how to care for an arrowhead plant

How To Care For An Arrowhead Plant (Syngonium Podophyllum)

Arrowhead Plant, also called African Evergreen and Nephthytis, is an easy to care for houseplant with few problems. It’s perfect for the beginner or black-thumb gardener who desires indoor greenery without having to fuss too much over its care. Before I go into detail, here’s a quick summary.

How to care for an arrowhead plant: Arrowhead plants should be planted in well draining, acidic soil, and kept in humid conditions at temperatures of 60°F to 85°F. Water infrequently but thoroughly once the top inch of soil is dry, and fertilize monthly through the growing season.

How Often To Water An Arrowhead Plant

The Arrowhead Plant has a moderate drought-tolerance, but prefers regular water applications. However, it will forgive you if you miss watering it a couple of times, but for the best growth and performance, regular irrigations are best.

During the spring and summer while the plant is actively growing, water when the top inch of soil is dry to the touch. If you stick your finger in the top inch of soil and it feels dry, it’s time to water, which will probably be once weekly. Always irrigate until water starts running out of the bottom drain holes.

However, Arrowhead Plant goes into dormancy (growth slows) during the cold months of winter, which means you won’t be watering quite as frequently. However, don’t allow the soil to completely dry, so feel it and if the top inch is dry, apply water. You can plan to water approximately every two weeks.

Does An Arrowhead Plant Require Humid Conditions?

Native to humid regions of South and Central America, an indoor grown Arrowhead Plant requires you to create humidity so they grow properly without problems. Creating a humid environment for the plant is as easy as misting the foliage with water two to three times weekly.

Additionally, you can set the container on a stone-filled tray that catches the irrigated water, as well as misting.

Don’t place the Arrowhead Plant in an indoor location where the air is especially dry, such as near a heating system or vents.

What’s The Best Indoor Temperature For An Arrowhead Plant?

Since Arrowhead Plant is native to subtropical and tropical environments, it’s sensitive to temperatures below 50 °F (10°C), even indoors. Indoor temperatures that are too cold can result in damage or even plant death. For the best growth, maintain indoor temperatures in the range of 60°F to 85°F (15°C to 29°C).

 how to care for an arrowhead plant

Does An Arrowhead Plant Require Fertilizer?

Don’t stress if your Arrowhead Plant looks great and you haven’t fertilized it – it’s not a big feeder and grows well if it’s properly cared for. However, during the growing season of spring through summer, you can fertilize it monthly. There’s no need to fertilize in fall or winter, as the plant is dormant and stops growing.

Use an all-purpose, houseplant blend diluted to half-strength. Apply the fertilizer when you water. You can also use slow-release granules applied in spring, following package directions for amounts.

What soil pH Does An Arrowhead Plant Need?

Well-drained, fertile soils with a pH of 5.5 to 6.5 work well for growing all types of Arrowhead plants.

Can I Make My Own Potting Mix For Growing An Arrowhead Plant?

Arrowhead Plant grows best and with few problems grown in an acidic soil rich in organic nutrients but drains well. You can make your own soil mix by mixing equal parts of a commercial potting mix with a peat-based medium. Use a potting mix over potting soil, as potting soil is generally too heavy and retains too much moisture.

How Much Light Does An Arrowhead Plant Need?

Arrowhead Plant is very versatile when it comes to its lighting needs and what it tolerates. Plants perform well situated in bright to moderately low light conditions, although, it puts on the best growth when situated in an indoor location receiving bright light.

What Are Some Problems If The Lighting Is Too Low?

When situated indoors in an area with very low light, Arrowhead Plant’s growth is negatively affected. Plants have a tendency to become straggly, foliage loses its color and becomes lighter, and the leaves are spaced further apart.

If you notice your Arrowhead Plant starting to develop any of these symptoms, move it to a location that is slightly brighter than the original. It’s best to increase gradually the plant’s light exposure so you don’t burn the leaves.

How Often Should I Repot An Arrowhead Plant?

When grown indoors, Arrowhead Plant has a slow growth-rate, so you probably won’t have to worry about repotting other than every other year. If it’s outgrown the present pot, you can split off a section of the plant and reuse the same container with fresh soil, or repot the entire Arrowhead Plant into a container that is slightly larger.

What Type Of Container Is Best To Grow An Arrowhead Plant?

Arrowhead plants have multiple indoor uses and grow well planted in hanging baskets allowing the stems to cascade over the side, in regular pots, or used with a moss stick or indoor trellis system allowing the stems to crawl upward. Just make sure the container has bottom drain holes so the soil doesn’t remain too soggy.

how to care for an arrowhead plant

Does An Arrowhead Plant Need Help Climbing On A Moss Stick Or Other Structure?

Arrowhead plants climb naturally by way of wire-like, aerial rootlets that form at the nodes along the stems. You may need to guide the developing stem towards and onto the moss stick of trellis-like structure, but after the first rootlets take hold, the Arrowhead Plant will climb on its own.

Can My Arrowhead Plant Attach To My Indoor Walls?

When grown outdoors in warm areas like Florida, Arrowhead Plant is considered highly invasive, quickly taking over walls and trees. If left unchecked, and situated close to an indoor wall, whether in a pot or hanging basket, Arrowhead Plant can attach to your walls, clinging in place with rootlets along its stem.

The clinging rootlets, if left in place, can damage the wall’s paint and finish. However, and the good news is, Arrowhead Plant grows much slower when grown as an indoor plant and pruning controls any wayward stems.

What To Do If Your Arrowhead Plant Is Leggy

Grown outdoors in its preferred environment, Arrowhead Plant stems can grow over 100 feet long. Even indoors, if left unpruned, the plant’s stems can grow several feet in length.

However, if the plant looks scraggly and leggy, and it’s situated in a location where there’s low light, it might not be getting an adequate amount. Gradually move it to brighter conditions and the new growth should be bushier.

Do Indoor Arrowhead Plants Need Pruning?

During the growing season of spring throughout summer, you can prune the Arrowhead Plant to control its shape or size. It’s best to do any trimming while the plant is actively growing and not during winter while it’s dormant, unless you are removing damaged leaves or stems.

Use sanitized pruning tool blades to make your cuts, as you don’t want to transfer any diseases to the plant and trim off a stem right above a node. Cleaning your pruning tool blades is as easy as wiping them off with rubbing alcohol. You can also use the cuttings to propagate new plantings.

How Can I Make My Arrowhead Plant Grow Bushier?

If you want your Arrowhead Plant to grow bushier with a robust appearance and not produce such long stems, you can solve the problem through corrective pruning. While it’s actively growing in spring through summer, trim all or the majority of the stems back to the desired length.

Maintaining the stems’ preferred length is easy. Pinch off any new growth at the tips as it appears. This keeps the Arrowhead’s growth in check.

My Arrowhead Plant Is Drooping

The most common problem causing an otherwise properly cared for Arrowhead Plant to droop is lack of water and overly dry soil conditions. Check the soil with your finger and if more than top inch feels dry, the plant is suffering from drought.

Resume a normal watering schedule and make sure to irrigate when the top inch of soil becomes dry to the touch.

Why Are My Arrowhead Plant Leaves Turning Yellow?

If your Arrowhead Plant’s foliage starts yellowing, the most probable cause is it’s not getting enough water. Additionally, too much water and soggy soil causes yellow leaves. If irrigation isn’t the problem, the plant might be suffering a nitrogen deficiency, especially if the mature foliage is turning yellow. Apply an all-purpose, houseplant fertilizer at half-strength.

It is easy to diagnose whether you are underwatering or overwatering by sticking your finger into the potting mix. If the soil is dry below an inch, conditions are too dry. In addition, if the soil is soggy feeling, it’s staying too wet.

If the soil is too dry, resume regular applications of water. If the soil is soggy, allow it to dry before resuming a regular watering schedule.

What Causes My Arrowhead Plant’s Leaf Tips To Turn Brown?

The prime reason an Arrowhead Plant’s foliage has brown leaf tips is too dry air. Move the plant to a different location indoors, if it’s situated near a heating unit or vent. You also need to create more humidity by frequently misting the plant with water.

Misting every few days should correct the problem on newly developing foliage, although, the damaged foliage won’t correct itself and the browning remains. For aesthetic reasons and improve the plant’s overall looks, you can trim off the brown edges.

Why Are The Leaf Veins On My Arrowhead Plant Turning Yellow?

If you notice the leaf veins (margins) on your Arrowhead Plant turning yellowish-brown to brown and seeming to die, lack of water and low humidity are more than likely the culprits.

Irrigate the soil and resume a regular watering schedule of watering when the top inch of soil becomes dry. Increase humidity by misting the entire plant with water every few days.

Why Is My Arrowhead Plant Not Growing?

There’s no reason to be concerned if it’s fall and winter and your Arrowhead Plant isn’t putting on new growth. During this time of year, the plant goes dormant and stops growing until the temperatures warm in spring.

However, if it’s during the growing season and your Arrowhead Plant’s growth seems like it’s stopped, make sure you are giving it the proper care it requires. Soil without any nutrients, lack of fertilizer and too low light all reduce the plant’s rate of growth.

You can amend the situation by repotting with fresh, organically rich soil, feeding it monthly during spring through summer, or moving it to a brighter location indoors.

The Base Of my Arrowhead Plant Is Turning Black And Mushy

If you notice the base of your Arrowhead Plant’s stems and leaves turning black and getting mushy and the condition is overtaking the plant, it has developed root rot due to too wet soil and overwatering. Cutting back on water at this point typically won’t save the plant from dying, as the rot is too severe.

However, if the Arrowhead has longer stems that haven’t been affected by the rot, you can prune off a healthy cutting and root it in potting mix.

Discard the old, infected soil and use fresh to repot a cutting or new Arrowhead Plant. Sanitize the pot before reusing it by washing it in bleach.

Prevent the rot problems by using a potting mix that drains well and irrigating only when the top inch of soil becomes dry.

Arrowhead Plant Diseases

Spider Mites

If you notice small white, fly-like bugs flying around your Arrowhead Plant when you disturb it, you’ve got yourself an infestation of spider mites. The mites are a common insect affecting Arrowheads grown indoors and usually are the result of a low humidity problem.

It’s important to treat a spider mite problem quickly, as the mite sucks the juices from the plant and can quickly weaken it to the point of death, if left untreated. They can also travel to your other indoor plants, infesting them too.

Correct future problems by increasing humidity through misting the Arrowhead Plant several times weekly. You can kill the spider mites by spraying the Arrowhead with an insecticidal soap spray, following product directions on the frequency of its use.

Mealy Bugs On Arrowhead Plants

Another pest that can be a common nuisance for Arrowhead plants grown indoors, especially when humidity is low are mealy bugs. Mealy bugs are similar to scale insects in that they suck the sap from the Arrowhead Plant weakening it, especially if left untreated.

The insects mass together along the stems and leaves, especially on newly developed growth. A severe infestation causes the foliage to yellow and the Arrowhead Plant’s growth to become stunted. If left untreated, the mealy bugs can infest other plants you have growing indoors, creating an even bigger problem. Therefore, you’ll need to treat the pests sooner rather than later.

Control future problems through increasing humidity by misting the Arrowhead Plant several times each week. Treat the mealy bugs by using an insecticidal soap, following product directions on frequency and amounts.

Why Are The Leaves On My Arrowhead Plant Looking Wet And Water-Soaked?

This problem occurs when the plant is warm, but the soil is too cold. Prevent the condition by maintaining an indoor temperature of at least 65°F (18.3°C) and raising the temperature gradually.

What’s Causing Some Of My Arrowhead Plant’s Leaves To Have Water-Soaked Spots With Holes In The Center?

This condition occurs during winter when the water you are using to irrigate is too cold. Allow the water to come to room temperature before using it to water.

Is Arrowhead Plant Poisonous To Pets And People?

All parts of the Arrowhead Plant are poisonous to humans, dogs, cats and horses, when ingested. Broken stems exude a milky sap that some people find irritating to their skin. The toxic substance contained in the plant is calcium oxalate crystals.

When ingested, it causes severe mouth pain, irritation and swelling of the tongue, throat, and mouth, difficulty swallowing, vomiting and excessive drooling.

Therefore, it’s best to play it safe when growing an Arrowhead Plant indoors and situating it where it’s out of the reach of children and pets.

Arrowhead Plant Varieties

Numerous cultivars (varieties) are available with a host of different colored leaves. If you cannot find them locally, you may have to order through an online plant catalog. Some examples include:

  • ‘Confetti’ has lighter green leaves covered in pink splotches and with pinkish-white leaf veins.
  • ‘Neon’ produces pink leaves.
  • ‘Robusta’ produces green leaves with white leaf veins and doesn’t readily vine.
  • ‘Holly M’ produces white leaves with small green speckles on the leaf margins.
  • ‘Maria Allusion’ produces compact green leaves tinged with reddish-bronze, and leaf veins that are dark pink.

How To Propagate Arrowhead Plant

Arrowhead Plant cuttings easily and quickly root in a draining container filled with a rich, well-drained potting mix. Bury the cutting by an inch or two, water the soil, keeping it moist but not soggy, and place the cutting in an area with a medium level of light.

Will My Arrowhead Plant Bloom Indoors?

Only mature Arrowhead plants bloom in summer, producing greenish-white, insignificant spathes. Due to pruning and indoor conditions, they typically don’t bloom grown as indoor houseplants.

Does My Arrowhead Plant Produce Fruit?

Since Arrowhead plants need to bloom to produce their fruits, they typically won’t be productive grown indoors. However, the fruits form on the spathe changing from greenish-white to red when mature.