An Arrowhead Plant, also called a Syngonium or Nepthytis, is an excellent, easy to care for plant that originated in the rain forests of Central and South America. In nature, it is a woody, vining plant that can grow 30-40 ft (9-12 meters) long as it clings to the trunks of trees, climbing up to the sky as it reaches for the light. Syngonium podophyllum is the most popular variety grown as a houseplant and is in the Araceae family. Other popular houseplants in the Araceae family are the anthurium, caladium, calla lily, dieffenbachia, and pothos. All plants in this family are poisonous to small children and toxic to dogs, cats, and other pets.
Arrowhead Plant Varieties
Originally grown as a plant with solid green leaves, today there are multiple varieties and hybrids of arrowhead plants with leaves in many different colors. How much light each variety requires in order to grow well depends upon the color of its leaves. An arrowhead plant with solid, dark green leaves needs less light than a White Butterfly variety that has white and green leaves .
“White Butterfly” has predominantly white leaves with green accents
“Pink Allusion” comes in various mixtures of pink and bright green
“Strawberry Cream” has pale pink and green leaves
“Emerald Gem” has dark green and white patterned leaves
“Pink Spot” has white leaves with splashes on pink
No matter what type you select, the leaves of an Arrowhead plant always have a spade-like shape that resembles an “arrowhead”. The young, immature plant is short and bushy. However, as the plant matures and is not aggressively pruned, it produces long draping stems just as it does in nature. You can put the plant in a hanging basket or tie it to a trellis. If you want your arrowhead plant to be a large, full floor plant, cut back the long vines and keep pinching off the growing tips at the ends the stems. You can use the stem cuttings to propagate new plants.
Quick Care Tips for an Arrowhead Plant
Keep the plant in a warm area above 60°
Medium to bright indirect light
Keep the soil barely moist and drier in the winter
Propagate in the spring using stem cuttings
Is an Arrowhead Plant Poisonous
An arrowhead plant is very toxic to dogs, cats, birds, and small children. Please keep this plant out of reach! Read more about common houseplants that can be dangerous in my book Don’t Feed Me to Your Cat: A Guide to Poisonous Houseplants.
Solid Green Strawberry Cream Emerald Gem Pink Allusion White Butterfly
How much light does an arrowhead plant need: The leaf color of the plant determines how much light an arrowhead plant requires. Varieties with solid green leaves can grow in low to medium light. New arrowhead hybrids with white, pink, burgundy, and lime green in their leaves require medium to bright, indirect light.
How to water an arrowhead plant: Water well, and then allow the top 50% of the soil to dry out before watering again. Leaves may droop when the soil is dry, but the plant quickly perks up when watered. I like to water an arrowhead plant from the bottom to prevent over watering that can cause root rot.
How much fertilizer does an arrowhead plant need: Fertilize every two weeks in the spring and summer with a balanced plant food diluted to 1/2 the recommended strength. Feed an arrowhead plant monthly in the fall and winter.
Best temperature for an arrowhead plant: These plants grow well when the temperature is 60°-70°F (15.5°-21.1°C). Avoid placing an arrowhead plant near heating vents, air conditioners, cold drafts, and fireplaces.
Does an arrowhead plant need high humidity: Although a location having high humidity, an arrowhead plant still grows well in basic household humidity.
Arrowhead plant pests: Scale and mealy bugs can be a problem, but it is spider mites that do the most damage. Spider mites suck the color out of the leaves and ruin the appearance of an arrowhead plant. Spray often with the “Green Solution” (recipe on how to make this inexpensive, non-toxic spray is in the Glossary of the website). See pictures of plant pests and learn how to treat them in the Glossary of the website.
Arrowhead plant diseases: Bacterial root rot due to over-watering and bacterial leaf spot disease that causes brown spots trimmed in yellow on the leaves are the main plant diseases affecting an arrowhead plant. Learn how to identify and treat leaf spot disease in the Glossary of the website.
What is the right soil for an arrowhead plant: The best soil to use is a rich, organic mix that drains quickly. I find that a soil made for African Violet plants is a good choice.
When to repot an arrowhead plant: Wait until the roots of the plant have filled the existing pot before moving it to the next size container and nothing larger. There must be drip holes in the bottom of the pot so that excess water can escape. Never allow an arrowhead plant to sit in the excess water.
How to prune and arrowhead plant: Aggressively prune the stem tips and long vines to keep the plant full and bushy. If you want to hang the plant, allow a few of the stems to keep growing. Since an arrowhead plant is a very poisonous, wear gloves and a long sleeve shirt when pruning the plant.
How to propagate an arrowhead plant: Use stem cuttings and plant division for propagation. You can read more about how to propagate plants using cuttings dividing the root ball in the Glossary of the website.
Poisonous Plant Info
Is an arrowhead plant poisonous: This plant has a #2 toxicity level which means it is very toxic to dogs, cats, and small children. All parts of the plant contain calcium oxalates which, if ingested, cause swelling of the lips, mouth, tongue, and airways. This swelling makes breathing very difficult.
Prune an arrowhead plant by cutting the long vines of the plant to within 6-8 inches of the soil line. Shortening the long vines helps the plant become full and bushy. You should also pinch off the growing tips a few times a year.
The new leaves on your arrowhead plant are green because it’s not getting enough light. Green and white arrowhead plants, or nepthytis as they are sometimes called, need more light than solid green arrowhead plants.
There are a few reasons why the edges on the leaves of an arrowhead plant turn brown. Too much plant food: over-fertilizing a houseplant cause salts to build up in the soil and these salts cause leaf burn. Too much salt or chemicals in the water you’re using. Never use water that has passed through a water softener. Insufficient humidity around the plant is another cause of brown leaves. Try using distilled water and see if that helps with the brown leaf edges. To increase humidity around the plant, group plants together, place the plant on a wet pebble tray, or put a small humidifier in the room.
Your Aarowhead plant has a plant pest called spider mites. Spray all parts of the plant with the “ green solution,” Make a solution using 8oz. water & 8oz. alcohol, add two tablespoons of biodegradable soap and two tablespoons of mineral oil. Spray all areas of the plant. Use this solution on leathery leafed plants (except palms), never on fuzzy leafed plants like African aiolets or begonias. For palms, omit the alcohol from the green solution. Never spray a plant that’s sitting in the sun or one with very dry soil
It’s normal for a few older leaves on an arrowhead plant to turn yellow. If you are getting a lot of yellow leaves, check how wet you are keeping the soil. Be sure to allow the top 50% or so to dry out and the leaves get a little soft and droopy before watering.