate them between those that are commercial and those that we can prepare at home.

Below we will see the commercial and homemade fertilizers that best suit your philodendron. Then you can choose which one to use. Each has advantages and disadvantages in its use compared to the other.

If you are reading this post, you will probably be interested in learning about fertilizing these other plants.

3.1 Commercial fertilizer

There are as many commercial fertilizers as there are brands of fertilizers. Although in general gardeners always recommend using those with a balanced mix between the three main nutrients.

Since we have already briefly studied the meaning of NPK values, when I say a balanced mix, you can imagine that all three numbers must be the same or similar. Therefore, a mixture that works very well is the classic 20-20-20.

Another fertilizer that is sometimes recommended is a 15-30-15 mix. The high phosphorus content can be favorable for flowering. Although it is not so common when the Philodendron is qualified indoors.

In general any fertilizer for houseplants will adapt well to apply. In case of doubts it is always good to consult the seller before making the purchase.

3.2 Homemade fertilizer

As with commercial fertilizers, there are also hundreds of homemade fertilizers that can be used. Since you do not know the exact composition of the nutrients in this type of fertilizers, you should always be more careful when applying them.

Some of the best home fertilizers for houseplants like philodendron are as follows:

  • Eggshell: they are a very good source of calcium, something very important to develop a strong cellular structure. It can be applied in two ways. Boil the eggshells in water, let stand and then apply as irrigation. Or grind the eggshells and then mix them with the soil before planting a new plant or transplanting.
  • Coffee: Coffee is a good source of nutrients like potassium and magnesium. Therefore, you can take advantage of the coffee waste to place it in the soil of your plants. Although it should not be exceeded in quantity, as it can lead to excessively acidic conditions for your philodendron.
  • Earthworm Humus: This is an excellent choice when looking for an organic fertilizer. It is enough to have California worms and heat organic matter, they will take care of making a very good compost.
  • Fertilizer with fish tank water: finally we close with a homemade fertilizer that is not so widespread in its use. The water of a fish tank, after being cleaned, is a very good source of nitrogen. So if you have a fish tank at home, don’t forget to save the water every time you clean it, then you can apply it as a watering on your Philodendron.

4. Philodendron fertilizer


We have already seen some of the most important cares, which are the NPK values and which are the best fertilizers for the philodendron. It is time to start talking about how and when to apply the fertilizer. Since it doesn’t matter that you apply the right fertilizer if you do it at the right time and in the wrong way.

And speaking of the correct applications of fertilizer, let’s see some basic tips that you should know when you are going to fertilize any houseplant.

4.1 Fertilization basic tips

It is important to keep the following four tips in mind when fertilizing any of your plants.

  • Tip N ° 1: You should only fertilize those plants that are healthy. Diseased plants attacked by a pest will not be saved with the use of fertilizers. Also, it can hasten your death.
  • Tip N ° 2: in general, the best time to fertilize is spring. In this early season plants are in full development, so the nutrients will be used better.
  • Tip No. 3: A plant that is completely in the shade has a slower metabolism, so it will grow more slowly. That is why you will need smaller amounts of fertilizer.
  • Tip No. 4: and we close with my favorite tip. When we talk about fertilization, you should know that less is more. Being preferable to place lower doses than recommended, than exceeding the dose. Large amounts of nutrients can kill your plant.

Knowing these four tips at least you can be sure that you will not kill a plant with fertilization. 😉

4.2 How and when to fertilize

The season in which you should fertilize your philodendrons is from early spring to late summer. Depending on the type of fertilizer you are going to use, the regularity can vary between 15 and 30 days.

Keep in mind that when you grow a potted plant, you don’t have access to nutrients as if it were planted in the ground. That is why fertilization is so important for good growth, being responsible for renewing the nutrients in the soil.

Once you have bought a fertilizer, the one I recommend the most is a 20-20-20 liquid one, the first thing you should do is read the instructions. Any good fertilizer should have clear instructions regarding dosage, techniques, and application times.

As I said before, in fertilization less is more. That is why it is usually advisable to place doses lower than those recommended in the instructions for use. Never apply higher doses of fertilizer to your Philodendron than recommended, this can end up burning the plant and reducing its ability to absorb nutrients.

You can replace some of the 20-20-20 fertilizer applications with organic fertilizer. Again, controlling the doses you apply. Finally, if you want to promote the flowering of this plant, what you can do is replace some applications of 20-20-20 with 15-30-15. This greater amount of phosphorus favors a better flowering.

4.3 Fertilizer for Split leaf Philodendron

Although the split-leaved philodendron is not quite a philodendron, but a vine in the Arum family, the fertilizer needs are the same as what we have seen so far.

You can use a 20-20-20 fertilizer mix that is applied from spring to early fall. In the rest of the fall and winter it is better to let this plant rest.

In case you notice that the leaves begin to turn somewhat yellow, and it has not been overloaded with water, it may be a sign of a lack of nutrients. On the contrary, if the soil has a white crust or the presence of brown spots on the leaves, it may be due to excess fertilizer in this type of philodendron.

5. Fertilizing your Philodendron (video tutorial)


To finish the article we have selected a video from the Tenney Plants channel, in it you will see how to easily fertilize your philodendron. You will see that, as in this post, they recommend the use of a commercial 20-20-20 fertilizer. I have no doubt that it will help you understand in a more graphic way what you have seen so far. 🙂

If you are reading this post, you will probably be interested in learning about fertilizing these other plants.

We have reached the end of the article. I hope that everything has been very clear, and you have no doubts about how and in what season you should carry out the fertilization of this beautiful indoor plant.

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