How to grow and care for Heartleaf Philodendron Indoors

Houseplant, Heartleaf Philodendron

Botanical name: Philodendron scandens
Synonym: Philodendron oxycardium
Family: Araceae

Heartleaf Philodendron also called Sweetheart Plant is an easy to grow houseplant 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. Heartleaf Philodendron is suitable for a hanging basket or can be grown as a climber. Firm support for the stems needs to be provided for the climber. To encourage branching, pinch the growing tips otherwise it will grow with long, single stems. Always pinch after a leaf node and a new stem will grow from the node. The plant produces aerial roots from the stems and these root have an important part to play. Push them into the soil to provide moisture for upper leaves. Flowers rarely appear under room conditions. According to a study carried out by NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration), Philodendron scandens was found to get rid of common VOCs specifically trichloethylene from indoor air.

Heartleaf Philodendron is closely related to Philodendron domesticum aka Philodendron hastatum commonly called Elephant's Ear Philodendron and its more branching hybrid Philodendron Tuxla. Philodendron erubescens commonly called Blushing Philodendron and its hybrids Red Emerald and Burgundy. The palm-like Philodendron elegans aka Philodendron angustisectum. The Philodendron bipennifolium Philodendron panduriforme commonly called Fiddleleaf Philodendron or Panda Plant whose leaves are lobed. The dramatic velvety Philodendron melanochrysum commonly called Black Gold Philodendron whose leaves are white-veined and the variegated Philodendron ilsemannii among others.

How to Grow Heartleaf Philodendron (Philodendron scandens)

Light

Heartleaf Philodendron prefers shady, light shade or moderate brightness. Keep it away from direct sunlight as direct sunlight may cause scorching. Learn how to ensure your plant receives the correct light in this guide on understanding light for houseplants.

Water

Water Heartleaf Philodendron thoroughly during the growing season while allowing the top 2 in. of soil to dry a little between waterings. Reduce watering during the cold period. Avoid waterlogging as it can lead to rotting. Learn more on how to water houseplants.

Temperature

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

Humidity

Heartleaf Philodendron prefers a humid environment. However the plant can withstand dry air for short periods. Keep the air moist through out the growing period by frequent misting of the leaves or by surrounding the pot with wet moss or by placing the pot on a wet pebble tray to raise humidity. Occasionally clean the leaves by damp-wiping to get rid of dust and to discourage pest infestation.

Feeding

Feed Heartleaf Philodendron every 4 weeks during the growing season with a balanced water-soluble fertilizer. Withhold feeding during the cold season. Learn more on how to feed houseplants.

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 the pot has a drainage hole to prevent waterlogging.

Pruning

Pruning Heartleaf Philodendron 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. Find out more on how to prune houseplants.

How to Propagate Heartleaf Philodendron (Philodendron scandens)

Heartleaf Philodendron can be propagated during the growing season by stem cuttings or by division.

Propagation of Heartleaf Philodendron from stem cuttings in soil
Take a stem cutting about 4-5 in. long by cutting below a leaf node. Insert the cutting in moist soil, place in a warm shaded place and maintain the soil moist until new growth has emerged. Allow the new Heartleaf Philodendron to be well established before transplanting.

Propagation of Heartleaf Philodendron from stem cuttings in water
Take a stem cutting about 4-5 in. long by cutting below a leaf node. Place the cutting in a jar of clean water, place in a warm shaded place and change the water every 7-10 days until roots have developed. Transfer the plant to soil when the roots are about 4 in. long and maintain the soil moist until new growth has emerged. Allow the new Heartleaf Philodendron to be well established before transplanting.

Propagation of Heartleaf Philodendron by division
During repotting, divide Heartleaf Plant into several sections. Ensure each section has adequate healthy roots. Plant the sections in individual pots, place in a cool shaded place and maintain the soil moist until well established.

Propagation of Heartleaf Philodendron by spreading the stems on the surface of the soil
Spread Heartleaf stems on the soil surface while still attached to the mother plant. They will root at every node that comes into contact with the soil. Once rooted, sever the stems, dig them up and pot in moist soil in individual pots. Place Heartleaf Philodendron in a shaded cool place and maintain the soil moist until well established.

Common Problems in Growing Heartleaf Philodendron (Philodendron scandens)

  • Yellowing leaves
  • Overwatering Heartleaf Philodendron is the reason if many leaves are affected and there are signs of wilting and rotting but if there is no wilting and rotting, underfeeding is the problem. If only lower leaves are affected and have dark spots and new leaves are dark and small; underwatering is the reason. If leaves are pale colored and have straw-colored patches the problem is too much sunlight.

  • Loss of leaves
  • As the lower leaves of Heartleaf Philodendron age they fall but if there is an abnormal loss of leaves the reason is sudden change of growing conditions. If the leaves turn brown and dry before they fall then high temperature is the cause.

  • 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.

  • Leaves with brown papery tips and edges
  • The reason for leaves with brown papery tips and edges in Heartleaf Philodendron is dry air or the plant may be pot-bound. Mist the leaves and repot in a larger-sized pot.

  • Leggy growth, small pale leaves
  • Too little light is the cause as Heartleaf Philodendron will not thrive in deep shade; move the plant to a more brighter spot.

  • Leaves weeping at the edges
  • If the soil is too wet, Heartleaf Philodendron will respond with leaves weeping at the edges. Allow the top 2 in. of soil to dry out between waterings and reduce frequency of watering.

  • Pests
  • Common pests in Heartleaf Philodendron are Aphids and Fungus Gnats. Isolate the affected plant to prevent spread to other houseplants and treat appropriately.

Toxicity

Heartleaf Philodendron (Philodendron scandens) is toxic to both humans and pets. The plant contains Calcium oxalate. In ingested it causes burning and swelling in the mouth and throat, vomiting, diarrhea and abdominal pains. Keep this plant from the reach of children and pets.

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