This post is all about heartleaf philodendron care! Heartleaf philodendrons are classic houseplants and are also some of the easiest to take care of. Learn everything you need to know about the plant here.
Heartleaf philodendron care & tips for growing this classic plant!
Let’s talk about philodendrons! And today’s philodendron is probably the grandaddy of them all. By that I mean it’s a probably the most common type of philodendron. It’s the philodendron hederaceum, aka the heartleaf philodendron. If you have houseplants, you probably have a philodendron or two hanging out somewhere.
And if it’s a heartleaf philodendron, it’s probably literally hanging. Because it’s often sold in hanging baskets 😉 If you don’t have houseplants, heartleaf philodendrons are a great gateway plant. They are durable, patient, and tolerant of your plant misgivings, making them perfect for serious hobbyists and newbies alike.
Table of contents
Here is a hyperlinked table of contents if you’d like to skip ahead to any part of this care guide. Enjoy!
- Philodendron hederaceum background
- Popular philodendron hederaceum varieties
- Heartleaf philodendron vs. pothos (epipremnum)
- Does heartleaf philodendron need sunlight?
- Where do I put my heartleaf philodendron?
- How often should I water my heartleaf philodendron?
- What does an overwatered plant look like?
- What is the best soil?
- What is an ideal temperature for heartleaf philodendron?
- Should I mist my heartleaf philodendron?
- How fast do heartleaf philodendron grow?
- How do you make heartleaf philodendron grow faster?
- Do heartleaf philodendron plants trail or climb?
- How do you make a heartleaf philodendron bushy?
- Heartleaf philodendron propagation
- How toxic is heartleaf philodendron?
- Pest issues
Philodendron hederaceum background
Philodendron is the name of a large genus of plants in the Araceae family. It’s the second-largest genus in the family. And the all-green heartleaf philodendron is probably one of the most common types of philodendron in the whole genus. Hederaceum also comes in lots of different varieties.
Philodendron hederaceum is native to Central and South America, including parts of Mexico, the Caribbean, and Brazil. It is a tropical plant that grows in rainforests, typically in areas with high humidity and plenty of indirect light.
In its native habitat, it is often found growing on trees or other vertical surfaces, where it uses its aerial roots to anchor itself and absorb nutrients from the surrounding air and water. So that tells you that you can grow it as a trailing plant—but you can also opt to give it a moss pole and let it climb!
Popular philodendron hederaceum varieties
I want to talk a little bit about the different varieties of philodendron hederaceum that you will likely come across at plant shops, in nurseries, and while browsing online. I also have a YouTube video all about philodendron hederaceum you can watch here!
- All green: The one most commonly referred to as “heartleaf” and the most common form with small, dark green, heart-shaped leaves.
- Lemon lime: This one is also pretty common; the leaves are nearly identical in shape and size to the all green variety, except the leaves are a striking highlighter yellow. See my Philodendron Lemon Lime Care post for more!
- Brasil: This variety has variegated leaves that are green with yellow or white stripes. See my Philodendron Brasil Care & Propagation guide for more. I’ve also written about a similar variety Philodendron Silver Stripe.
- Micans: This variety has beautiful dark green leaves with a metallic sheen and reddish-purple undersides. Read more about the philodendron micans here.
Heartleaf philodendron vs. pothos (epipremnum)
This plant is often confused with the pothos plant, which itself has many varieties. However, they are totally different plants. Philodendron plants are part of the philodendron genus, while pothos plants are part of the epipremnum genus. The most common types of pothos are epipremnum aurem and epipremnum pinnatum.
Here are a few differences between the heartleaf philodendron and the jade/all-green pothos plant:
- Leaf shape: Heartleaf philodendron has small, heart-shaped leaves, while pothos has slightly longer, more ovate leaves.
- Leaf sheen: I find that heartleaf philodendron leaves can have a glossier, most waxy, smoother finish to them. Pothos leaves, however, see a bit leafier.
- Growth habit: Heartleaf philodendron tends to have long, slender stems and aerial roots; pothos, on the other hand, tends to have thicker, heartier stems.
- Native Habitat: Heartleaf philodendron is native to Central and South America, while pothos is native to the tropical forests of Southeast Asia and the Western Pacific.
- Care requirements: Heartleaf philodendron can prefer more humidity and indirect light, while pothos can be more tolerant of dry conditions and can tolerate lower light levels (though to be honest their care needs are super similar).
Does heartleaf philodendron need sunlight?
Heartleaf philodendron is a medium- to bright-indirect light plant. It does not need direct sunlight to thrive. In fact, direct sunlight can be harmful to this plant, causing the leaves to become scorched or faded. Some direct morning sun can be fine since that light is weaker than strong afternoon sun.
I often see it referred to as a “low-light” plant, but I don’t believe that is the case. Sure, the plant will survive in low light, but it won’t thrive. Let me show you an example of a heartleaf philodendron I had in a low-light room.
Not only does growth slow way down, but the leaves begin to grow much smaller. And the stems become leggy, stretching the space between leaves. These definitely contribute to an overall kind of sad-looking plant. Definitely not the big, bushy, healthy look you probably want.
Where do I put my heartleaf philodendron?
Choose a spot that gets a good chunk of bright, indirect light. An east- or south-facing window is fine. A bright, unobstructed north-facing window is also fine. If you have it in a south-facing window, just make sure the light in the late morning through late-afternoon isn’t too much.
Generally I don’t have problems with plants burning indoors. But it’s worth monitoring. If you decide to move your plant outdoors for the summer, choose a spot with bright shade. I had a few of mine hanging under my covered patio that got dappled sunlight all day through the deck slats. You could also consider hanging it under a tree with a dense canopy.
How often should I water my heartleaf philodendron?
You should let the top several inches of your plant’s soil dry out before you water it again. For me, this is generally once a week in the spring and summer and once every 10-14 days in the fall and winter. It might be a bit different depending on your growing conditions.
If you have the plant outdoors in summer heat, you will likely need to water your plant more often because the heat will nuke the water from the soil much faster. And that’s why it’s so important to check that soil moisture. When it’s time to water, water the plant thoroughly until water runs out of the drain holes in the bottom of the pot.
Overwatering is a huge problem with all philodendrons—and especially this one. If you overwater your plant, it will lead to root rot. Never let the soil remain wet all the time. Remember to let the top few inches dry out first 🙂
What does an overwatered plant look like?
Because heartleaf philodendron is so prone to overwatering, you may end up encountering problems with over-watering. Here are a few signs that your plant is suffering from overwatering.
- Yellowing leaves: One of the first signs of overwatering is yellowing of the lower leaves. As the roots begin to rot, the plant may not be able to absorb enough water and nutrients, causing the leaves to turn yellow and eventually wilt and fall off.
- Drooping leaves: Another common sign of overwatering is drooping leaves. If the soil is consistently moist, the leaves may droop or wilt.
- Soft, mushy stems: Overwatered plants may also have soft, mushy stems that feel weak or spongy when touched. Definitely a sign of root rot.
- Rotting roots: If a Philodendron plant is overwatered, the roots may begin to rot, which can eventually kill the plant. If you suspect that your Philodendron is being overwatered, it is important to check the root system to see if it is healthy.
If you suspect that your plant has been overwatered, I recommend adjusting your watering schedule and improving the drainage of the soil. It may also be necessary to repot the plant into fresh soil to promote root health. You might also have to trim the rotting roots before repotting.
What is the best soil?
Your heartleaf philodendron’s watering schedule also really depends on your plant’s soil. I recommend choosing a well-draining mix for your plant. Anything labeled “houseplant” or “indoor plants” will work just fine.
These soils come mix with things like coco coir (a great peat moss alternative), perlite, bark, and other things. Some additives help with lightweight moisture retention, while others help to facilitate drainage. If soil is too dense, this will suffocate the roots.
What is an ideal temperature for heartleaf philodendron?
Heartleaf philodendrons are tropical plants that enjoy warm temperatures. As a houseplant, it is well-suited to a wide range of temperatures and can tolerate temperatures as low as 50 degrees Fahrenheit. However, it grows best at temperatures between 70 and 90 degrees Fahrenheit.
Keep in mind that heartleaf philodendron is sensitive to temperature changes, and sudden shifts in temperature can cause stress to the plant. To ensure that your plant is comfortable, try to keep the temperature in the room where it is growing relatively stable, and avoid placing it in areas where it may be exposed to extreme temperature fluctuations (drafty windows, exterior doors, etc).
These plants are not cold or frost hardy at all. Don’t keep them outside too far into the fall if you’ve chosen to give your plant a little holiday outside.
Should I mist my heartleaf philodendron?
In addition to temperature, it is also important to consider humidity when caring for heartleaf philodendron. This plant prefers high humidity, so if the air in your home is dry, you may need to mist the plant regularly or use a humidifier to increase the humidity around the plant.
I generally find heartleaf philodendron plants are totally fine in normal household humidity levels, though. They look fine. But when I take them outdoors for the humid Maryland summers, they absolutely explore with big healthy leaf growth. So play around with your environment to see what works for your plant!
How fast do heartleaf philodendron grow?
I find heartleaf philodendrons to be average growers. And the speed with which the plant grows depends on a lot of factors, including the size of the plant, the size of the pot, the type of soil, the amount of light, and the humidity and temperature of the environment.
In ideal care conditions, you can expect a heartleaf philodendron to grow several inches per year. In general, heartleaf grows slower in low-light conditions, and it may not produce as many new leaves or stems. It will also grow more slowly in cooler temperatures, or if it is not getting enough water or nutrients.
How do you make heartleaf philodendron grow faster?
Given this information, it stands to reason that you can make your heartleaf philodendron grow faster by having it in ideal care conditions. Plenty of bright, indirect light; a high-quality well-draining soil; a proper watering routine; temperatures in the 80s; and high humidity.
You can also consider giving your plant an all-purpose fertilizer designed for philodendrons or houseplants. I generally do not use fertilizer, but I did begin giving my plants a monthly watering with the plant food Liqui-Dirt. It’s chocked full of nutrients, super easy to add to your watering can, and goes a long way!
Do heartleaf philodendron plants trail or climb?
It can be grown as a trailing or climbing plant. The long, slender stems that can grow up to several feet long, and it produces aerial roots that it uses to anchor itself to vertical surfaces. In its native habitat, hederaceum is often found growing on trees or other vertical surfaces, where it uses its aerial roots to absorb nutrients from the surrounding air and water.
As a houseplant, heartleaf philodendron can be grown in a hanging basket, where it will trail down gracefully. You can also choose to add a trellis or moss pole, though you’ll need to slowly train it to grown up using twine or vinyl plant tape.
Keep in mind that, if you choose to grow this as a trailing plant, you may notice that the foliage begins to dramatically shrink in size once the plant reaches a certain length. Check out the plant below. See how the leaves decrease in size near the bottom? After this picture, I pruned this one to encourage healthier new growth.
How do you make a heartleaf philodendron bushy?
So now is a great tie to cover what you can do to make a heartleaf philodendron bushy. If you find that your plant is starting to get a bit leggy—or if you simply want to give it a trim—grab your scissors! In addition to a proper care routine, pruning plants is a fantastic way to encourage bushy new growth.
Cut your plant wherever you want. When you cut it, the new growth will sprout from the nearest growth point above the cut area. This new growth will grow a bit to the side. And with enough pruning, you will create a branching effect that will crease your plant’s fullness.
Also of note, if you have a leggy stem, can successfully root the plant at a node if it comes into contact with soil. This comes in handy when encouraging fullness. Take a stem from an existing plant with a few bare nodes—don’t cut it off.
Simply lay it over an area with soil to cover it. Gently bury the node areas and water. After 1–2 months, it should root. This will then produce fresh growth and put that bare stem to good use!
And of course, another way to encourage a bushier philodendron is by keeping it in conditions that help grow larger leaves. That means temperatures in the 80s; plenty of humidity; and plenty of bright, indirect light. Between this and pruning, you’ll have a full plant in no time. Check this one out:
Heartleaf philodendron propagation
Philodendron propagation is pretty easy but can differ depending on the plant type. Methods include rooting stem cuttings, air layering, and removing babies from a parent plant. To propagate by cuttings from a heartleaf philodendron, you can easily use the stem cutting approach.
Simply cut a stem with a few nodes on it and stick it down in to a small pot with fresh, well-draining soil. You can also root your cutting in water before transferring it to soil. I find that hederaceum is a fantastic candidate for water rooting and transfers very well to soil with minimal shock.
Heartleaf philodendron is relatively resistant to pests, but it can be vulnerable to infestations of certain insects. Here is a quick overview with some links to other posts I have.
- Aphids are small, pear-shaped insects can be found on the undersides of leaves and stems. They suck sap from the plant and can cause deformities or yellowing of the leaves.
- Mealybugs are white, cottony insects can be found on the leaves, stems, and roots of the plant. They secrete a sticky, sugary substance called honeydew, and their presence can cause stunted growth and yellowing of the leaves. Learn more about mealybugs.
- Spider mites are tiny, eight-legged insects that can be found on the undersides, tips, and petioles of leaves. They spin fine webs and feed on the plant’s sap. They can cause yellowing or bronzing of the leaves, and severe infestations can cause the leaves to fall off. Read more about spider mites.
- Thrips are small, slender insects are about the size of a grain of rice and can be found on the leaves and flowers of the plant, where they feed on the sap. They can cause scarring and distortion of the leaves and flowers. Read more about thrips here.
To prevent pest infestations, it is important to keep an eye on your plants and take steps to prevent pests from taking hold. I recommend regular inspections for pests, isolating new plants you bring into the home for a few weeks, and remove dead foliate from plants to keep things tidy.
How toxic is heartleaf philodendron?
According to Pet Poison Helpline, heartleaf philodendron has a toxicity risk. It contains insoluble calcium oxalate crystals. Chewing or biting this plant will release these crystals, causing tissue penetration and irritation the mouth and GI tract. The severity depends on the individual person or pet and the amount consumed.
As with most plants, it’s best to keep them away from your pets and kids that aren’t old enough to understand you shouldn’t eat them. Thankfully many philodendrons look beautiful hanging out of reach!