The heartleaf philodendron’s (Philodendron hederaceum) trailing form and heart-shaped leaves make it a favorite of many houseplant lovers. But sometimes, this plant goes from looking super sweet to slightly sour. Join me as I cover some common problems and explain how to remedy them.
1. Drooping Leaves
Sure, these plants are known for their trailing stems and leaves, but the leaves shouldn’t be droopy. If the normally rigid leaves turn limp, something’s awry.
Unfortunately, there’s more than one possible cause of drooping leaves. When I notice my plant’s leaves drooping, I look at my watering practices and the plant’s environment.
Both too much water and too little water can lead to drooping leaves. If you recognize that you’ve forgotten to water your plant for a few weeks, providing water will likely cause it to perk back up within a day.
And if the soil has been wet for weeks on end, there’s a good chance the plant has too much water and unhappy roots. Repot the plant using fresh potting soil and decrease the frequency you water.
Other possible causes of drooping leaves include too little humidity, sudden changes in temperature, and too much fertilizer.
2. Yellowing Leaves
When heartleaf philodendron plants are healthy, their leaves are a vibrant, deep green. Yellow leaves signal that something is wrong, and it’s up to you to figure out what.
Some common causes of yellowing leaves include underwatering and overwatering. Remember to water when the top two inches of soil is dry.
Cold temperatures can also cause the leaves to turn yellow. These plants prefer temperatures between 65–80°F, and temperatures below 50°F will stress the plants, potentially leading to yellow leaves.
While heartleaf philodendrons don’t need a lot of fertilizer, they can still become nutrient-deficient. If you’ve had your plant for multiple years without fertilizing it, a nutrient deficiency may be causing the yellow leaves. Apply a low dose of a balanced houseplant fertilizer to perk it back up.
3. Root Rot
Root rot is a generic term used to describe a variety of fungal diseases that attack plant roots. Some of the pathogens that cause root rot include Pythium, Rhizoctonia, and Phytophthora. No matter what fungus is to blame, you’ll notice drooping leaves and soft, discolored roots.
Often, the first sign of root rot is drooping leaves. You may think your plant needs more water, but this is the worst thing you can do to a plant with root rot! Instead, decrease the amount you water.
If you suspect your plant has root rot, remove it from its container and brush off excess soil. Check if the roots are mushy and/or dark in color, and trim off any severely infected parts. Repot the plant using fresh potting soil and remember to water only when the top two inches of soil are dry.
4. Slow Growth
Heartleaf philodendron plants are quick-growing plants that should grow at least a foot each year. If your plant remains the same size for months on end, it’s probably unhappy with its environment.
A lack of light is one of the main causes of stagnant growth. These plants grow best in bright, indirect light, and placing them in a dark corner will make them unhappy. Remember, plants need light to produce the sugars that fuel necessary processes!
Try moving your plant into a bright area like near a south-facing or west-facing window. Examine factors like watering, temperature, and fertilizer if your plant is still not growing.
I’ve found that too little water can prevent the plants from growing. These plants may look healthy after a few weeks without water, but that doesn’t mean they’re thriving. When I started watering my plant every week instead of every other week, I noticed rapid growth and larger leaves.
Like most houseplants, the heartleaf philodendron is susceptible to aphid attacks. While these sap-sucking pests are small, they can quickly take over a plant and drink its juices. Plants become spattered with discolored dots; eventually, entire leaves can turn yellow.
If you spot a few aphids, grab a wet, soapy towel and wipe them off. This method may not work for larger infestations, so spray the pests with insecticidal soap or neem oil. Both of these products work on contact, so make sure you cover all aphids when you spray.
Aphids often enter the home when you bring in a new houseplant, so check your plants for pests before bringing them inside.
6. Dropping Leaves
If your plant is littering your floor with leaves, an improper temperature or a poor watering schedule is likely to blame.
Air temperatures below 50°F or above 90°F can stress the plant and cause it to drop its leaves. Hot and cold drafts can also lead to leaf drop. Keep your heartleaf philodendron in an area where the temperature remains between 65–80°F, and avoid drafty areas.
Underwatering can also lead the plant to drop its leaves. Remember to deeply water your philodendron when the top two inches of soil is dry.
7. Curling Leaves
Curling leaf tips often indicate a problem with fertilization. While these plants benefit from low-dose fertilizer in the spring and summer, providing too much fertilizer can cause harm.
When heartleaf philodendron plants receive too many nutrients at once, they will often develop curled and brown leaf tips. Avoid adding more fertilizer and water thoroughly to flush out any remaining product.
In the future, only apply a low-dose balanced fertilizer with an NPK ratio like 1-1-1. I like to use a liquid fertilizer designed for houseplants. Apply no more than once every week, but note that once or twice a month is generally sufficient.
Other possible causes of curling leaves are low humidity, wind, and cold temperatures. So keep your plants away from fans, fireplaces, and HVAC vents.
Heartleaf philodendrons are relatively healthy plants, but that doesn’t mean they’re immune to problems. Now that you know some common issues and how to fix them, you can keep your plant healthy for years to come.
For more, see our in-depth heartleaf philodendron care guide.