What Is Heartleaf Philodendron?

Britt Archer

The heartleaf philodendron, a climbing plant that grows quickly, is a valued houseplant for its pretty foliage and no-fuss requirements. The heart-shaped leaves lead to it sometimes being called the sweetheart plant. The heartleaf philodendron does well in a hanging basket indoors or on a patio, with indirect bright light, but it also tolerates low light conditions.

Woman with a flower
Woman with a flower

Known scientifically as Philodendron scandens, the heartleaf philodendron can grow up toward the sky as well as down from a hanging basket, as long as it has something to attach itself to, such as a pole. The plant uses aerial roots to latch on to tree trunks in its native forest habitat. Indigenous to the West Indies and Mexico, the heartleaf philodendron grows lushly and quickly. Planted in a pot indoors or on a porch, it can grow as much as 24 inches (60.96 centimeters) a year. One stem of a heartleaf philodendron that is growing in ideal conditions can attain a length of 30 feet (9.14 meters).

The heartleaf philodendron is known by a number of different names, including velvet philodendron, velour philodendron, heart philodendron, Philodendron Brasil and Philodendron Brazil. Immature leaves have a bronze cast, while mature leaves are a glossy green and can grow to a width of 3 inches (7.62 centimeters) and a length of 4 inches (10.16 centimeters). There are two other types of philodendron that are known as the sweetheart plant, Philodendron scandens micans and Philodendron scandens oxycardium. The former is distinguished by leaves whose bottom sides are purple, and the latter is much like the heartleaf philodendron but smaller. More than 200 types of philodendron exist and are related to the sweetheart plant.

Caring for philodendron plants doesn’t require much other than appropriate light and watering. The plant should be allowed to dry out before being given a thorough watering. The potted philodendron does well in regular potting soil with an application of a diluted balanced fertilizer every two weeks during warm weather. They thrive in habitats that are similar to where they grow in the wild, with high humidity and lots of organic matter. Cold weather and a hard frost will kill a philodendron, and the plant will perish if left outside in areas with cold winters. Occasional pruning of the stems will keep it looking full and prevent it from becoming scraggly. Cuttings root easily in soil, and they will also put out roots if left sitting in a container of water.

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