How to Care for a Heartleaf Philodendron (Hederaceum)


The Heartleaf Philodendron is unique among the other philodendron varieties. It has heart-shaped leaves, which can have different green tonalities. You will love the spectacle when the trailing vines flow from pots placed on top shelves or containers hanging from the ceiling like a chandelier.

To grow a heartleaf philodendron, keep its soil moist by watering once a week during spring and summer but skip a week or two during winter and autumn. This plant thrives under indirect bright light, in temperatures between 55ºF(12.7ºC) and 85oF/29.4oC. Also, it prefers rich and loose organic soil.

Also known as the “Sweetheart plant”, this native of the tropical jungle in Central America and the Caribbean region is lenient to owners who do not pay too much attention and will still fend for itself to produce a magnificent bloom. However, there are basic requirements that you must provide even though you might not have the time to monitor the sweetheart plant closely. Let’s discuss the basic requirements that will give you a thriving heartleaf philodendron.

Basic Care Guidelines for Heartleaf Philodendron

You should know that this plant is easier to keep alive than kill and will still reward you with a glorious indoor bush despite neglect. Now let’s get started with the basic caring guidelines.

Watering

The Heartleaf Philodendron can grow exclusively in water to produce a glorious bush. However, when potted in soil, it requires moderately moisture levels. You need to water the plant once a week or in ten days, depending on how well your soil drains.

The vines and dark-green leaves are sensitive to the amount of watering. Hence, the plant will respond within days if it experiences any issue with water. The effects of long term water deprivation will also be seen in the beauty and vibrancy of the resulting bush.

If you doubt whether to water the sweetheart plant again, check the top layer of the soil to ensure that it is dry. The roots are deep and extensive enough to draw water from the other parts of the pot. However, do not allow the soil to remain dry for long because the leaves will turn yellow and eventually dry.

While the heartleaf philodendron can survive in plain water, it does not live well in flooded soil. The potting container should drain well to avoid soaking the soil for too long. Too much water in the soil causes root rot plus other bacterial and fungal infections that will kill your sweetheart plant or necessitate frequent repotting.

This plant is sensitive to the presence of chemicals in the potting mix. Such chemicals are introduced by fluoridated or chlorinated water, as well as the use of granular fertilizer. Aged, distilled, filtered, or rainwater is the best for watering the heartleaf philodendron. You can also eliminate these chemicals by flooding the pot once in a while, especially after a fertilization season.

Humidity

The Heartleaf Philodendron can adapt and survive in areas with an air of a wide range of moisture levels but prefers moist air with more than 50% humidity. Accurate moisture levels result in greener, wider, and plush leaves. It also promotes faster growth, especially when it combines with warm temperatures and bright light.

The ideal environment for your philodendron to grow is an environment that imitates the inside of tropical forest canopies. These areas have streams flowing throughout the year, plus a vegetation cover that traps a lot of water in the air. Average indoor humidity is sufficient for the sweetheart plant to grow. However, it requires regular enhancement to ensure that the plant produces large and lush leaves.

Misting is suggested for your philodendron, especially in the morning, to cater to the hot sun in the day. The frequency of misting will depend on the draft and temperature in the surrounding area. If the plant is placed at a corner without much wind, too much misting will leave the leaves wet, exposing the entire plant to fungal and bacterial infections.

You can also place a water dish or pebble tray at the bottom of your sweetheart plant to enhance humidity levels around the leaves. As water from the tray evaporates, it will guarantee continued humidification of the air, keeping your leaves green and elegant. This method of enhancing humidity means that your plant’s humidity needs are sorted even when you do not have the time to mist the plant every day.

The sweetheart plant might also benefit from grouping, one of the natural and most effective ways of guaranteeing the right humidity. Even without using other plants, you can train the sweetheart plant into a bush. Placing it alongside other plants helps to trap humidity that will protect the leaves from drying.

A humidifier also works where the other methods have failed. It is a perfect option where you do not have time or the commitment to keep misting the plant. Installing a humidifier is also encouraged where the plant will be left unattended over weekends and where home or office owners take several days off. You set the preferred humidity, and the gadget will keep it constant. Here some good humidifiers you can check out.

Soil

When grown in soil, heartleaf philodendron prefers rich and well-draining soil. Loose, loamy soil is a perfect choice because it holds moisture without becoming soggy. African violet potting mix will also deliver the best results when enhanced with humus or compost.

The Heartleaf philodendron is a moderate to high feeder depending on the desired growth habit. If you need a bushy tree with large leaves and thick step, you should provide it with rich soil. The type of soil and its fertility will influence the appearance of your sweetheart plant.

Other types of soil that work best include sterilized garden soil, sand enriched with peat moss, and perlite mix. The worst thing you can do with your potting mix is to allow it to be clogged. Though your heartleaf philodendron can survive in water, it is easily attacked by root rot if grown in waterlogged soil.

Excellent potting soil can be damaged in the course of caring for your sweetheart plant. Waterlogging is one of the problems but conveniently solved by reduced watering and drainage provision on your pot. Granular fertilizer tends to leave a chemical residue that alters the pH and mineral composition of the soil. Maintain high-quality soil even after potting to ensure a healthy and robustly growing heartleaf philodendron.

Light

This plant loves indirect bright light; in exchange, it will produce larger and greener leaves. Place it at a brightly lit spot where it can receive good morning and evening light. Luckily, the plant can acclimatize to direct sunlight from propagation and adapt.

Place your sweetheart plant near the window where it will get the early morning sunshine and a little shine at dusk. When growing outside, provide shade during the hot midday and noon. It will protect the leaves from scorching by reducing the evaporation of humidity trapped around the plant while preserving water in the soil.

The Sweetheart plant responds immediately to the amount of light provided. When the light is bright, the soil moist, and humidity right, the leaves will be lush and greener. On the other hand, dim light results in dull and smaller leaves alongside a less bushy sweetheart plant.

The leaves will begin to turn yellow if the heartleaf philodendron receives too much light without the right soil moisture and humidity. It also becomes stunted and begins to wilt. When grown in dim light, your philodendron will dwarf. In such a situation t is time to add some light. The vines usually grow towards the light source and will naturally get weaker if they are always chasing light.

Temperature

The Heartleaf philodendron can grow in areas with diverse ecological conditions. However, it mostly thrives in a warm area with temperatures between 55ºF(12.7ºC) and 85ºF(29.4ºC). The temperature will then have to be complemented with the right humidity, lighting, and soil moisture.

The average indoor temperature is enough for the sweetheart plant. Most indoor spaces have temperatures between 65ºF(18.3ºC) and 85ºF(29.4ºC), offering the ideal conditions to grow the sweetheart plant. 

Plant lovers in hotter or colder areas can still grow the sweetheart philodendron. The plant survives and thrives in lower temperatures as long as they do not go below 50ºF(10ºC), especially when the fall is drastic. At lower temperatures, the humidity should also reduce alongside soil moisture. Sweetheart plants will also survive high temperatures up to 95ºF(35ºC). However, remember to provide sufficient humidity and increase watering to counter the effects.

Air conditioning systems will likely alter temperature and humidity around indoor plants. Thus, do not place your sweetheart plant near the AC ducts or vents. The blowing wind lowers temperatures around the plant and impacts humidity.

Advanced Care

Sweetheart plants will show different looks based on the level of care provided. If you can nail aspects like fertilization, pruning, repotting, you will see a different phase of the plant.

Here are advanced care points that will change the appearance of your sweetheart plant.

Fertilization

A standard houseplant fertilizer is enough for this survivor that can still thrive in plain water. Fertilize the plant once a month in spring and summer but reduce fertilizer application in winter and fall. Remember, slow-releasing compost fertilizer is the most ideal.

Pruning

Pruning is necessary to control how the sweetheart philodendron grows. When the conditions are right, the sweetheart plants grow fast and robustly. Pruning should only target unwanted vines. Kindly do the process with a sharp scalpel to reduce the number of injuries on the vines. The exercise can be carried out any time, especially in spring and summer, when warm temperatures.

Repotting

Repotting will rarely be done because the plant has outgrown the current pot. It is usually done for aesthetic purposes because a very bushy sweetheart plant can still thrive in a glass of water. Spring and summer are the best seasons for repotting because the warm weather will promote faster rooting.

Propagation

Heartleaf philodendron is one of the easiest plants to propagate. You can opt for water or soil, both options offering excellent results. When propagating in water, cut a stem or leaf with nodes and place it in a glass of water at room temperature. Within a week or two, it will have produced white roots. Transfer it to your preferred container or grow it on water.

You might also like our guide to propagating a Heartleaf Philodendron in Water.

Propagating the sweetheart plant on the soil is also an easy and straightforward procedure. Place a leaf or vine on the soil and allow it to stay for a week or two. New buds should begin to emerge from the soil or nodes on the stem. The best time to propagate the plant is during the warm spring and summer seasons.

Pest Prevention

Sweetheart plant is commonly attacked by mealybugs, spider mites, scales, and aphids. They eat on the leaves and vine resulting in yellow spots that later turn brown and eventually kill your plant. Provide the right temperature, humidity, and air circulation to keep away these pests.

Frequently Asked Questions

What’s the difference between Heartleaf Philodendron and Pothos?

Heartleaf philodendron has heart-shaped dark green leaves forming on a slender and flexible stem. On the other hand, Pothos or Devil’s Ivy has large-waxy leaves with gold, white, or yellow variegation.

How do you revive a philodendron?

First, check the cause of death. If the soil is dry, consider watering for a few days up to two weeks. Afterward, It should begin producing new buds on the nodes. Where temperature, humidity, or lighting could be the problem, corrective measures should be taken based on what caused the plant to die.

How do you make philodendron fuller?

Place your plant under sufficient light, provide enough humidity, keep it under warm temperature, and use rich compost to feed your vines. Your sweetheart plant will grow bigger, greener, and vibrant.

Why are leaves on my philodendron turning yellow?

The plant could be subjected to direct sun and is on a wilting path. Pests like mealy bugs, scales, or aphids could be eating on the leaves. Check the problem and find a solution.

Are heartleaf philodendron leaves toxic to cats?

The leaves will only cause mild to moderate irritation when consumed in large quantities. They may cause drooling, vomiting, and difficulty in swallowing.

What are the popular philodendron varieties?

  • Philodendron Brasil: The dark leaves recognize it with light green variegation. It loves light and will produce a pinkish-green stem when the conditions are right. It loves bright light to enhance its variegation.
  • Philodendron Selloum: You recognize it for the velvety leaves and stunning iridescent foliage. New leaves can be pinkish purple.
  • Philodendron Xanadu: it is an upright and non-climbing variety with serrated leaves. Unlike the other fast-growing climbing varieties, it grows slowly and will enjoy grouping

Martin Duran

Hey y'all! My name is Martin Duran and I am from Cali, Colombia. Since 2018 I have been learning about plants and how to take care of them. Here's is my journey... “The clearest way into the Universe is through a forest wilderness.” ― John Muir

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