Philodendron Billietiae Care — Variegated Philo

Last Updated on October 15, 2021 by Grow with Bovees

This variegated tropical plant derives from South America and has become one of the most popular house plants in and around the world.

Due to its lighting requirements, it is the perfect indoor plant and its beautiful leaves will definitely liven up any room.

Its huge, heart-shaped leaves with yellowish-orange petioles are held up by gorgeous, long copper-colored stems.

The Philodendron billietiae plant is a perennial aroid vine that thrives in heat and humidity.

They need free-draining soil with lots of organic matter, bright, indirect light, and a moss pole for support.

Keep it well watered but allow the soil to dry between watering.

Sensitive to cold below and frost, keep this plant at 65-80 °F.

It is relatively simple to go about Philodendron billietiae care once you understand its optimal growing conditions in its natural habitat.

These evergreen perennials are suitable for anyone from novice house plant enthusiasts to botanical aficionados.

Continue on as this article covers everything one needs to know to propagate and grow the beautiful Philodendron billietiae plant to a decent height.

Philodendron Billietiae Plant Native Habitat

The B. Billietiae species is a variegated vine climbing plant that comes from the genus philodendron and belongs to the Araceae family. It is fairly new to the world of cultivation, only discovered in the 1980s by Frieda Billiet.

The philodendron genus is extremely popular for its large range of both outdoor and indoor plants. It consists of a vast collection of roughly 500 plants.

These include hybrids, climbers and non-climbers. Many varieties have famously been used in medicine, art and folk.

This Philodendron billietiae species is native to South America, where it grows in the tropical rainforests of Brazil, Costa Rica, and French Guyana. It thrives in hot, high humidity climates.

It grows in the mid-canopy of forests, amongst the trunks of other tall trees, reaching for water with their long system of aerial roots. They receive filtered light through the rainforest canopy, so they are adapted to lower light conditions.

These plants are adapted to growing in moist conditions but never grow in saturated soil, as they require oxygen at their roots.

Size & Structure

In the wild, Philodendron billietiae plant climbs up against and along other plant species, rockfaces or nearby trees. It is all about wide spaces.

They grow extremely large, each leaf reaching over 3 feet in height!

In our homes, these plants generally only reach a maximum height of about 3-5 feet tall when provided with a supporting pole of sorts.

The long foliage of this shrub grows in horizontal directions in a downwards motion and is supported by the plant’s long colored petioles.

Leaves

When the plant is still in a juvenile stage, the edges of its foliage are fine and straight.

These plant’s leaves grow from a leaf node and are arrow-shaped, or one could even call them elephant-ear-shaped, and upon maturing present with huge leaves with ridged borders.

Their gorgeous leaves can reach lengths of 2-3 feet whilst the width of mature leaves remains at roughly 10 inches. The prominent petioles which support the leaves reach a length of 1 foot.

Roots

The Philodendron billietiae is an epiphyte plant. It can also be a hemi-epiphyte in nature. This vine develops aerial roots which grow from the stem.

These aerial roots help the plant climb up nearby support such as a peat moss pole or trailing along the ground.

The Philodendron billietiae naturally also has underground roots. These act as an anchor and keep the plant in the ground.

Flower

The Philodendron billietiae — although only on very rare occasions — is able to produce flowers when the conditions are right. These blooms are typical aroid flowers and grow in white or off-white color variants.

Toxicity

Unfortunately, the variegated philodendron billietiae comes with a toxic nature. Toxicity actually generally runs in the philodendrons’ genes.

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The foliage contains high levels of calcium oxalate crystals, making them poisonous to animals and humans.

The effects of ingestion of this plant and the plant’s sap include but are not limited to diarrhoea, vomiting and skin irritations or skin allergies. And emergency medical care will be needed if such an incident occurs.

Keep this plant out of reach of children and pets at all times, to avoid illness.

Basics of Philodendron Billietiae Care

Now that we are familiar with Philodendron billietiae natural growing conditions, we can replicate them in our home to give our specimens the care they need.

Here are the basics:

Ideal Soil Type

The best soil mix or planting mix would be an equal mixture of compost, perlite and sphagnum peat moss together with a handful of soybean meal. Well-draining soil is of importance.

Lighting Needs

This plants ideal light conditions would be exposure to bright but indirect light. They have been shown to be sensitive to the harsh rays of direct sunlight.

Drainage Needs

The soil that you use for your Philodendron billietiae should be well-draining as this shrub is quite prone to root rot.

Pot Size

Look at the root ball of the Philodendron billietiae and make sure you use a container or pot that is about 1-2 inches larger than the root ball. Get a pot with drainage holes.

Watering Needs

This plant is quite fond of its potting medium having plenty of moisture in its soil but not soggy. Always be aware not to overwater the Philodendron billietiae. Keep the soil moist.

Optimal Temperature Range

The best temperature range surrounding this shrub would be 65-80 degrees Fahrenheit (18-27 degrees Celcius). Anything below a temperature of 55°F (13°C) is not good for this shrub. It cannot tolerate freezing temperatures. It is used to a warm climate. Avoid an air conditioner.

Optimal Humidity Range

Keep the humidity levels high, it will thrive best in a high moisture level. You can maintain the required humidity levels by several methods. One efficient method is to use a plant humidifier, of which there are various types to choose from, depending upon your situation.

Fertilizer

Fertilizer will benefit the Philodendron billietiae when it is in the active growing phase. Add slow-release fertilizer during spring and summer.

How to Grow Philodendron Billietiae Indoors

Plant Philodendron billietiae in a pot or hanging basket that is about 1 to 2 inches wider in diameter than the plants’ rootstock. You do not want the pot to be too small, as this will stress the plant and hamper its growth.

Soil Requirements

This philodendron requires rich, fertile soil with lots of organic matter that has excellent drainage properties. The soil needs to hold sufficient moisture to keep the roots hydrated but allow extra water to drain so that the roots are also exposed to air.

It is best to prepare your own potting mixture. Combine 1-part potting compost, 1-part perlite, and 1-part sphagnum peat moss. Add to this a handful of soybean meal. This acts as a slow-releasing source of nitrogen, which is essential for plants to grow healthy foliage.

When the soil becomes soggy rather than moist soil, the oxygen circulation is reduced, which in turn means that the roots and other parts of the plant are not provided with enough oxygen, which is important for good growth.

Another issue that you may struggle with when the philodendrons soil is too wet, is the growth of fungal spores. Some of which may end up killing your plant.

Root rot or wet feet is the third and most common problem that can develop when overwatering and providing your shrub with too much moisture.

Water Requirements

Water your Philodendron billietiae well, and thereafter, keep the plant’s soil moist by watering it once a week.

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Check that the top couple of inches of soil has dried out between watering. This can easily be done by sticking your finger a few inches — about 2 inches — deep into the soil and feeling how moist the soil is.

This will prevent wet feet. It is essential to catch root rot early.

Light Requirements

Providing the philodendron with the right light is crucial for the photosynthesis process and healthy plant growth. This being a plant with its natural habitat being tropical, the billitiae thrives best in bright indirect light.

Spots that are partially shaded but still receive a good amount of bright sunlight are optimal.

Place your Philodendron billietiae a few feet away from a north or east-facing window. These spots often provide good bright, indirect sunlight.

Protect it from harsh, direct sunlight, as this will burn its leaves causing horrible scorch marks and eventually dead leaves.

If you feel that your plant is exposed to direct sunlight when sitting it next to a window, simply add a sheer curtain to the window. This curtain will filter out the harsh rays still leaving it bright but indirect.

If your home lacks the ideal lighting situation for a Philodendron billietiae, it does not mean you cannot keep one. They can grow well under artificial light, (you can find many effective grow lights available online). Set them a few inches away from the light source and rotate the plant regularly, so that it receives light on all sides.

Good light makes for taller plants.

You may also be interested in further Philodendron information;
Care of Philodendron Gloriosum
Micans Philodendron
Care of Pink Princess Philodendron
Philodendron Lemon Lime Care Guide
Care of Philodendron Cordatum
Philodendron Florida Ghost
Horsehead Philodendron

Temperature Ranges & Humidity Requirements

These philodendrons are tropical plants, so they need warmth and humidity to thrive. Keep it in a room that ranges in temperature from 65 °F to80 °F (18 °C to 27 °C) during the day. It is very cold sensitive and will suffer in temperatures below 55 °F (13 °C) and cannot tolerate frost at all.

Be aware of cool drafts that may come from an air conditioner nearby.

High humidity levels are needed for this philodendron to thrive and survive. This is quite obvious knowing that this plant grows in naturally tropical climates.

Creating the correct humidity levels indoors is definitely not rocket science.

To boost the humidity for your philodendron, use the pebble tray method. Simply place a pot saucer containing a layer of pebbles under your plant’s pot and fill the tray with water. Note that the water should not cover the rocks completely. The water from the pebble tray is going to evaporate, which will create a humid microclimate which the plant absorbs near its root zone.

You can also mist the leaves with water daily. Do this by using a light water spray bottle.

Maintaining and Propagating Philodendron Billietiae

As the growth rate of this plant is moderately fast, it will start to deplete the nutrients in the soil of its pot. Be sure to maintain good feeding habits for this plant and provide it with extra nutrients to promote continuous healthy growth.

Using Fertilizer

Like most plants, feed your Philodendron billietiae with a slow-release liquid fertilizer containing organic materials every 6 to 8 weeks.

A slow-release fertilizer is the best choice as it is able to release food for longer periods of time. It actually releases fertilizer for months. This is beneficial if you don’t want to constantly add fertilizer to your pot.

Make sure that the fertilizer you use has a high content of nitrogen, potassium, phosphorus and other macro-nutrients.

A good rule of thumb when fertilizing your philodendron is to ensure that the soil is moist before doing so. Adding fertilizer to a soil that is too dry may cause fertilizer burn to the plant’s roots. This can be extremely damaging to your plant.

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Add a rooting hormone compound in order to promote root growth.

Repotting

Growing the philodendron plant can be done in a hanging basket or a regular potting container. Always make sure that the planter that you choose to use has drainage holes. These holes will help the excess water drain away.

Eventually, the billietiae will outgrow its plant pot and need a new one roughly every 2 to 3 years. If they are not repotted, the roots get compacted, stressing the plant, making it more susceptible to diseases.

It is best to go about this process in spring, at the start of the growing season, so that it can quickly settle into its new pot. Refresh the soil and choose a pot that is only an inch or two wider than the root mass.

Propagate Philodendron Billietiae

When you repot it, you can also take a Philodendron billietiae stem cutting and commence with a Philodendron billietiae propagation process.

Propagation of the Philodendron billietiae is similar to the propagation of other philodendron species.

When using the propagation method using stem cuttings, look for sections of the stem on the mother plant that have a leaf node and a few leaves attached to it.

This makes for the perfect stem cutting. Carefully cut off a stem using a clean and sharp pruning utensil. Plant the cuttings in moist, aerated soil and keep them in a warm spot with bright shade.

Now, all that is left to do is wait for a few weeks until the stem cutting to grow roots and turn into a baby plant.

Be sure to always propagate from a mature plant.

The air layering process is another way to propagate these variegated plants.

Plant Pests and Plant Diseases

Philodendron billietiae is overall a plant without many pest issues. However, during spring and summer, when the plant is at its heaviest growth period, you may see common issues such as insect infestation and pest infestation with aphids or mealybugs — which give the appearance of cotton fluff — on your philodendron. Fungal growth can also pose a threat and may cause prominent patches of brown necrosis.

Aphid Infestation

To deal with an infested plant, mix up a mild solution of water and dishwashing soap. Wipe or spray the plant leaves every 2 or 3 days for 14 days. Neem oil has also shown good results.

Mealybugs

For mealybugs, appear as cotton-like substances on the foliage, use an alcohol-soaked cotton ball to wipe away the visible mealybugs from the plant directly. Prepare a mixture of 1 cup of alcohol and a few drops of dish soap. Spray this on the plant leaves once a week until no more mealybugs appear.

These Philodendron billietiae plants are prone to root rot and fungal problems in the soil if the plant is overwatered and does not get enough light.

Magnesium Deficiency

When you notice a v-shaped stain developing on the philodendrons’ foliage, this is an indication of too low magnesium concentration.

To fix this problem, simply spray the leaves with a water and Epsom salt mixture. Epsom salts happen to be rich in magnesium.

Conclusion

Philodendron billietiae plant care is easy, and philodendron plants are very rewarding houseplants to care for. This variegated billietiae plant with its gorgeous, enormous leaves will bring a tropical rainforest atmosphere to your home.

Keep it in warm, humid conditions, in bright, indirect light. It needs moist soil and well-draining soil with peat moss and perlite. Keep them well-watered, but do not overwater them and don’t forget to prune away any dry leaf tips or plant’s wound. These are the ideal conditions for developing new and healthy leaves.

Avoid stressed roots by repotting every 2 to 3 years in the spring. This is when you can take some stem cuttings so that you can share the philodendron joy with your friends and family.