Last Updated on October 19, 2023 by Plant Mom Care
Philodendron hederaceum, also called the Heart-leaf plant, is an evergreen climbing vine native to Central America and the West Indies, with more than 400 different varieties.
It is a relatively easy plant to grow indoors and is identified by its 2 – 12 inch-long dark green heart-shaped foliage and can remove hazardous substances from the room’s air. It does produce white flowers when grown outdoors but rarely does when grown indoors. Nonetheless, the dark glossy leaves more than makeup for the lack of flowers.
This is a versatile plant that does very well in the soil as well as water. However, a plant that grows in water will not do well if it is planted in soil and similarly a plant growing in the soil will not thrive in water.
The thin stems and heart-shaped leaves of heart-leaf philodendrons are sometimes cultivated in hanging pots, allowing them to trail and hang elegantly. It can be grown on trellises and coir/moss poles. Heart-leaf philodendrons can make a nice display on a side table or a shelf, giving the long, trailing vines with plenty of space to grow. If you lack space, the Heart-leaf can be trimmed back to grow as a bush.
People can often get confused between pothos and philodendrons as they both look very similar. A closer examination shows the difference between the two – pothos leaves are thicker, feel waxy, and have a bumpy texture and the shape is different from the Heart-leaf philodendron. The Heart-leaf has smoother, thinner leaves and is more heart-like in form.
It likes bright to medium indirect lighting but also thrives in low lighting settings although the leaves will be spread out and colors won’t be as effervescent. Variegated varieties need more light although the direct sun can cause leaf burn or make the leaves yellow.
It requires watering once a week and it’s best to let the soil dry out before watering again. Planting boxes or pots that feature a water reservoir can extend watering intervals but the frequency of watering might have to be increased if the plant is located in an area of strong light.
Also note that when growing the plant with a moss/coir pole, the pole should be misted regularly for the maximum benefit of the plant.
As with all tropical plants it loves humidity. Although it is very tolerant of low levels of humidity, it thrives better in more humid conditions, helping it produce larger leaves and faster growth. The average household level of humidity of 40% is perfect for the Heart-leaf.
It requires a temperature level of between 65–75°F for steady growth and can tolerate temperatures as low as 60°F, although it will do poorly.
This plant can survive without being fertilized, but since they grow very fast, they will benefit from being fed. Feed it every month (except during winter) with an all-purpose liquid fertilizer. Use half the normal dose in a gallon of water.
It prefers a good draining and aerated potting mix with some perlite and sand, similar to what gardeners use for African violets.
You can repot the plant in 2 years to give it the benefit of fresh soil. Water it well the day before to reduce stress. Always choose a pot a little larger than the previous one.
Grasp the stems near the soil and invert the pot, giving the bottom a tap to help the plant to fall out while you’re supporting it with your hand.
Spray the roots to wash off old soil, which will also help separate and untangle the roots. Remove any old roots carefully and repot with fresh soil. Water the plant well after you’re finished.
Remove dry/dead leaves any time you see them, leaving any major pruning for spring or summer. Avoid bruising by using sharp tools, making sure to clean them before and after pruning. Pinching off new growth will help control the plant if you don’t want it spreading too much.
It can be propagated in two ways. Cut a 3-4 inch section of the vine below a leaf nodule and place it in water until roots appear. It can then be moved to a pot.
The other way is to divide the root clump (best done when repotting). Make sure that the divided sections have nice, healthy roots before planting. This helps increase the chances of survival for the new plant.
All this plant needs is enough light, enough water, and a little care. Remove any dry stems and leaves using sharp scissors or shears to avoid any damage to the plant.
Stems should be cut close to the leaf nodes as any extra stem above the node will just dry up and die. Clean the leaves often to remove dust and to prevent the pores from being clogged.
Heart Leaf Philodendron Common Problems
It is an easy, low-maintenance plant to cultivate, but it can be affected by over or under-watering and root rot disease.
Wilted leaves indicate that the plant has either not been watered for some time or that it is affected by root rot. Yellow leaves indicate that the soil is too soggy due to over-watering.
Brown leaves usually indicate leaf burn while brown spots on leaves indicate a fungal attack. When misting the plant, make sure that you don’t allow water drops to stay long on leaves.
Small leaves or long gaps on the stem between leaves indicate that the plant needs more light.
Do not over-fertilize the plant as it will cause leaf curl or make the leaf tips turn brown.
While this plant is very resistant to pests, insects like scale and spider mites can still attack plants. Use Neem oil to control any pest infestation.