Philodendron scandens (fil-o-DEN-dron SCAN-dens) is the old scientific name for Philodendron hederaceum (fil-oh-DEN-dron hed-er-ah-SEE-um). It is known by the common name of Heartleaf Philodendron because it has lovely, heart-shaped leaves.
Other common names include the Sweetheart plant or Parlor Ivy.
The plants’ botanical name, Philodendron scandens, is Greek and means “tree-loving climber”.
This climbing, evergreen vine is an epiphyte. In the wild, it climbs up trees or other supports gleaning nourishment through the spongy root coverings.
Hailing from South America, the perennial heart leaf Philodendron is a popular houseplant. Its easy-care makes it an excellent choice for a wide variety of indoor settings.
Heartleaf Philodendron Care and Conditions
Size & Growth
If left alone, this fast growing climber will send out trailing vines up to 4′ feet long. For a bushier growth habit, trim or pinch back the stems of heartleaf Philodendrons at a leaf node to encourage a fuller appearance.
The large, heart-shaped leaves are leathery and glossy. They may be as big as 3″ inches wide. Immature leaves are bronze colored and transition to deep green as they mature.
Flowering & Fragrance
It is very rare for indoor heartleaf philodendrons to flower, but if they do you will see a greenish, oval-shaped flower holder called a spathe. The actual flowers are inside, and they are unscented, white and very tiny.
Spathes may appear at any time of year. When Philodendron scandens blooms, the blooms transition into berry-like fruit in shades of orange, burgundy, or red.
Light & Temperature
Parlor Ivy tolerates a wide variety of light settings. But it does best with bright, indirect sunlight.
The heart leaf Philodendron plant tolerates temperatures as low as 60° degrees Farhenheit. But, does best in room temperatures ranging from 65° to 75° degrees Farhenheit.
Watering & Feeding
This tropical vining sweetheart plant enjoys a moist, humid environment. The soil around the roots should be moist but never soggy.
If watering with tap water, let it stand for at least 24hrs. This allows chemicals to evaporate and water to reach room temperature before application.
Philodendrons are known to be sensitive to temperature change. Watering the Philodendron heartleaf with cold tap water can shock the plant. Plus, this adds chemicals to the soil and could lead to yellow leaves!
Mist the leaves a couple of times daily, and try to keep the ambient humidity at around 40% or higher.
Feed using a well-balanced water-soluble houseplant fertilizer. Fertilize monthly during the spring and summer growing season.
Potting Soil & Transplanting
Because Philodendron scandens plants are epiphytes, they do best with a soilless planting mix. Look for peat moss based mixtures, such as African Violet potting mix.
Heartleaf Philodendrons do not need frequent repotting. The plant should do well in a fairly small pot for two or three years.
When choosing the container, be sure to select one that provides good air circulation to the plant’s root system. Terra-cotta is the best material, and be certain that the pot has plenty of drainage holes.
Grooming & Maintenance Of The Heartleaf Philodendron Plant
If you want long, trailing vines that ramble about the room or trail off the sides of bookcases, do nothing. To encourage bushy growth, pinch back new growth frequently to help your plant branch out.
Always pinch back close to leaf nodes. If you pinch back in the middle of the stem, the part of the stem remaining will simply die off and look unattractive.
Pinch back tender new growth with your fingernails. But cut back older stems, using clean, sharp hand pruners.
Train the Sweetheart Philodendron to grow up a totem pole for an attractive and interesting look.
How To Propagate Philodendron Scandens
It’s very easy to propagate Parlor Ivy with leaf bud cuttings or stem tip cuttings. Root cuttings in water or in a moist potting soil. Sure to keep your cuttings in a warm, protected environment until roots begin to form.
It is also possible to propagate Sweetheart philodendron from seed. Sow the seeds on moist soil. Keep the seed starting container in a warm (66° to 75° degrees Fahrenheit) protected setting to germinate.
Philodendron Scandens Pests or Diseases
Heartleaf philodendron is generally pest and problem free. Overwatering may cause problems with root rot and other fungal infections. This may weaken the plant. Weakened plants are more susceptible to houseplant pests such as:
- Spider mites
- Scale insects
Watch out for yellow leaves which may give you an advance warning that you are overwatering.
Excessive dryness can also be a problem for these tropical plants. If you notice your plant has wilted leaves, it may be a sign that you need to water.
Direct sunlight may cause brown scorch marks on Philodendron’s leaves.
Is Scandens Considered Toxic or Poisonous?
Philodendron contains insoluble calcium oxalates. This can cause skin irritation on contact and severe gastric distress if ingested. Keep the plant out of the reach of children, household pets, and livestock.
Is The Scandens Philodendron Considered Invasive?
Heartleaf Philodendron is not known to be invasive.
Suggested Philodendron Scandens Uses
Parlor Ivy is an excellent choice for almost any indoor setting. Because of its love of humidity, and tolerance of low light, it does very well in bathrooms and kitchens. It’s also a good choice as a desk plant for an office.
The plants’ trailing stems are quite lovely dangling from a hanging basket. Or train the plant to climb a trellis or a moss totem pole.