- Philodendron hederaceum, also known as the Heartleaf Philodendron, is a tropical plant native to Central America and the Caribbean.
- The plant grows through long vines with heart-shaped glossy leaves. It can bloom, but this is rare.
- When considering where to put Philodendron hederaceum plants, be aware they can grow up to 10 feet and more if conditions are right.
- The Philodendron hederaceum is often mistakenly referred to as the Philodendron Cordatum, another heart-leafed plant, but they are different because of the color and resilience of the leaves.
- Like all Philodendrons, they contain calcium oxalate, which if ingested, can irritate the mouth and stomach in humans and animals.
- Heartleaf Philodendron plant care basics include:
- Temperature: 65-90 degrees Fahrenheit (18-32 degrees Celsius) in a humid environment.
- Light: Bright, indirect sunlight. Avoid direct sunlight as it may burn the leaves.
- Water: Water until the soil is moist, but do not oversaturate it. Overwatering can lead to root rot and disease.
- Soil: Well-draining soil is essential, and an occasional boost from a well-balanced fertilizer can help with growth.
- Propagation: Make more plants by propagating using stem cuttings.
- Insects and Pests: Aphids and spider mites can affect the plant if it’s not in good health. Using a mixture of Neem oil, soap, and water can resolve this.
- Plant diseases: They are uncommon, but overwatering can lead to root rot, yellow leaves, or dark leaf spots.
- The Philodendron hederaceum is mildly poisonous to humans and pets if ingested due to a toxin called calcium oxalate.
Table of Contents
- 1 Key Takeaways
- 2 What is the Philodendron Hederaceum?
- 3 How to Care for Philodendron Hederaceum?
- 4 FAQ
- 5 Other Philodendron Plants
- 6 References
What is the Philodendron Hederaceum?
Philodendron hederaceum, also commonly known as Heartleaf Philodendron, is a tropical houseplant native to Central America and parts of the Caribbean region, where it climbs trees underneath the forest canopy.
Varieties of Philodendron Hederaceum
The Heartleaf Philodendron has a few names representing the same species, but more importantly, it has a handful of varieties (variations) that people will tend to mix up. They are, however, the same species of plant.
The most common synonym is Philodendron scandens. However, a lesser-known synonym for the Heart Leaf Philodendron is Philodendron cuspidatum.
As a side note, there is some historical background on whether Philodendron micans is also a synonym for Philodendron hederaceum. In our research, the Philodendron micans (the Velvet Leaf Philodendron) is in fact a variation and not a synonym.
Further, there are several varieties of Philodendron hederaceum, and each has its own unique variation. Remember, they are all Heart-Leaf Philodendrons, but they have a slight to bold variation that makes them not quite a simple Philodendron hederaceum.
Below are the most common variations of the Heart Leaf Philodendron are:
- Philodendron Micans: As mentioned before, this is a variety, not a synonym. In fact, the botanical name for this variation is Philodendron hederaceum var. hederaceum (that is not a typo, it is named twice).
- Philodendron Gabby: A very variegated Philodendron hederaceum
- Philodendron Cream Splash: This variety has cream-variegated leaves that is said to have mutated from the Philodendron brasil.
- Philodendron Oxycardium: Some refer to this variety as the Philodendron hederaceum ‘Variegata’.
- Philodendron Brasil: The Philodendron brasil is a highly distinctive variegated leaf with streaks of yellow and green, resembling the colors of the Brazil flag.
- Philodendron Lemon Lime: With trailing foliage that is shades of bright yellow to greenish.
- Philodendron Rio: Similar to the Philodendron brasil, but the yellow is more cream-colored.
- Philodendron Silver Stripe: They have long leaves that have stripes in the middle that are a mix of creamy yellow, silvery green, and sometimes streaks of white.
- Philodendron Kirkbridei: This heart-leaf Philodendron is not as variegated as its cousins, but it has nice brush-stroke-like streaks down the veins of its leaves.
This climbing Philodendron spreads itself through long vines, growing up more than 10 feet when they mature!
Along with the long vines, these plants have heart-shaped glossy leaves, and they also sometimes, albeit rare, bloom with bright white flowers.
The deeply lobed leaves and flowers are very soothing to the eye. Most individuals grow climbing philodendrons as indoor plants.
Further, since they are, in essence, tropical vine plants, they thrive indoors or outdoors in warmer climates.
Philodendron Hederaceum Vs Philodendron Cordatum
Even though they are frequently confused with one another, the Philodendron cordatum and the Philodendron hederaceum are two different species of the same genus.
Both plants have heart-shaped leaves that are green in color. However, the leaves of Philodendron cordatum are a lighter green (almost emerald) and have vein lines that are less prominent, but the leaves of Philodendron hederaceum are more resilient.
Young leaves of Philodendron hederaceum are grayish-brown in color, in contrast to those of Philodendron cordatum. Further, when the plants mature, the adult leaves of Philodendron cordatum turn a bluish-gray color, whilst those of Hederaceum do not.
How to Care for Philodendron Hederaceum?
Heart-leaf philodendrons may only be cultivated outside in warm and tropical climates as they are sensitive to cold temperatures below 60 degrees Fahrenheit. It can thrive for decades in an indoor climate that is optimal.
In addition to occasional watering and repotting, as the plant outgrows its pot, the only other care required is the frequent cutting of trailing stems. Even though pruning promotes the development and keeps the long, vining stems appearing lush and leafy, you don’t want them to go ‘wild’.
Remember, these plants can grow and climb more than 10 feet long! You can train it to climb upwards if you provide a trellis or moss pole; alternatively, you can grow them in a hanging basket and let them trail out.
As an aside, if you want to grow your Philodendron upward , try using this moss pole. It's easy to install and has been a staple for all of our vining plants and complememts any home decor.
Lastly, remember all philodendron species contain crystals of calcium oxalate, which can cause mouth and stomach irritations in humans and animals. Keep them away from pets and the hands of small children.
Temperature & Climate
Coming from a tropical environment, the Heartleaf Philodendron prefers warm temperatures, ideally between 65-90 degrees Fahrenheit (18-32 degrees Celsius).
If you plan to grow them outdoors, the best climate is in USDA hardiness zones 10B through 11. So, if you live in a temperate environment, it would be best to keep them as indoor plants—though you may be able to keep them outside during the growing season from early summer to early fall (be careful moving their long vines).
However, keep them indoors in late fall and the winter months, or else your plants will die—the climbing Philodendron does not tolerate temperatures that regularly drop below 55 degrees Fahrenheit (13 degrees Celsius).
Along with the heat and warm weather, heartleaf philodendron plants love humidity.
If you grow them as indoor plants, ensure that you keep your plants in humid surroundings.
You can spray or mist the plant once or twice a week, especially more so during the summer than in the winter months.
Other options include placing a humidifier nearby or using a pebble tray underneath your planter.
If you are growing them outside, however, be sure to select a location that collects humidity, such as underneath a tree or along the wall of your house.
Philodendron hederaceum plants prefer lots of bright, indirect light, but they can tolerate low-light conditions if they have to.
Just note that too much direct sunlight can damage this plant by burning its leaves, so avoid placing it against a south-facing window because the sun will shine through all day long.
Rather, put heartleaf philodendron plants in an area or close to a window that receives lots of bright indirect sunlight.
In contrast to too much light, a small amount of light will promote slower growth in comparison to lots of bright indirect sunlight.
Philodendron hederaceum plants like to be watered to the point where the soil is just moist but not oversaturated.
You can keep the soil moist by watering once a week and checking the soil moisture with the tip of your finger every so often during the week.
If the soil remains wet for many days after watering (this often happens in the winter months), you should reduce and possibly stop watering for a few days.
If you keep watering your plant if the soil is still wet (and not allowed to dry a little), it may lead to root rot and other plant disease issues. To prevent overwatering, we use this self-watering planter.
Besides overwatering your plant, another key thing you can do to prevent overwatering your plant is to have your plant in a pot that has drainage holes.
If your current pots do not have suitable drainage holes, any excess water gets trapped in the soil. The moist soil is a perfect environment for bacteria and fungi that lead to root rot and other plant diseases.
Soil and fertilizer
It is essential to plant your heart-leaf philodendron in well-draining soil.
A soil-based potting mix with some soil amendments like perlite, peat moss, or sand will keep the soil moist but not oversaturated.
As an aside, we use this indoor plant soil. It's pre-mixed with organic materials that is ready to use. We use this almost exclusively for our indoor houseplants.
If mature plants are in soil that has gotten hard and dense over time, consider re-potting your plants with a new nutrient-rich potting mix that drains well.
To give the soil an extra boost of nutrients, giving your philodendron a well-balanced fertilizer every couple of months, especially in spring and early summer, will do wonders. Try this slow-release plant fertilizer as it's super simple to use.
Another occasion when you should give each plant some fertilizer is when you are repotting and transplanting it to a new pot. It will help your plant settle in and transition better.
Pruning your Philodendron hederaceum will keep its lush look and prevent it from getting too big and out of control.
Start by choosing pruning shears or scissors that are sharp and clean to prevent any plant diseases from spreading. We use these particular pruning shears when pruning our indoor plants. They seem to always be sharp and easy on the hands.
First, find the stems and leaves you want to cut. You should focus on the ones that look too big or make the plant look less compact.
When you starting cutting, make sure to cut just above the leaf node and not through it. FYI, leaf nodes are small bumps on the stem where new leaves grow.
Don’t forget to prune out any yellow or brown leaves, as they can attract pests. You can also keep the plant from getting too big by cutting around its edges.
Lastly, don’t throw out the cuttings, as you can use them to propagate new plants!
Philodendron hederaceum can easily be propagated by using its stem cuttings.
When propagating philodendrons using stem cuttings, start by cutting a stem below a leaf node and make sure the stem cuttings are at least 6 inches long.
Afterward, place the stem cuttings in water or very moist soil. The leaf node should be just below the surface.
It’ll take about 2 to 3 weeks before roots start to emerge.
If you have trouble rooting your stem cuttings, you should consider using rooting hormones. Rooting hormones help tremendously in giving that extra boost to sprout roots - we especially like this particular rooting gel hormone.
Once the roots start to sprout, plant them in their own pots with new potting soil.
At this young stage of the plant, watering should be done every day or two as the baby plant needs extra water.
Lastly, to give your baby plants that extra boot, give them a very light dose of fertilizer.
A philodendron in good health should be able to ward off insects.
However, if you do not give the proper living circumstances, pests such as aphids and spider mites will be drawn to your philodendron.
For example, providing your philodendron with excessive water, high humidity, and inadequate ventilation will produce the ideal conditions that pests love to live in.
However, the good news is that if you do regular checks on your plant and spot the plant pests early, you have nothing to worry about because they are simple to eliminate.
If you notice aphids or spider mites, you should reduce watering and spray stems and leaves with a mixture of Neem oil, soap, and water.
Keep in mind that neem oil does have a pungent smell for some people. But it is very effective. FYI, we use this neem oil spray for our fungal and pest problems and it simply works.
Root Rot and Plant Diseases
Plant diseases that affect Philodendron hederaceum plants are pretty uncommon.
However, when your plant is infected, it is most likely the result of overwatering.
The most common disease problems include root rot, yellowing leaves, or dark leaf spots.
If you notice root rot, yellow leaves, or leaf spots on your heartleaf philodendron, immediately move your plant away from other plants.
Reduce watering and move your plant to a bright area. You may have to pull your plant out of the pot to inspect the roots.
If you suspect you have root rot, you’ll need to clean the roots, cut off the dead rotting ones, and then replant them into new potting soil.
Is philodendron Hederaceum toxic?
Yes, Philodendron hederaceum is a mildly poisonous plant to humans and pets if eaten. These plants contain a toxin called calcium oxalate. Calcium oxalate may cause irritation, pain and swelling in the mouth – including the tongue and lips. If eaten it’ll also cause excessive drooling, difficulty swallowing and sometimes vomiting.
How big do philodendron hederaceum get?
The Philodendron hederaceum (sometimes referred to as Philodendron Scandens) can grow over 10 feet in length as a trailing plant or grow upwards beyond 15 feet!
What is the difference between Philodendron Hederaceum and Philodendron Cordatum?
Philodendron hederaceum and Philodendron cordatum are two different plants, but are often mistaken for each other. Philodendron cordatum merely refers to the leaf’s form as it is laten for heart-shaped. Both plants feature green leaves in the shape of a heart. However, the leaves of Philodendron cordatum are lighter green (nearly emerald) and have fewer visible vein lines, whilst the leaves of Philodendron hederaceum are more durable. Philodendron cordatum leaves have more of an emerald color, while the Philodendron hederaceum leaves tend to be glossier and lighter in color.
Other Philodendron Plants
Philodendron hederaceum is a great indoor plant to grow anywhere. It is more of a climbing philodendron that, if you provide it with a moss pole, makes an awesome upright houseplant.
Anyway, philodendrons come in a variety of sizes and have various leaf patterns.
Here is a sample of other philodendron plants to consider for your home, office, or outdoor garden.
- Various Philodendron Plant Types
- Indoor Vining Plants to Grow for Home Decor
- Pruning Philodendron Plants
Philodendron Mayoi: These plants that are known as the Fern-like philodendron or Palm-like philodendron due to their huge palm-shaped leaves and scarlet underside, are highly prized by ardent plant collectors. This plant’s leaves can reach up to 7 to 10 inches in length! Although it grows like a weed in the wild, it is a tough plant to purchase because the demand for it exceeds the commercial supply.
Philodendron Melanochrysum: The Black Gold Philodendron is a rare species of vining philodendron that has acquired popularity due to its attractive foliage. Their dark green velvety leaves are contrasted by bright yellow veins that can reach a length of 2 feet or more. It is really a beautiful plant for any home.
Philodendron Erubescens: The Pink Princess Philodendron is a climbing houseplant with pink-variegated green leaves and a dark green background. It is a unique plant due to its dark green and bright pink variegated leaves, which no other plant has. Due to a genetic abnormality, the plant exhibits pink variegation. The hue of the veins, which appear to evaporate upon closer scrutiny, is even more brilliant. Given the rarity of this plant, consider yourself fortunate if you acquire one.
Lindsey Hyland grew up in Arizona where she studied at the University of Arizona’s Controlled Environment Agriculture Center. She continued her gardening education by working on organic farms in both rural and urban settings. She started UrbanOrganicYield.com to share gardening tips and tactics. She’s happy to talk about succulents and houseplants or vegetables and herbs – or just about anything in a backyard garden or hydroponics garden.