Rare and exciting, finding and growing the stunning Syngonium erythrophyllum is a hot topic among houseplant enthusiasts lately. Coveted for its fantastic, vibrant leafy display, getting your hands on one can be tricky, but if you do, you’ll want to make the most of it.
In this care guide, our gardening pros give a comprehensive breakdown of the optimum growing conditions for a lush and healthy Syngonium erythrophyllum.
What Is Syngonium Erythrophyllum?
Syngonium erythrophyllum is a tropical aroid houseplant belonging to the Syngonium genus, a group of plants native to South and Central America and the West Indies. In houseplant circles, they’re more commonly known under the name of “arrowheads.”
This is a very rare variety of Syngonium, so you can consider yourself lucky if you do find it. You may also find it listed in the houseplant trade under the names Syngonium erythrophyllum “Red Arrow” or “Llano Carti Road.”
In its native habitat, Syngonium erythrophyllum is an epiphyte and will use its aerial roots to climb trees. When cultivated indoors, it can grow vines as long as 6 feet (1.8 meters) and be kept in hanging baskets or encouraged to climb on a trellis.
The plant’s main feature is its striking foliage. The leaves are arrow-shaped, with a waxy texture and a dark green color that makes a gorgeous contrast with the red or maroon underside. Syngonium erythrophyllum flowers are similar to those of other aroid plants, with a white or green spathe and a pale yellow spike-like inflorescence. However, this plant will rarely flower indoors.
Is Syngonium Erythrophyllum Toxic?
Sadly, yes. Syngonium erythrophyllum leaves and stems contain toxic calcium oxalate crystals, which can cause skin irritations, blisters, throat and tongue swelling, and breathing difficulties. Keep the plant out of reach of children and pets.
Syngonium Erythrophyllum Care Guide
Let’s take a closer look at the growing requirements for this rare and exciting Syngonium.
– Light Requirements
Syngonium erythrophyllum prefers growing in bright indirect light. This plant is an epiphyte, and in its natural habitat, will use aerial roots to attach itself and climb on trees. As a result, it has adapted to receiving dappled sunlight throughout the day without direct sun exposure.
When growing Syngonium erythrophyllum indoors, try to mimic its natural growing conditions as much as possible. Keep the plant in a room with eastern or western exposure, preferably 2-3 feet (60-90 cm) away from the window.
Bright indirect light will help the plant grow and maintain its lush coloring. Striking a balance is important; too much direct sunlight will scorch the leaves, while shade will result in leggy growth and discoloration.
– Temperature Requirements
The ideal temperature range for Syngonium erythrophyllum is between 59 F and 86 F (15 C to 30 C). This tropical plant is easy to grow in the average temperature found in most homes. Avoid exposing it to extreme temperatures, as this can harm its health. If temperatures drop below 54 F (12 C), its growth will become stunted.
You can also grow Syngonium erythrophyllum outside if you live in USDA hardiness zones 10 to 12. In zone 13, the plant is considered winter hardy. We recommend keeping it in a container rather than planting it directly in the soil. This way, you can easily move the plant if it doesn’t enjoy its current spot or bring it indoors if temperatures drop too low.
– Water Requirements
Your Syngonium erythrophyllum needs to be watered deeply and regularly. This plant is not drought tolerant, so avoid letting the soil completely dry out in between waterings.
However, too much water can be just as harmful, especially when the plant is potted in a substrate that drains poorly.
To water your Syngonium erythrophyllum correctly, use the soak and drain method. Start by allowing the top of the soil to dry out to a depth of 1 inch (2.5 cm). Then slowly run water through the soil until it starts dripping from the drainage holes at the bottom of the pot. This will flush out any salts and mineral buildups and push out low-oxygen pockets in the soil, which will improve root health.
The watering schedule for Syngonium erythrophyllum will change depending on the season and ambient temperature. In spring and summer, you can water the plant once a week, but make sure that the top of the soil is not already wet. In winter, the plant enters a period of dormancy, so you will need to reduce the water quantity accordingly.
– Humidity Requirements
Syngonium erythrophyllum is a tropical plant that needs a lot of humidity for healthy growth. If the air is too dry, you will notice that the leaves are starting to turn brown and crispy, and the plant becomes vulnerable to pest infestations, such as spider mites. Ideally, the humidity levels should be around 70 or 80 percent, which is significantly higher than most homes offer.
The most efficient way to raise the air moisture levels around your Syngonium is using a humidifier. If you’re looking for a more budget-friendly method, placing the pot on top of a pebble tray half-filled with water will also work. Misting is a short-term solution that won’t help your plant much. Keeping the foliage wet will also encourage fungal spots on the leaves, which can be difficult to treat.
– Soil Requirements
The best soil mix for Syngonium erythrophyllum should be well-draining, moisture-retentive, aerated, and slightly acidic. Like all moisture-loving plants, Syngonium can often suffer from root rot when grown indoors, which is usually the result of a poor-draining substrate rather than too much water.
If you’re a beginner gardener, the most basic substrate you can use for Syngonium erythrophyllum is a mix of equal parts universal potting soil, bark, and perlite.
Or, if you want to mimic the plant’s natural growing conditions, here’s an excellent mix you can try:
- 2 parts peat moss
- 2 parts perlite
- 1 part bark
- ½ part coco coir
- ½ part pumice
You can also add a bit of horticultural charcoal to the mix. Charcoal helps improve drainage, and it also has antifungal properties, which will help prevent root rot.
– Fertilizer Requirements
Syngonium erythrophyllum needs monthly fertilizer applications throughout spring and summer. You can use a diluted nitrogen-rich fertilizer specifically made for foliage plants, or you can use organic fertilizers, such as fish emulsion.
If you use synthetic fertilizers, always dilute them according to the instructions on the label, and make sure that the soil is not dry before applying it. Too much fertilizer can burn the roots, which will result in wilting.
During the colder months, you don’t need to feed your Syngonium erythrophyllum. The plant will need fewer nutrients as it enters dormancy. Any fertilizer applications will only stress it, causing leggy growth and encouraging pests such as fungus gnats to lay their eggs in the soil.
– Pruning and Maintenance
This plant needs very little pruning. On rare occasions, you may need to cut some of the old, yellowing leaves from the bottom of the plant. Syngonium erythrophyllum loves trailing and climbing and can easily grow vines that are more than 4 feet (1.2 meters) in length. If you want to keep the plant contained or give it a bushy look, you can trim the vines to your desired length.
When pruning your Syngonium, keep in mind that the stems and leaves contain calcium oxalate crystals, which can cause skin irritations. If you can, use gardening gloves, and avoid touching your face as you work. Thoroughly wash your hands afterward. Also, make sure to sterilize the blade before and after pruning to prevent any fungal or bacterial problems.
Repotting Syngonium Erythrophyllum
Syngonium erythrophyllum has a slow growth rate and only needs to be repotted once every 2-3 years. If you’re unsure whether your plant needs repotting, simply lift the container and check the drainage holes. If you see roots coming through them, that’s a sign that it has outgrown its current pot.
The best time to repot Syngonium erythrophyllum is during spring or summer, when the plant is actively growing. This will give it a better chance at becoming established in its new pot and reduce the risk of transplant shock. To repot this plant, simply take it out of its container, remove as much of the old soil as you can, and transplant it in a pot that’s one size larger than the previous one.
Syngonium Erythrophyllum Propagation Guide
The easiest way to propagate Syngonium erythrophyllum is through stem cuttings. You can use this method in spring or early summer when the plant is actively growing. Also, if you’re pruning your Syngonium, try saving the stems for propagation.
We recommend propagating this plant in water for several reasons:
- Syngonium erythrophyllum has a deep root system, and it will root faster in water than in soil.
- Rooting in water will minimize the chances of stem rot and other pathogen infections.
- Water allows you to see the roots as they grow, which tells you whether propagation has been successful and gives you an idea of when the roots are big enough for the plant to be potted in soil.
With that in mind, here’s our step-by-step guide to propagating Syngonium erythrophyllum.
- Use a sharp, sterilized blade and cut the stem at an angle, half an inch below the leaf node. Look for nodes that also have aerial roots, as they will root faster.
- For a small, bushy plant, a cutting with one leaf and a one-half inch stem on either side of the node is enough.
- If you want a bigger plant, take cuttings that have several leaf nodes. These cuttings will also root faster than single leaves.
- Place the cutting in a glass of room temperature water, and keep it in bright, indirect light.
- Cover the glass with a transparent plastic sheet to help preserve humidity around the plant and speed up rooting.
- Change the water once every 5-7 days to prevent algae and bacterial growth.
- The cuttings should start developing roots in about two weeks.
- Keep the cutting in water until the roots are at least 3 inches (8 cm) long.
- When the roots are long enough, plant it in a well-draining potting mix, water well, and monitor the plant for the next 2-3 weeks to make sure it has become established.
It is also possible to propagate this plant through seeds. However, Syngonium erythrophyllum seeds are very rare and difficult to germinate. Propagation through cuttings is much more user-friendly, which is why it’s our preferred method for this plant.
Common Pests and Problems
The following are the most common problems you’ll encounter when growing Syngonium erythrophyllum indoors.
– Leggy Growth
Your Syngonium erythrophyllum needs more light. Place it where it can receive bright indirect light, but avoid exposing it to direct sunlight.
– Soft, Drooping Leaves
Depending on the case, your Syngonium erythrophyllum is receiving either too much or too little water. Ensure that the soil doesn’t dry out more than an inch below the surface, and use the soak and drain method to water this plant.
– Spider Mites and Mealybugs
These are the most common pests for any houseplant, and there’s a chance they will also attack your Syngonium. They form clusters under the leaves, close to the stem, and will cause wilting and stunted growth as they suck the sap from the plant. To remove them, spray the leaves with a solution of water and isopropyl alcohol once a week.
Keeping your Syngonium erythrophyllum happy will guarantee a vivid display that can take center stage in any room. Let’s quickly recap the basics.
- Syngonium erythrophyllum is a rare houseplant popular for its contrasting dark green and red foliage.
- It can be grown in either hanging baskets or climbing on a trellis or moss pole.
- Bright indirect light, high humidity, and moist, well-draining soils are essential to keeping it healthy.
- Syngonium erythrophyllum is easy to propagate through stem cuttings.
- Keep this plant away from pets and children, as the leaves contain toxic calcium oxalate crystals.
Follow these tips, and your Syngonium erythrophyllum will reward you with an enviable show-stopper of an arrowhead plant!
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