Homelomena (Homalomena rubescens ‘maggy’) are well-loved plants by enthusiasts all over due to their subtle but attractive foliage, low-maintenance care requirements, and general disease resistance.
Boasting large, waxy, arrow-shaped leaves, Homalomenas tend to be relatively compact, so they are perfect for those who may not have much space in their home or apartment.
Typically, they will only grow between 12-30 inches tall and around 24-36 inches wide.
Homalomena are often nicknamed the “Queen of Hearts” or “shield” plants, names they get from the shape of their large leaves. Their leaves are usually green, although they can sometimes be variegated with red.
Many Homalomena are said to smell similar to that of anise.
|Common Name||Queen of Hearts, Shield Plant|
|Size||1 foot to 3 feet in height|
|Pet Friendly||No, Toxic to pets|
From a genus of plants within the family Araceae, Homalomena are a relative of the philodendron, though they can be slightly more particular about their care requirements than their cousin.
They are evergreen (retaining their leaves all year round), perennial (living more than one growing season), and herbaceous (without a woody stem above the ground).
Homalomena originate predominately from tropical regions, native to South America and Asia, and, as such, prefer environments that provide them with some of the same heat, humidity, and light that they would get in their natural habitat.
How to Care for Homalomena
Homalomena are low-maintenance plants overall. Take note of their general care preferences below, and you will be sure to have a healthy, thriving plant for years to come!
Light and Temperature
Bright, indirect sunlight is ideal for the Homalomena plant. They can survive in lower sunlight, but their growth will slow significantly as a result.
Be careful to avoid too much direct sunlight on your plant. It will cause stress and may scorch the leaves.
If you notice that your plant’s foliage is becoming faded, that the leaves are stretching out, or that leaf stalks are becoming thinner, that can be a sign of poor lighting. Take note of your plant’s exposure to light and adjust as needed.
Similar to that of their tropical origins, Homalomena prefer their environment to be humid and warm, as well.
Temperatures above 70 are optimal. If your home is colder than 50 degrees, or if the plant is outdoors in temperatures lower than 50 degrees, it will trigger stress in the plant and may even cause death.
Homalomena can be sensitive to drafts, so ensure that your plant is not near a vent or window, especially during the colder months. You might think that placing your plant near a heater is a great way to keep it warm, but, in fact, this will probably only dry out your plant and cause it stress.
Encouraging warmth through sunlight is the best way to keep your Homalomena happy.
As a rule, the more humid the environment, the better it is for your Homalomena.
You might consider misting your plant with water regularly to mimic its natural environment or putting it on top of a pebble tray to increase humidity.
To create a pebble tray for your plant, fill a small tray of pebbles halfway with water and place your Homalomena on top. The water inside the container will evaporate slowly around your plant, providing it extra moisture.
If you have several tropical plants, try putting them all in one room and purchasing a humidifier for that room. Humidifiers are an excellent way to increase humidity.
Not only that, grouping your plants can help increase humidity through their natural process of transpiration.
If your plant’s leaf tips are beginning to brown or droop, this can be a classic sign of too little humidity. If you notice this occurring in your Homalomena, consider using one of the above methods to increase the plant’s humidity exposure.
Watering habits for your Homalomena can be the most tricky thing to get right.
If you give your plant too much water, you are placing it at risk of root rot. If you give it too little water, the leaves will begin to dry out.
Always ensure the top 2-3 inches of your plant’s soil are dry before adding water. The plant likes to be kept slightly moist but not water-logged.
Your plant may need more water during its active growing season (spring and summer), so during these times, be attentive to your plant’s soil so that it does not dry out.
It is always best to test the soil of any plant you are watering before watering to avoid overwatering. You might also consider purchasing a moisture meter that will tell you how moist your plant’s soil is and help you determine when it needs water.
Moisture meters can be found online or at your local garden center.
When you do water, water the plant thoroughly so that the excess drains out of the drainage holes.
Use warm water. Cool water or ice can stress your Homalomena.
Patches on your plant’s leaves or yellowing leaves can be a sign of too much water for your plant. If you notice either of these things often, adjust your watering habits to avoid soggy soil.
Fertilize your plant in the summer and spring (its growing months) monthly with a slow-release fertilizer.
Do not fertilize in the winter, as your plant is not actively growing and does not need fertilization.
Use a general indoor plant fertilizer diluted by half.
Homalomena are in the flowering genus Araceae. They do flower, but these flowers are tiny and petalless. The flowers also live inside green spathes that rarely open.
The flowers have no actual value to the plant, and many gardeners recommend that you prune them off upon appearance.
It is best not to expect your indoor Homalomena to flower much, though, if at all. The large, green, waxy leaves are the real attention grabber on this plant.
You should not need to prune your Homalomena often, if at all.
Prune the plant only for clean-up of dead and drying leaves. This regular tidying will help keep your Homalomena’s circulation open and its appearance aesthetically pleasing.
When pruning, be sure to use clean, sharp shears.
Homalomana plants prefer to be slightly root bound, so they do not need to be repotted regularly. Plan to transplant your Homalomena every year when it is younger and every two to three years as it gets older.
If you notice that the roots of your Homalomena have begun peeking out of the bottom of the pot, that is a sign that your plant needs to be repotted, as well.
Similarly, if you notice that your plant’s growth has slowed considerably, that can indicate a lack of nutrients. Transplant your Homalomena with fresh soil to give it the nutrients that it needs.
When transplanting, be sure to use fresh, well-draining soil and a pot with suitable drainage holes. Use a pot that is only slightly larger than the plant’s current pot. Remember, they prefer to be more root-bound, so putting in a much larger pot may cause stress.
A pre-made aroid soil mix is perfect for your Homalomena. If you want to create your own, combine peat, soil, and sand in equal parts.
In either case, be sure to have a good drainage layer at the bottom of the pot made of gravel or stones.
Pests & Disease
One of the many things that plant owners love about Homalomena plants is their pest and disease resistance. With proper care, you should not run into many issues with your Homalomena.
Keeping the humidity high can help prevent many pests from infesting your plant.
That being said, some common plant pests can infect your plants from time to time, such as spider mites and mealybugs.
Spider mites are first identifiable from small, tiny dots on your plant’s leaves. As the spider mite population grows and continues to feed on the plant, the leaves will brown and, eventually, drop to the ground.
With any pest, the first step to take is to remove your Homalomena from other nearby plants to avoid the risk of cross-contamination.
To remove spider mites:
- Mix ½ cup of alcohol into 50 oz of water and put it into a spray bottle.
- Spray both sides of your plant’s leaves.
- Wipe the leaves off with a paper towel.
Mealybugs, on the other hand, can be spotted by their white, cottony spots and oval-shaped bodies that are visible on your plant’s leaf.
You can use an alcohol solution on your plant to remove mealybugs, as well, or you can apply neem oil, an organic substitute that kills mealybugs at all stages of their life.
Regular application of neem oil should prevent future infestation of your plant, as well.
How to Propagate Homalomena
Homalomena have rhizomatous roots, which means you can propagate them from cuttings of their rhizomes.
To divide your Homalomena through rhizome separation:
- Remove the plant from its soil and clean the dirt off of the rhizome.
- Use a clean, sharp pruning knife to divide the rhizome into several parts.
- Be sure that each part has some roots.
- Take care that each part is not too small. Smaller cuttings will take longer to heal and grow.
- Dust each piece with charcoal and place it in damp soil.
- Care as you usually would for your Homalomena.
When you divide your Homalomena, do so in the spring.
An alternative method to rhizome division is to use the plant’s daughter offshoots that may appear in spring or summer.
During the growing season, you may see tiny shoots spring up near the base of your parent bush. These are daughter plants and can be carefully separated and moved to a separate pot to grow independently.
This method is much less stressful on the plant than division, and, given proper conditions, the offshoots tend to grow quite fast.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is Homalomena a philodendron?
Homalomena plants are closely related to the philodendron. They are both a part of the aroid family.
Like the philodendron, Homalomena are low-maintenance in their care requirements.
However, Homalomena plants are less popular than their cousin, the philodendron, so you may find them a bit more unique to use in your space.
How do you divide Homalomena?
You can divide a Homalomena bush by separating its rhizome into several parts that can grow independently.
When doing this, be sure that each separated part has its own roots to help it become adjusted on its own.
Why is my Homalomena drooping?
If your Homalomena’s leaves are drooping, check the soil to ensure it is not entirely dried out. If you let your plant’s soil dry completely, the plant will become stressed, and the leaves will turn limp.
If your plant is adequately watered, make sure the humidity in its room is high enough for the plant. Consider purchasing a humidifier to help increase that room’s humidity.
Why are my Homalomena leaves dying?
If your plant is older and the dying leaves are around its base, there is nothing to worry about. This death is simply a natural part of your plant’s growth. Prune dying leaves off with clean pruning shears.
However, if you notice other leaves dying at a rapid pace, or if leaves are dying in a great quantity, it could be a sign of something more serious.
Inspect your plant’s leaves for pests, check the room’s temperature, and take note of your watering habits. Yellow, dying leaves can be caused by root rot.
Is Homalomena toxic to pets?
Homalomena is considered toxic to humans and pets if ingested.
It may cause some skin irritation, as well, for some. If you have more sensitive skin, consider wearing gloves when handling your Homalomena plant.
The best rule of thumb with all plants is to keep them out of reach of pets and small children.
The Homalomena plant is an attractive, unique plant that will add character to any room. On top of that, they are non-fussy plants. You simply have to pay attention to their signals and respond accordingly!
Be sure that your watering habits are in alignment with what your plant needs, ensure it gets adequate (indirect) sunlight, and you should have a happy and healthy plant for years to come.
Be sure to check out all of our Plant Care Guides!