One of the most popular philodendron varieties being sold today is the Heartleaf Philodendron or Sweetheart Philodendron (Philodendron hederaceum var. oxycardium). It is also known as Philodendron scandens and Philodendron cordatum. This adaptable plant requires very little attention and produces long stems covered in lovely, heart- shaped leaves. The Heartleaf Philodendron was originally found growing upwards, towards the light, on the the tall trees in the tropical forests of the Caribbean and Central America (Mexico, Brazil, and the West Indies). There are two basic groups of philodendron plants, the climbers, and the non-climbers. A Heartleaf Philodendron is the smallest plant in the climbing group, and one of the easiest to care for.
Heartleaf Philodendron Description
There is often confusion between a heartleaf philodendron and its close cousin the pothos plant. Both plants have heart shaped leaves, but the leaves on a pothos are thicker, and waxy. The leaves on a heartleaf philodendron are thinner and softer.The leaves of a heartleaf philodendron come in several sizes, colors, and patterns; but the most common variety has dark green, shiny, heart-shaped leaves with pointy tips. The leaf size is about 2”-4” (5cm-10cm). When the leaves first emerge, they appear bronze in color but quickly turn green. A heartleaf philodendron produces long, vining stems that easily grow 4ft (1.2m) or more. Pinching back the growing tips at the ends of the stems helps the plant become bushy and full rather than long and leggy. A heartleaf philodendron looks beautiful as a table plant, hanging in a basket, or trained to grow on a trellis or pole. An added plus is that NASA lists a heartleaf philodendron as one of the best plants for removing formaldehyde, which is found in certain paints, wooden flooring, insulation, and carpet glue, from the air.
Heartleaf Philodendron Varieties
Brazil: Heart shaped leaves with a yellow streak down the center of the leaf
Neon: Bright yellowish/green heart shaped leaves, similar in appearance to the philodendron “lemon-lime”
Silver Leaf: Heart shaped, olive green leaves with patches of white and silver
Micans: Heart shaped velvety leaves with bronze overtones
Silver Stripe: Similar to the Brazil variety but with a creamy, silvery stripe down the middle of the leaf
P.”Brazil” P. “Lemon Lime” P. Neon P. Micans
Quick Care Tips for a Heartleaf Philodendron
Medium to bright indirect light, but no direct sun
Heartleaf philodendron gets yellow leaves when over watered and brown leaves when under watered
Fertilize every month in spring and summer when plant is actively growing
Warm temperatures above 55°F (13°C)
Prune often to keep the plant bushy and full
Easily propagated using stem tip cuttings
There are over 200 different varieties of philodendron plants in the Araceae family, and they are closely related to the Caladium, Anthurium, Calla lily, Alocasia, Chinese Evergreen, Peace Lily, and Dieffenbachia. Like all plants in the Aracaeae family, a Heartleaf Philodendron is a poisonous plant and should be kept away from small children and pets. Read more about common houseplants that can be dangerous in Don’t Feed Me to Your Cat: A Guide to Poisonous Houseplants.
How much light for a Heartleaf Philodendron: This plant can survive in low light conditions, but grows faster and produces more leaves in medium or bright indirect light. Placing a philodendron plant in the direct sun may cause the leaves to become discolored and scorched.
How to water a Heartleaf Philodendron: Water well and then allow the top 50% of the soil to dry out before watering again. Yellow leaves on a heartleaf philodendron indicate over-watering and brown leaves mean the plant needs more water.
How much plant food for Heartleaf Philodendron: Feed monthly in the spring and summer with a balanced plant food diluted to 1/2 the recommended strength. Fertilize every other month in the fall and winter. A heartleaf philodendron is a fast growing plant and needs quite a bit of plant food, but fertilize only when the plant is actively producing new leaves.
Best temperature for a Heartleaf Philodendron: Warm temperatures of 70°F – 80ºF (24°C-27ºC) during the day, and night time temperatures above 55º F (13ºC).
Does a Heartleaf Philodendron need high humidity: Grows well in basic household humidity though higher humidity encourages larger leaves.
Does a Heartleaf Philodendron flower: A mature plant may, on rare occasions, produce small spathes that look like white flowers.
Heartleaf philodendron plant pests: Keep an eye out for aphids, spider mites, mealy bugs, thrip, and scale. You can see pictures of theses plant pests and learn how to identify and treat them in the Glossary of the website.
Heartleaf Philodendron plant diseases: Root-rot caused by over-watering is the main disease problem and can result in the plant dying.
Best soil for a Heartleaf Philodendron: Use a well-aerated, all purpose, loose potting soil that drains quickly.
Pot size for a Heartleaf Philodendron: Move to a larger pot only when the roots of the plant have filled the existing pot. Smaller pots help prevent over-watering. A new container should be the next size and nothing larger. There must be drip holes in the bottom the pot so excess water can escape.
How to prune a Heartleaf Philodendron: Aggressively pinch off the growing tips at the end of the vines to encourage the plant to become full and bushy. A heartleaf philodendron becomes bare and leggy without constant pruning. Wash the leaves frequently with a mild, warm soapy solution to prevent dust from clogging the pores on the leaves.
How to propagate a Heartleaf Philodendron: Easily propagated using stem cuttings, especially during the spring and summer growing season . You can read more about how to propagate a plant using stem cuttings in the Glossary of the website.
Clean Air Plant
Are heartleaf philodendrons clean air plants: NASA lists a heartleaf philodendron as an excellent clean air plant for removing formaldehyde, a chemical found in insulation, floor coverings, cleaning agents, pressed wood, and even paper towels, from the air.
Poisonous Plant Info
Is a heartleaf philodendron poisonous: A heartleaf philodendron is a poisonous plant and toxic to cats, dogs, and children. All philodendron plants are considered very poisonous with a #2 toxicity level.
If the leaves on your heartleaf philodendron are getting smaller and further apart on the stem, the plant needs more light. Although philodendron houseplants can survive in low light, they do much better in medium to high indirect light.
In order to get your heartleaf philodendron bushy and full, cut the bare vines back to 6”-8” from the rim of the pot. This encourages the stems to branch out rather than just get longer. Every few months, pinch off the growing tip of the stems to encourage this new growth.
A heartleaf philodendron is easily propagated using Stem Cuttings, especially during the growing season. Be sure the Stem Cuttings have several nubs. Nubs are the little bumps where the leaves meet the stem. When the philodendron stem is placed in water or soil, new roots develop from these nubs.
A heartleaf philodendron gets brown leaves when under-watered and yellow leaves when over-watered.