Heartleaf Philodendron Care – Growing The Sweetheart Plant

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 NamePhilodendron bipinnatifidum
FamilyAraceae
OriginSouth america
HeightUp to 20 feet
LightBright shade
WaterMedium
Temperature70-75°F
HumidityHigh
SoilMoist soils with high organic matter
FertilizerMonthly in spring & summer, less in the winter.
PropagationStem cuttings with at least two joints.
PestsAphids, 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.

Light

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.

Water

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!”

Soil

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.

Fertilizer

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.​

Propagation

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.

Problems

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.

FAQs​

Sweetheart Plant

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!

The heartleaf philodendron is one of the most popular philodendrons. It's easy to care for and brightens up your home, so learn how to grow it in this guide.
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  • Dina Learned

    I would appreciate an answer to this question. My hysband seems to think that you water a philodendrom plant from the bottom. The leaves have started to turn yellow. Is is not proper to only water from the top when the soil is dry? This is a 10 year old heart shaped plant, with a long vine. Please help with this ongoing dispute. I don’t want the plant to die. Thank you very much.

  • Travis

    How long can these Heartleaf Philodendron vines grow in length?

  • Mrs.Slone

    @ Travis They can get as long as you let them but you can keep trimming them back and if you want more then take the clippings that you have trimmed from it and place it in a pot and it will take root giving you another one of several.

  • PlantLady

    Dina – I have had these plants for as long as I can remember, because they are usually so easy to grow and are so pretty, they’ve always been one of my favorites. Since I have always kept them in the house in hanging baskets and because they get too long and heavy to take down to water in a sink or tub, I have never used a pot that you can water them from the bottom. I have always watered mine from the top and they’ve done great.

    Yellow leaves can be caused by several different things and you pretty much have to rule out the problem to stop it. Here’s a list of causes I found, hope it helps.

    • Too much water or poor drainage: Feel soil for excessive moisture. Gently remove the plant from its container and examine the roots. Mushy brown roots without white tips and/or soggy soil in the bottom of the pot indicate too much water or poor drainage. Unclog drainage holes. Do not water again until soil is almost dry.

    • Lack of light: Check growth for leaves that are smaller than normal. Stems may elongate and grow spindly and weak. Gradually move plant to brighter light.

    • Root bound: Check to see if roots are growing out through drainage holes in the bottom of the pot. Gently remove the plant from the container. If roots are growing in a circle, gently tease the roots outward and repot in the next size larger container (for example, if currently in a 6-inch pot, move to an 8-inch pot). Suddenly repotting the houseplant into too large a pot will cause severe stress, which could lead to the plant’s death.

    • High temperature: If only outer leaves are yellowing, check for drafts from heating and air-conditioning vents. Move plant to a draft-free location.

    • Nitrogen deficiency: Oldest leaves turn yellow and may drop. Yellowing starts at the leaf margins and progresses inward without producing a distinct pattern. Growth is slow, new leaves are small, and the whole plant may appear stunted. Fertilize plant with soluble fertilizer that is rich in the first number on the label (for example, 23-19-19). Continue to fertilize at regular intervals according to the label.

  • PlantLady

    Kenneth – I have seen these plants in a pot as small as one or two gallons in offices that have vines reaching all the way around a wall and more. I remember one plant that was in the corner in a fairly small pot that had vines going around the top of wall. The vines came from the left and right sides of the plant and were supported by nails at the top of the wall. They had reached the length of both walls beside the plant and had already started growing on the other walls.

    When the length on these vines says “limitless” it’s not an exaggeration! With proper care, temp, water and light, these vines can reach enormous lengths. If you don’t want your plant to get that long you’ve got 2 choices…………

    If the plant is in a hanging basket you can cut the vines and make more plants. I usually take cuttings from 6 to 10 inches long and simply place them in water. You can even cut the vine and put it in soil. I have had better luck rotting them in water, the roots seem to grow much faster that way. I have even placed sections of vine that had no leaves at all on them in water and before you know it, there are roots and new leaves. Just make sure that you cut the vine right at a leaf node, the roots won’t grow on the stem itself they sprout from the little nodule where the leaf grows.

    The other option is to place the plant in a large pot and add a support and let the vine grow around it. Just like the picture above. When you buy one like the plant in the picture, it will have a slice of some sort of tree bark in the middle. But, you could use almost anything.

  • Christina

    My boyfriend’s mom gave me a few clippings of her heart leaf plant… I’ve had the stems in water for about 2 days now. How long will it take for then to start sprouting roots so that I can plant them?

  • At least two of the photos on this page are of Epipremnum Aurem/Golden Pothos/Devil’s Ivy (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Epipremnum_aureum) and not Heartleaf Philodendron.

    • doulamom

      dead link. needs correcting