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 lightVery few houseplants should be placed in direct sun. High light refers only to bright indirect light since direct sun often burns the leaves of indoor houseplants. An area that is too hot and dry encourages Spider Mites and causes blooms to quickly fade. A northern exposure really doesn't provide enough light for high light plants. These plants need to be placed directly in front of an east-facing window, within 1-3 feet of a west-facing window, and within 5 ft. of a south facing window. A high light area has over 300 ft. candles of 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.
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.