How to Care For Syngonium (Arrowhead Vine)

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Syngoniums are awesome houseplants. They’re cheap, easy to look after, and they come in a wide range of shapes and colours.

This article is about care, specifically. If you want a full run through of all things Syngonium, like natural habitat, toxicity, and propagation, read this article:

There are 41 Syngonium species, but the vast majority of the ones we keep as houseplants are cultivars of the species podophyllum. Podophyllum is latin for foot-like leaves, which is funny because they do NOT look like feet. An alternative name is ‘goose-foot plant’ which makes more sense, but then why not try to fit the word goose into podophyllum?

Although podophyllumanserem is, I suppose, quite a mouthful.

syngonium wenlandii

Syngonium wendlandii is also pretty easy to find in houseplant stores.

ANYWAY

How to care for Syngonium

I made this table so you have an at-a-glance view of basic syngonium care:

Natural habitatCentral and South America
Lightbright, indirect. Can be acclimated to bright light. Low light is survivable
Humidityambient is fine, 65% is better
Wateringthoroughly water when the soil is nearly dry – 2 on the moisture meter
Temperature18-30˚C 65-85˚F
Fertiliseas frequently as every other watering, as infrequently as every 6 weeks. Any houseplant fertiliser.
Soilchunky aroid mix
Pot typeplastic or ceramic – terracotta can dry out too quickly
Toxic?yes
Flowersyes, unlikely in captivity
Familyaroid
Propagationleaf cuttings, tissue culture
Growth patternclimber that grows on one vine

Are Syngonium easy to care for?

Yes, I think so. They’re content to live in various lighting conditions and are adaptable to changing temperature and humidity levels.

They’re also great for beginners because they droop dramatically when they’re thirsty. And then take a good 24 hours to perk up again. They really jump-scare the newbies into being more mindful of when to water.

They’re also not super susceptible to pests. They do get them, but they’re not a magnet for them like Monstera (thrips) or crotons (spider mites).

Syngonium are easy to propagate. You do need a node, so make sure you have a bit of stem, not just a leaf with the petiole.

The only issue is that they are toxic. All parts contain calcium oxalate crystals, which can cause a stomach upset if ingested. They’re not hugely toxic, so don’t panic if you’ve already got one and weren’t aware of their toxicity. Keep them away from pets and children, but if they happen to have a nibble, they will most likely be fine.

syngonium mottled near south facing window

Light requirements for Syngonium

Syngoniums are often sold as low-light plants, which is kinda true, but also not. We tend to overestimate the amount of light our plants need – low light isn’t the same as no light.

The best light for Syngonium

Syngonium grow on the rainforest floor until they find something to climb up, like a tree or a rock. They can also grow as ground cover if the light is sufficient, but as houseplants, they’re much easier to control when they’ve got something to climb.

Bright indirect light is best, so a few feet from a south or west-facing window is perfect. My Syngonium mottled is four feet away from a HUGE (patio doors) south-facing window but blocked by my Philodendron golden dragon.

So there’s a lot of light, but it’s filtered through another plant.

Keeping Syngonium in low light

It is possible to keep Syngonium in low light, but the leaves will be small and the plant will be leggy.

Syngoniums, contrary to popular belief, aren’t bushy plants. They’re made to look bushy by growing multiple cuttings in one pot, but in the wild, they grow on one long vine.

Growing Syngonium in low light causes them to stretch towards the window, so the stem and the gap between the leaves will get really long and the plant will look sparse and sad.

Another issue with keeping Syngonium in low light is that the soil will stay wet for longer and the roots are more likely to rot. This is fine if you’re an underwaterer/plant neglecter but if you tend to overwater, then you’re going to run into issues.

Plants kept in low light levels have less energy (because they get their energy from light) so they will be less able to fight off pests and disease.

A grow light can really help you out. Check out my resources page for more info.

Keeping Syngonium in bright light

Syngonium can be acclimated to bright light, but they don’t thrive on bright, direct light like Monstera deliciosa do.

If you suddenly move your Syngonium from low light to bright light, you can risk burning the leaves, so if you’re moving it or implementing grow lights, increase the amount of light over a period of a couple of weeks.

Bright, indirect light and something to climb will give your Syngonium ample resources to grow big leaves with short internodal spaces, giving the illusion of fullness.

syngonium mottled climbing pole

Humidity requirements for Syngonium

Do worry too much about humidity levels for Syngonium – as long as your ambient humidity is above 40% that’s plenty.

How much humidity do Syngonium need?

Syngoniums aren’t too picky about high humidity. There are a couple of cultivars (usually variegated ones) that will get brown spots if they don’t get 50% humidity, BUT increasing the humidity above 65% will likely do more harm than good.

I did an experiment where I kept one Syngonium in a terrarium and one not in a terrarium. The conditions were very similar, except the one in the terrarium had 85% humidity. The terrarium was also more consistent. Light levels were pretty similar, but obvs the sun/clouds etc are more changeable than terrarium lights.

The Syngonium in the terrarium grew very slowly compared to the other one. They’re great for terrariums because they grow slowly (Rhaphidophora and Potho need to be trimmed a LOT) but growing slowly is a sign that they’re not thriving.

It obvs wasn’t a particularly scientific experiment, but I’m pretty sure the high humidity levels affected the Syngoniums ability to photosynthesize. I’ve since taken it out, and it’s growing faster, despite being in much poorer light.

Misting Syngonium

Don’t mist Syngoniums with splash variegation, especially, for some reason, pink variegation. It turns them brown very quickly, and can cause the new leaves to rot in their sheathes.

Regular Syngoniums don’t mind being misted, though avoid misting if your plant is looking unhealthy.

Remember that misting DOESN’T increase humidity. It just wets the leaves and forces the plant to stop photosynthesising (because they have to shut their stomata). It can be a good way to clean the leaves though.

How to water Syngonium

Watering Syngonium is pretty straightforward, as long as you have decent light and a soil that suits your watering style (more on that later).

How often to water Syngonium

In summer I water as frequently as every week, in winter perhap only once a month.

Syngonium do droop dramatically when they’re thirsty. It’s advisable to not let them get that dry, because they need a lot of energy to recover from drooping and whilst it doesn’t actively harm the plant, it can hinder new growth.

I use a moisture meter to check when mine needs watering – when the meter reads 2 or 3 it’s time.

You can also use your finger to check, as long as it can reach most of the way down the pot. You can also lift the plant (and soil) out of the pot to see if it’s still wet.

Once the soil is almost dry, it needs water.

You don’t need to keep Snygonium evenly moist, but it won’t harm them if you do, as long as you have well-aerated soil (i.e. it contains chunks of LECA or bark that create air pockets).

When it’s time to water, thoroughly wet the soil, watering until water runs out of the drainage holes. You can bottom water if you prefer – the plant doesn’t care either way.

If you’re lazy and hate moving your plants but also don’t want to get water everywhere, get yourself a pressure sprayer. I love mine.

Water quality

Syngoniums are happy to be watered with tap water. If you can drink your tap water, your Syngonium can too.

There’s no need to splash out on filtered or distilled water, but you can if you want. If you use distilled water make sure you use a hydroponic fertiliser (such as Dynagrow or General Hydroponics) to give your plants the minerals it would otherwise get from water.

Temperature requirements for Syngonium

Ideally, 18-30˚C/65-85˚F. They can tolerate hotter temperatures than this, but they’re more susceptible to drooping and burning. The roots are pretty robust though, so as long as they’re kept hydrated the plant can easily regrow, even if all the leaves perish.

In the same vein, they can tolerate much colder temperatures, and can survive anything above freezing (frost will end them though). They may enter situational dormancy, where they won’t grow until the temperature rises, but they’ll be ok when it warms up.

How to fertilise Syngoniums

Never overthink fertilising houseplants unless you’re after an outcome more specific than ‘I want it to grow big and healthy’.

If your goal is to grow a nice Syngonium, then just go to a garden centre or online store, look for a houseplant fertiliser and buy one that fits your budget.

Amazon is great because the reviews are all from boomers that a) know what they’re talking about and b) post photos.

Honestly, there are pros and cons to all fertilisers. Seaweed is good but extremely weak. Fish emulsion stinks. I use the General Hydroponic Flora Series which I love but next time I’m going to go for something that has one bottle not three (though it does make me feel like a scientist).

As for frequency, it’s up to you. I aim to fertilise every other time I water, from April to October.

You could go as often as that, or as infrequently as every 6 weeks. I’ve done both and it makes no difference. I only water this often because if I wait six weeks it feels like an insurmountable task and I won’t bother.

We don’t know enough about aroids to know what the best way to fertilise them is. It’s all based on anecdotal evidence which in turn will depend on the conditions the plant is in. Just pick something that works for you.

The difference between a well-cared for plant that’s fertilised and a well-cared for plant that’s never fertilised isn’t that big, so don’t overthink this.

If you never want to fertilise, then just make sure to repot every year and add plenty of worm castings to your potting mix.

A note on DIY fertilisers

Don’t do it. It’s a surefire way to get fungus gnats. Do banana peels work? Yes. Will you regret adding them to your soil? 100%. This goes for all food waste, including rice water.

You’ll also get mould, but that’s not really a big deal, just a bit gross.

The best soil and pot type for Syngonium

Again, they’re not too picky. A store-bought houseplant soil is totally fine.

A lot of people complain about fungus gnats in store-bought soil, but they’re actually a good sign that the soil is healthy. Good soil supports life. A few weeks of bottom watering and the gnats will go, or you can try beneficial nematodes.

It’s important to tailor your soil mix to your watering habits, especially if you’re new to Syngoniums (or houseplants in general).

If you’re an overwaterer, add orchid bark or leca to your mix. The orchid bark will create drainage channels and air pockets to allow oxygen in. LECA absorbs water and the irregular shape also creates air pockets.

If you’re an underwaterer, just keep the soil neat.

Overwaterers typically water more than weekly. Underwaterers water less often than every two weeks. That’s a massively generalised statement but it’s a useful guideline for beginners.

Soil recipe for Syngoniums

A general aroid mix works well:

  • 4 parts coir
  • 4 parts bark/LECA
  • 4 parts perlite
  • 1 part worm castings

You can also add charcoal, but I’ve stopped after seeing a tonne of articles claiming that it doesn’t really do anything, so I’ve stopped using.

My current favourite aroid mix is storebought terrarium soil mixed with leca, usually 2 parts soil to 1 part leca. I love it, my plants love it, and i no longer have to soak coir blocks, which is fun at first but gets old quickly.

The best pot type for Syngoniums

They’re not fussy. but I’d avoid terracotta because Syngoniums have a tendency to attach their roots to it, and then you have to soak the pot when it comes to repot. Terracotta also dries out really quickly.

I keep my Syngoniums in their plastic nursery pots, and then sit them in ceramic pots. The only exception is the one I keep in water, and the one that’s in a plastic trough pot with some Aglaoneam and Calathea.

Alternative substrates to soil

Syngonium do well in a variety of substrates. I have a Syngonium tri-leaf wonder that’s doing really well in water. That one has also lived in a semi-hydroponic setup and it did really well.

I hope this was helpful! Let me know in the comments if you have any questions.

Caroline Cocker

Caroline is the founder and writer (and plant keeper) of Planet Houseplant

2 thoughts on “How to Care For Syngonium (Arrowhead Vine)”

  1. I’ve just been given a syngonium ice frost plant. It’s about 11 ins high from the top of the pot and has lots of leaves and is quite bushy and looks very healthy. I’ve read elsewhere on the Internet that it is a climbing plant. Do I need to put a stick or something in the pot for it to climb up? Thank you for any help/advice.

  2. This is so weird! I have a video going up on my YouTube channel this Saturday where I stake my Ice Frost! You’ll find that as it grows taller, it’ll start to lean over, which is when you’ll need to stake it.

    Mine grew and grew and grew, and then started to lean over at a 90 degree angle. It didn’t look great!

    From what I’ve seen, the aerial roots grow easily, so you could stake it to a piece of wood to help it cling using its aerial roots (you can attach them with sellotape at first) or you can attach it to a moss pole using garden ties.

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