The genus Syngonium (formerly called Nephthytis) includes about 20 species of tropical vine that closely resemble certain climbing philoden-drons. Like the climbing philoden-drons, syngoniums are peculiar in that the leaves produced by mature plants are different in shape from those produced by young specimens. As a syngonium ages, it carries both types of leaf, and it also gradually develops a climbing or trailing stem. Stems of indoor syngoniums, therefore, can either be trained up thin stakes pushed into the potting mixture or be permitted to grow in hanging baskets.
Leaves of most syngoniums are leathery and glossy, with sheathed stalks that tend to be equal in length to the leaves. In young plants each leaf is usually undivided, though deeply lobed (there are generally either three or five lobes). Mature plants normally have leaves divided into distinct segments (or leaflets), and a single leaf may consist of as many as nine of these. The middle segment (like the middle lobe of the leaf in younger plants) is invariably the largest. Stems of young plants are fleshy and slender and have prominent nodes. Stems of older plants harden and thicken to a diameter of up to | inch, and an indoor length of 6 feet. Flowers are calla lily-shaped, but arc rarely produced indoors.
S. angustatum 'Albolineatum' (called arrowhead vine) is a variety whose leaves change in both shape and color from the juvenile stage of the plant to its maturity. Juvenile leaves are about 3 inches long, 2 inches wide and triple-lobed, with the large middle lobe shaped like an arrowhead. Leaf color is green with widespread white or silvery markings along the midrib and main veins. As they age, plants produce leaves up to 9 inches long and wide. Each leaf is divided into three or five distinct segments, and leaf color is plain green except for the white midrib of each segment. S. auritutn (five fingers) has fleshy, dark green leaves that are 6 inches long, 3 inches wide, and triple-lobed when the plant is young. The mature leaves are up to 15 inches long and 12 inches wide, and each leaf is composed of five separate segments. A long, elliptic central segment is flanked by a pair of medium-size segments held at right angles to the middle one, and there are a pair of very small opposite leaflets at the base.
S. podophyllum (arrowhead plant or vine) usually produces medium green, rounded leaves 6 inches long and 4 inches wide with three deep-cut lobes when the plant is young. Mature plants produce leaves up to 12 inches long and wide divided into five or seven segments. There are a number of interesting varieties of 5. podophyllum. One of the best-known forms is S.p. 'Emerald Gem,' a compact variety with shorter leafstalks than those of most syngoniums. Its crinkled leaves grow up to 8 inches long and 6 inches wide in both juvenile and mature plants. Leaf color is a dark green, with lighter green zones along the length of the veins.
Light Give syngoniums bright filtered light throughout the year. Never subject them to direct sunlight
Temperature Normal room temperatures are ideal. Syngoniums cannot tolerate temperatures below 55 F. Whenever indoor temperatures are above 650, increase the humidity for actively growing plants by standing pots on trays of moist pebbles.
Watering Water actively growing I plants moderately, allowing the top half-inch of the mixture to dry out before watering again. Syngoniums normally have a short winter rest period, during which they should be given only enough water to keep the mixture from drying out completely.
Feeding Apply standard liquid fertilizer every two weeks to actively growing plants.
Potting and repotting Use an equal-parts combination of soil-based I potting mixture and coarse leaf mold or peat moss. Repot each syngonium every spring, moving the plants into pots one size larger when roots have filled the current pots. These plants do not require large containers. A 5- or 6-inch pot or a 6- to 8-inch hanging basket should be the maximum required. After such a size has been reached, topdress plants every spring with fresh mixture.
Propagation Propagate in late spring or early summer from tip cuttings 3-4 inches long. Take each cutting just below a node, strip off the bottom leaf, and dip the cut end in hormone rooting powder. Plant two or three prepared cuttings together in a 3- or 4-inch pot of a moistened equal-parts mixture of peat moss and coarse sand or perlite. Enclose the whole in a plastic bag or propagating case, and stand it in bright filtered light. Rooting has occurred (normally, in four to six weeks), uncover the pot and begin to give the rooted cuttings just enough water to make the rooting mixture barely moist. After another month begin to apply monthly doses of standard liquid fertilizer. Four or five months after the start of propagation transfer the young plants, in groups, into the potting mixture recommended for mature specimens and treat them as adult syngoniums. In transferring the plants keep them together. For hanging baskets plant two or three groups in each basket.
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