philodendron bipennifolium plant

Philodendron Bipennifolium Plant Care Guide

The Philodendron bipennifolium is a large-leafy evergreen perennial vine. The captivating grassy-green leaves resemble a horse’s head or take on the shape of a violin if they grow bigger and start climbing.

Horsehead Philodendron, Lacy Tree Philodendron, Fiddle Leaf Philodendron, and Selloum are other names of the Araceae family species. Fast-growing plants, these epiphytes will wrap around anything they touch. Both the roots and stem help the plants thrive.

Their lobed leaves appear plain but large. Typically, they hang or droop from a stem as the plants grow five feet in height. The deep colors change in shades, and there are some variegated Philodendron bipennifoliums.

These tropical plants reach maturity in 20 years in their natural habitat, though their color doesn’t change much during the year. Interestingly, as these plants grow, their leaves change shape and morph into different forms.

These indoor plants radiate beauty while purifying the air and removing toxins from the environment. Thus, these plants make ideal houseplants because they are also easy to grow.

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Botanical NamePhilodendron bipennifolium
Common NameGold Violin, Horsehead Philodendron, Lacy Tree Philodendron, Fiddle Leaf Philodendron, and Selloum
Size3 to 7 feet high
DifficultyEasy
Pet FriendlyToxic to pets
Air CleanerYes

Philodendron Bipennifolium Origin

Philodendron bipennifoliums originate from South America, native to Bolivia, Brazil, Argentina and Paraguay. Today, these plants grow worldwide in different settings, such as French Guiana, Ecuador, Peru, Columbia and Venezuela.

These perennials adapt well to tropical, subtropical and warm temperate climates. With proper acclimation, they adjust to growing outdoors in deep shade.

How to Care for Philodendron Bipennifolium

Besides some particular care requirements, the Philodendron bipennifolium care requirements are like other indoor plants.

Small plants grow well in hanging pots or baskets. The larger Philodendron bipennifolium live better in big containers or the garden. If grown in the ground, their stems will spread.

As houseplants, pruning keeps them contained. These plants need something to hold on to, like a support structure. Moss poles, wire rods, and bamboo sticks work well.

Light and Temperature

Philodendron bipennifoliums do very well while growing in partial or indirect sunlight. Their leaves are hypersensitive to any direct light and scar right away. If the plants grow directly under the sun, the leaves turn yellow and brown. Their scorch marks are permanent. 

Place the houseplant in a semi-shaded or indirect bright area. Such placing will simulate the rainforest environment and keep them happy — all the light they need. Spending eight to ten hours each day in the indirect light makes them thrive.

Symptoms that the plant lacks enough sunlight:

  • Slow growth
  • Drooping, curling and limpness leaves
  • Dull and leggy looking plant
  • Discoloration and wilting foliage

Growing in 75 to 85° Fahrenheit, the Philodendron bipennifoliums will thrive, but they can tolerate 65 to 70° Fahrenheit during the night. If the temperature goes 65° Fahrenheit, the plants cease metabolic and cellular activities. They will not survive extreme temperatures from freezing to sweltering heat. 

Humidity is essential to the Philodendron bipennifoliums since they are native to the rainforests. Some growers keep their plants above 70 percent humidity — the ideal range. Low humidity causes leaf discoloration, curling, wilting, drooping and falling off. 

In most indoor spaces, humidity is nearly 40 percent. Add more humidity with these tips:

  • Mist the leaves of the Philodendron bipennifoliums every morning.
  • Wash the leaves once in a while.
  • Bring plants closer together, allowing the plants to contribute to making the environment more humid.
  • Install a humidifier. It saves time and keeps humidity levels in range without the guesswork.
  • Place a bowl near the houseplants to keep the surrounding air humid. 

Water

With the humidity at the correct levels, water the Philodendron bipennifoliums only when needed. In fact, these indoor plants need a balanced watering routine. Find the balance by monitoring the soil for a few days. Try to keep the soil moist and not damp or dry. 

Avoid overwatering because it causes many problems and risks for the Philodendron bipennifoliums. Wet soil causes root rot because the root system becomes clogged. Then, oxygen cannot reach the plants. That being the case, the plants become weaker and get attacked by pests. 

Overwatering also causes discolored leaves of the Philodendron bipennifolium. And it stunts their growth, making the plant weaker and susceptible to pests. 

Observing how well the water drains from the soil is the solution. If it drains well, then the soil will dry out as required. The soil must dry out between waterings. However, don’t leave the soil dry for too long. Check and feel the soil with fingers to see if it’s moist or dry. 

To help find a balanced watering schedule, follow these simple rules. In the summer, water weekly and two to three times a month in the winter. 

Detect watering problems with these symptoms:

  • Curling, crisp and dry leaves with yellow or brown patches mean underwatering. 
  • Wilting, droopy leaves with stunted growth mean under and overwatering. 
  • Root rot, bacterial and fungal growth means overwatering.

Watering tips to keep the Philodendron bipennifoliums healthy:

  • Insert a self-watering device into the soil to keep the watering balanced.
  • Try using a soil moisture sensor. 
  • Water with room temperature water. 
  • For each scheduled watering, ensure the plants need thorough watering. 
  • Empty the saucer after the water collects inside it. 

Fertilization

It’s easy to fertilize the Philodendron bipennifoliums when using slow-release plant food. Slow-release fertilizer supplies nutrients to the plants in small regular quantities. Apply the fertilizer three times a year, and they will grow fine.

Water the Philodendrons before fertilizing them as the water lets the nutrients circulate through the root system. Avoid using plant food high in salt because it contaminates the soil and harms these houseplants.

Philodendron bipennifoliums respond well to liquid fertilizer when sprayed five to six inches away from their base.

Flowering

The Philodendrons bipennifoliums blooms year-round in their natural settings. They bear off-white aroid inflorescence — characteristic of the Araceae family. In fact, these plants also produce fruit once they mature. Tiny green fruits appear in about 15 to 20 years. 

Pruning

Regular pruning keeps these houseplants healthy. The frequency depends on where the Philodendron bipennifoliums grow, such as outdoors. Outside, they might not need pruning as often as indoors. 

Yet, growing them indoors limits how big they can grow. Thus, pruning is essential since these Philodendrons can’t take up a lot of space. For that reason, these houseplants may require frequent pruning to manage their size. 

Ideally, the Philodendron bipennifoliums need pruning once or twice a year. The end of winter is the best time, right before spring begins.

Use sharp, sterilized pruning shears and gloves to protect the hands from toxic sap. Cut off any dead, discolored, dried and infected foliage. Trim less than 30 percent of the plant because cutting off more will stress Philodendron bipennifoliums. Discard the cuttings right away, keeping them away from pets and children. 

Repotting

Repot the Philodendron bipennifoliums once every three years or if the plants are root-bound. In hanging baskets, it takes two to three years for the plants to need repotting. 

Transfer these plants in a two-inch larger container because this creates enough room to thrive. A planter that is too large will cause complications like diseases. 

Some things to know before repotting these houseplants:

  • Water the plants a few hours before transplanting
  • Perform the transplant in the evening
  • Water the plants immediately after the transplant
  • Protect them from too much sunlight for a couple of days until they acclimate to their new container. 

Terracotta or clay are natural containers, which the Philodendron bipennifoliums cherish. Plastic pots do not drain as well and can cause root rot. 

Use moisture-dense soil because it’s alkaline, and the potting mix needs to drain well to avoid waterlogging or inadequate draining. But using soil that drains water too quickly can cause adverse effects. Loamy soil is perfect and keeps these indoor plants happy. 

Pests

Philodendrons bipennifolium usually remain pest-free if taken care of properly. Aphids and scales are the most comment bugs. However, mealybugs might show up and cause problems. 

Aphid infestation is severe, with tiny, soft-looking insects crawling under or over the leaves. Handle the moment these buggers appear because they can take over these plants. The consequences are severe.

Aphids will kill the Philodendron bipennifoliums, eventually. Since these pests suck the sap out of the houseplants, the plants must receive treatment. The juice is essential for spreading water and nutrients around the leaves and stem.

Lack of sap even affects photosynthesis, causing these beauties to become weak and damaged. Overlooking an infestation, rescuing the plant is nearly impossible.

Treat aphids with an insecticide as a spray or systemic.

Scales are soft-bodied, brown insects with armor to protect them. They stick on the stem and are noticeable right away. Like the aphids, these pests are after the sap, feeding on the plants’ nutrients. Thus, the Philodendron bipennifoliums become weak and may perish.

The best remedy is to suffocate them with neem oil since they breathe through their armor. Then, the buggers wipe off with a clean, dry cloth.

Mealybugs are not that common, but their white-cotton webbing under the leaves means they arrived. Drooping, wilting and leaves falling off are other signs. Isopropyl alcohol-infused cotton balls work when gently applied.

Prevention is the best remedy. And that means using proper care and inspecting the Philodendrons often for any signs of pests.

Diseases

The Philodendron bipennifoliums are hardy and resistant to diseases as long as they receive proper care. Overwatering and high soil compaction, density resulting in applied pressure cause fungal and bacterial growth in the plant and soil. Thus, have a standard watering schedule and use well-drained soil. 

The most common diseases are Erwinia blight, Pseudomonas leaf spot, Xanthomonas and root rot. Cut off the infected parts right away to stop the spread of the infection. Fungicides with mancozeb or thiophanate methyl work well on leaf spots. Fungicides with copper will control Xanthomonas. 

Inspect the Philodendron bipennifolium and its pot routinely. When there are any signs of root rot, repot right away. Removing the infected areas and repotting the plants in a well-drained potting mix works wonders. 

Here are descriptions of the diseases to determine which one the Philodendron bipennifoliums might have:

Erwinia Blight

Water-soaked lesions on the stems that spread to the leaves mean the Philodendron bipennifolium has Erwinia blight. The leaves appear limp and have tan lesions looking older than the leaves. Discoloration and yellowing of the leaves are other signs of this blight. 

Pseudomonas Leaf Spot

Pseudomonas leaf spot appears as dark-centered pots, measuring an inch on the leaves. Droopy and wilting leaves are other signs of this disease. 

Xanthomonas

Edges of the leaves yellowing and the appearance of red-brown spots on the leaves mean it’s Xanthomonas. 

Root Rot

Stunted growth, foul odor and roots, mushy and degenerated means root rot. Wilting and drooping leaves are another sign of rotting roots, but foul odor and mushy roots present root rot. 

How to Propagate Philodendron Bipennifolium

Stem cuttings and air-layering are the ways to propagate Philodendron bipennifoliums. Attempt to propagate during the growing months, early to late summer, for the best results. 

Stem Cuttings

Choose a healthy, two- to four-inch-long stem from the plant and cut it with sharp pruning shears or scissors under the nodes. Then, trim off the leaves until two leaves remain on the stem.

Cure the cuttings, allowing the cut area to heal for one to two weeks before planting. Keep the cutting in a warm place so a callus forms over the area. Curing the cut area helps Philodendrons grow healthy and stable roots. 

While the cuttings cure, prepare the new pots or hanging baskets. Add well-drained potting mix to the containers, ensuring there are drain holes. Water the soil before placing the cuttings into the planters. 

Add a supporting pole or stick in the center of the pot and gently create a hole for the stem and place the cutting in the soil. Keep the young plant in indirect sunlight and water only after the plant dries out. 

Air-Layering

Air-layering is an effective method to propagate these Philodendron bipennifoliums.

Find a healthy stem and cut it off at the base. Take a sharp, sterilized knife and cut a two-inch wound in the stem. Use a toothpick to hold the wound open.

Then, add damp sphagnum peat moss around the wound. Secure the moss by wrapping first-aid tape or a string around the medium. Make sure the moss remains on the stem by covering it with plastic wrap. In two weeks, roots from the wound will appear. 

In the meantime, create the planters for the young plants. Follow the same method for stem cuttings. 

Once the roots appear through the plastic wrap, about a month, separate the cuttings from the stem by using a sterilized knife. Gently release the plastic wrap and place the young plants in their new homes. 

Keep an eye on the young Philodendron bipennifolium while getting used to their home. They need indirect sunlight, water and shelter from the elements.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is Philodendron Bipennifolium rare?

These houseplants are extremely rare, and certain varieties like “Aurea” variegated or “lime fiddle” variegated even rarer. 

How big do Philodendron Bipennifoliums grow?

These indoor plants can grow as tall as three to seven feet high with a moss pole for climbing. The leaves grow 10 to 18 inches on average. 

Is a Philodendron Bipennifolium easy to care for?

Growers agree the Philodendron bipennifoliums are easy to grow if they receive the care given in this article.

Is Philodendron Bipennifolium toxic to pets?

Yes. An intense burning sensation in the mouth, lips, tongue and throat occurs with excessive drooling. Depending on how much the pet ingests, swelling of the throat, choking and difficult swallowing and breathing will ensue. 

Final Thoughts

Philodendron bipennifoliums bring the freshness of the rainforest to the indoors. These houseplants soothe the atmosphere while adding a spark of life. Their natural ability to grow with little work makes these plants a favorite.

Be sure to check out all of our Plant Care Guides!

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