Growing Heartleaf Philodendron: Philodendron Cordatum Care

With over 200 varieties to choose from, Philodendrons are a popular choice among plant enthusiasts. 

Philodendron cordatum (fil-oh-DEN-dron kor-DAY-tum) is a popular species for indoor use, its heart-shaped, dark green leaves earning it common names such as heart leaf Philodendron and sweetheart vine. 

Potted Heartleaf Philodendron Cordatum
Heart leaf Philodendron Cordatum growing as a potted houseplant | Rebecca Fisher-Adobe

In its homeland of southeastern Brazil, it goes by the common name Philodendron Angra dos Reis.

Philodendron plants belong to the side of the Araceae family prized for its foliage (with the other side being known for edible tubers, such as taro) and are perennial in nature. 

It has two popular cultivars. 

  • Philodendron  ‘Brazil’ (sometimes spelled “Brasil”) features a yellow or chartreuse variegation on its leaves. 
  • Philodendron ‘Silver’ is notable for the silvery leaf markings.

Important Note: When buying a heart leaf Philodendron from growers, there is a good chance you’re actually purchasing a Philodendron hederaceum. 

This species is one of the most varied and adaptable, and the heart-shaped leaves in many of its cultivars contribute to the confusion. 

The Pothos plant, is another commonly confused relative. 

As a general rule, these species are similar enough this common mistake will only matter to botanists.

Philodendron Cordatum Plant Care

Size & Growth

Sweetheart philodendron is an epiphyte, meaning it climbs or trails along with other plants or support structures as its growth habit. 

The long stem’s length often sports short internodes. 

Indoor plant leaves will generally measure 2″ to 3” inches across but may grow much larger in an outdoor setting.

Flowering and Fragrance

Heart leaf philodendron doesn’t flower indoors, and in outdoor settings, the tiny, sterile male flowers located on the spathes are easily forgettable.

The equally sterile female flowers are located deep in the spathe. 

The pheromones created by these flowers are of little note and mainly attract Cyclocephala beetles, who serve as their main pollinators in the Amazon.

Light & Temperature

One would swear sweetheart vine was Irish if they didn’t know better. 

Its rich green leaves love sunlight but burn easily in direct sun, making the ideal conditions a bright, indirect light to lower light. 

The plant doesn’t fare as well in low light conditions, making it best to keep this plant near a window or other bright indirect light source.

Cordatum prefers warmer temperatures during the winter and survives best outdoors in USDA hardiness zones 10 to 12. 

Indoors, cordatum does well in temperatures between 65° – 80° degrees Fahrenheit (18° – 27° C) with nighttime temperatures as low as 55° degrees Fahrenheit (13° C).

It also prefers higher humidity. 

Regular home humidity is adequate, but keeping your cordatum in the bathroom or other more humid locations will reduce in fuller growth. 

Humidity trays are also a good way to keep this plant happy.

Watering and Feeding

You don’t need to speak plant for heart leaf to tell you when it needs water. 

Give it a nice dose of water and allow the top half of the soil to dry before adding more. 

The plant will let you know if it needs more water when you see leaves starting to brown, and yellowing is its way of telling you to hold back on the next watering.

Feed this plant with a standard liquid houseplant food, diluting to half the recommendation. 

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Give it food monthly during the spring and summer, cutting back to every other month in autumn and winter. 

Don’t let the rapid expansion of this trailing plant fool you, it only needs a lot of food when it’s actively producing new foliage.

Soil & Transplanting

Any well-aerated potting soil will work for this plant, although you will need to make sure it can drain quickly to avoid root rot.

Transplanting is only necessary when the roots become too crowded (root-bound) in the pot. 

Simply move the plant to a slightly larger container. 

Remember, a smaller container will help prevent overwatering, so jumping to a much larger home too quickly is never a good idea for this plant.

Grooming And Maintenance

The ultimate friend of the absent-minded, Sweetheart vines seems to thrive on neglect. 

Forgetting to water this plant or otherwise leaving it alone while you go on vacation won’t kill it. 

In fact, fans of this species often boast it’s almost impossible to kill by accident.

Encourage new growth by trimming back the longest vines occasionally. 

Removing dead or damaged leaves will encourage growth, and a well-tended cordatum will sprout side shoots to fill itself out. 

Giving the leaves an occasional wipe will help prevent dust from clogging their pores.

How To Propagate Philodendron Cordatum

Stem cuttings harvested during the growing season are the easiest ways to propagate sweetheart vine. 

Check to be sure the cutting has multiple root nubs on it so the plant can take root. 

These are located where the leaves meet the stem.

Heart Leaf Philodendron Pests or Diseases

As with most of its relatives, cordatum may be prone to aphid pests, mealybugs, and spider mites

It may also suffer from a bacterial disease, leaf spot, root rot, fungus gnats, mold, thrip, and scale when overwatered or allowed to retain dead husks for too long.

All Philodendrons are toxic to both humans and pets. 

However, they won’t harm other plants they might use for climbing and only pull nutrients and water from the waxy coating on their root systems.

Suggested Sweetheart Vine Uses 

For outdoor use, heart leaf philodendron makes a great container plant for balconies and patios, but special care should be taken to protect it from direct sun. 

As a vining species, it serves as either a hanging plant or may be grown on structures as you would English ivy.

Of course, this species is best known as an indoor house plant and has been one of the most common house plants since the Victorian Era. 

It loves hanging baskets, but will also fare well in dish gardens or large terrariums. Cordatum also makes a great plant for kids to learn about plant care. 

More importantly, Cordatum is classified as a clean air plant, meaning it helps to remove formaldehyde and other toxic gasses from your home, improving your family’s overall health.

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