Philodendron Bipennifolium, also known as Horsehead Philodendron or even Fiddleleaf Philodendron, is a unique house plant and a climber that is lovely in hanging brackets or pots. However, it does need the right amount of water and optimal sunlight to grow into a wonderful, attractive addition to your home.
This article covers:
- What a Philodendron Bipennifolium is and what does it look like
- How to care for the unique plant including the right amount of water, the right soil, and more
- Common problems and what to do about them
Table of Contents
What is Philodendron Bipennifolium?
This plant is also called a Horsehead Philodendron or Fiddleleaf Philodendron because of the oddly shaped leaves that make it a unique plant for anybody.
The leaves have an arrow, violin, or horse shape that stands out in any room. It is also a climbing plant that will wrap itself around any fixture it can reach.
Originally from the rainforests of South America, particularly Brazil and Argentina, it has a long thin stem and aerial roots that help the plant vine. It can grow in a normal plant pot but also works well in a hanging basket. In a pot, you will want to use a moss pole to direct the growth.
To see what this type of plant looks like and how big it is, check out this cool video:
How to Care for Philodendron Bipennifolium
To properly care for a Philodendron Bipennifolium or Horsehead Philodendron, you must know what to do. It needs the right type of soil, light, water, and more to grow healthily and thrive in an indoor environment. Let’s look at all these factors so you know exactly what to do with your lively houseplant.
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The Philodendron Bipennifolium likes sunlight, but it doesn’t like too much direct sunlight. If there is too much light, then it can harm the leaves, scorch them, and turn them yellow, which is definitely not something you want with your attractive green Horsehead Philodendron.
Instead, you want to supply it with a steady amount of indirect sunlight, similar to what it would get in its natural rainforest habitat.
Partial shade works, but you can also simply place the Horsehead Philodendron near a window that faces the north or the east. This should provide enough sunlight without harming it.
Philodendron Bipennifolium, like some other tropical plants, consumes an average amount of water, but like soil that is almost constantly moist.
Too much moisture can cause several problems for your plants like too little oxygen and root rot. It can also leave to poor growth and improperly colored leaves.
Each time before you water, make sure that the soil is completely dry for the first top ⅓ of the soil. Just stick your finger in and feel.
If you feel any wet soil, then you should wait a little longer before watering. You will have to water more during the warm months of spring and summer, but typically once per week is okay. Then, in the Winter you may only have to water every couple of weeks.
The Horsehead Philodendron variety likes soil that drains well so that it doesn’t hold too much water which can cause root rot and other problems. It is important to make sure that the water drains through the soil and out the holes at the bottom.
Even though you want to protect against overwatering and excessive moisture, good soil for Philodendron Bipennifolium will still retain enough moisture to give it the water and nutrients it needs.
We recommend that you choose loamy soil that combines several different soil types to make it well-draining but nutritious. Loamy soils that contain clay, sand, and silt work well and you can purchase them, but you can also make them yourself.
Use sand for about 50% of the soil, silt for around 40% of the soil, and clay for the remaining 10%. You also want slightly acidic soil as well, somewhere between a pH of 5 and 6.
Humidity and Temperature
Since Philodendron Bipennifolium plants like tropical rainforest climates, they also like lots of humidity and warm temperatures.
To keep it happy and healthy, you want to have a daytime temperature range between 75 degrees Fahrenheit and 85 degrees Fahrenheit (24 to 29 degrees Celsius). That’s a little warm inside for most people, but your plant will love it.
If it drops to 65 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit at night, that’s okay as well, but it should never have to withstand freezing weather.
These plants prefer humidity and while they will do okay in lower humidities, if you want fast growth and thriving foliage, it is best to create a humid environment. You can do this by regularly spraying the violin-shaped leaves.
You can also use a tray of pebbles and water beneath a potted Philodendron Bipennifolium, or you can invest in a humidifier.
Philodendron plants aren’t too picky about fertilizer, but it does work well if you can fertilize them a few times each year. Slow-release fertilizers are great for these odd plants because it feeds the plant slowly, which is perfect since you don’t need to feed it often anyways.
When you use a fertilizer, you want to make sure it is 5 to 6 inches from the base so that the fertilizer doesn’t touch any parts of the plant directly. This is because it can burn and damage the plant’s roots. You want to water before feeding the plant as well. Finally, steer clear of fertilizers high in salt.
If you are growing Philodendron Bipennifolium in a pot, then you should have a moss pole for it to climb, but you can also use a hanging basket if you want to see the vines hanging down with the oddly-shaped leaves being displayed to the world.
The plant will grow between 3 and 7 feet tall with large leaves, so you will probably have to occasionally prune the leaves that are growing unattractively or haphazardly.
You will have to re-pot the Horsehead Philodendron species every few years, as little as two years. This is how long it takes for the roots to grow too large for an existing pot. When you get a new pot, you don’t need to get too large, so try about an inch bigger each time.
Common Problems with Philodendron Bipennifolium
There are some common issues that you may come across when growing your Horsehead Philodendron and it is a good idea to be prepared so that you know how to prevent them or address them when the issues do arise. Let’s look at the most common problems with these types of plants.
Compared to some other plants, Philodendron Bipennifolium plants actually resist pests fairly well, but that doesn’t mean you can’t get an infestation. There are a few different pests that you can expect to deal with.
The most common are aphids, which are insects that can injure or kill your plant. Scales are another possibility that feeds on the sap of the plant, which can be detrimental to the Philodendron’s health.
To get rid of these pests, neem oil is a good option. It is safe for your plant but effective at eliminating these types of pests. Just fill a spray bottle and spray the plant. You may have to do this a couple of times to get rid of major infestations.
Wilting leaves are a problem, especially since you want to be able to see the violin-shaped leaves of the Philodendron Bipennifolium. Without that, it can start looking sad. Wilting leaves are often caused by dehydration and underwatering. This is especially true if they seem crisp and curled.
Make sure you check the soil moisture every day so that you can water it as soon as you need to, but still make sure you avoid overwatering because that can be just as bad or worse for your plant.
Erwinia Blight is a plant disease that can affect your Philodendron Bipennifolium and even kill it. This plant disease is caused by bacteria that can take over the organism. This can cause lesions, black leaves, wilting leaves, and excessive dying leaves.
If you don’t catch it early enough, then it can kill your plant.
If you notice Erwinia Blight, then you need to treat it right away by first removing all infected portions of the plant. Then, use a copper-based fungicide to spray down the plant and eliminate the Blight problem.
Yellow leaves are often caused by too much light, especially direct sunlight. In some regions, a location by a window may be fine most of the year, but have too much sun in a couple of months.
In this case, you can simply move it back from the window until the direct sunlight begins to dissipate after Summer.
If there is not enough indirect sunlight at the window, then you can also consider moving it or adding more shade outside or inside. This is usually an easy problem to fix and it shouldn’t be long before your plant looks lively and green again.
Final Thoughts on Philodendron Bipennifolium
This plant is a lovely addition to anybody with a green-thumb, but it is also easy to care for and because of the weird leaves it is also a great conversation starter. Whether you keep it in a bathroom, living room, office, or bedroom, it should be a welcome addition to your decor.