Heartleaf Philodendron

Heartleaf Philodendron

Heartleaf Philodendron

The Heartleaf Philodendron is a vigorously growing vine that is covered with glossy, heart shaped leaves. There are several varieties, some that have a yellowish or off white variegation  and the original dark green variety.

The vines can reach an almost unlimited length is well cared for. The heart shaped leaves are normally anywhere from 2-6 inches in width, but can reach as much as 12 inches on large mature plants.

When kept in a hanging pot the vines will gracefully hang, but it will cling and climb if given a vertical support.

Philodendron’s can survive a wide variety of lighting conditions. They prefer indirect sunlight, but will often even thrive in low light areas of your home.

Philodendron’s like moist environments and soil should be kept moist at all times, but not soaked. They need good drainage, soggy soil will cause the roots to quickly rot.

The plant should be watered sparingly during the winter months, with the top 1/2 inch being allowed to dry before re-watering. But, during the growing season water as often as needed to retain soil moisture. Frequently mist the leaves and wipe with a damp cloth to remove any dust.

A good quality, well draining potting soil will work fine with Philodendron’s. If you’d like to mix your own soil use equal parts of sterilized garden loam, coarse sand or Perlite mixed with 1/2 the amount of peat moss.

A standard, high quality houseplant food is sufficient and can be used regularly. They should not be fed during the fall and winter months when plant growth is slower.

The Sweetheart plant is one of the easiest to propagate. Just snip the vines off below one of the leaf nodules, remove several leaves and place the stem in water. Roots are usually quick to appear and the plant can then be placed in soil.

New plants can also be started by carefully dividing the root clump. Make sure that each new section has some well established roots for the best results.

The leaves and juices of the Philodendron contain calcium oxalate and asparagine. The poison is in both the leaves and stems and general symptoms include inflammation and reddening of the skin and itchiness.

More serious symptoms are slurred speech, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. There may also be swelling of the mouth and tongue and burning in the mouth, throat and eyes. In rare cases the throat may swell blocking airways.

Home Care:
Use a cold, wet rag to wipe out the mouth and wash any of the plant sap off of the skin. If the plant was ingested seek medical help immediately.

The Philodendron will let you know if you’re watering it correctly. If the leaves start to turn yellow, you’re giving the plant too much water. If the leaves turn brown, it’s not receiving enough water!

If the plant is kept in very low light conditions, the leaves will be spread out farther apart on the vines. And, the leaf colors won’t be as deep and glossy.

  • Common Name: Heartleaf Philodendron, Sweetheart Plant
  • Genus: Philodendron
  • Family: Araceae
  • Plant Type: Perennial
  • Origin: Tropical America
  • Blooming Time: Rarely blooms in captivity
  • Humidity: Moderate
  • Temperature: 60-85°F
  • Height: Almost unlimited
  • Color: Dark green, variegated
  • Insects and Diseases: Generally pest free when grown indoors

Written by Connie Corder for HouseplantsForYou.com, Copyright 2008 All Rights Reserved


  1. Dina Learned
    Nov 14, 2009

    I would appreciate an answer to this question. My hysband seems to think that you water a philodendrom plant from the bottom. The leaves have started to turn yellow. Is is not proper to only water from the top when the soil is dry? This is a 10 year old heart shaped plant, with a long vine. Please help with this ongoing dispute. I don’t want the plant to die. Thank you very much.

  2. Travis
    May 23, 2011

    How long can these Heartleaf Philodendron vines grow in length?

  3. Mrs.Slone
    Jun 1, 2011

    @ Travis They can get as long as you let them but you can keep trimming them back and if you want more then take the clippings that you have trimmed from it and place it in a pot and it will take root giving you another one of several.

  4. PlantLady
    Jun 15, 2011

    Dina – I have had these plants for as long as I can remember, because they are usually so easy to grow and are so pretty, they’ve always been one of my favorites. Since I have always kept them in the house in hanging baskets and because they get too long and heavy to take down to water in a sink or tub, I have never used a pot that you can water them from the bottom. I have always watered mine from the top and they’ve done great.

    Yellow leaves can be caused by several different things and you pretty much have to rule out the problem to stop it. Here’s a list of causes I found, hope it helps.

    • Too much water or poor drainage: Feel soil for excessive moisture. Gently remove the plant from its container and examine the roots. Mushy brown roots without white tips and/or soggy soil in the bottom of the pot indicate too much water or poor drainage. Unclog drainage holes. Do not water again until soil is almost dry.

    • Lack of light: Check growth for leaves that are smaller than normal. Stems may elongate and grow spindly and weak. Gradually move plant to brighter light.

    • Root bound: Check to see if roots are growing out through drainage holes in the bottom of the pot. Gently remove the plant from the container. If roots are growing in a circle, gently tease the roots outward and repot in the next size larger container (for example, if currently in a 6-inch pot, move to an 8-inch pot). Suddenly repotting the houseplant into too large a pot will cause severe stress, which could lead to the plant’s death.

    • High temperature: If only outer leaves are yellowing, check for drafts from heating and air-conditioning vents. Move plant to a draft-free location.

    • Nitrogen deficiency: Oldest leaves turn yellow and may drop. Yellowing starts at the leaf margins and progresses inward without producing a distinct pattern. Growth is slow, new leaves are small, and the whole plant may appear stunted. Fertilize plant with soluble fertilizer that is rich in the first number on the label (for example, 23-19-19). Continue to fertilize at regular intervals according to the label.

  5. PlantLady
    Jun 15, 2011

    Kenneth – I have seen these plants in a pot as small as one or two gallons in offices that have vines reaching all the way around a wall and more. I remember one plant that was in the corner in a fairly small pot that had vines going around the top of wall. The vines came from the left and right sides of the plant and were supported by nails at the top of the wall. They had reached the length of both walls beside the plant and had already started growing on the other walls.

    When the length on these vines says “limitless” it’s not an exaggeration! With proper care, temp, water and light, these vines can reach enormous lengths. If you don’t want your plant to get that long you’ve got 2 choices…………

    If the plant is in a hanging basket you can cut the vines and make more plants. I usually take cuttings from 6 to 10 inches long and simply place them in water. You can even cut the vine and put it in soil. I have had better luck rotting them in water, the roots seem to grow much faster that way. I have even placed sections of vine that had no leaves at all on them in water and before you know it, there are roots and new leaves. Just make sure that you cut the vine right at a leaf node, the roots won’t grow on the stem itself they sprout from the little nodule where the leaf grows.

    The other option is to place the plant in a large pot and add a support and let the vine grow around it. Just like the picture above. When you buy one like the plant in the picture, it will have a slice of some sort of tree bark in the middle. But, you could use almost anything.

  6. Christina
    Oct 16, 2012

    My boyfriend’s mom gave me a few clippings of her heart leaf plant… I’ve had the stems in water for about 2 days now. How long will it take for then to start sprouting roots so that I can plant them?

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