Heartleaf Philodendron (Philodendron Hederaceum) Growing & Care Tips

The Philodendron hederaceum is one of the most common houseplants around. You’ve probably seen a few without even knowing them.

What makes it popular is that it is easy to care for. it thrives in low light and enjoys similar temperature conditions we do. They likewise tolerate neglect, which means they won’t die easily.

Its most stunning feature is its lovely green, glossy heart-shaped leaves which can grow up to 4 to 6 inches long. The plant itself can get to as big as 10 to 20 feet high. But, is much more manageable indoors.

Do note that the shape of its foliage means that there are quite a few look-alikes around. The closest of which is the Philodendron Cordatum. Often, the Cordatum is labeled as a Philodendron hederaceum. Although, the opposite seldom happens.

Meanwhile its vines are likewise long having the ability to reach 4 to 6 feet. This fits it climbing habit and allows it to live in hanging baskets beautifully as well.

Philodendron Hederaceum Plant Care

Light Requirements

The Philodendron hederaceum is a popular houseplant because it thrives in low light environments. Do note that it does best when given bright, indirect light.

But, it has no problem growing well in locations where light is ideal. This makes it easier to care for compared to most houseplants in this regard.

As long as it gets at least 3 hours of bright, indirect, filtered or dappled light every day it will do well. You can likewise keep it under partial or full shade without any problem.

On the other hand, keep it away from direct sunlight or long hours of intense bright light. This will scorch its leaves and turn them yellow.

The reason for this is that the plant grows under the forest canopy in its natural habitat. As such, it lives under the coverage of dense leaves and branches of large trees and plants. As a result, only dappled light gets through.

If you can’t find a spot that gets enough sunlight, you can also use fluorescent light.

That said, be aware that in some cases, if light is too low, you’ll notice its growth slow down and produce smaller leaves. When this happens, you can decide if you’re okay with this or move it to a brighter spot.

 

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Temperature

Another reason the Philodendron hederaceum is easy to care is that it likes similar temperatures to humans. This means it is well suited to most homes since they enjoy the same conditions we are comfortable with.

It grows best when temperature is kept between 70 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit. It can likewise tolerate levels slightly higher and lower. But, avoid locations temperatures below 55 degrees as the plant cannot withstand or survive freezing temperatures.

Also, keep the plant away from drafts. This includes open windows where cold breezes and enter as well as vents for heater and air conditioning.

If you live in USDA Hardiness Zones 10 and 11, you can keep the plant outside all year long without any problems from the cold weather.

In the rest of the country, it is better to keep the plant indoors. You can still take it outside once the weather warms up in spring after the threat of frost has passed. But, make sure to take it back inside as temperatures drop in the fall.

 

Humidity

The Philodendron hederaceum is likewise amenable to regular household humidity. Because it is a native of the Central and South American rainforests, it does prefer high humidity.

As such, for the best growth, you want to maintain humidity at 60% or higher.

The good news is, it easily adapts and does well to average room humidity. As long as you keep levels at 40% or higher, it will thrive.

Most homes average between 40% and 50%. But, it is important that you check because your indoor humidity will largely depend on where you live. I highly suggest picking up a hygrometer, which is very inexpensive.

It will let you know what the humidity is in any room of your home at any given time of the year. That way you can easily if you need to increase humidity.

If you find most of your home’s humidity runs in the 30s, try the bathroom. These are the most humid places in the home. As long as there’s enough light there, your Philodendron hederaceum will do well.

On the other hand, if you notice brown leaf tips forming, it is a sign that humidity is too low.

To remedy this, you have a few options.

  • Use a humidifier
  • Mist the plant a few times a week
  • Place the pot on top of stones in a water tray
  • Group it with other plants

 

How Often to Water

Your Philodendron hederaceum prefers being on the dry side. That’s because it is sensitive to overwatering. In fact, too much water is the worse thing you can do to it.

If it is left in wet, soggy or waterlogged soil for extended periods of time too often, it will likely end up with root rot.

This is something to avoid by all means.

As such, be mindful of watering at all times.

To grow at its best the plant needs to be watered different at different times of the year.

  • During the spring and summer when temperature is hot and the plant is actively growing, keep soil lightly moist consistently. Again, be careful not to overwater.
  • Come fall and winter, cut back of watering and only do so once the soil is almost dry. But, don’t let the soil completely dry out.

Yellow leaves are a sign of overwatering. Meanwhile brown foliage along with wilting often means that it needs more water.

I’ve found the easiest way to keep the plant happy without the risk of watering too much or too often is two-fold.

  • Water once the topsoil is dry down to 2 inches. Stick your finger to feel the soil. It needs to be dry at the depth or more before you water.
  • Water thoroughly. When watering, soak the root ball until the soil is saturated. You’ll be able to tell as water will start dripping from the drainage hole at the bottom of the pot. Then allow all excess moisture to drain completely.

The first step tells you when to water so you don’t do it too frequently. The second step tells you how to water so you don’t end up adding too much water or leaving the soil waterlogged.

 

Soil

Your Philodendron hederaceum enjoys loose, airy, well-draining soil. This makes most all-purpose potting mixes fit well for the plant.

If you find that it is retaining too much water, you can add perlite or sand to improve the drainage.

From the previous section, it is important to remember that the plant cannot tolerate too much water. As such, good drainage is important.

 

Fertilizer

Feed your Philodendron hederaceum with balanced fertilizer once a month during its growing season. Make sure to dilute it to half strength. It does not need any fertilizer during fall and winter.

Like water, it is important not to overfeed your plants because fertilizer leaves salt residue in the soil. As this accumulates, it can cause root burn.

This is also the reason why I don’t recommend going for cheap fertilizers because they tend to leave more minerals in the soil. If you want to reduce the effects of this, organic fertilizer is the way to go.

That said, flushing your soil every few months ensures that fertilizer burn never happens.

This is an easy process that takes a few minutes. And, you only need to do it every 4 to 6 months or so.

To flush the soil,

  • Pour water onto the soil. you can use the sink faucet or lay a hose on the rim of the container. Allow the water to slowly flow to wet the soil.
  • After a while, you’ll see water start dripping from under the pot.
  • Keep running the water and allowing the moisture drip.
  • After about 1 to 2 minutes, stop the water.
  • Then, let the soil completely drain.

The running water will flush out the salt residue along with some soil and debris. This way, you get rid of the excess chemicals that can harm your plant’s roots.

 

Pruning

Your Philodendron hederaceum can grow to between 10 and 20 feet high. And, its overlapping leaves can likewise get a bit unruly at time.

Thus, you may need to prune it to limit size and manage its shape. Also, trimming it will help keep it looking neat and tidy.

But, beyond that, there isn’t a lot of pruning to do.

That said, it is important to perform some maintenance pruning as well. This includes removing yellow leaves and those that have become leggy.

On the other hand, if you’re not too happy with its density, you can pinch back stems to encourage more growth. Doing so will help create a fuller, bushier plant.

The best time to do most of your pruning is during spring or early summer. You can to light pruning at any time of the year.

 

Philodendron Hederaceum Propagation

In case you want go grow more of the plant, you’ll be happy to know that the Philodendron hederaceum is easy to propagate.

The most common and simplest way to do it is via stem tip cuttings.

Here’s how to do it.

  • During the spring or early summer, take a stem tip cutting. Choose a healthy stem that’s about 3 to 6 inches long with at least 3 leaves.
  • Use a pair or sterile pruning sears to cut it just below the leaf node.
  • Remove any leaves at the bottom, only leaving the ones near the tip of the stem.
  • Plant the stem tip cutting into a small container (6 inch will do) that’s filled with moist potting mix.
  • Keep the plant under bright, indirect light in a warm, humid place.
  • It will take about 20 to 30 days for the stem cutting to develop its first roots.

 

How to Repot

Over time, your Philodendron hederaceum will outgrow its container. This takes around 2 to 3 years in most cases. But, a lot will really depend on the living conditions of the plant which will affect how quickly it grows.

When it comes to repotting, you don’t need to do it unless the plant is root bound. That’s because plants experience the shock that comes with being moved. As such, you don’t want to put them in this state too often as it will temporarily weaken them.

As such, it is best to wait for the plant to become pot bound before repotting. One sign of this is when you see roots sneaking out from the bottom of the container.

This often means they need more room to expand.

When repotting, choose a container that is 2 inches wider in diameter. And, prepare some fresh potting soil as well.

Keep in mind that you don’t necessarily have to move the plant to a bigger container. This is the ideal way because most people want the plant to grow.
But considering its potential size and that you want to keep it indoors, you may prefer having a smaller plant.

To limit its size, you can rely on pruning and repotting back the same container. In doing so, you limit its growth by keeping it in the same pot. But, do refresh the soil in the process.

If the plant’s root system happens to just be too big for the pot (and you still want to maintain its current size), it is a good idea to prune the roots.

This will allow it to fit back into the container.

 

Toxicity

One of the few negative aspects of your Philodendron hederaceum is that it is toxic to people, dogs and cats. So, if you have young children or pets around the home, it is a good idea t keep the plant out of their reach.

Chewing or ingesting parts of the plant can cause mild to serious side effects depending on how much of it consumed.

It can cause mouth, throat and gastrointestinal issues including vomiting and difficulty breathing.

 

Pests

As with other plants, you’ll need to monitor your Philodendron hederaceum for pests and diseases.

Aphids, spider mites and mealybugs are the most common pests that will try and attach your plant. if there’s too much moisture, fungus gnats may also appear.

Thus, it is important to regularly inspect the plant because it is the only way to catch these critters early. And, the earlier you get rid of them, the less the chance they’re able to increase in number.

It is harder and takes longer to treat an infestation than few of them.

 

Diseases

The good news is, it doesn’t really experience much by the way of disease.

But, there’s one that it is susceptible to, root rot. Unfortunately, root rot is also one of the deadliest problems a plant can face if not remedied early.

So, it is very important to avoid overwatering, which is the main cause of this disease. This is why I spent a bit of time on the section about watering above.

As long as you avoid too much water or watering too often, you’ll never need to deal with root rot.

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