Philodendron sodiroi — juvenile form: Silver-leaf Philodendron

Philodendrons often pose difficulties with the nomenclature of species if the traditional florist’s names are to be avoided, for the genus comprises more than 220 species which have been cultivated for a very long time and therefore one often encounters selected natural variations as well as hybrids and at the same time vast differences in habit between juvenile and adult specimens of the same species. Added to this is the fact that cultivated philodendrons are incapable of attaining the adult form and many old specimens develop a ‘transitional’ habit.

The species is cultivated under many different names in the home and in botanical gardens. Generally it is found under the name Philodendron imperiale or the synonym P. as-peratum. Most accurate, probably, is its classification as. P. sodiroi, for the said philodendron has velvety green leaves and leaf stalks covered with a thick fringe of wart-like growths. The plant is native to Colombia. In adult specimens the leaf blade is up to 40 cm (16 in) long; in cultivated subjects, however, it is barely half that length.

What species should be recommended for room decoration? For larger rooms P. sanguineum from Mexico, with stem and undersides of the leaves coloured red, the upper surface of the leaves dark green, and their length 30 cm (1 ft) (in adult specimens up to 70 cm [28 in]), or the similar P. erubes-cens from Colombia. For smaller rooms P. scandens with long, heart-shaped, glossy, dark green leaves about 15 cm (6 in) long; P. surinamense, similar but smaller, the leaves velvety olive above and light purple on the underside; or the beautifully shaped P. laciniatum with symmetrically deeply lobed leaves.

All philodendrons should be grown in a mixture of peat, loam and sand. They are readily propagated by cuttings which will root in water or a warm propagating frame.

15. November 2011 by Dave Pinkney
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