Nepthytis - Arrowhead

Nepthytis-Arrowhead-About, Care, and Maintenance

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These interior houseplants, close relatives of the philodendron, are so popular that they are now known by many different names; Syngonium, Nepthytis (after the Greek mythological figure Nepthys), Arrowhead, Five Fingers, and Goose Foot. Syngoniums were originally plain green plants originating in Central America and tropical Mexico. Today, however, new varieties may be almost white (white butterfly nepthytis), green and white (French lace nepthytis), or varying shades of pink, burgundy, and bronze.

As young plants they are bushy & upright with leaves that resemble arrowheads. As the plant matures vines & runners develop, to keep the syngonium as an upright plant these must be tied to a stake or trellis or the vines must be kept cut back. If left untrimmed, a syngonium makes a great hanging plant. Another change you will see, as the plant gets older, is in the shape of the leaves with lobes developing at their base. Light:  Dark green syngoniums can survive on low to medium light; the new variegated strains need bright indirect sunlight to keep their color. If you place the plant in direct sun, a process called bleaching will occur. The leaves will turn an ashy green gray color.

LIGHT AND TEMPERATURE: Medium to high light.  Regular indoor temperatures between 55-80 degrees work well. Humidity: Syngoniums do like a higher humidity than some other houseplants especially in the winter when the heat is on. “Experts” suggest the following ways of increasing the humidity for plants:

  1.  Mist the plants:  Not worth the time & effort, In our opinion, more water evaporates in the air as you spray than ever benefits the plants. 
2.  Set the plants on a tray of pebbles filled with water:  We don’t like this method either. First, of all the sitting water breeds gnats that fly all over the house & drive you crazy. Secondly, you have to remove the plant from its decorative pot or basket for this to work and from an aesthetic point of view it just doesn’t look good.
 3.  The two suggestions we have are:  1.  Placing them near other plants thus creating a mini greenhouse effect; and, 2.  Temporarily putting them in the bathroom where the steam from the shower will increase the humidity.

WATER:  Syngoniums must be allowed to dry out. If you keep watering them before the soil has a chance to thoroughly dry out, root rot will occur. You’ll recognize this problem because the leaves will be droopy as though the plant needs water, but the soil will be wet. Should this happen all is not lost. Take the plant out of its grower’s pot; cut off the roots that are dark brown and soggy (usually about 30% of the root ball), shake off the wet soil, and repot the plant in new dry soil. Give it alot of TLC for the next month and the plant should start to thrive again.

FERTILIZER:  Use a good all-purpose fertilizer like miracle gro every other week in the spring and summer and every six weeks in the fall and winter. Over fertilizing when the plants are not in a growing phase will burn the roots.

PESTS:  Scale, mealy bugs, and spider mites attack syngoniums, with spider mites causing the worst damage. If the leaves start to loose their color and the plant is not in too much sun, check the underside of the leaves for webbing; should you find some, spray both sides of the leaves with straight alcohol or alcohol mixed with a little mineral oil & biodegradable soap. You can also use a professional insecticidal soap like Safer. Lower temperatures and higher humidity will help keep spider mites away.

APPEARANCE:  We like to keep syngonium cut back with only four or five long trailers. This keeps the plant bushy yet still allows it to be a great hanging plant.

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