Fertilizer for Philodendrons: When and How Often to Feed

If you’re like me, you want your Philodendron to be as lush and green as possible. And the best way to make sure of that is by providing it with the right kind of fertilizer. So when and how often should you feed your Philodendron?

Philodendrons should be fed with balance NPK 20-20-20 fertilizer at least once a month during their growing season. During colder months, you might need to reduce feeding to once every two months since it doesn’t need as much nutrition. 

I will tell you everything you need to know about fertilizing Philodendrons:

Let’s get started!

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Why Does Philodendron Need Fertilizer?

Philodendron is a tropical plant that does best in rich, moist soils with lots of organic matter. In its natural habitat, Philodendron grows on the forest floor where it gets nutrients from decaying leaves and other organic matter.

However, in cultivation, Philodendron is usually grown in pots where the soil is not as rich. This is why it is important to fertilize Philodendron on a regular basis. Fertilizer provides the soil with nutrient-rich minerals that Philodendron needs to stay healthy and grow well.

Signs of Nutrient Deficiency in Philodendron

If your Philodendron isn’t receiving enough nutrients, it can be problematic for its development. Luckily there are some signs to look for that determine when your Philodendron needs more nutrients from fertilizers. 

Signs of Nutrient Deficiency in Plants
Image credit: Facebook.com/GrowREALFood

Here are some signs of nutrient deficiency in Philodendron:

  • Discoloration in leaves
    When Philodendrons don’t receive adequate nutrients, their leaves will change colors. Brown patches may appear, or leaves may turn yellow depending on the problem.

    However, discoloration alone can indicate several issues, including under or overwater. 
  • Stunted growth
    If your Philodendron doesn’t get the proper nutrients, it’ll stop growing. This is more prominent on new leaves and buds, as they won’t grow after forming.

    If you notice that your Philodendron’s growth has slowed down or stopped, it may be time to start fertilizing more often.
  • Wilting
    Wilting is another typical indication of a lack of nutrients in Philodendrons that causes the plants to look as if they’re dying.

    Leaves fall off, and the plant may even start to turn brown. By adding fertilizer to your soil mix, you can prevent severe wilting in your Philodendron. 
  • Holes in leaves
    Holes start to appear in the leaves of Philodendrons when they don’t have access to the proper nutrients (most likely Potassium deficiency).

    Not only does this spoil the aesthetic appearance your plants add to your home, but holes are likely to grow and worsen if left untreated. 

Recognizing these signs early will help you prevent extended irreversible damage to your plants.

How To Choose a Fertilizer for Philodendron?

Purchasing the right fertilizer is key to maintaining a healthy Philodendron. However, with the many options available on the market, it can be tricky to decide which one is best for your plant.

Philodendrons respond best to balanced fertilizers with a 20-20-20 NPK ratio. Additionally, make sure the fertilizer also contains micronutrients such as Calcium, Magnesium, Sulfur, Copper, Iron, and Zinc for best results.

There are some additional things you should keep in mind when selecting a fertilizer for your Philodendron:

Organic vs. Synthetic Fertilizer: Which One Is Better for Philodendron?

One of the most common questions when it comes to fertilizing Philodendron is whether you should use organic or synthetic fertilizer.

Organic fertilizers are made up of natural ingredients such as composted manure, bone meal, or domestic sewage. On the other hand, synthetic fertilizers are made in a laboratory and typically contain chemical nutrients.

So, which one should you use?

Organic fertilizers are better for Philodendrons because they enrich the soil mix. In contrast, synthetically derived fertilizers only feed the plant with nutrients. Organic fertilizers produce better and longer-lasting results for your Philodendrons. 

Philodendrons thrive in soil with the correct bacteria and microbial makeup. Natural fertilizers allow more nutrients to develop in the soil as it’s not all absorbed instantly by the plant. As a result, the roots can grow healthier and more robust when using natural fertilizer.

Different Kinds of Fertilizers

Once you’ve figured out whether you’re going to use natural or synthetic fertilizers for your Philodendron, it’s now time to decide on which variation of fertilizer you should use.

There are several types of fertilizers available to buy. Here are the three main varieties of fertilizers: 

  • Liquid Fertilizer
    Liquid fertilizer is one of the most popular fertilizers used for Philodendrons. It’s easy to apply, and you can see results quickly.

    You will need to dilute liquid fertilizer before use. Just to be safe, use only half the strength that is recommended on the fertilizer bottle.
  • Granular (Slow-Release) Fertilizer
    Granular fertilizer contains fertilizer pellets that need to be mixed into the soil. These pellets then break down over time (up to 3 months) and gradually release nutrients into the soil.

    The benefit of using granular fertilizer is that you don’t have to fertilize your Philodendron as often.

    However, it’s essential to water the plant well after applying the fertilizer to help break down the pellets. Otherwise, the pellets may not release nutrients correctly, and your plant won’t get the necessary nutrients.
  • Fertilizer Spikes
    Fertilizer spikes are long, thin pieces of fertilizer that you insert into the soil near the plant. They slowly release nutrients over time (usually around 2 months).

    Fertilizer spikes are an easy way to fertilize your Philodendron as you don’t have to mix them into the soil. Just make sure to insert the fertilizer spikes deep enough into the soil.

Essential Nutrients in Fertilizer for Philodendron

All plants that grow in soil depend on certain vital nutrients to stimulate healthy growth, and Philodendrons are no exception.

The nutrients that Philodendrons need to thrive are discussed below, divided into three separate categories of nutrients:

  • Macronutrients
    There are three primary nutrients, known as macronutrients, that Philodendrons need to grow. These nutrients are Nitrogen (N), Phosphorous (P), & Potassium (K).

    Take note that the chemistry symbols for these elements are regularly used together as NPK; The NPK makeup of your fertilizer is key to growing Philodendrons.
  • Secondary Nutrients
    On top of the macronutrients, Philodendrons also require more nutrients known as secondary nutrients.

    Elements like Calcium and Magnesium are prime examples of secondary nutrients that Philodendrons rely on for healthy growth. 
  • Micronutrients
    Plants rely on plants to source minerals and nutrition needed for photosynthesis and enzyme production.

    Philodendrons typically require some Iron, Copper, Zinc, among other micronutrients, in trace amounts.

    These nutrients facilitate healthy plant growth in most plants with leaves like Philodendrons. 

Determining the Best NPK Ratio for Philodendron

The best NPK ratio for Philodendron fertilizer is 20-20-20. This mixture uses 20% nitrogen, 20% phosphorus, and 20% potassium.

As a result, 60% of the total fertilizer should be an even NPK ratio. This ensures that your Philodendron has the appropriate nutrients present for healthy growth. 

My Personal Choice of the Best Fertilizer for Philodendron: Miracle-Gro Indoor Plant Food

Everyone has their fertilizer preferences when it comes to growing Philodendron, and my personal choice is Miracle-Gro Indoor Plant Food. Not only is it effective, it’s also affordable and readily available.

Miracle Gro Liquid Fertilizer for Plant

Miracle-Gro Indoor Plant Food (Liquid) is my go-to fertilizer. Since it’s liquid, it can be added directly to the soil or diluted and added over time. It provides my Philodendrons with an instant short supply of nutrients–and it’s great for your other houseplants, too.

As an alternative, you might prefer Miracle-Gro Indoor Plant Food Spikes. These fertilizer spikes are filled with micronutrients to feed your Philodendron and help keep it at its best. Simply place the spikes in the pot for up to 60 days of continuous feeding. Fertilizer spikes are a great option for when you’re unable to maintain a weekly fertilizing schedule.

How To Apply Fertilizer for Your Philodendron?

Now that you know what fertilizer you’re going to use for your Philodendron and you know what nutrients your plants will require, it’s time to learn how to apply fertilizers to Philodendrons.

What approach is best for providing your Philodendrons with the nutrients included in fertilizers? 

The best way to fertilize your Philodendrons is to dilute the fertilizer in water to half strength, then pour the water over their soil. During the growing season, this procedure should be performed once a month. 

How Often Does Philodendron Need Fertilizer?

Philodendrons require different amounts of fertilizer during different times of the year.

During the spring and summer months, also known as the growing season, Philodendrons require fertilizer about once every four weeks. 

In contrast, during the cooler winter months, philodendron stops growing. As a result, the plant needs fewer nutrients. Therefore, fertilizing should be reduced to about once every eight weeks during the colder months. 

How Much Fertilizer Should You Use for Philodendron?

The amount of fertilizer you should use for Philodendrons is about one tablespoon for every 2 cups (500mL) of water when using a liquid fertilizer with a 20-20-20 NPK ratio.

For fertilizer spikes, insert one spike for every 2 inches (5 cm) of pot diameter. It’s best to use fertilizer spikes during the growing season since they provide a continuous supply of nutrients that can last up to 60 days.

Be careful not to overdo it with the fertilizer. Applying too much fertilizer can damage your Philodendron’s roots and leaves.

What Happens if You Over-Fertilize Your Philodendron?

Most new plant owners have, at one point or another, over-fertilized their plants. I know I have. It’s an easy mistake to make, especially when you’re just starting out.

If you over-fertilize your Philodendron, it may receive burns to its leaves and roots. Philodendron may also stop growing and it’s leaves start to droop when over-fertilized. As a result, it’s best to only apply the recommended amount of fertilizer and no more. 

Signs of Overfertilization

There are several indications your Philodendron is recurring too much fertilizer. Over-fertilizing may result in one or more of the following symptoms appearing in your Philodendrons: 

Fertilizer Burn in Philodendron Ring of Fire

If you notice any of these issues in your Philodendrons, it’s recommended to promptly make adjustments to your fertilizing schedule.

Most importantly, you must significantly reduce how much fertilizer the plant is receiving. The condition of your Philodendron will only worsen if you don’t make the necessary changes. 

How To Fix Over-Fertilization

Fixing an over-fertilized Philodendron isn’t always a straightforward process. The fix to over-fertilizing varies depending on the extent of the over-fertilizing.

Here are some ways to fix over-fertilization:

  • Stop fertilizing the plant for a couple of months. 
  • Remove the top couple of inches of soil. This layer of soil holds a significant proportion of the fertilizer, and removing it reduces the amount of fertilizer present in the soil. 
  • Water your Philodendrons for a few minutes to help wash away fertilizer from the soil. Let the water drain from the pot.

If your Philodendron is severely overfertilized, you need to repot it using the following steps:

  1. Remove the Philodendron plant from its existing pot and wash off any soil or medium on the roots.
  2. Make sure the new pot has plenty of drainages and the fresh soil mixture is appropriate for Philodendrons. 
  3. After repotting, water the plant and wait a few weeks before fertilizing. 

You can start applying fertilizer to Philodendrons when the plant looks healthy again, once the leaves are green and the roots are strong. Just be sure to reduce the amount of fertilizer you’re using to prevent over-fertilizing the plant again. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Can You Use Aquarium Water To Fertilize Philodendrons?

You can use aquarium water to fertilize Philodendrons. Aquarium water is an excellent organic fertilizer that’s rich in nutrients, like nitrogen, which Philodendrons require to grow. However, other fertilizers may need to supplement aquarium water to ensure healthy growth for your Philodendrons. 

Gabriella Anastasia

I have been growing houseplants for most of my life and have been collecting them ever since I was 11 years old.  Now 33, I've always had a green thumb (even though my parents thought otherwise) and love to share my knowledge with others.

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