My Favorite Philodendron Varieties That You’ll Love Too

What is a Philodendron?

If you’re a long-time houseplant collector, you probably already know exactly what a Philodendron is. Part of the aroid family, Araceae, this genus of plants is originally found in Central and South America. 

There are almost 500 different types of Philodendrons, many of which you’ll recognize as being classic houseplant favorites. Even if you haven’t grown one yourself, you’ve probably seen them at someone’s house or in public spaces like stores and offices.

In the wild, Philodendrons tend to grow in rainforests. Most are (semi-)epiphytes, meaning they grow on the trunks of larger trees. They have aerial roots that allow them to clamp tightly (though non-parasitically) onto their hosts, using the support to quickly climb upwards in search of light.

Philodendron species 

Sometimes, you don’t have to change anything about a plant. Some of the most popular Philodendrons that are sold “pure” (that is, not crossed or selectively bred) are the following:

Black gold Philodendron (Philodendron melanochrysum)

A beautiful vining Philo with large, dramatic leaves, the black gold Philodendron is one of the classics. It just has so much going on: matte, velvety foliage, leaves that come out orange and gradually darken to very dark green, and prominent light green leaf veins.

Philodendron melanochrysum naturally occurs in the Andean foothills of Colombia and is popular in its original form, but it does have to be said that it’s also favored by hybridizers. We’ll discuss a few varieties that have it in their parentage later!

Philodendron Brandi (Philodendron brandtianum)

Another very striking “original” Philodendron species is the silver leaf Philo, scientifically known as Philodendron brandtianum but also sometimes referred to as “Brandi”.

With the beautiful silver mottling on this species’ leaves you’d almost believe it’s a man-made cultivar, but nope, it’s all natural.

Philodendron gloriosum

Another Philo that’s often sold in its original state but also frequently used in hybridization efforts, Philodendron gloriosum is widely admired for its big, heart-shaped leaves. As with P. melanochrysum, the foliage is velvety, dark green and matte, with much lighter leaf veining for extra dramatic effect.

Philodendron rugosum

Also (not very flatteringly) known as the pigskin Philodendron, this one is well-coveted but not very common in the houseplant scene. It can be recognized by its thick, almost plastic-looking and slightly wrinkly leaves, which have thin but noticeable white margins. 

Philodendron rugosum is naturally found in rainforests and southern Colombia and Ecuador, where it’s unfortunately noted to be Near Threatened by the IUCN. It’s considered pretty lucky to find one for sale!

Philodendron verrucosum

How cool are the leaves on this one? Philodendron verrucosum is another velvety Philo species with heart-shaped foliage. The difference is in the leaf veins, which are neon green and fork dramatically near the edges of the leaves.

Naturally found between Costa Rica and Peru, this species isn’t considered the easiest Philodendron to care for. Like some of the other species in the genus, it’s better for more experienced houseplant growers, as it’s particularly fussy about humidity.

Philodendron billietiae

The long, wavy-edged leaves on Philodendron billietiae make this relatively uncommon plant a real eye-catcher.

This especially applies to mature specimens, whose leaves can reach almost 2 feet in length! Talk about bringing the jungle into your home. 

This species occurs in Brazil, French Guiana, and Guyana, where (like most other Philodendrons) it inhabits jungle habitats. It’s a relatively recent addition to the houseplant hobby, which isn’t surprising considering the fact that it wasn’t discovered and officially described until 1995.

Philodendron burle-marxii

Hope you’re wearing sunglasses, because this Philodendron is SHINY! If you love a good foliage plant, P. burle-marxii might just be the one for you. It has glossy, elongated leaves in a gorgeous shade of emerald green. 

Found in Ecuador, Colombia, and Northern Brazil, this species was named after a famous landscaping architect from Brazil, who became renowned in part for his use of plants from his native country in his designs. 

Those who prefer a variegated plant are in luck: marbled varieties of Philodendron burle-marxii do exist. They’re a bit pricey, though.

Philodendron squamiferum

I love a good oddball plant, and that’s definitely what this one is. The first thing you’ll notice about Philodendron squamiferum is its head of pretty, lobed leaves.

After that, though, your eyes will go straight to its strangely hairy-looking stems, which are covered in light green to reddish bristles! (No wonder it’s sometimes called the Hairy Philodendron.)

This species hails from Brazil, Suriname, and French Guiana. It’s not the most popular Philodendron in the houseplant trade, but it’s not too difficult to find in specialized plant stores either, nor is it wildly expensive. Its easy care makes it a great choice for beginning Philodendron collectors.