Syngonium podophyllum, or as it is more commonly known as, Arrowhead plant or Goosefoot plant (for the distinct shape of its leaves), makes a great houseplant for plant newbies and plant experts alike.
With a wide variety of cultivars that range from chartreuse, white, deep greens, and even pinks, there is a Syngonium for everyone. The bonus of this underrated houseplant is that it is relatively easy to care for, with few pests bothering it.
As long as the Arrowhead plant is in its ideal growing conditions, it will provide beauty and spark joy. So, let’s get to it, the good, the bad and the dirty of the Arrowhead plant.
Getting to Know the Arrowhead Plant
Syngonium podophyllum hails from central and south American rainforests. A tropical plant, the Arrowhead is found twining on limbs of various trees in the canopy of the rainforest.
Its natural state is why it makes an ideal candidate for a houseplant. Knowing where a plant is found in nature gives insight on how it likes to be cared for once it is brought into our homes.
Replicating its natural habitat is the key to growing a healthy, beautiful Syngonium at home.
Arrowhead Plant Varieties
Now for the fun part, there are many arrowhead plant varieties. They vary in colour and leaf variegation, so choosing one is definitely the fun part.
Some are more common and easily available in garden centres and large retail stores, whereas some arrowhead plant varieties are very rare and you will need to find a specialty plant dealer to get your hands on one.
Syngonium podophyllum in its natural state has arrow shaped leaves and is a creamy greenish white color, however, lots of new varieties of syngoniums have been introduced that include different colors and shapes.
Here is a list of some of the different and wonderful syngonium plant varieties.
- Syngonium Pink Allusion, this is the beautiful pink variety that fills Instagram feeds. Keep in bright, indirect sunlight for the showiest pink leaves
- Syngonium Holly, this variety is mostly white with bold green edges, for more green place in less light, for more white, place in brighter light
- Syngonium Painted Arrow, this variety is similar to the Holly variety, except it has bold green edges with a chartreuse centre.
- Syngonium White Butterfly, This popular variety a creamy green with bolder green edges, it’s a classic arrowhead
- Syngonium Pink Splash, This is a coveted, rare variety. It is dark green with “splashes” of pink all across it. Also, the three lobes of the arrowhead are more defined so it has two smaller lobes to either side and a larger, elongated, lobe in the middle. This variety is truly a spectacular specimen.
- Syngonium Pixie, This variety has miniature arrowhead leaves with white centres and green edges, like a traditional Syngonium podophyllum.
How to Grow Arrowhead Plant
Arrowheads live in the canopy, where it does not receive direct sunlight, only dappled light from through the leaves of the large trees it grows on. This means once it is in our homes it should not be blasted in full direct south sunlight.
An ideal spot would be an east facing exposure, against the window of a north facing exposure, or placed at a distance from the south facing window.
However, Syngonium are survivors, if they are in less than ideal spots they will tolerate it, but the growth won’t be as vigorous as if it were in its ideal spot.
Too much sun and you will notice crispy edges, too little sun and the Syngonium will have smaller leaves and have a ‘leggy’ appearance.
Also, the brighter pink and variegated varieties will appear less vibrant as they are producing more chlorophyll to make up for the lack of sunlight. The vibrant pink and lime green colours are optimized in bright indirect sunlight.
Darker green varieties of Syngonium will tolerate less sun than the lighter green/white and pink varieties which is something to keep in mind when choosing a variety.
With all that being said, it’s never an exact science, experimenting with Syngonium and finding its sweet spot in the home or office is the best bet.
If there are lots of beautiful glossy leaves, and lots of new growth, leave him be. Dull stunted leaves need more light, and crispy leaves need less.
Rotate your plant pot every so often so that all sides receive the light for more even growth.
Arrowhead Plant Growing Habit
In nature, Arrowheads are vines and they can be trained into vines as houseplants as well. They can be trained to climb moss poles, and other trellises.
But on the other hand, they can also be a pretty upright bushy house plant, they have a tendency to want to roam, so to tame it into an upright plant, the arial and lateral growth of the arrowhead plant will just need to be pinched or cut off (spoiler alert: these can be propagated) to create a beautiful bushy upright plant.
Arrowhead Plant Care Guide
Back to their natural habitat, Arrowhead plants grow above the ground finding nooks and crannies in the massive trees to hook onto and grow.
This means that they prefer light humus soil, as opposed to dense soil. The more we recreate the plant’s natural conditions, the more success we will have growing them.
They do not like overly dense soil, garden soil and heavy composts (what vegetables typically like to be grown in) are definitely out of the question. Light well draining soils are the best bet.
A good potting soil will suffice. An Orchid soil mix is even better (they also grow in the nooks and crannies of trees).
A mixture of peat (coco coir is better as it's renewable), compost (worm castings if you got them), and perlite (the little white bits in soil) is ideal. Just make sure the soil isn’t dense and compact, light and chunky is what your Arrowhead needs.
Another option for a growing medium is a product called LECA which are clay beads that are submerged in water and the arrowhead will root and grow into this. These beads are sold at most nurseries and a certain very popular Swedish retailer aka Ikea.
Fertilizing the soil of a Syngonium can be done in the summer months with an all purpose 20-20-20 fertilizer every two weeks or so. In the spring it can be top dressed with a nice layer of worm castings.
Or during the growing season, apply a natural fish fertilizer such as Neptune’s Harvest Hydrolyzed Fish and Seaweed Fertilizer every couple of weeks to create beautiful glossy new growth.
Do not fertilize in the fall and winter months, this is when an arrowhead is dormant and does not need any extra nutrients, more is not better when it comes to plants.
Syngonium Podophyllum Water Requirements
Now here is the part where most of the failing occurs in all houseplants and certainly with Syngonium… watering. Most people will kill their houseplants by over watering them (let that sink in).
The Arrowhead plant grows above ground, as an aroid, which means it is not found in the actual earth. When it rains in the rainforest where Syngonium is found, it runs down the limbs and hits the nooks and crannies of the trees it is rooted on and then runs off.
The water hits the arrowhead and then rolls off of it, meaning these guys definitely do not like being in standing water. This is important.
Arrowhead plants cannot tolerate being in constantly wet conditions. Therefore, let the plant dry out completely before watering. Stick a finger in the soil and if it’s wet, back away, if it’s dry, it’s time to water.
A good way to water is to take the whole plant under the sink and give it a good soak and let the excess drain out then replace it to its spot. If watering with a watering can, make sure the plant has drainage and that the arrowhead is not left soaking in excess water.
Bottom watering can also work, where a tray of water is placed under the pot (with holes for drainage) and the plant will suck up the water, just make sure there is no standing water left.
Humidity and Temperature
The tropical rainforest where Arrowhead plant is found is humid. Syngonium house plants will thrive best in its native humid conditions.
However, the average home is not as humid as a tropical rainforest (thankfully), so we need to help out and create a little pocket of humidity.
A tray full of pebbles with water placed underneath the arrowhead will evaporate and create some humidity around it (place the arrowhead on top of the pebbles, never in the water).
Misting with a spray bottle here and there (some suggest daily, maybe ideally daily, but here and there is ok too). Or having a little humidifier near it would be good too.
Average room temperature is adequate for Arrowheads, nothing below 10C (50F). Do not place a Syngonium near a heat vent, it definitely does not like the hot dry air blowing at it constantly.
Propagating Arrowhead Plant
In nature, Syngonium podophyllum crawl along branches and limbs, when they reach a new destination, they set out roots. This is why propagating arrowhead plant is easy.
Just throw a leaf into water, right? Well not quite that easy. Make sure you have a node on the arrowhead cutting, this is a small bump beneath the leaf where it attaches to the stem.
Then place the node and leaf into water and it will sprout new roots and the cutting becomes a new plant.
Or alternatively, dip the node into rooting hormone (sold at most garden centres) and then put the node into moist soil, place a bag over it to keep the humidity and moisture in for a week or two and it should root itself into the soil.
Common Pests to Look Out For
Arrowhead plant is relatively pest resistant, if all the care tips above are followed and you have your arrowhead in its ideal natural growing conditions, it should not be plagued by pests.
But of course, sometimes plants get bugs. The most common culprits are aphids, mealy bugs, scale, and spider mites.
If any of these pests occur on the arrowhead, the best route is to spray it down with water, and then wash it with an insecticidal soap or horticultural oil.
Mealy bugs, which have to be one of the more annoying pests, can be dealt with by dipping a cotton ball or swab in rubbing alcohol and putting it on the fuzzy mealy parts of the plant.
Here is our comprehensive guide on how to get rid of mealybugs.
Arrowhead Plant Toxicity
Syngonium podophyllum is toxic and should be taken into consideration when purchasing with animals and small children. When pruning the sap that is produced is a mild irritant, use gloves if you have sensitive skin.
Using Your Syngonium Podophyllum
Now that our Syngonium podophyllum is growing in the right conditions and is thriving, the fun part really begins, using it as décor. A beautiful pot can really enhance the striking foliage of the arrowhead.
For example, a teal pot would really make a Syngonium podophyllum ‘Pink Allusion’ pop. Or a simple terracotta to make the variegation of a Syngonium podophyllum ‘Holly’ shine.
The trellis used for the plant can also be a design feature, like a little hoop or a heart shaped hoop for the arrowhead shaped leaves to delicately climb up.
A big rustic natural moss pole for it to grip on to and grow sturdy and tall. Another thing to consider is to layer it next to other houseplants for a pop, a pink Syngonium really stands out when placed next to dark green foliage, perhaps an alocasia, or an African mask.
Syngonium can also be used as a plant in a custom container, if used outside (as an annual if not in a tropical region) it should be planted in a shady container (once the night temperatures are above 10 C consistently), maybe alongside caladium or spider plants to create a harmony of foliage texture and colour.
Arrowhead Plant FAQs
How often should I water my Syngonium podophyllum?
When the soil is dry, put a finger in and if it feels dry give it water, if it’s damp, leave it be. Most likely no more than once a week. Do not over water.
Why is my Syngonium podophyllum dying?
Most likely a watering issue, test the soil with a finger. If it is wet, let it dry out before watering. If it is dry, give it some water. Do not over water.
Another issue could be light, if that plant appears straggly (leggy) and dull, it needs more light. Crispy edges and bleaching of the leaves means the sunlight is too direct.
How much sunlight does my Syngonium need?
Bright, indirect or filtered light is best. A full Southern exposure will be too intense and will beach out and burn the plant.
How do I make my Syngonium pink?
Firstly, make sure you choose a pink variety, such as pink allusion (not all syngoniums are pink). To create more pink leaves it needs more bright indirect sunlight.
Plants produce more chlorophyll (the green pigment) in darker conditions to help aid photosynthesis. Less light= more green, more light=more pink
Do Syngoniums need humidity?
They are tropical plants, so they definitely prefer humid conditions, but they will tolerate dry conditions. More humidity will optimize your Syngonium’s health, mist with a spray bottle, or leave on a tray filled with pebbles and water to increase the humidity around your plant.
How do I make my Syngonium bushy?
Syngonium podophyllum have a natural vining habit. To create an upright plant it must be pruned. Any lateral growth needs to be cut to stop it from wandering and create a bushy plant.
Is Syngonium good for indoors?
Yes, it is mostly considered a houseplant in the United States. It is in the USDA zone 10-12 which means it will survive outdoors in areas such as the Southern tip of Florida, Hawaii, and Puerto Rico.
Everywhere else it Syngonium will be a houseplant. It can be planted outside as an annual in areas outside the USDA zones 10-12. Make sure the night temperatures are above 10C (50F) before having it outside.
It can be brought back inside over the winter, just give the Syngonium a good spray off to remove any bugs, and then to be safe spray it with an insecticidal soap.
Can I grow a Syngonium in my bedroom?
Yes! As long as your bedroom has good indirect bright light.
Wrapping Up Our Arrowhead Plant Growing Guide
Ensuring it is growing under its ideal natural conditions is the key to unlocking Syngonium podophyllum’s growing potential. Once it is growing under ideal conditions, Arrowhead plants’s unique foliage and striking colors will add beauty to any space. Have fun!