The large-leafy Philodendron bipennifolium is an evergreen perennial vine with charismatic grassy-green leaves. It is a beautiful species of the Araceae family that grows as a hemi-epiphyte in the rainforests of Brazil and Argentina. Due to its lovely foliage, and gorgeous appearance, it has been cultivated into various Philodendron bipennifolium types and varieties. This plant is grown in pots or hanging baskets inside homes to add a touch of tropical jungles indoors.
- Horsehead Philodendron
- Fiddle-Leaf Philodendron
- Family: Araceae
- Subfamily: Aroideae
- Genus: Philodendron
Origin and Distribution
This plant originated from the tropical rainforests of Argentina and Brazil. It is found in French Guiana, Peru, Ecuador, Venezuela, and Colombia.
Philodendron Bipennifolium Features
Foliage and Stem
As the name Horsehead Philodendron suggests, it has large, horse-head-like shiny-green leaves. The leaves of this plant can reach 18 inches to 10 inches in length. The Philodendron bipennifolium variegated variety has yellow patterns on its green leaves.
This lovely vine is an evergreen vine, which means it does not shed its leaves altogether in autumn. The gorgeous foliage stays functional and keeps on shiny even in the months of fall.
This plant can reach a height of three to seven feet tall. It is a medium-sized vine that looks great in hanging baskets indoors. You can also increase its maximum height by inserting a pole in its pot.
This warmth-loving plant cannot tolerate temperature extremes. It is not frost-hardy. This is why you should grow it indoors to keep it safe from extreme cold or extreme heat.
This greeny vine stays happy in high humidity; however, it can also grow in low humidity conditions. Its leaves lose some of their freshness in low moisture, but this plant does not die due to low humidity.
The foliage of Philodendron bipennifolium can retain water for harsh conditions making it drought-tolerant. This Philo can survive if you don’t water it over vacation.
Disease and Pest Resistance
This plant is prone to bacterial soft rot and some leaf spotting diseases. Avoid moist foliage to protect this plant from getting any such diseases.
Thrips, mealybugs, mites, and scales are the common pests of Philodendron bipennifolium. You should use bacterial soap or neem oil to keep these pests at bay.
This gorgeous Philodendron is a vigorous grower. It grows to its maximum size in no time. The stem produces new leaves every month. The fast growth is actually the real beauty of this tropical Philo. If you want to increase this vine’s growth rate, insert a pole in its pot.
The ideal USDA plant hardiness growth zones for this plant are 10b to 11.
The insoluble calcium oxalate crystals in the leaves and stem of this plant make it poisonous and toxic to cats, dogs, and humans. If ingested, its foliage can cause severe swelling and irritation of the mouth, throat, and digestive system. You should keep your toddlers and pets away from the toxic foliage of this plant.
It is said that if one wants to learn the basics of growing a houseplant, he should try to grow a Philodendron in his house. This is because Philodendron plants are so easy-maintaining. In the same way, Philodendron bipennifolium is a low-maintenance plant that has bare minimum care needs.
In winters, this plant goes dormant and enters its resting period. You should not fertilize it during these months. Its watering frequency must be cut down to only once every 10 days.
Philodendron Bipennifolium Care
Philodendron bipennifolium care involves watering it four times a week. The ideal humidity is above 50%; the best temperature range is 24-29°C. This plant must be grown in filtered sunlight and well-draining, acidic soil (pH 5-6). The recommended growth zones for this plant are 10b to 11.
Philodendron bipennifolium must be watered regularly. You should water it once or twice a week in the months of active growth. This plant prefers moist soil; however, too much dampness can cause root rot. Well-draining soil also holds water which obstructs proper airflow to the roots. This is why damp or soggy soil gets root rot early.
Avoid over-watering as it can damage the shiny leaves of this Philo. You should water the plant only when its topsoil gets dry up to 1-2 inches. In winters, the watering frequency must be cut down as soil takes more time to lose moisture.
Acidic soil suits best for this tropical Philo. The ideal pH range is 5.0-6.0 for this plant. Acidic soil holds more nutrients and ensures the healthy growth of the plant. If your home garden or houseplant pots have alkaline soil, you can lower its pH by spraying the soil with diluted vinegar. You should use 1-2 drops of vinegar for a gallon of water.
Properly draining soil must be used for Philodendron bipennifolium. You should use loamy soil for this plant. Loamy soil is a mixture of sand, silt, and clay. These three ingredients are perfect to increase aeration and allow excess water to drain away.
Just like its natural habitat, this Philodendron species need indirect sunlight for its foliage. In rainforests, thick tall trees filter the sun rays and provide shade to this plant from direct sunlight exposure. This is why this plant must be grown in filtered shade. If you have an east or north-facing window in your home, place this plant near it. At these two spots, direct sunlight in the afternoon will not reach this plant’s foliage.
You can also grow its pot in a well-lit corner of your living room or kitchen. If this plant does not receive sufficient light exposure, its shiny foliage starts to turn dull, and its green color fades away.
Philodendron Horsehead grows best in warm temperatures. The optimum temperature range for its growth is 24 to 29°C. This temperature is easy to maintain indoors; this is why this species is an indoor houseplant. Inside a home, the plant does not face many temperature fluctuations, so it pretty much grows well. As this plant is not winter-hardy, you should never leave its pot outdoors during mid-winters; this Philo can get chilly injuries and die in cold weather.
This plant is native to the rainforests, where hundreds of trees and small plants grow together. Each plant transpires, and collectively they increase the moisture level around this. This is why Philodendron bipennifolium is habitual of high humidity. You should mimic its natural habitat in your home to allow the best growing conditions for this plant.
The ideal humidity range is 50% or more. You can regulate this level by placing the plant pot on a pebble tray. You can also group it with other houseplants. This way the humidity level around all the plants will increase naturally.
This gorgeous tropical plant is not a heavy feeder. It does not fuss much about getting fertilizer every month. It should be fertilized only three times a year. However, this does not mean you add fertilizer to its soil in the dormancy stage. This does more harm than good to the plant. You should only fertilize the plant in the months of active growth.
A slow-release fertilizer is perfect for this greeny vine. This fertilizer will be available to the plants for an extended period as it dissolves in the soil slowly. All you have to do is dilute the fertilizer, water the plant, and add fertilizer to its soil.
Grooming and Pruning
Every plant needs to be groomed and freed of dead branches before spring. Trimming off old leaves at the beginning of the growing season ensures more growth and more branching. It also makes more room for new leaves.
You should prune this plant when you notice any old, yellowed leaves or crisp branches. This should be done only in the growing season. Also, sterilize the scissors or shears before using them to trim your plant. Sterilization keeps the plant safe from infectious diseases.
As this plant is a fast grower, it needs occasional repotting. You can either re-pot it for a bigger pot or renew its soil. If you are repotting the plant only to change its potting mix, use the same-sized pot. This can be done every year at the beginning of the growing season.
However, if you are repotting the plant because it has outgrown its previous pot, use a pot that is 1-2 inches bigger than the old one. This type of repotting must be done every 2-3 years. Never re-pot the plant in winters; it will slow down its growth in the coming season or even damage its health.
Propagation of Philodendron bipennifolium is an easy process if you know the main steps of it. You can propagate this plant through stem cutting and air layering methods. If you have never done any of these before, we are here to help you. Here is how you should propagate a Philodendron Horsehead.
Through Stem Cuttings
- This method is the same as propagating other houseplants.
- Take a sterilized knife and use it to take a stem cutting of this Philo.
- Cut the stem cutting exactly below a node. The cutting must be 2-4 inches long.
- Make sure the stem cutting has at least two leaves on it.
- Keep the stem cutting in a warm room for a week to let the wound dry.
- Prepare a new pot for the cutting.
- Fill the pot with loamy soil and place the stem cutting in its center.
- You should care for the cutting the same way you care for its mother Philo.
- In some weeks, new roots will start to grow.
Through Air Layering
- Take a knife and cut a wound on the Philo’s stem near a node.
- Take moist sphagnum moss and spread it around the wound. You can use a string to keep the moss in place.
- Cover the wound with a plastic cover.
- Leave it for some days.
- When you notice new roots growing out of the wound, take a knife and cut it off from the stem.
- Cut it 2 inches from above and 2 inches from below.
- Now plant this part in potting soil.
- It will grow in a baby Philo in just some days.
This low-maintenance vine is widely grown indoors to bring tropical beauty indoors. Philodendron bipennifolium has large, fiddle-shaped leaves. The leaves also resemble a violin. Due to its unique foliage, this plant is loved as a houseplant. You can grow it in your living room, kitchen, home garden, or in hanging baskets. This lovely species will keep your home fresh and beautiful.