How to Grow and Care for Heartleaf Philodendron (Philodendron scandens) Indoors


Heartleaf Philodendron, Philodendron scandens

Photo Credit: Hirt's Gardens

Botanical name: Philodendron scandens
Synonym: Philodendron hederaceum
Family: Araceae
Common names: Heartleaf Philodendron, Heartleaf Plant, Sweetheart Plant

Description

Heartleaf Philodendron (Philodendron scandens) also called Sweetheart Plant is an easy-care plant that will thrive in a wide range of conditions.

The heart-shaped leaves appear bronze and quickly turn green. The leaves measure about 2 inch long and cover the long slender stems.

Philodendron scandens is ideal for a hanging basket or can be grown as a climber on a trellis or moss stick. Firm support for the stems needs to be provided for the climber.

To encourage branching, pinch the growing tips otherwise Heartleaf Plant will grow with long, single stems. Always pinch after a leaf node and a new stem will grow from the node.

The Sweetheart Plant produces aerial roots from the stems and these roots have an important part to play. Push them into the soil to provide moisture for upper leaves. Flowers rarely appear under room conditions.

Size

In its native habitat, Heartleaf Plant can grow 10-20 ft long but when grown indoors it grows to about 6 ft. The heart-shaped leaves can grow to about 1 ft long.

Origin

Philodendron scandens also called Philodendron hederaceum is native to the tropical forests of Central America and the Carribean where it grows as an epiphyte on trees.

Air Cleaning

According to the NASA Clean Air Study, Philodendron scandens was found to be a good indoor air cleaner of common VOCs specifically trichloethylene.

Varieties

Heartleaf Philodendron has many varieties and cultivars, which include;

1. Philodendron hederaceum 'Micans' also called Philodendron hederaceum var hederaceum or Velvet Philodendron.

2. Philodendron hederaceum 'Brasil' which has green and yellow variegation and resembles the Brazilian flag and hence the name.

3. Philodendron hederaceum 'Cream Splash' which is thought to be a mutation of Philodendron 'Micans'.

4. Philodendron hederaceum 'Lemon Lime' has entirely yellow or pale green leaves.

5. Philodendron hederaceum 'Silver Stripe' has a silverish-cream stripe in the middle of the leaf.

6. Philodendron hederaceum 'Rio' has a silver, cream, silver, dark green variegation.

7. Philodendron hederaceum 'Gabby' has light green, cream, dark green/light green variegation and sometimes the leaf can be entirely yellow.

8. Philodendron hederaceum 'Variegata' bears leaves with pale-green or cream variegation.

Where to Buy

If you are looking to buy this spectacular Philodendron, healthy plants in various sizes are available online on Etsy. Buy Heartleaf Philodendron (Philodendron scandens) online from Etsy.

Heartleaf Philodendron, Philodendron scandens

Photo Credit: Amazon.com

Philodendron scandens Care Indoors

Heartleaf Philodendron (Philodendron scandens) thrives in medium to bright indirect light away from direct sunlight, warm and humid conditions and moderately moist, fertile, well-drained soils coupled with monthly feeding during the growing season.

Sweetheart Plant requires regular pruning to keep the plant neat, to encourage a compact, bushy growth and to rejuvenate growth. Repotting is needed every 2-3 years to provide adequate space for growth. Keep reading for a detailed account on these growing conditions and how to achieve them.

Light Requirements

Heartleaf Philodendron grows best in medium to bright indirect light. It can also grow under a grow light where natural light is inadequate.

The Sweetheart Plant can adapt to lower light conditions but it will grow more slowly in these conditions.

Keep Heartleaf Plant away from direct sunlight as direct sunlight may cause scorching of the leaves.

Watering

Water Heartleaf Philodendron thoroughly during the growing season while allowing the top 2 in. of soil to dry a little between waterings.

Cut down on watering during the cold season as growth is minimal at this time but do not allow the soil to dry out completely.

Ensure the pot has a drainage hole to avoid soggy soil as it can lead to root-rot disease and eventual death of the plant.


Temperature

Heartleaf Philodendron prefers average warmth with a minimum of 150C. Read more on understanding temperature for houseplants.

Humidity

Heartleaf Philodendron prefers a humid environment inorder to thrive. However the plant can withstand dry air for short periods.

Keep the air moist through out the growing period by surrounding the pot with wet moss or set the pot on a wet pebble tray or use a cool mist humidifier to raise humidity.

Regularly clean the leaves by damp-wiping to get rid of dust and to discourage pest and disease infestation.

Fertilizer (Feeding)

Feed Heartleaf Philodendron every 4 weeks during the growing season with a balanced water-soluble fertilizer.

Withhold feeding during the cold season as growth is minimal at this time and feeding at this time can result in fertilizer burn and eventual death of the plant.

Repotting

Repot Heartleaf Philodendron every 2-3 years during the growing period. Use a pot which is 1 size larger and loose free-draining soil that is rich in organic matter.

Ensure that the pot has a drainage hole to prevent the soil from getting soggy as it can lead to root-rot disease and eventual death of the plant.

Pruning

Pruning Heartleaf Philodendron is easy as it involves removal of yellow and dead leaves to maintain the plant neat and tidy.

To encourage a bushy and compact growth, pinch off the growing tips at a node as new growth emerges from a node. The tips can be used to propagate new plants.

Cut back leggy stems at the beginning of the growing season to rejuvenate growth.

Propagation

Heartleaf Philodendron (Philodendron scandens) propagation can be done during the growing season from stem cuttings, by spreading the stems on the soil or by plant division. The stem cuttings can be rooted in soil or in water.

How to propagate Heartleaf Philodendron from stem cuttings in soil

Take a stem cutting of about 4-5 in. long from a healthy Heartleaf Philodendron by cutting the stem below a leaf node. Strip off the lower leaves.

Insert the cutting in moist, well-drained soil while ensuring at least on leaf node is below the soil.

Place the set up in a warm, well-lit place and maintain the soil moist until new growth has emerged.

Allow the new Sweetheart Plant to be well established before transplanting after which you can begin routine care.

How to propagate Heartleaf Philodendron from stem cuttings in water

Take a stem cutting of about 4-5 in. long from a healthy Heartleaf Philodendron by cutting the stem below a leaf node. Strip off the lower leaves.

Place the cutting in a jar of clean water while ensuring at least on leaf node is below the water surface.

Place the set up in a well-lit place and change the water every 5-7 days until roots have developed.

Transfer the new Heartleaf Philodendron into individula pots in moist, free-draining soil when the roots are about 4 in. long.

Maintain the soil moist until new growth has emerged on the new Heartleaf Plant cuttings.

Allow the new Heartleaf Philodendron to be well established before transfering the pots to their permanent position after which you can begin routine.

How to propagate Heartleaf Philodendron by plant division

During repotting, divide large Heartleaf Plant into several sections. Ensure each section has adequate healthy roots.

Plant the sections in individual pots in moist, free-draining soil and place in a well-lit shaded place.

Maintain the soil moist until the new Philodendron scandens is well established and begin routine care.

How to propagate Heartleaf Philodendron by spreading the stems on the surface of the soil

Spread the Heartleaf stems on the soil surface while still attached to the mother plant.

The stems will root at every node that comes into contact with the soil.

Once rooted, sever the stems from the mother, dig them up and pot then in moist, free-draining soil in individual pots.

Place pots in a well-lit, well-lit place and maintain the soil moist until the new Philodendron scandens are well established after which you can begin routine care.

Heartleaf Philodendron, Philodendron scandens

Photo Credit: Walmart

Philodendron scandens Problems Indoors

Heartleaf Philodendron (Philodendron scandens) problems indoors are yellow leaves, dropping leaves, brown leaf tips and edges, rotting, weeping at edges, pests and diseases among others. Keep reading for more on these problems and how to fix them.

Yellowing leaves

Overwatering Heartleaf Philodendron is the reason for yellowing leaves if many leaves are affected and there are signs of wilting and rotting.

The remedy is to water the Sweetheart Plant thoroughly during the growing season while allowing the top 2 in. of soil to dry a little between waterings.

If there is no wilting and rotting, underfeeding is the cause of yellowing leaves.

Remedy the situation by feeding the plant every 4 weeks during the growing season with a balanced water-soluble fertilizer and withhold feeding during the cold season to avoid fertilizer burn.

If only lower leaves are affected and have dark spots and new leaves are dark and small, then underwatering is the cause of the yellowing leaves in Heartleaf Philodendron.

The solution is to water the Heartleaf Plant thoroughly during the growing season while allowing the top 2 in. of soil to dry a little between waterings but never allow the soil to dry out completely.

If leaves are pale colored and have straw-colored patches the cause of yellowing leaves in Heartleaf Philodendron is too much direct sunlight. Protect the plant or keep it away from direct sunlight.

Dropping leaves

As the lower leaves of Heartleaf Philodendron age they drop but if there is an abnormal leaf drop, the reason is sudden change of growing conditions.

Avoid moving the Heartleaf Plant to a new position before acclimatizing it gradually to prevent leaf drop.

If the leaves turn brown and dry before they drop, then too high temperature is the cause of leaf drop.

Philodendron scandens prefers average warmth with a minimum of 150C. Protect it from hot draughts; keep the plant away from hot air vents or near any source of heat.

Rotting stems

The reason for rotting stems in Heartleaf Philodendron is the fungal stem-rot disease which is promoted by high moisture and too little warmth.

You can save the plant by repotting and keeping the soil dry and warm for a period of time. Read more on how to treat stem-rot disease in houseplants.

Brown papery leaf tips and edges

There are two possible reasons for leaves with brown papery tips and edges in Heartleaf Philodendron. One possible reason for leaves with brown papery tips and edges in is dry air.

To remedy the problem, set the pot on a wet pebble tray or use a cool mist humidifier to raise humidity.

The second possible reason for leaves with brown papery tips and edges in Heartleaf Philodendron is that the plant may be pot-bound.

Repot the Heartleaf Philodendron into a pot 1 size larger. Ensure the pot has a drainage hole to prevent the soil from getting soggy as it can lead to root-rot disease and eventual death of the plant.

Leggy growth, small pale leaves

Too little light is the cause of leggy growth and small pale leaves as Heartleaf Philodendron will not thrive in deep shade.

Move the Heartleaf Plant to a more brighter spot where it will receive medium to bright indirect light or instal a grow light where natural light is inadequate.

Leaves weeping at the tips

If the soil is too wet, Heartleaf Philodendron will respond with leaves weeping at the tips.

Allow the top 2 in. of soil to dry out between waterings and reduce frequency of watering to prevent getting the soil too wet.

Also ensure that the pot has a drainage hole and that the soil is free-draining to avoid getting the soil soggy (too wet).

Pests

The common pests in Heartleaf Philodendron are Scales, Mealybugs and Aphids. Isolate the affected plant to prevent spread to other houseplants and treat it with Neem oil or Insecticidal soap.

Is Heartleaf Philodendron toxic?

Heartleaf Philodendron (Philodendron scandens) like other Philodendrons is toxic to both humans and pets as indicated by the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. The plant contains Calcium oxalate crystals.

If ingested, these crystals can cause burning and swelling in the mouth and throat, vomiting, diarrhea and abdominal pains. Therefore, keep the Sweetheart Plant away from the reach of children and pets.

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