Philodendron Small Leaves: Causes and Solutions 2024

There’s something super interesting about the lush leaves of the Philodendron. However, as any plant fan knows, keeping things just right for our green buddies can sometimes be a tough job. One common question that has left many hobbyists puzzled is, “What Causes Philodendron Small Leaves?

Today, we’re gonna take a close look at this question and dig into tons of reasons like Low Light, Lack of Nutrients, Pest Attacks, and much more that might be holding back your Philodendron’s size. By the end, you’ll know exactly how to encourage large Philodendron leaves!

Why are Philodendron Small Leaves? 

Philodendrons need the right light, water, temperature, and humidity levels to develop larger leaves. Understanding what makes Philodendron Small Leaves is crucial to finding the right fixes. In this article, we will explore the many things causing small Philodendron leaves and offer effective strategies to overcome them.

Cause 1: Lack of Nutrients

Philodendron plants need lots of fertilizer to support the healthy growth of their leaves. Not enough food can result in small-sized leaves, often appearing pale and less vibrant.

For big, glossy leaves, you need to give your Philodendron lots of nutrients, and a properly fed Philodendron will thrive.

Without enough food, Philodendrons will show tiny, colorless leaves with delicate tissue that is prone to damage. Plus, they’ll grow more slowly, making leaves less often.


To give a food kick to weak Philodendrons, it’s a good idea to:

  • Use a mix-in-water plant food at least once a month during its growing time.
  • Make sure that your potting mix is rich in organic stuff. Keep the soil well-draining to avoid giving your plant too much food, which can stress it out.
  • Think about changing the soil if necessary to get the most nutrients and keep your Philodendron healthy.

Cause 2: Low Light

Philodendrons are tropical plants, which means they love warm temperatures and bright, but indirect light. Putting your Philodendron in a Low Light spot can seriously shrink its leaf size. This is because photosynthesis, the way plants turn light into food, doesn’t work as well in low-light conditions.

Enough sunlight is needed for good light-eating, which directly impacts the making of plant sugar—the plant’s source of energy. In low light conditions, Philodendrons make less plant sugar, leading to smaller leaves and weak plants.

Strong leaf growth relies on lots of plant sugar, making enough light really important. Not enough light can also lead to long and weak growth and slow down the plant’s growth overall.

Often, these plants are put in corners of rooms or places with little light, like bathrooms, where they get minimal to no sunlight throughout the day. Such dim spots hold back their growth, making the leaves stay small while the plants tend to spread out more.


To help your Philodendrons stay healthy and strong, the right light conditions are key.

  • Pick a good spot for your plant with plenty of light Avoid places where the plant might get hit by strong, direct sunlight.
  • Keep an eye out for signs of not enough light.
  • Give your Philodendron about 6 to 7 hours of light each day depending on the specific type of Philodendron you’re taking care of.
  • A window facing the sun is often a good spot because of its steady light all day.
  • Placing the plant a few feet away from a sunny window works too. This way, the plant can still get some sunlight without being hit directly.

low light philodendron small leaves

Cause 3: Pest Attacks

Bugs can mess up your Philodendron, causing different troubles, including reduced leaf size. Common pests like Aphids, Mealybugs, and Scales are known to suck sap from the plants, leading to not enough nutrients.

When bugs feast on Philodendron plants, they not only gobble up vital nutrients but also lay their eggs within the leaf parts. This damages the inside parts of the leaves, causing them to stop growing, weaken, and turn yellow.

The presence of bugs becomes more likely when Philodendrons are well-fed, lit up enough, and potted just right.

Moreover, young leaves, known for their softness, are easy to attack by pests. The sap and tissue of these leaves are often heavily targeted, getting in the way of their proper development and leading to small-sized leaves.


Addressing pest problems promptly and using effective bug control measures are needed to stop harm and promote healthy leaf growth in Philodendron plants.

Check your plant regularly for these unwelcome guests and treat it with bug-killing soap or neem oil at the first sign of infestation.

Cause 4: Wrong Size Pot

When small containers are used, the steady flow of vital nutrients gets blocked. A pot that’s too small can squeeze your plant’s roots.

On the other hand, a pot that’s too big can lead to too much water and rotten roots. Finding the pots – not too small, not too big, but just right – can play a big role in encouraging larger leaf growth.

The tight space within small pots makes the roots become packed tightly, limiting their chance to reach vital nutrients. Also, small pots hold less soil, resulting in fewer nutrients available for the plants to suck up.


To promote healthy leaf growth in Philodendron plants, it’s important to choose the right size of plant pots. Philodendrons need a steady and dependable supply of nutrients, which can’t be properly provided by tiny containers.

This is especially true for root-bound Philodendrons, where the limited amount of soil in small pots contains not enough minerals needed for the best growth. It’s important to avoid pots that are too small and make sure that Philodendrons have plenty of space for root expansion and nutrient absorption.

You may also like: Best Pot For Philodendron: Perfect Choosing For Optimal Growth

Cause 5: Leaf Infections

Leaf infections, like bacterial or fungal diseases, can badly mess up your Philodendron’s growth.

Leaf bacteria problem is a common issue in Philodendrons. This problem not only affects how your plant looks, but also stops the growth of large leaves, a typical feature of Philodendrons. You may also see other leaf diseases, but leaf bacteria problem is the most common one.


  • Put your Philodendron in a clean, well-kept area with access to indirect bright light.
  • Keeping things clean and having enough light can really cut down the chances of catching a disease.
  • Keep an eye out for signs of infection, like yellow or brown spots on the leaves, and treat right away with a fitting fungicide or bactericide.
  • If it’s a fungal leaf disease, spray your plant with neem oil once every 15 days.

Cause 6: Low Humidity

Not having enough humidity often leads to smaller and less vibrant leaves in Philodendrons. In such conditions, the plants rely on their stored water for breathing since they can’t get enough moisture from the air around them. As a result, the leaves lose stored water, causing a clear shrinkage in leaf size.

Certain Philodendron varieties, especially those with larger leaves, may experience bad results, such as curled leaves that don’t open up. If not addressed, this can lead to dying and final leaf death.


To combat these issues, you might consider using a humidity tray under your plant or grouping your Philodendron with other plants to create a humidity-boosting small area.

Using a humidifier can also help keep the air around your Philodendron moist, promoting healthy growth and stopping the harmful results of low humidity.

Cause 7: Temperature Stress

Just like humans, plants can experience heat/cold trouble. This trouble, caused by temperatures too high or too low, can lead to slowed down growth and leaf damage.

Philodendrons have a specific temperature range they find comfy, usually between 60°F and 80°F. In conditions outside this range, these plants can show signs of stress and stop growing.

When exposed to cold temperatures, especially below their perfect range, Philodendrons stop growing. Specifically, they will not produce large leaves, a cool thing about these plants.

On the other hand, in hot places, Philodendrons may start losing more water than usual. This quick water loss can result in drying up, leading to brown, crispy leaves and a shrinkage in leaf size.


Try to keep the temperature around your Philodendron steady, ideally between 65 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit.

Adjusting the humidity levels together with keeping the right temperature range can really help in calming down the heat/cold trouble and encouraging healthy growth in your Philodendron plants.

Cause 8: Water Issues

Watering habits can really affect the energy and health of Philodendron plants. Wrong watering can lead to hurting roots, mess up nutrient uptake, and slow down growth, resulting in smaller Philodendron leaves.

On the flip side, stiff water, characterized by a high mineral amount, can also contribute to small leaves. Unwanted minerals from stiff water can pile up at the plant base, sticking to roots and messing up their usual work. This further impacts the leaf size of the Philodendrons.


  • Water your plant well, then let the top inch of soil dry out before watering again. Wait until the top two or three inches of soil have dried out.
  • Make sure the water you use is free from high levels of salts or chemicals that can hurt your plant.

water issues philodendron small leaves

Cause 9: Root Issues

Typically, Philodendrons should be moved to a new pot every two to three years. This routine doesn’t only stop too many roots but also gives them fresh soil, which is good for their overall health.

Too many roots can slow down growth, resulting in smaller leaves and a less lush look. In extreme cases, Philodendrons can become pot-stuck, with roots growing in circles, slowly suffocating the plant.


Using the right soil mix is important when repotting your Philodendron. A mix of two parts potting soil, one part perlite, and one part coco coir or moss can provide proper nutrients and drainage to help big leaf growth.

Making sure of good drainage. No matter how well your soil drains, it’s pointless if the water gets stuck at the bottom of the pot. This can lead to a common problem of smaller than usual leaves in Philodendron plants.

If your Philodendron becomes pot-stuck, a simple solution is to report it, carefully untying the circling roots and putting them in a larger pot with fresh soil. This gives the plant plenty of space to grow, boosting its health and appearance.

How to Make Philodendron Leaves Bigger: Best Tips and Techniques

Philodendrons are known for their lush foliage, and if you’re looking to pump up the size of your Philodendron leaves, there are several handy methods you can try. By using the following tips and tricks, you can encourage strong growth and achieve bigger, cooler leaves for your Philodendron plant.

  • Boost Sunlight Light: Place your Philodendron near a window that gets bright, indirect sunlight. Try for 6-8 hours of light every day.
  • Control Temperature and Moisture in the Air: Keep perfect temperature and moisture in the air to create good conditions for your Philodendron. In drier and warmer conditions, think about misting the leaves with water to pump up the moisture.
  • Water Right: Make sure that the top two inches of soil in the Philodendron’s pot don’t dry up totally. Avoid giving too much water, as too wet soil can cause root rot and slow down leaf growth.
  • Give Fertilizer Full of Nutrients: During the growing season, feed your Philodendron an even mix fertilizer, preferably one that is rich in nitrogen. Natural compost from household waste can also be used as another option for effective fertilizer.
  • Repot When Needed: If you notice your Philodendron becoming root-bound, think about moving it into a slightly bigger pot. This allows the roots to spread and provides more room for the plant to grow.
  • Keep Leaf Cleanliness: Clean the leaf surfaces of your Philodendron regularly to remove dust and soil. Gently wipe the leaves with a soft, damp cloth. For tough soil, a mix of water and mild soap can be used.
  • Quickly Fix Illnesses: Keep a close watch on your Philodendron for any signs of illnesses or pests. If you see any issues, apply a quick fix to treat them.
  • Use the Benefit of Pruning: Regular and not-too-much pruning, done at certain gaps, helps plant growth and energy. Remove stems from the pot’s edge, leaving one or two nodes at the base. These cut-off stems can be replanted in the same container to make the plant’s overall look and leaf size even better.

Philodendron with many big leaves

Small Leaf Philodendron FAQs

Q: How do philodendron leaves grow?

A: Philodendron leaves grow from long leaf covers or the base of existing leaves. The new leaves come out from these spots, while the old leaf covers dry up on their own and fall off once their job is done.

Q: What is the best time or season for planting or growing philodendrons

A: Philodendrons are tropical plants that do well in summer or spring. These seasons give the best conditions for growth and development.

Q: What kind of light does a philodendron plant need?

A: The light needs for Philodendron plants differ among species. While most Philodendrons do well in bright, indirect sunlight, some can handle shade or indoor light conditions.

Q: What is the life length of a Philodendron plant?

A: The life length of a Philodendron plant changes based on the species and the care given. With proper care and maintenance, healthy Philodendron plants can live for 20-25 years or even longer.


The mystery of ‘What Causes Philodendron Small Leaves?’ is not a mystery anymore. With the right light conditions, balance of nutrients, temperature, and moisture levels, your Philodendron should grow large, healthy leaves. Always keep an eye out for potential pests, sicknesses, and illnesses. Remember, the key to a healthy plant is regular care.

By following the recommended care tricks and using top-notch plants from FamiPlants, go ahead and grow that Philodendron to its max potential, and let those heart-shaped leaves bring a piece of the tropics into your home.

Hi, I'm Cathleen Clemens. I graduated from Cornell University with a degree in plant science. I gained detailed knowledge about various kinds of plants and how to properly care for them. My experience has enabled me to easily detect any issues such as pest infestations, nutrient deficiencies, or signs of diseases in the plants.

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