Encouraging Your Philodendron to Climb: A Beginner’s Guide

Understanding Philodendron Climbing Habits

Philodendrons are a diverse group of plants, many of which are naturally inclined to climb. In their native tropical environments, they often use trees as support, growing upwards towards the canopies in search of light. When grown indoors, providing a structure for your Philodendron to climb can encourage it to develop a healthy, robust form and display its foliage more attractively. Understanding this natural inclination is key to helping your indoor Philodendron thrive.

Choosing the Right Support

Selecting the proper support is crucial for your Philodendron’s climbing success. A variety of supports can be used, including moss poles, trellises, or even a panel of wire mesh. The support should be sturdy enough to hold the weight of your plant as it grows and securely anchored in the pot. Moisture-retentive options like moss poles are beneficial as they also aid in providing humidity around the aerial roots, encouraging them to attach more readily.

Moss Poles

Moss poles are the most popular choice for climbing Philodendrons. They mimic the natural growing conditions by retaining moisture and providing a textured surface for aerial roots to grip. To use a moss pole, insert it into the pot near the plant base, taking care not to damage the root system. As the plant grows, gently tie the stems to the pole to encourage vertical growth.

Training Your Philodendron to Climb

The process of training your Philodendron to climb begins with carefully attaching the plant to its climbing structure. Use soft ties such as strips of fabric, old nylons, or plant velcro, making sure they are not too tight to damage the plant stems or restrict growth. It’s best to attach the plant at numerous points along the stem to distribute the weight evenly and to keep it secure. Over time, the aerial roots will begin to grab onto the pole and provide additional support.

Encouraging Aerial Root Growth

Aerial roots are essential for climbing Philodendrons as they help anchor the plant to its support. You can encourage their growth by maintaining high humidity around the plant, for example, by misting the plant and pole regularly. Additionally, applying a thin layer of sphagnum moss around the base of the plant can provide extra moisture and a medium for the roots to grow into.

Pruning and Maintenance

Regular pruning is an essential part of caring for a climbing Philodendron. Pruning not only keeps the plant looking tidy but also encourages new growth. Trim away any yellowing or damaged leaves and cut back stems that have outgrown the support or are growing in undesired directions. This will channel the plant’s energy into stronger vertical growth and fuller foliage. Always use clean, sharp scissors or pruning shears to prevent damaging the plant.

Fertilizing for Vigorous Growth

Fertilization is vital to provide your climbing Philodendron with the nutrients it needs to grow strong and healthy. Use a balanced, water-soluble fertilizer every four to six weeks during the growing season, typically spring and summer. Be sure to follow the instructions on the fertilizer’s packaging to avoid over-fertilization, which can lead to poor plant health.

Adjusting as Your Philodendron Grows

As your Philodendron grows, it may become top-heavy or outgrow its support. Monitor your plant regularly to ensure that it is secure. You may need to add additional supports or replace the existing one with a taller structure as it grows. Keep in mind that as your plant becomes larger, it may also require re-potting into a larger container to accommodate its growing root system.


Encouraging your Philodendron to climb can be a rewarding aspect of houseplant care. By providing the right support, training the plant properly, maintaining high humidity, fertilizing, and regularly pruning, your Philodendron will reward you with vigorous growth and lush, healthy foliage that brings a touch of the tropics into your home.

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