Choosing The Right Potting Soil For Your Philodendron

A philodendron plant is one of the best options to choose from in terms of houseplants. It is super easy to care for, however, you will need to ensure that you have the right potting soil in place.

If you have noticed that your philodendron plant doesn’t seem to be growing all that much, or it appears to be suffering from root rot, this could indicate that there is something wrong with your choice of potting soil.

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Your philodendron will benefit from potting soil that drains well, is well aerated, and has the right level of acidity. 

Today, we’re going to cover everything there is to know about choosing the right potting soil for your philodendron. We’ll cover the most likely causes that show you haven’t got the right potting soil in place.

We will also show you how to create your very own potting soil so that your philodendron plant can thrive.

Let’s take a look at everything you need to know about potting soil for a philodendron plant!

How To Tell If You’re Using The Wrong Potting Soil

The good news is that there are several ways to tell if you have the wrong potting soil in place. These factors can hamper the growth of your philodendron plant, and in some cases, it can even cause root rot.

Here are signs to look out for so that you can keep your philodendron plant happy and healthy.

Your Potting Soil Stays Soggy

Have you noticed that your philodendron’s soil tends to stay soggy for long periods of time and it never dries out completely? Then this shows that the drainage isn’t right for your philodendron plant.

This means that root rot can occur as the roots remain waterlogged. The roots will also be very unlikely to develop properly in soil that is too soggy.

You want to ensure that you have a well draining soil in place, that the plant pot you have placed your philodendron plant in has a drainage hole for excess water to escape, and that you are only watering your philodendron plant around every 1 to 2 weeks.

The Potting Soil Is Compact And Dense

Does the potting soil in your philodendron’s plant pot appear to be too compact and dense?

This will mean that your philodendron plant isn’t getting the oxygen it needs at the roots. It can also mean that the water doesn’t filter through to the roots as it should do.

You should be able to push your finger into the soil easily. This will show that the soil is loose and not compact, so that water can filter through. If you aren’t able to use this finger test, then you will need to re-pot your philodendron in the right potting soil.

Your Philodendron’s Leaves Are Yellowing And Curling

If the soil in your plant pot appears to be constantly soggy, then your plant can show how unhappy it is using its leaves. They will start to curl up and become yellow along the edges, with the yellow coloring creeping up along the leaves.

This shows that your philodendron plant isn’t getting the right nutrients that it needs to stay happy and healthy. It can be an indicator that your plant is deficient in zinc, manganese, or nitrogen.

Your Philodendron Plant Is Wilting Or There Is Little To No Growth

Has your philodendron plant appeared to stop growing all that much, or have the leaves and stems started to wilt?

This will show that your plant isn’t able to absorb as many nutrients, oxygen, or water as it needs in order to promote the photosynthesis needed for additional growth.

If you were to leave your philodendron plant in this poor potting soil, it will eventually damage the plant cells and cause it to die off. You will need to re-pot your philodendron plant immediately so that it can recover.

The Potting Soil Has A Bad Odor

One factor that could indicate that you have the wrong potting soil in place is if you find it’s giving off a bad odor.

This indicates that there are bacteria at play here in the soil which will harm your philodendron plant if they are left in place. It could also indicate that your philodendron plant has developed root rot.

If you notice your philodendron’s soil giving off a bad odor, it will be best to change up the potting soil that you are using so as to avoid this from happening again.

Your Philodendron Becomes Too Dehydrated If The Soil Drains Too Much

While it’s true that your philodendron plant will need a well draining soil, you will still need to ensure that the potting soil is able to retain some moisture.

This is because if the soil drains too well, your philodendron plant won’t be getting all of the nutrients it needs from the water you give it.

This will leave you with very dry soil, which will be too harsh on the roots of your philodendron plant.

You will know this is the case if your soil appears dry, feels dry when using the finger test, and your philodendron plant has started to wilt and the leaves have turned brown.

Remember not to use a cactus or succulent potting soil, as this will be too well draining for the philodendron plant. Succulents and cacti are used to living in very different climates to a philodendron plant so have different soil requirements.

What Your Philodendron Needs From A Potting Soil?

So we now have a much better idea of when to tell that your philodendron needs a different type of potting soil to the one that is in place. But what about the type of potting soil that your philodendron plant does need?

Let’s take a look at what soil requirements your philodendron plant needs to stay happy and healthy.

Soil That Is Properly Aerated

First of all, you will need to ensure that you choose soil that has good aeration. This is because the roots will need oxygen, and they will only be able to achieve this with soil that has been properly aerated.

The soil should be porous and promote a good amount of airflow to the roots of your philodendron plant.

So you will need to ensure that the soil is lovely and loose. You can help to keep the soil well aerated by including peat moss, compost, and manure in the soil, or even adding a layer of mulch to the top of the soil.

Another method is to use a skewer or chopstick to poke holes into your philodendron’s soil. This will help to promote more airflow to the roots. If you don’t ensure that your philodendron plant has plenty of oxygen via aeration, it won’t be able to thrive.

Soil That Drains Well

No plant enjoys being planted in soil that is soggy and waterlogged, and your philodendron plant is no exception to the rule. Soil will need to be moist, but not so moist that the water doesn’t drain well.

Your philodendron plant will need soil that drains well so that it can take the nutrients it needs from the water, but then it can also enjoy the oxygen from the aeration.

It will also be worth ensuring that you choose a plant pot that has a drainage hole. This will allow any excess water to drain away so that the soil doesn’t become too waterlogged.

So you won’t have to worry about your philodendron plant falling victim to root rot or have to deal with other harmful bacteria which can damage it.

Soil That Retains Moisture Well

Just as drainage is an important part of keeping your philodendron plant happy and healthy, you will also need to ensure that the soil is able to retain moisture well.

That’s because your philodendron plant will still need to get those key nutrients from the water you give it.

If the soil were to be too well draining, the water would simply drain away before your philodendron plant had a chance to absorb any of the nutrients. This can then leave your plant susceptible to other issues.

Your soil will need to retain moisture well enough to give your plant all the nutrients it needs, but also well draining enough that it doesn’t become saturated with water.

Soil That Has The Right pH

Another factor that you will need to consider for your philodendron plant is that it will require slightly acidic soil. The pH of your potting soil should be between 60. And 6.5.

Anything less than this will be far too neutral or alkaline for your plant. Anything more than this and it will be too acidic.

If your philodendron doesn’t have the right pH balance in its potting soil, then this can mean your plant doesn’t get all of the nutrients it needs to thrive.

An imbalance in pH level can also cause harmful bacteria to flourish, which will then have a negative effect on your philodendron plant.

Soil That Has The Right Nutrients

Lastly, you will need to think about giving your philodendron plant the right nutrients it needs to thrive.

So you will need to ensure that your chosen potting soil is able to provide the phosphorus, nitrogen, magnesium, and potassium that it needs so that it can flourish in your plant pot.

You can do this by using a good quality fertilizer once every month during the summer and spring months.

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How To Make The Right Potting Soil For Your Philodendron Plant

We now know everything that your philodendron will need from its soil. This means we now have a better idea of what we will need to add to the potting soil mix if we wanted to create this ourselves.

So what materials will we need to create a suitable potting soil for your philodendron plant?

You will need to carefully cultivate your potting soil using at least a quarter orchid bark, around 2 tenths coconut coir, a quarter perlite, a tenth activated charcoal, and a tenth worm castings.

The orchid bark will be essential for aerating your potting soil, aiding with drainage, and preventing the soil from becoming compacted over time.

The coconut coir will help the potting soil to better retain its moisture, as well as aiding with drainage. The absorption capacity of coconut coir is around ten times larger than its weight, which is good news for your philodendron roots.

Perlite is an excellent addition because it will help to keep the soil well drained and aerated.

Including worm castings as part of your DIY potting soil will help to boost the nutrients that it has. It is also able to keep the pH of your soil between 6.0 and 7.0, which is perfect for your philodendron plant.

The addition of activated charcoal can help to prevent mold from forming, help to absorb any excess moisture, and it can also repel any unwanted insects.

Materials You Can Use Instead

If you can’t find all of the ingredients that we’ve listed above, you can instead opt for a mix that includes a third peat moss, 4 tenths vermiculite, and a third potting soil.

These materials are much easier to source, and will give your philodendron a good mix of aeration, good drainage, good water retention, as well as a better regulation of the soil’s pH.

Method For Mixing Your Potting Soil For Your Philodendron Plant

It is super easy to mix together your materials to form your philodendron’s soil. Make sure to wear gardening gloves whenever you do this to protect your skin.

Simply gather your ingredients, and work on mixing them together in a large bucket or in the plant pot itself. Make sure to stick to the measurements above so that you get a good balance of all the elements you need from a good potting soil.

Don’t be tempted to compact the soil when you place your philodendron plant in it, or if you see any gaps. This is just the right type of aeration your plant needs to stay happy and healthy.

Buy A Ready To Use Potting Soil

Alternatively you can buy a ready made potting soil that will be ideal for philodendrons.

We would suggest opting for the Foxfarm Ocean Forest potting soil, as this will give your philodendron plant everything that it needs to stay happy and healthy.

You also won’t have to worry about sourcing all of the individual components that we’ve listed above and creating your very own potting soil for philodendrons.

What Other Things Can Affect The Materials You Use For Your Potting Soil?

It’s all well and good choosing the best materials for your philodendron’s potting soil. However, there are several factors that can affect the soil mix of your philodendron plant.

It all comes down to your particular climate, as well as the species of philodendron plant that you have opted for. Other factors including how you care for your philodendron plant can affect how your potting soil works with it.

Let’s take a look at what factors can influence your philodendron’s potting soil.

How Often You Water

Interestingly, how often you water your philodendron plant can also affect the potting soil of your philodendron. If you tend to water your philodendron every day, or tend to forget to water it often, this can all influence what happens to your potting soil.

This can influence what ingredients you should include in your potting soil to aid with water retention or drainage. If you like to water your plants every 2 to 3 days, then it will be worth including more perlite in the philodendron soil.

This will aid with drainage and prevent the potting soil from becoming too waterlogged.

If you tend to forget to water your philodendron, then it’s best to include more coconut coir as part of the potting mix. This will aid with water retention so that there is moisture in the soil for your plant to draw on in between waterings.

The Humidity And Temperature Levels

Other factors such as humidity and temperature levels can also affect how your potting soil works.

This is because if the humidity level is low, or the temperature is hotter, this will cause your philodendron plant to lose more water through transpiration and evaporation.

If temperature drops, it means that your philodendron plant goes dormant and doesn’t need as much water.

In Summary

So there you have it! You now know that there are a number of indicators that can show you whether your philodendron has the right potting soil in place or not.

Your philodendron plant will often wilt, have curling or yellowing leaves, have soggy soil that doesn’t drain well, have soil that is too compact and dense, have soil that gives off an unpleasant odor, or has soil that doesn’t retain moisture well.

When you have the right potting soil in place, this will make a world of difference to your philodendron plant.

Amy Enrich