Philodendron Bipennifolium Species Profile & Care Guide

The Philodendron Bipennifolium, often referred to as the horsehead philodendron, is an attractive tropical plant celebrated for its unique leaf shape.

This climbing vine, native to South America, is a popular ornamental houseplant due to its ease of care, striking aesthetic appeal, and tolerance to various light conditions.

Philodendron Bipennifolium

Profile Overview

The Philodendron Bipennifolium, also known to many as the Horsehead Philodendron or Fiddleleaf Philodendron, is a magnificent species that turns heads wherever it grows.

  • Common Name: Horsehead Philodendron, Fiddleleaf Philodendron
  • Scientific Name: Philodendron Bipennifolium
  • Family: Araceae or the Arum family
  • Origin/Native Region: South America, specifically tropical regions such as Brazil.
  • Growth Habit: This species is a climber in nature, utilizing its aerial roots to ascend vertically up trees or support structures in both its natural habitat and indoor settings. With the proper care, it can happily grow steadily and fill your indoor space with its lush greenery.


The Philodendron Bipennifolium is an appealing houseplant marked by its distinctive foliage. Its visual charm lies primarily in its leaves, but the overall appearance contributes to its popularity among gardening enthusiasts.

Let’s delve into the detailed aspects that sum up the appearance of this plant, from leaf size, shape, color to stem characteristics and the mature size it can attain.

Having a thorough knowledge of these features can help you better understand this plant’s aesthetics and health. You’ll also be better equipped to identify any significant changes in appearance, which could indicate underlying care issues.

Leaf Size

The Philodendron Bipennifolium is quite remarkable due to its large, magnificent leaves. As a rapidly growing vine, this plant boasts leaves that can reach sizes of up to 12-15 inches in length.

But that’s not all. In optimal growing conditions, and as the plant continues to mature, these leaves can sometimes reach an astonishing size of up to 2-3 feet.

Please bear in mind though, such substantial leaf-growth largely depends on the care provided to the plant and the suitability of the growing conditions.

Leaf Shape

The leaf shape of the Philodendron Bipennifolium is one of its most striking features and gives this plant its common name – the ‘Fiddle Leaf’ or ‘Horsehead’ Philodendron.

They are shaped somewhat like a fiddle or horse-head; they are lobed, with a wavy edging, and have a pointed tip. This distinctive leaf shape makes the Philodendron Bipennifolium a favorite among plant lovers.

Its unique form distinguishes the plant visually, while also serving functional roles in its natural environment, facilitating effective photosynthesis and shielding against excessive sunlight.

Leaf Color

In the case of the Philodendron Bipennifolium, the leaves are primarily a deep, lush green. Although variations can occur depending on light exposure and the plant’s overall health.

When new leaves first emerge, they often display a bright or lime green coloration, becoming darker as they mature. This color change is quite normal.

However, if the leaves take on a yellow or brown hue, it could indicate problems such as overwatering or insufficient light. Always inspect your plant frequently – the leaf color can offer important clues about its well-being.

Stem Characteristics

The Philodendron Bipennifolium is an intriguing plant, starting with its stems. It possesses long, thin, and somewhat flexible stems that add a whimsical appeal to the plant’s general aesthetic.

The stems are reddish-purple and have a shiny, glossy finish, which contrasts beautifully with the lush green of the leaves. Over time and with adequate support structures, the stems tend to crawl or even climb, allowing the plant to extend in height or length, exhibiting a vine-like growth habit.

Good understanding of these characteristics is vital to ensuring appropriate care and enhancing the plant’s ornamental value.

Mature Size

As an adult, a well-cared-for Philodendron Bipennifolium can attain a considerable size, particularly in terms of span. Its spread can reach up to 5 feet, while its height can vary from 8 to 10 feet under favorable conditions.

This height makes it a striking presence in any indoor plant collection or outdoor garden in a suitable climate.

However, the ultimate size of your Bipennifolium will be highly dependent on the quality of care it receives, including its light exposure, watering regime, feeding schedule, and the size of the pot it is grown in. This plant’s luxurious growth habit adds to its allure.

Care Requirements

Taking care of a Philodendron Bipennifolium is reasonably straightforward, with its requirements being easily met even by novice gardeners. They demand attention in areas such as light, water, humidity, temperature, and soil type.

These aspects work together to support the plant’s health and facilitate its growth. Each subcategory differs slightly in specifics but feeds into the broader picture of care.

Understanding individual elements such as the ideal light conditions, watering frequency, preferred range of humidity and temperature, and soil type preferences can help you create a thriving environment for your Philodendron Bipennifolium.

They will not only impact growth but overall plant vitality and longevity.

Light Needs

The Philodendron Bipennifolium flourishes best under indirect, but brightly filtered light. Direct sunlight may cause the leaves to scorch or the colors to fade.

Your choice of location in the indoors matters; place it near an east or north-facing window, where it can enjoy generous amounts of daylight without being directly exposed.

In an outdoor setting, shaded spots are preferred. The Philodendron Bipennifolium is adaptable, but remember – the brighter the light (without being direct), the faster and more vibrant the leaf growth will be.

Watering Frequency

Philodendron Bipennifolium thrives on consistent moisture, but overwatering can cause roots to rot. It’s vital to let the top inch of soil dry out between watering.

Typically, watering once a week or once every ten days is adequate, depending on the humidity and temperature of your environment. Always use well-draining soil to avoid water logging.

Reduce watering frequency during the winter when the plant is not in active growth. Notably, the watering needs can also be influenced by the plant’s size, the pot’s size, and light exposure.

Monitor the plant’s reaction after watering to adjust the frequency accordingly.

Humidity Preferences

Philodendron Bipennifolium thrives in a well-humid environment due to its tropical origins. This plant prefers humidity levels of around 60-80%, similar to the conditions it experiences in its native rainforest habitats.

If your home’s atmosphere is too dry, you can increase the humidity by misting the leaves, placing the plant in a pebble tray filled with water or using a humidifier.

In lower humidity, the plant might manifest crispy leaf edges or slow growth. Remember, it enjoys a moist environment but does not like to sit in water, and therefore, well-drained soil is a must.

Temperature Range

The Philodendron Bipennifolium prefers a warmer temperature range, typically between 60-75°F (15-24°C), although it can accommodate temperatures as low as 55°F (13°C).

It can be quite sensitive to cold, and frost can be fatal to this species. Keep the plant away from cold drafts, including those from air conditioners or open windows during the colder months.

If the temperature drops below the preferred range, the plant’s growth may slow, and its leaves may begin to yellow or drop.

Maintaining the right temperature range for your Philodendron Bipennifolium is important for its health and vitality.

Soil Type & pH Preferences

Philodendron Bipennifolium prefers a well-draining soil mix, such as an equal mix of peat moss, perlite, and potting soil. The ideal soil for this plant should retain some water but also drain excess water quickly to prevent root rot.

As for the pH preference, it prefers slightly acidic to neutral pH levels, typically around 5.5 to 7.5. When repotting or preparing soil, checking the soil’s pH level can help maintain the optimal environment for the Philodendron Bipennifolium.

If the pH is too high or low, it may lead to nutrient imbalance, influencing the plant’s overall health.

Growth & Propagation

Philodendron Bipennifolium, sometimes known as Fiddleleaf Philodendron, is a fast-growing plant. You can expect noticeable growth throughout its active growth phase, which is from spring to late summer.

For propagation, the stem cutting method is preferable. Always go for the stem cuttings with a node, as it’s the spot where new growth will emerge.

It’s recommended to take cuttings during the primary growing season, spring and early summer. Later, plant the cuttings in a well-draining mix.

As for potting, you should repot the Philodendron Bipennifolium every two to three years to accommodate its growing size and to refresh its soil.

Growth Rate

Philodendron Bipennifolium exhibits a moderate growth rate. Given optimal conditions—correct lighting, watering, and temperature—it is quite adept at developing into a full, lushly leafy plant within a relatively short period.

However, the growth rate significantly reflects the overall conditions provided during its active growth season, typically from spring through early fall.

It won’t grow much during the winter months, and it’s advisable to lessen the watering during this period. Remember, patience is key with Philodendron Bipennifolium – while it’s not the fastest growing variety, the reward lies in witnessing the gradual maturation into a beautifully unique specimen.

Propagation Methods

The Philodendron Bipennifolium can be propagated through stem cuttings. You would need a healthy parent plant from which you can cut a stem piece consisting of two or three nodes.

Place the cuttings in a container with water or moist soil. If you opt for water propagation, change the water every few days. Within a few weeks, the cuttings would develop roots.

Once the roots are a few centimeters long, you can transfer the cuttings into a pot with soil. With proper care, the propagated plant will grow into a healthy new Philodendron Bipennifolium.

Season of Active Growth

The Philodendron Bipennifolium is considered a perpetual-growing plant, meaning it can grow throughout the year. However, it has a more active growth phase during the warmer months, typically from spring to early fall.

During these seasons, you’ll notice this plant develops new foliage more rapidly, and it’s also the optimal time for propagation. In the cooler months, growth can slow down significantly as the plant goes into a sort of dormancy.

Despite this, ensure consistent care year-round to maintain plant health. Remember to reduce watering slightly during winter, as less light and lower temperatures decrease the plant’s rate of photosynthesis and water needs.

Potting and Repotting Recommendations

The Philodendron Bipennifolium does not require frequent repotting. However, when it’s time to do so, ideally in the spring, make sure to choose a pot that is slightly larger than the last.

This gives the plant more room to grow. Use a well-draining soil mix and ensure the pot has sufficient drainage holes to avoid waterlogging. For younger plants, annual repotting might be beneficial whereas more matured plants would only require repotting once every 2-3 years.

After repotting, keep the plant in a shaded area for a few days to minimize shock and encourage recovery.

Potential Issues

When caring for Philodendron Bipennifolium, you may encounter a few potential issues. These issues, often related to pests, diseases, or specific sensitivities of the plant, can compromise its health and prevent it from thriving.

Realising this, it’s crucial to monitor your plant closely and take preventive actions whenever possible.

The next subheadings will discuss the common pests and diseases that can affect this plant species, as well as any other sensitivities that you, as a caretaker, need to be aware of. 

Common Pests

Your Philodendron Bipennifolium may, unfortunately, be susceptible to certain pests that can compromise its health.

Regularly inspect your plant for signs of infestation such as yellowing or stippled leaves. Common pests that can plague this philodendron include spider mites, aphids, and mealybugs.

Spider mites are small arachnids that can damage the leaves by sucking out the plant’s sap. Aphids are tiny insects that also suck sap-causing deformed and yellowish leaves.

Mealybugs appear as white, flock-like masses and feed on plant juices. If detected early, these pests can be controlled effectively using a variety of methods such as insecticidal soap sprays, neem oil, or manual removal.

Common Diseases

Despite their hardy nature, Philodendron Bipennifolium are susceptible to some common diseases. Root rot, often caused by overwatering, is a major concern.

The symptoms include yellowing leaves and wilting. Another common disease is leaf spot, characterized by discolored patches on the leaves, which can result from high humidity or poor airflow around the plant.

In addition, bacterial blight – a disease that induces water-soaked spots and sudden wilting – jeopardizes Philodendron Bipennifolium as well.

When signs of these diseases are noticed, it’s vital to act promptly to prevent further damage to the plant.

Other Sensitivities

Philodendron Bipennifolium, like other plants, has certain sensitivities that you need to take into account. It is sensitive to excessive light or direct sunlight, which can cause the leaves to yellow or brown.

Similarly, overwatering or allowing the plant to sit in waterlogged soil can rot the roots and cause damage to the plant. Harsh, chemical fertilizers can burn the roots if not properly diluted before application.

Also, drastic changes in temperature, humidity, or conditions can stress the plant, causing leaf drop or stunted growth. In general, providing a stable, suitable environment is key to avoiding these sensitivities.

Special Features & Uses

The Philodendron Bipennifolium has a unique set of features and uses that set it apart in the world of houseplants.

The striking lacy or cutleaf philodendron features distinctive horse-shaped leaves, which adds a touch of artistic flair to any indoor or outdoor environment.

The eye-catching leaves make the Bipennifolium perfect for home decoration, particularly in hanging baskets or high shelves where its trailing growth can be fully appreciated.

However, it’s important to note that, while it is visually appealing, the Bipennifolium plant is toxic when ingested, so it should be kept out of reach from pets and children.

Unique Characteristics

The Philodendron Bipennifolium has several distinguishing features. Namely, its horse-head shaped leaves command attention due to their size and unique shape.

This species also exhibits a climbing growth habit, making use of support structures to extend upwards and exhibit its remarkable foliage.

The deep, lobed incisions on the leaves add an additional level of detail and distinction. Mature plants may develop aerial roots that help to support their climbing habits.

Furthermore, this species’ ease of growth and care makes it a standout choice for enthusiasts wanting to expand their collection with a remarkable, low-maintenance plant.

Decorative Use

Philodendron Bipennifolium, with its unique leaf shape and verdant coloring, serves as a visually intriguing piece of indoor decor. The plant offers an appealing contrast to traditional houseplants due to its dramatic, elongated leaves.

This makes it ideal for placements that highlight its form, such as hanging baskets or on tall shelves. Its adaptability to indoor conditions also makes it a practical decorative option.

Whether you’re looking for a way to liven up a dull corner of a room, or need a sprawling centerpiece for a table or mantel, this Philodendron species can add a touch of nature’s beauty to your interior space.


Like many members of the Philodendron family, the Bipennifolium species is toxic if ingested. This trait is due to the presence of calcium oxalate crystals in the plant’s cells, which can cause digestive upset, difficulty swallowing, and a burning sensation in the mouth if consumed.

This toxicity level makes it a less suitable choice for environments with pets or young children who are prone to nibbling on plants.

Therefore, ensure to place your Philodendron Bipennifolium in an area out of reach from those potentially affected. Despite its toxicity, it does not pose a threat if touched, the primary concern is ingestion.

Additional Tips & Tricks

When it comes to caring for your Philodendron Bipennifolium, several insights can prove helpful in optimizing its growth and ensuring its health.

Applying these tips and tricks can help your Philodendron Bipennifolium to thrive, promoting vibrant leaf colors, robust growth, and overall plant health and longevity.

Consider these additional recommendations as your guide in the memorable journey of Philodendron Bipennifolium care.

Fertilization Recommendations

The Philodendron Bipennifolium isn’t a heavy feeder but it will appreciate regular feedings during the active growing season (spring and summer). Use a balanced, water-soluble fertilizer, diluted to half the label-recommended strength.

It’s best to feed your plant every month from spring through early fall, and then reduce the frequency to every six to eight weeks during fall and winter.

Over-fertilization can lead to salt buildup in the soil, which can cause leaf burn, so it’s always better to err on the side of too little than too much. Flush the soil with water every few months to prevent buildup of fertilizer salts.

Pruning & Maintenance

Maintaining the Philodendron Bipennifolium involves periodic pruning to manage growth and enhance general plant health. Pruning should ideally be done in spring or early summer.

Using sanitized shears, remove discolored, diseased, or dead leaves from the base to promote new growth. If your plant is becoming too large for your space, feel free to trim back long vines.

This can actually encourage the plant to grow fuller and bushier. Regularly wipe down the leaves with a damp cloth to remove dust and inspect for pests.

Despite its fast growth, this species is relatively easy to maintain with basic indoor plant care practices.

Support Structures

In the context of Philodendron Bipennifolium care, support structures refer to physical aids used to support and shape the plant’s growth.

Due to their vinelike growth habit, these plants often need some form of vertical support to thrive and grow to their full potential.

This could be in the form of stakes, trellises, or even a wall. The support structures not only help the plant maintain its structural integrity but also enable the gardener to guide its growth in a specific direction for a preferable aesthetic appeal.

Choosing the right support and properly installing it is integral to its continued success.

Houseplants   Philodendrons   Updated: October 26, 2023
avatar Hi, I'm Amy, a devoted horticulturist and the creator of, where I use my expertise to help beginners foster their green thumbs. My blog is a vibrant community where I unravel the complexities of gardening and share my profound love for nature.
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