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No plant collection is complete without the much-loved arrowhead plant. With its elegant heart- or arrow-shaped leaves and colorful variegation, this vigorous, low-maintenance houseplant can thrive in a variety of light conditions, making it great for lower-light spots where some other plants can't grow.
Native to the tropical jungles of South America, arrowhead plants can be kept bushy and compact or allowed to climb up high or trail down low. Compact varieties of this humidity-loving plant can also be grown in terrariums. Since arrowhead plants are toxic to people and pets, it's also important to choose a location to place them that's safe for all members of your household.
- Botanical Name: Syngonium podophyllum
- Common Name: Arrowhead plant, arrowhead vine, goosefoot, American evergreen, nephthytis
- Plant Type: Evergreen perennial vine
- Mature Size: 3 to 6 feet tall, 1 to 2 feet wide
- Sun Exposure: Low to bright, indirect light
- Soil Type: Well-draining soil that holds moisture
- Soil pH: 5.5-6.5
- Toxicity: Toxic to humans and pets
Similar to its cousin, the philodendron, arrowhead plants are typically easygoing houseplants that require basic care. Water your plant deeply when the soil begins to dry out. Check the soil's moisture level before watering, as this plant needs less water during its winter dormancy than it does during the spring and summer growing seasons.
Feed your arrowhead plant with houseplant fertilizer diluted to half-strength every two weeks during the growing season. Stop fertilizing in the fall and winter when the plant stops putting out new growth.
While young arrowhead plants tend to have a bushy, upright growth habit, the stems will begin to trail downward as they grow longer with larger leaves. To maintain its lush, full look, keep the plant pinched or pruned back to the size you prefer during the summer.
Because they’re natural climbers, arrowhead plants can be trained to climb a trellis, moss pole, or other support. You can also keep the plant in a hanging basket and allow the elegant vines to trail down.
Best Growing Conditions for Arrowhead Plant
While it can tolerate lower light conditions, a spot with bright, indirect light will encourage the healthiest growth for your arrowhead plant. A north- or east-facing window is ideal. You can also keep this plant a few feet away from windows on the south or west sides of your home (which will get stronger light) as long as it's not in the sun's direct rays. Direct sun can discolor the leaves and damage your plant.
Arrowhead plant prefers temperatures between 65 and 75 degrees. When it comes to watering, this species will also tell you when it's time to add more. Like the philodendron, your arrowhead plant's leaves will droop and begin to turn yellow or brown when it's thirsty. An overwatered plant is prone to root rot, so watch out for signs like drooping, yellowed leaves and crinkled leaf edges.
Types of Arrowhead Plant
Arrowhead plants include standard green-to-cream variegated cultivars like ‘Imperial White,’ while ‘White Butterfly’ ranges from almost white through pale yellow and green. For a more compact growth habit, look for the cultivar ‘Pixie,’ which retains a bushy shape.
Cultivars with more splashes of white or cream against darker shades, like Syngonium podophyllum albo-variegatum are highly sought after. The cultivar Syngonium 'Neon Robusta' has beautiful pale pink leaves with thin veining in darker pink that pops against their bright green stems.
How to Propagate Arrowhead Plant
Arrowhead plants are easy to propagate from stem cuttings, especially during the spring and summer growing seasons. You’ll need a pair of clean gardening shears or pruners, a clear glass or jar, and a healthy mother plant. Here's how:
- Examine the mother plant for a healthy stem with a few leaves growing from it. Ideally, the stem should have two or three nodes (or aerial roots)—little bumps along the stem from which leaves and roots grow.
- Cut the stem on the diagonal just below a node. Trim away the bottom few leaves if needed.
- Root the cutting in water by placing it in a glass or jar with the bottom two or three nodes submerged. Keep it in a warm place with bright, indirect light, but out of direct sunlight. Change the water weekly.
- After two weeks or so, you should see roots growing from the stem. This process will take longer in winter. When the roots are 1 to 2 inches long, the cutting is ready to pot up and care for as usual.
Common Problems With Arrowhead Plant
Arrowhead plants typically don't have many growing problems, but like all houseplants, it's still possible for them to experience a few issues. The most common are related to light or water needs. Here's how to diagnose and treat your plant:
Your arrowhead plant's leaves turning yellow is typically a sign of overwatering or underwatering. Check the soil's moisture to determine the cause and adjust your watering schedule accordingly.
If the plant is overwatered for too long, it's also likely to experience root rot, which can make its leaves turn dark brown or black while feeling mushy to the touch. Severe cases of root rot can't always be treated, but it's always best to repot your plant in fresh soil and trim away any affected roots to help revive it.
Leggy Stems or Brown Spots
Arrowhead plants can survive in low-light conditions, but the stems can grow long and leggy when they're reaching too far for the sun. On the other hand, brown spots on the leaves are typically a sign of too much sun. Move your plant closer to or further from the light source as needed.
Crispy Leaf Tips
Dry, crispy edges or tips on your arrowhead plant’s leaves are a sign that your space is too dry for the plant. Run a humidifier nearby, mist the plant regularly, or try grouping it together with several other moisture-loving plants to create a more humid microclimate.
To increase humidity around your plant without running a humidifier, you can also set its pot atop a humidifying tray. Fill a tray with pebbles, then add water to just below the top of the pebbles for evaporation to take place.
Potting and Repotting Arrowhead Plant
Generally, you’ll only need to repot this plant about every two years or when it starts outgrowing its pot. It's best to do this in the spring, but anytime during the growing season is suitable as long as it's at least six weeks before colder temperatures set in. This helps your plant become established in its pot before going dormant in the winter.
Use a standard well-draining, peat-based potting soil for your arrowhead plant. To maintain the plant at its current size, simply repot it with fresh soil in the same size pot at the two-year mark. If it was rootbound in its previous pot, gently loosen your plant's roots from each other before transplanting it into the new container.
Can Arrowhead Plants Grow Indoors?
Arrowhead plants are some of the easiest houseplants to grow indoors, as they require minimal care steps and simple conditions. Bright, indirect sunlight, standard waterings, and a bit of extra humidity will typically keep this species happy.
How Much Light Do Arrowhead Plants Need?
Arrowhead plants can grow in low-light conditions, but it's best to give them plenty of indirect light near a north- or east-facing window. Too much light can burn their leaves, so avoid any spots with direct rays from the sun.
How Fast Do Arrowhead Plants Grow?
Your arrowhead plant can grow about 12 inches per year, and young propagated stems typically root within two to three weeks.
Toxicity of Common Houseplants. University of Nebraska-Lincoln.
Arrow-Head Vine. American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.
Overwatering. Missouri Botanical Garden.
Houseplant Diseases and Disorders. Clemson Cooperative Extension. August 7, 2018