Who said gardening passion is limited to colorful flowering plants? With the growth of house plant trends, we’ve seen leafy indoor gardens take over the scene.
Truth is that blooming seasons are limited and many plants aren’t likely to bloom in less than ideal home environments. That’s partly why tropicals with large leaves have become the go-to option for many house plant enthusiasts.
Superficially, the lush green color of different tropical plants adds the same liveliness to interior spaces. Taking a deeper look, however, you’ll notice that each plant has a distinctive leaf pattern and green shade.
If you’re aiming to expand your tropical garden, we recommend you understand more about the different species to choose what serves your purpose. In this article, we’ll discuss Philodendron vs Anthurium. Although they’ve got a lot in common, they differ at some points.
Philodendrons and Anthuriums are known as aroids among the house plant community. Here are some of the most common features both plant groups share.
Both Philodendrons and Anthuriums are native to the tropical zones of South America. They grow naturally in Mexico, Venezuela, and the Caribbean.
Since Philodendrons and Anthuriums originated in the same environment, it’s better to place them in the same room at home.
In general, the bathroom is the best spot for tropical plants at home. The warm temperature and humid conditions help the leaves of those plants thrive indoors.
Philodendrons and Anthuriums cross at several points regarding appearance. Their leaves and stems look similar to the untrained eye. It can also get tricky when differentiating their flowering parts.
Philodendron and Anthuriums are very similar in looks but there’s much more to their background. Here’s why scientists have decided to give them different labels.
Although Philodendrons and Anthuriums belong to the same family, Araceae, they’re classified as different genera. In scientific classifications, several genera belong to a single family, and each genus includes several species.
Anthuriums are the largest genus of the Araceae family, including around 1000 species of plants. Philodendrons come second in the family with close to 500 plant species, but scientists are still learning more about them.
Mature Philodendrons generally require more sunlight than Anthuriums. As Philodendrons mature, they will keep growing towards higher spots on trees where light is sufficient.
As a result, Philodendrons will be less tolerant of low-light conditions indoors, especially mature plants. If you’re placing both plants in the same room, Philodendrons should be closer to the windows.
Alternatively, you can dedicate artificial lights to Philodendrons to compensate for the lack of sunlight, especially in winter. You can look for clues to determine whether your Philodendron needs more light, such as growing longer stems towards the light source.
The leaf pattern is mostly defined by the veins which carry nutrients to the leaf surface. Many Anthuriums have a distinctive vein pattern that sets them apart from Philodendrons. Here’s how the veins make a difference.
Philodendrons usually have green, white or reddish veins on their leaves. The veins are typically parallel to each other, with each vein starting at the central vein and ending at the leaf’s edge.
Anthuriums, on the other side, have a captivating vein pattern. Rather than running parallel to each other like typical leaves, Anthurium veins form a complex network.
If you look closely, you’ll realize that the veins meet at the opposite pointed tips of the leaf, but they converge in the middle to match the leaf shape. Added to that, there are thinner secondary veins that connect the main veins crosswise.
A typical plant that showcases this attractive vein pattern is the Anthurium clarinervium, whose bold veins make the pattern more pronounced. So, if you’re looking for more details on your plant’s leaves, add Anthuriums to your shortlist.
Both Philodendrons and Anthuriums have sheathing on their stems. Here’s how the stems differ.
Philodendrons are distinctive from other climbing plants like pothos because of the cataphylls on their stems. Cataphylls are small leaves in the form of sheathing that protect new leaves as they unfold.
When the new leaf is fully grown, cataphylls of Philodendrons can take one of two paths. First, they can either turn brown and dry out after the new leaf grows.
In that case, they’re called deciduous cataphylls because they’ll eventually fall off, leaving behind a scar on the stem. This cataphyll type is prevalent among vining Philodendrons.
On the other hand, persistent cataphylls remain attached to Philodendron stems because of the plant’s short internodes. These cataphylls would soon turn brown and weather into fibers, which can accumulate over time.
As they build up into masses at the nodes, the weathering cataphylls will trap moisture, thus supporting new leaves and roots.
Like Philodendrons, Anthuriums have cataphylls, but their stems are more distinctive because they commonly become brown and scurfy as they age. What adds to this aging appearance are the weathering bits of old cataphylls spreading along the stem.
As opposed to most Philodendrons, the cataphylls on Anthuriums would usually persist, thus retaining this old appearance. For Anthuriums, the cataphylls usually start out in green color. Then, as they age, they turn into red, yellow, or brown tints.
Still, some Anthuriums can have deciduous cataphylls, which makes them less recognizable from Philodendrons.
In some cases, the cataphylls will remain intact, retaining their original form. Other Anthuriums have cataphylls that weather into lingering fibers, possibly accumulating debris.
You can tell a Philodendron from an Anthurium by watching them over time as they grow. Unlike Philodendrons, Anthuriums grow upright without the need for external support.
In the wild, many Philodendrons start growing as vines, wrapping their roots on tree trunks to climb upwards. When they reach higher levels on tree tops, they usually transform from vines into epiphytes, which are plants that grow on others for structural support.
However, since these Philodendrons start out as vines they’re classified as secondary hemiepiphytes. This type relies on nutrients from the soil first until they reach out to sunlight.
Conversely, primary hemiepiphytes would start growing from seeds on tree tops. Their high altitude gives them the privilege of sunlight but they will still grow their roots towards the soil for nutrients.
Although most Philodendrons are vining, some types don’t need to climb on other plants. A plant that doesn’t require support is known to be self-headed.
Lately, cultivators have been able to breed self-headed Philodendron hybrids. Yet, this Philodendron growth habit is mostly limited to indoor specimens.
While Philodendrons can either be self-heading or vining plants, Anthuriums are only self-heading. If you find trailing Aroids at your friend’s house, they would probably be Philodendrons rather than Anthuriums.
A self-headed plant grows upright and has stiff stems that can hold its weight for years to come. Since Anthuriums are freestanding, they’ll look great as potted plants on the table or floor.
Besides, you can’t hang self-headed Anthuriums from the ceiling as their stems won’t curve downwards over the pot’s edge.
As we mentioned, all Anthuriums are self-heading and can grow without structural support. However, some Philodendrons are also self-heading, so how can you differentiate them from their Anthurium counterparts?
Luckily, there’s an additional distinctive feature to both species. If you’ve got a self-heading tropical plant, look closely at its petioles, the stalks attaching the leaves to the stem.
Generally, Philodendrons have shorter petioles that are noticeably thicker and feel fleshly. Additionally, the petioles have a sheath at their base.
Interestingly, there’s a Philodendron that gained fame due to its petiole. A mature Philodendron Fuzzy Petiole has stunning reddish stalks with tough tubercles, which give the fuzzy appearance.
The spathe is the leaf-like part of the plant surrounding the spadix, a fleshy stem with small flowers. The spadix and spathe are common features of the Araceae family.
Most commonly, a Philodendron’s spathe is rolled up, opening, and closing without noticeable changes in the plant’s appearance.
On the other hand, Anthuriums are famous for their open and colorful spathes, like the flamingo flower. Indeed, Anthuriums have become favorable potted plants and cut flowers because of the attractive long-lasting colors of their spathes.
Let’s highlight our takeaways from comparing Philodendrons vs Anthuriums. If you’re after trailing plants, Philodendrons won’t fail to impress with their climbing abilities.
Anthuriums, on the other hand, have an upright growth pattern that suits plant pots. They can be more attractive if you’re interested in colors and bold leaf patterns.
Altogether, both genera will go hand in hand to enliven an indoor garden. Just make sure you give enough affection to those exotic beauties.
Growing up with a mom who filled her home (inside and out) with all sorts of plants, Lisa got her start in gardening at a young age. Living now on her own with a home and yard full of plants (including an indoor greenhouse), she shares all the gardening tips she’s gained over the years.