Heartleaf Philodendron Plant Care at Home

In this guide, I’ll run through everything you need to know about Heartleaf Philodendron plant care at home. I love the tropical vibes from these brilliant houseplants, and with a few well-followed pointers, they’ll thrive just fine in a range of interior spaces. Let’s go!

Heartleaf Philodendron Plant Care_ A Simple Guide for Healthy Growth

Heartleaf Philodendron Care – Key Takeaways:

Scientific Name:Philodendron hederaceum
Native Range:Central America and the Caribbean
Soil:Well-draining, peat-based potting mix with a slightly acidic pH
Light:Bright, indirect light; can tolerate lower light conditions
Watering:Allow the top inch of soil to dry out before watering; do not allow the plant to sit in water
Temperature:Ideal range is between 65-85°F (18-30°C); they don’t like cold temperatures below 55°F (13°C)
Fertilizing:Feed with a balanced liquid fertilizer once a month during the growing season (spring and summer) only.
Pruning:Prune to maintain desired size and shape; can also propagate from cuttings.
Toxicity: Toxic to pets and humans if ingested
Pests:Common pests include spider mites, mealybugs, and aphids which can be managed with regular cleaning, appropriate watering, and insecticidal soaps or neem oil if needed.

How to Grow Heartleaf Philodendron at Home

Lush and vibrant Heartleaf Philodendron plant being held aloft

Heartleaf philodendrons are notoriously easy to care for. All they need is a bit of light, a bit of water, and the occasional bit of attention.

Here’s what to expect when growing a sweetheart plant at home.

Growth Expectations

A heartleaf philodendron’s potential size depends on various factors, such as growing conditions and the type of support provided. Under optimal conditions, vines can grow quickly and reach up to 13 feet long. 

As for the spread, expect your plant to reach a width of 1.5 to 3 feet. It takes from five to 10 years to get full size. 

What to do Before Planting

Before potting a heartleaf philodendron, consider the final potential size. Aim for a pot or planter that will accommodate it.

However, this adaptable plant can tolerate a smaller pot for a few years. A smaller pot may even help prevent overwatering. If you’re repotting, choose a container over two inches larger than the current pot.

Philodendrons can thrive in a range of container types. However, a porous option is best. Terracotta is a good choice.

Just be sure to choose a container with adequate drainage. You don’t ever want your plant to sit in standing water. This can lead to root rot, fungus, and pest infestations.

The Best Soil Mix

A key component of Hearleaft Philodendron care is soil; fortunately, these plants tolerate a range of soil types and pH levels. Adequate drainage is key.

If you want your plant to thrive, choose a lightweight, loose, and well-draining potting media high in organic matter. Good options include a mix with a balance of chalk and sand or a peat moss-based mix.

If you prefer a soilless base, plants can grow in sphagnum peat moss, peat-vermiculite mixtures, or peat-perlite mixtures. Sweetheart plants can even grow in water. Just be sure to keep water levels at an adequate level. 

If you’re considering going from soil to water or vice versa, think twice. This type of plant doesn’t always adjust well to such a huge change.

How to Plant

Water your heartleaf philodendron thoroughly a day before you plant it. This will help reduce stress on the plant. 

Partially fill the new container with your chosen medium. Remember: The new pot shouldn’t be more than two inches larger than the current container.

Carefully remove the philodendron from its current pot. Gently work the roots to separate and stimulate new growth. 

Place the plant in its new container and fill in the sides with media. Adding perlite, peat moss, sand, or vermiculite can help promote aeration and improve drainage. Just don’t fill the pot above the plant’s original soil level. 

Lightly tamp the media. Finally, saturate the soil until water runs freely from the drainage holes. 

Light Preferences

Heartleaf philodendrons can handle a range of light exposures. While they prefer indirect sunlight, they can also take moderate to bright light. Just keep them out of direct sun, as this may scorch leaves.

In most cases, south-, east-, or west-facing exposure is preferable. You can grow the sweetheart plant in low light. However, leaves may spread and lose some of their color and gloss. 

Further reading: see where I position my heartleaf philodendron for optimal care and feng shui benefits.

Temperature and Humidity Preferences

From experience, the heartleaf philodendron can tolerate dry air, but it prefers more humidity. This tropical plant thrives at about 40 percent humidity. 

Sweetheart plants are happy in typical indoor home temperatures. Anything below 50 degrees F is too cold for this plant, though. 


Heartleaf Philodendron Plant Care

A hanging Heartleaf Philodendron Plant

How To Water

Heartleaf vines prefer moist — never soggy — conditions. They can tolerate some dry soil.

In the summer, keep your plant evenly moist. In the cooler months, water your heartleaf philodendron when the top half-inch to an inch of soil feels dry to the touch.  

While these plants don’t care about pH too much, they will let you know if you’re over-or under-watering. As a general rule, yellow leaves mean you’re watering too much. Brown or curling leaves mean you’re not watering enough.  

Fertilizing

For optimal Heartleaf Philodendron care, a standard houseplant fertilizer will provide your plant with the nutrients it needs. Choose a fertilizer that’s water-soluble and balanced.

During the spring and summer, fertilize once per month. Philodendrons need more nutrients during warmer months when they’re actively growing.

In fall and winter, the plant isn’t actively growing. During these cooler times of the year, cut fertilization back to every three months. 

Pruning

Heartleaf philodendrons don’t require pruning to be healthy. However, light pruning every few months may encourage lush growth.

Start by watering thoroughly the day before you prune. Then remove any stunted growth. Make your cuts right after nodes, and keep your cuts as smooth as possible.

This is also a good time to cut back any vines that have grown longer than you want. Keep these trimmed vines to use for propagation. 

How to Propagate

It’s easy to propagate new sweetheart plants. Simply cut a vine below a node and place the cut end in water.

Once roots appear, plant the cutting in soil or your preferred planting medium. Use this propagation method in spring or early summer.

When and How to Repot

Every two to three or so years, you may want to repot your heartleaf philodendron into a larger pot. This provides the plant with fresh, new planting media. It also helps prevent the plant from becoming root-bound.

Water the day before you plan on repotting. Choose a pot no more than two inches larger than the current one. 

Carefully remove the plant from its current pot, and gently massage the roots to separate. Partially fill the new container and center the plant inside. 

Fill the sides with potting media. Don’t go above where the plant meets the current potting media. 

Lightly tamp the media. Finally, give your plant a thorough watering.


Common Heartleaf Philodendron Problems & How to Treat Them

The sweetheart plant is great at letting you know when something is wrong. Yellowing leaves indicate overwatering. Curling, brown leaves indicate underwatering. 

Wilting Leaves

Wilting leaves usually signal too-dry soil. However, wilt can also be a symptom of root rot resulting from inadequate drainage. 

Brown Scorch Marks

If you notice brown scorch marks, this may indicate overexposure to bright light. For optimal Heartleaf Philodendron care, move the plant into indirect light if you see scorching. 

Brown Spots on the Leaves or Stems

Brown spots may come from fungal growth. If leaves remain wet for several hours — for instance, after misting — fungus may grow. Keep leaves dry to prevent spotting.

Pests

As for pests, if planting media gets too wet, it may attract fungus gnats. Allowing soil to dry out between waterings prevents this pest. 

You may find aphids on soft new growth. Spray leaves with water and insecticidal soap or Neem oil to remove aphids. 

If your plant is waterlogged, it may attract potential pests such as mealybugs, scales, and spider mites. Treat them with insecticidal soap. Then provide adequate drainage to prevent further infestations. 

Are Heartleaf Philodendrons Toxic to Humans and Pets?

Philodendron leaves and sap are toxic to humans and pets, including dogs, cats, and horses. The plant may cause mouth pain, vomiting, diarrhea, drooling, difficulty swallowing, and swelling of the lips, tongue, and upper airway if ingested.

Heartleaf philodendrons contain calcium oxalate. If sap comes in contact with the skin or eyes, this substance can cause inflammation and itching. 

Heartleaf Philodendron Care FAQs:

How do you take care of a heartleaf philodendron?

Heartleaf philodendrons thrive indoors in temperatures above 50 degrees F and humidity of 40 percent. They prefer well-draining, moist soil and indirect light. Water only when the top inch of soil feels dry, and fertilize every 10 to 12 weeks during spring and summer.  

Should I mist my philodendron?

A very light misting can be beneficial to boost the relative humidity levels around the philodendron plant during periods of particularly dry air (such as the winter months). Be careful not to overly saturate the leaves, as stagnant water is a breeding ground for fungal infections, pests, and diseases. A humidity tray or in-room humidifier is often a safer and more robust approach.

Do Philodendrons like coffee grounds?

There’s always mixed advice regarding coffee grounds and plants. Many will argue the negative effects of coffee grounds disrupting the acidity balance in the soil base due to the high nitrogen content. I’d recommend sticking to a good, organic, all-purpose house-plant feed and leave the coffee grounds out. 

How do I make my philodendron Fuller?

As with all house plant care, the trick to a lush, voluminous plant is to find the right balance of light, temperature, watering, and feeding cycles relative to the needs of your Heartleaf Philodendron. Careful pruning during spring and summer months to cut away slow, dying, or dormant growth can also help accelerate new growth. 

Wrapping Up

The Heartleaf Philodendron definitely lives up to its name. There’s a reason why so many indoor gardeners love this plant! It’s an ideal plant for all abilities and is easy to care for and tolerant of various environmental conditions. Enjoy!

Contributing Editor | linsay@petalrepublic.com | Full Bio

Linsay is an American copywriter based in the Pacific Northwest with a background in academic writing and research. Linsay holds Master's degree in both Anthropology and Library and Information Sciences and has written for numerous national and international publications including USA Today, SFGATE, Hunker, and The Bump across an array of topics in the gardening, green living, and travel sectors. When she's not writing, you'll usually find Linsay reading, kayaking, sailing, snowboarding, or working in her garden.

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