While the Philodendron Bipennifolium, better known as the Fiddleleaf Philodendron, sounds like a dauntingly complex species, caring for this tropical plant doesn’t have to be.
Whether this is your first houseplant or your hundredth, follow this complete Philodendron Bipennifolium care guide to learn more about your plant’s background, its basic necessities, and tips and tricks you can use to keep your plant thriving.
What Is a Philodendron Bipennifolium?
First thing’s first, let’s learn how to say your plant’s name:
Pronunciation: fill-lo-den-drun bi-pen-if-full-um See? Not so intimidating anymore.
But before we dive into an in-depth care guide, let’s take a look at some of the characteristics that make the Philodendron Bipennifolium unique.
Appearance: Known for its shiny green leaves, the Fiddleleaf Philodendron’s leaves tend to grow between 12 to 18 inches in length. The leaves’ unique lobed shape is said to resemble a “horsehead” or “violin,” and keeps its evergreen color year-round. However, the hue of the leaves may vary depending on the variety, ranging from blue to yellowish tinges.
Origin: The Fiddleleaf Philodendron is native to South America and found in countries such as:
While the plant may prefer tropical climates, it can adapt to other moderate climates and even deep shade.
It falls into the herbaceous perennial category, meaning it has no woody stems and blooms year-round. It’s also part of the Araceae family.
In their native habitat, birds commonly eat their seeds, later dropping them in the canopy of the rain forest where they grow as epiphytes.*
*epiphytes – plants that latch onto other plants and grow. They are not parasites.
Rareness: The P. Bipennifolium is extremely rare. Not native to North America, this species is tropical and comes in several varieties, some of them more common than others.
Varieties of the P. Bipennifolium:
- P. Bipennifolium variegata – This mutated version of P. Bippenifolium has a yellow and green tinge to its leaves, creating an eye-catching pattern.
- P. Bipennifolium aurea (gold violin) – This variation is a neon green color, and is one of the brightest varieties of the species.
- P. Bipennifolium silver – This variation takes on a muted blue-green color, creating a slight “silver” appearance.
- P. Bipennifolium glaucous (blue) – Known as the “Blue Fiddleleaf,” it has a deep blue- green hue.
Other names: While we’ve referred to it by its scientific name: Philodendron Bipennifolium, this plant also has other names it goes by, a few of them derived from its unique leaf shape:
- Fiddleleaf Philodendron
- Horsehead Philodendron
- Violin Philodendron
- Splash Gordon Plant
IMPORTANT: The Philodendron Bipennifolium varieties are commonly confused with the Philodendron Panduriform. These two are NOT the same.
Your Complete Philodendron Bipennifolium Care Guide
Now that you’ve gotten to know your Fiddleleaf Philodendron a little better, let’s take a look at the best practices to keep your plant not just alive, but thriving.
- Light: Bright & indirect
- Soil: Well-draining
- Watering: When top inch of soil is dry
- Humidity: 60% or higher
- Temperature: 70-85°F (21°C-29°C)
- Fertilizer: yes, occasionally
The Fiddleleaf Philodendron does best with 5-8 hours of bright, yet indirect sunlight.
If the leaves are directly exposed to harsh sunlight, irreversible damage can occur. Keep your plant situated in an area where it will receive equal parts shade and indirect sunlight on a daily basis, ideally near a window facing north or east.
The Fiddleleaf Philodendron needs a well-draining soil mix. It relies on mixtures that are generally…
o Acidic (pH between 5 and 6)
o Clay (outdoors only)
o Sand (outdoors only)
o Loam (outdoors only)
You can buy a pre-made philodendron mix (usually coco coir, perlite, and charcoal) or make it yourself. If you choose the DIY route, here’s a simple but effective recipe:
- 50% coco coir
- 30% perlite
- 10% vermiculite
- 10% activated charcoal
For a Fiddleleaf Philodendron, make sure to only water it when the soil is becoming dry. Don’t let the soil become bone-dry, but test its wetness by regularly feeling the soil with your hand.
If the soil feels like it’s borderline dry, then it’s a telltale sign your Philodendron Bipennifolium needs watering.
Note that in the winter months, your Philodendron Bipennifolium will need less water. Again, always test the soil with your fingers, feeling for moisture, before watering.
The ideal temperature for your plant is between 70-85° Fahrenheit (21°-29°C) but it can tolerate the occasional temperature drop (think nighttime) of 60-70° Fahrenheit (15°-20°C) weather.
Never leave your Philodendron Bipennifolium in temperatures below 60°F (15°C) as frost is deadly to this tropical beauty.
Fiddleleaf Philodendrons require a minimum of 60% humidity at all times, but can leech moisture from any one of the following DIY at-home humidity Philodendron Bipennifolium care methods:
o If you have other plants, try moving them closer to one another for a shared humid environment (grouping technique)
o Try misting your plants with a spray bottle of water.
o Invest in a humidifier. While this may be the pricier option, it’ll pay off in the long run as it’s the best way to ensure your plant gets the right amount of humidity.
The Fiddleleaf Philodendron benefits from the use of a high-quality fertilizer.
Add slow-release plant food about 3-4 times a year or every 6-8 weeks during growing season (spring/summer). If you choose to use a weak liquid fertilizer, spray it at the base of the plant at least 6 inches away—only AFTER you’ve watered your plant.
Never add anything stronger than slow-release fertilizer or weak liquid fertilizer to the soil. Since a Philodendron Bipennifolium is salt intolerant, a stronger fertilizer contains unnecessary, salt-based nutrients that will cause root and leaf burn.
7. Growth – What to Expect
This species is suitable for growing in indoor settings whether in a pot or a hanging basket. The average size of its leaves will range from 12 to 18 inches in length, but its stem can reach up to 3 feet in height as an indoor plant, and 7 feet as an outdoor plant.
8. How Do I Propagate a P. Bipennifolium?
Follow these quick and easy steps:
- Use stem cuttings. Cut right below the plant’s leaf node with a minimum of 2 attached leaves.
- Let cuttings sit out for 1-2 hours to callous. Make sure they are in a warm, humid environment.
- Using a philo potting mix, add your calloused cutting to a small hole in the soil only about a few inches deep.
- Tie up your cutting to a pole if it won’t stand on its own.
- Now treat it like a full grown Fiddleleaf Philodendron! Follow the above care guide steps for watering, humidity, etc.
How Often Should I Repot?
After 2-3 years, your Fiddleleaf Bipennifolium needs repotting. To repot, use a pot slightly larger, only about 1-2 inches in depth. Don’t exceed this depth, as too much room can be just as harmful as not enough.
This 1-2 extra inches of space will give the growing roots space to move around.
Does My Fiddleleaf Philodendron Need Pruning?
Most indoor Fiddleleaf Philodendrons don’t need pruning. But if you feel your Philodendron Bipennifolium is out of control or has yellowing or shriveled leaves, then it’s safe to cut the excess parts off.
Make sure your pruning shears are sanitized in at least 70% isopropyl alcohol, then cut off the leaf at the base of its stem.
9. Plant Toxicity
Humans: Not suitable for ingestion. Can cause vomiting, nausea, and slightly more dangerous health effects.
Animals: the Fiddleleaf Philodendron is highly toxic to cats, dogs, and other furry friends when ingested (as are all philodendrons!)
Always make sure to keep the Fiddleleaf Philodendron in an area where pets and small children can’t reach it.
10. Common Pests & Diseases
Some of the common enemies of your P. Bipennifolium are:
- Mealy bugs
To get rid of these pests, fill a spray bottle with neem oil. Mist the plant, letting the pests suffocate. After a few minutes, lightly wipe off the oil with a cloth dampened with water.
A P. Bipennifolium can also fall victim to bacterial soft rot disease noticeable by its blackening appearance. There is no treatment for this condition but is preventable by not overwatering your plant and following the practices outlined in this blog.
Philodendron Bipennifolium Care Guide FAQ
What’s the Difference Between a P. Bipennifolium and a P. Pedatum?
A P. Pedatum has a slightly different leaf shape than a P. Bipennifolium, appearing quite slender.
What’s the Difference Between a P. Bipennifolum and a P. Squamiferum?
A P. Squamiferum resembles a P. Bipennifolium with its lobed leaves but is noticeably different with its bright red and hairy petioles.