How Often and How Much to Water Philodendrons

How to water philodendrons

Water philodendrons with a generous soak once every week during active growth in the Spring and Summer. Mist the philodendrons leaves with water 2 times per week as philodendrons prefer higher humidity. Water philodendrons once every 10 days or so in Winter.

Keep reading to learn how to tell if your philodendron is under watered or over watered and for all the best watering practices…

How Often to Water Philodendron Plants

Philodendron are native to tropical climates, where they grow in forests with well draining, porous yet moist soils with relatively high humidity and frequent rainfall.

As philodendrons are so well adapted to relatively high humidity and frequent rainfall, they require the soil to be evenly moist and can suffer if the soil dries out showing signs of stress such as brown, drooping leaves, however they can also be suffer from problems associated with over watering if the soil is boggy rather then moist and does not drain effectively.

To grow philodendron successfully in your home, it is important to emulate the conditions of their native habitat by watering often.

Water philodendron with a generous soak so that water trickles from the drainage holes in the base then allow the top 2 inches to dry out slightly before watering again. Mist the leaves with water 1 or 2 times per week to create a humid micro-climate that mimics their native habitat.

Typically this can mean watering your philodendron once per week with a good soak,but exactly how often you should water philodendron can depend on your climate and the growing conditions in your home. Factors such as:

  • The humidity and temperature of your particular climate
  • This size of the philodendrons pot (smaller pots can dry much quicker then larger pots)
  • Whether the philodendron is subject to fluctuating temperature from air conditioning or sources of heat.
  • The capacity of the soil to retain moisture.

To establish how often to water your philodendron in your climate feel the top 2 inches of the soil with your finger to detect the level of soil moisture. If the soil is still moist then delay watering. When top two inches of the soil feels slightly dry, this is the perfect time to water your philodendron with a good soak.

Once you know how long it takes for the top two inches of the philodendrons potting soil to feel slightly dry, then you can establish a watering schedule to suit the philodendrons watering requirements in your home.

This mimics typical soil moisture conditions of the philodendrons native environment.

How to Tell If Your Not Watering Philodendron Often Enough

As philodendrons are tropical plants that live in evenly moist soil they are more susceptible to the affects of under watering then over watering.

If you are not watering philodendrons often enough, the leaves can turn brown and droop downwards. Low humidity causes the leaf margins to turn brown which can extend to the entire leaf if it is in a draughty area or in the current of air conditioning.

If this happens to your philodendron this is a clear indication to increase how often you water the plant and to mist it more regularly.

Philodendrons often recover from a bout of under watering well as long as you give the soil a good soak and ensure it stays evenly moist for the next few days.

After 2 or 3 cycles of watering the philodendron should be showing good signs of recovery.

How to Tell if You are Watering Philodendron Too Often

If your philodendron leaves are turning yellow and drooping this is because there is too much water around the root ball which can be caused by over watering, slow draining soils, pots or containers without drainage holes in their base and because of the use of saucers, trays and decorative outer pots.

More often the problem is not necessarily just over watering but because of water pooling around the roots because it cannot escape out the bottom of the pot.

Too much water excludes oxygen from the soil which prevents root respiration and interferes with the roots ability to function, so that it cannot uptake water and nutrients properly which is why the philodendron leaves turn yellow and droop.

(For more on how to revive your philodendron read my article why is my philodendron dying?)

How Often to Water Philodendron in Winter

The rate at which philodendron grows in Winter can slow significantly due to less hours of light and lower light intensity.

This decreases the philodendrons demand for moisture so the plant should perhaps be watered less often in Winter, however the soil should not dry out completely.

Exactly how often you water philodendron in Winter can depend as some climates require sources of heat such as forced air and radiators for Winter which can dry out the soil quickly.

Typically water once every 10 days is optimal as it meets the watering requirements of the philodendron without risking root rot.

As long as the top two inches of the soil feel slightly dry then give the soil a good soak and the philodendron should thrive. You may also have to mist philodendron slightly more often in Winter as the air in our homes can be very dry in the colder months.

How Much to Water Philodendrons

Whilst how often you water your philodendron can vary according to a range of factors, how much water you should use remains the same.

Always water philodendrons with a good soak, so that excess water trickles from the base of the pot.

This ensures that the water has infiltrated the soil properly so that it is evenly moist and the roots can uptake the water that the philodendron requires.

A good soak every time you water also encourages good root development

If you water the philodendrons potting soil too lightly then only the top inch or so becomes moist and the water does not reach the roots further in the soil which causes the leaves to droop and turn brown as a sign of drought stress.

Well Draining Soil is Crucial When Watering Philodendrons

Watering philodendrons properly should be in conjunction with growing the plants in the right potting mix to avoid root rot.

Philodendrons grow in moist yet porous and well draining soil in their native environment and they do not tolerate compacted soil or soil without an aerated structure as this prevents the roots from functioning properly.

Plant philodendron in around 3 parts ordinary potting soil to 1 part perlite. The perlite increases the soil drainage and increase the pore size of the soil so that it remains porous and aerated so that the roots can function properly.

The perlite promotes drainage so that the soil is moist around the root ball rather then boggy to prevent problems associated with over watering.

This soil structure effectively emulates the soil profile of the philodendrons native environment.

With right potting mix it is much easier to maintain the perfect moisture balance for philodendrons and prevent any affects of over watering to keep your plant healthy.

Water Philodendrons in Pots With Good Drainage

Whilst philodendrons require soil that is evenly moist, they do not tolerate their roots being in saturated soil, so it is essential that you plant philodendron in pots or containers with drainage holes in the base to allow excess water to escape.

Watering with a generous soak so that water visibly trickles from the base of your pot is also the best way to ensure that your philodendron is sufficiently watering and the that soil is evenly moist.

If your philodendron is plant in pots without drainage holes, water pools around the root ball and the plant leaves turn yellow and the plant eventually dies back due to root rot.

Water can still pool around the roots of your potted philodendron if:

  • The drainage holes become blocked with roots or compacted soil. If you notice that the soil is draining slowly then it is worth checking to see whether you should clear the hole in the base to allow water to escape properly.
  • Saucers and trays underneath the pot. Saucers and trays underneath your pot can prevent water spilling in your home but you should empty the saucer or tray regularly to prevent water collecting and keeping the soil too damp for your philodendron.
  • Decorative outer pots. Philodendrons are often sold in a plastic pot but presented in a decorative outer pot that is without drainage holes in the bottom. The outer pot causes water to pool around the root ball so always empty the outer pot regularly after watering or plant your philodendron in a pot with drainage holes in the base.

Key Takeaways:

  • Water philodendrons once a week during active growth in the Spring and Summer. Mist the philodendrons leaves twice per week to increase humidity. Water philodendrons once every 10 days during Winter months.
  • Always water philodendrons with a generous soak so that excess water trickles from the base of the pot to ensure that the soil is evenly moist.
  • Plant philodendrons in 3 parts potting soil to 1 part perlite to improve drainage and soil structure. This helps to emulate the soil conditions in the philodendron plants native habitat.
  • Under watered philodendron leaves droop and turn brown as a sign of stress. Too much moisture around the root ball causes the leaves to turn yellow and droop. Ensure the potting soil is evenly moist for the philodendron to stay healthy.

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