Heartleaf Philodendron Plant Care

The Philodendron scandens, also known as the heartleaf philodendron, is an easy-to-grow house plant.

So, if you struggle to grow indoor plants, this sweetheart plant can survive in poor light. The plant hails from Central America, South America, and the Caribean.

It is a leggy tropical, vining plant that displays an exotic growth and makes an excellent addition to hanging baskets.

So stay a bit longer to learn how you can care for this tropical beauty in the comfort of your home.

More About Heartleaf Philodendron Plants

heart-shaped vining philodendron

The proper botanical name of this heart-shaped sweetheart is now Philodendron scandens oxycardium. But over the years this plant has been called Philodendron Cordatum from the Latin word cordatum meaning heart-shape. It has also been called and described as Philodendron hederaceum before officially being changed to Scandens.

The plant grows heart-shaped green leaves with long stems. Yet, most gardeners sell it as the sweetheart plant and descend from the Araceae family.

Furthermore, the heartleaf philodendron grows through spring and summer, but new growth can start indoors at any time of the year. Still, there are some conflicts on how toxic the plant’s sap is and best to keep it away from kids and pets.

The studies show that the plant has calcium oxalate crystals that can irritate the mouth when digested or causes skin irritation.

Heartleaf Philodendron Care Tips

philodendron scandens

The heartleaf philodendron plant is a vigorous vine; the leaves can reach around 2 to 4 inches while the stem grows up to 4 feet. So an excellent sweetheart plant care tip is to prune it to keep them small.

Or you can train your trailing vines to wrap around a moss pole or trellis to plant the aerial roots as it grows. Alternatively, you place your plant in a hanging basket to leave the long stems hanging from the side.

The Type of Soil Heartleaf Philodendron Plant Needs

Heartleaf philodendron plants can tolerate different soil types with various pH levels. Here the key is to provide moist soil with enough drainage holes. So, the best for your house plants to prevent root rot is well-draining soil high in organic matter.

fertile soil for philodendron scandens

A mix of chalk and sand or a more peat moss-based mix is ideal. Still, you can go soilless and grow heartleaf philodendron in sphagnum peat moss, peat-perlite, or peat-vermiculite mixtures.

You can even grow your flowering plants in water, but when you transplant your sweetheart plant from a potting mix to water or vice versa, they do not adjust well.

Light Requirement for Sweetheart Plant

Regarding Philodendron care, the heartleaf philodendron is one of the easiest houseplants to have. It adapts to different lighting conditions when it grows in the tropical origins of Central America and South America.

While these tropical plants prefer indirect sunlight, they can handle some bright and low light conditions. Yet, they do not fare well in direct sunlight as it can scorch the leaves. So, bright indirect light is ideal to ensure those glossy leaves remain gorgeous.

But you need not worry if your home does not always have direct sun, as these trailing plants can thrive under fluorescent lights. Still, with these selected plant families, the lower light will lead to slow growth, and the foliage will be smaller.

How To Water Heartleaf Philodendron to Prevent Root Rot

watering heart-shaped philodendron

When grown indoors during the active growing season in spring and summer, it helps keep the soil slightly moist. But it is crucial to prevent the potting soil surface from becoming soggy.

During winter, when your plant is dormant, it will grow slower, and it helps to leave the soil to dry between watering if you notice brown leaves, your Philodendron scandens to need more water.

When you see yellow leaves, it is a sign of overwatering. The best is to water your tropical plants with tepid water, preferably distilled or filtered water. You can water the potting soil well and leave the excess moisture to drain to discourage root rot.

So the rule of thumb for heartleaf philodendron care is to provide ample drainage holes, no direct sun, and moist soil.

Fertilizer Needs for Philodendron scandens

organic liquid fertilizer for philodendron scandens

During the active growing season, you can fertilize your heart leaf every four weeks with a water-soluble or liquid fertilizer.

A standard houseplant fertilizer works fine during early summer and spring once a month. During fall and winter, you can cut back on feeding your heart leaf every three months.

Temperature and Humidity Levels

when it comes to heartleaf philodendron care, it flourishes well as a house plant indoors. The home’s temperature is ideal for this tropical plant.

The best growth for the sweetheart plant is at temperatures between 70°F-80ºF (24C°-27ºC) throughout the day and night above 55º F (13ºC). Your indoor plants do not enjoy cold water, drafts, or even heat found in the home in winter. Scandens and other heart-leaf philodendron can be planted in USDA hardiness zones 10-11

The Philodendron scandens love high humidity and will do well in your bathroom when receiving enough bright light. In addition, with higher humidity, it grows healthier roots with showy leaves. Still, your heartleaf philodendron can tolerate a lower humidity as well.

But it helps to keep an eye on brown leaf tips as it shows dry air and needs a bit more moist air. You can mist your plant or place it on a pebble tray with water to increase the moisture.

Repotting and Pruning

The heartleaf philodendron you need to repot every three years with a fresh potting medium and provide the root system with space to grow. If your plant is root-bound, it will grow slower.

Another important note is to prevent creating a drainage layer at the bottom as it is more detrimental to your plant. The reason is that the water moves down via gravity, but it stops at the layer and seeps into the small stones, which becomes problematic.

Another rare thing that can happen to your sweetheart plant indoors is flowering. This only occurs with a mature plant that is about 15 years old. The primary purpose of flowering is reproduction.

If it does bloom, you will see up to three buds opening up over the blooming period for a few days. Next, you will notice a spathe forming with a white spadix with a fertile male and female flower.

You can pinch back the stems to prevent leggy growth as it helps keep your plant looking great. Doing this helps trigger growing points in the leaf node leading to a bushy plant. The best time to do this is in the warmer months when actively growing.

Propagating Your House Plants

Propagating your sweetheart plant is pretty easy with rooting the stem cuttings.

  • You can cut up to four-inch cuttings from the stem tips at the beginning of spring or early summer. It helps if you leave up to three leaves attached, cutting below the leaf node.

  • Take a glass of tepid water and place your cutting in it, standing in indirect light until the roots develop.

  • Now, you can plant it in potting soil and keep it moist.

Heartleaf Philodendron Varieties

In the trade, you can find a few heartleaf philodendron cultivars, but two variations are available:

VAR Philodendron oxycardium

Philodendron oxycardium

The leaves on this heart leaf grow glossy brown leaves and is also a trailing plant.

VAR Philodendron scandens

variegated philodendron scandens

As discussed in this article, the heartleaf philodendron plants have light to dark green leaves, and you can find Variegata forms available with leaves in a blend of light and dark green streaks.

Still, you can find other popular plants in the Philodendron that also makes fabulous house plants.

Philodendron selloum

philodendron selloum

The plant is known as the tree Philodendron or horsehead with a shrubby form grown as outdoor plants. The tree can grow up to ten feet wide with three-foot leaves.

Philodendron x Xanadu

philodendron xanadu

This is a large indoor plant with leaves growing to 18-inches with upright growth.

Prince of Orange

philodendron prince of orange

The leaves on this plant are a shiny orange as new plants and mature to a green color.

Heartleaf Philodendron Diseases and Pests

You always hear that pests and diseases are not common in plants indoors, but the fact remains that the heartleaf philodendron is still susceptible to them. So as with your other plants, you still need to keep an eye on them for the following:

Root Rot

This is the most common disease with most plants and results from overwatering. A soil fungus grows, leading to the root system dying back. The healthy roots turn mushy and brown, and the foliage ends with yellow leaves that wilt. The best you can do is repot your plant and remove the infected roots and soil.


This is a common insect found on most indoor plants and appears in a pear-shaped form. You will notice a honeydew, and your plant will suffer leaf drops. You can wipe the insects off with a damp cloth or use a neem oil solution. Check out our How to Use Neem Oil on Your Plants.

Spider Mites

These are similar to aphids and suck the nutrients out of your plant. You find them on the underside of your plant’s foliage. The leaves will be stippled with a web and turn yellow. You can wash the infestation away with a spray of water and treat it with neem oil.

Fungus Gnats

This is a nuisance insect that looks like small flies resembling a mosquito. They thrive in damp environments emerging from the soil. While the damage is minor, the fungus gnats congregate in the home when emerging from the soil.


The insect has a soft body that looks pink with a white waxy material. You find the pest in colonies where the leaves attach to the stem. You will notice stunted growth or the leaves will look deformed.

Scale Insects

The insect pierces the leaves to feed on the sap damaging the overall heartleaf philodendron. You find two types, the armored and soft scale appearing as brown bumps. You will notice leaf drops with yellowing leaves and wilt, leading to stunted growth.

Brown Scorch Marks

This can be an exposure to direct sunlight or heat, but it can also be a fungus. The fungus can result from water that remains on the leaves. You can place your sweetheart philodendron outside, so the air circulation dries the leaves. Then place your plant in indirect sunlight.

Where to Buy a Heartleaf Philodendron Plant?

Now that you know that the heartleaf philodendron care is pretty easy, and wondering where you can find these tropical plants. You can buy them at your local garden center or Plantly online.

Whether you want to buy, sell or simply reach out to other plant enthusiasts, Plantly is the right place to be!

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