Philodendron Bicolor Plant Care and Propagation

THE Philodendron Bicolor is a rare and every expensive plant. I’ve seen a few of them around but they’ve always had an expensive price tag that came with them.

As such, it is very important to check for prices as they can vary significantly.

For example, I saw one that was $1,200 and another at $2,000. There was one for 999 euros. And yet another that was just over 400 pounds.

Notice the huge variation in prices.

No doubt, you’ll need to chase this plant if you want one. And be ready to pay the expensive cost that comes with it.

That said, the plant’s unique long, narrow leaves are what makes it stand out.

The leaves will grow long. And they feature a lovely deep green color on the front side and red-burgundy on the undersides.

The plant is native to tropical South America, specifically Peru.

How do you care for the Philodendron Bicolor? Take good care of the plant as it is rare and expensive. I highly suggest propagating it, so you have a backup just in case.

It thrives in bright indirect light, warm temperature and good humidity. Feed it once a month with a balanced fertilizer during its growing season. And watch out for pests as they can damage the leaves.

Philodendron Bicolor Plant Care

Light Requirements

The Philodendron Bicolor will grow best in plenty of indirect light. Note that it needs indirect, filtered, dappled or diffused light.

Avoid very strong or excessive direct sunlight.

Outdoors partial shade is ideal. Keep it away from full sun.

While the plant thrives in well-lit locations, it is not used to the very intense rays of the sun. That’s because in its native habitat, the plant lives under the larger trees and plants.

As such, the branches and leaves take the brunt of the sun’s heat and rays. And the plant gets light that passes through the forest canopy.

This is why it prefers indirect or filtered light.

That this means is that the best positions for the plant are in the east or west. An eastern exposure is the best since that side gets the gentle morning sun which the plant really likes.

On the other hand, the west receives late afternoon sun which is waning. It also does well in this environment. However, there are fewer hours between late afternoon and dusk.

For best growth, the Philodendron Bicolor needs at least 6 hours of natural light.

In contrast, avoid placing it near a south facing window. This side gets the most sun throughout the day. Unfortunately, it also gets the strongest sun usually between 10:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

As such, the excess intensity can cause the leaves to turn yellow. In more extreme cases, it can burn the foliage as well, leaving you with black or brown burn marks.

Sadly, these are permanent damage to the leaves. And while the plant can take the intensity, you’ll end up with ugly, scorched leaves which you’ll end up removing.

That would be such a waste.

 

Temperature

When it comes to temperature, the Philodendron Bicolor likes consistent warm weather. That’s because it is native to the tropical forests of Peru.

As such, it is used to warm to hot weather with no snow or freezing temperatures.

Its ideal temperature is between 65 to 85 degrees Fahrenheit. It also has a bit of a leeway above and below this range.

But the thing you want to watch out for the is cold.

That’s because it is not used to cold weather. The tropical rainforests of Peru where the plant is found only experience moderate to hot climates. Of course, it is wet most of the time due to the regular rainfall.

As such, the Philodendron Bicolor will struggle in temperatures under 50 degrees Fahrenheit.

If you leave it anywhere colder, its growth will slow down. Additionally, the longer it stays there or the colder it gets, you’ll start seeing more side effects.

Yellow leaves and wilting are some common issues. If things persist, the leaves will eventually drop as well.

Under 30 degrees Fahrenheit, the plant becomes susceptible to cold injury.

Therefore, avoid leaving outdoors during winter. Instead, always bring it indoors before the weather drops under 50 degrees Fahrenheit around mid-fall.

The only exception to this is in USDA Hardiness Zones 9 to 11 where the plant can grow outdoors all year long. That’s because the weather stays sunny and generally warm throughout.

There are no winters in these areas as well. So, you don’t get snow, frost or freezing temperatures.

 

Humidity

The Philodendron Bicolor thrives in good humidity. Ideally, it prefers humidity between 50% to 70%.

This range is its sweet spot. And it will grow faster and also have more vibrant looking leaves.

However, it can tolerate average room humidity with no problem as well. In most cases, it will do well as long as humidity stays between 30% and 50%.

That said, as a precaution monitor the leaves of the plant during the first month or so after you take it home.

As long as the leaves look healthy, have good color and the plant is growing, then it is adapting well to the humidity.

However, if you notice the leaf edges and tips turn brown, go dry or become crispy, it means humidity is too low.

This can also happen depending on the time of the year. Winters are notorious for dry air. Similarly, hot summers can get quite dry as well.

Similarly, avoid placing the plant near air conditioners, heaters or radiators. These appliances tend to dry up the air as well.

 

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How Often to Water Philodendron Bicolor

The Philodendron Bicolor has average water needs. Try to maintain evenly moist soil. But avoid wet or soggy soil.

Similarly, the plant does not like going completely dry. Therefore, try to avoid letting the entire root ball go dry.

This can get tricky because as the seasons change the frequency you water will also change.

As such, it is never a good idea to use a fixed wearing schedule.

The only exception to this is if you live in a tropical, subtropical or similar area. In these locations, the climate stays relatively consistent all year long. Therefore, you only need to make minor adjustments when it gets colder or hotter.

But in areas where there are four seasons, the changes are significant, especially between summer and winter.

Therefore, a better way to water the plant is to listen to what the soil is telling you instead of counting the days between watering.

To avoid overwatering, allow the top 2 inches of soil to dry before you add more water.

This will let you automatically adjust to a more regular schedule during the summers. But scale back during winter since it takes the soil much longer to dry.

By allowing part of the soil to dry first, you prevent adding too much water such that the roots end up sitting in excess moisture.

In addition to knowing when to water the plant, how you water is likewise important.

Here, you want to water thoroughly.

This means soaking the entire root ball then allowing the plant to completely drain. This 2-step watering method ensures that the roots get enough water to drink.

And at the same time, it prevents overwatering and waterlogging since the excess liquid completely drains soon after.

Another option is to water from below or bottom watering.

 

Philodendron Bicolor Potting Soil

The Philodendron Bicolor needs well-draining soil with good aeration. It also does best with rich organic soil that has soil pH of 5.0 to 6.0.

Good drainage is very important since the plant is susceptible to overwatering and root rot.

Therefore, it is important to let the soil quickly dry so the roots don’t end up sitting in lots of water for a long period of time.

On the other hand, heavy, dense or compact soils tend to hold too much moisture.

This will result in waterlogging. And even if you water correctly, the soil can hinder or negate your efforts.

In contrast, well-draining soil can save you in times you happened to overwater.

It will drain excess moisture fast so which bails you out in certain instances.

The simplest way to achieve this kind of soil is to get an Aroid mix. Aroid mixes are ready made and you can find them in online plant stores as well as some nurseries.

Note that there are many ways to make Aroid mixes. So, different stores will have their own combinations.

But they all perform similar features.

That is, they will hold some water to keep the soil moist and the roots hydrated. This prevents the roots from drying out or getting underwaters.

But at the same time, they will drain excess moisture very quickly.

This prevents waterlogged soil and overwatering. In turn, both prevent root rot.

If you prefer, you can also make your own aroid mix at home. Here’s a simple soil mix recipe that works well for the Philodendron Bicolor.

  • 1 part potting mix
  • 1 part bark
  • 1 part perlite
  • ½ part horticultural charcoal

 

Fertilizer

The Philodendron Bicolor will benefit from regular fertilizer. But it does not need feeding all year round.

Instead, only fertilize the plant during spring and summer.

The plant actively grows during the warm months.

Therefore, this is when you want to focus its feeding. Additionally, make sure that it gets sufficient sunlight and water.

It needs light for photosynthesis which creates the food it will use to create energy. The energy in turn, will allow it to grow and develop healthy foliage.

The plant also needs water.

Additionally, it absorbs nutrients from fertilizer when there is water. So, make sure you’re optimizing water as well.

When it comes to plant food, use a balances fertilizer.

Once a month feeding during spring and summer is all it needs. Dilute the application by 50% if the plant it in a pot and grown indoors.

Use full strength if it is growing in the ground outdoors.

While it may be tempting, never overdo any of the 3 important growth factors.

Too much sunlight will burn the leaves. Excess water can lead to root rot. And too much plant food can lead to fertilizer burn which damages the roots.

None of these will help the plant. Instead, they will harm it and hinder the growth.

 

Pruning

With proper care, the Philodendron Bicolor will grow into a good sized plant.

It can reach between 6 to 7 feet high and over 3 feet wide.

In most cases, the plant’s leaves will stay fairly close to one another. Their long narrow shapes also mean they won’t take up too much space out to the sides.

However, as the plant gets bigger and fuller, you’ll see more leaves develop.

This is when you may need to decide if you want to prune it. Because its leaves make up most of the plant, there’s no real need to prune.

But you can do so to control its size, width and shape.

How much your prune and how often you trim will affect its resulting appearance.

Finally, make sure to remove any dead, old, damaged or discolored leaves.

 

How to Propagate Philodendron Bicolor

The Philodendron Bicolor is a rare plant that is very expensive.

As such, it is always a good idea to propagate the plant if you have one. When buying the plant, you’ll usually see it in 2 forms.

One is a small Philodendron Bicolor that’s in a pot. Another is via cuttings.

Note that when you get cuttings, make sure to get rooted cuttings. This will let you grow it in soil immediately.

It is a fairly fast grower and the leaves will eventually develop into a few feet long with proper care.

Having roots makes propagation success much better since the roots will allow the plant to survive on its own.

And since you’re paying a high price, you better get something that won’t fail to grow.

In any case, here’s how to propagate the Philodendron Bicolor from cuttings.

It is better to propagate a Philodendron Bicolor with more stems. That’s because many will just have 3 or 4 of these leaves. Thus, taking one quickly makes your plant sparse.

However, as long as it is healthy and growing well, you can propagate it.

  • Choose a healthy stem and dig up the roots that it connects to. If this is your first time and you want to play it safe, you can unpot the plant and use water to remove excess soil. This way, you see all the roots and which ones go with the stem you want to cut.
  • Use a sterile knife to cut the root of the cutting away from the rest of the mother plant’s root system. Ideally, you want to get enough roots to go with the stem. But you don’t need to get a big chunk of the root system.
  • Once you have the cutting, plant it in a pot with well-draining soil.
  • Water the soil and keep it moist but not wet. Also, place the pot somewhere with well-draining soil.

Because the cutting already has roots, it won’t take long before new shoots grow.

This will then be followed by leaf development after a while.

 

How to Repot or Transplant Philodendron Bicolor

The Philodendron Bicolor only needs repotting every 2 to 3 years. Therefore, don’t be in a hurry to repot the plant.

It does not like being moved or transplanted.

Instead, only repot when there’s a reason to. Outside of emergency situations like overwatering, root rot or severe pest infestations, you only need to repot he plant when its has gotten root bound.

And you can tell when this happens as its roots will be poking out from the holes at the bottom of the pot.

The same is true if you see rooting coming out from the surface of the soil.

When this happens, wait until spring to repot. This is the best time to do so because the plant is quickly growing. As such, it is able to quickly recover from any potential stress or shock from the move.

The new, larger pot and fresh soil will also allow it to grow quickly soon after repotting.

Choose a container that is one size larger. Avoid going more than 2 or 3 inches wider than the current plant.

When repotting, also replace the spent soil with fresh, well-draining soil mix. This will ensure the soil has good texture and drainage. It also prevents you from use soil that has gotten compact.

 

Is It Toxic/Poisonous to Humans, Cats & Dogs

Yes, the Philodendron Bicolor is toxic because it contains calcium oxalate crystals.

It is toxic to both people and animals. But only when ingested or consumed. Therefore, holding, carrying or touching the plant is completely safe.

As such, keep young children, dogs and cats away because they can accidentally eat parts of the plant out of curiosity or when they’re playing around it.

 

Philodendron Bicolor Problems & Troubleshooting

Pests

The Philodendron Bicolor is usually known to be pest-free. But that does not mean it is immune to these insects by any means.

Instead, it means you have a good chance of avoiding pests as long as you keep the plant healthy.

Cleaning the leaves is also good practice as dust tends to attract pests.

The most common ones to attack the plant include mealybugs, mites, aphids and scale. And these bugs tend to grow in population very quickly.

So, make sure to treat them as soon as you spot any.

 

Diseases

Overwatering is the most common problem that leads to problems and disease.

Unfortunately, overwatering is usually man-made.

It is often caused by watering the plant too often out of generosity. Another common reason is poor drainage.

Poor drainage can be caused by lack of drainage in the soil or in the pot.

With the former, you can prevent this by using well-draining potting mix. The latter is avoidable by choosing pots with holes at the bottom.

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