Arrowhead plants, or Syngoniums, are native to South and Central America and Mexico. They got their name because of the shape of their leaves, which range in color from light to deep green. They are vining plants that use their aerial roots to climb and vine. Some people place a pole next to their plant to give it something to grab onto and help it upwards.
In this article, we will discuss the proper cultural care of arrowhead plants and how to propagate them correctly.
If you are planning on adding these plants to your collection and wish to know more about them, just keep reading.
Arrowhead plant care
1. Water requirements
There are several factors to take into account when determining the best watering schedule for your arrowhead plant. These include the climate where you live, the season of the year, and the current weather conditions. If you live in a cold area, and it is winter, and you have constant snow and rain, you will not need to water the plant as much as during the summer, with little to no rain, in a region with a warm climate.
Typically, an arrowhead plant should be watered between once and twice a week. The best way to know if your plant needs watering is to touch the top two inches of soil in the pot. If the soil is dry to the touch, you can water the plant, but if it is still damp, wait one or two days and then check the soil again.
While these plants can tolerate a bit of drought, you should never make the mistake of overwatering them. When the plant is overwatered, the soil is consistently soggy and the roots will drown and begin to rot. This leaves them susceptible to opportunistic pathogens, which will exacerbate the spread of the rot to the rest of the plant. Before you know it, the whole plant will be dying, with no chance of recovery.
If you suspect that your plant is overwatered, remove it from the pot and wash off as much old soil as you can from the roots. Inspect the roots thoroughly and, using a clean knife, remove all of the brown and black parts of the roots, because these are rotten and infected. Spray the remaining white, healthy roots with fungicide and let the plant air-dry for a few hours on a dry paper towel on a tray. When the roots are dry, repot the plant in a new pot that has drainage holes at the bottom, using fresh, well-draining soil.
2. Light requirements
Ideally, arrowhead plants like bright, indirect light, but they are more than capable of surviving in low light conditions. This is why these plants do well in homes and climates that do not get that much light. Do not place these plants in areas where they are constantly exposed to direct sunlight, because the leaves will get scorched. This may not be fatal to the plant, but it does ruin its overall aesthetic. Place the plant near a north- or east-facing window, and if the only available window lets in light that is too harsh, you can diffuse the intensity by placing a sheer curtain over the window.
As mentioned, these plants’ leaves come in a wide range of hues, and the darker-colored ones will do better under low light than those that are a paler color.
If you live in a place where there is little to no sunlight during the winter, it might be a good idea to invest in some grow lights to support your plant.
3. Humidity requirements
This plant is native to tropical countries, so needless to say it enjoys a more humid environment. During the spring and fall, the humidity inside your home may be enough to keep the plant happy, but the drier summers and winters may take a toll on it.
You can use a spray bottle to mist the plant’s leaves every once in a while; you can also use a water pebble tray. Place the pebble tray under the plant’s pot and, as the water evaporates, it will moisten the soil as well as the plant’s leaves.
You can also try grouping your humidity-loving plants close together, so that they create a microclimate around and between them and help each other out.
If you have the extra money, you can buy a humidifier to do the job for you and automatically regulate the humidity in your home.
4. Temperature requirements
Arrowhead plants do fine in room temperature. As long as the temperature around your plant is between 50 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit, it should be completely fine. If you are keeping the plant outdoors, make sure you take it inside before the first frost.
Once you have taken the plant indoors, remember not to place it where it can be hit by cold or warm drafts. Keep it away from heating vents and air conditioners, because the cold and warm air can quickly dry the plant out.
5. Soil requirements
Arrowhead plants like soil that is well-draining, loose, airy and porous. The soil should allow air and water to permeate it with ease. A mixture of one part indoor plant potting mix, one part perlite and one part coco peat will work. If you cannot get hold of these materials, you can always just buy commercially available indoor plant potting mix.
The pot you use for the plant should also have sufficient drainage holes at the bottom to allow excess water to flow out in case you accidentally give the plant more water than you meant to.
Avoid using steel or plastic pots, because these materials are not porous and do not allow air and water to seep through them. Instead, choose clay or terracotta pots; these are airy and porous and will let air and water pass through much more easily.
6. Fertilizer requirements
Arrowhead plants do not require fertilizer, but they can be fed in order to help them reach their full potential. Use half-strength houseplant fertilizer once a month during the spring and summer. Do not give the plant fertilizer in the fall and winter, because this can cause soil toxicity due to the buildup of nutrients in the soil. You will end up doing the plant more harm than good in this way.
7. Repotting the plant
Because these plants are such fast growers, you may need to repot them once a year. They can become rootbound if they are kept in pots that are too tight. Signs of a rootbound plant include roots growing out of the drainage holes at the bottom, and the entire root ball becoming very easy to pull out of the pot. This means that the pot is holding more roots than soil, whereas it should be the other way around.
When you are repotting the plant, the new pot should just be one size bigger than the old one, because a pot that is too large will hold too much soil. Too much soil means too much water retention, and this can lead to overwatering and possible root rot.
8. Pruning the plant
It is completely normal for the plant’s leaves to die back one at a time, but you should be worried if all of the leaves appear to be dying at the same time. Remove the dead leaves to preserve the plant’s aesthetic.
These plants can grow quite quickly, so you may need to prune the vines to control their growth. Using sterilized scissors or pruning shears, cut the vine about half an inch above the node. This practice will discourage the growth of leggy and scraggly vines.
Arrowhead plant propagation
Propagation in soil
To propagate the plant in soil, choose a vine that has several leaves and nodes and cut it half an inch below a node using sterilized pruning shears. Cut the stem at a 45-degree angle so that the cutting absorbs water better. It is important to include the node, because this is where the new roots will grow from. Remove any leaves that are close to the base of the cutting. The bigger your parent plant is, the more cuttings you can take to ensure a higher success rate when propagating.
Prepare a small pot with potting mix and poke a hole in the middle of the soil. Place the cutting into the hole and cover the base of the plant, making sure that the node is under the soil.
Place the pot in a spot where it can get bright, indirect light. You can help lock in moisture by placing a plastic bag over the plant, but remove the bag for a few minutes every day to let the plant breathe.
After four weeks, check the viability of the roots by gently tugging on the plant. If you can feel resistance when you pull, that means the roots are well-established and you can now care for the plant as you would a mature arrowhead plant.
Propagation in water
Remove cuttings from the parent plant using sterilized pruning shears. Make sure the cutting has several leaves and nodes on it. Remove any leaves that are close to the base of the cutting and
place the cutting in a glass jar half-filled with tepid water. At least one node should be submerged in the water, but remove any submerged leaves.
Place the jar in a spot where the cutting can get plenty of bright, indirect light. If the water level drops below the node, refill the water, and if the water starts to smell or looks murky, change it as soon as possible.
After two weeks, you should be able to see small roots growing from the node. Do not plant the cutting yet; wait at least two more weeks, or until the roots are several inches long.
Plant the cutting in a pot, using well-draining potting mix, and care for it as you would a regular arrowhead plant.
Arrowhead plants are low-maintenance, hardy plants that are a good choice to keep indoors. The unique shape of their leaves and their various shades of green have made these plants quite popular.
Arrowhead plants like bright, indirect light, water when the top two inches of soil are dry, room temperature, a humid environment, minimal feeding, minimal pruning, and repotting when the roots become crowded in their pot.
You can propagate this plant by placing cuttings directly in soil, or you can let the cutting root in a glass of water before planting it in its own pot.
Image: istockphoto.com / malija