Philodendron elegans

Some climbing species of philodendron were already mentioned in the section on foliage plants, namely P. scandens, good for room decoration, and P. surinamense, used chiefly in terrariums.

P. elegans belongs to the group of plants which are climbers and have lobed or incised leaves. The species is from South America, where it is widely distributed in many tropical parts of the continent. It is a robust liana climbing high up to the tree tops with leaves that in adult plants are up to 70 cm (28 in) long, 50 cm (20 in) wide and deeply incised almost to the midrib. It has far smaller dimensions if cultivated in the home, the leaves being only a third to half the natural length. Unlike other species, the leaves are also incised in the juvenile stage so that the plant can be kept within bounds by pruning, without loosing the effect of the incisions.

An ideal house plant is Philodendron laciniatum (also known in cultivation under the synonyms P. laciniosum, P. amazonicum or P. pedatum) from Brazil. The internodes are short, barely 5 cm (2 in) long, the leaves very variable in shape, being three-lobed, with the lobes further lobed themselves. In the home the leaf blade does not generally grow to a length of more than 20 cm (8 in). It is a fairly rapid grower but can be readily shaped by pruning.

It may also be trained over a support, a single plant thus covering a whole wall. Similar species, but less widely known, are P. tripardtum, P. squami-feriim and P. lacerum.

All the philodendrons referred to should be grown in peaty compost with an addition of sand and loam or leaf mould. The compost must never be allowed to dry out at any time, for the plants do not have a pronounced period of rest. They are readily propagated by cuttings which will form roots even in water.

15. November 2011 by Dave Pinkney
Categories: Featured Articles, House Plants | Tags: , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Philodendron elegans

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