All About Philodendron Heartleaf Care: How to Achieve a Magnificent Vine!
Posted on May 21 2021
The Sweetheart Vine, Philodendron Heartleaf, or Philodendron hederaceum (aka Philodendron scandens)... whatever you choose to call it, this plant is easy and captivating. Fast new, copper-colored growth quickly matures into lush green foliage. With the proper tender love and care, your Philodendron Heartleaf can reach a whopping 10 feet. How can you achieve a bushy, long vine?
Let’s Talk Origins
The Philodendron Heartleaf is from tropical South America, where it climbs up rainforest trees. In fact, these plants are epiphytes, which means they grow on things rather than in soil. Why does that fact matter? Philodendron Heartleaf plants hate soggy roots, so you’ll have to make adjustments to your soil selection and watering frequency to care for it properly.
Basic Care for your Philodendron Heartleaf
These plants are great for beginners or anyone wanting a low-maintenance houseplant. What’s the most important tip? The less you care for your Philodendron Heartleaf, the better off it will be. Seriously, don’t over-love it.
What About Water?
Overwatering is the #1 reason houseplants die. The best tip? Back off the watering can—water your plant when half or more of the soil is dry. If your plant’s pot is still heavy, the topsoil (or first inch or two of dirt) is damp or cool, don’t water.
You should not water your Philodendron Heartleaf on a set schedule. Instead, water it when it exhibits the proper signs. Realistically, this could take one to three weeks, depending on your home environment.
What are the dangers of overwatering? The most disappointing: Your Philodendron Heartleaf will not grow into a magnificent vine. Your plant’s new leaves will be smaller, the stems will be “leggy” (longer stem sections between leaves), and overall growth will be slow. An added negative? Overwatered plants are an open invitation for fungus gnats. While these don’t pose a threat to your plant’s well-being, they do pose a threat to your sanity!
Selecting Suitable Soil
For the best results, add some extra drainage to your Philodendron Heartleaf’s soil by mixing in extra perlite with a traditional potting soil blend. If you are a “chronic plant killer,” this step is definitely for you. Additional drainage ensures that your plant’s soil dries out more frequently, (hopefully) eliminating the threat of overwatering.
“Let there Be Light!”
Philodendron Heartleaf plants can survive in a variety of light levels. The question is, though, what is required to give you that magnificent vine? Medium to bright indirect light will encourage the healthiest, bushiest, and quickest growth.
Does this mean that the Philodendron Heartleaf isn’t suitable for that shady corner of your living room? Yes and no. It depends on what you want to get out of the relationship. Philodendron Heartleaf plants that receive low light will grow extremely slowly. New leaves will be small and darker, and new stems will be leggy. The verdict? If you’re happy with your Philodendron Heartleaf “as-is” and don’t want it to grow larger, it will survive in low-light. Something to remember? Don’t overwater. Plants kept in darker locations require less frequent watering.
How can you tell if your Philodendron Heartleaf is getting too much light? Leaves will turn light green and may have brown patches of sunburn. Don’t expose your plant to the direct sun. Remember, this is an under-canopy plant; it’s used to being shielded from harsh rays by over-canopy trees.
Stop Repotting (Well, for a While Anyway)
Truth be told, we love repotting plants, but our plants aren’t so sure. Philodendron Heartleaf plants will grow larger leaves and have a bushier appearance if they are slightly rootbound. These plants only require repotting every 2-3 years in a 1-2 inch larger container.
Feed Your Phil
Care for your Philodendron Heartleaf’s fertilization needs every 3-4 weeks with a liquid-soluble fertilizer according to the package’s directions. This will boost your plant’s growth and keep nutrients in the soil!
If you’re caring for your Philodendron Heartleaf properly, it will be big enough to propagate in no time! As the saying goes, “there’s more than one way to skin a cat” (sorry, kitties!), and there is certainly more than one way to propagate your Philodendron.
Start by selecting a long vine that you would like to shorten. Your plant’s “nodes” are the most essential part of this process, so take time to identify them. (Locate them on the main stem near the leaf.)
- Snip the main stem with clean scissors before and after the leaf. This will make a tiny, plant-able segment. If you have a long vine, continue cutting these 1-node segments until it’s reached your desired length.
- Fill a small pot with well-draining soil.
- Water the soil thoroughly.
- Poke each segment into the soil, ensuring that the node is fully covered.
- Maintain moisture (aka water frequently) so that the node will develop roots. After the plant is established (3-4 weeks), water your plant normally.
Are you wondering: “Can I place my cuttings directly into the soil of my ‘mama plant?’” The answer: You could, but it’s risky. Un-rooted cuttings placed in the soil need heightened moisture levels, which can lead to one of two things: (1) You overwater your mama plant while trying to cater to the cutting’s needs, or (2) Your cuttings slowly shrivel and die because they aren’t receiving enough moisture. Your best bet? Plant rooted water-propagated cuttings into your parent plant.
- Snip a long segment of the stem that has 3-4 leaves after the node.
- Remove 1-2 leaves at the end of the stem.
- Place your cutting in a glass of water for a month.
- It’s safe to plant your cutting when the roots have reached 1-2 inches long.
- Remember to plant new cuttings in pre-moistened, well-draining soil.
Bushy Philodendron Heartleaf Hack: The Swirl
Let’s face it: To get a genuinely bushy, magnificent vine, you have to be willing to care for your Philodendron Heartleaf properly and propagate it. The downside? Propagation takes time. Looking for instant satisfaction? Keep reading!
- Identify the longest vines of your Philodendron Heartleaf. (Especially those unsightly, leggy ones!)
- Get some paper clips.
- Bend several paper clips into a “U” shape.
- Secure your plant’s stem into the soil by “swirling” the stem around the inside of the pot. Place your ‘paper clip fastener’ on each node to secure it to the dirt.
- Continue this process until your vines reach your desired length.
The benefits: The base of your plant becomes fuller. If the moisture is right, there’s also a chance that the nodes will root.
Whether you go a long way or try to fast-track it to bushy glory, the Philodendron Heartleaf is an easy-care, satisfying houseplant. Happy growing!