Philodendron Billietiae Care (#1 Guide, FAQ & Pictures)

The Philodendron Billietiae is a plant known for its beautiful heart-shaped wavy leaves and yellow-orange petioles. As each leaf unfolds, you’ll likely only fall deeper and deeper in love with this unusually rare but attractive plant!

While Philodendron Billietiae care is easy, there are some essential things you will want to know to keep it healthy and happy.

In this post, you’ll discover:

  • What Soil Mix the Philodendron Billietiae Thrives In
  • Light & Water Requirements
  • Humidity & Temperatures Ranges
  • Best Fertilizer For Philodendrons
  • Pruning, Propagating & Repotting
  • Common Pests & Diseases to Watch Out For

Philodendron Billietiae Brief History & Origin

The Philodendron Billietiae is part of the Araceae family, first discovered in a lowland tropical rainforest in French Guiana in 1981 and named after its discoverer, Frieda Billiet.

After discovery, a plant specimen was transported to the National Botanic Garden of Belgium in Meise, where it first flowered in their greenhouses in December 1983, two years after it had been discovered.

The plant is also native to Brazil and Guyana, where it can be found thriving near river banks. Did you know that mature specimens have a vast root system that can travel anywhere between 50-100 feet in search of water? Amazing.

It’s a fairly new discovery as far as plants go, especially when you consider the philodendron micans was discovered way back in 1760, but that hasn’t stopped it from dominating the rare plant market.

If you’re lucky enough to find one, you’ll likely pay in excess of $60-$190!

Philodendron Billietiae Care

Soil

To ensure that your Philo is in excellent health and able to thrive in your environment, you’ll want to make sure you’ve got a well-draining, rich organic soil mix.

In the case of the Philodendron Billietiae, you need a soil mix that both retains a good amount of moisture, whilst also allowing any excess to drain away relatively quickly. That sounds confusing, but I promise it’s really simple!

If you love creating your own potting mixes, I highly recommend this mix. My philos love it!

  • 40% coco coir
  • 15% orchid bark
  • 15% perlite
  • 10% worm castings
  • 10% pumice
  • 10% activated charcoal

This soil type does dry a little faster than your bog-standard potting soils, but long term they’re much more beneficial to your plant’s health. The mix above especially is great for epiphytes or hemi-epiphytes (plants that love to climb trees).

Friendly Tip: You can order pre-made premium mixes of well-draining philodendron soil online. The reviews should indicate the quality of the soil, while the ingredients of the soil mix should be included in the description.

Water

It can be a little hard to gauge how much water your philodendron needs, but as a general rule of thumb the soil needs to be kept evenly moist at all times.

It can dry out a little, but I wouldn’t let it dry out completely; this can lead to the soil compacting around the roots.

Instead of setting a strict watering schedule i.e. once a week, it’s best to see if your little philodendron billitiae really needs watering.

To do this, you can stick your finger into the soil to check how wet or dry it is. Or, you can insert a chopstick into the soil (away from the roots), leave it for 30 minutes and then observe the color of the stick.

  • Wet soil will turn the stick a darker color and will cling to it.
  • Dry soil won’t change the stick color and very little soil will cling to the stick.

You’ll also want to adjust your watering frequency in summer and spring, more light and warmer temperatures, means your plant needs more waterings.

In fall and winter, you can cut back on waterings considerably. It’s better to keep them a little on the drier side than it is to leave them in overly soggy or wet soil.

How to Water Your Philodendron

You’ll likely already know this, but watering from overhead can cause bacteria and fungal infections to develop if the water isn’t evaporated quickly enough. In the wild, fogs and lots of air circulation prevent this from happening with rain.

Instead, you’ll want to water from the base of your plant, rotating it to make sure the water gets evenly distributed.

Oh, and everytime you water, you’ll want to make sure some water trickles out from the bottom of the pot. It’s much better to thoroughly water your plant than it is to just wet the top layer with a little bit of water every now and then.

This is because water, ironically, helps to push oxygen through the soil and down to the roots.

Light

Your Philodendron Billietiae loves lots of bright, indirect light, much like in its natural habitat, where the plant is shaded from the sun’s direct rays by nearby trees.

If you’re a fan of grow lights, you can place your Philodendron Billietiae a few inches to the side, so the light isn’t hitting the plant directly.

How Much Light Does my Philodendron Need Exactly?

Good question! To measure the overall light intensity in your room, I highly recommend buying a light meter. They measure light in foot candles (FC) and are fairly accurate.

Your philodendron billietiae will thrive in 400-600FC, this is the ideal range for good growth. The absolute bare minimum is around the 200FC mark – anything less than that and you’ll see overall poor and stunted growth. Sad times.

Exposing your philodendron plant to too much direct sun for too long i.e. more than 1-2 hours of cool morning or late evening sun, could cause its leaves to become scorched or turn yellow.

Friendly Tip: Rotating your plant 45 Degrees every time you water will help prevent that noticeable lean plants sometimes develop.

When plants are grown outdoors, they receive even sunlight, and its growth hormone, auxin, is evenly distributed, which helps them grow upright.

However, indoors plants generally receive light from one side only, which causes warped leaning.

Temperature

Philodendron Billietiae looks its best at a daytime temperature of between 65F – 80F. Higher than 90 and you’ll likely see some signs of heat stress.

It can be kept in a cooler 55F- 65F at night, but anything less than 55 will cause poor growth.

Oh, and this plant is not cold- or frost-tolerant at all, so you should avoid exposing it to temperatures below 55F.

Humidity

Your philodendron billietiae is a tropical species so it should come as no surprise that it naturally craves higher humidity levels.

Anything between 70-90% is ideal. This kind of humidity can lead to fuller, longer leaves with more of that signature crinkling or ruffled effect.

How to Increase the humidity in your house

Humidifiers help increase humidity levels, and grouping plants together helps to form a small biome in your home.

These are really the only two ways to increase humidity for your plants – misting and pebble trays have been shown to be highly ineffective.

Fertilizer

As houseplants have no natural way of obtaining nutrients, it’s absolutely essential you use a fertilizer that’s rich in essential macro and micronutrients.

The 3 major nutrients plants need are nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium. Micronutrients include calcium and magnesium amongst others.  

The Best fertilizer for Philodendron Billietiae

With various available options on the market, it can be difficult to know which fertilizer to choose for your new friend. Generally, you’re pretty safe with a balanced liquid fertilizer or an all-purpose houseplant feed.

Personally, I love and use a premium mix called Dyna Gro (7-9-5 NPK formulation). It’s a complete formula that has all 16 essential nutrients your plant needs, it’s very low in salts and lasts for such a long time!

I’ve also had some amazing results with marine plankton and fish emulsion based fertilizers.  

While organic fertilizers need bacteria and microbes to break down, and therefore take longer to become available to your plant, they do pack a punch in terms of growth hormone and generally have less than a 1% chance of burning your plant. Always a bonus.

When to Fertilize Your Philodendron

A common mistake of many beginners is thinking more fertilizer is better. But, too much fertilizer can actually cause harmful levels of salts to build up on the soil’s surface which overtime change the Ph of the soil and can lead to root burn (ouch).

Only use fertilizer during your plant’s growing season, as fall or winter is a slumber period in your plant’s growth, and you don’t want to inflict it with salt build-up root burn.

A side-effect of over-fertilization can also cause your Philo’s leaves to curl and turn yellow on the edges, and you want to avoid that.

Friendly Tip: Try not to buy cheap fertilizers. They’re loaded with too many nitrogen salts that can kill your plant in large quantities and very quickly.

How to Fertilize your Philodendron Billietiae

Generally you’ll want to dilute your fertilizer to half the recommended strength on the bottle by mixing it with water, depending on the brand you use.

For dyna gro, I mix ¼ teaspoon with 1 gallon of water and fertilize my plants everytime I water them in the spring and summer, cut back in fall and completely stop fertilizing in winter.

This is known as maintenance feeding and mimics the sustained stream of nutrients plants would mop up in the wild.

The only reason I stop fertilizing in winter is because there’s less light and lower temperatures, meaning next to no growth – too much fertilizer and water at this stage can lead to burns and soggy soil.

Repotting

Repot every 1-1.5 years, so the roots are not compacted in the pot, which can cause stress to the plant and bring on several diseases.

How to repot your plant

Refresh your potting mix for optimal health and growth every spring to coincide with your plant’s growing season.

Propagating: An Easy How-To Method

The easiest and quickest method propagation method for the philodendron billietiae is to harvest stem cuttings. Success rates are high and any beginner can give it a go!

  • First, pick a stem cutting that’s around 4-7 inches long.
  • Cut the stem cutting below a leaf node and dab the end into rooting hormone.
  • Plant the freshly cut stem into a rich potting soil mix (see above).
  • Keeping the soil moist and the plant in a warm location that gets bright, indirect light after propagating is key to ensuring that it roots.

Growth – What Can You Expect?

The Philodendron Billietiae can grow up to three feet in length and eight inches in width. You can expect the plant’s leaves will grow anywhere between three and five feet in length and between seven and ten inches in width.

Should You Prune This Plant?

You know your Philodendron needs pruning when it takes up too much space. The stems will continue to grow, and when you notice that it is too big for the area you have it in, prune it.

It would be best if you tried to avoid pruning more than 25% of the Philodendron’s overall foliage. You can also prune to keep it nice and tidy and cut damaged, diseased, or infected foliage.

Is Philodendron Billietiae Toxic?

The Philodendron Billietiae is a highly toxic plant that is harmful to humans and animals. If you choose to grow this plant indoors, keep it out of reach from children and animals.

A toxin called calcium oxalate is found in the leaves of the plant, and when ingested, can cause the mucus membranes in the mouth and throat to inflame.

It can also cause vomiting, burning, and other unwanted side effects. Consider keeping the plant in a hanging basket off the ground.

Common Pests & Diseases to Watch Out For

Philodendron Billitiae is relatively resistant to pests and disease, but they are not immune.

  • Aphids: These are pear-shaped pests with long antennas. Aphids are hard to see with the naked eye and feed on the sap inside your plant.
  • Mealybugs: You will know you have a mealybug infestation because of the cotton fluff found on the plant. The cotton-like substances act as armor to protect themselves. These strange bugs have a straw-like mouth and will feed on the sap.
  • Spider mites: Spider mites will leave little webs underneath the leaves and where the leaf stem attaches to the plant stem. You may recognize that your plant has spider mites by the small yellow circles that get found on the leaves. The little red spider mites are also clearly visible.
  • Erwinia blight disease: A fatal disease found under the surface of the soils and can kill the plant within two days. You know your plant has Erwinia blight disease if you see yellow water-soaked lesions on the leaves.
  • Root rot: Overly saturated soil can cause root rot. It is also caused by not having well-draining soil. To prevent root rot, only water it when necessary and avoid giving more than it needs. If caught early enough, you can still save your plant.

Mealybugs and aphids can all be removed with an eco-friendly insecticide, like pressed neem oil, which has natural insecticidal properties. You can add 1-2 tablespoons of oil to a large container of warm water and bathe the plant in the solution.

Erwinia blight disease, however, is harder to cure than it is to prevent. It’s caused by too much overhead watering or leaf misting and is a serious bacterial infection starting under the soil level, capable of reaching the stems and leaves within days.

The first sign to prevent Erwinia blight is to watch out for yellowing or wilting leaves. Secondly, you’ll want to prune any infected leaves, change the potting mix and check for root rot, which is black, mushy, and might smell bad.

Common FAQs – Your Care Questions Answered

  1. Is Philodendron Billietiae rare?

Philodendron Billietiae is a relatively rare species of the Araceae family and isn’t a common household plant. This plant with beautiful oversized leaves is very valuable to collectors.

  • How big does the Philodendron Billietiae plant get?

The Philodendron Billietiae can grow to three feet tall and eight inches in width. The gorgeous leaves can grow anywhere between three and five feet in length and between seven and ten inches in width.

  • Is there a dwarf Philodendron Billietiae?

Yes, there is! You can find dwarf Philodendron Billietiae that are in a miniature mutant form.

  • How fast does Philodendron Billietiae grow?

It can take around four to six weeks for the planted cuttings to grow baby shoots. After about three months, you will begin the care instructions as the baby Philodendron Billietiae vine is visible now. The plant will need to get replanted every two years.

  • Does philodendron Billietiae climb?

Yes! If you provide it with something to grow and climb, it will do so happily.

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