Philodendron hederaceum: the beautiful Heartleaf Philodendron

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Written By Martin Cole

Plantsman, gardener, plant-obsessive

philodendron-hederaceum

Native to the tropical rainforests of Central America and the Caribbean, Philodendron hederaceum (the Heartleaf Philodendron), also often known as Philodendron scandens, is a perennial climbing and trailing plant.

It is valued for its air-purifying qualities and its easy care nature. But the main reason that you’ll want to grow this plant is for its stunningly beautiful heart-shaped leaves.

Typical of rain forest plants, the leaves curve to a drip-tip at the end. Cascading from a shelf or trained up a moss-pole, Philodendron hederaceum’s foliage adds a calming, tropical feel to your home.

It is an added bonus that this is a resilient plant, adaptable to a most home environments and light conditions. It can even tolerate low light and short winter days, although it prefers brighter indirect light.

In my experience, the main problem when you grow this plant in low light is that it becomes leggy – the stems lengthen and you lose the effect of lush bushy leaves as seen in the image above.

Nevertheless, with its low-maintenance needs, ability to improve air quality, and trailing green vines that can reach impressive lengths indoors, this is a plant that is hard to resist.

Philodendron hederaceum quick care guide

This Philodendron is an undemanding plant that forgives occasional neglect. Its care routine is simple, making it perfect for those new to indoor gardening.

  • Light: Thrives in medium to bright indirect light. Avoid direct sunlight. Will tolerate lower light conditions.
  • Water: Water every 1-2 weeks, allowing soil to dry out between watering. Increase frequency with increased light.
  • Humidity: Adaptable to any humidity level; however, 40-60% humidity supports larger leaves and faster growth. Mist regularly or use a pebble tray.
  • Temperature range: Ideal range is 65°F-75°F (18°C-24°C).
    • Minimum: 60°F (15°C).
  • Soil: Well-draining soil with a pH of 6.0 to 7.0. Philodendrons prefer a chunky soil mix, with bark or other drainage materials for roots to curl around as they grow. Mix potting soil with bark, grit and perlite or use a philodendron-specific mix.
  • Fertiliser: Fertilise every few weeks during spring and summer with a balanced, water-soluble fertiliser.
  • Propagation: Best done through stem cuttings in water or soil, especially in spring and summer.
  • Repotting: Every 1-2 years during the active growing season, or when roots outgrow the pot.
  • Pruning: Trim regularly to maintain shape and support bushy growth.
Philodendron hederaceum
Juvenile Philodendron hederaceum

Philodendron hederaceum key facts

  • Scientific Name: Philodendron hederaceum (also often known as Philodendron scandens).
  • Meaning of Name: Philodenron means “Tree loving” in Greek, referring to its climbing nature. Hederaceum means ‘ivy-like’, referring to its similarity to that plant
  • Common Names: Heartleaf Philodendron, Sweetheart Plant
  • Plant Family: Araceae
  • Origin: Central America and the Caribbean
  • Type of Plant: Evergreen vine
  • Size: Trails or climbs to 10 feet long indoors
  • Foliage: Glossy, heart-shaped, dark green leaves
  • Flower: White flowers are rare indoors
  • Toxicity: Toxic to pets and people. Sap causes skin irritation and burning if ingested (ASPCA).

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US Buyers

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UK Buyers

Uk

Growing notes for Philodendron hederaceum

As noted, Philodendron hederaceum is generally a pretty easy to care for plant. If you go away or forget to water it for a little while, it is likely to forgive you.

It is worth remembering that this is an epiphytic plant, meaning it in the wild it clings to other plants. So, it needs to climb or trail its stems, which means you need to make room for it trail, or provide the support it needs to climb up.

The main care points to remember are not to overwater it and not to expose it to direct sunlight.

You can read more about house plant care in general in our comprehensive guide to the 7 critical requirements of house plant care here.

Light

Heartleaf Philodendron prefers bright, indirect light but can cope with medium and low light conditions.

Avoid direct sun to prevent leaf scorch. Indirect light near, but not in front of, a window is optimal. This will promote growth without risking damage from the sun’s rays.

House plant bright light
Philodendron hederaceum: ideal location for optimum light

Pruning and leaf maintenance

Prune the plant to keep it tidy and to remove any dead or dying leaves.

Wipe the leaves down with a damp cloth every month or so, as this prevents its stomata (leaf pores) from getting blocked and aids photosynthesis.

Propagation

Propagation is better done in the warmer months.

Use a stem cutting of about 6 inches, ensuring it includes at least two nodes. Place the cutting in water or moist soil, providing enough light and warmth to encourage root growth.

Common Problems and Solutions

The main problems with Philodendron hederaceum comes with over or under-watering, or insufficient humidity.

Philodendron hederaceum troubleshooting guide

Leaves and shoots

  • Yellow Leaves: Overwatering. Ensure the top inch or two of soil dries out before watering again.
  • Wilting or Brown Leaf Tips: Under-watering or low humidity. Water thoroughly and mist leaves regularly.

Pests

  • Aphids, spider mites, mealybugs. Isolate affected plants and treat with insecticidal soap or neem oil.

Diseases

  • Root rot and leaf spot. Avoid overwatering and ensure good air circulation.

Winter care

In winter, reduce watering and stop fertilising. Maintain adequate warmth and protect from cold drafts. Give the plant a little more light if you can.

Read more about how to overwinter your house plants here.

Buy

So, if you’ve got this far and are feeling like you can’t resist this beautiful plant, I’ve listed some buying options below – depending on whether you are US or UK based.

The buy links are affiliate links, which means I’d be paid a (very) small commission if you go on and buy after clicking these links. But that does not affect the price you pay.

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US Buyers

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UK Buyers

Uk

Other Philodendron hederaceum varieties

There are a couple of Philodendron hederaceum varieties that are worth check out:

  • Philodendron ‘Brasil’, with striking yellow/green variegated leaves. This plant needs to be kept in bright, indirect light to retain its variagation. So, it is not as suitable for low light as the species plant.
Philodendron hederaceum 'Brasil'
Philodendron hederaceum ‘Brasil’
  • The confusingly named Philodendron hederaceum var. hederaceum – this variety has thinner, velvety leaves with a red/bronze hue. Sometimes incorrectly called Philodendron ‘micans’.
Philodendron hederaceum var. hederaceum
Philodendron hederaceum var. hederaceum

Other Philodendron

There are many great Philodendron worth growing as house plants, including:

  • Philodendron bipinnatifidum for those seeking a larger, statement piece with deeply lobed pinnate leaves.
  • Philodendron ‘Moonlight’: Characterized by its vibrant green leaves, thriving in bright, indirect light.
  • Philodendron ‘Xanadu’: A compact variety with deeply lobed leaves, suitable for small spaces and easy to care for.
  • Philodendron ‘Prince of Orange’: Named for its vibrant orange leaves that mature to a deep green, providing a warm, colorful ambiance.
  • Philodendron ‘Birkin’: A rare and attractive variety with glossy, dark green leaves featuring bold, white pinstripes.
  • Philodendron ‘Pink Princess’: Highly coveted for its stunning variegated leaves in shades of pink, white, and green.
  • Philodendron ‘Red Emerald’: Features vibrant red stems and glossy, deep green leaves, making a bold statement in any space.
  • Philodendron ‘Lemon Lime’: Known for its bright, lime green leaves that add energy and vibrancy to the room.
  • Philodendron ilsemanii: a rare variegated large leaved variety.

Other great foliage plants

See our guides to caring for these other great foliage plants:

Key references and resources

Alloway, Z and Bailey (F). (2018) RHS Practical House Plant Book: Choose The Best, Display Creatively, Nurture and Care, Royal Horticultural Society, UK.

Camilleri,L and Kaplan, S. (2020), Plantopedia: The Definitive Guide to Houseplants, Smith Street Books.

Hessayon, Dr D.G. (1991) The New House Plant Expert, PBI Publications, UK.

Brickell, C. (2016). Royal Horticultural Society AZ encyclopedia of garden plants. 4th Edition Dorling Kindersley.

Squire, D. (2017). Houseplant Handbook: Basic Growing Techniques and a Directory of 300 Everyday Houseplants, CompanionHouse Books.

Nelson, G (2021). Plant – House plants: Choosing, Styling, Caring. Mitchell Beazley. London

Brickell, C. (2011). American horticultural society encyclopedia of plants and flowers. Penguin.

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