Arrowhead plant care & info | Syngonium podophyllum

Syngonium podophyllum, also known as the arrowhead plant or Nephthytis, is a creeping plant related to Philodendron. It’s much appreciated for its easy care and large leaves that can vary from bright green to a lovely blotchy mix.

This plant is pretty easy to grow in your own home. Keep reading for everything you need to know about arrowhead plant care!

Name(s) (common, scientific) Arrowhead plant, arrowhead vine, nephthytis, goosefoot, African evergreen, American evergreen, Syngonium podophyllum
Difficulty level Easy
Recommended lighting Indirect/medium
Water When lightly dry
Soil type Aroid soil

Arrowhead plant care care

Naturally found in Latin America, Syngonium is a creeping epiphyte. The plant is known for growing in a bushy fashion at first and then starting to send out longer runners. It’s mostly appreciated for its lush foliage, though it can also grow white flowers if you’re lucky.

As it naturally grows on trees, this species will appreciate being allowed to creep up a moss pole or totem. It hasn’t evolved to be able to withstand a lot of direct light, as the higher tree canopies would block out most of the sun’s rays in the wild.

Did you know? There is an impressive range of arrowhead plant cultivars out there. Syngonium podophyllum has been selectively cultivated for all sorts of variegation types, leaf shapes and even color. Take the green and pink splashed ‘Confetti’, the pale pink ‘Infra-Red’ or the splotched ‘Mojito’.

Source: Google Patents.
Syngonium podophyllum houseplant leaves against white wall | Full arrowhead plant care guide.

Arrowhead plant care: Location & temperature

Location

Because it’s naturally shaded by taller trees and other foliage, the arrowhead plant doesn’t require direct sunlight.

In fact, you can keep your Syngonium in relatively low light conditions unless you have a lighter colored cultivar. These may revert back to a darker color, so if you want to maintain the creamy white foliage be sure to place your plant in a spot with plenty of indirect sunlight.

Temperature

Temperature-wise, Syngonium is a real houseplant. It’s naturally found in tropical jungle areas and doesn’t appreciate temperatures dropping below 15 °C/59 °F. As such, although it can be kept outdoors in some regions, it’ll usually do best inside your house.

A stable temperature is appreciated. As such, keep your Syngonium podophyllum away from heaters, A/C units and drafty windows!

Did you know? The arrowhead plant is sometimes still referred to as Nephthytis, even though that’s an entirely different, African genus of plants. The confusion stems from naming issues when the plants were discovered.

Pink arrowhead plant (Syngonium podophyllum 'Neon Robusta')
Syngonium podophyllum ‘Neon Robusta’, a pink cultivar.

Arrowhead plant care: Planting

Syngonium is not a complicated plant potting-wise. Just be sure to keep in mind that although it loves humidity, constantly wet soil can lead to root rot. Good drainage is quite important.

  • Because the arrowhead plant is an aroid, it’ll appreciate a light soil mixture that retains moisture but also lets excess water escape easily to prevent rot. Try mixing equal parts potting soil, sphagnum moss and fine orchid bark for a happy arrowhead plant.
  • Be sure to use a well-draining planter, such as a normal clay pot with a drainage hole. Because Syngonium is naturally a creeping plant that can form rather long vines, a hanging plant basket is also a great option.
  • If you don’t want to use a hanging basket, a plant totem may be a good solution to keep the plant from growing all over the place.
  • Syngonium can be repotted every two years or so. Be careful while handling this plant as it’s toxic and can cause skin irritation. Always wear gloves!
Close-up of Syngonium podophyllum, a popular houseplant also known as arrowhead plant.

Arrowhead plant care: watering

A proper watering schedule is a very important part of arrowhead plant care. These tropicals love moisture, so proper watering and humidity are key.

  • Syngonium loves receiving plenty of water but doesn’t appreciate constantly wet soil. Keep it lightly moist during the summer months and let it dry out a good bit more during winter when it’s not actively growing.
  • Syngonium won’t suffer too much if humidity is low, but it does prefer a bit of extra moisture in the air especially if humidity is particularly low in your home.
  • Using a humidifier can help keep this plant happy if it appears to be struggling with overly dry air.

Propagating arrowhead plant

If you’d like to multiply your Syngonium, you’re in luck. Propagating arrowhead plant is super easy! As these are vining plants, you can easily take stem cuttings, especially from mature specimens.

To take an arrowhead plant cutting, just use a clean knife or shears to cut as many stem cuttings as you’d like. Just make sure they have a few nodes and ideally some leaves each. You can then pop these in a vase of water or pot them up directly in the same soil type you used for the mother plant.

If you’re repotting your arrowhead plant anyway, you can also opt for division. If you take the plant out of the soil, you’ll often find that in reality there are multiple. This especially applies to older plants that might have produced offsets. You can separate these from the mother pant and pot them up separately. Because they already have an established root system, they should usually continue growing just fine.

Tip: Looking for more detailed info? Have a look at the full guide to arrowhead plant propagation.

Syngonium podophyllum, a popular houseplant also known as arrowhead plant.

Arrowhead plant care: fertilizer

As with all houseplants, only feed your Syngonium while it’s actively growing during the summer months. Every other week or every month is a good place to start.

A regular balanced fertilizer diluted to half strength should work well, or you can add some worm castings while repotting your plant.

Tip: If you’re not seeing new growth, don’t overfeed to compensate! This can damage the roots and impede growth even more.

Buying Syngonium

As mentioned earlier, there are many different types of Syngonium podophyllum cultivars available today, such as the marbled “White Butterfly”, the more compact “Pixie” and a bunch of different foliage colors.

You should be able to find the more common varieties in most garden/plant stores. You can also buy Syngonium online!

Arrowhead plant in the aquarium

An interesting note for aquarists that may have ended up on this page looking for information on how to care for this new plant is that Syngonium is also sometimes sold as an aquarium plant.

Unfortunately, as the rest of this care guide will have made clear, it’s not an aquatic plant and will quickly start to rot underwater.

Don’t despair, though: you can still grow this plant at the top of your tank with just its roots submerged. It will really appreciate the nutrients present in the aquarium water.

Is Syngonium podophyllum toxic to cats and dogs?

The ASPCA lists Syngonium podophyllum as toxic to both cats and dogs, so keep it out of their reach! It causes irritation in the mouth. You might want to consider going for a pet safe plant instead.

Additionally, the plant is also toxic to you, so handle it with care to prevent a nasty burning sensation caused by calcium oxalate crystals in the foliage.


If you have any more questions about arrowhead plant care or want to share your own experiences with this beautiful creeping houseplant, don’t hesitate to leave a comment below.


11 thoughts on “Arrowhead plant care & info | Syngonium podophyllum”

  1. I have a syngonium that was put in a self watering pot. Struggled before this and became leggy. Used wood chop sticks to prop up. Around September of last year, it started really putting out large leaves. I noticed that a root escaped and was growing towards the reservoir. Growing like crazy and has had two babies come up.

    Reply
  2. I wish that more plant enthusiasts had aquariums with plants emersed at the top, so they could better understand why saturation with water harms a plant in one situation while not being an issue with the exact same plant in another. I have syngoniums rooted in containers hanging down into the aquarium which are filled with topsoil to around 2 inches from the tops. The containers are filled the rest of the way with pool filter sand which is covered with a thin layer of black gravel to make the surface look more dirt-like. The top surface of these containers are about an inch below the waterline. These may not be aquatic plants, but often in nature they can grow as marginals just like pothos or taro. If I were growing them in pots indoors however, I’d go heavy on the orchid bark to give very good drainage and aeration. Tbh, I’m not sure myself as to what is going on in these situations. Perhaps it’s simply the difference between a bog vs a submerged shoreline, such that the continual movement of oxygenated water at the shore prevents the surface of the sediment from going completely anoxic? Perhaps its mold and mildew which can form in a pot that’s not able to grow in an established aquatic environment, or a difference in the concentration of various toxins? I know if you have a dirted aquarium tank with an inch of soil at the very bottom capped off with a couple inches of sand, you’re not supposed to bury roots from new plants all the way down to the soil; they need to grow out from the sand into the soil on their own, otherwise they burn up because the soil is too rich for roots that aren’t used to it. I wonder how well a plant would do in a tall pot filled half way up with river soil and the rest of the way with orchid bark (or even volcanic rock or some other type of very large horticultural aggregate) and no drainage holes, and kept so that the river soil is permanently saturated? Sorry for all the rambling…

    Reply
    • Hi!

      I just love growing houseplants in my aquariums, they just do so well and they help keep the water quality up. And yes, I have read that it’s both the fresh water and the lack of mold that helps them survive in this situation, although I actually tend to go bare root with the ones I grow in my tanks. As for growing a plant in river soil/bark, I’m not sure, but in that situation again I wouldn’t even add the river soil I think. I’d just go for leca and grow the plant (semi-)hydroponically.

      Growing in water is such a lifehack to be honest, I have way less problems with plants grown this way.

      Reply
  3. What causes the ears of a Syngonium to turn brown? I don’t believe it is pests. It was recently repotted and cut back. It was a very old established plant that had become leggy. It has taken some time for it to bounce back, it has new growth, but brown ears on lots of leaves.

    Reply
    • If it happened all of a sudden after always having been normal then I can’t imagine it being anything else than the changes you made. Does the new foliage also have brown? Might there be a lot of fertilizer in the soil maybe?

      It’s pretty difficult to figure this stuff out without seeing a plant but if it’s putting out new growth I would personally just wait and see, though that might be because I’m pretty hands off with my plants!

      I hope it pulls through.

      Reply
  4. I have a plant that looks very similar to this but I don’t have any lind of reaction when handling it so I’m assuming it may be a different kind of plant. Are there plants that look like this but aren’t toxic?

    Reply
    • Hi!

      Caladium looks similar but it features the same toxin. However, you don’t absolutely necessarily always get a reaction, especially if you’re careful and don’t actually break any stems or leaves.

      If you do want a more definite ID you can always post a pic or two in the HPCentral Facebook group. 🙂

      Reply
      • I like the name you used, haha! And hey, if it works for you, it works for you. I’ve had two Syngoniums that died from lack of drainage myself – they were already rotting at the roots when I got them from the nursery and I didn’t realize. So I’m jealous!

        Reply

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