Aroids
Syngonium review
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Syngonium review

Syngonium are, in my opinion, the most easygoing subspecies of the Araceae family. They occur quite commonly because they can accept a variety of climate conditions. That is not to say that they can handle any mistreatment, but they are far more resilient than Alocasia. It means that Sygnonium will afford you several opportunities to solve any emerging problems with their cultivation.

The sub-species Syngonium podophyllum are perennial vines. They are eager growers, they will grow in a pot, a hanging basket, a terrarium, a vivarium, and even outdoors. In nature, specimen of the same subspecies can already show variety, even if cast a mere few hundred miles apart.

Variation due to geographic location, as well as environmental and genetic factors is known as phenotipic plasticity. This is the ability of an organism to change in response to changes in its environment.  The phenotipic plasticity of a plant can be the affected by natural selection of a specimen’s ancestry, nutrition, disease and light intensity. There are a lot of different variations of this species in the market, and I seem to notice a bit of a Syngonium fever starting, but maybe I’m wrong. Anyway, I’ve decided to write a bit about caring for Syngonium in order to organise my own knowledge on this topic. I hope it will be useful to you as well.

Soil

What medium is ideal for Syngonium?

Not all of my Syngonium are in the same mix. The common ones, like podophyllum or neon robusta, which I had first, are potted in a universal mix, and they are doing fine.

For the more demanding species I’ve prepared the standard Aroid mix, (same as for my Philodendrons) which is:

  • 30% soil,
  • 20% peat moss,
  • 40% orchid bark with charcoal,
  • 10% perlite and/or sphagnum moss,
  • hardwood/aquarium charcoal/volcanic rock (optional).

I also keep Syngonium emerald gem in Lechuza, but it is a new situation and I can’t yet tell if that was a good step in my home conditions.

Light

It all depends on the colours

Obviously the classic green syngonium doesn’t need as much attention as the rest of the species. So, here are my tips for the rest:

If you want to encourage leaf colouring, your plant should have maximum access to light, just make sure not to burn it. If the plant still does not have the desired coloration, check if you are fertilizing correctly. The their option of lack of variegation is due to the genetic information of your plant and there is nothing more you can actually do about it. Except you can buy another cutting after checking the mother plant’s coloration.

How does it work? If the level of light is sufficient, then there is no need for the plant to produce more chlorophyll than necessary, to carry on with photosynthesis. Then the other colours emerge more eagerly. That is why, when the plant starts to lose its colours it is good to keep it under artificial light for a couple of weeks. But remember that the metabolism of the plant has its own rhythm. Just as the number of holes on the next three leaves gets encoded in Monsteras based on current conditions, so in Syngonium – you may have to wait for a couple of leaves before you notice any effects of the change you make to the parameters right now. Be patient.

Water

Heavy drinkers on board

On the one hand I find Syngoniums very demanding in the amount of watering that they need weekly. On the other…I always have to let them dry before the next supply arrives. But they drink so fast, it is only 3-4 days in between. I keep them in terracotta pots, so keep that in mind. Terracotta is a highly airy material and the watering will not be the same with plastic covers, which keep moisture much longer.

Of course, if you decide to make moss poles for your Syngoniums, the watering technique changes. If a plant begins to climb up the stake, its in-ground roots lose their dominant function, so watering and fertilizing the stake (or rather foliar fertilization) becomes essential. I find that it is a very common mistake, to keep fertilising the soil, when most of the plant is already nicely attached to the pole. So if your plants stopped growing despite being fertilized, this may be the cause.

Temperature and humidity

Let it go

Seriously, most of the species will forgive you not using a humidifier, especially if you water them properly. I keep my Syngoniums in about 40-50% humidity. I also don’t recommend a humidifier for emerald gem, because the water drops can damage the white part of the leaf, turning it brown. As to the temperature – just don’t keep them in a drafty place, and a home environment with about 19-25 degrees Celsius (66-77 F) is good. They don’t go into shock as easily as, say, the Anthuriums, the drama queens among Aroids.

IMPORTANT NOTE: Syngonium neon robusta truly does need a humidifier. I find that this is an exception here and I have to write about it a bit, because it has happened to me, as well as many of my plant friends. If there is not enough amount of humidity it will just pop the leaves, but they will never open. Know this situation? Yeah…it is better to keep her in the bathroom, if you have a window there.

Fertilising

Dinner served

I fertilise Syngoniums all year, except podophyllum and neon robusta, which in my opinion are so used to home conditions (secondary adaptation) that I treat them like common house plants that can rest a bit for the winter. Also because I do not keep those two under grow lights, so they would not be able to use up the minerals contained in the fertilizer.

Propagation

Proper mania

Starting a new plant is as simple as taking a cutting with a node and placing it in a pot with well-draining soil or propagating in water. You can also use sphagnum moss or perlite. Whichever medium you like and feel comfortable with, the plant will probably accept it. Not all Syngoniums have a growth type that allows easy separation of the nodes. That usually translates into price. For example, Syngonium confetti or confetti milk are more bushy and grow in a rosette, they are not climbing as much, which makes it more difficult to propagate. You can also try air layering with sphagnum moss.

Pest control

They are fighters

Unlike with other Aroids, it is not that easy to kill a Syngonium, but they’re not immortal. Their greatest enemy in my opinion are thrips. They can just eat all your plant in a couple of weeks. So – the best solution, as usual – is prevention. Watch your plants daily and when you see that something is starting to go wrong… respond immediately. I recommend weekly SPA for Syngonium, meaning: give them a thorough shower and they will be thankful. The beneficial mites that eat the larvae of the pests are also a great, if not the best solution. I use them in winter, but this year, I’m planning to focus on prevention throughout the year.

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