Climbing Philodendrons

by Ian Edwards

Philodendrons means 'loving trees' and many of them will climb up on a tree or a palm. Recently we have been trying some on gums and older palms whose trunks have come to resemble telegraph poles.  They have sometimes suffered from falling palm leaves but are almost indestructible as broken pieces layer themselves into the ground and start again.
Another plus for Philodendrons, at least in our garden, is that snails which are only too happy to chew holes in the leaves of Anthuriums, completely ignore the Philodendrons.

Philodendron erubescens (meaning becoming reddish) has many cultivars, which are said to be unmistakeable with their purple stem and stlks, pink sheaths, dark green blades with maroon undersides and purple and red inflorescences.  One we bought home from Steve Flood's 'Garden of Dreams' in 2009 is labeled 'Queen of Spades' and has been doing particularly well, its almost black colour making a good contrast to the surrounding greenery.

Other erubescens cultivars include
'Redwings', one grown from a cutting brought to a meeting in 2004 and another from a similar cultivar from Keith Henderson of Bundaberg in 2007.  They both cling on well to the palm trunk by anchor roots.

Another erubescens cultivar bought at the Society action in March last year without a name, but would pass for a cultivar called
'Ace of Spades'.  It has already made a promising start.

A rapidly climbing Philodendron, name unknown, which was bought somewhere in Queensland in 2008 has done what some Philodendrons do, which is to change their leaf shape as they go up.  The lower leaves as shown in the photo are heart shaped (cordate), while those at the top have produced two little wings.  An expert could probably deduce the name from this feature.

Another Philodendron with a different leaf is
Philodendron sagittifolium (sagitt-arrowhead) the arrowhead shape showinh well on the upper leaves in the photo.  It is said to be variable in leaf shape, but can be identified by its inflorescence.  Ours came from Bill Anderson near Nambour last July.  On our plant the spathes of new leaves are very colourful for a few days.

Philodendron tenue
, from Keith Henderson in 2006, has been a slow grower in Sydney but has still survived four winters.  It is said to be an appressed climber, its leaves clinging closely to the trunk and the leaves can be a metre long.  So far ours has settled for leaves up to 40cm long.

Philodendron hastatum
is another plant from Kieth Henderson in 200. Probably one of the last of the old generation of Aroid enthusiasts, his recent retiremnt is a great loss to anyone seeking unusua Aroids, especially Anthuriums and Philodendrons.  This plant has long leaves that are grey rather than green, quite unusual among Philodendrons and making it another to contrast with the prevailing green.  After a couple of years the leaves change to become sonewhat arrowhead in shape.

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