How to Grow an Arrowhead Plant, the Underrated Beginner-Friendly Houseplant

published Oct 30, 2023
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If you’re looking for a plant that’s relatively easy to grow, an arrowhead could be your answer — it was for me. I ordered my first one online one winter, and because I wasn’t home the instant it arrived, it froze. The company sent me a replacement, which is now happily growing on a cupboard in my bedroom. However, it was the formerly frozen plant that amazed me. After cutting off the dead parts, the plant somehow survived. It currently resides in my dining room as a testament not to give up on a plant with a will to live.

Quick Overview

How to Care for Arrowhead Plant

Arrowhead plants, also called syngonium, like bright, indirect light. They like a humid environment, but don’t like to be overwatered — it’s crucial to let these plants dry out between waterings.

Of course, there’s more to caring for an arrowhead plant besides keeping it in an environment with the right temperature. Here’s what three plant experts have to say about caring for and maintaining your arrowhead plant so it can live a long and happy life.

Credit: Firn

What is an arrowhead Plant?

You might find arrowhead plants under the name arrowhead vine or under their scientific name, Syngonium podophyllum (or sometimes just syngonium).

Arrowhead plants are native to tropical areas of Central and South America. They get their common name from the pointed, arrow-like shape of their leaves.

You might confuse arrowhead plants with their lookalike cousin, the caladium. While caladiums also have pointed leaves, there are a few differences:

  • Arrowhead plants grow from roots, while caladiums grow from tubers.
  • Arrowhead plants are evergreen, which means they do not have a dormant period and can grow year-round in proper conditions. Caladiums must undergo a dormant period.
  • Arrowhead plants are vining and can be trained to climb moss poles or walls. Caladiums grow in bushy formations that stay low to the ground.

What kind of light does an arrowhead plant need? 

Zahid Adnan of The Plant Bible says that arrowheads are known for their ease of care, which includes placing them in the right light.

“They prefer bright, indirect light but can tolerate lower light conditions,” says Adnan. He also notes to avoid direct beams of sunlight as these can scorch the delicate leaves. 

Credit: Firn/Getty Images

How often does an arrowhead plant need to be watered?

Although it can be tempting to keep watering your plant out of habit, it’s best to let the top inch of soil dry out in between waterings. According to Adnan, overwatering can lead to root rot, which can be lethal for plants, so it’s crucial to maintain a balanced watering routine.

The best way to determine if it’s time to water? Stick your finger into the pot to test the soil’s hydration level. If it’s dry in the top inch, water accordingly. 

How much humidity does an arrowhead plant need?

Many indoor plants enjoy a humid environment, and the arrowhead appreciates moisture in the air, which is an additional way to keep the plant hydrated.

“You can increase humidity by misting the plant, using a humidity tray, or placing a small humidifier nearby,” says Adnan. Even something as simple as taking the plant into the bathroom when you shower can give your arrowhead an extra dose of hydration. 

How often should you fertilize your arrowhead plant? 

Arrowhead plants don’t require a lot of fertilizer, but a regular schedule of extra nutrients during warmer months can help ensure your plant’s health.

Adnan recommends feeding your arrowhead with a diluted, balanced fertilizer every four to six weeks during the growing season, typically during spring and summer.

Credit: Penpak Ngamsathain/Getty Images

How to Prune Arrowhead Plants 

The purpose of pruning is twofold: to remove spent parts and encourage a plant to grow in girth instead of height. An arrowhead plant benefits in both ways.

“Regularly trim leggy or yellowing leaves to encourage bushier growth,” says Adnan. To trim, use small gardening shears or pinch sections off with your fingernails to get a clean cut.

How to Solve Common Arrowhead Plant Problems

While arrowhead plants aren’t high maintenance, there are a few things you should look out for. Here are the most common issues and their fixes.

Watch for yellowing leaves.

Plant expert Harshad Sawant from Indoor Mint says yellow leaves stem from one of two problems. Either the plant has too much water or isn’t getting enough light.

You can quickly solve these issues by remedying one or both situations according to the arrowhead plant’s needs. 

Prevent brown leaf tips.

When an arrowhead plant turns brown, Sawant says, it indicates problems opposite to what causes the leaves to yellow. Often, the plant isn’t getting enough water through soil or air.

To keep your arrowhead from browning further, give the plant more water or place it in a higher-humidity environment. 

Be aware of root rot.

As Adnan mentioned, giving your plant too much water can lead to root rot, which isn’t an easy problem to fix.

If you discover that your plant has moldy or rotten roots — you can do so by removing the pot and inspecting the root ball — cut off the moldy parts and give the healthy roots a fresh start by repotting the plant in a new container with fresh soil.

Be careful not to overwater your plant as the roots recover.

Scan for mildew.

Sawant warns that arrowhead plants are susceptible to powdery mildew and fungal leaf spots on the leaves and stems. These can both be evidence of overwatering or the presence of a bacteria or fungus.

To remedy powdery mildew and fungal leaf spots, remove the affected parts and keep your arrowhead away from other plants as it recovers from these adverse conditions. 

Are Arrowhead Plants Toxic to Pets?

Yes, arrowhead plants are toxic to pets, says Lyndsey Hyland, founder of Urban Organic Yield.

“If ingested, they may cause mild to moderate gastrointestinal discomfort in both cats and dogs,” she says.

Hyland recommends keeping your arrowhead out of reach on top of a cabinet or cupboard if you have furry friends at home.

Credit: mygtree/Getty Images/iStockphoto

How to Propagate Arrowhead Plants

Hyland says propagating arrowhead plants is straightforward, and the best method is to use stem cuttings.

“Just snip off a section of stem with a few leaves attached, place it in water, and wait for roots to develop,” says. “Once a decent root system has formed, you can transfer it to soil.” 

Adnan suggests two other ways to share your arrowhead. “When your arrowhead plant becomes too large, you can divide it into smaller plants during repotting,” he says. Each section should have both leaves and roots to make the division successful. 

Another way to propagate is via aerial roots, which grow on the vineline stems. “You can encourage these roots to grow by misting the plant or wrapping the stem in sphagnum moss,” adds Adnan.

Regardless of your propagation method, creating extra plants is a fabulous way to give your arrowhead away to friends and neighbors who enjoy plants