Syngonium – Syngonium podophyllum

The original Syngonium plant, Syngonium ouratum, had pure, all-green leaves. It was sometimes called Five Fingers Plant because of the deeply-divided three to five lobed leaves the adult plant has. However, the forms most often cultivated today are hybrids of Syngonium podophyllum and these have lush, variegated leaves and make superb house plants.

Syngonium podophyllum is a vigorous climbing or trailing plant and adult specimens grow aerial roots. The arrow-shaped leaves have given it its common name, Arrowhead Vine. The plant grows rapidly and will quickly climb — or trail — up to 1.8m (6ft) unless restrained. It is best to use a rooting hormone to ensure success.

Colours and varieties There are many varieties of S. podophyllum. ‘Emerald Gem’ has dark green leaves with fine white markings. The leaves of ‘Imperial White’ have pale centres with green edges and ‘Green Gold’ has ornately-shaped leaves with delicate white mottling.

Display ideas

This evergreen plant is attractive all the year round. Encourage it to climb by pushing thin canes into the compost, or give it a moss-covered pole to scramble up. Alternatively, you can put your plant on a pedestal and let the long stems trail downwards.Syngonium - Syngonium podophyllum

Training your plant

In the wild, Syngonium plants cling to trees by means of aerial roots. This adaption can be taken advantage of in the home by placing a moss pole in the pot alongside the plant — the aerial roots will cling to the pole and the plant will scramble up it, to form a living green pillar. To train the plant, gently wind the stems around the pole, and keep the moss damp.

Pests And Diseases

Brown or black spots on the leaves that are often transparent or slimy in appearance are caused by bacteria or fungi.

Treatment: Unfortunately, it is difficult to treat these symptoms and it is best to destroy the plant.

White webbing underneath the leaves and on the stems is a sign of red spider mites. The mites may be a problem if the plant is kept in a warm, dry position. They weaken the plant by sucking the sap.

Treatment: Minor attacks can usually be washed away with water, and daily misting will help to prevent attacks. More serious infestations can be dealt with by spraying with derris or by using a systemic insecticide.

PLANT CARE

This is an easy plant to care for. If you do not want it to climb, trim unwanted or long straggly growths to keep the shape compact. If grown on a hoop or moss pole, give it a helping hand by winding on the stems.

  • Potting: Use a soil-based compost with a little added peat moss. Repot every 2 to 3 years in the spring.
  • Water moderately in summer. The large, thin leaves lose a lot of water through transpiration, so make sure that the • compost is always kept moist. Only occasional watering is necessary during the winter when the growth rate slows down. Mist regularly to keep the atmosphere relatively humid.
  • Feeding: Feed weekly from March to September with a liquid fertilizer.

BEST GROWTH ENVIRONMENT

  • Light: This plant prefers low to medium light so protect it from direct sunlight. If it is allowed to stand in harsh light, the leaves will become pale.
  • Temperature: Keep the plant at temperatures around 23°C (73°F) all year round. In winter make sure that the temperature is never allowed to drop below 15°C (60°F).

Buying Tips

  • Syngonium plants are normally available all the year round from most large garden centres, nurseries and florists.
  • Buy a small plant so that you can train it the way you want as it grows.
  • Choose a leaf colour that appeals to you — they vary from all-green to nearly all-white.
  • This plant can live for many years.
  • Syngonium is an attractive evergreen climbing or trailing foliage plant that can thrive in poor light. Some forms with variegated leaves are very suitable for hanging baskets.

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