The Q&A Archives: Help with Nephthytis

Question: I am having a bit of trouble with my arrowhead plant. I keep it in a south facing window with lots of diffused light, feed and water it when the top inch dries out and have checked it for bugs, but it seems to be growing all misshapen. The stems and leaves look healthy and I get new growth, but it seems to look wilted. I do not get alot of offshoots and it seems to only be growing upward. I recently saw a healthy arrowhead in a nursery and it was full and lively. Why is my arrowhead growing sparsely? Am I doing something wrong? How can I get my plant to look like the nursery one?

Answer: Nephthytis podophyllum is also called Syngonium, the Goosefoot Plant or Arrowhead Vine. The most unusual feature of this plant is that the leaves change shape as they mature, beginning as an arrowhead, then developing wings, and finally developing two backward-facing leaflets. The plants need average household temperatures with a minimum of 60F during the winter. Give it a well-lit but sunless spot, and keep the potting soil moist during the growing season, but reduce watering in winter. If you overwater in winter, the growth will be spindly. Mist the leaves regularly, or provide another source of humidity, especially in the winter when the surrounding air may be too dry. To accomplish this, place the pot on a tray of pebbles and add water to the tray so that as it evaporates it will humidify the air around the plant. You might try moving your plant to a different location where the exposure to light is a little less intense. Plants that you see in nurseries are generally grown in greenhouses where the temperature, humidity and degree of light is very carefully controlled. Sometimes it's difficult to duplicate those conditions at home. Try moving your plant to another location to see if that doesn't help it perk up a bit.

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