I have a lot of early failures in my horticultural timeline. There was the bare crown of thorns I kept alive, and probably shouldn’t have, for a few years. The ficus that was destined to fail didn’t even last one season. The first plant I remember growing that was truly my own was a philodendron.
My First Houseplant
I got this philodendron from a friend who made a cutting for me. I wanted a houseplant of my own for my bedside table. I didn’t have any idea what to do with it beyond sticking the new roots in a pot of soil.
I didn’t know what a philodendron was, and because this was pre-internet, I didn’t research it. I simply planted it, watered it, and hoped for the best. Little did I know then that this is the perfect beginner houseplant.
That philodendron stayed with me for several moves, from home to college, to first apartments. In fact, I still have it today. It sits in my office by the window and keeps me company.
Philodendron – the Plant for Newbies
This could not have been a more perfect plant for my first. If I had started with that crown of thorns or the ficus, I may never have continued gardening. You can neglect it for weeks and still not kill a philodendron.
Philodendron is a genus of tropical plants from Central and South America. There are many species in this genus, of which a plant may be vining or not vining. My philodendron is a vine. It grows long stems that drape down over the bookcase on which it sits.
How to Grow a Philodendron
To grow philodendron, you need a warm climate or to grow it as a houseplant, which is what most people do. They like indirect light rather than a bright window. Mine grows next to a north-facing window with a tree outside that filters afternoon sunlight.
Although I’m guilty of having neglected to water my plant for periods of time over the years—and it has forgiven me—it does best with consistent moisture in the soil. I water it once or twice a week. It usually lets me know I’ve forgotten to water it by getting droopy and yellowing a little bit.
Our next adventure together is to create a terrarium. I took cuttings recently from my long-lived philodendron. Once they sprout roots, I’ll see how they like the moist conditions inside my terrarium. I have high hopes that it will thrive.
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Mary Ellen Ellis has been gardening for over 20 years. With degrees in Chemistry and Biology, Mary Ellen's specialties are flowers, native plants, and herbs.
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