How to Care for Arrowhead Plant

The arrowhead plant known as Syngonium podophyllum is a great climbing vine that grows aggressively under the right conditions. According to the Missouri Botanical Garden, it is also known as Nephthytis triphylla. These plants are native to a wide region of Latin America ranging from Mexico to Bolivia. Now it has also become common in Florida, West Indies, Texas, Hawaii, and other warm regions.     

This plant is known by various names including arrowhead vine, five fingers, American evergreen, and nephthytis. Arrowhead plant is typically grown as a household plant, but some people also grow it outdoors in some regions. This plant may be grown alone or in a mixed planting. The plant begins to vine as it ages so it is always a good idea to grow it in a hanging basket.

The growth pattern of the leaves of this plant is very interesting. They begin with a cordate shape then develop into the arrow shape and then become palmate shaped when they age. As this plant grows into a climbing vine shape, it will need to be regularly cut to prevent excessive growth that is difficult to manage, indoors.

You can grow this plant on a moss stick or some trellis that can support the stems for direct growth. This will help the plant to grow with its natural climbing nature. Growing with these supports they can grow up to 6 feet tall. Most growers want to keep their arrowhead plant in a small bushy form and pinch out the stems and prune.  

The root structure of this plant is very extensive that it may become invasive in the wild. Even they also become very extensive in a contained environment. You should repot your arrowhead plant every second spring.

Arrowhead plants can also be propagated through cuttings, division, and air layering. Their cuttings can easily be rooted in water. Some people with sensitive skin may need to wear gloves when working with this plant. If you want to maintain a more arrowhead shape of your plant, simply cut off the climbing stems when they develop. This will take a bushier shape and the leaves will take on a more arrow shape. Your arrowhead plant care is very easy and taking proper care of your plant will bring many rewards to you.

Varieties of Arrowhead Plant:

This plant exists in more than 30 different species. The most common species is Syngonium podophyllum and its many varieties. These plants are produced in striking variegation. Juveniles are simply arrows, while larger leaves can grow up to a foot long and may have more than five lobes. These plants lose their variegation as they age. The most common varieties of arrowhead plants are listed below.

1. Berry Allusion Nephthytis:

This plant has light green leaves that are an easy-to-grow household plant. It grows in low light conditions and produces light green leaves that are flushed with shades of pink and cream.

2. Bold Allusion Nephthytis:

This is a slow-growing type of arrowhead plant that has creamy-green leaves and pink veins.

3. Cream Allusion Nephthytis:

This is a very compact variety of arrowhead plant that has medium-sized creamy-green leaves infused with pink.

4. Exotic Allusion Nephthytis:

This variety has light-green leaves flushed with creamy white.

5. Holly Nephthytis:

This variety has white leaves with green edges and veins.

6. Julia Allusion Nephthytis:

Julia Allusion is a compact variety with light green leaves spattered in coppery pink.

7.  Maria Allusion Nephthytis:

A newer variety, Maria Allusion shows off light green leaves infused with coppery pink.

8. Painted Arrow Nephthytis:

This is a lovely variety that has creamy-green leaves flushed with light green.

9. Pink Allusion Nephthytis:

Pink Allusion is a compact variety that shows off green leaves with dark green edges and pink veins.

10. Strawberry Cream Arrowhead Vine:

This variety has unique pink green leaves. The brighter light is necessary for this variety to bring out their unique color.

11. White Butterfly Arrowhead Vine:

This is one of the most popular varieties of arrowhead plant. It has greenish-white leaves with dark green edges.

Common Pests and Diseases:

This plant is mostly resistant to pests. However, it can be attached by a spider mite, aphid, mealybug, and scale.  The common diseases of the arrowhead plant are listed below.

1. Bacterial Blight and Stem Root:

This is a very common disease in the plants which affects the leaves and stems of the plant. The dark green spots engulf the leaf in a soft rot that smells foul. The leaves will give a tattered look due to the fall of infected tissues. Due to the infected stems, the lower leaves will wilt and die. The root cause of this disease is Erwinia. Always purchase the plants which are free of this disease. Water in a way that always keeps the surface of the plant dry.

2. Bacterial Leaf Spot:

This is another common disease amongst arrowhead plants. The symptom of this disease is the discoloration of translucent spots on leaf margins. They will become dull green with yellow holes. This disease can occur due to Erwinia, Pseudomonas, or Xanthomonas. You can protect your plant from this disease by applying bactericide. Always avoid overwatering.

3. Myrothecium Leaf Spot:

Your plant will likely have this disease when tan to dark brown spots on leaves have concentric rings and they have fungal fruiting structures. The main cause of this disease is Myrothecium roridum. To prevent this disease in your plant, avoid applying an excessive amount of nitrogen fertilizer. Moreover, protect your plant’s leaves from wounding. You can also apply a fungicide to make sure your plant doesn’t get this disease.

4. Phosphorous Deficiency:

This is a common disease among plants that occurs when they don’t get enough fertilizer. The plants become stunted and lower leaves have dead spots. To prevent this disease, always apply a balanced fertilizer to your plant.

5. Dry brown leaf tips: 

This problem in plants is caused when the air is too dry and is easy to put right. To treat this problem, mist the leaves daily, and once the leaves start getting better than mist every couple of days or so.

6. Lack of growth:

This can occur during the growing season if the plant can’t get enough fertilizer, enough light or gets over water.

Growing Conditions and Requirements:

Water Requirements:

Your Arrowhead plant needs regular watering. Water well when the top-soil gets dry to the touch. In most of the cases, watering 2 to 3 times in a week is enough to keep the plant evenly moist. Whenever you water your Arrowhead plant, make sure its evenly distributed around the areas of its roots. It is better to let your plant dry out between regular watering. Although the arrowhead plant enjoys moist soil it shouldn’t be kept too wet. Over-moisture can lead to root rot in your plant. In summer, your arrowhead plant needs more water than it requires in winter. During summer and spring, the plant grows actively. During these seasons, water when the top inch of soil around the plant is dry to the touch. You can check this by sticking your finger in the top inch of soil. If it feels dry, then it is the time for watering. Too much watering in winter can lead to plant problems. During winter, the arrowhead plant goes into dormancy. Their growth rate slows down so they don’t need frequent watering.  However, don’t let the soil get completely dry. If you feel it is dry, then water it. In most cases, you will need to water once every 2 weeks.

Light Requirements:

Arrowhead plant flourishes well in bright indirect light. However, it can tolerate lower light conditions as well. Direct sunlight is harmful to your plant as it can scorch the leaves. To achieve the indirect light conditions, you can place your plant a few feet from a window that is receiving direct sunlight. There are chances that one side of the plant will grow more due to receiving more light. In this case, you can turn the pot so that the other side of the plant can grow as well. The different varieties of plants that have variant leave heavily depend upon the light conditions. Most are green in color while some have different varieties that include variegated leaves of different shades. The plants with solid green or less variegated leaves will need an average light. While the more variegated varieties will need bright and filtered light.

Temperature Requirements:

The ideal temperature range for your arrowhead plant is 60 to 75 Fahrenheit during the day and above 60 F at night. This range of temperature needs to be maintained year-round. However, this plant can tolerate a wider range if necessary. A temperature lower than 50 degrees is very harmful to your plant as the plant may not survive at this temperature. Simply, if you are comfortable at a certain temperature, then your plant will be comfortable too.

Humidity Requirements:

In the wild, the arrowhead plant receives plenty of humidity. However, it can survive with moderate humidity. It is good to give the ideal humidity so that your plant can grow properly without problems. One way to improve humidity is to place water containers in the room. Another way is to let the air come from the window, but it shouldn’t be too cold. Mist the leaves nicely to improve humidity or you can also place the container of the plant on a tray filled with pebbles and water. During dry winter months, your plant will require proper humid conditions. 

Fertilizer Requirements:

Most of the arrowhead plants can grow well without fertilizer. However, if you want to fertilize your plant, fertilize it every month with a balanced fertilizer during your plant’s growing season. You can give Eleanor’s vf-11 with water in late spring, mid-summer, and at the end of summer. Make sure you are not over-fertilizing your plant as it can burn the roots of your plant. Avoid fertilizing a houseplant that is stressed which means its bones are dry and soaking wet. After summer stop giving fertilizer to your plant as it will not grow anymore.

Soil Requirement:

Plant your arrowhead plant in a well-drained potting mix. Soil with a pH level between 5.5 to 6.5 can work well for growing any type of arrowhead plant. Repotting should be done every 2 years. After the plant has reached the growth that you want, then keep the same size pot and change the soil every 2 years. The soil should be peat-based and rich organic. You can go for an African violet mix. You can make your soil mix for your plan by mixing the same quantity of commercial potting mix with a beat-based medium. The potting mix should be used over potting soil as potting soil is usually too heavy and it retains too much moisture.

Propagation:

The ideal seasons for arrowhead plant growth are spring and summer. They can easily be propagated from stem cutting. You can take a 4 in stem cutting that has one or two leaves with it. The stem that has a tip with new growth can propagate easier. This cutting can be dipped in a rooting hormone and then planted in slightly moist soil. If the plant has aerial roots with the stem, you can take a section of stem with the attached roots to ensure success. Water when the soil around the plant becomes dry and repeat the same process for newly grown plants. This plant can grow well when it is placed in water to begin rooting and then potting it up.

Flowering: 

Flowers usually bloom in their natural habitat and outdoors when the plant has matured. These flowers bloom within a spathe on a spadix just like Peace lily and Philodendron plants do. If you are doing regular pruning to keep the plant small and bushy, then the flowers will not appear.

Repotting:

As these plants grow aggressively, you should do regular repotting depending on how big you want your plant to get. If you want it larger then repot yearly. Otherwise, repot every spring for maintaining a medium size.

Pruning:

Pruning in summer is very necessary to encourage the plant for new growth and making the plant bushier in appearance. If the stems are growing too long and start climbing, pinch them at the tip of each stem. It is also good to remove the older stems. The stems that are removed can be propagated. Always use sanitized pruning tool blades for making cuts to prevent the transfer of any type of disease into the plant and trimming off a stem right above the node. You can also clean your pruning tools with rubbing alcohol.

FAQS:

Do arrowhead plants require regular misting?

This plant likes neither staying sopping wet nor being bone dry. Always go for regular watering so that your plant can stay evenly moist.

Do arrowhead plants climb?

The arrowhead plant grows aggressively and makes climbing or trailing if it has given the right conditions. This plant is a tropical climber in the Araceae family. Those who get regular pruning do not grow too much.

Why is my arrowhead plant turning yellow?

Yellow leaves are the symptom of root rot in the arrowhead plant. This occurs due to improper soil moisture because of over-watering.  Make sure you only water your plant when the top 50% of the soil is dry.

How can I prune my arrowhead plant? 

Summer is the ideal time for pruning an arrowhead plant. Pruning during summer makes the plant more bushy in appearance and encourages new growth. If the stems are growing too long and start climbing, pinch them at the tip of each stem. It is also good to remove the older stems. The stems that are removed can be propagated.

Why does my arrowhead plant have brown spots?

The brown spots are due to the bacterial rots or leaf spots. This is due to the under-watering that causes the plant to dry out. The leaves begin to fade or turn brown. Excessive direct sunlight may also be the cause of brown spots. Too much direct sunlight causes scorch or sunburn. This makes the foliage to become dry and brown.

How often should I water my arrowhead plant?

Arrowhead plant is amongst those plants that cannot survive either under-watering or too much watering. Regular watering is necessary for your plant. The plant should let to dry out between regular watering. In most of the cases, watering an arrowhead plant for 2 to 3 times a week is enough.    

Are arrowhead plants toxic to cats?

These plants contain insoluble oxalate crystals like all other plants of the Araceae family. If your pet chews or bites on this plant, this will release these crystals causing tissue penetration and irritation to the oral cavity and mouth of your pet. So, it is always recommended to keep this plant away from your cats or dogs. This plant has mild to moderate toxicity but ingested by your pet will cause it to become unwell.