Last Updated on February 11, 2022 by Grow with Bovees
Philodendron bipennifolium is also known as the horsehead or fiddleleaf philodendron.
This rare and immense plant features gorgeously glossy, bright green, multi-lobed leaves.
An eccentric, odd-looking plant of a climbing/trailing variety that looks amazing in a hanging basket, making for an exceptional home decor focal point indoors in homes.
Philodendron Bipennifolium Plant Care Basics (Summary)
Philodendron bipennifolium is a tropical plant that thrives in hot, humid conditions.
It needs bright, indirect light and rich, free-draining soil.
Plant a moss pole in the pot for it to climb up.
Keep it well-watered but avoid overwatering.
It will need repotting every 2 to 3 years.
This Philodendron bipennifolium needs little maintenance and is easy to grow, making it the perfect houseplant.
This article looks at the natural growing conditions of the Philodendron bipennifolium and how we can simulate this in our home to give this plant, with its exotic foliage, the care it needs.
Philodendron Bipennifolium Native Habitat
Philodendron bipennifolium plants are native to American rainforests of Argentina, Brazil, Bolivia, and Paraguay. The region has a hot, humid climate in which philodendrons of all kinds flourish. These plants are not adapted to cold temperatures and do not tolerate frost.
They grow in the mid-story levels of the forest, below the forest canopy, climbing amongst the trees with their long, thin aerial roots.
This plant is a hemi-epiphyte, meaning that some of its roots are in the soil, but they can also absorb water and nutrients through their aerial roots.
Because they grow below the rainforest canopy, they naturally receive dappled, indirect sunlight. These exotic greens are not adapted to harsh, bright light.
The botanical name — which is also the Latin name — of this plant is known as Philodendron bipennifolium plant but — as mentioned above — it has other common names as well.
Namely; fiddle leaf philodendron, (not to be confused with the fiddle leaf fig), horsehead philodendron, panda plant and splash gordan plant.
It is a herbaceous perennial plant that is able to bloom all year-round.
This P. bipennifolium species is one of many philodendron varieties that belong to the Araceae family carrying the philodendron genus.
The genus philodendron has been famously used in medicine, the arts and folklore, and it is said to be made up of roughly 500 different perennial plant species.
They are popular as both outdoor & indoor plants and come with different growing habits such as climbing and non-climbing varieties of plants.
Size & Growth
This perennial climber is able to reach a height of 3-7 feet tall while obtaining a leaf width of roughly 10-18 inches.
Believe it or not, the leaves of juvenile Philodendron bipennifolium plants are completely different to those of a mature horsehead philodendron.
Baby leaves grow in a small oval shape and they do not present with any leaf lobes.
When matured, the leaves form unique irregular lobes. This difference in foliage makes them appear a completely different plant type.
It is due to morphogenesis, that the lobed foliage of this philodendron develops into different shapes and sizes.
The different structural irregularities of the leaves may be present on the same plant as well as differentiating them from other varieties.
When the leaves become mature foliage they can vary in size, the average being about 18 inches, but they can reach sizes as great as 3 feet.
The philodendron is usually present with green foliage.
When the horsehead philodendron bipennifolium blooms, it develops flowers that are typically aroid and usually bear an off-white color.
When this shrub becomes a mature plant of about 15 years, it may also start bearing very small green fruits.
Like most members of the philodendron genus, this variegated version also comes with a toxic trait.
This comes from the high concentration of calcium oxalate crystals found in the plant’s tissue.
Ingestion of these plant varieties and their plant sap may leave you with abdominal issues such as nausea, and may trigger allergies.
Be sure to keep this philodendron out of close reach from pets and children.
Basics of Philodendron Bipennifolium Care
Even though Philodendron bipennifolium plant is rarer and more expensive than many other philodendrons and house plant species, it is no more difficult to care for.
These shrubs are easy to maintain, as long as you meet their basic needs:
- Ideal Soil Type — The best soil for the Philodendron bipennifolium horsehead is an orchid or African violet potting mix, pH 5.0-7.0 acidity. Loamy soil or a light sand type with sphagnum moss is good.
- Lighting Needs — Avoid placing this vine in direct sunlight. Keep the plant in bright, indirect light with partial shade.
- Drainage Needs — This vine needs free-draining, well-aerated soil that contains loads of organic matter.
- Pot Size — The planter you chose to go with, should be about 2 inches larger than the plant’s rootball. Hanging baskets are great to use.
- Horsehead Philodendron Water Needs — As plant owners, be sure to keep the soil relatively moist by watering weekly. However, allow the soil to dry between waterings.
- Optimal Temperature Range — This horsehead philodendron is really sensitive to frost and cold temperatures. Keep the temperature ranging between 65-85 °F (18-29 °C).
- Optimal Humidity Range — The plant needs an environment of high humidity. Make use of a humidifier, mist the foliage with a light water spray bottle or place a water-filled pebble tray under the pot instead of a saucer.
- Fertilizer — Feeding the plant with a slow-release organic fertilizer once every 6-8 weeks has shown benefits for healthy plant growth.
How to Grow Philodendron Bipennifolium Indoors
Let us continue on and discuss a more detailed bipennifolium plant care guide. Stay tuned!
Plant Containers & Bipennifolium Soil Requirement
A fiddleleaf philodendron needs to grow in a normal plant pot or hanging basket approximately 2 inches wider than the size of the root ball but with lots of drainage holes to get rid of excess moisture.
If the container is too restrictive due to too little room, the roots will be compacted, stressing the plant due to the inability to spread roots freely, and ultimately hindering or stunting the plant’s growth.
Fill the planting container of your choice to an inch below the rim with a rich, fertile, airy soil mixture.
Orchid soil or African Violet potting mix is perfect as it contains a lot of organic matter along with perlite or vermiculite.
You can create your own potting mixture by mixing potting compost, perlite, and sphagnum peat moss in equal parts.
Hemi-epiphytic philodendrons need to grow in soil that has excellent drainage properties. The substrate must hold enough moisture to keep the roots hydrated but drain excess moisture so that they can breathe.
Add a supporting structure such as a peat moss pole to your pot. This will aid in encouraging tall growth of your philodendron.
You can also propagate and grow these plants in plants in leca balls, which stands for lightweight expanded clay aggregate.
Bipennifolium Water Requirements
The frequency of watering depends on the season.
Water your Philodendron bipennifolium plant thoroughly when you pot it, and keep the soil fairly moist by watering it once a week during summer. In winter, it only needs water once every 2 weeks.
Be careful that your plant’s soil does not become saturated as this may cause a number of issues.
Soggy soil hinders enough oxygen from reaching your plant’s roots which puts the horsehead philodendron in danger of developing root rot.
Overwatering can also cause leaf discoloration and slowed growth.
To prevent overwatering and root rot, ensure that the top few inches of soil dries between watering.
Make sure by inserting your finger a couple of inches deep into the soil to feel for soil moisture.
Another way to prevent overwatering is by bottom watering. By placing the whole pot in a basin of water for 10 to 15 minutes, the soil will only soak up what it needs and the roots will likewise absorb the water slowly.
The Philodendron bipennifolium plant is in need of sunlight and so should be placed near a sunny north or east-facing window. They need bright, indirect sunlight.
Shield the leaves from harsh, direct sunshine to prevent them from burning. Scorched leaves will start turning yellow in color and eventually present with terrible scorch marks.
If you have the feeling that the window near which you are placing your shrub has too much direct sunlight, either move your plant or cover the window with a sheer curtain.
This curtain will filter out any harsh direct light but still keeps the room filled with bright light.
Try to mimic the light conditions of the tropical rainforest as much as you can. In the rainforest, this plant gets dappled sunlight due to partial shade that is caused by tall vegetation around it.
As they are tropical plants, the fiddleleaf plant must be kept under warm and humid conditions. The optimal daytime temperature range for this plant is 65° F to 80° F (18° C to 27° C).
It will struggle in temperatures below 55° F (13° C) and is not frost-hardy at all.
Humidity & Moisture Levels
As mentioned earlier, the horsehead plant is a tropical plant, so its natural habitat is high humidity. This means that it is of high importance to expose your horsehead to fairly high moisture conditions and humidity levels.
There are a few easy techniques you can use in order to mimic the humid rainforest environment and create one in your home for your philodendron.
Invest in a plant humidifier. This is a great and convenient method of upping the moisture level.
Mist the leaves with water in a clean spray bottle regularly. However, be careful not to mist too often. Prolonged moist leaves provide classic grounds for fungal growth.
Place a dish or saucer full of pebbles and water beneath the pot to create a moist microclimate for the roots.
The water from the pebble tray will evaporate slowly and create a naturally humid environment. The pebble tray method is effective and easy to achieve.
You may also be interested in further Philodendron information;
Lemon Lime Philodendron Care Guide
Pink Princess Philodendron
Philodendron Florida Ghost
Philodendron Billietiae Care
Maintaining and Propagating Philodendron Bipennifolium
Is your horsehead philodendron getting too bushy? Or do you wish to grow new philodendrons? Then read on to learn about maintenance, pruning and propagation.
Fertilizing the horsehead philodendron does not have to happen as frequently as with other philodendron species.
A Horsehead philodendron grows quickly, using up the soil nutrients in its pot. To replenish them, feed your philodendron with a mild dose of fertilizer roughly every 3 months — depending on your plant’s health — using an organic, slow-release liquid fertilizer.
Slow-release fertilizer is great because it slowly but continuously releases nutrients into the soil. Therefore, it is not necessary to fertilize too often.
If you do decide to feed your philodendron, the perfect time would be during warmer months, for example, in the month of summer when your plant is actively growing.
Always water your climbers before adding fertilizer or plant food. This will help dilute the food. A fertilizer that is too concentrated may cause the roots or stems to burn, which is quite damaging to your plant.
Be sure to check the salt content of the fertilizer you buy. Too much salt build up in your plant’s soil can cause harm to your philodendron.
Repotting The Bipennifolium Horsehead Philodendron
Your Philodendron bipennifolium plant will need to be repotted every 2 to 3 years. When the roots grow too big, the thing to remember is that they get strangled, putting the plant under stress, which makes it more susceptible to diseases.
The best time to repot your bipennifolium horsehead philodendron is at the start of spring. This is when the climbers come out of their winter dormancy and start growing rapidly again.
Replace the soil and repot your plant into a container about two inches wider than the rootstock, to provide enough room. Remember to use fresh well-draining soil when repotting and add a mossy pole to support the stems.
Bipennifolium Plant Propagation Method
Propagation via stem cuttings of an original plant is the main method used on the Philodendron bipennifolium. Air layering is also a good method to use.
To propagate your horsehead philodendron, you can take a Philodendron bipennifolium stem cutting or multiple stem cuttings from a healthy stem section.
Find sections of the stem with a leaf node and a few leaves. This makes for the perfect stem cutting. Cut below the leaf node using a sharp, sterile knife.
Plant an inch long stem cutting into a soil mixture that contains a lot of perlite. Keep the soil moist and put the cuttings in bright, indirect sun.
Another propagation common method used for these climbers is air layering.
Both are popular methods to use.
Pruning The Philodendron Bipennifolium Horsehead
Considering the large growth of the horsehead philodendron, you may want to prune it back depending on the desired shape and size.
Indoor plants might need more pruning as you want them to be a bit smaller and look neater when placed next to furniture. Whereas a patio plant would often be given more freedom to grow and spread its vines.
Wipe away excess dust using a soft cloth. While doing this, inspect your plant stems for any plant diseases or pests.
See more advice on pests below.
Common Pest and Plant Disease
Fiddlehead philodendrons are generally healthy shrubs that do not attract many plant pests or plant diseases, but no plant is completely immune to problems.
There is a chance that aphids, tiny sap-sucking arthropods, may find your plant. They are easy to spot as small, pale green bugs and should be treated immediately as they can reproduce at lightning speed.
Brown Scale Infestation
Brown scale is another horrible plant disease that may affect your philodendron. It looks like brown bumps on the stem and leaves, but inside the brown bumps are tiny lice which also suck the plants’ sap.
Treat aphids and brown scale by spraying the infected plant with neem oil. This suffocates the pesky little bugs, protecting your plant.
Whether you call them fiddle leaf plants, horsehead philodendron, or by their Latin name, Philodendron bipennifolium, pretty much anyone can grow and manage philodendron care easily enough to have this rare, beautiful and exotic plant as a house plant.
Keep this horse head under warm, humid conditions in bright, indirect sunlight, provide it with well-draining soil with enough room, and you will make your beautiful plant happy.
The most important things to remember are that these climbers suffer from two things — too much sun and too much water.
These awesome philodendron plants, being hemi-epiphyte plants, the roots and stems need to be exposed to air as well as rich, loamy soil.
Provide it with a mossy pole for support and these types of climbers will bless you with great heights and lovely pendulous green leaves.
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