How to Care for Arrowhead Plant?
A popular houseplant with stunning, arrow-shaped foliage, the arrowhead plant adds a touch of greenery to your indoor spaces and works well as an accent piece for kitchens or even bathrooms.
Why those particular rooms seem to be favored most by the arrowhead plant and its care requirements will be the focus of this article.
If you’re interested in growing this plant indoors, I will give you an in-depth analysis of the environment you need to create to have a thriving arrowhead plant.
I will also discuss some of the problems you may encounter while growing the arrowhead plant and how to best deal with them.
What is an Arrowhead Plant?
The arrowhead plant is a tropical aroid plant known botanically as the Syngonium podophyllum.
As the plant matures, it develops a climbing habit, which makes it ideal for trellises, moss poles or other support structures. That said, they can also be grown in hanging baskets as a hanging vine.
The plant is native to Central and South America and grows in humid conditions but adapts well to indoor growing worldwide if its growing requirements are met.
Eager to grow your own arrowhead plant indoors? Follow my tips and recommendations below!
Arrowhead Plant Care
From light conditions to potting soil, I will cover everything you need to know about arrowhead plant care, so you can create a hospitable environment in which the plant can thrive.
– Arrowhead Plant Light Requirements
This aroid prefers bright, indirect light. Extremes such as direct light – especially scorching sun – should be avoided as well as keeping the plant in a dark corner of your home.
Direct sun exposure during summer can scorch the leaves of the plant, while too little light exposure can cause etiolation, which is elongated growth of the vines.
Without enough light, the leaves of the arrowhead plant will also grow smaller and rarer.
Dappled or filtered light is acceptable. Ideally, find a bright spot in your home, where the plant doesn’t get directly hit by light throughout the day.
– Watering Arrowhead Plant
Because it prefers consistently moist soil, watering this plant is a balancing act between not allowing the soil to go completely dry and preventing the roots from sitting too long in water.
To maintain this somewhat delicate balance, you should water the plant thoroughly until water starts escaping through the drain holes, then allow the top few inches of soil to slightly dry out.
Once the upper layer of potting mix is dry, you can go ahead and water the plant again.
The arrowhead plant doesn’t tolerate its soil completely going dry, so you’ll need to be careful and manage its watering needs especially during summer when evaporation is faster.
In winter, temperatures drop, light conditions change, and evaporation levels are reduced. Because the plant enters a dormancy period, you’ll need to reduce watering.
Use only room temperature water to avoid inducing temperature shock. Likewise, you should make sure the water you use is chlorine-free (let tap water sit overnight for chlorine to evaporate).
– Fertilizing Arrowhead Plant
Because the arrowhead plant isn’t a heavy feeder, you don’t need to focus too much on fertilizing. Feeding the plant monthly during spring and summer with a weak fertilizer will keep it growing healthy and lush.
Stop fertilizing in autumn and winter. The plant will enter its dormancy period, using up less resources, and therefore, will not benefit from fertilizing.
Make sure to only use diluted fertilizer and fertilize only on moist soil to avoid burning the roots of the plant.
You can use fertilizing granules instead of liquid fertilizer if you prefer them. These are usually applied every 3 months, depending on the brand. Whenever possible, opt for organic fertilizers.
– Arrowhead Plant Temperature
The indoor temperature range that’s ideal for the arrowhead plant is between 60 F and 85 °F. Being a native to tropical and subtropical regions, the plant is cold-sensitive, so growing them outdoors in areas outside its native land is not possible.
What you can do, however, is to keep the plant outdoors only during summer and overwinter the plant indoors during the cold season.
You should not expose the plant to temperatures below 50 °F. Cold temperatures can trigger temperature shock and result in tissue damage.
Keeping the plant for extended periods in temperatures that are outside its preferred range will cause all sorts of problems including growth issues.
Besides making sure that the arrowhead plant is protected during the cold season, you should also watch out for cold drafts and cold exposure that results from being kept in a poorly insulated window, for example.
The other extreme can also be problematic – keeping the plant in a hot environment or close to a heat source can also inflict damage. Therefore, you must avoid that too.
– Humidity for Arrowhead Plant
Arrowhead plants thrive in a humid environment. That’s the reason why these plants do best in naturally humid areas of our homes such as the kitchen or the bathroom.
Although these plants will adapt to average indoor humidity levels (40-60% humidity), they’ll do best when humidity levels are slightly higher.
Other than keeping your arrowhead plant in a bathroom or kitchen, you can try a few other tricks to maintain a more humid environment:
- Invest in a humidifier
- Set up an evaporation tray (simply place the pot over a tray filled with pebbles and water)
- Mist the plant occasionally (I don’t recommend misting too often because of potential fungal leaf issues).
In a dry environment, you may notice changes in the health of your arrowhead such as yellowing leaves and browning leaf margins.
– Potting Soil for Arrowhead Plant
Besides following watering recommendations, another crucial part of making sure your arrowhead plant stays healthy is using the right type of potting mix.
I don’t recommend using regular potting soil for aroid plants. The reasons for this are multifold. For starters, aroid plants need a well-draining potting mix that’s well-aerated.
Potting soil is neither. It holds too much water and becomes easily compacted. Two things you don’t want to happen to your arrowhead plant.
Therefore, the potting mix you should choose is either a commercially available mix formulated for aroid plants, or create your own mix following the recipe below.
You can take one part regular potting soil, add one part perlite, and one part peat moss. This will ensure that the soil retains only a bit of moisture without becoming waterlogged.
Excess water is allowed to drain, and the roots will be aerated enough to prevent rotting and fungal diseases.
Of course, all this works only if the pot in which your arrowhead is kept has drain holes on the bottom to allow water to escape.
– Repotting Arrowhead Plant
Despite being a vining plant, the growth rate of the arrowhead plant isn’t as fast as you’d expect. One the one hand, that might be regrettable for some, on the other hand, it’s convenient for those that don’t enjoy repotting their plants too often.
Because an arrowhead plant doesn’t outgrow its pot as fast as other plants, you can postpone repotting for 2-3 years.
I don’t recommend waiting longer than that because the potting mix of indoor plants can become depleted of nutrients or saturated with mineral salts, and so, these plants benefit from repotting in fresh potting mix.
Schedule repotting to spring to take advantage of the fact that the plant is coming out of its dormancy and its metabolism is in high gear.
Use a pot that’s only one size bigger than the previous one – there’s no need for an oversized pot.
Pots that are too big will not benefit the plant in any way. If anything, they’ll just make the soil dry much slower.
Even if your arrowhead plant seems to be comfy in its current pot, I’d still recommend you refresh its potting mix every 2 years.
Arrowhead Plant Varieties
With different leaf colors and sizes, the arrowhead plant is available in several different varieties. Here are just some of my favorite ones:
- Strawberry Cream Arrowhead – Features a pink tint on the upper side of the leaves. The leaf coloration is best when the plant is grown in bright light conditions.
- Neon Robusta – Another pink Arrowhead variety with brighter pink colors and more rounded leaves.
- Holly – A compact and dense variety, the Holly Arrowhead plant produces white-green leaves with dark green edges. Definitely a must-have for Arrowhead enthusiasts.
- Albovirens – A variety with light silvery green leaves and leaves and darker leaf margins. The veins of the leaves are a muted violet, creating a discrete but beautiful contrast.
- Emerald Green – This variety features darker leaves with light green to cream leaf centers and veins.
- Painted Arrow – With large, arrow-shaped leaves, this variety is a variegated Arrowhead, featuring light green splotches.
There are several other varieties, depending on how the leaves are colored and shaped. If you prefer small-growing, small-leaf arrowhead plants, check out the Berry Allusion variety.
Large-leaf varieties like the Emerald Gem Arrowhead are also sought-after because of their unique leaf variegation.
Arrowhead Plant Diseases and Pests
Although relatively resistant to diseases and pests, unfortunately, indoor arrowhead plants aren’t immune to diseases and pests.
Here are some of the pests to look out for when growing these plants indoors:
- Spider Mites
These are basically the usual suspects when it comes to leaf problems you may notice such as yellowing foliage, stunted growth, browning spots on leaves, etc.
Sap-sucking insects such as mealybugs and scale can weaken the plant’s defenses against other diseases such as fungal issues, making it hard for them to recover from such diseases.
Pest infestations can be treated by physically removing pests (wiping them off the leaves with a damp cloth) or spraying the leaves with insecticidal soaps, neem oil, or an alcohol solution.
Neem oil is also a great antifungal and can even be used preventatively against pests and
In my experience, acting immediately and decisively against pest infestations can reduce recovery times and prevent significant damage to the plant.
If you’re worried about pests attacking your indoor plants, here are a few tips to prevent pests in the first place:
- Don’t group plants together as even fungal problems can easily spread from one plant to another, let alone pests.
- Use only sanitized tools to prune your plants. Tools can easily transfer spores and pests from one plant to another.
- Don’t water your arrowheads from overhead.
- Keep leaves clean of dirt and dust by occasionally wiping off the leaves.
- Isolate new plants in a separate location for a couple of weeks before placing them in a room with other plants.
With these tips in mind, you can reduce the incidence of fungal issues and pests.
How Big Do Arrowhead Plants Grow?
Arrowhead plants usually grow to become 6 to 10 feet tall, if allowed to climb and the vines reach similar lengths if the plant is kept in a hanging basket.
In their natural habitat, they grow much taller, much faster. Indoors, however, they usually stay at an easily manageable size.
The leaves of the plant change shape as they mature, starting out as wider and more rounded in shape and becoming a more defined arrowhead shape as they mature.
Not all varieties grow to become 6 to 10 feet tall, however. Some stay small and compact, and even varieties that are capable of growing tall can be pruned to stay bushy and compact.
How Do You Prune Arrowhead Plants?
There are several reasons why you might want to prune your arrowhead plant:
- To control its shape and size.
- Get rid of leggy vines.
- To get rid of heavily infested vines in case of a pest infestation.
- To make the plant grow bushier.
- And to remove damaged leaves.
Regardless of your reasons to prune an arrowhead plant, there are a few quick and easy rules to follow that will save you from accidentally damaging the plant.
Here’s how you should approach the matter:
- Schedule any trimming or pruning to spring or summer when the plant is actively growing. You should not disturb the plant during autumn and winter, when it’s dormant.
- Damaged leaves or stems can be removed anytime. There’s no benefit to keeping those since they will not recover, and they just divert energy away from new growth.
- Use clean, sterilized blades to prevent any transfer of bacteria, fungi or pests.
- To control for size and shape or to cut back leggy vines, simply cut off stems right above a leaf node.
- If you want a bushier growth, trim back stems to the desired length, always cutting above a leaf node.
Don’t throw away otherwise healthy stem cuttings. These can be used to propagate arrowhead plants.
How to Propagate Arrowhead Plants?
Whether you have stem cuttings after a pruning session or you want to harvest stem cuttings to propagate an arrowhead plant, there’s an easy and straightforward way to do it.
Make sure stem cuttings are at least 4-6 inches long and feature at least a leaf node. Harvest stem cuttings in spring or summer. You can root these in water within a couple of weeks.
Replace the water often, keep the stem cuttings in a warm location with indirect bright light. After a month, you can move the rooted stem cuttings in a pot. Make sure to use a well-draining potting mix.
Can You Keep Arrowhead Vine Outdoors?
Yes, you can keep arrowhead vine outdoors if the temperatures are within the range acceptable for the plant.
If you live in a region where temperatures drop below 60 °F during winter, you’ll need to take the plant indoors and overwinter it inside.
These aren’t frost or cold-tolerant plants, so any exposure to temperatures below 50 °F can damage the plant.
You can move the plant outside in spring, after temperatures stabilize and there’s no risk of a sudden frost or dip in temperatures.
Are Arrowhead Plants Toxic?
Yes, arrowhead plants are unfortunately toxic for pets and small children. Cats and dogs can both be affected by the calcium oxalate crystals present in the plant.
Ingestion of the plant can cause mild to severe irritation of mouth and gut lining, so do your best to keep pets away from these plants.
Many houseplants can cause toxicity in pets, so make sure to carefully choose pet-friendly plants, especially if you have pets that tend to play with plants out of curiosity or boredom.
If you suspect your pet or child has ingested parts of the plant, make sure to seek medical help.
Arrowhead plants are versatile indoor plants that boast wonderful foliage variety. Beyond their appealing appearance, arrowhead plants have other excellent qualities that recommend them as a top choice for a houseplant.
Notably, these plants are relatively easy to grow, don’t need abundant light, nor do they require frequent upkeep in terms of trimming or repotting.
Watering is a bit of a challenge for the untrained eye, but you can easily learn how to water an arrowhead plant and what are the things that need your attention.