Heart leaf philodendrons (Philodendron hederaceum) are beloved as much for their pretty, deep green, heart-shaped leaves as they are for how easy they are to grow. Philodendrons grow very well in most indoor conditions, including low light.
Identifying the Heart Leaf Philodendron
The leaves of heart leaf philodendron are around two to four inches long, and the plant starts out compact and bushy, but the stems can grow and trail to four feet or longer unless you keep it pruned back. It's important to note that philodendrons are toxic to dogs and cats, so if you have pets and choose to grow philodendron, be sure to keep it in a place where your pets can't get to it.
Heart Leaf Philodendron Care
Philodendrons aren't difficult to care for. Keep a few tips in mind, and yours will reward you with lots of pretty green foliage for years to come.
Philodendrons prefer moderate light, but will grow fairly well in low light as well. One thing to keep in mind is that if you grow it in low light, it won't keep that compact look that philodendrons usually have when you first buy them. It'll start trailing in search of light, and the space between leaves will be larger than it is for a plant that's getting more light. This is purely an aesthetic issue. If a more sprawling philodendron doesn't bother you, then feel free to grow it in low light.
You can also provide philodendrons grown in low light with artificial lighting to help them grow bushier and less sprawly. A lamp with an LED bulb kept on at least six hours during the day will do the trick.
Heart leaf philodendrons grow best with fairly even, steady watering. They don't like to be waterlogged. To time your watering properly, it's best to test the soil moisture by sticking your finger into the pot. If the top half of soil is dry, it's time to water. Water well, and let any excess water drain from the container.
Heart leaf philodendrons are not very heavy feeders. They grow very well with a monthly feeding of half-strength balanced houseplant fertilizer (so, whatever the amount on the package, cut it in half). They only need feeding during the spring and summer. Once the weather starts to cool down, fertilizing isn't necessary since growth slows or stops completely.
Any good, well-drained, fertile potting soil will work perfectly for heart leaf philodendrons.
Temperature and Humidity
Heart leaf philodendrons prefer average indoor temperatures, ideally in a range of 60 to 75 degrees. Keep them away from cold windows and drafts, as well as air conditioning or heating vents. Average indoor humidity will be fine for your philodendron, but to make it really happy, give the air around it a bit of a misting once or twice per day.
Some plants prefer to be a bit root-bound, and heart leaf philodendron is one of them. This only adds to how low maintenance it is! At most, you'll need to repot every two to three years.
- Go up one pot size from what the plant is currently growing in, place a layer of fresh soil at the bottom of the new pot, set the plant in, and fill around it, firming gently and then watering well.
- Philodendrons seem to grow best in more porous containers, so if you have a terracotta pot, that would be ideal. If you don't love the look of terracotta, you can always place it inside a more decorative container.
Heart Leaf Philodendron Pests and Problems
As far as pest issues, heart leaf philodendrons are fairly resistant. Aphids can sometimes be a problem, as can fungus gnats.
If you have aphids on your plants, spraying with insecticidal soap will get rid of them. You might need to repeat applications for a large infestation.
For fungus gnats, simply be sure to let the surface of the soil dry out between waterings. They need damp soil to live and reproduce, so if they don't have it, they'll die off fairly quickly.
As far as other issues, you can look at the leaves to figure out what might be going on with your heart leaf philodendron.
- Brown, scorched areas - Your plant is getting too much direct light and/or is placed too close to a very sunny window. Move it away from the light source.
- Yellowing leaves that eventually drop off of the plant - over-watering. Cut back on how often you water, and only water when the top half of the soil is dry.
- Wilting leaves - most likely under-watering. Stick your finger into the soil to be sure. If the top half of the soil is dry, it's time to water.
- Black stems - root rot. You can try removing the plant from the container and pruning away any rotting (black) roots and stems and repot any healthy parts that remain.
Pruning and Propagating Heart Leaf Philodendron
Philodendrons will eventually grow long, trailing stems that look wonderful growing from a hanging basket. You can leave them as is, or you can prune them off for a bushier plant by cutting just below a leaf node. You can use these trimmings to propagate heart leaf philodendrons.
- Take a cutting that has at least two leaves and a few inches of stem.
- Dip the cut end into rooting hormone, if you have it.
- Fill a small pot with potting mix and make a hole in the center, deep enough to stick the cutting into without having the leaves touching the soil.
- Firm the soil around the stem, then water well.
- Place a clear cup or plastic bag over the newly planted cutting, and place it in bright or medium indirect light.
- Keep the soil moist but not soggy.
- Roots and new growth should develop within two months.
Plenty of Reasons to Love Heart Leaf Philodendrons
Easy to grow, adaptable to a wide range of indoor conditions, and beautiful as well - heart leaf philodendrons are a worthy addition to any indoor garden.