arrowhead plant

How to Grow and Care for Arrowhead Plants (Syngonium podophyllum)

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One of the crow favorites for household plants is arrowhead plants. They are bush-like, compact, low-maintenance, and have a wide variety to choose from. The vast selection of arrowhead plants consists of different types that have different plant sizes, leaf colors, leaf shapes, and growth habits. There is no doubt that there is one for anyone.

This perennial plant came from South America and Mexico. It became famous because of its foliage shape, which resembles an arrowhead. Despite being commonly grown as a perennial, some grow it as an annual ornamental plant. It may grow erect, cascading, or crawling. Also, it blooms all year round.

Not only is the arrowhead plant suitable indoors, but it is also so versatile it can be used in different landscapes. Usually, they are seen planted in containers and hanging baskets to make the patios, shade gardens, and rock gardens look better. It also serves different landscape purposes, such as barrier, shade, border, specimen, and accent. 

In addition to its various uses, this plant became a favorite because it has little need for attention and care, perfect for busy individuals.

Plant Facts

Scientific nameSyngonium podophyllum
Common namesArrowhead plant, Arrowhead vine, Naphthysis, African Evergreen, arrowhead plant, Green Gold Naphthysis, Trileaf Wonder
FamilyAraceae
Plant TypeHouseplant, Outdoor Plant
Height and Width2–4 ft. tall (indoors), 1–2 ft. wide (indoors)3–6 ft. tall (outdoors), 2–4 ft. wide (outdoors)
OriginSouth America; Mexico
Flower colorsGreen or White; Spathe is longer than spadix
Foliage colorGreen, Dark Green, Light Yellow, Creamy Yellow, Creamy Green, Light Pink, Variegated
Sun ExposureFull sun exposure, Partial shade, Full shade, Dappled lights
Soil Type & pHWell-drained, slightly acidic soil, moist, 
Special featuresLow Maintenance, Good for Containers, Special foliage, Toxic 

How to Grow Arrowhead Plants

Since the Syngonium podophyllum is known to be versatile, it is often planted in containers and hanging baskets. Having said that, one must choose a container that allows proper drainage. Aside from the containers, there are different factors you need to know in growing them.

Propagation

There are three ways on how you can propagate arrowhead plants: sowing seeds, stem cuttings, and division. Before the specifics of the different methods, you need to prepare all the needed materials such as planting medium, container, garden trowel, pruning shears, and personal protective equipment. The last item is as important as the former one because the arrowhead plant is toxic and might cause dermal irritations.

When you have all the mentioned materials, you may now proceed with harvesting the planting materials. To get the seeds, collect the fruits and remove the fleshy part and wash it with running water. The fruit contains chemical inhibitors, which is why it should be air-dried after washing the seeds. Then, you can sow the seeds and water them frequently. 

Another way is through harvesting healthy stem cuttings. Choose stems that are healthy and plant them in your growing medium. You may dip it in rooting hormone first before sticking it into the ground to help hasten the rooting process.

Lastly, the division is done when there are sprouts present. You will need a pruning knife for this method. The first thing to do is have a clear view of the plant’s roots. Detach the sprout from the main arrowhead plant. Be careful not to cut the primary roots. This is the fastest way to grow an arrowhead plant because the roots are already developed.

Soil

Arrowhead plants love moisture but they can also withstand drought. Choose a soil that is porous and has great drainage. Loam and sandy loam soils are perfect. Although, you can add sphagnum moss or coir dust to readily available soil to improve its texture. Before mixing, remember to pasteurize the soil to get rid of any soil-borne diseases.

In terms of soil pH, the arrowhead plant prefers to have a slightly acidic to neutral soil. Some varieties want a more acidic soil which can be taken care of by adding soil aggregates.

Pruning

Pruning is only done whenever necessary. Remove the dead and damaged parts. Also, you can trim the arrowhead plant when it becomes overcrowded. Some growers schedule their pruning together with propagating so that the removed parts can be planted into a new plant. In doing so, you will be lessening waste too.

Repotting and Transplanting

Repotting and transplanting of arrowhead plants are performed every 1 to 2 years or whenever necessary. Overcrowding, stunted growth, and no new leaf growth are some of the common signs it may exhibit when it is time for repotting. Follow the steps listed below:

  1. Prepare all the materials needed, such as container, growing mix, garden trowel, pruning shears, garden knife, and protective wear like garden gloves.
  2. Loosen the soil on the main arrowhead plant by scraping the ones stuck to the inner linings of the container. Use the garden trowel to scoop out the loose soil. You can light shake the plant while removing the soil.
  3. After the plant has been loosened. Set it aside and prepare the new container by filling ⅓ of it with the growing mix. You can incorporate some loose pine bark in the mixture too.
  4. Trim the unnecessary parts of the plant before placing them in the new container.
  5. Carefully uproot the arrowhead plant and put it on top of the soil inside the new container.
  6. Fill the remaining spaces with soil and lightly press on the soil near the edges of the plant. It will ensure the anchorage of the plant and it will not tilt when watered.
arrowhead plant

How to Care for Arrowhead Plant

Now that you have your Syngonium podophyllum, here are some arrowhead plant care tips you need to know to keep your plant healthy.

Water

Watering is performed regularly. It is done more frequently during warmer seasons like summer and fall. On the other hand, colder temperatures during winter will lead to less frequent watering. When supplying moisture, remember to check the arrowhead plant for proper drainage. If the drainage is bad, there is a high chance of waterlogging. Having too much water underground will cause multiple problems such as root rot.

Sunlight

Since the arrowhead plant can be utilized in different ways on different sites, it is not picky in terms of sunlight. It can survive in either full sun, partial shade, or full shade. Although, there are varieties that have bright colors and variegation and they would need more light exposures. Some plant pigments need to be exposed in a specific amount of time for them to be formed. 

If you are keeping your plant inside your home and little to no light is available, remember to schedule putting it outside to get the light it needs.

Temperature and Humidity

Most varieties of arrowhead plants are humidity resistant. It means that it can thrive in a wide range of relative humidity. Although, it prefers to have 50 to 60% relative humidity. Using a sprayer to water the arrowhead plants may increase the moisture available in the air. 

However, frequent watering will not equalize the relative humidity. During winter, most growers supply their plants with humidifiers to keep the relative humidity at the ideal levels.

Fertilizer

Feed your arrowhead plant when it is actively growing, which is around March to August. In general, complete fertilizers are the safest bet when it comes to feeding your plants. For houseplants, dilute the fertilizer before application. However, perform a soil test if you want to be sure about the nutrients needed. 

On the other hand, there are signs to look out for to know when fertilizer is needed to be supplied or lessened. Immature leaves shrivel when the arrowhead plant needs to be fed. While yellowing and browning of leaf edges are evident when there is an excess.

Pest and diseases

Different insect pests often may infest the arrowhead plant. It does not happen frequently, but it won’t hurt to know about them. Listed below are the common pests:

Ticks

Ticks are also known as mites, and they are often brought by air and pollution. Placing your plants near open windows and doors might increase the chances of getting ticks. They are not visible through the naked eye and might take some time to even have a thin web-like sheet appear. When it gets worse, yellowing in certain parts of the plant will occur.

There are pesticides available in the market. Although, an easy home remedy for this is by flushing out the mites using warm water. Some do it in their bathrooms. The arrowhead plant tilted on its side and placed under running hot water for at most 2 minutes. This remedy is not a one-time thing. It needs to be repeated several times within a 3-day interval.

Scale Insects

Scale insects often stay on leaves and stems and result in some sunken and watery parts. These insects are coated with wax as protection. The best way to get rid of them is by wiping them with a towel dipped in warm water with mild soap. Although, you may also opt for the chemical options available in the market for household plant pests.

Thrips

The main sign and symptoms are irregularly shaped sunken lesions and spots with a thin silver sheet. When it gets worse, the leaves turn black. Immature leaf drop and stunted growths are also some of the things you should keep an eye on.

To get rid of thrips, wipe the infected parts with a sponge dipped in soapy water. You may also go for pesticides. Repeat when needed. 

In all these insects, seclude the arrowhead plant and put it in quarantine when the infestations worsen. Aside from these, there are other problems arrowhead plants face due to environmental causes. Browning and drying or leaf tips and edges are caused by low relative humidity.

Also, leaves tend to look unhealthy and pale when there is too much moisture both in the air and underground. It may also be brought upon by too little light exposure. Another problem caused by low light exposures is the loss of variegation and other colors. The plant develops more chlorophyll to compensate for the lack of light, in an attempt to get the most. 

These problems can easily be fixed by altering the plant’s growing environment.

Common Varieties and Cultivars

As mentioned earlier, there is a wide range of variety you can choose from. Here are the top 15 varieties and their characteristics.

  • Emerald Gem- this variety has two-toned leaves bigger than most varieties and shorter leaf stalks. Paint-like splotches are visible near the leaf edges and are commonly white or cream-colored. It grows for up to 15 inches.
  • Holly- light green to creamy white leaves with deep green leaf veins and margins. It is compact and dense.
  • White Holly- it has the same characteristics as the holly, but with a lighter leaf shade.
  • Pixie- this variety is perfect for places with limited spaces or as a desk plant. It reaches up to 8 inches high and 6 inches wide. The leaves are green with lighter shades on the midrib and veins.
  • Mini pixie- this variety has the same characteristics and leaf color as the pixie, but this one only grows up to 4 inches high and 4 inches wide.
  • Banana Cream Allusion- it has a notable pastel yellow shade and grows up to 14 inches high.
  • Berry Allusion- bears a subtle burgundy red shade with pink veins. It can grow up to 14 inches high.
  • Bold Allusion- it has larger arrow-shaped leaves in a creamy light green shade with the light pink leaf venation. It can grow up to 14 inches in height.
  • Cream Allusion- it grows from 12 to 14 inches high and bears silver-green leaves and light pink veins.
  • Exotic allusion- this variety is sought after because of its robust growth habit. It can go as high as 14 inches and spread for up to 8 feet. Its foliage is also mottled green.
  • Gold Allusion- it is famous for its subtle golden yellow leaves with deep red-violet veins. It extends vertically for 12 to 14 inches. This variety does not like too much moisture.
  • Maria Allusion- it has a vibrant green leaf with hints of copper shades on its edges and veins. It also has slightly wavy leaf edges.
  • Painted Arrow Allusion- it has a painted leaf appearance with variations of color from deep green, light green, and creamy white.
  • Pink Allusion- its noteworthy characteristic is having an opaque white shade on top of the olive green leaves with noticeable pink veins. It is also a robust grower that can spread for up to 8 feet.
  • Trileaf Wonder- it has unique foliage with a slender arrow shape. Also, it is deep green with light green leaf veins.
  • Strawberry Cream Syngonium- commonly sought after because of its slight pink shades in the middle of the creamy green leaves. Younger plants have pinker shades.
  • Emerald Green- a smaller variety with green foliage and creamy white venation.
  • Albolineatum- one of the small varieties with light green foliage and white pronounces variegation. Variegation is more noticeable when the leaf matures.
  • Wendlandii- most famous for being a great indoor plant for air purification. It has a more stretched-out lengthwise appearance with deep green color and white veins. It can grow as high as 6 feet.
  • Albovirens- this variety bears light green leaves with a pronounced red-violet accent on the veins. It is one of the compact and dense varieties of arrowhead plants.

If you want to learn more about the different types of arrowhead plants, visit the article about Types of Arrowhead Plants. The article contains a deeper explanation as to how the varieties differ from each other and certain growth characteristics. Also, it has tips on how you can choose the perfect arrowhead plant for you and your home.

Conclusion

The arrowhead plant is famous in different landscapes because of its versatility and resistance. It is also known to be low-maintenance, making it great as a houseplant. To grow the arrowhead plant, remember to follow the correct steps in propagating, repotting, and transplanting. Also, provide your plant with the best-growing environment by giving it enough light, average moisture, 50 to 60% relative humidity, and a well-drained slightly acidic soil.

You would also need to tend to your plants by regularly pruning them and feeding them with the nutrients it needs. Perform a soil test to be sure of the type of fertilizers to be applied.

Keeping a keen eye on your plant will also allow you to identify problems such as pest infestations and environmental problems. Some of the common pest infestations involve thrips, mites, and scale insects. 

On the other hand, some problems caused by the growing environment involve yellowing, browning, immature death, and underdevelopment of leaves. All of the mentioned problems can be solved by home remedies, pesticides, or alterations in the growing environment.

Keep in mind that this plant contains calcium oxalate crystals all over the plant, making it toxic to dogs and cats when ingested. It can also cause some skin irritations upon contact. So, be mindful of where you would be placing your arrowhead plant.

Also, see more varieties of indoor plants you can grow at home.

*image by toeytoey/depositphotos

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