Nephthytis plant these leaves are infused with white and gray lines when mature

Nephthytis (Syngonium podophyllum)

There are many varieties of plants out there but I have never seen one as versatile, resilient still elegant as the Nephthytis.

Actually, this plant has withstood the test of time for a hundred plus years for its easy to grow and attractive nature.

Considering the busy schedules we have every day while trying to work things through home and work we tend to neglect the houseplants.

Often you’ll find yourself putting off even the basic need to observe the important tasks of watering or tending the plants.

And for that reason, having a plant such as Nephthytis that brings in a constant bit of greenery to your interior decor without needing a lot of maintenance could save you a lot of hassle and guilt at the end of the day.

This is one plant despite the occasional neglect, will never give up on you.

Always providing beautiful foliage.

nephthytis plant

The Nephthytis Plant- Syngonium podophyllum
Photo Credit  Forest & Kim Starr,

Generally, the Nephthytis is one of the easy to care for houseplants as long as they have a bright light situation in the house.

However, this plant has that unruly nature of creeping around your home quietly if let to.

For that reason, as long as you want to have the Nephthytis plant growing indoors it will need a little pruning now and then to avoid having the ugly flop effect.

Background Information on Nephthytis
Nephthytis, also botanically known as the syngonium podophyllum is a slow-growing tropical vine that’s native to Brazil, Mexico, and Central America.

In the natural habitat, syngonium has over thirty species although the common one syngonium podophyllum has over 10 varieties.

And just like many other plants of the same species, it has the type of leaves which tend to change their appearance as they mature.

Actually, this is what distinctly defines the beauty and elegance of this plant.
In its young stages, the plant features a foliage with the arrow-head shaped leaf blades that tend to grow anywhere between 5 and 7 inches long.

However, as the plant gets more mature, the leaves develop two, three or more basal lobes that naturally separate into two individual leaflets resembling wings.

More to that, the leaves of this plant are infused with some shades of gray or white at the mid-section.

The Nephthytis plant grows typically all year along provided there are the ideal growth conditions.

In case the plant is left unchecked you will get stray vines creeping all over the house in just a few months.

Nephthytis plant these leaves are infused with white and gray lines when mature

‘The leaves are infused with some white and gray lines when mature’
CC BY-SA 3.0,

Growing Tips For Nephthytis

The Nephthytis plant is naturally a climber therefore it grows in the wild. Its growth pattern tends to move from the shade to the full sunlight while forming a canopy.

This is because the leaves of this plant tend to grow bigger as the plant matures and grows taller.

When grown as a houseplant, this plant can be trained to grow on a moss stick or a pole.

Generally, the plant is resistant to most of the plant pests and diseases but at times could be infested by; spiders, mites, aphids or scale.

In other cases, the plant has been known to suffer from soft rot or leaf spots. The plant is ideal for a greenhouse or sun room where there are controlled environmental conditions.

This includes; light, humidity and ample heat that will sustain its semi-tropical nature.

Plant Care Requirements for Nephthytis

The lighting conditions
The nephthytis is one plant that does pretty well in the low to medium light settings although it thrives even better in the bright and indirect sunlight.

The plant is entirely not a fan of direct exposure to sunlight though, in extremely low light, it may become weak, thin and leggy.

Therefore, if you are wondering which is the right position to place the Nephthytis plant in your house, you might want to consider the spot next to the window.

The morning sun does pretty well with this plant but it should be protected from the hot afternoon sun.

The Watering needs
When it comes to keeping the Nephthytis plant healthy, the soil should be kept slightly dry in winter. Lightly moist in the summer season.

All in all, you should never let your soil to go completely dry.

Generally this plant is undemanding when it comes to constant watering but it needs high levels of humidity to keep it going.
And for that reason, to maintain this kind of growing condition you need to place the growing pots on top of a bed of wet pebbles.

Also, you should remember to mist the hanging baskets more frequently.

The basic idea is to keep water at a minimum during the cooler seasons while moderately watering them during summer.

Humidity is one of the most essential requirements of the Nephthytis.

This is because an instance of cold air and low humidity results to formation of brown leaves and crisping.

Nephthytis in low humidity

The Nephthytis leaves in low humidity
Photo Credit  Forest & Kim Starr,

Such side effects will distract the formation of the beautiful leaves that bring the ornamental elegance in this plant.

In that case, ensure that you apply all the possible ways of increasing humidity.

Low humidity is a common case especially during winter since most of the homes comes with a central heating system.

Although it may be beneficial with the cold, it tends to dry out the air which leads to the plant dormancy of most houseplants.

There are several ways you can deal with low humidity which include; use of wet pebble trays, groupping the plants closely together, misting or the use of a humidifier.

The Nephthytis is one plant that requires constant heating even in the cold months.

Considering the fact that it is a semi-tropical plant, it needs humid and warm conditions to thrive.
Therefore, there is a need to ensure that the plant sits at the heart of your home.

The ideal temperature for the plant is a minimum of 60 degrees Fahrenheit.

Anything below that is a no no.

Feeding and Fertilizers
When you have an established houseplant, its only humane of you to try and feed it at least once a month.

Nephthytis just like any other houseplant tends to have a dormancy rest period during winter but this in most cases doesn’t last for long.
So even in the coldest months, as long as the indoor temperature is ideal, you are likely to see one or two sprouting leaves.

In that case, there is no issue with feeding your plant even during the winter period.

But this should only happen if you notice that the plant is still growing and needs some fertilizer. If you have any doubts about this, there is no need to do it.

Just wait until spring or summer. The ideal fertilizer for the Nephthytis is a balanced liquid fertilizer for house plants.

The fertilizer should be applied mostly in summer and spring on a regular basis.

The Nephthytis is one plant known to have a lot of climbers.

Therefore, in most cases, it will have more greenery creeping around than what’s actually happening in the growing pot.

In that case, this plant does pretty well in the small pots but if there is a slow down in growth you may consider transferring it to a bigger pot.

This allows you to water the plant more frequently and with ease. When re-potting the Nephthytis its advisable that you use the standard compost mix.

The Spread Rate
Like many other creepers and climbers, there is the need to pinch out the stray growing vines otherwise you may end up having ugly unruly plants in your home.

You simply need to exercise some level of control.
In the case of a well-trained Nephthytis that is growing up a moss, the stick can reach up to heights of 6ft in the height dimension and 2ft in its spread.

The synogium plants that grow with no support may not grow that tall but will still give that unattractive bushy look in your patio.

The propagation procedures of synogium are quite easy since you can root the cuttings or just jump into potting them with compost.

Whichever method you choose both guarantee you of a high success rate provided that you target the right part of the plant when cutting.

Basically, how you do the propagation determines whether you will have a growth shoot with one or two leaves.

To do this right, you need to follow the growth shoot downwards until you get to the nodes.

Nodes are often two sets of small bumps that grow at the sides of the plant.

Make the cut just a few centimeters just a few inches below the nodes.

This is because new roots shoot from the nodes. The best thing to do before you proceed is to dip the cut ends into a rooting hormone.

If you would like your plants to maintain that compact and bushy outlook, there is always the need to ensure you do regular pruning of the unwanted parts.

The ideal time to prune your plant is during summer.

This is to encourage the sprouting of new growth that will give it a more fuller look.

Also, in line with pruning your Nephthytis plant, you should at least pinch the tip of each plant to prevent them from climbing and growing too high.

The older stems can either be removed and disposed of permanently. Or  they can also be propagated.

The Common Problems affecting Nephthytis Plant

Generally, there are no serious diseases or insect problems that affect the Syngonium plant.

However, they are two or three issues that this plant has to deal with. This includes;

Yellowing of the Leaves
In the Nephthytis plant, there are likely reasons for certain problems that it experiences. However, most of these issues are caused by either over watering or under watering the plants.

It is very easy to identify the root cause of this by just looking at how water has been administered in the past few days.

nephthytis plant yellowing of the leaves

‘Dry leaf tips is a common issue that affects Nephthytis plant’

Photo Credit Forest & Kim Starr,

You can also check the wetness or dryness of the soil to determine this.

In case the yellowing has been caused by over watering, I would expect decreasing the amount of water would solve the issue.

Also, as you do that, you can pinch the unhealthy-looking yellow leaves.

Dry Leaf Tips
This is another common issue that affects the Nephthytis plant that is related to dry air.

When the air is too dry, the leaves tend to pick up a brown color at the tips.
All in all, this can be rectified by increasing the humidity levels in the house.

This includes misting of the leaves every morning or evening until they get back to shape.

This should only take a couple of days.

‘Dry leaf tips is a common issue that affects Nephthytis plant’

Retarded Growth
When plants lack fertilizers, light and are overwatered especially during the growing season they happen to have an issue with their growth rate.
The lack of nutrients in the soil could be a major contributor.

However, if this happens during the colder months, there is no need to raise alarm.
Most plants enter the dormancy stage when the weather is too cold and little or no growth happens during this time.

Is the Nephthytis Plant Toxic?

Since Nephthytis is an indoor plant, it is always necessary to learn about its toxicity levels.

You might have heard from most people that the plant has inflammatory properties. However  this plant comes with a level two of toxicity.

This means that if ingested the plant could have mild toxic effects to the consumer. This applies to both humans and pets.
Also, since the plant has a sap that’s irritating and can be sensitive to most people, it is advisable that you use gloves every time you are working on the plant.

Some of the side effects that come with ingesting this plant include; skin irritation, stomach upset and vomiting.


  1. I notice that several other sites list this plant as being native to tropical west Africa and Borneo. What do you know about this? Are these just other varieties of podophyllum? I am keeping pet lizards and try to put native plants in their enclosures.

    • Greetings Sue.. and thanks for the comment! These sites are correct. However, as mentioned in the post Brazil, Mexico and Central America are also other places where the Nephthytis (Sygonium Podophyllum) are native to as well. There are a Myriad of places that i did not mention in this article. So i will in the comments. So that we are clear, we are referring to the Nephthytis (Sygonium Podophyllum. I did mention (Central America) Belize, Columbia, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Peru, and Panama. Bolivia Nicaragua, Venezuela are some others. There are many others. I only refereed to 3 places. Tho i wish i could give you more insight on your pet lizard i do hope this helped in some way. Be well..

  2. thank you gardeningfever for giving me wonderful information

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *