Why Your Philodendron is Blooming and What to Do Next
The blooms are small, insignificant, and usually hidden among the foliage, making it difficult to spot. However, when they do bloom, they produce a beautiful spathe, which is a large, leaf-like bract that surrounds the spadix, the central spike that contains the flowers.
As a gardening and plant expert, I know how exciting it can be when one of your plants blooms. But when it comes to Philodendrons, blooming is a rare occurrence. These beautiful plants are known for their lush foliage, not their flowers.
This is probably the main reason why so many plant parents respond with shock at the sight of anything growing on their Philodendron plant. Our records show that one of our most popular subscriber emails start with "What is growing out of my philodendron?"
So, if your Philodendron has suddenly produced a bloom, congratulations! You're in for a treat. But what should you do next?
In this blog post, we will explore the signs that your Philodendron is blooming and what you can expect from these unique flowers. From the appearance of the blooms to the distinctive smell they produce, we will cover everything you need to know to enjoy the full beauty of your Philodendron plant.
Why do Philodendrons Bloom
First, let's discuss why Philodendrons bloom. In order for a Philodendron to produce flowers, it needs to be in the optimal conditions. This includes bright, indirect light, high humidity, and proper temperature.
Most species of Philodendron do not produce flowers frequently, or even at all when grown indoors, as the conditions are not optimal for blooming. In nature, some species of Philodendrons can bloom periodically, but it's quite rare to see flowers on indoor plants due to the lack of specific conditions needed for blooming.
The blooms are small, insignificant, and usually hidden among the foliage, making it difficult to spot. However, when they do bloom, they produce a beautiful spathe, which is a large, leaf-like bract that surrounds the spadix, the central spike that contains the flowers. These blooms are usually white or greenish-white and can be quite striking, especially when viewed up close.
That's why many plant parents are shocked when they see one!
What to do when your Philodendron blooms.
First and foremost, enjoy the moment! Blooming is a rare sight and should be celebrated. But, you can also save and propagate the seeds to increase your collection of this beautiful plant.
Here are a few tips on how to encourage future blooming in your Philodendron:
- Provide optimal conditions: As mentioned earlier, Philodendrons need bright, indirect light, high humidity, and proper temperature to bloom. Make sure your plant is getting the right amount of light and humidity, and that it is not exposed to drafts. The ideal temperature range for a Philodendron is between 60-80°F (15-27°C)
- Proper fertilization: Fertilize your Philodendron once every 2-4 weeks during the growing season with a balanced, water-soluble fertilizer. Be careful not to over-fertilize, as this can stress the plant and prevent it from blooming.
- Provide the plant with enough space: As the Philodendron grows, make sure to repot it into a larger container to allow for proper root growth.
- Prune and train your Philodendron: Regular pruning will help to encourage bushier growth and promote blooming. Also, you can train your Philodendron to grow a certain way by tying it to a support or stake, this will help to promote a stronger stem and more blooms.
It's also important to note that after a Philodendron blooms, the plant may enter a dormant period. During this time, the plant may not produce new growth, and the leaves may yellow and fall off. This is completely normal and nothing to be concerned about. The plant is simply conserving energy and preparing for its next growth phase.
What is the difference betweem Spadix and Spathe?
The spadix is a central spike-like structure found in the flowers of Philodendron plants, as well as other plants in the Araceae family.
It is typically surrounded by a large, leaf-like bract called the spathe. The spathe can be thought of as a protective covering for the spadix and its flowers, which are typically small and not very showy.
If you pay attention to the image above, you see the spadix as the spike, and the spathe as a leaf that surrounds the spadix and it's usually larger and more colorful than the spadix.
The spathe can be different colors, like green, red, or purple, it's usually the part that you can see first and it's the one that attracts the attention, sometimes it's called a "flower" but it's not a true flower, it's a modified leaf that has a different function.
Sign that your Philodendron is blooming: Smell and Heat
A big sign that your Philodendron is blooming is the smell and the heat it produces.
Philodendron Smell: The blooms of the Philodendron plant give off a musty or earthy odor, which can be quite strong when the plant is in full bloom. The smell can vary depending on the specific variety of Philodendron. Some people find the smell pleasant, while others may find it unappealing.
If the smell is too strong or unpleasant, it might be a cause for concern and a sign that the plant needs to be watered or that the soil is too damp. It's always a good idea to keep an eye on the plant and make sure it's not getting too much water.
Philodendron Heat: The heat is produced by the spadix. This heat is a byproduct of an enzyme-driven process called thermogenesis, which helps to disperse the pollen and attract pollinators. The heat generated can be as high as 104°F (40°C) which is much higher than the surrounding temperature, and it emits a pleasant sweet and spicy aroma, making it even more attractive to potential pollinators.
In nature, the pollinators (beetles) are attracted to the flower looking for warmth, they pollinate the Philodendron by walking over the spadix. But even when the Philodendron is not in an environment where beetles can easily find it, the heat generated by the plant still lets gardeners know that it's time for hand pollination.
How can I pollinate my Philodendron by hand?
Okay, so far you've learnt a little about the habits of a Blooming philodendron and now you want to understand how to pollinate the flower by hand. First let's understand why you need to learn hand pollination in the first place!
You see, Philodendrons have a unique reproductive system, where the flowers have distinct male and female parts, which means that the plant can't self-pollinate (unlucky!)
This means that the plant relies on outside pollinators to reproduce. The way that Philodendrons reproduce can vary depending on their location in the world, as their natural pollinators differ in different regions.
For example, in tropical regions like Brazil, Philodendrons rely on scarab beetles for pollination. However, these beetles are less common outside of tropical regions, so Philodendrons in other regions typically require the help of humans for pollination, which is done by manually transferring the pollen from the male flowers to the female flowers.
The hand pollination method: is a way to help these plants to reproduce and produce viable seeds. This process involves transferring pollen from the male flowers to the female flowers, typically by using a small brush or by simply shaking the plant to release the pollen.
- To do this, the pollen is collected from the male flowers and then applied to the female flowers, specifically to the female part of the spadix, which is the bottom, plumper half. This is typically done at night, when the flower is most receptive to pollination.
Most plant parents can tell if the hand-pollination has been successful when the Philodendron produces fruit, which contains viable seeds. However, it's important to note that the fruit of Philodendrons are poisonous and should not be consumed.
So, if your Philodendron has bloomed, congratulations! You're in for a treat. Be sure to enjoy the moment and save the seeds for propagation.
And remember to provide the plant with the correct amount of light, humidity, and temperature to ensure it continues to thrive and possibly bloom again in the future.
As a gardening and plant enthusiast, I always recommend to keep an eye on your plants and observe the changes, that way you can understand better what your plant needs and how to give it the best care.