How to Care for Your Heartleaf Philodendron: 7 Quick Go-To Tips

Philodendron bipinnatifidum, also known as heartleaf philodendron, is a houseplant that I recommend to everyone who is looking for an easy, rewarding plant to grow! You’ll also find Philodendron scandens and P. hederaceum on the market, but I’ll talk you through all that in the article. They are all a part of the Araceae family and originate from South America where they can grow up to 20 feet tall. 

There’s around 489 species of philodendron, all of which need to be grown in their native environment or as houseplants anywhere else because they need lots of warmth. This plant needs very minimal care but rewards you with gorgeous leaves which can trail or climb.

heartleaf philodendron

Table Of Contents

close up of heartleaf philodendron leaf

How To Care For Philodendron Hederaceum?

Whistle Stop Tour of Care Tips for a Heartleaf Philodendron 
Light Medium to bright, indirect light but no indirect sun
WateringWhen the soil is dry, yellow leaves tend to indicate overwatering and brown leaves usually mean under-watering 
Fertilizer Throughout the growing season when the plant is actively growing 
TemperaturePhilodendrons love warmth, keep the temperature above 55ºF
PruningPrune freqeuntly in order to keep the plant full and healthy 
Propagating One of the easiest plants to propagate with cuttings 
Common problemsFungus gnats, aphids and spider mite can be a problem 

Bright Indirect Light Is Key

This plant loves bright, indirect light, the trick is that you want to see light touching the plant but not so much that a distinctive shadow of the plant is cast. If the plant’s growth stays steady and the leaves stay clustered together then you’ll know if the plant has enough light. If you see that the plant’s leaves are getting smaller and further apart or the plant is yellowing it’s likely the philodendron needs more light. Too much light results in crispy leaves and sunscorch. 

To know if your plant is getting too much or too little light there are a few key things to look for:

Too much lightToo little light 
Crispy, brown leavesDroopy leaves
Plant is turning yellow or brownNew leaves are small and growth is slow
Leaves curl in on themselvesVariegation (if applicable) will be reduced

Water Regularly Every Week

Philodendron plants need watering roughly once a week but as per usual it’s impossible to give an exact schedule of when to water. My recommendation is to check the soil frequently, every couple of days or even once a week is enough, and when the soil is dry (or the top 2-3 inches are dry) then it’s time to water.

The most important thing is to understand how the environment your plant is in will affect the watering schedule you keep. 

Here’s how to know when to decrease or increase watering based on the environment: 

Increase frequency of wateringDecrease frequency of watering 
If the plant is potted in a small pot If the plant is more established 
In the summerIn the winter
When the plant is receiving a lot of light – two parts to this one, firstly the sunlight will dry out the soil by evaporating the water but also when the plant is photosynthesising at a great rate it will be using water up more quickly.If your home is humid (when the air has more moisture in it is harder for leaves to lose water so the plants uptake the water slower and need watering less often)
For younger plants as their roots are just little and can’t properly absorb the moisture  If the plant has thicker stems or leaves (which hold water in a usable way)
philodendron in black pot against white wall

Here’s how to check if the soil is dry / needs watering:

If you’re using the old fashioned method:

When the top 2-3 inches of the soil feel dry and your finger comes out of the soil clean (the wet soil sticks, the dry soil falls off) it’s time to water your plant. If you don’t want to use your finger just use a stick or similar for the same process.

If you’re down with the technology:

Keep your moisture meter in the soil at all times or stick it in to test the moisture levels every week or so and when the soil is dry, give the plant a drink. Make sure to not have the moisture meter too deep in the soil or the plant will end up underwatered.

Some Tips on How to Water Your Heartleaf Philodendron

Remove the plant from its decorative pot so that any excess water can drain away when you do water, as stagnant water left behind will kill your plant.

I recommend putting your plant in the shower and giving it a wash with some warm water if you are blessed with nice soft tap water – if you’re like me and your tap water is full of minerals then use rain water instead. I personally like to collect rain water to be eco-friendly but that’s not an option for everyone. It’s nearly as effective to just let the tap water sit for 24 hours before using it. 

Always avoid using cold water as it will shock the roots, use slightly warmer water in the winter and slightly cooler water in the summer but this should still be lukewarm / room temperature and never very hot or very cold.

If you are trying to counteract having under-watered your plant consider bottom watering as it will help to saturate the soil more evenly. Just fill a tray or the sink with some warm water and pop the plant in the water for around 20 minutes.

One extra pro tip: before watering your philodendron, aerate the soil and break up any compacted chunks of soil. This helps with drainage and moisture retention.

Philodendrons Appreciate Humidity 

Philodendron plants prefer to be in a climate with at least 40% humidity but it can tolerate drier conditions, bear this in mind around the winter time in particular where home heating systems will dry out the air and reduce the humidity levels. 

I would advise to never mist your plants as it is not particularly beneficial but can lead to rot and pests. In order to raise the humidity in your home I would advise getting a humidifier or trying a DIY alternative. You can group plants together, they’ll benefit from this because plants lose moisture through their leaves so placing them close together creates a humid microclimate for them. You can also use a shallow tray of pebbles with water under your plants to boost the humidity.

heartleaf philodendron leaves climbing

Fertilize With a Balanced Solution

Use a balanced fertilizer (one which has similar levels of nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium) according to the packet instructions. 

You can use either a slow-release fertilizer which needs to be applied once at the beginning of the period of active growth, or a liquid, fast-release fertilizer which can be used when you water your plants. 

I personally prefer using a liquid fertilizer because I have more control over when to fertilize and how much to use. I like the Houseplant Focus fertilizer because it contains the extra nutrients like iron and zinc which are needed for healthy plants. 

What’s Different About Climbers and Non-Climbers? 

All of the different philodendron species can be sorted into climbers or non-climbers.

Climbers are suitable for homes and indoor spaces because they are generally a little bit smaller. Non-climbing philodendrons often grow into immense plants with massive leaves, they are often used in public gardens or in shopping center planters, that kind of thing. 

Climbing philodendrons such as the heartleaf philodendron can be grown as a trailing or as a climbing plant, the leaves of the philodendron will grow bigger if you give them something to climb up but they will also be perfectly happy as a trailing plant!

philodendron supported climbing on red wall

What Is a Quick Run Down? 

Common NameHeart leaf philodendron 
Botanical Name Philodendron hederaceum 
Plant Type Perennial 
Mature SizeUp to 20 feet tall, the leaves can be up to 10 inches wide 
Light requirementsLoves bright, indirect light
Soil preferencesWell-draining chunky soils 
pH needsNeutral – slightly acidic soil is best suited for philodendrons 
Hardiness zones9-11 in USDA zones
Native to Tropical areas of central and south America 
Safety around the house? Toxic to humans and pets 

Are There Different Types Of Philodendron?

Philodendron Brazil: these philodendrons have heart shaped leaves with variegation, they usually have a thick yellow streak pattern in the center of the leaf. 

Philodendron neon: this particular type of philodendron is characterized by its bright yellow/green leaves

Philodendron micans: heart shape leaves which have a copper overtone 

Philodendron silver leaf: deep green leaves with patches of silver/white caused by pockets where there’d no chlorophyll present resulting in variegated leaves 

Philodendron silver stripe: these look pretty similar to the philodendron brasil but with a silver stripe instead of a yellow one in the middle of the leaves 

Philodendron Scandens and Philodendron Hederaceum Differences?

With so many cultivars and species and breeding it gets very confusing, let’s break it down. 

Every single living thing which has been discovered is sorted in a system called plant taxonomy/ plant classification. All plants are part of the same Kingdom (Plantae), the kingdom is sorted into groups called phylum, then class, then order, then family, then genus and finally we end up with separate species! This is why so many different plants have similar names or are easily confused! 

All of the philodendrons and pothos that people confuse are all part of the same plant family. The term philodendron refers to a whole genus of plants. Genuses contain multiple species, i.e. philodendron scandens.

Throughout my research I’ve read sources that state philodendron scanden and hederaceum are the same species. It’s complicated because there’s so much misinformation on the internet. However I can say conclusively that Philodendron hederaceum is the correct name for all of the philodendron that have been referred to as philodendron scandens, miduhoi, oxycardium and more. The term P. hederaceum was used as the official scientific name for the plant from 1829 onwards. The other terms like scandens didn’t appear until much later and are not the scientific term.

The various names for philodendron generally reflect variations within the species. In the same way that people all look different but we are all human beings, we all fall into the category of homo sapien whether we are tall/short etc! Philodendron scandens and hederaceum have slight surface level differences like size and leaf shape but they belong to the same species nonetheless. 

In terms of science and botanists: all of these philodendrons are hederaceum.

In terms of plant collectors: all sorts of plant cultivars have different names used to describe them.

This debate spans over 180 years but at the end of the day, they mostly need caring for the same way so it doesn’t have to matter!

How Do I Identify Philodendron Versus Pothos? 

It is so easy to mix up philodendrons and pothos because they have very similar shaped leaves, they are closely related so it’s understandable. The leaves of a heartleaf philodendron are thinner, softer and more malleable than the leaves on a pothos which are thicker and waxier.

Pothos belong to the same family as philodendron but a different genus, pothos are part of the Epipremnum genus.

FAQs for a Heartleaf Philodendron

Why is my heartleaf philodendron so straggly and not growing leaves anymore? 

To get your philodendron plants to be lush and full again it’s important that the plant is getting enough light, this is a major cause of bare plants. If the leaves are getting enough light they won’t have enough energy to grow new leaves, the plant will stretch towards light by growing longer stems before producing leaves in order to increase their chances of survival. Give the plant a trim and move it to a sunnier spot. Pinching (trimming) the stems encourages the plant to grow multiple stems and become bushy rather than just growing longer. 

How long does a heartleaf philodendron live for? 

When cared for well the philodendrons can live for decades! You can also keep growing new philodendrons forever with stem cuttings. 

Which Philodendron Will You Choose? 

With hundreds of species of philodendron plants to choose from there’s one out there for every type of plant lover. I love growing heartleaf philodendrons because they’re easy to care for and can grow rapidly. With just warm temperatures, bright indirect light and the occasional watering you’ll find your philodendrons thriving. 

Just make sure to remember that heartleaf philodendrons are poisonous and must be kept away from small children and pets. 

Enjoyed This Heartleaf Philodendron Plant Care Guide?

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Photo of author
Katie Riggs
Katie’s love of plants began at a young age, in fact it was the first time she went camping and discovered the medicinal wonders of a dock leaf that the fascination with all things botanical took hold. Spending time in nature and frequently visiting the Kew Gardens, she became obsessed with the diversity of plants you could grow at home. Her favorite things to grow are herbs and vegetables outdoors as well as her prized fiddle leaf fig and calathea orbifolia. Hundreds of mistakes later she has become well versed in how not to kill a houseplant. Her passions now involve sharing her love of nature and all things green to help other people keep their plants happy and healthy.

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