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If there were ever a plant that’s perfect for people who are terrible with plants, it’s the heartleaf philodendron. Not only are they easy to keep healthy (seriously, they’re harder to kill than to keep alive), but they come in a variety of beautiful shades and can be kept as cheerful, bushy plants or graceful trailers.


Heartleaf philodendron is a popular house plant because it is extremely easy to grow. It's also known as the Sweetheart Plant and is native to South America.

Philodendron hederaceum or Brasil is also a native to South America and is a patented heart-leaf philodendron. The leaves look like they are colored in strokes of yellow and green, and resemble the flag of Brasil, hence the common name.

Often confused with Pothos, this variety is fairly tolerant and easy to care for. They are also a great indoor choice because they remove air-born toxins such as formaldehyde from the air.


The Philodendron Brasil is a hanging or tabletop plant. It can be trained to grow up a trellis, over a bamboo hoop, a moss pole, or a piece of bark

Light - A heartleaf philodendron can survive in low light conditions, but grows faster and produces more leaves in medium or bright indirect light, ideally a North or East facing window. They can thrive in a West-facing window if set further away from direct sunlight. Small leaves or long spaces between leaves show that the plant is not getting enough light. It thrives under fluorescent light, too, making it an ideal office plant. Never put any philodendron plant in direct sun, it burns quickly!

Temperature - Heartleaf philodendrons grow well in temperatures between 70°F-80ºF during the day and above 55º F at night. Keep away from air conditioners, cold drafts, and heating vents.

Water  - Philodendrons may be grown in soil or just in water. Water well and then allow the top 50% of the soil dry out before watering again. Keep soil lightly moist spring through fall. Allow surface to dry out between waterings in winter. Yellow leaves indicate over-watering and brown leaves mean the plant needs more water. Always use tepid water for your houseplants because cold water is a shock to these tropical natives. You can tell when a philodendron needs water because its leaves will appear wilted. When watered, the plant will reward you with a perky appearance.


Philodendrons also thrive in containers with just water. Monitor the water closely because your philodendron may drink it faster than you anticipate. One thing to note is that once a plant is used to living in either soil or water, it doesn’t always do well being transferred to the other medium.

Humidity - Basic household humidity is fine though higher humidity encourages larger leaves. Brown leaf tips are a symptom of dry air. Use a pebble tray in winter months!

Soil - Potted philodendrons should be planted in well-aerated soil for easy drainage and drys quickly.

Fertilizer - Feed monthly in the spring and summer with a basic houseplant food diluted to 1/2 the recommended strength. Don't feed in winter, when growth is slower. Heartleaf philodendron are fast growing plants and need quite a bit of plant food, but should be fertilized only when they are actively producing new leaves.

Re-pot - Philodendrons should be re-potted only when they become root bound, about every two to three years; smaller pots help prevent over-watering. Pots should be porous and contain a drainage hole. If you wish to use a decorative pot that doesn’t have these characteristics, simply place a philodendron in a terra cotta pot inside the decorative pot. Using pebbles in the bottom of the decorative pot will help keep the philodendron from sitting in water.

Maintenance - Pinch your plant. Without pinching, it will grow with long, single stems and become lanky. You can pinch it back anytime to help it branch out, keeping the plant bushy and full. Always pinch after a leaf node (the place where a leaf is attached to the stem). A new stem will grow from that node. Or let it grow. Few house plants are as eager to climb as a heartleaf philodendron. If you allow the long stems to grow, put the plant in a hanging basket, or let it trail from a shelf or bookcase. To train it to climb a moss pole, use floral tape or soft plant ties to hold the stems up to the pole, until its aerial roots sink in.


Wash the leaves frequently to prevent dust from clogging the pores of the plant.

Pests - Keep an eye out for Aphids, spider mites, Mealy Bugs, thrip, and scale.
If a philodendron becomes infected, spray with 91% Isopropyl Alcohol mixed with water (2 parts Alcohol, 1 part water) or an insecticidal soap at 1/2 the recommended strength.


Root-rot from over-watering is the main disease problem. Just avoid overwatering!

Propagation - A heartleaf philodendron is easily propagated using stem cuttings, especially during the growing season. Be sure the stem cutting has several nubs on it. Nubs are the little bumps where the leaves meet the stem and where new roots will eventually develop. Philodendron roots easily in water or moist soil.

Potential Problems

Wilted leaves are likely because the potting medium has dried out. Although it will tolerate dry soil, I wouldn't let it go too long without a drink. Another possibility for wilting is root rot.

Yellow leaves are caused by prolonged soggy soil. Overwatering is the number one reason houseplants die. But it's easy to avoid. Use a pot with drainage holes, water thoroughly then empty the drainage tray.


Brown scorch marks on leaves may be a symptom of exposure to hot, direct sunlight. Or brown spots may be caused by fungus. If you mist your plant, or clean it with water, don't allow water drops to stay on the leaves. While foliage dries quickly outdoors with good air circulation, indoor plants may stay wet for several hours, leading to fungus. It's a good idea to cut off affected leaves. Don't worry -- this vigorous vine will soon replace them.


NASA lists a heartleaf philodendron as the #26 clean air plant that removes formaldehyde, a chemical found in insulation, floor coverings, cleaning agents, pressed wood, and even paper towels, from the air.

Special Notes - These plants are considered poisonous and should be kept away from pets and children.