Houseplants For Beginners- Philodendron & Pothos

A new houseplant can always brighten up a home, with lustrous green leaves or brightly colored flowers. But make sure to choose a houseplant that suits your level of gardening expertise; that will ensure the plant's survival and your enjoyment of it. For beginnings gardeners, or even those with the brownest thumb, two of the easiest houseplants to grow are philodendron and pothos.

The genus Philodendron is a large one, comprised of approximately 200 species, however only a few of these species are commonly grown as houseplants. The Philodendron genus can be broken down into two basic groups: climbing and non-climbing types.

The climbing types develop long vines and are usually grown in either hanging baskets or given a support on which to grow. They produce aerial roots along their stems, which intake water for the plant and attach themselves to any available support.

Non-climbing philodendrons produce large, attractive, often deeply lobed leaves from a basal crown and because they develop into very large, bushy plants are usually not suitable for the home environment.

Most common is heart-leaf philodendron, P. scandens; a vining philodendron with dark green, heart-shaped leaves. As do all philodendrons, it prefers indirect sunlight- direct light can easily cause leaf burn or scorch. Periodic watering, to prevent wilting, and occasional fertilization during the growing season are all that's needed to ensure a healthy, attractive plant. When watering, wait until the soil is dry to the touch and then apply enough water to soak the entire soil ball. Don't keep the soil constantly wet or root rot could develop.

Pothos, or devil's ivy, is often confused with philodendron, although botanical name it's known as Scindapsus aureus. Its leaves are also heart-shaped, but are usually mottled with yellow or white. The plant is grown in hanging baskets, as a small pot plant, or on an upright support called a "totem". Pothos is one of the easiest houseplants to grow, performing well from very low light to direct sun. Water as needed to prevent wilting, and avoid keeping the soil continually wet. Trim the vines back occasionally to prevent them from growing too long, and maintain the plant's bushiness. That's all it takes to keep this plant happy and healthy- it couldn't be much easier.