How to Care for Philodendron Bipennifolium?
The first thing that will strike you upon taking a glance at the Philodendron Bipennifolium are its oddly shaped leaves. Because they resemble the shape of a fiddle or a horsehead, the Bipennifolium is also referred to as Fiddle Leaf Philodendron or Horsehead Philodendron.
However you want to call it, this philo variety has bright green leaves with a glossy texture. It’s also a climbing variety, so if you’re a fan of climbing philodendrons, perhaps you should consider this variety.
You can read all about the needs and requirements of the Bipennifolium in my plant care tips below.
Size & Growth
As a climbing plant, Bipennifolium can grow relatively fast and achieve a height of up to 7 feet. Indoors, it can reach 3 feet in height, but most plant owners will prefer to keep it at an even more manageable size. Its elongated leaves will usually grow to about 10-18 inches.
In its natural habitat, this philo gets filtered, indirect light. Indoors, you’re going to need to recreate these light conditions. When choosing the ideal spot, you must avoid sunny windows.
You can place your Bipennifolium near a north or east-facing window. The plant should receive bright light, but the sun should not shine down directly on the leaves.
The plant’s leaves are rather delicate and will definitely scorch or turn yellow if they’re exposed directly to the sun.
Watering philodendron plants can be tricky because the plant enjoys moist soil. Some philos can grow in water without issues, but they don’t do well sitting in wet soil.
To avoid rotting at the roots, it’s best to be careful about your watering habits. What I always recommend — and I’ve always had success with this trick — is to stick your finger into the soil and check if the soil is still moist before watering.
If the surface of the soil is dry up to your first knuckle of your index finger, you can water your philo until water gathers in the collection tray. If the soil is still moist, postpone watering for another day.
With this simple method, you can prevent overwatering, which in time will cause the roots to rot and eventually kill off your plant.
Another way you can prevent root rot is to choose soil that drains well and doesn’t allow saturation with water.
Well-draining soil mixes like those containing peat, perlite, vermiculite and loamy soil. Mixes designed for orchids and African violets will work for philodendrons too.
Don’t worry, just because they’re well-draining, it doesn’t mean they don’t retain any moisture. They do, but they also allow the roots to “breathe” because they don’t become compacted.
Once you thoroughly water your philo, excess water will percolate, and the soil will retain a good level of moisture that will keep your Bipennifolium happy.
Of course, overwatering can happen even if the soil is well-draining, so make sure to follow the watering tips I described above.
Temperature & Humidity
A tropical plant, Bipennifolium will not tolerate cold or frost. The temperature range during the day should be somewhere between 75 °F-85 °F. During the night a temperature range of 65 °F-70 °F will work best.
Another characteristic of tropical environments is high humidity that most philodendrons will crave indoors. Your home is much drier than what a philo may need, so you need to increase humidity.
You can either use a humidifier, or there is another simple DIY method, namely the pebble tray method.
Take a tray, fill it with pebbles and turn water on the pebbles without completely immersing them under water. Next, place the philo pot on the pebble tray. As water evaporates, it creates enough humidity to satisfy your plant.
Mind you, this method won’t work if you’re growing your philo in a hanging basket instead of a pot. If you’re growing it in a pot, you will probably need a humidifier.
You can also try to move the plant to a naturally more humid location in your home like the kitchen or bathroom.
This is not a heavy-feeder, so fertilize about three times a year with a slow-release fertilizer or a weak liquid fertilizer every 6-8 weeks during the growing season.
Potting & Repotting
I mentioned that you can keep your Bipennifolium in a hanging basket or a regular pot. Whichever you choose, make sure that there are draining holes on the bottom of the pot.
If you use a regular pot, know that you’re going to need a moss pole to support the plant’s upward climb.
Repotting is usually needed every 2-3 years because it takes that much for the roots to outgrow their pot. When transferring to a bigger pot, don’t oversize the pot. Choose one that’s about 2 inches bigger than the previous one.
How to Propagate Bipennifolium Philodendron?
It’s not difficult to propagate your Philodendron Bipennifolium and there are two methods I recommend:
- Stem cutting
- Air Layering
When using the stem cutting method, choose a stem cutting that’s around 2-4 inches long. Cut right below a leaf node. Make sure the cutting has leaves on it too. Plant into moist soil and keep it in a warm location, out of direct sunlight.
Air layering involves wounding the stem in a location where you want the plant to shoot new roots and then separate it away from the mother plant.
The wound should be around 2 inches deep and 2 inches long. You can stick a toothpick to keep the wound open, and then wrap moist sphagnum peat-moss around the wound, holding it into place with a string and plastic wrap.
The moist sphagnum will help the rooting process, but you can also add a little rooting hormone to the mix.
Philodendron Bipennifolium requires little care but it’s best to get down the basics before you attempt to grow this plant. Once you’re familiar with its requirements, you can successfully grow this plant.
The things I covered in this article will help you keep your philo happy and healthy. Remember not to overwater and keep the plant out of direct sunlight.