The arrowhead plant goes by many names and is called the American evergreen, African evergreen, Arrowhead Philodendron, arrowhead vine, Nephthytis triphyll, Nephthytis podophyllum, and goosefoot among others.
There are more than 30 different species of arrowhead plants, and there are a lot of variants with striking variegation. The arrowhead vines belong to the Araceae family and are thus aroid plants.
When more mature, the arrowhead plant develops a vining habit and is best placed in a hanging pot. Like most vining plants, it can also be trained to climb a pole or trellis.
Arrowhead plants are said to be pest-resistant, which is untrue, as mealy bugs, scale, and aphids will try their luck. Specifically, its dense growth habit creates the best hiding place and habitat for multiple pests, such as mealybugs.
To add on that, the arrowhead vine is not resistant to root rot and bacterial infection as well as to mosaic virus.
Arrowhead care is easy, and the typical mantras, such as letting it dry out between waterings and using well-draining potting soil apply to avoid root rot.
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Arrowhead Plant Care
To care for an arrowhead plant, use well-draining soil. Bright indirect light is best. Water weekly. The ideal temperature is 60 to 75°F (15 – 24°C). The humidity should be between 50-70%. Fertilize monthly in the growing season.
Rich, well-draining potting mix is best to care for your arrowhead plant. Any regular potting soil specifically for houseplants will do. Syngonium podophyllum prefers acidic soil.
Arrowhead plants do best in bright indirect sunlight. The more variegation is on your arrowhead plant, the more sunlight is needed and can be tolerated. Too much sunlight or direct sunlight might burn the leaves. Greener varieties can tolerate more shade.
Water once a week. Keep the soil moist but never soggy in spring and summer, and reduce watering in autumn and winter. The arrowhead vine has medium watering needs but needs to be watered up to 2 to 3 times a week in summer.
The best temperature range for the arrowhead plant is between 60 to 75°F (15 – 24°C). However, it tolerates a wide range of temperatures. Temperatures lower than 50°F (10°C) for extended periods may kill your goosefoot plant.
Keep the humidity between 50-70%.
Arrowhead plants are humidity-loving houseplants. They are native to the rainforests of South America. Use a pebble tray or mist your plant daily with a spray bottle. Avoid warm, dry air from radiators in winter.
Fertilize monthly in spring and summer. As the plant is active, missing out on fertilizing your arrowhead plant can lead to stunted growth. Hold back on fertilizing your plant in the autumn and winter months.
The growth habit of the arrowhead plant is quite interesting, as the leaves change when the plant becomes more mature. They start arrowhead-shaped, hence the name, and then develop into a five-finger shape, where leaves become divided.
The root structure of arrowhead plants is impressive as they grow vast root systems. Furthermore, arrowhead plants are vigorous growers when kept under the conditions described here.
These plants are vigorous growers and strongly vining plants, so repotting has to be done frequently. Every year, we report our arrowhead plants into a pot 1-2 sizes bigger. This way, the vines will grow bigger. If you decide not to repot your plant, exchange the potting medium at least yearly to ensure the soil stays nutrient-rich.
Propagation of the Arrowhead Plant
Propagation of arrowhead plants is considered easy and can be done using stem cuttings and division. Do this in spring (the best season to propagate) or summer for the best success rates and growth.
The more roots these stem cuttings already have, the faster the propagation process will be, and the chance of success will be higher.
Arrowhead plant: Propagation from stem cuttings
This is the step-by-step instruction on how to propagate an arrowhead plant from a stem cutting:
- Get a sharp knife or scissors. They need to be as sharp as possible to ensure a clean cut.
- Clean your tool of choice with rubbing alcohol and hold it in a flame (eg. a lighter will do) for a few seconds. This way, you can ensure that the blade is pathogen-free.
- Find a suitable stem and look for visible roots or aerial roots.
- Cut below a node as a node is needed to propagate an arrowhead plant successfully. If you cut off just a leaf, it will never grow into a full plant.
- Once you cut off a stem with a node and a leaf and hopefully some roots already (not necessary but beneficial), let the cutting dry out for at least 30min.
- At this step, we recommend putting some cinnamon on the wound of the main plant as well as on the cutting, as this will enhance the rooting process and prevent rot.
- You can now put the cutting into your medium of choice for propagation
- Our propagation media for arrowhead plants are either straight water or sphagnum moss or even placing the cutting directly into moist soil.
- If you are using water, ensure it is room temperature and is neither too cold nor too warm. Ensure the node is submerged in water and prevent the leaf from touching any liquid, as it will rot away.
- If you use sphagnum moss, soak it in water and press it out as much as you can multiple times so it is just slightly humid and not soaking wet. Put the sphagnum moss into a container of your choice and stick your cutting into it.
- Place your cutting in a bright spot where it gets indirect light, and ensure it is also warm, as this encourages root growth.
- If you are serious about propagating your cutting, place a heat mat underneath, as this will make your cutting root much faster.
- Wait for several weeks to 1-3 months, depending on the season and the conditions. Voila, you have just cloned your arrowhead plant.
Arrowhead plants: Propagation by division
This method is even easier than taking stem cuttings, as the only thing that needs to be done is that you are dividing your arrowhead plant.
The section you divided will already have roots and leaves and is a whole plant. You can plant it in a new pot using well-draining potting soil.
This way, you create two or multiple plants from one if your arrowhead vine plant is big and bushy enough.
Arrowhead Plants Care Tips
These are the most important arrowhead plant care tips:
- Never let your arrowhead plant dry out completely
- Keep the plant away from cats and dogs
- Use stem propagation and division as an easy way to increase the density and business of your plant
- Provide a trellis or moss pole so your arrowhead plant can climb and increase in size
What Does the Arrowhead Plant look like?
Different Syngonyum cultivars are variegated to varying degrees. Variegation in arrowhead vines usually means different levels and shades of white, pink, or yellow. Leaves can be entirely green, white, pink, or yellow.
The Origin of the Arrowhead Plant
Arrowhead vines are found in Latin America as well as the West Indies and can also be found in Hawaii, Florida, and Texas, as well as in other regions of the world. It is located in tropical rainforests and got its name due to its spade-like shaped leaves.
Common Syngonium podophyllum problems – Diseases and Pests
Yellowing leaves on arrowhead plants are generally caused by overwatering or underwatering. That is usually not a big help since now you don’t know if you should give your plant more or less water.
It is, therefore, important to check other aspects of your houseplant if yellow leaves are present. It is also important to know that more houseplants are killed by overwatering, although most people think it is underwatering.
So you have a yellow leaf on your arrowhead plant. What now?
Brown leaf tips
Browning leaf tips can be a sign of underwatering and long periods of drought. It could also indicate that the humidity levels around the arrowhead plant are too low.
So spraying your arrowhead vine with water daily might help to counter the crispy tips. If the soil is dry, give your plant a good soak.
Bacterial leaf spots
An indicator is small water-soaked leaf spots. They look angular and are circled by leaf veins. The best remedy to counter fungal leaf spots on arrowhead plants is sulfur sprays and copper-based fungicides.
Be aware that bacterial leaf spots are highly contagious and that moist and warm conditions help to spread the disease.
The cause of fading leaf color and pale leaves is too much sunlight or artificial light. Therefore, increase the distance between the light source and the arrowhead plant.
Wilting leaves are a common sight. The reason is underwatering, and it is not different for arrowhead plants.
These plants need much water in summer; skipping watering might cause leaves to wilt. The arrowhead plant will quickly recover once you have watered it thoroughly.
Common pests on Syngonium podophyllum are thrips, mealybugs, scale, whiteflies, fruit flies, fungus gnats, and aphids.
Check your plant weekly for pests. Look at the underside of the leaves as well. Inspect the soil.
Use horticultural soap, neem oil, and beneficial nematodes to eliminate pests.
Apply either of these several times over 3-4 weeks.
As a last resort, use a systemic insecticide.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is the arrowhead plant toxic?
The short answer is yes. The arrowhead vine is toxic to cats, dogs, and even horses. It can lead to oral irritation, swelling, and mouth pain. It can further make it difficult to swallow and might cause vomiting. The plant sap contains oxalic acid and can lead to skin burns.
Does the arrowhead plant clean the air?
Yes, it does. A general rule is that plants with medium to higher watering needs are generally well suited to purify the air. The same applies to the arrowhead plant. It is on the list of the Top 50 houseplants that clean the air based on a NASA study.
How to care for an arrowhead plant?
General arrowhead plant care is easy. It has medium watering requirements and needs bright indirect light. They love humidity; the soil should be humid but not soaking wet.
How can I make arrowhead plants bushier?
The easiest way to get bushier plants is to propagate your arrowhead plant and put the stem cuttings back into the soil with the original plants. This way, your arrowhead vine will grow bushier and bushier as you can repeat this process many times. Also, once the arrowhead plant produces vines, you can cut them back. This will save more energy your plant can invest into getting bushier.
Are all arrowhead plants green?
Multiple cultivars range from green to white to pink and even yellow. So not all arrowhead plants are green.
Are arrowhead plants prone to diseases?
Arrowhead plants are prone to diseases. Due to their compact size, pests can hide and thrive on arrowhead plants. They are not extremely prone to diseases, but mealybugs are not a rarity.
Are arrowhead plants expensive?
Arrowhead plants are inexpensive and can be found from 10 dollars upwards. Generally, the rarer the cultivar, the higher the price. Heavily variegated plants tend to be more expensive than their green counterparts.
Does the arrowhead plant get root bound?
Syngonium podophyllum, or arrowhead plant, is a fast-growing aroid that needs repotting yearly and tends to get root-bound more often than your regular houseplant.
How much water does the arrowhead plant need?
Arrowhead plants need frequent watering and have moderate watering needs. However, they are quite a drought resistant, watering your arrowhead plant regularly will lead to better growth. Dropping leaves on your plant indicates that it needs more water.
Living in Hardiness zones 10 and 11, you can even grow arrowhead plants outdoors. How cool is that! The best thing about arrowhead plant care is that they are extremely easy to care for and are available in multiple colors.
Daniel has been a plant enthusiast for over 20 years. He owns hundreds of houseplants and prepares for the chili growing seasons yearly with great anticipation. His favorite plants are plant species in the Araceae family, such as Monstera, Philodendron, and Anthurium. He also loves gardening and is growing hot peppers, tomatoes, and many more vegetables.