Philodendron Cordatum Plant Care – Growing Heart Leaf Philodendron

Philodendron Cordatum

The philodendron cordatum is better known as the heart leaf philodendron. It is called as such because of its beautiful looking heart-shaped green foliage.

And, it is its stunning looks that makes it among the most popular houseplants around.

The plant is an epiphyte. And, in its native environment it clings onto the trees and grows up to 20 feet long.

Indoors, it doesn’t grow as big. However, it still likes to climb or trail. These conditions also make it looks more stunning ad is able to showcase its long vines and foliage.

As such, giving it a vertical structure or pole to climb onto works very well. Similarly, many houseplant owners keep it in hanging baskets allowing it to trail downwards.

Philodendron Cordatum Plant Care

Philodendron Cordatum Light

The philodendron cordatum needs bright, indirect light to grow optimally. That’s because the plant is an epiphyte. And, in its natural habitat, it clings onto trees and larger plants. This allows it to live in the forest canopy where it received lots of bright light, albeit dappled due to the leaves and branches overhead that partially block the sun’s rays.

As such, you don’t want to leave it under direct light for long periods at a time because this can burn its leaves.

That said, the plant is able to tolerate medium and lower light conditions. But, do expect some of its growth to slow down. The dimmer the location, the more slowly it grows. Although, it still stays healthy.

In these conditions, it is a good idea to rotate the plant so that it can grow evenly. This allows all sides to receive enough lighting.

To help it along and keep it healthy, you also want to dust its leaves every so often. This clears debris that will help its foliage be more efficient in absorbing light.

Similarly, by doing this, you’ll be able to spot any pests as before the spread.

Finally, in some cases, you might see the plant grow aerial roots. These roots will grow above the ground and won’t have any leaves. Don’t be alarmed.

This is normal since your philodendron cordatum is an epiphyte. It does so in order to climb up or push the plant higher up in order to get more light. You can prune them if they start to become messy.

 

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Philodendron Cordatum Temperature & Humidity

The heart leaf philodendron does best withing a fairly tight temperature range of 65 to 80 degrees. Because it is used to tropical forest environments, it likes somewhat warm conditions .

However, it cannot tolerate frost. Nor does it appreciate very hot climates.

That’s because Brazil, where the plant comes from is used to warm conditions (with not freezing temperatures). And, the presence of the branches and leaves overhead protect if from the heat.

As such, the philodendron cordatum is hardy to USDA zones 10 to 12. In these areas, you can grow it outdoors all year round.

But, in areas under zone 10, you’ll want to take it indoors once the weather starts to cool in the fall. This threshold is around 55 degrees.

Allowing it to stay at temperatures below that will cause it to suffer.

Similarly, the environment it is used to has high humidity. Thus, you want to give it similar conditions for the best growth. The good news is, normal room humidity is enough to keep it happy.

So, you don’t really need to do anything extra. But, higher humidity improve over growth as it can do so optimally.

philodendron cordatum

source: wikimedia commons

 

Philodendron Cordatum Watering

Heart leaf philodendron has different water preferences depending on the time of year.

In the spring and summer when the weather is warm and it is actively growing, it enjoys consistent evenly moist soil. But, don’t allow the soil to stay wet for long periods of time or be soggy. Both are signs of too much water.

In the winter, you want to allow the topsoil to dry before watering again. That’s because during the period, the plant is resting. As such, it doesn’t need as much resources (which is uses for growing). Similarly, the cold temperature and lack of sun will reduce evaporation.

The good thing is, you won’t need to change your watering habits even if the conditions significantly vary throughout the year.

Why?

Because you won’t be following a strict schedule. Instead, you’ll be going based on how moist or dry the soil feels. Once to top soil gets dry, it is time to water. But never before that.

As such, in bright conditions where the plant needs and uses up more water, the soil will naturally dry faster. So, once the top portion does, it is time to water. If it is still moist, you hold off then test again.

In low to medium lighting conditions, it will take longer for the soil to dry up. But again, as long as the soil is still moist, you don’t water. This will naturally extend the time between waterings without you having to do anything but feel the soil beforehand.

That said, once you see your philodendron cordatum’s leaves start wilting and curling, that means it is thirsty and needs a drink. You want to immediate give it water because this is the first sign that you’re not watering enough.

Once you water it, you’ll see it begin to recover fairly quickly.

If you don’t, it will keep getting drying and you’ll later see the leaves turn brown. They will likewise feel dry, look a bit crispy and easily fall off.

On the other hand, overwatering is every houseplant’s worst nightmare. You want to avoid this because it can lead to fungal root rot which can be deadly.

Once you notice yellow leaves or foliage start yellowing, cut back on water immediately. Yellow and brown is likewise a sign of too much water.

 

Soil

The most important thing about soil when it comes to your heart leaf philodendron is well-draining soil. Being epiphytic, its roots are open to air in its natural environment. This means that they dry quickly when they get wet due to the airflow they receive.

As such, you want to provide it with that same kind of drainage. And, since they’re used to feeling free and getting a lot of oxygen, well-aerated soil likewise helps a lot.

That said, a good quality potting mix will work for the plant. To help is closely resemble the conditions the plant is used to you can add peat moss which improves water retention (to keep soil moist) while still be well draining.

Then as twice as much perlite, coarse sand or even loam to improve drainage . If you decide to use the last option, make sure you get loam that’s been sterilized. As such, you want to pick some up from the store and not take it from your garden, even if your yard has loamy soil.

Garden soil can contain pests and soil-borne pathogens that can introduce diseases. This is why houseplants use potting mix (which isn’t real soil) instead of that from the garden.

Since the plant is a climber, you can likewise train it to grow up a trellis or other vertical structure. It will appreciate this and often grow faster.

 

Fertilizing

Your heart leaf philodendron will be perfectly happy with regular houseplant fertilizer. Make sure to dilute it to 50% of the dosage recommended. This will prevent the concentration from being too high which can result in fertilizer burn that damages your plants’ roots.

Once month feeding during the spring and summer will keep it happy and growing at it best. Cut back to once every 2 months in the colder months or completely stop.

While the plant is a fast grower, you only need to feed it during its active growing season which is spring and summer.

If you purchased the plant, make sure to check with the nursery on whether the soil has fertilizer or not. Many garden centers will use potting mixes that have some kind of fertilizer in them. Although, this can vary.

As such, some will only last a few weeks to about a month and a half. However, others will have slow release fertilizer which means you won’t need t feed the plant the first 6 months you have it.

Thus, you don’t want to move the plant out of its soil right when you get home.

 

Philodendron Cordatum Pruning

Philodendron cordatum is a good plant for beginners because it is low maintenance. And, will tolerate quite a bit of neglect, including if you forget to water it every so often.

But, not tending to it will cause this fast growing plant to get dense and a bit messy. In some cases, it might become leggy as well.

While this doesn’t negatively affect its health (once again, low maintenance), it can look less pretty than you would like it to be.

As such, trimming back the longer vines is a great way to maintain its lovely look. Doing so also promotes new growth that will make the plant look better.

While you’re at it prune away dead and damaged leaves as well. You don’t want these around they cause the plant to use up valuable resources in maintaining them.

You also don’t have to worry about trimming quite a bit since the plant is hardy to a good pruning.

When doing so, you may want to keep the stem cuttings since you can use them to grow new heart leaf philodendrons.

 

Propagation

Heart leaf philodendron can be propagated via stem cuttings or root division. Both work but have their differences.

Stem cutting can be done while pruning, whereas division is best performed when you repot. That’s because when pruning you trim off stems which can be replanted to grow clones of the mother plant.

Similarly, division is done via separating the root clump. As such, you’ll need to take it out of the container which you’ve already done when repotting.

That said, both can be done anytime in the spring and summer. You don’t want to do it in the winter because you want the plant to be growing which helps. Too hot or too cold weather are likewise no-no’s.

How To Propagate Philodendron Cordatum from Stem Cuttings

  • Stem cutting is the easiest way to propagate the plant. Here’s how.
  • Take a stem cutting. Ideally, you want to select a stem with at least 2 or 3 leaves that’s 4 to 6 inches long. Make sure the stem is healthy looking.
  • Cut the stem off using a sterile pair of scissors or pruning shears. You want to cut below a leaf node.
  • Place the stem in water. Replace the water in the glass or jar every few days to keep it clean.
  • In a few weeks you should see roots growing out from the end of the stem.
  • After the roots get to about 1 to 2 inches long, move the plan to a small pot with fresh, well-draining potting soil.
  • Keep the soil moist. And, give the plant bright, indirect sunlight in a warm, humid place.
  • After a few more weeks you’ll see it start to sprout.

 

Transplanting & Repotting Philodendron Cordatum

Your heart leaf philodendron only needs to be repotted when it has outgrown its current container. Other than that, it is not necessary to move it out of its current home.

Because philodendrons tend to grow fast, you can expect to repot every 18 to 24 months. However, don’t use time as a marker. Instead, look for the signs that it is rootbound.

The most telling of these is when it starts growing out of its container. Similarly, roots peeking out the holes in search of more soil outside its boundaries means it needs more space.

When repotting go up at most 2 inches in pot size. You only want to move up 4 inches in the plant is really big and very pot bounds. Thus, it will take very little time to outgrow a pot that’s just 2 inches bigger.

Don’t jump too many sizes higher since a larger pot increases the risk of having too much sitting moisture when you water the plant.

Also, if your philodendron cordatum has long vines that go up surfaces you will need someone to help you repot.

It is a good idea to water the plant 24 hours ahead of time to soften the soil. This makes a rootbound plant easier to remove from its container. Plus, it reduces the stress experiences by the plant from moving.

After you get the plant into its new pot, water thoroughly and let t drain completely.

 

Toxicity

Heart leaf philodendron is a toxic houseplant. So, as pretty as it looks, you’ll want to keep it out of reach of young children, cats, dogs and other pets.

 

Pests and Diseases

Your philodendron cordatum will experience attacks from spider mites, aphids and mealybugs. These are the most common pests to watch out for.

As such, it is a good idea to inspect the stems and leaves for these critters or the damages they can do.

If you clean the plant’s leaves every week or other week, this is a good opportunity to check to see if there are any pests lurking.

Similarly, root rot, leaf spot and bacterial and fungal problems can happen. Keeping a healthy plant without overwatering is the best way to avoid this. Because the plant likes high humidity, it is important to watch out for many of the moisture related problems like mold.

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