How to Care for Heartleaf Philodendron?
As the most widespread philodendron variety, the heartleaf philodendron (Philodendron scandens) is not a houseplant you need to worry too much about.
In fact, it’s tolerant of neglect, so if you’re not good with a watering schedule, you can still do a good job growing this plant.
The plant is available in a variety of shades and you can create elaborate foliage displays if you guide its spread.
To get up to speed with the requirements of the heartleaf philodendron, read my plant care guide below.
Also Read: How to Care for Philodendron Xanadu?
Size & Growth
With leaves of 2-4 inches and slender stems that can spread to well over 10 feet, the heartleaf philodendron is a fast-growing houseplant that grows a bit slower and smaller indoors.
You can keep your philodendron small and bushy by regularly pinching back unruly stems or, if the space in your home allows it, allow it to trail on a support or other structure, creating an elaborate display.
Moderate to bright light is the best light for the heartleaf philodendron. Direct light should be avoided. The plant also thrives under fluorescent lights, making it an ideal plant even for an office environment.
If you notice that leaves on your philodendron are pale, growing smaller, or there is too much space between leaves (i.e. the plant is growing leggy), make sure to move it to a location with bright indirect light.
If leaves have a scorched appearance, the plant may be exposed to direct light during the day, so keep an eye on light conditions.
As tropical plants, philodendrons enjoy slightly moist soil. Mind you, slightly moist does not mean soggy or drenched in water. It’s important not to overwater this plant.
If you can’t adhere to a watering schedule, it’s no problem, the philodendron can tolerate a bit of neglect in the watering department.
In fact, allowing the top inch of soil to dry out between waterings is the best you can do to avoid potentially devastating fungal diseases caused by overwatering.
Plant your philodendron in a well-aerated, fast-draining potting mix. I recommend African violet soil mixes, or other soil mixes that contain perlite, peat, or sphagnum moss for better drainage.
A soil that drains well will help avoid potential fungal issues caused by roots sitting for too long in soggy soil.
Of course, soil type alone won’t solve overwatering issues, and you should absolutely pay attention not to overwater your heartleaf philodendron.
Temperature & Humidity
Average room temperature or temperature between 70-75°F is ideal for this philodendron variety. Native to the tropics, philodendrons enjoy higher humidity levels. It’s the reason why they grow better in high-humidity rooms such as bathrooms and kitchens.
If your home is too dry, you may need to increase humidity levels, at least around the plant. There are various ways to achieve this including using a tray with pebbles and water and placing it under or near your philodendron, or simply getting a humidifier.
You could also move your philodendron to the kitchen or your bathroom, where it will be exposed to higher humidity levels.
While clumping together multiple plants can also act as a quick humidifying strategy, I advise against it. Some plants may have pest or other diseases that can transfer to your philodendron.
Monthly fertilizing with a liquid balanced fertilizer diluted at half-strength will improve foliage health and growth rate.
In fall, you should reduce the frequency of fertilization, and feed the plant only every 6-8 weeks. In winter, when growth is minimal to none, you can even withhold feeding altogether.
Don’t overdo it with the fertilizer. Using too much or too often can cause fertilizer burn. Even if you’re using fertilizer at the recommended frequency, it’s always a good idea to flush the soil with water from time to time to wash away potential mineral build-ups.
Potting & Repotting
If your philodendron is getting big and spreading vigorously, it’s time to consider repotting it. You’re going to need a bigger pot that can accommodate the roots.
When switching to a bigger pot, don’t overdo it — use a pot that’s about 2 inches larger than the existing one.
Because repotting a plant can stress the plant — it’s what we refer to as ‘transplant shock’ — you should strive to reduce stress associated with transplanting.
One way to achieve that is to water your philodendron a day before transplanting. This will also make it easier to remove it from the pot itself.
You can also take this time to give your philodendron a little cleaning up by checking the root ball for root rot, trimming away any stunted growth, dead or dying leaves, or leaves that have turned yellow or pale. You can also gently loosen the root ball a bit to stimulate new growth.
Use well-draining potting soil and water the soil thoroughly after transplanting.
How to Propagate Heartleaf Philodendron?
Whether you have a philodendron that comes in a peculiar shade or you just simply want to multiply your philodendron, you can easily propagate it through division or rooting stem cuttings.
If you’re repotting your heartleaf philodendron, you can also use this time to divide the root clump and transfer new plants to a separate container.
Alternatively, you can harvest stem cuttings by cutting a vine just below the leaf nodule. You can root the cutting in water, making sure you replace the water frequently. When roots start to form, you can move the plant to its own container.
You can also root the cutting directly in potting medium. Make sure to keep the soil moist, warm environment, and out of direct sunlight.
Once you provide your philodendron heartleaf a good potting mix, optimal temperature, light conditions, and watering, you’re not going to run into problems in its cultivation.
If you’re keeping your philodendron outdoors during the summer, watch out for temperature changes as fall closes in. As cold weather sets in, move your philodendron back inside.
Another important thing to watch out for is overwatering, especially if your philodendron is planted in soil that doesn’t drain too well. Avoid soil prone to compaction or with high water retention.