We gardeners are a very romantic group. You'll find this quite evident when you examine certain plant names, like the philodendron for example.
Its name literally means “love tree” in Greek. And that goes double for the most common variety of that group, the heartleaf philodendron or sweetheart plant. I sometimes imagine my own heart to be shaped like a large, glossy-green leaf like those of the heartleaf. I'll be getting that checked by a doctor soon.
If you give this plant proper care and attention, you can train this vigorous vine to climb or hang picturesquely in your home, like Rapunzel letting down her hair for her prince. Read on and be prepared to fall in love with it forever.
Heartleaf Philodendron Overview
|Common Name(s)||Heartleaf philodendron|
|Scientific Name||Philodendron bipinnatifidum|
|Height||Up to 20 feet|
|Soil||Moist soils with high organic matter|
|Fertilizer||Monthly in spring & summer, less in the winter.|
|Propagation||Stem cuttings with at least two joints.|
|Pests||Aphids, mealybugs, scales and spider mites.|
There are approximately 489 species of philodendron accepted by the World Checklist of Selected Plant Families. Native to the Caribbean (how romantic is that!) and Central America, this plant is so addicted to warmth that most of those 489 species must be grown as houseplants.
While the heartleaf may long for your close proximity to keep it growing well, make sure you keep it out of reach of your small children and pets. While it can hardly be used as a Romeo and Juliet-style exit, the leaves do contain calcium oxalate which can cause issues like inflammation and itching.
If ingested, it has been known to cause slurring, nausea, and vomiting (just how I felt the first time I fell in love, now that I think about it.) To be on the safe side, seek immediate medical attention if anyone tries to eat it.
Heartleaf Philodendron Care
Would that all romantic relationships were as easy to care for as this philodendron. All it needs is a little light, a little water, and a little love and it will grow and thrive as it basks in your affection. Here are the specifics for this particular vine.
While the heartleaf prefers indirect sunlight, it will do just dandy in almost any lighting condition. Even areas of low light can be fine, though the leaves will spread more and the colors won't be as vibrant or glossy.
Hailing from the Caribbean as this plant does, it likes moist environments best. In the summertime, keep the soil moist but not soggy. In the wintertime, allow the top half-inch of soil to dry between waterings. You can spritz the leaves with water and wipe them down with a cloth to remove dust.
This plant won't make you guess if you're watering correctly, nor will it act melodramatically if you aren't. Yellow leaves mean you're showering too much liquid attention, brown leaves say, “Give me more!”
Any quality potting soil will do as long as it is well-draining. You can also mix Perlite, sterilized garden loam, or coarse sand with half the amount of peat moss for your own soil.
No fancy restaurants needed to court this beauty as it has very simple, easy-to-please tastes. A standard houseplant fertilizer of good quality will work. Just follow the directions of the type you choose and leave off the feedings during fall and winter.
Repotting and Pruning
If your darling is outgrowing its pot, it may be time to move to a slightly larger one (no more than two inches larger than the original.) You might need an extra pair of hands if your heartleaf has been growing long, trailing vines or crawling up the wall!
Make sure to water it thoroughly the day before you mean to repot it. This reduces stress and makes the transition easier. Though this philodendron usually doesn't require much pruning, now is a good time to prune any stunted growths, trim to desired lengths, and check the root ball for rot. Gently work the roots apart to stimulate new growth.
After transferring to the new residence, saturate the soil until the water freely exits the bottom of the pot. I hope you remember to use well-draining soil so it doesn't compact too much with each watering.
You can propagate the heartleaf two ways. Cutting a vine below a leaf nodule and placing the stem in water is one method. When roots appear, you can then move it to soil.
Another method is by dividing the root clump. Check that each section has good, healthy roots before planting to increase chance of survival.
One of the nicest things about this plant is that there are very few problems associated with it. The color of the leaves will tell you what to change about your watering habits. The well-draining soil will prevent root rot and mold, and adequate home conditions will keep aphids, mealy bugs, scale, and spider mites at bay.
Q. I've never seen my heartleaf bloom at all. Do they ever?
A. This particular philodendron does not generally boast blooms. A bit of a pity for the romantics whose hearts swell at the sight of flowers, but a little extra humidity can make up for it in larger, glossier leaves.
Q. The leaves of my plant are looking curled. Should I be worried?
A. This could be another indication of watering issues, possibly under-watering. Check the soil with your finger and see how dry it is and adjust accordingly. Also check the roots for rot.
Q. Are there any special benefits to having this type of philodendron in the house?
A. Nothing better than a plant with benefits, eh? As a matter of fact, this plant is listed as a clean air plant, for it removes formaldehyde from the air in your home. So you can do plenty of sighing with happiness around you heartleaf.
Such an easy-going plant as the heartleaf philodendron will have your heart thumping with love and joy. And the short care list will leave you plenty of time to read that romance novel you've been saving, or indulging in your secret bachelor TV show obsession. Just don't spoil the latest episode for me, okay?
Please stop by the comments section and leave a little love note about your own heartleaf or any questions you may have. Spread the love and share this article with your fellow lovers of all things green and leafy. And as always, thanks for reading!