Heartleaf Philodendron: Care, Propagation & Common Problems
Heartleaf Philodendron holds a special place in my heart because it was the first plant I ever owned. Three years on, and it’s still thriving! But I’m not the only one who loves this plant – it’s a favorite for many reasons, which we will explore shortly.
In this guide, I will share my top tips and tricks for growing a happy and healthy Heartleaf Philodendron, including the common problems you may face and how to quickly and effectively solve them. So, let’s get started!
All About Heartleaf Philodendron
The Heartleaf Philodendron (Philodendron scandens), scientifically known as Philodendron hederaceum, is native to the tropical rainforests of Central and South America. This plant is a member of the Araceae family and a popular houseplant due to its attractive heart-shaped leaves and easy-care nature.
Its leaves can range in size from small to large, depending on the age of the plant and the growing conditions. The younger leaves tend to be smaller and more rounded, while the mature leaves are larger and have more distinct, pointed tips.
Its vining growth habit differentiates the Heartleaf Philodendron from other Philodendron species. While some Philodendrons grow upright and bushy, the Heartleaf Philodendron produces long, trailing vines, making it an excellent choice for hanging baskets or training up a trellis.
Fortunately, Heartleaf Philodendrons are considered relatively safe for humans and animals. While it’s not recommended to eat the leaves or stems, accidental ingestion is not usually harmful. It will only cause mild irritation of the mouth and digestive system.
However, it’s still a good idea to keep the plant out of reach of pets and children and monitor them if they come into contact with the plant.
How To Care For Heartleaf Philodendron
If you’re looking for a low-maintenance houseplant, the Heartleaf Philodendron should be at the top of your list! It’s one of the easiest plants to care for.
Heartleaf Philodendrons are extremely adaptable. They can tolerate a range of lighting conditions, temperatures, humidity levels, and watering schedules.
|Light||Indirect light to moderate shade, avoid direct sun|
|Watering||Every 1-2 weeks, when top layer of soil is dry|
|Temperature||65-80°F (18-26°C), avoid below 55°F (12°C)|
Heartleaf Philodendrons are ideal for busy people or those new to plant care, but they’re also perfect for plant enthusiasts who want a low-maintenance addition to their collection.
Lighting & Placement
These plants grow on the forest floor in their native environment, where they receive dappled sunlight filtered through the trees.
As a result, direct sunlight can be harmful and may scorch the leaves. Instead, place it in a bright, well-lit area that receives indirect sunlight.
A north or east-facing window is best, as it provides bright but filtered light. My Heartleaf Philodendron is happy about 6 feet (~2 meters) from a north-east facing window.
When it comes to watering your Heartleaf Philodendron, the key is not to overdo it. These plants are relatively drought-tolerant, so they don’t require frequent watering.
A good rule of thumb is to wait until the top inch of soil feels dry to the touch before watering.
When you water your Heartleaf Philodendron, make sure to water thoroughly and allow the excess water to drain out from the pot. Overwatering can easily cause root rot, so it’s essential not to let the plant sit in water for too long.
My Heartleaf Philodendron has never been picky about water. Sometimes I water it every week, sometimes every 2-3 weeks, and it never seems to mind.
These plants prefer a well-draining soil mix that retains moisture without becoming waterlogged. A mix of peat moss, perlite, and bark can provide good drainage and retain moisture.
Avoid using heavy, clay soils or potting mixes that contain large amounts of sand. These types of soil hold onto water for too long, which can lead to root rot.
In my experience, a high-quality tropical potting mix works well for Heartleaf Philodendrons.
Can I Use a Moss Pole for My Heartleaf Philodendrons?
Heartleaf Philodendrons are excellent climbers, and they will happily grow up a moss pole. Using a moss pole can be very beneficial for the growth and health of your Heartleaf Philodendron because it mimics its natural habitat in the rainforest.
The moss also provides moisture to the plant’s aerial roots, which helps to encourage the growth of larger leaves.
Temperature & Humidity
Heartleaf Philodendrons are adaptable to a range of temperatures and can thrive in a typical indoor environment.
They grow best in temperatures between 60-80°F (15-27°C), a comfortable range for most households. However, they can tolerate temperatures outside this range, as long as they’re not subjected to extreme fluctuations.
As for humidity, Heartleaf Philodendrons are known to tolerate low to moderate humidity levels. Ideally, a humidity level of around 40-60% is best.
My Heartleaf Philodendron has never been near a humidifier, and it has never had any issues. Avoid placing your plant near drafts, heaters, or A/Cs, which can cause temperature fluctuations and dry air.
Here are some of the most common issues that you may encounter when caring for your Heartleaf Philodendron, along with their symptoms and treatments:
- Overwatering: Symptoms include yellowing leaves, soft and mushy stems, and sometimes a foul odor. Treat by allowing the soil to dry out completely before watering again, and adjusting your watering schedule as needed.
- Underwatering: Symptoms include brown, crispy leaves and dry soil. Treat by watering your plant thoroughly and increasing the frequency of your watering schedule.
- Pest infestations: Common pests include spider mites, mealybugs, and scale insects. Symptoms include small, visible insects on your plant, sticky residue, and damage to leaves. Treat by isolating the plant, manually removing insects and webbing, using insecticidal soap or neem oil, and cleaning surrounding areas to prevent further infestations.
- Root rot: Symptoms include yellowing leaves, wilting, and a foul odor. Treat by removing the rotted parts of the roots and repotting the plant in fresh, well-draining soil. Then, make sure to adjust your watering schedule.
- Too much direct sunlight: Symptoms include brown patches on the leaves or leaf tips and leaf curling. Treat by moving the plant to a location with more shade or indirect light.
- Cold temperatures: Symptoms include slowed growth, yellowing leaves, and leaf drop. Treat by moving the plant to a warmer location and away from any cold drafts.
Remember, prevention is the best cure! Make sure you’re providing your Heartleaf Philodendron with the proper care to minimize the risk of these issues occurring.
Heartleaf Philodendrons are not heavy feeders, but they benefit from occasional fertilization.
During the growing season, it is recommended to fertilize every four to six weeks. A well-balanced, water-soluble fertilizer, such as a 20-20-20, is best for Heartleaf Philodendrons. Make sure to follow the instructions on the packaging to avoid over-fertilization.
While Heartleaf Philodendrons can do just fine without fertilization, regular feeding can promote more vigorous growth.
Growth Rate & Repotting Needs
Heartleaf Philodendrons are moderate to fast growers, with new leaves emerging throughout the growing season. They can grow up to 10 feet long, but their growth rate depends on factors such as lighting, temperature, and humidity.
As for repotting, Heartleaf Philodendrons do not need to be repotted often and can thrive in the same pot for several years. However, if the plant becomes root-bound or outgrows its container, it’s time to repot.
A good rule of thumb is to repot the plant every two to three years. When repotting, choose a pot that is one size larger than the current pot and has drainage holes to prevent overwatering. It’s important to note that Heartleaf Philodendrons prefer to be slightly root-bound, so do not choose a pot that is too large.
Heartleaf Philodendrons do not necessarily need to be pruned, but it can help keep their growth manageable and improve their appearance.
The best time to prune Heartleaf Philodendrons is spring or summer when the plant is actively growing.
To prune, use a clean pair of pruning shears to cut back any overgrown or straggly stems to just above a leaf node. This will encourage the plant to grow new stems and become bushier.
You can also prune to control the size and shape of the plant. For example, if your Heartleaf Philodendron is getting too tall or long, you can trim the end of the main stem to encourage it to branch out and grow more compactly.
Propagation of Heartleaf Philodendrons is relatively easy and can be done through stem cuttings.
One popular method is water propagation, where you simply cut a section of stem with at least two leaf nodes, remove the bottom leaves, and place the cutting in a jar or vase of water. Make sure to change the water every few days to prevent bacterial growth. Within a few weeks, you should start to see roots growing from the bottom of the stem.
Another method is soil propagation, where you prepare a small pot of well-draining soil, moisten it, and insert the stem cutting about 2-3 inches deep. Keep the soil moist but not waterlogged, and place the pot in a bright, indirect light location. The cutting should start to root within a few weeks. Once the roots are established, you can transplant the new plant into a larger pot with your soil mix.
I’m currently propagating some cuttings in water. This is my favorite method because I love watching the roots grow – but both methods can be successful.