Heartleaf Philodendron

OFFICIAL NAME

Philodendron hederaceum (scandens)

ALSO KNOWN AS

Sweetheart Plant, Devil's Ivy, 'Cordatum'

ORIGINS & CLIMATE

Caribbean, Central & South America | Tropical

ABOUT THE
PLANT

A tried and true houseplant classic. Perfectly heart shaped bright green leaves adorn this sturdy vining (or climbing!) plant. Sometimes mistaken for a Pothos, you can distinguish the Heartleaf Philo by the distinct point in each leaf and their thinner, more delicate texture.

HOW MANY GREEN THUMBS?

easy going, bright indirect, goldilocks, great lengths, bushy or dense, cascading, climbing, shelf, hanging, aroid, tropical, heart-shape, low light tolerant

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Heartleaf Philodendron

The basics

Water Needs

Always water thoroughly, but allow the top inch or two to dry out completely before watering again. Reduce watering in winter, allowing the soil to get up to 50% dry.

Water

Preferred Light

Medium to bright, indirect light is ideal for this Philo. However, they can tolerate low light, as well. Just take extra precautions when watering and don't expect the plant to grow very much.

Light

Humidity Needs

This tropical epiphyte (plants that grow in the mossy nooks of trees) will certainly appreciate a boost in humidity.

Humidity

Ambient Temperature

Adaptable to average indoor temperatures, but may complain when exposed to cold drafts or dry heat from vents.

Temperature

Toxic or Not?

Heartleaf Philos are mildly toxic to pets and humans. Ingestion will cause mouth and stomach irritation and possible vomiting.

Toxicity

Size Potential

Indoors, this plant's vines can grow anywhere from 6 to 20 ft depending on how you let it grow! May need to be supported with a moss or coir pole (the aerial roots can latch on for support and to take up any excess moisture).

Size

Overall Look

A young plant quickly takes on the very full look of a small shrub and begins to throw vines over the edge of the planter that can grow to great lengths. Will also grab on to a trellis or moss pole to climb if you give them the chance. Otherwise, this plant works best in a hanging planter or on a high shelf.

Format

Leaf Look

Delicate heart-shaped leaves in a deep shade of green. Set apart by how the heart ends in a distinct extra long, skinny point.

Leaf Shape

Pro Tip

When keeping your Heartleaf Philo in less than ideal light, you may notice new growth looks a bit straggly and thin with each new leaf spread out far from the last. Try improving the light and trimming back the thin growth—this will promote a fuller, bushier look!

Pro Tip

Did You Know?

Philos are one of the many houseplants that are epiphytes—meaning, in the wild, they like to climb, settling into the mossy nooks of trees in the rainforest, taking in plenty of moisture through their aerial roots. At home, these types of plants will always be happiest when given the opportunity to climb! Try providing a coir or moss pole or a trellis for them to latch on to.

Fun Fact

Water

|

Allow top inches of soil to dry between waterings.

Water Needs

Always water thoroughly, but allow the top inch or two to dry out completely before watering again. Reduce watering in winter, allowing the soil to get up to 50% dry.

Light

|

Low light tolerant. Bright, indirect light preferred.

Preferred Light

Medium to bright, indirect light is ideal for this Philo. However, they can tolerate low light, as well. Just take extra precautions when watering and don't expect the plant to grow very much.

Humidity

|

Extra humidity appreciated in drier spaces.

Humidity Needs

This tropical epiphyte (plants that grow in the mossy nooks of trees) will certainly appreciate a boost in humidity.

Temperature

|

Can adapt, but doesn't like sudden change.

Ambient Temperature

Adaptable to average indoor temperatures, but may complain when exposed to cold drafts or dry heat from vents.

Toxicity

|

Mildly toxic to humans and pets if ingested.

Toxic or Not?

Heartleaf Philos are mildly toxic to pets and humans. Ingestion will cause mouth and stomach irritation and possible vomiting.

Size

|

Extra long trailing vines.

Size Potential

Indoors, this plant's vines can grow anywhere from 6 to 20 ft depending on how you let it grow! May need to be supported with a moss or coir pole (the aerial roots can latch on for support and to take up any excess moisture).

Format

|

A low shrubby plant that vines to great lengths.

Overall Look

A young plant quickly takes on the very full look of a small shrub and begins to throw vines over the edge of the planter that can grow to great lengths. Will also grab on to a trellis or moss pole to climb if you give them the chance. Otherwise, this plant works best in a hanging planter or on a high shelf.

Leaf Shape

|

Deep green with a heart shape.

Leaf Look

Delicate heart-shaped leaves in a deep shade of green. Set apart by how the heart ends in a distinct extra long, skinny point.

Pro Tip

|

Growth is always tied to light, no matter what.

Pro Tip

When keeping your Heartleaf Philo in less than ideal light, you may notice new growth looks a bit straggly and thin with each new leaf spread out far from the last. Try improving the light and trimming back the thin growth—this will promote a fuller, bushier look!

Fun Fact

|

A natural born climber, this plant grows on trees.

Did You Know?

Philos are one of the many houseplants that are epiphytes—meaning, in the wild, they like to climb, settling into the mossy nooks of trees in the rainforest, taking in plenty of moisture through their aerial roots. At home, these types of plants will always be happiest when given the opportunity to climb! Try providing a coir or moss pole or a trellis for them to latch on to.

Beyond The Basics

Soil & Potting

Thrives in a rich, very well-draining potting mix—you can use a good quality potting mix labeled for indoor plants or make your own mix. You can try a 1:1:1:0.5 mix of potting mix, orchid bark, perlite, and activated charcoal. Ensure the pot has the appropriate drainage and don't forget to pour out any excess water collected in the drainage tray or cachepot.

Repotting

Try to repot every 2 years in the spring, especially when tending to a younger plant. Increase the pot size by about 2 inches each time or until you're satisfied with the size. It's still important to repot at this stage, but it'll be an exercise of refreshing the soil, keeping the pot size the same, and possibly doing some root trimming to restrict the plant's growth. More on repotting here.

Feeding

If you're not already planning to repot, you can fertilize during the spring and summer months. Once to every two months should be plenty. No fertilizer is necessary during the winter when plant growth naturally slows down. You can try a balanced liquid or water-soluble fertilizer—always diluted more than the recommended strength. More on using fertilizer here.

Grooming

Can be prone to legginess (or straggly, elongated growth). Regular pruning of the new growth (up to a third of the whole plant) will promote a fuller, bushier appearance. New leaves will emerge from the cut stem. Plus, you can use these stem cuttings to propagate! In addition, it's always good practice to regularly remove yellowed or dying leaves and any fallen plant debris. Ensure your scissors or pruners are sanitized to avoid spreading disease or pests.

Propagation

All you need to propagate a Heartleaf Philo is a piece of stem with a node or aerial root. This is particularly easy to spot as you'll see one or a few brown knobs or full on wiggly root strands along the green stem. Try to cut just below this node and remove the lower leaves to ensure a clear stem before rooting. This cutting will grow roots directly in water and in just a few weeks! Once the roots are a couple inches long, you can pot up as you would with any plant. More on propagation techniques here.

Variants

A popular Heartleaf Philo cultivar is 'Brasil', prized for the neon streaks of yellow that adorn each leaf.

TrOUBlESHOOTING

Why are the leaves on my Heartleaf Philodendron wilting and yellowing?

Symptom

Multiple leaves are wilting and turning yellow—particularly the older, lower leaves. You may also notice stunted growth and mushy stems.

Cause

The most likely culprit is overwatering and initial signs of root rot. When a plant's roots sit in waterlogged soil for too long, a fungal infection can quickly take over, causing the roots to rot (turning brown and mushy).

Solution

First, ensure that your plant has appropriate drainage (both in terms of well-draining soil and plenty of drainage holes in the plant's container).

If you think you've caught the overwatering early on, you can simply let the plant dry out more than you have been. Allow the top few inches of soil to dry out before watering again. Continue monitoring and only water when needed. You may also try using chopsticks (or something similar) to poke holes in the soil to help the roots get more oxygen. And finally, you can try to "wick" the excess moisture out of the soil by placing the whole pot (with drainage holes) in a tray or container with dry soil. This new layer of dry soil should soak up some of the excess moisture from the waterlogged areas around your plant's roots.

However, if you suspect a serious case of root rot, you'll definitely need to take a peak at the roots by removing the plant entirely from their container. If there are any black and mushy roots, trim them back completely before repotting with fresh soil in a new or sterilized container.

More on leaf changes here.
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Why are the leaf tips on my Heartleaf Philodendron browning?

Symptom

Leaves turning brown just on the edges or tips. These edges may gradually change from yellow to brown, crispy, and possibly a bit curled.

Cause

Browning just on the edges of tips is usually a reaction to low humidity. Since many of our houseplants have tropical origins, they also thrive in humid conditions. Our average indoor humidity is usually adequate, but some plants are simply more sensitive to changes in humidity than others. You may notice this more acutely when conditions are particularly dry—like when you turn on the heater in winter.

Solution

Try to accommodate your plant's needs by locating them in more naturally humid places, like the bathroom or kitchen, or grouping a bunch of humidity-loving plants together. But the only way to truly guarantee increased humidity is to get a humidifier!

More on leaf changes here.
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Why does my Heartleaf Philodendron have patchy, pale spots?

Symptom

Larger grey or pale patches on a few leaves. The spot may look dried out and somewhat bleached.

Cause

When your plant is exposed to the hot sun, it begins to evaporate more moisture from the leaf surface than the plant can replace. Leading to bleached areas or large grey patches on leaves.

Solution

You may be pushing the limits on how much direct sun your plant can handle. Try moving it out of reach of those direct rays of sun or moving to a spot that receives only minimal direct sun in the mornings or evenings. While this should prevent further burning, the spots will not "heal", so it's up to you if you'd like to prune off the affected leaves.

More on leaf changes here.
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