Arrowhead Plant Care at Home (Syngonium podophyllum)

Arrowhead plants (Syngonium podophyllum) are easy to care for houseplants with large leaves and trailing forms. I love that their leaves come in various colors and patterns and can reach up to a foot long. In my experience, since they’re native to tropical Latin America, they prefer an environment that mimics their natural home. In this guide, I’ll take you through how I care for my Arrowhead plants at home, including the best soil types, light exposures, watering frequencies, fertilizing needs, and environmental considerations for optimal growth.

Ultimate Guide to Arrowhead Plant Care at Home

Arrowhead Plant Care Essentials:

Soil:Well-draining, coarse potting mix.
Light:Bright indirect light throughout the majority of the day.
Temperature:Syngonium podophyllum prefers temperatures between 65-85ºF.
Humidity:Moderate to high humidity.
Watering:Water when the top inch of soil is dry, about once a week in the summer and every two weeks in the winter.
Fertilizing:Balanced liquid fertilizer applied once a month in spring through summer only.

Arrowhead Plant Growth Expectations 

In my experience, Arrowhead plants start as small but quickly grow into a trailing vine. Plants can grow over a foot each year. 

The vines can grow over six feet tall, but they will max out at about two feet wide. 

What to Do Before Planting 

The first step in planting your arrowhead plant is finding an appropriate container. Ensure your pot has drainage holes and is large enough to hold the plant’s root ball. 

Next, you’ll need to find a suitable location for your plant. The most important thing is to ensure your plant receives no direct sunlight, which can scorch the leaves. I position my plant near an east-facing window, which receives soft sunlight in the morning. South or west-facing aspects can also work but you’ll need to protect the plant behind a sheer curtain or partially drawn blinds.

Best Soil Types 

I find that Arrowhead plants don’t like sitting in moisture, so you need a well-draining soil mix. However, the mix should also retain moisture to prevent the plant from drying out.

If you want to use store-bought potting soil, mix two parts of the standard potting mix with one part of perlite. Additionally, you can use a potting mix labeled for African violets (via Amazon). 

Alternatively, you can make your own potting soil, which is a fun and cost-effective solution. Here’s the soil mix I create for my Arrowhead plants. Simply combine the ingredients with a little water to bring everything together then you’re good to go:

  • Two parts peat moss or coco coir 
  • One part pine bark fines 
  • One part perlite 

This blend offers excellent drainage, plenty of aeration, and a stable base for plant growth.

How to Plant 

Typically, I’ll leave my plant in the nursery pot it arrived in for a few weeks to allow it to acclimatize to its new home before transferring it to a new pot. I’ll then look at transplanting it to a more decorative planter. After you select a suitable container, fill it with the soil mix. Next, add your plant so the bottoms of the stems are level with the soil surface. Gently pack the potting soil around the roots and water well. 

Light Preferences 

An Arrowhead plant with green and pink leaves

Syngonium plants can tolerate various light conditions as long as they don’t receive direct light. 

They can thrive in low-light conditions, such as a dimly lit hallway or a bathroom with a small window. Arrowhead plants will also be happy with bright light found near south-facing or west-facing windows, protected by a sheer curtain or blinds. As noted, mine thrives near an east-facing window in my home.

The main thing to remember is that these plants dislike direct light. Bright rays can burn plant tissue. 

Temperature and Humidity Preferences 

In my experience, Syngonium plants prefer air temperatures between 65 to 85ºF. If the temperature falls below 60ºF, the plants may suffer. Where possible, find a warm spot in your home away from cold drafts or open doorways and it should thrive happily.

These plants also prefer moderate to high humidity. If you live in a particularly dry location, it’s worth misting the plants frequently or setting them next to a small indoor plant humidifier to boost the ambient moisture levels.

Watering 

Syngonium plants like soil that is moist but not saturated. The goal is to find a happy balance between wet and dry. 

The frequency you’ll need to water depends on the time of year, temperature, humidity, and light. Generally, I need to water my plants about once a week in the summer and once every two to three weeks in the winter. 

When you’re trying to determine if you need to water your arrowhead plant, feel the soil. If the top inch of soil is dry, it’s time to water. If the soil is still moist, wait to water.

Each time I water, I aim to drench the soil thoroughly. This ensures water reaches the bottom of the soil as well as the top. 

Fertilizing 

My Arrowhead plants benefit from regular fertilization to boost their nutrient base. I find that a balanced liquid fertilizer that is labeled specifically for houseplants works great.

I always dilute the fertilizer to half-strength and apply it once a month during the spring and summer. You don’t need to fertilize in the fall or winter. 

Pruning  

Arrowhead plants naturally take on a trailing form. However, you can prune them so they remain bushy and compact. 

In my experience, the trick to a bushy plant is removing the tips so the plant grows out rather than up. When your plant is getting too tall, use a sharp pair of pruning shears to remove the top one to two leaves of each stem. 

No matter what shaped plant you want, you should always prune out diseased leaves. 

Trellising Arrowhead Plants 

If you don’t prune your arrowhead plant, it will eventually grow into a vine. This vine will trail down and out unless you provide a trellis. 

If you’d like your arrowhead plant to grow upwards, you need to provide something it can cling to. Some suitable options include a piece of bamboo or a wire fence. 

Syngonium plants will naturally climb up a trellis as they grow. However, you can use twine to tie stems to parts of the trellis. 

Propagating

Arrowhead plants are easy to propagate by stem cuttings. While you can attempt to propagate any time of the year, spring and summer are the best options. 

To propagate a new plant by stem cutting, follow these steps. 

  1. Use a sharp and clean knife or pair of shears to take a stem cutting. Ensure the cutting contains at least one leaf node. 
  2. Place the cutting in water so the bottom one to two inches of stem are in the water. Ensure that none of the foliage is in contact with the water. 
  3. Place the cutting in a warm area out of direct sunlight. 
  4. Wait until roots form, about two to three weeks. 
  5. Once roots are at least half an inch long, pot the plant in soil.

Repotting  

Arrowhead plants grow quickly, so they need to be repotted every one to two years, in my experience. 

When it’s time to repot, I choose a container that is a few inches larger than the current pot. Fill the bottom few inches of the pot with potting soil. 

Remove the plant from its current pot, shake off any excess dirt, and place the plant in the new container. Place potting soil around the roots, pack lightly, and water well. 

Common Problems and How to Treat Them 

A small Syngonium podophyllum plant in a white plant pot on a table indoors with some wilting and discoloration of the leaves

Fortunately, arrowhead plants don’t experience too many pests or diseases. However, they are susceptible to problems due to an improper environment or care. 

Yellow Leaves 

Several factors could be to blame if you notice your arrowhead plant’s leaves are turning yellow. 

I find one common cause is too much moisture, which can prevent the plants from taking up water and oxygen. This can be caused by overwatering or a poorly-draining soil mix. 

First, ensure your pot has drainage holes that allow excess water to escape. Next, make sure the potting mix is well-draining. Finally, ensure only water when the top inch of soil is dry. 

Another common cause of yellow leaves is underwatering. If the soil dries out too much, the plant cannot take up enough water. 

Watering just the right amount is the number one way to keep your leaves looking healthy. 

Brown Leaf Tips 

If your plant’s leaves look healthy but notice brown tips, you’ll want to investigate a few things. 

First, take a look at the humidity. If the air is very dry, the leaf tips may brown. 

A humidifier is the best way to increase the humidity. However, you can also mist your plant to increase the humidity a bit. 

Another thing to check is fertilizer. A large dose of fertilizer can lead to tip burn. Make sure to dilute the fertilizer properly and only apply once a month.

Spider Mites 

One pest to look out for on your arrowhead plant is spider mites. These tiny arachnids live on the underside of plants and suck out the sap, leading to a stippled appearance. Even if you don’t see the mites themselves, you may see their webs. 

Spider mites can quickly multiply, so you must deal with them right away. 

If you notice a small number of spider mites, you can remove them with a rag coated in soap. If you have larger populations, spray your plant with insecticidal soap or neem oil. 

About Arrowhead Plants

Arrowhead plants belong to the Araceae family. Their genus is Syngonium, and their species is podophyllum. The scientific name roughly translates to leaves with stout stalks. 

Before scientists listed the plant as a member of the Syngonium genus, it belonged in the Nephthytis genus. That’s why you’ll sometimes hear people refer to this plant as Nephthytis and Syngonium. 

Benefits and Uses: 

Like all plants, arrowhead plants absorb carbon dioxide and release oxygen. They can also remove small amounts of harmful toxins from the air. 

People worldwide use arrowhead plants as ornamental plants indoors and outdoors.

Arrowhead Plant Care FAQs: 

How Much Light Do Arrowhead Plants Need?

Arrowhead plants need at least four hours of light each day. They can tolerate both low and medium light.

Are Syngonium podophyllum Toxic to Humans and Pets?

Yes! Arrowhead plants are toxic to cars, dogs, horses, and humans due to calcium oxalate crystals. 

According to the ASPCA, ingesting the plant can cause swelling, vomiting, drooling, and difficulty swallowing. If anyone ingests the plant, it’s best to contact a poison control center or hospital. 

Since it’s toxic, it’s best to keep the plant out of the reach of children and pets. 

How Often Do You Water a Syngonium?

In general, you’ll need to water your Syngonium plant every one to three weeks. 

You will need to water more often in the summer than you will in the winter. High temperatures and low humidity will also increase the amount you’ll need to water. 

Are Syngonium Plants Considered Lucky?

They aren’t considered lucky, but they are not considered bad luck either.

Do Syngonium Plants Purify the Air?

Syngonium plants can remove small amounts of toxins from the air. They also absorb carbon dioxide and release oxygen.

How Long Will Arrowhead Plants Typically Live? 

Syngonium plants can thrive for over ten years if properly cared for. 

Wrapping Up 

Now that you know how to care for an arrowhead plant, it’s time to choose your favorite colors and patterns. By providing basic care, you’ll enjoy this fast-growing houseplant for years to come. 

Further reading: Discover amazing plants with pink and green leaves.

Contributing Editor | briana@petalrepublic.com | Full Bio

Briana holds a B.S. in Plant Sciences from Penn State University. She manages a small market garden where she grows vegetables and herbs. She also enjoys growing flowers and houseplants at home.

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