Syngonium podophyllum or arrowhead vine is an aroid species from the Araceae family and is indigenous to Latin America, being naturalized in places such as the West Indies, Texas, Florida, Hawaii, among others. There are more than 30 different species of these plants, with plenty of variants with spectacular variegation.
The plant develops vining behavior when it becomes mature and climbs a few feet tall by clinging onto the trunks of trees in tropical jungles with its roots. The plant has an impressive and vast root system and grows vigorously under proper conditions.
When it is cultivated indoors, it can attain 5 feet in height, growing about 12 inches a year and producing 6-7 leaves. Its leaves are usually arrow-shaped and about 12 inches long.
The leaves are generally dark green without variegation when growing in the wild, while the leaves in cultivated varieties vary in shades of green, quite often light green with different kinds of lighter tannins. There are many variegated cultivars, differing in the positions and extent of the white or cream patterns, with some almost entirely yellow, pink, or white.
The growth of the leaves of this plant is quite remarkable as the shape changes when the plant is more mature. The leaves start off as arrowhead-shaped (hence the name) then dividing into a five-finger shape.
Its flowers are small, green, or white on spadices in light-yellow to green spathes; however, it rarely blooms indoors, apart from older and well-maintained specimens.
As a vine, it can be also trained to grow on poles or trellises or from baskets and can also be cultivated as a groundcover.
This plant grows best under indirect bright sunlight. Varieties with pink, reddish, or white variegations require indirect bright light, although too much exposure to direct sunlight might burn the leaves. Varieties with dark green foliage can tolerate low lighting conditions.
It prefers the soil to be moist but well-drained. It must be watered 2-3 times weekly in summer but less often in winter. It doesn’t like to be over-watered as it can easily develop root rot, so make sure the container has enough drainage holes.
It can tolerate average indoor humidity but thrives better in higher levels of more than 50% humidity, similar to conditions of its rainforest habitat. Frequent misting is necessary to ensure adequate humidity and prevent leaf tips from becoming brown.
While it can tolerate varying ranges of temperature, the ideal temperature range for this plant lies between 60-75°F. The winter temperature should not drop lower than 32 °F).
It prefers a rich well-draining acidic soil mix, although any regular soil will be okay for the plant to grow well.
This plant is a vigorous grower so it has to be repotted every year into a container 1-2 sizes larger with fresh soil to help the plant grow better. If you don’t wish to repot the plant, you must refresh the potting medium yearly to make sure the soil remains nutrient-rich.
This plant is propagated by dividing it or by cuttings, with both techniques having a good rate of success since roots are already present. Cuttings from the top of shoots root easily when compared to cuttings taken from lower parts of the stems.
Propagation from cuttings
Select a suitable stem with visible air roots. Cut it below a node – this is necessary to successfully propagate the plant. Once you’ve cut off a stem below a node with at least a leaf attached, let the cutting callus for a minimum of 30min. The cutting can now be put into either water or moss or even directly into damp soil.
Make sure the water is at room temperature and submerged the node while preventing the leaf from touching the water as it will become rotten.
The cutting must be kept in a place that is warm and bright to get sufficient light to encourage root growth. Rooting might take several weeks to set depending on the growing conditions.
Propagation by division
This technique is easier than the stem cutting method as you are just dividing the plant into two or more sections, each having its own stems and roots. Plant each section in pots of well-draining soil.
The leaves should be wiped clean to remove dust or dirt with a wet cloth.
Feed the plant with a diluted fertilizer (liquid is best) every month in summer, holding back during winter. Since this plant grows vigorously, it needs fertilizing or its growth will be stunted.
These plants, while pest-resistant, can still attract pests like mealy bugs, scale, and aphids due to their dense growth creating good hiding places and habitats for these pests. These can be eradicated with cotton swabs or a brush drenched with rubbing alcohol and/or appropriate pesticides.
In addition, this plant can suffer from root rot due to water-logged soil and bacterial infection as well as being infected by the mosaic virus.
There are no effective cures for viral or bacterial diseases once the plant is infected. Instead, efforts must be focused on preventing these diseases. Yellow leaves are commonly caused by over-watering or under-watering. It is important to note that most indoor plants are often killed from overwatering.
Brown or crispy leaf tips can either be caused by low humidity levels or under-watering. Frequent misting could help to prevent crispy tips. Check the soil to see if it’s dry and water the plant well.
The root of faded leaf colors and pale leaves is too much exposure to direct sunlight. Therefore, ensure that it’s in a place under indirect bright light.
Wilting leaves are commonly attributed to under-watering the plant. This plant requires plenty of water during summer and not watering it properly will make the leaves wilt. The plant will recover rapidly once you water it thoroughly and keep to your watering schedule.