Philodendrons are undergoing a revival, with many previously ignored hybrids suddenly becoming quite popular.
The captivating hybrid Philodendron Florida is one such plant – a hardy climber with leaves that often show dramatic variation and differences in leaf color.
However, it’s common for sellers to mix up the Philodendron Florida with one of its parent plants, Philodendron Pedatum, and there’s a lot of confusion as to whether P. Florida is its own species at all.
Philodendron pedatum is a large, hardy climber with large lobed leaves and has smooth green petioles and though the new leaves come out somewhat lighter than mature leaves ranging from bright green to deep blue-green, often showing a variety of shapes depending on age. Philodendron Florida is a smaller, more compact climber with paler lobed leaves, sometimes white or variegated, more uniform but with some variation.
While closely related, both are distinct plants. Here’s how to tell them apart.
|Philodendron Pedatum||Philodendron Florida|
|USDA Hardiness zone||Zones 9-11||Zone 9-11|
|Scientific Name||Philodendron pedatum||Philodendron pedatum x squamiferum|
|Mature height||Up to 10 feet (3m)||Up to 5 feet (1.5m)|
|Leaf Color||Blue-green||Pale to dark green, often variegated|
|Growth rate||Slow to moderate.||Slow growth|
|Light Requirement||Bright to partial shade.||Bright to partial shade.|
|Soil Type||Well-drained, rich in organics||Well-drained, rich in organics|
|Soil pH||Mildly acidic to neutral||Mildly acidic to neutral|
|Watering Frequency||Once weekly||Once weekly.|
|Pests||Mealybugs, thrips, spider mites||Mealybugs, thrips, spider mites.|
|Diseases||Fire blight, leaf spot||Fire blight, leaf spot.|
Difference Between Philodendron Pedatum and Philodendron Florida
Key to the difference between these two plants is the color of their leaves. Philodendron. florida produces pale or variegated leaves that gradually darken as they mature, a key trait that led to the development of the hybrid.
Some sub-varieties even produce young leaves that are entirely white! As the leaves become older their color changes to an even bright green.
The petioles, or the stalks and stems of the leaves, tend to be a reddish colour, with a rough texture, a legacy of its other parent, Philodendron squamiferum.
Philodendron pedatum on the other hand produces larger leaves with an even, darker green coloration on smoother green petioles.
They generally don’t sprout variegated leaves at all, with their color remaining consistent even as it darkens.
Both these philodendrons are kept for their sweeping multi-lobed leaves. The exciting curves and swerves often remind me of an electric guitar! The leaves change as they grow, making both plants surprisingly entertaining.
Philodendron florida produced smaller leaves with a more consistent shape. Despite this it’s not uncommon to see some with longer lobes or shallower indents. Generally they all share a similar shape, even if the depth of the lobes varies.
Philodendron Pedatum on the other hand can produce leaves that show a lot of variety over their lifespans.
The leaves start their lives as small ovals, developing their characteristic lobes as they mature.
Adult leaves typically reach around 6 to 8 inches in length, though in well cared for plants they top out at a foot, with deep indentations all the way back to the petiole.
Different Light levels will also result in different leaf structures, with broader, less indented leaves in brighter light and more deeply indented ones in shade.
Both of these philodendrons flower very rarely or not at all. When they do, P. pedatum produces spathes that range from cream through to brown. P. florida on the other hand produces purple spathes.
Height and Structure
The different leaves give these two plants slightly different structures. The more open lobed Philodendron. pedatum likes to spread.
In brighter light can be a very different looking plant altogether, with wide almost round leaves fanning out from the central body of the plant. P. Florida on the other hand prefers to remain compact. Its leaves form tighter groups, creating an overall lusher, denser plant.
As climbers, the height of these plants is limited by the height of the supporting structures around them.
That said, P. Pedatum is far more adventurous, and given the chance it can grow to upwards of ten feet. P. Florida is more compact, and tends to top out around half that height.
Similarities Between Philodendron Pedatum And Philodendron Florida
Philodendron Florida is closely related to Philodendron Pedatum, a hybrid created with the Philodendron squamiferum in the 1950s.
As a result, they have very similar needs in terms of cultivation. Both prefer warmer climates, with moderate to high humidity and soil that is neutral to mildly acidic.
In general, they can be cared for in a similar manner, making them good companion plants in a group arrangement.
Both P. pedatum and P. florida are climbing philodendrons. They will happily march up a moss pole or other support.
Some growers will allow them to creep or trail, but I find the plant does much better with a strong moss pole to support its growth.
Like many rainforest plants, both these philodendrons prefer indirect light to shade. In fact, if either species receives too much direct light, the leaves can yellow, brown or become scorched.
Keep your plants in a well-lit room away from windows and they will reward you with abundant foliage.
These philodendrons hate having soggy feet and can develop root rot if over-watered. In the growing seasons of spring and summer, they will need watering around once a week.
Always check the soil for moisture first, and allow the top two inches to dry out between watering. During winter limit the amount these plants receive. Once every 10 to 14 days ought to do it.
These flashy darlings are epiphytic and prefer a loose, well-draining mix. They do well in soil-free mixes comprised entirely of peat mosses, coir, or the like.
A good quality orchid mix is ideal, though anything well-draining with a lot of added organic matter is good too.
But they aren’t particularly fussy, and so long as your medium is able to retain moisture without becoming boggy your philodendron will do just fine.
Both these philodendrons are hungry plants that benefit from regular fertilization. A good tactic to fertilize regularly with a half-strength nitrogen-rich fertilizer every other watering.
This will provide them with good nutrition to support their lush, dramatic leaves. As with all indoor plants, their need for fertilizer drops off as the weather cools, and they need little to no fertilizer over the winter.
Pest and Diseases
Both these species are hardy, with good resistance to pests and disease. The usual cast of mealy bugs, spider mites, and thrips will not turn their noses up at these philodendrons, but the plants are not particularly vulnerable to attack and can be easily treated.
While they are known to suffer from fire blight and leaf spots, they spring back readily if affected leaves are removed.
Like many rainforest plants, these philodendrons produce calcium oxalate crystals in leaves and stems to dissuade any critter keen on a salad lunch.
It causes irritation to the throat, swelling, nausea, and vomiting. It’s a good idea to keep them clear of pets and small children.