How to Care for Syngonium Erythrophyllum?
A coveted plant among collectors and plant enthusiasts alike, the Syngonium Erythrophyllum is a tropical aroid houseplant with stunning foliage, also known as “Red Arrow”.
With broad leaves, shaped like an arrow, the plant has earned itself the “Arrowhead Plant” nickname. The shape of the leaves, however, it’s not the only attraction of the plant.
The underside of the leaves showcases a deep red or burgundy coloration that contrasts well with the deep green of the leaf surface.
The care requirements of the Syngonium Erythrophyllum generally line up with the requirements of other aroid plants, so there are no surprises if you’re familiar with growing aroids indoors.
For those unfamiliar with the Arrowhead plant or aroid plants, I will shed light on how to care for these plants indoors and which are some of the trickiest aspects in growing a Syngonium Erythrophyllum.
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Size & Growth
With the right care and an optimal environment, you can expect this plant to grow as tall as 6 to 10 feet. The plant’s vines grow woody and climb on a stalk or hang from a hanging basket.
What’s interesting about the appearance of the Arrowhead plant is that it changes as the plant goes from a juvenile stage to a more mature stage of its growth.
Juvenile plants feature wide leaves that are a brighter green and a bright red underside. As the plant matures, the leaves will have a more defined arrowhead shape and turn a darker green with maroon or purple undersides.
In terms of its growth rate, the plant doesn’t grow as fast as other indoor vining plants. Repotting isn’t usually due sooner than every 2-3 years.
Because of its dark leaves, the arrowhead plant should be protected from scorching sunlight that can seriously damage the leaves of the plant.
The ideal light conditions for the Syngonium Erythrophyllum can best be described as indirect, bright light.
This means that it will grow under dappled light or filtered light, and any other light variation except for direct sunlight.
If you’re growing the plant on a window sill, make sure it’s not a window that gets hit by direct sunlight throughout the day.
If that’s the case, you’ll need to move the plant farther away from the window, so it doesn’t get burned by the sun.
The other extreme — a dark spot or corner in your home — should also be avoided. Although the Arrowhead will survive in dimmer light conditions, I’m afraid its vines will start to grow leggy if kept in a dark corner.
One of the trickiest aspects of caring for any aroid plant, not just the Syngonium Erythrophyllum is maintaining good watering habits.
First, I’ll mention that the plant doesn’t tolerate extremes — neither drought nor overwatering will keep this plant happy.
With this out of the way, let’s see what watering technique you should apply for the Syngonium.
Adhering to a watering schedule can only work if you account for changes in temperature and humidity.
During hot summer periods, you’ll probably need to water more often. As you go into the colder months and the plant starts to preserve more moisture and use up less resources, you’ll need to cut back on watering.
Although you should never allow the potting mix to completely dry out, you do need the top 2-3 inches of soil to become dry before you water the plant.
This will allow the deeper levels of soil to stay consistently moist without them being soggy.
This technique alone is not always enough to prevent overwatering. You also need to choose a potting mix formulated for aroid plants such as the arrowhead plant.
Forget about using regular potting soil for this plant. This type of soil is too heavy, gets saturated quickly with water and it’s prone to compaction.
Here are the attributes of the ideal potting mix for the Syngonium Erythrophyllum:
- Slightly acidic (pH of 5.5-6.5)
Regular potting soil does not meet these demands, but you can amend regular potting soil with substrates such as peat moss, perlite, bark, coco coir, pumice, and horticultural charcoal.
A good mix for this aroid is one part potting mix, one part perlite, and one part peat moss. But you can substitute perlite for other substrates or mix in a bit of horticultural charcoal that will not only provide good drainage but will also help in preventing fungal issues.
As long as the soil is well-aerated and drains well, overwatering issues are less likely to cause root rot, which is fatal to the plant in most cases.
Temperature & Humidity
The temperature range that’s ideal for Syngonium Erythrophyllum is between 59 F and 86 F. Outside this range, the plant will either struggle to survive or start to wilt.
Because this is a tropical plant, it’s neither cold-resistant nor frost-resistant. Therefore, exposing it to frost or extreme cold will induce temperature damage and tissue damage, causing the plant to die.
For plants grown indoors, frost is probably not something you need to worry about but cold drafts coming from a window or a door can potentially induce temperature shock.
Another difficult issue to manage is the plant’s requirements for high humidity. The good news is that the plant will adapt to average indoor humidity.
It will not thrive as it would in high humidity, but it will do okay. If you would like a thriving Syngonium Erythrophyllum, you will need to increase humidity levels.
To increase humidity indoors, you have two options — you can either use an evaporation tray or invest in a humidifier.
I suggest you start with putting together an evaporation tray. Fill a tray with pebbles, pour water so that the pebbles are covered half-way up with water and place your potted plants on top of the pebbles, making sure the roots of the plant don’t touch the water.
Using a humidifier is another great solution. I recommend humidifiers especially if you have several tropical plants all with high humidity requirements.
Fertilize your Syngonium Erythrophyllum plant with a weak fertilizer every month during the growing season.
Stop fertilizing during the winter months when the plant enters a dormancy phase during which it stops growing and uses minimal resources.
Don’t use undiluted fertilizer because it will burn the roots of the plant. Apply fertilizer only on moist soil.
Potting & Repotting
Schedule any repotting activity to early spring when the plant is coming out of its dormancy phase. Since the plant doesn’t grow fast, you can allow long periods of time to pass between transfers to bigger pots.
You can either wait for the plant to outgrow its pot or simply repot every 2 years regardless to replace the potting mix, which can become either depleted of nutrients or saturated with mineral salts.
Whenever you repot, use a pot that’s one size bigger. Using a pot that’s too big can mess with your watering routine in that the soil will take longer to become moist and longer to dry.
How to Propagate Syngonium Erythrophyllum?
The easiest way to propagate the Syngorium is through stem cuttings. Use stem cuttings that are a few inches long.
Make sure they have leaves and leaf nodes on and root in water or moist potting mix, so that at least one leaf node is under the water line or in the potting mix.
Roots will emerge within 2-4 weeks, after which you can transfer the stem cutting to its final pot.
Why is my Syngonium Erythrophyllum Leggy?
Lack of light will cause the vines of the arrowhead plant to start reaching towards the light. In doing so, the plant will grow thin vines with no leaves or leaves that are small.
Sometimes, only one side of the plant receives enough light, while the other side will not. The side that’s deprived of light may also grow leggy.
To prevent this, I recommend that you rotate the plant at least each time you’re watering it, so that all sides receive enough light.
Is Syngonium Erythrophyllum Toxic?
Yes, the Syngonium Erythrophyllum is a toxic plant. The leaves of the plant contain calcium oxalate crystals that cause mild to severe irritation when in contact with the skin or mucous membranes.
Cats, dogs, and small children can be affected when they chew on parts of the plant. Keep the plant out of reach and seek the help of a veterinarian or a doctor if your pet or child has ingested any parts of the plant.
Whether grown in a hanging basket or allowed to climb on a stake, the vines of the Syngonium Erythrophyllum are easily one of the most exotic looking houseplants.
Although not difficult to grow, the plant has some specific requirements, especially when it comes to the type of soil they prefer.
Watering and humidity requirements are also important to manage if you want your arrowhead plant to thrive and not struggle.
Keep the plant indoors during the cold winter months and protect them from cold drafts or sudden changes in temperature.