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Choosing a Plant
Disease and Distress
One glimpse at a beautiful arrowhead plant, and you'll understand why it's named as such. The plant features distinctive broad leaves that taper into a narrow points across its many varieties, which range from the Pink Allusion's silvery pink foliage to the saturated leaves of the Green Gold. Scientifically referred to as Syngonium podophyllum, this perennial vine is native to Central and South America, where it thrives underneath the jungle's canopy.
Though the arrowhead plant loves stretching out in its jungle habitat, it tends to grow well in many environments. In fact, arrowheads are one of the most popular houseplants today, largely due to their ease of care and striking beauty. Thinking about adding one to your own growing collection? Discover everything you need to know about how to grow and care for arrowhead plants right here.
Bringing Home Your Arrowhead Plant
Mature or Starter Plants
It's most common to buy a mature or starter arrowhead plant (the latter is a small- to medium-sized plant in an early stage of life). "When purchasing an arrowhead plant, examine its leaves to ensure they are bright, clean, and free of pests or holes, which can indicate a health issue," advises Lindsay Pangborn, a gardening expert with Bloomscape. "Keep in mind that plants are easily damaged in transit, so a broken leaf or stem shouldn't deter you from purchasing an otherwise healthy plant."
Once you get it home, you can transplant it into a slightly larger pot—no more than a few inches larger in diameter than the existing pot—that has a drainage hole. Both the pot size and drainage hole will help prevent overwatering.
First, make sure you have an all-purpose houseplant potting mix, and work in a slow-release fertilizer to ensure your potted arrowhead plant has the nutrients it needs to thrive, explains Pangborn.
Carefully remove the plant from its original pot to prevent breaking the stems. Unless the roots are extremely bound, you don't need to disrupt them.
Place the plant in its new pot and gently add fresh potting mix, making sure the top of the rootball isn't buried.
Growing From Seed
While you can technically grow arrowhead plants from seed, this is less common and may not yield the results you're looking for. "Most of the varieties you see are cultivars that will only come true-to-type from cuttings, division, or other forms of asexual propagation," explains Justin Hancock, a horticulturist with Costa Farms. In other words, "seeds from a Syngonium plant won't necessarily yield plants that look like their parents."
Panghorn agrees, noting that it's best to share this plant through cuttings from friends or by purchasing a mature plant or starter from a reputable seller.
How to Care for Arrowhead Plants
Arrowheads naturally grow under shaded jungle canopies, and their leaves can scorch when exposed to direct sunlight. As such, bright, indirect light is best—try placing them next to an east-facing window or a few feet away from a south or west-facing window. Hancock adds that your plant may technically tolerate medium or low light, but it won't thrive; you'll be able to see the difference.
In terms of watering, it's best to water when the top 2 inches of soil are dry to the touch. "Like a lot of aroids—including pothos, philodendron, and monstera—arrowhead plants would rather be a little too dry than too wet," says Hancock. "Wilting isn't great for the plant, but it can recover from it. When roots start to die because they're suffocating [due to overwatering], that's a lot more serious."
Allow excess water to drain and remove any water that collects in the saucer. Also, avoid getting the leaves wet while watering, since the arrowhead plant is susceptible to a variety of leaf spot diseases.
Maintain 65°F or higher temperatures and avoid placing arrowheads near air vents or drafty areas. "While not necessary, the plant will appreciate a boost in humidity with the addition of a pebble tray or nearby humidifier," notes Pangborn. Aim for between 40 and 60% humidity.
Arrowhead plants don't need much fertilizer to thrive. Pangborn recommends using an all-purpose houseplant fertilizer every other month during active growth periods, which typically occur in the spring and summer. Follow the instructions on the fertilizer packaging and remember that it's better to add too little than too much.
Occasionally cutting back long vines on your arrowhead can help maintain a compact, tidy plant. It's also good practice to remove older leaves that have naturally yellowed, which will help improve the overall aesthetic and keep your plant healthy.
"When pruning, the one rule I tend to follow is to never remove more than about 25% of the plant's foliage at one time," says Hancock. "If you do prune a vining Syngonium, it will sprout new branches just below the point where you cut it off."
It's time to transplant your arrowhead again when its roots fill up about 75% of the pot. The easiest way to tell is to gently slip the plant out of its pot and examine the rootball. "If you see lots and lots of roots circling around the inside perimeter of the pot, it's time to give it larger digs," Hancock says.
When repotting, it's important to gently loosen the rootball. (If you break a few roots in the process, the plant will be okay.) The old soil in the rootball can hold moisture differently than the new soil, creating the possibility of over or under-watering in the new container. Again, any general purpose potting mix will work.
Common Varieties of Arrowhead Plant
The arrowhead family boasts a surprising range of colors and variegation patterns, making this genus delightfully collectible. Some of the most popular varieties include:
White Butterfly: defined by a blend of gem-colored green-and-white patches concentrated in the center of the leaf
Pink Allusion: pink leaves have a tinge of silvery green that lends to a soft, papery look
Green Gold: vibrant variation that features yellow-gold veining with contrasting dark green edges
Berry Allusion: mostly green in color, but also has faint red veining that is striking
Erythrophyllum: has saturated, dark green leaves with a chocolate-crimson underside and a waxy finish
Green Velvet: narrower leaves than many of the other species; features a gem-green hue with contrasting cream veining
How to Identify and Treat Distress and Disease in Arrowhead Plants
The arrowhead plant adapts to and tolerates many environments, which makes it one of the easiest houseplants to own. Still, it's susceptible to distress and disease, typically relating to watering, light, or infection issues.
Brown or Yellow Leaves
Crispy, brown tips or edges are a sign of not enough water or humidity levels that are too low. On the other hand, leaf yellowing can occur if arrowheads are overwatered. (Typically, the yellowing begins with the bottom leaves first in cases of overwatering.)
Make sure to water your plant when the top two inches of soil are dry and keep humidity between 40% and 60%.
Leaf spotting is a common issue with arrowhead plants, and there are a number of contributors to consider.
Brown spots: too much sun or is not getting enough water
Dull green or yellow spots: bacterial infection, in which case a bactericide can help
Dark brown spots with concentric rings: fungal issue, which means it's time to call in a fungicide
If you notice your arrowhead plant seems stunted in growth, adjust its light level, watering schedule, or temperature; this could also indicate that your plant is ready to be transplanted into a bigger vessel.