Heartleaf Philodendron - P. Hederaceum/Scandens

Philodendron hederaceum


  1. Top Tips
  2. Location, Water, Humidity & Fertilisation
  3. Common Issues
  4. Origins, Temperature, Propagation, Repotting & Toxicity.

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Top Tips & Info

  • Care Difficulty - Easy
  • Provide a bright, indirect setting with adequate warmth and humidity. Although Heartleaf Philodendrons can thrive in average room humidity, be sure to mist the foliage weekly while the heaters are operating, or introduce a pebble tray to promote a moister environment.
  • Allow the top third of the soil to dry out in between irrigations and always be cautious of water-logging. If the compost still looks saturated, leave it! You're far better off keeping it under-watered than over-done, so always bear that in mind when irrigating.
  • Fertilise using a 'Houseplant' labelled feed every four waters in the spring and summer, reducing this to every six in the colder months.
  • Keep an eye out for any loss of pre-existing variegations (patterns), as locations that are too dark will cause them to fade & disappear. Settings that are too bright may develop exaggerated variegations with little to no green tissue.
  • Although pests aren't usually an issue with this species, always be wary of Mealybugs & Spider Mites that'll locate themselves in the cubbyholes and undersides of the leaves.
  • Repot every few years using a 'Houseplant' labelled potting mix in the next sized pot. Scroll down to the 'Repotting' section to learn more about repotting a specimen that's attached to a moss pole.

Location & Light - 🔸🔸

A brightly lit location with little or no direct sun is best; however, a darker position is still acceptable, too. One word of advice to mention is that vines grown in a darker setting will significantly increase the chance of root rot, as well as variegated plants losing their colourful patterns. Strong all-day sunlight should be avoided at all costs, due to the combination of too little soil moisture and over-exposure significantly damaging the plant's health over time.

Remember - The amount of light and current season of the year will directly govern the frequencies of waters per month. Specimens placed in darker areas must be kept on the drier side to life, whereas brighter locations will require more soil moisture to lubricate photosynthesis.

Water - 🔸🔸

During the spring and summer, allow the top third of the soil to become dry in between waters, reducing this further to replicate its dormancy period in the autumn and winter. Due to the sensitivity of their root systems, never apply cold water as it may weaken its health and well-being over time. For those that use tap water (instead of rainwater or fresh bottled water), allow it to stand for at least 24hrs to eliminate the high levels of chloride and fluoride found from the tap. Under-watering symptoms include stunted growth, crispy brown patches developing on the foliage and leaf curling. If your plant receives prolonged periods of direct sunlight, relocate it immediately; over-exposure to the sun will continue to contribute to its dehydration, slowly destroying the plant from the inside-out. Over-watering symptoms include a rotting stem, mould developing on the soil and rapid lower leaf loss. These issues are typical for those situated in darker locations; if abnormal leaf loss occurs, especially at its base, it is most likely to be a case of root rot. For further advice on this issue, be sure to click on the following link.

Humidity - 🔸🔸

Although average room humidity is acceptable, be sure to introduce a pebble tray to increase the local humidity while the heaters are operating. Then at monthly intervals, gently hose the foliage down to hydrate the leaves and wash away the thin layer of dust from its pores. Keep the tray topped up with water to maintain this necessity over the colder months of the year.

Fertilisation - 🔸🔸

Feed every four waters during the growing period and every six in the autumn and winter, using a 'Houseplant' labelled fertiliser. Never apply a 'ready to use’ product into the soil without a pre-water first, as it may burn the roots and lead to yellowed leaves.

Common Issues with Heartleaf Philodendrons 

Root rot is a common issue with specimens sat in too moist or waterlogged soil for long periods. Symptoms include rapidly yellowing leaves, stunted growth and a rotten brown base. Take the plant out of the pot and inspect health below the soil line. If the roots sport a yellow tinge, you're good to go, but if they're brown and mushy, action must be taken immediately. More information about addressing root rot can be found on this link.

Pests could arise at any time, with infestations starting from the original nursery or via contamination in your home. With Philodendrons, Spider Mites and Mealybugs tend to be the usual inhabitants, with the first being minute and almost transparent, roaming the leaves in search of chlorophyll and a site to hide its eggs. The latter, however, will stand out much more, with white cottony webs developing across the foliage and stems. Thoroughly check the plant's cubbyholes before giving it the all-clear, or click on the appropriate links to learn more about eradicating these issues.

Always use lukewarm water, and if you choose to use tap water, allow it to stand for at least 24hrs before application. Philodendrons tend to be quite sensitive to temperature change, so pouring cold tap water immediately into the pot will not only add fluoride into the soil, but it could even lead to yellowed leaves over time!

Transplant shock is a big issue when it comes to heavy-handed repots. Give the plant a good soak 24hrs before the action and never tinker with the roots, unless it has been affected by root rot. Typical signs of transplant shock are largely similar to under-watering, with wilting, yellowing leaves and stunted growth among the most common symptoms. Click here to learn more about addressing transplant shock, and a step-by-step guide on performing the perfect transplant.

Curled leaves and brown leaf-edges are the result of too little water and over-exposure to the sun. Philodendrons are best located in bright, indirect settings, and those that haven't acclimatised to the harsh rays will show signs of sun-scorch and environmental shock. A splash of winter sunlight is acceptable as long as the soil moisture is regularly observed, with complete avoidance once summer comes along.

Too low humidity can cause browning leaf tips with yellow halos. Although this won't kill your specimen, you may want to increase the local moisture to prevent the new growth from adopting these symptoms. Mist or rinse the foliage from time to time and create a humidity tray whilst the heaters are active to create a stable environment for your specimen.

Yellowing lower leaves (closest to soil) are a clear sign of over-watering, usually caused by too little light. Although they can do well in darker locations, the frequency of irrigations must be reduced to counteract the chance of root rot. People don't realise that a plant's root system needs access to oxygen too; when soil is watered, the air will travel upwards and out of the potting mix. A lack of accessible oxygen for the roots will cause them to subsequently breakdown over the oncoming days. Click on this link to learn more about root rot and how to address it, and always feel the pot's weight for confirmation (heaviness = good soil moisture, & vice versa).

The browning of the cataphyll shouldn't of be a concern, as it's a wholly natural process which affects all specimens across the world. Remove the brown section once it becomes dry and crispy, using a clean pair of scissors or peeling it back by hand.


Philodendrons form part of the Araceae family that holds genera such as Peace LilliesAlocasia and ZZ PlantsSince its initial classification by Nicolaus von Jacquin in 1775, the species has had many names including Arum hederaceum and P. scandens. The latter synonym, P. scandens, was created by a German botanist named Karl Koch in the mid 19th century with 'scandens' being the Latin word for 'climbing', in reference to its epiphytic nature. It's current name, P. hederaceum is a direct nod to the genus, Hedera, that consists of woody hemiempiythic species native to Europe and Asia.

The Distribution of P. hederaceum


12° - 30°C   (54° - 86°F)
H1b  (Hardiness Zone 12)  - Can be grown outdoors during the summer in a sheltered location with temperatures above 12℃  (54℉),  but is fine to remain indoors, too. If you decide to bring this plant outdoors, don't allow it to endure more than an hour of direct sunlight a day as it may result in sun-scorch. Regularly keep an eye out for pests, especially when re-introducing it back indoors.


Up to 2m in height and 3m in width, when given a structure to climb up. The ultimate height will take between 3 - 6 years to achieve with up to 40cm of new growth per year. Specimens that naturally grow in the wild can reach heights of up to fifteen metres; however, with smaller root systems and less favourable growing conditions, they'll only grow to three metres, give or take.

Pruning & Maintenance

Remove yellow or dying leaves, and plant debris to encourage better-growing conditions. While pruning, always use clean scissors or shears to reduce the chance of bacterial and fungal diseases. Never cut through yellowed tissue as this may cause further damage in the likes of diseases or bacterial infections. Remember to make clean incisions as too-damaged wounds may shock the plant, causing weakened growth and a decline in health.

Although the aerial roots aren't exactly appealing, do not remove them as it may put stress upon the plant and potentially could weaken it with potential diseases.


Via Seed or Vine Cuttings.

Vine Cuttings (Easy)

Nodes - Adventitious roots that'll develop below the nodal junction, to anchor the plant to its host. This is where the cutting will root from.


  1. Choose the healthiest, most established vines that are wooded, but still juvenile enough to slightly bend. This propagation method can be taken from spring to summer, using between three to six leaves, with the vine being at least 12cm in length with two nodes (one for foliar development and the other for root growth). Although more nodes are fine, be sure only to submerge the bottom ones to avoid inappropriate rooting elsewhere.
  2. Cut directly below a node using a clean knife to reduce bacteria count. Remove the lower half of the leaves and place the vines into a container of lukewarm water. Be sure to submerge at least one node into the water, or else the root development will be hindered.
  3. It's essential that the leaves stay above the waterline, for the prevention of disease.
  4. Replace the water weekly, using tepid water to avert shocking the cutting with cold temperatures. 
  5. Once the roots surpass 4cm (2 inches) in length, it's time to pot the cutting.
  6. Choose a potting mix - as long as it has a well-draining nature, most soils are fine. 'Houseplant' compost is best, but a 'Multipurpose' compost with a splash of grit or perlite is acceptable, too.
  7. Use a 7cm (3 inches) pot that has good drainage holes - plastic or terracotta are both acceptable in this instance. Try not to over-pot the cuttings as blackleg occurs when the bottom wound becomes infected, typically caused by water-logging or a too-damaged wound. See the last image towards the bottom of the article.
  8. Fill the bottom third with soil and sit the plant on top. Pour the rest of the compost around the roots until it fills the top three-quarters of the pot. Gently tap the sides to remove any air pockets and to even out the soil structure. Never compact the compost for stability as it'll cause root rot by forcing the oxygen to the surface when irrigated. If it needs to be supported, use a cane!
  9. Avoid direct sunlight and offer good humidity by introducing a pebble tray to avert dehydration. Keep the soil evenly moist, allowing only the top inch to dry out in between waters. After a month of solid foliar growth, treat like an established specimen by following the care tips above!


  1. Choose the healthiest, most established vines that are wooded, but still juvenile enough to slightly bend. This propagation method can be taken all year round, using two nodes that already house aerial roots (image above). You should only have two nodes so that the lower one is for root development and the other for foliar growth. Remove the lower leaf, so each cutting only has one.
  2. Cut directly below a node using a clean knife to reduce bacteria count. Remove the lower leaf and place the vine into a moist, well-draining potting mix. 'Houseplant' compost is best as it'll include perlite for better air circulation within the soil. 
  3. Use a 5-inch pot that has good drainage holes - plastic or terracotta are both acceptable in this instance. Try not to over-pot the cuttings - blackleg occurs when the bottom wound becomes infected, typically caused by water-logging or a too-damaged wound. See the last image towards the bottom of the article.
  4. Set the cutting into the compost, keeping the foliage above the soil line. Be sure to wholly submerge the lower node into the potting mix, or else root development will be hindered.
  5. Provide a bright, indirect setting with adequate warmth and the avoidance of direct sunlight nearby radiators. Place the potted cutting into a transparent plastic bag for the first couple of weeks to lock in extra humidity so that the cutting doesn't dry out. Maintain moist, but not soggy soil throughout this process. 
  6. Open the bag every two days for half an hour for the prevention of disease. After a month of being placed in soil, remove the bag and follow the care tips provided above.

Blackleg is a common disease during propagation, typically caused by poor water hygiene.


As Philodendrons are part of the Araceae family, they'll produce toxic flowers that can be boiled and ate once ripe. Despite its readiness to flower in the wild, those grown domestically will rarely flower.


Repot every two years in the spring, using a 'Houseplant' labelled compost and the next sized pot with adequate drainage. Hydrate the plant 24hrs before tinkering with the roots to prevent the risk of transplant shock. For those that are situated in a darker location, add a thin layer of small grit in the pot's base to improve drainage and downplay over-watering. Click here for a detailed step-by-step guide on transplantation, or via this link to learn about repotting with root rot.

If you're thinking of repotting a specimen that's growing up a moss pole, never remove the attached aerial roots as the disturbance could put further stress on the plant. Extend by purchasing another same-sized pole and pushing directly into the hollow hole in the original's top - its moss-like material may have to be cut off from the top to access the hollow centre. Get a long, sturdy stick that has a similar length to the two poles combined and place in the two's centre to support the weight. Always perform the repot BEFORE adding another pole, as it'll prove more challenging due to the weight distribution and overall balance. NEVER remove soil from the roots, or over-touch the root system, as this will cause transplant shock and possible death.

Pests & Diseases

Keep an eye out for mealybugs, spider mites, scale & thrips that'll locate themselves in the cubbyholes and undersides of the leaves. Typical diseases associated with Philodendrons are leaf-spot disease, botrytis & root rot; click here for more information about how to identify and address any of these issues.


This plant is classified as poisonous due to varying concentrations of calcium oxalate crystals found around the plant's body. If parts of the plants are eaten, vomiting, nausea and a loss of appetite could occur. Consumption of large quantities must be dealt with quickly; acquire medical assistance for further information.

Retail Locations

Homebase,  B&Q,  IKEA,  Dobbies,  Blue Diamond,  Online Stores.

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