Botanical Name: Philodendron scandens
Origin: Heartleaf Philodendron originates from South America; Brazil, Mexico and the West Indies.
Height: Philodendron scandens can climb/ trail up to 1.2 m (4 ft) or more.
Soil: This house plant is best kept in potting mixes based on peat moss.
Light: P. scandens will tolerate low light, but prefers moderate to bright conditions. It should, however, never be placed into direct sunlight.
Humidity: Though it tolerates dry air, this plant prefers some humidity. Misting the foliage from time to time will keep it quite happy.
Temperatures: Heartleaf Philodendrons like temperatures that range between 16 and 24 degrees C (60 to 75 degrees F).
Water: The potting mix should be kept lightly moist throughout spring, summer and autumn. In winter, it should be allowed to dry a little between watering sessions. Over-watering should be avoided, as it will cause the foliage of this house plant to yellow.
Fertiliser: A diluted balanced fertiliser (50:50) should be fed monthly from early spring onwards into the late autumn months.
Propagation: Stem tip cuttings used for propagation in spring/ early on in summer will root fairly easy in water or moist potting mix.
Description and Care Tips
Also often referred to as the Sweetheart Plant, the popular Heartleaf Philodendron is an easy to grow house plant.
The typically 5 to 10 cm (2 to 4 in) long, heart-shaped glossy leaves (which may reach lengths of up to 30 cm (12 in) on well established, mature plants) covering the stems of P. scandens are bronze-coloured when they first emerge, turning to lush dark green very shortly afterwards. Keeping the leaves clean by wiping them with a damp cloth will enhance their glossy beauty. Occasionally, mature plants may produce greenish-white flowers.
To achieve a full and bushy, but fairly compact appearance, Heartleaf Philodendrons should be pinched back - always pinching just above leaf nodes - regularly, as pinching will encourage branching and prevent the plant becoming lanky through growing singular, long stems.
It is necessary to pinch stems as close to nodes as possible, as an remaining bare stem will simply die off and prevent a new stem growing from the node. If it is not possible to achieve a clean cut with fingernails, a sharp pair of scissors or pruners should be used to prevent tearing, which may attract diseases.
Alternatively, the stems can be allowed to grow and trail over a shelf/ pedestal or out of a hanging basket. They can also be quite easily trained to grow up and around a moss pole.
In spite of its tropical native habitat, P. scandens will tolerate fairly dry air, but does appreciate the occasional misting. Happily thriving in fairly small pots for years, these house plants should be repotted - during spring/ early summer - every two to three years. To prevent root rot, adequate drainage must be provided.
While Philodendron scandens rarely develops serious disease or pest problems, it pays to watch out for aphids, mealy bugs, scale and spider mites, as well as leaf spots.