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Publication #ENH 993

Cultural Guidelines for Commercial Production of Interiorscape Syngonium1

Jianjun Chen, Dennis B. McConnell, and Kelly C. Everitt2

Introduction

Syngonium is a perennial, evergreen, herbaceous vine of the family Araceae. Linneaus originally classified Syngonium sp. as Arum auritum in 1763. Schott changed the name to its modern genera in 1829. Thirty three species are recognized and all are hemiepiphytic and native to moist, elevated forests of Mexico, Panama, El Salvador, Guatemala, Brazil, and Honduras.

Syngonium podophyllum (Figure 1), also known as arrowhead plant, nephthytis, African evergreen, and goosefoot plant, is the most commonly produced species in the foliage plant industry (Chen et al., 2005). It is recognized by its juvenile leaves, which are simple, alternately arranged, saggitate to hastate in shape, approximately 3-7 inches (7.5 – 17.5 cm) long and somewhat velvety. The common name, arrowhead plant, reflects the botanical leaf description. Mature leaves are dramatically different: they are compound with 3-11 elliptic leaflets, and the center leaflet may attain a length of 1 foot (19 cm) with a 2-foot (38 cm) petiole. The shape and color of the juvenile leaves is frequently used to name the cultivars that are commercially available. In most environments, each node sports adventitious roots. Flowers are a typical aroid spathe and spadix, white or cream colored with red or violet highlights, and are unremarkable.

Figure 1. 

Syngonium podophyllum, also known as arrowhead plant, nephthytis, African evergreen, and goosefoot plant.


[Click thumbnail to enlarge.]

This article is intended to describe common cultivars in the foliage plant industry, provide guidelines for their culture and interior use, and list physiological problems that may be encountered during production and interiorscape use.

Cultivars

Commercial cultivars are largely from S. podophyllum. Tissue culture propagation of this species has produced many new cultivars (Chen et al., 2006). Some of them are listed in Table 1.

Cultural Guides

Propagation

Syngonium propagation is easily done via nodal cutting, tip cuttings or air layers (Chen and Stamps, 2006). The simplest method is to cut sections of the vine into single node or single eye (a single node with an attached leaf and adventitious roots) and place it directly into a rooting medium under mist. Air temperatures between 75 and 95°F are recommended with bottom heating beneficial if the root zone is kept between 70 and 75°F. Shade of 80% (2500 fc) is required for rooting. Some cultivars are propagated by seed. However, almost all commercial production has shifted to tissue culture liners.

Production

Liners, rooted cuttings, or seedlings are transplanted in 4-, 6-, or 8-inch pots and grown in shadehouses or shaded greenhouses. Commercial media formulated by combination of peat, pine bark, vermiculate, and/or perlite with pH of 5.5 to 6.5 and soluble salts of 1 to 2 dS/m are suitable for Syngonium production. Plants should be grown under 80% shade, in relative humidity of 60 to 100%, and in temperatures between 70°F and 90°F (Chen et al., 2005). If plants are fertigated via drip or ebb-and-flow irrigation, a nutrient solution with N at 150 ppm can be used. This solution can be made using a water-soluble fertilizer with N-P2O5-K2O at a 3-1-2 ratio, such as a 24-8-16 or 18-6-12 with micronutrients. If a controlled-release fertilizer with the N-P2O5-K2O ratio of 3-1-2 is used, apply it at rate of 6.5 lb N per 1,000 square feet on a quarterly basis or 26 lbs N/1000 sq. ft annually. Potting media should be kept moist but not wet when controlled-release fertilizers are used in production. Growers are strongly recommended to monitor the nutrient status of potting media by checking soluble salts levels biweekly using an electrical conductivity (EC) meter. Media solution can easily be extracted using the pour-through method. If EC readings fall below 1.0 dS/m, additional fertilization is needed; whereas if EC readings are above 3.0 dS/m, growers should reduce either the frequency or amount of applied fertilizer. It is recommended that fertilizer applications be reduced or eliminated one month before plants are shipped. Table 2 provides a general guide for determining if Syngonium is appropriately fertilized based on leaf analysis.

See Table 2.

Shipping and Interior Care

Shipping sleeves are recommended for transporting finished Syngonium. Recommended temperature range for shipping is 55°F to 60°F as exposure to a temperature below 55°F may cause chilling injury. Irrigate the media thoroughly the day before shipping to reduce stress during transportation.

Syngonium is commonly used as hanging baskets. If upright growth is desired, a totem, trellis, or other support is needed. Otherwise, plants can be used for ground cover. Optimal light levels for Syngonium in interiorscapes range from 250 to 1000 ft, and plants maintain their aesthetic appearance better if relative humidity is maintained between 40% and 60%. Allow the surface of potting media to dry slightly before irrigating. During the winter, reduce watering frequencies but do not allow the plant to dry out. Temperatures should remain between 65°F and 80°F to maintain leaf colorings. Occasional pruning is necessary to maintain plant form, and misting with water and wiping the leaves with a lint-free cloth will keep plants dust free and reduce the probability of a pest infestation.

Pest Problems

Although aphids, spidermites, scale, and mealybug infestations occur, they are relativity rare if the relative humidity is properly maintained. Snails, slugs, thrips, and whitefly infestations have also been reported but usually occur when plants are maintained in ground beds with minimal care. Most diseases that infect Syngonium occur during production. These include Erwinia, Pseudomonas, Xanthomonas, Myrothecium, Rhizoctonia blight, and Cephalosporium.

Physiological Problems

See Table 3.

Literature Cited

Chen, J., Henny, R.J., Devanand, P.S., and Chao, C.T. 2006. AFLP analysis of nephthytis (Syngonium podophyllum Schott) selected from somaclonal variants. Plant Cell Reports 24:743-749.

Chen, J., McConnell, D.B., Norman, D.J., and Henny, R.J. 2005. The foliage plant industry. Horticultural Reviews 31:45-110.

Chen, J., and Stamps, R.H. 2006. Cutting propagation of foliage plants. pp. 203-228. In Dole, J.M., and Gibson, J.L. (eds.) Cutting Propagation: A Guide to Propagating and Producing Floriculture Crops. Ball Publishing, Batavia, IL.

Tables

Table 1. 

listing of most of the cultivars available in Florida as of 2004.

Cultivar

Characteristics

Pink Splash Allusion

Pale green leaves with light pink speckles.

Berry Allusion

Starting in the center of the leaves, white fades to green with light red veins.

Bold Allusion

Large, cordate leaves are cream-colored with splashes of olive at the margins and pink veins.

Confetti

Light green leaves have large, pink splotches and pink-white veins.

Glo-Go

Compact with limited vining; leaves are dark green with striking, light cream-colored veins.

Infra-Red

Young solid pink leaves mature into solid green.

Key Lime

Bright green leaves with bold, white veins.

Maria Allusion

Compact; leaves are dark green with a red-bronze tint and dark pink veins.

Bob Allusion

Compact; very similar to Bold Allusion except the olive coloring extends beyond the margins to the interior of the leaf blade.

Cream Allusion

Leaves are almost solid cream with bright pink veins and thin, dark leaf margins.

Emerald Gem

Solid green with undulating, glossy leaf blades.

Holly M

Compact; leaves are nearly solid white with small, dark, green speckles on the margins.

Lemon Lime

Cream-colored veins meet an interior margin of the same shade. The rest of the leaf is medium green.

Neon

Solid, bright pink leaves.

Pink Allusion

Light, olive-green leaves with deep pink veins.

Pixie

Compact; white radiates from the leaf veins abruptly into dark green.

Regina Red

Blushing red leaves with olive-green speckles on the margins.

Robusta

Broad, green leaves with white veins; reluctant to vine.

White Butterfly

Mostly white-yellow veins bordered with dark green. Considered to be the standard Syngonium.

Table 2. 

Nutrient concentrations in leaves considered low, medium, and high for Syngonium growth.

Nutrient

Low

Medium

High

Nitrogen

less than 2.5 %

2.5 - 4.0 %

greater than 4.0 %

Phosphorus

less than 0.2 %

0.2 - 0.8 %

greater than 0.8 %

Potassium

less than 2.0 %

2.0 - 6.0 %

greater than 6.0 %

Calcium

less than 1.0 %

1.0 - 2.0 %

greater than 2.0 %

Magnesium

less than 0.3 %

0.3 - 0.8 %

greater than 0.8 %

Sulfur

less than 0.2 %

0.2 - 0.5 %

greater than 0.5 %

Iron

less than 50 ppm

50 - 300 ppm

greater than 300 ppm

Manganese

less than 50 ppm

50 - 300 ppm

greater than 300 ppm

Zinc

less than 25 ppm

25 - 150 ppm

greater than 150 ppm

Copper

less than 10 ppm

10 - 50 ppm

greater than 50 ppm

Boron

less than 25 ppm

25 - 50 ppm

greater than 50 ppm

Table 3. 

Causes and effects of various physiological problems.

Symptoms

Probable Cause

Treatment

Plants are stretched with elongated internodes and weak.

Low light level.

Increase light levels to 2500 fc.

Portions of leaves or entire young leaves appear wet or water-soaked.

Water imbalance in plants (leaf tissue is warm but medium is still cold).

Maintain root temperature at 65°F or higher and increase air temperature slowly.

Old leaves tend to turn yellow.

N deficiency or media run to dry.

Apply N at 150 ppm weekly or maintain media moisture.

Water-soaked, irregularly shaped spots with their centers fallen.

Cold water damage in the winter.

Irrigate plants with water at the same temperature as the air. Reduce water condensation in greenhouses.

Reduced growth and necrotic spots on lower leaves.

Phosphorus deficiency.

Apply P into media by supplying a fertilizer with a 3-1-2 (N-P2O5-K2O) ratio.

Footnotes

1.

This document is ENH 993, one of a series of the Environmental Horticulture Department, UF/IFAS Extension. Original publication date November 2004. Revised June 2014. Visit the EDIS website at http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu.

2.

Jianjun Chen, professor, Mid-Florida Research and Education Center and Environmental Horticultural Department; Dennis B. McConnell, professor, Environmental Horticultural Department; and Kelly C. Everitt, former research assistant, Mid-Florida Research and Education Center, UF/IFAS Extension, Gainesville FL 32611.


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