Best Philodendron Scandens Care (Heart Leaf Philodendron)

Houseplant lovers have heart eyes for the Heart Leaf Philodendron. Scientifically known as Philodendron Scandens or Philodendron Hederaceum, the Heart Leaf Philodendron is one of the most popular indoor plants because of its adorably heart-shaped leaves.

Philodendron Scandens also goes by Sweetheart Philodendron and Philodendron Cordatum, which translates to heart-shaped in Latin.

This sweetly shaped plant is native to Central and South America, where it naturally thrives in a tropical environment, climbing up trees. Though it has tropical roots, Philodendron Scandens is low-maintenance and easy to care for in almost any climate in addition to being a beautiful, vining addition to your indoor space.

Philodendron Scandens doesn’t require lots of fuss, but there are some basics of Philodendron Scandens care you should know before making a date with this sweetheart.

Common Types of Philodendron Scandens Grown in Homes

Philodendrons come in many varieties, shapes, and sizes. Several of these varieties maintain the heart-shaped leaves of a Philodendron Scandens.

Philodendron Scandens Care – Complete A to Z

Light Required for Good Growth

Philodendron Scandens will thrive in moderate to bright indirect sunlight. You can expose your Sweetheart Philodendron to direct sunlight, but only about two to three hours a day at the most. Even then, the leaves may lose some of their color.

Many Philodendron Scandens owners claim that their plant grows successfully in a more shaded area with less access to decent light. While the Heart Leaf Philodendron can survive and grow in a shady environment, it will only just barely do so.

For best results, place your Philodendron Scandens in a well-lit area, perhaps near a window but not directly in the line of sunlight. Fluorescent lighting will also suffice, although natural sunlight is always the preference if possible.

Best Soil and Mixture Type

Philodendron Scandens is relatively low maintenance and will grow well in almost any potting soil mix. The most important factors for a good potting mix match for your Heart Leaf Philodendron is good drainage and aeration.

Peat moss based mixtures are well-suited to Philodendron Scandens for this reason. If you can’t find a peat moss based mixture or you would prefer to create your own mix, you can add these ingredients to a plain potting soil:

  • Perlite- this ingredient helps with the water drainage of the plant.
  • Coconut coir
  • Pine bark

Water

While Philodendron Scandens is considered a great minimum maintenance indoor plant for even the least green of thumbs, there are some basic watering principles that will keep the vines and leaves looking full and vibrant.

Tell tale Signs Your Plant Needs a Drink!

The most obvious sign that your Sweetheart Philodendron needs watering is dry soil. Since this plant is native to tropical locations, it is most successful when the soil is kept moist- not dry but not wet- at all times.

Tell-tale signs your Philodendron Scandens needs watering:

  • The soil feels dry to the touch or appears dry.
  • The soil beneath the surface is dry- to test for this, you can insert a stick into the pot and look for signs of moisture. If there is no moisture on the stick, the soil is too dry and needs watering.
  • The leaves are droopy or wilting.
  • The leaves are turning yellow or brown.
  • The leaves appear dry.

If your Heart Leaf Philodendron is exhibiting any of these signs, be sure to give it some water love. However, be careful not to over-water it as that may also lead to complications.

Seasonal Changes in Watering

Different seasons mean different humidity levels, and this will impact the way your Philodendron Scandens needs watered.

In the spring and summer months, you should keep the soil for your Philodendron Scandens moist at all times. No part of the soil should ever appear dry or feel dry to the touch.

However, the soil should also never be too wet or soggy. This should be the protocol for your Sweetheart Philodendron through approximately early to mid fall.

In the late fall through the winter months, you may allow the top layer of soil to become dry before watering your Sweetheart Philodendrons.

The frequency with which you will need to water your Philodendron Scandens will vary depending on the temperature and humidity levels. Weekly waterings will suffice in the spring and summer, and you can stretch them out a bit more in the winter.

If you’re concerned, you can always give your plants a quick check-in every few days to ensure the moisture of the soil is appropriate.

How to Properly Water your Plant

Aside from keeping the soil properly moist, there are a few other tips when it comes to watering your Heart Leaf Philodendrons that will allow them to flourish.

  • Avoid watering from overhead of the entire plant. The leaves do not need that much moisture. If you feel the leaves may benefit from a bit of water, you should spray them instead- and even this should be done sparingly as wet leaves can lead to fungal infections.
  • Try to keep the soil evenly moist throughout the pot. Don’t water just in one area of the soil.
  • Do not water your plant with water that is too hot or too cold. This can shock and damage the plant. Tepid water is best.

Temperature

Philodendron Scandens is a notoriously excellent houseplant due to its flexible temperature range. These plants can survive in temperatures anywhere from 60°F-80°F.

Ideal range & lowest this plant will tolerate

While the livable temperature range for Sweetheart Philodendrons is 60°F-80°F, there is an ideal range in which they will not only survive, but thrive.

An average room temperature, 65°F-75°F, is ideal for Philodendron Scandens. The ‘sweet spot’, however, is considered 70°F-75°F.

Best practice with Philodendron Scandens is to not expose them to temperatures below 60°F, although they will technically tolerate temperatures as low as 55°F.

Humidity

True to their tropical beginnings, Philodendron Scandens enjoy the humidity. There is an ideal humidity level, though, as well as some simple tricks to try to increase the humidity level in your home in order to help your plant reach its full potential.

Ideal Humidity Range

Philodendron Scandens will look and grow their best in an environment where the humidity is 40% or higher.

Although they can tolerate lower humidity, Heart Leaf Philodendrons will produce larger, more luxurious leaves when the relative humidity is higher.

Ways to Naturally Increase Humidity

If you’re having trouble increasing the humidity in your home to accommodate your Philodendron Scandens, try the following suggestions:

  • Move your plant to a bathroom if there is enough room and enough light.
  • Group your plants together in the same area.
  • Place the pot on a tray with pebbles.
  • Use a humidifier.

If using a humidifier, be sure to place it close enough to the plant that it can benefit from the moisture, but not so close that the leaves and stems become too wet.

Fertilizer

Philodendron Scandens benefit from the use of fertilizer at specific times. While most houseplant fertilizers will work well, there are certain nutrients to look for that make some fertilizers a better fit than others for this particular plant.

Recommended Fertilizer(s)

Fertilizers that are water-soluble, liquid, or all purpose are considered best for Philodendron Scandens.

These are some of the most recommended fertilizers for Philodendron Scandens:

  • Earth Pod’s Premium Indoor Plant Food
  • Joyful Dirt Premium Concentrated All Purpose Organic Plant Food
  • Indoor Plant Food by Aquatic Arts

Nutrients to Look for in a Good Fertilizer

Most indoor plant fertilizers utilize the ‘NPK’ nutrients: nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium.

Depending on the health of your Philodendron Scandens, you may want to look for a fertilizer containing calcium, magnesium, boron, or manganese as well.

How & When to Fertilize throughout the Year

Similar to watering, there are different fertilization requirements for Philodendron Scandens in different seasons.

In the spring and summer months, you should fertilize your Heart Leaf Philodendrons monthly, or every four weeks. In the fall and winter, you can stretch your fertilization to every other month, or every eight weeks.

You will be able to tell if your Philodendron Scandens isn’t getting enough nutrients if its leaves look smaller or if its growth seems to have slowed or stopped.

For best results, follow the directions for the specific fertilizer you choose to use on your Heart Leaf Philodendron.

Growth – What to Expect!

Philodendron Scandens are serial climbers, and their growth depends on several environmental factors. Some become very large, while others maintain a more manageable size.

In general, you can expect your indoor Sweetheart Philodendron to be about four feet long.

In a more natural environment with plenty of room, some Philodendron Scandens grow to become 10-20 feet long.

Rate of Growth

Philodendron Scandens are fast growing plants initially, though it can take nearly ten years before their maximum size potential is reached.

Some varieties of Philodendron Scandens grow more quickly than others, and their rate of growth also depends on whether or not the species is a climber or a non-climber.

Max Mature size in a Home

Indoor Philodendron Scandens typically stay around four feet long. However, when well-cared for and aided by a moss pole, some indoor Heart Leaf Philodendrons can eventually grow to ten feet long.

Propagating

Philodendron Scandens have become popular not just due to their indoor beauty and ease of care, but also because of the ease with which they can be propagated or reproduced. The following is an easy guide for starting a new plant from an existing Philodendron Scanden:

  1. Wash your hands and prepare all of the materials and containers.
  2. Select healthy stems that are 7-10cm long, and cut them with clean, sharp scissors just below the leaf node.
  3. Dip the stem ends in water and rooting hormone if you’d like and place in a small container with moist soil.
  4. Keep this container in a protected place until the roots begin to grow and take hold.
  5. After a few weeks, you can check the roots by gently tugging on the stems to see if there is any resistance to your pull.

Repotting

Philodendron Scandens do not require frequent repotting. Every two or three years, your plant will benefit from fresh soil and a larger home.

The most tell-tale sign that a Heart Leaf Philodendron needs to be repotted is that it has outgrown its current container. If your plant seems larger than its container and its growth has slowed, it needs to be repotted.

Does the Philodendron Scandens Like to be Root Bound?

When Philodendron Scandens outgrow their containers, they may become root bound. When they become root bound, their root system becomes tangled and dense.

Philodendron Scandens are resilient, and they can survive if they become root bound. However, just because they tolerate it does not mean they like it.

If a Philodendron Scandens becomes root bound, though it may not die, it will stop growing.

Pruning? Needed or no?

Pruning a Philodendron Scandens is a matter of personal preference. Pruning this plant is not absolutely needed unless you desire it to look a certain way.

Without being pruned, your Sweetheart Philodendron will grow long, slender vines with few leaves. If you want your plant to look thicker and more hearty, however, you can use pruning to achieve this.

Pruning will encourage the plant to become more bushy and full rather than lanky and anemic.

Plant Toxicity

All species of Philodendrons are poisonous to humans and animals. Philodendron Scandens are no exception. While adults may only feel slightly toxic effects, pets and small children can experience more severe reactions and discomfort.

If ingested, the calcium oxalates in Philodendrons can cause nausea and vomiting, swelling in and around the mouth and airways, and possibly skin irritations.

Common Pests, Diseases & Issues

Though Heart Leaf Philodendrons make excellent houseplants due to their relative ease of care, you may experience certain issues from time to time. The sections below break down common problems with Philodendron Scandens and how to address them.

Why are the Leaves Turning a Pale Green?

Pale green Philodendron Scandens leaves are caused by a nutrient deficiency, known as chlorosis. A plant experiences chlorosis, or a lack of chlorophyll, when it is deficient in nutrients like magnesium, calcium, and sometimes iron. When chlorosis occurs, it is typically the new growth that is most affected.

To combat chlorosis, nourish your plant with a fertilizer that contains these nutrients.

Why are the Leaves Turning Brown and Curling at the Tips?

Brown Philodendron Scandens leaves and leaves that are curling at tips are a symptom of underwatering. Your Sweetheart Philodendron is native to tropical climates, so it needs to be kept slightly moist at all times.

If you notice brown and/or curling leaves on your plant, water the soil directly and evenly throughout the pot. Be careful to not overwater your plant, as this will cause problems as well.

Why are the Leaves Turning Yellow?

Yellow Philodendron Scandens leaves are a sign of overwatering and possibly root rot. Refrain from watering your plant until the top layer of soil appears and feels dry to the touch. When you water it again, pour the water directly into the soil, evenly throughout the pot, and provide enough water so that the soil is slightly moist but not wet or soggy.

If the color of your plant’s leaves doesn’t improve, you can try to repot it with some fresh soil that drains well.

Why is my Philodendron Scandens Weak and Droopy?

A weak and droopy plant may be the result of too much sun. If your plant has been exposed to too much direct sunlight, its leaves may droop and appear lifeless. Move your plant to a more shaded area for a couple days to allow it to recover, then reposition it in a place where it will receive bright, indirect sunlight.

Weak and droopy leaves may also be another symptom of root rot. If root rot is to blame, repotting your Philodendron Scandens may be its best chance of survival. Try to remove some of the waterlogged soil, and be sure its new container drains well.

Dealing with Pests (Mealybugs, Spider mites, Scale)

Healthy Philodendron Scandens do not experience pest problems often, but it is possible that your plant will come into contact with these pesky insects.

Mealybugs are soft-bodied insects that look almost like tiny cotton balls. As they feed on the Philodendron leaves, they inject a poison and excrete a substance that causes mold. If mealybugs are feasting on your plant,  the leaves will appear weak or maybe even deformed, and growth will slow or stop.

Spider mites feed on the undersides of Philodendron leaves, sucking the fluids from them. Usually, spider mites infest a plant in mass numbers and leave behind a very thin, fine webbing between leaves or at the base of the plant. A spider mite infestation will cause discoloration such as yellowing or dots.

Scale can be soft or hard bodied, and appear as tiny brown dots on the leaves of your Philodendron. They feed on the sap of the leaves by piercing them, which is harmful to the plant. Philodendrons affected by scale may wilt or droop, stop growing, turn yellow, or appear otherwise weak or lifeless.

While these pests can damage your plant, you can combat them by cleaning the leaves with insecticidal sprays. If you don’t want to use insecticidal sprays, you can use dish soap or alcohol, but you should err on the side of caution as these products can possibly burn the leaves.

Tackling the Dreaded Erwinia Blight Disease

Erwinia Blight is a bacterial infection caused by overly wet soil that affects new growth on Philodendron plants. Dark green or yellow spots appear on the leaves, and older leaves may appear wet or blotchy.

This is a quick spreading disease that can kill your Philodendron Scandens quickly, so if you suspect Erwinia Blight, take action immediately.

Spray and clean the leaves of your plant with a copper bactericide to fight the disease. Since this disease is a result of excessive water, repotting your Philodendron Scandens can also help save its life.

Erwinia Blight can also be avoided by not overwatering your plant or allowing it to retain too much moisture.

photo of Charlotte Bailey founder of Oh So Garden

Author

Charlotte Bailey

Charlotte is a Qualified Royal Horticultural Society Horticulturist, plant conservationist, and founder of Oh So Garden. Armed with a background in Plant Science (BSc Hons, MSc) and 5 years of hands-on experience in the field, her in-depth guides are read by over 100,000 people every month.

For her work, she's been awarded the title of Yale Young Global Scholar, and been featured as a garden and houseplant expert across major networks and national publications such as Homes and Garden, Best Life, Gardeningetc, Today.com, BHG, Real Homes, and Country Living. You can find her on Linkedin.

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