Heart-leaf Philodendron, Philodendron hederaceum, is a popular houseplant grown for its impressive heart-shaped leaves. It is also sometimes referred to as a sweetheart plant and also sometimes called Philodendron scandens.
What is Heart-leaf Philodendron?
Philodendron hederaceum is a well-known Philodendron species from the Araceae plant family. It is an evergreen climber that naturally grows in the Caribbean and Central America but it is also commonly grown as a houseplant in temperate climes.
This plant has long stems that can reach up to 13ft in length, and you can let it trail, or train it to climb a trellis or column.
One important thing to note before growing this plant in your home is that like other Philodendrons, it contains oxalate crystals that can cause digestive upset in people and pets. So bear this potential toxicity in mind when deciding whether or not this plant is the right option for your home.
This plant is similar in appearance but unrelated to another climber – Porhos, Epipremnum aureum. The leaves of this common houseplant are also roughly heart-shaped. But they are thicker, wider, and waxier than this Philodendron and the tops of the leaves do not curve inwards as much. If the plant has yellow leaves or variegation, it is more likely to be Pothos rather than a heart-leaf Philodendron.
Where to Grow Heart-leaf Philodendron
You will not be able to grow heart-leaf philodendron outside unless you live in USDA zones 9-10 or above. But these plants are quite easy to grow indoors, regardless of the outside climate. To grow them successfully, however, you will need to know the growing conditions that they require.
Like most other Philodendrons, heart-leaf Philodendrons need bright but indirect light. You need to place these plants somewhere they are in bright conditions, but where they will not get scorched by bright, direct, and intense sunlight.
Temperature & Humidity Requirements
Like other tropical houseplants, heart-leaf philodendrons need warm and humid conditions to thrive. However, these plants are more tolerant than most to low humidity levels, and yet less tolerant than some of extreme heat. So these are things to bear in mind when choosing where to place one.
Ideally, the temperatures for these plants should be kept between 18 and 24 degrees Celsius, and should not drop below around 15 degrees Celsius at any time.
The humidity should ideally be kept above 40% where possible.
Soil/ Growing Medium
To grow these philodendrons you can choose any potting mix as long as it is moist yet free-draining.
You can purchase a potting mix (which should be peat-free for environmental reasons) or you can make your own. The key is always to make sure that the mix is fertile, aerated, and reasonably free-draining when growing these plants.
Planting Heart-leaf Philodendron
Plant your heart-leaf Philodendron into a container that is just a little larger than the current root system, accommodating the roots with no more than 1-2 inches of space around each side.
Remember that there are many different container options that you might choose and it is a good idea to reuse and upcycle where possible to make your houseplant gardening as sustainable and eco-friendly as possible.
Caring for Heart-leaf Philodendron
Heart-leaf Philodendron does not require a lot of care and generally speaking, it is a plant that can tolerate some mistakes. However, it is important to make sure that you get it right when it comes to watering. And there are a few other simple care requirements to consider.
Let the soil dry out to the touch before watering this Philodendron, then water well, giving it a good drench but taking care not to overwater and making sure that excess water can drain away freely. Your aim should be to create just moist but not waterlogged conditions.
It is best to use tepid water and not very cold water to water this tropical plant, since very cold water can shock the roots. Try to water from below, aiming for the growing medium and trying not to splash water on the leaves.
Feeding is not typically required as long as you use a moderately fertile growing medium.
But you can if you wish, and if the growth seems poor or you suspect a nutrient deficiency, use an organic liquid plant feed once a month or so through the growing season in spring and summer. But make sure this feed is not too strong, and do not feed at all through the winter months.
Most of the time the only pruning required for these Philodendrons is to remove any dead or damaged foliage from the plants so that they can focus on producing healthy new growth.
As you prune, you may also wish to take cuttings in spring or early summer. These cuttings are one of the easiest methods of propagation and will allow you to obtain new plants from an existing one.
These plants can succumb to several problems, despite being quite easy to grow on the whole.
Many of the issues arise because the right environmental conditions and care have not been provided. For example, if the plant is watered too much, or waterlogged conditions have arisen, if it has not got enough light, or has had too much direct sun exposure.
These Philodendrons also encounter problems that many houseplants can get – with common pests like aphids, scale insects, mealybugs, and spider mites, for example.
Heart-leaf Philodendrons should typically be repotted every 2-3 years. Move the plant each time you repot to a slightly larger container, but do not be tempted to choose one that is excessively large.
If you repot it into a new growing medium every 2-3 years then you can potentially keep your heart-leaf Philodendron alive for decades and enjoy it for a very long time inside your home.