If you love unique foliage plants with lots of color, look no further than syngonium albo. Prized for its striking green and white arrow-shaped leaves, this variegated arrowhead vine can be grown as either a tabletop plant or trained to climb up a vertical trellis.
Easy to grow and wildly popular, syngonium albo can be difficult to find, but it’s a plant that is well worth the search. In this article we’ll cover the basic care requirements and everything else you need to know in order to keep this beautiful specimen plant.
All About Syngonium Albo
Also known as goosefoot or arrowhead plant, syngonium albo is a particularly colorful type of arrowhead vine that features highly contrasting, variegated leaves in deep greens and white. At times, given proper light, syngonium albo can even take on a slightly pinkish hue.
Native to Central and South America, arrowhead vines belong to the Araceae family, which contains twenty to thirty different species. Syngonium albo, like other arrowhead vines, grow in tropical forests where they creep along jungle floors and climb up the base of tree trunks with their aerial roots in search of light. As their natural habitat is shaded by the foliage of taller trees, syngonium have evolved to tolerate a wide range of lighting conditions, including partial shade.
A fast-growing vine, syngonium is a beginner-friendly plant that can be trained to climb up a trellis or a moss pole or allowed to cascade naturally over pot edges for a softer look. When properly maintained, syngonium albo can grow quite large, reaching well over 6’ in length!
If you enjoy syngonium albo, take a look at other similar species, such as:
- Syngonium podophyllum ‘Holly’
- Syngonium Albo Variegata ‘Imperial White’
- Syngonium podophyllum ‘Pink Allusion’
- Syngonium podophyllum angustatum
Syngonium Albo Care
Despite its unique look, syngonium albo, like other arrowhead vines, is a relatively low maintenance plant. Just provide it with moderate watering and plenty of indirect light and you should be able to keep it quite happy with minimal effort.
In nature, syngonium albo is a vining plant that naturally crawls across jungle floors and climbs up trees with the use of its aerial roots.
When kept as a houseplant, this gorgeous plant can be trained to climb moss poles or trellises, allowed to trail from pots or hanging baskets or pruned tightly for a more compact look.
Preferring bright, indirect light, syngonium albo can adapt to a range of conditions, including partial shade. Direct sun, however, should be avoided as it can cause leaf burn or blanching, especially to the white sections of syngonium albo’s variegated leaves.
Finding the correct balance of light and shade can be a bit tricky with this plant. Too little sun can cause it to lose variegation, but too much can harm its delicate white leaves. Properly balanced lighting will increase growth rate, bring out syngonium albo’s variegation and may even cause your plant to develop a lovely pinkish hue.
Because this plant grows so quickly, it’s a good idea to rotate your arrowhead vine 90 degrees every week or so. Doing so will encourage foliage to grow straight and will counter its natural tendency to strain towards light sources.
Syngonium are prone to root rot, so be sure not to allow them to sit in soggy soil. Instead, water your plant only when the top 1” of soil is dry to the touch and allow your pot to dry out slightly between waterings.
In summer, you’ll usually want to water your syngonium about once a week and allow the water to thoroughly drain from your pot. Watering should be reduced significantly in winter when your plant becomes dormant.
Temperature and Humidity
Normal household temperature and humidity levels are generally just fine for syngonium albo.
Temperatures between 60 and 80° F are ideal, while temperatures below this range can slow your plant’s growth. In winter, be sure to keep your syngonium away from drafty windows, which can sometimes cause leaf damage.
In nature, syngonium albo lives in a tropical environment with about 50 to 60% humidity. Although it’s not necessary, for optimal growth, try misting your plant a few times a week or add a humidifier or pebble tray to your set up.
Soil and Repotting
Any rich, well-draining potting mix is appropriate for your syngonium albo; however, you can try adding in 10 to 20% perlite to your mix in order to improve drainage and reduce the chance of root rot.
If your plant appears to be growing slowly or if you notice it is becoming rootbound, repot your syngonium into a planter that is one to two pot sizes bigger than its current pot.
Generally speaking, repotting is best done in early spring, and be sure to feed your plant with a bit of liquid fertilizer after repotting to help your plant adjust.
Syngonium albo is not a heavy feeder; however, because it grows so fast, it can benefit from an application of fertilizer from time to time.
Any balanced organic houseplant fertilizer will work; however, an all-purpose water-based fertilizer diluted by half is the best choice. Apply fertilizer once a month during the growing season or after repotting your plant to help it better adjust to transplanting.
If you don’t want to fertilize your plant monthly, a single application of a slow-release fertilizer works well too. Alternatively, for an all-natural option, try top dressing your soil with a layer of worm castings or aged compost for a quick nutrient boost.
Avoid fertilizing your syngonium in winter as your plant won’t absorb fertilizer during its dormant period, which can cause soil to become too acidic.
Because of their rapid grown, arrowhead vines can get rather unruly. If you prefer a more compact syngonium, get into the habit of regularly pruning your plant. Pruning will also provide you with lots of clippings which you can easily propagate.
If you don’t want to prune your syngonium, but like a neater look, try training your plant to grow up moss poles or trellises instead. While young plants will happily climb on their own, more established plants may need to be encouraged to climb by loosely tying them to supports with a bit of cotton twine.
Syngonium albo, like other arrowhead vines, contains calcium oxalate crystals and is toxic if ingested. For this reason, it is best to keep this plant out of reach of house pets and small children.
Symptoms of toxicity can include digestive upset and oral pain.
Syngonium albo propagation
A very simple plant to propagate, syngonium albo grows well from stem cuttings and can be propagated in either soil or water.
- To begin with water propagation, simply snip off a stem cutting about 1” below a leaf node with a clean, sharp knife or pair of kitchen shears. Each cutting should be several inches long and have at least one to two leaves.
- After taking your cuttings, place them in a glass of clean water and locate your cuttings in an area that receives bright, indirect light. Be sure to change the water in your glass regularly, especially if it begins to get murky.
- After several weeks, your cuttings should begin to develop roots. Once those roots are about 2” long and new leaves begin to form, plant your cuttings in pots filled with a good, rich potting mix.
If, instead, you want to propagate your plants in soil, after taking cuttings, dip the cut end of your stem into a bit of rooting compound and then plant your cuttings in soil. Keep soil well moistened until roots develop, which should take a few weeks. To improve propagation success rates, keep your pot and cutting covered with a Ziploc bag or plastic wrap to lock in humidity levels.
Common Pests and Diseases
Like other houseplants, syngonium albo is susceptible to certain common pests. Below are some of the most likely culprits that you may find on your arrowhead vine.
Aphids are tiny, sucking insects that feed on plant juices and target plant leaves and stems. Aphids can come in a range of colors, including bright green, brown and black, and some even have wings.
Signs of aphids include a visible cluster of these minute insects, wilting or discolored leaves, distorted leaf growth, stunted plants and sticky “honeydew” on leaf surfaces.
To treat an aphid infestation, simply spray your plant down with a strong blast from your kitchen sink or garden house. Alternatively, you can apply an organic insecticidal soap or neem oil spray.
Mealybugs & Scale
Mealybugs and scale are both scale insects; however, mealybugs have a fluffy, white appearance, while armored scale insects have brown domed exoskeletons. Both small insects, mealybugs and scale feed on plant juices and are often found in clusters on plant leaves and stems.
Signs of infestation include smally white cottony clusters of mealybugs or dots of brown scale insects on leaves and stems. Plants may appear lack luster, wilted or experience premature leaf drop as they become weakened. Additionally, like aphids, mealybugs and scale leave behind a sticky honeydew residue.
If your syngonium has signs of mealybugs or scale, spray your plants with a neem oil spray or insecticidal soap. Scale insects are often more difficult to treat than aphids, so treat your plant several times every seven to ten days until all signs of infestation have disappeared.
Spider mites are tiny sucking insects that form spider-like webs over infected plants.
Signs of spider mites include visible webbing that is not attributed to spiders, tiny white moving dots on plant leaves, plants that look “dry,” leaves with stippling where mites have fed, yellowing, wilting or shriveling leaves, premature leaf drop and plant death.
To treat spider mites, spray your plant liberally with a dose of organic insecticidal soap or neem oil spray. Additionally, as spider mites thrive in dry conditions, you can help prevent them by adding a humidifier or pebble tray to your set up.
Root rot is caused by waterlogged conditions and can cause plants to wither, droop and die.
To prevent root rot, avoid overwatering your plant and only water your syngonium when the top 1” of soil is dry. Well-draining potting mix and pots with drainage holes are key to preventing issues with root rot.
If you believe your plant is suffering from root rot, try repotting it into dry soil as soon as you can. If the damage is not too severe, you may be able to salvage your plant. If not, take some cuttings for propagating new syngonium starts.
Frequently Asked Questions
Here are a few of the most frequently asked questions about syngonium albo care:
How do I maintain my syngonium albo’s variegation?
Finding the proper balance of lighting and shade is the secret to maintaining syngonium albo’s characteristic variegation. You’ll want to provide enough light to support variegated leaves, but not too much direct light that your plant may experience leaf burn.
Beyond balanced lighting, regularly pruning away green leaves on your plant will give it a more variegated look. This will also encourage your plant to produce more leaves and, thus, more variegated leaves. Left on its own, syngonium albo will naturally produce more green leaves as they are more useful for photosynthesis. That’s why it’s sometimes helpful to prune your plant, selecting more variegated leaves for a more colorful look.
Finally, adding a bit of diluted liquid fertilizer on occasion can encourage your plant to develop more leaves and variegation as well.
Why are my plant’s leaves turning yellow?
There are many reasons why your arrowhead vine’s leaves may begin to yellow. Some of the most common causes are:
- Insect infestation
- Watering issues
- Lack of humidity
- Too much light
That said, syngonium’s leaves will naturally yellow as they age, so finding an occasional yellow leaf is normal and just part of your plant’s natural aging process.
Why are my plant’s leaves curling?
Curling leaves signify that your plant is in distress. This can be due to inadequate lighting, extreme temperatures, lack of humidity or nutrient deficiency. Specifically, curling syngonium leaves can indicate a magnesium deficiency.
Help! My syngonium albo has root rot. What do I do?
If your syngonium albo has root rot, unfortunately there isn’t much you can do to save it. Instead, take lots of cuttings and try to propagate them in either soil or water. You may not be able to save the parent plant, but you’ll end up with lots of baby syngonium albo plants instead.
Where can I find a syngonium albo?
Syngonium albo is a relatively rare houseplant, so you’re unlikely to find it in big box stores or your local nursery.
Often, the best choice is to look online for this exquisite plant. Websites like Etsy, California Tropicals, Steve’s Leaves or Amazon are a good place to start.
If you love unusual houseplants or ones with lots of contrasting variegation, syngonium albo is a must-have for your collection. This rare specimen is a gorgeous foliage plant that will add lots of color to your houseplant collection and its creamy white variegation is sure to stun.
And while it may look high maintenance and wild, syngonium albo is a surprisingly easy houseplant to maintain. Just provide it with adequate lighting, moderate watering and standard indoor temperatures and you’ll be rewarded with lots of new growth.
So why not try out syngonium albo? Whether you love tabletop plants, hanging plants or trellised beauties, this adaptable stunner is a great choice for any houseplant enthusiast.