The large foliage and vining nature of Philodendron billietiae make it a highly sought-after wishlist houseplant. Philodendron billietiae showcases huge wavy green arrow-shaped leaves and elegant orangish stalks; a majestic houseplant! Caring for a Philodendron billietiae is quite easy, and it’s a great beginner indoor plant if you’ve got the space.
Philodendron Billietiae Origin and History
This Philodendron is a relatively new find. It was discovered in French Guiana in 1981 by Frieda Billiet (who it was then named after). It has since been found growing in Guyana and Brazil, as well.
In its natural habitat, Philodendron billietiae thrives in humid, tropical rainforests, where it grows in the mid-canopy. The leaves are glossy and massive, reaching 3-feet in length and 8 inches wide, though they usually don’t get quite that big indoors. Each leaf is vivid green and arrow-shaped, with ridged centers and wavy edges. They bow gracefully downwards as if they are nodding to you.
The stems of Philodendron billietiae are orange to orange-yellow to orange-red, long and slender. They grow from a central vine, with multiple branches arching outwards to unfurl the giant leaves. P.billietiae will grow quite tall, given the opportunity – the vines range from 3-5 feet long.
Since its first cultivation, several new forms have been grown, including a variegated P. billietiae and a dwarf variety.
Philodendron Billietiae Care
In this section you’ll learn crucial Philodendron billietiae care tips including lighting requirements, ideal watering schedules, temperature, humidity, and more.
This vining Philodendron likes having lots of space to showcase its grandness. The leaves start out small with straight edges. As they mature, the leaves expand and develop a ridged surface with wavy edges. The coloring is deep green, and the center vein is light green to yellow.
P.billietiae stems average 1-foot in length and develop from a central vine. The vines will grow up to 5-feet long and need a support system, like a trellis or moss pole. Alternatively, you can keep the growth restricted by pruning the vine regularly.
Aerial roots expand from the vine to advance growth. The aerial roots are easily distinguished from stems by their coloring – they are brown like bark while the stems are orange. In the wild, the aerial roots will wind up and around trees while the main root remains firmly in the ground.
P. billietiae is a moderately fast grower, producing new leaves rather readily but growing the vine slower.
The best lighting for this Philodendron is bright, indirect sunlight. The leaves are delicate and will burn if placed in direct light. However, the plant will struggle to grow if it isn’t receiving enough light.
Choose a south or east-facing window, and place the P. billietiae a little ways back from the window. Or, use a lightweight or sheer curtain as a buffer to block direct sun rays. Rotate this houseplant every week to ensure every leaf is getting enough light and encourage even growth. If the plant isn’t rotated, the leaves may all lean towards one side, towards the light, and you’ll have a lopsided Philodendron.
P.billietiae likes moist but not soggy soil, so you need to pay close attention to the watering. This is tied to the soil composition and health. A well-draining potting medium will help prevent soggy soil while also retaining proper moisture. The key is to provide soil that drains out any excess water while holding enough moisture for the plant to thrive.
Always check the soil’s moisture level before watering to prevent any issues. The easiest way to do this is to stick your index finger into the dirt. If the top 1-2 inches of soil is dry, it’s time to water. However, if it is still slightly moist, hold off on watering for a few more days, then check again.
P. billietiae does not handle drought very well and will start to wilt if it isn’t receiving enough water. Always water at the base of the plant, never overhead. Wet leaves may lead to a fungal infection. Also, when you water, make sure to empty the saucer underneath so the roots don’t sit in standing water.
Temperature and Humidity
The preferable temperature for this Philodendron is between 65-80F, and it likes lots of humidity, between 70-90%. Freezing temperatures will kill this houseplant, so be sure to keep it indoors if there is a threat of frost.
Maintaining high humidity is a struggle for many plant parents with indoor plants. If you have a lot of tropical plants with high humidity needs, you may want to consider getting a humidifier. Another method to increase humidity is with a DIY humidity pebble tray.
To make a pebble tray, fill a pan with small rocks or pebbles. Place the houseplant on top of it, then fill the tray with water. As the water evaporates, moisture is added to the air. You’ll need to refill the water regularly to keep it working.
Soil & Containers
A well-draining soil mix is imperative for the health of the P.billietiae. Use a tropical houseplant potting soil and add in perlite and coco coir to enhance the draining capabilities and increase aeration. For roots to remain healthy, they need air and not to sit in soggy soil.
The planting pot must have drainage holes, so the soil doesn’t become waterlogged. Waterlogged soil leads to root rot and will kill the plant.
Add an all-around balanced houseplant fertilizer every month during the growing season. Dilute it to half strength before using, as most fertilizers are too strong. Hold off fertilizing in the winter while the plant is resting and building up resources.
It’s important not to over-fertilize, as that can lead to a build-up of salt in the soil that will be detrimental to the plant. Also, choose a high-quality fertilizer – cheaper options often are loaded with excessive nitrogen salts.
This Philodendron doesn’t need much pruning except to remove dead leaves or keep the growth contained. It’s best not to prune more than 25% of the foliage at one time.
For optimal health, Philodendron billietiae should be repotted every two years. Repotting is necessary to refresh the soil, and therefore provide more nutrients to the plant. Over time, soil nutrients are depleted, and since indoor houseplants don’t have access to any other soil, it is vital to keep renewing it.
To encourage new and greater growth, move the plant to a pot the next size up. Don’t move it to a much bigger container, as this leads to overwatering issues. Incremental growth is best. If you want this Philodendron to remain small, repot it into the same container.
Do any repotting in the spring, when the plant is at its strongest.
Like all Philodendrons, P.billietiae is toxic to humans and animals. Keep this houseplant away from children and pets.
Philodendron Billietiae Propagation
There are a couple of effective ways to propagate P. billietiae. The easiest method is through stem cuttings, propagated in soil.
Stem Cutting Propagation
- Look over your Philodendron billietiae and identify a robust and healthy stem. It should be at least 2-4 inches long and have two or more leaves.
- Use a pair of sterilized scissors to cut the stem just below a leaf node. The node is the joint where the leaf stem intersects with the main vine.
- Let the stem sit in a warm, dry location for a week to callous over. This curing process prevents the cutting from rotting during propagation.
- Fill a container with potting soil mix and wet it thoroughly.
- Plant the cutting a couple of inches deep and lightly pack the soil around it to keep it secure.
- Place the new baby Philodendron in a warm location with bright, indirect sunlight and care for it the same as a mature one, being extra careful not to let the soil dry out.
- It takes approximately 4-6 weeks for the cutting to develop baby shoots.
Pests & Disease
Luckily, this Philodendron rarely suffers pests or diseases, except those that are regular considerations with indoor houseplants. Pest infestations usually occur from newly acquired plants that have bugs.
Aphids, Mealybugs, Spider Mites, and White Flies
All of these little bothersome pests are minor unless left untreated, and then they become significant issues. The biggest problem is that these tiny insects easily jump from one plant to another, so if you have a lot of houseplants, it quickly gets out of control.
The key to preventing this is to regularly inspect your plants and immediately treat any signs. Make it a habit to give the leaves and stems a quick check-over every time you water them. Don’t forget to look underneath the leaves, as this is a popular place for pests to congregate.
One sure sign of a pest problem is brown or black spots on the leaves or stem. These pests pierce the foliage and suck out the plants’ sap, leaving behind tell-tale markings.
Removing these pests is generally straightforward. If you see just a few, you can use an alcohol wipe to brush them off. If there are more than a few, use a neem oil spray on the leaves (tops and undersides) and soil. Mix two teaspoons of neem oil with one teaspoon of dish soap in a 1-quart spray bottle. Then, fill up the rest of the bottle with water and shake well. Spray the plants thoroughly every 5-7 days until the infestation is gone.
If this doesn’t curtail the pest problem, you may need to get an insecticide. However, it’s best to first start with the least toxic option before using strong chemicals.
Philodendron Billietiae Common Questions
Here are some common questions about keeping Philodendron billietiae:
Will my Philodendron Billietiae flower?
Most likely, not. Since it is a tropical plant, Philodendron billietiae needs specific conditions to flower, and most home environments aren’t adequate.
Why are the leaves white and droopy?
This happens when the plant experiences cold shock. Being too close to an air conditioner can cause this or near an open window during cold spells.
What causes V-shaped stains on the leaves?
A magnesium deficiency causes these odd-shaped stains. The plant will usually look yellow and wilted, too. Treat by mixing 1 tablespoon Epsom salts with 1-gallon water and water the plant until the solution strains through the drainage holes. Repeat monthly.
Why are the tips of my Philodendron billietiae leaves curling?
Curled leaf tips are usually caused by over-fertilizing. Water the soil thoroughly, making sure the water is draining correctly, to flush out some of the fertilizer. Then, hold off on adding any fertilizer for a while.
What types of supports are best for my Philodendron billietiae?
Moss poles are the best, but you can also use bamboo stakes. Another option is a hanging basket, where they will drape downwards instead of vining upwards.
Are Philodendron billietiae rare?
Yes, this is usually a difficult Philodendron to find. There are various online sites that sell it, but not very many. This is an expensive houseplant, too, with prices starting at $100 and going significantly up from there, depending on the source.
I don’t like how the aerial roots look; can I cut them off?
Yes, you can cut off the aerial roots, and it won’t damage the plant. Philodendrons grow these to climb trees in the tropical forest to seek more nutrients. This isn’t necessary for a home environment, and it doesn’t negatively affect the plant to remove them. Be sure to use sharp and sterilized scissors and cut as close to the main stem as possible.
An alternative to cutting aerial roots off is to train them up a trellis to allow your P.billietiae to vine out more. Or, you can tuck them into the soil, where they will have access to the nutrients there and fulfill their intended purpose.
The rare and grandiose Philodendron billietiae is a treasure of a houseplant. Pay attention to the watering and light, and you’ll have a gorgeous specimen gracing your household without much fuss. It might take a little effort to source one of these stunning Philodendrons, but once you have it, it will light up your home for years.