Why Are Pink Princess Philodendrons So Expensive?
If you are like many houseplant collectors, you've fallen in love with the beautiful pink variegated leaves of the Pink Princess Philodendron. But why is this plant so expensive? In this article, gardening expert Madison Moulton examines why this popular houseplant is so expensive compared to other varieties.
Anyone who spends lots of time on the internet (guilty) will have come across the popular Pink Princess Philodendron. These houseplants have a cult-like following online thanks to their stunning foliage aptly labeled ‘millennial Pink’. The variegation is unlike any other houseplant. The splashes of pink, green, and grey are an instant hit among houseplant enthusiasts.
But, if you’ve ever tried searching for one in your local nursery, you may have noticed two things. First, they are incredibly difficult to find. And second, they are crazy expensive.
There are a number of reasons why these plants can cost as much as $100 for a mere cutting up to almost $2,000 for an established plant. While that’s outside the price range of many gardeners, there are some people willing to pay the price. Let’s take a deeper look at what makes them so expensive.
About Pink Princess Philodendrons
Pink Princess Philodendrons are the results of hybridization between a number of Philodendron species, including Philodendron tatei and Philodendron wendlandii. This cultivar is part of the Philodendron erubescens species, closely related to many popular houseplants.
All Philodendrons are part of the Arum family – Araceae. This group is characterized by their interesting flowers, known as a spadix, often surrounded by a modified leaf. While your Pink Princess may never flower, you can see this relation in other houseplants like Anthuriums or Peace Lilies.
This plant has become the ‘it’ plant of the year, according to houseplant enthusiasts across the world. They are appreciated for their stunning variegation, with splashes of pink, green, and grey that remain unmatched in the houseplant world.
In fact, they are so popular that some growers have attempted to artificially alter related species to produce the pink color, creating imitation plants that sell for the same high prices. However, these modifications don’t last long. The plant reverts back to its green color within a few months of bringing it home.
Where Did They Come From?
Pink Princess Philodendrons are the result of a spontaneous mutation within the genus. When and how this mutation happened is not verified, but houseplant detectives have come up with a few theories.
Researchers believe this plant likely originated in the US from a grower in Florida. A few Philodendron species crossed with Philodendron erubescens to produce thousands of new hybrids. One of these hybrids was the Pink Princess.
Once sold to retailers in Florida, the plant was propagated via cuttings to retain the stunning variegation pattern. From there, it spread across the US, social media, and the world.
So Why Are Pink Princess Philodendrons So Expensive?
When it comes to cost of anything that’s considered a “collector” item, rarity usually tops the list of reasons that drive up costs. This highly sought after plant is no different. Many gardeners are looking for ways to set themselves apart, and this plant is just adds one more way to set your indoor garden apart from the rest. Let’s take a look a little deeper as to what really drives up the costs of these highly sought after plants.
The origin story of this plant explains part of why they are so expensive – rarity.
To keep the mutation that results from variegation, you need to propagate via cuttings or tissue culture. This is a time-consuming process, especially when all cuttings come from one plant discovered recently.
Growers can only produce so many of these plants in a given year, based on how many they have to start with and how much they can remove from the original plants without harming growth. These plants are also snatched up quickly by collectors and often sell out.
Combining these factors, it’s not hard to see why there are so few of these plants in circulation. And, the rarer the plant, the higher the price it fetches, leading to exorbitant prices.
Pink Princess Philodendrons are a social media sensation. They are beloved by collectors and rare plant enthusiasts everywhere. As there are so few houseplants with pink variegation, they immediately became a viral sensation.
Unfortunately, this popularity also contributes to its expense. As with any commodity, the more people are interested in it, the more growers can charge.
This element is also combined with rarity, as we know there are many popular houseplants without high price tags. But, since so many people want them and they sell out frequently, growers and retailers know they can charge almost any price and collectors will quickly snatch them up.
Luckily, this is also the reason why prices are likely to eventually drop. As these plants become more widespread and more people are able to propagate them, they lose their fanatic allure, leading to a reduction in prices.
Within a few years, Pink Princesses will likely be more affordable and commonplace, replaced by the next big thing in houseplants that year.
Difficulty To Propagate
As mentioned before, this plant can only be reproduced via cuttings or tissue culture. Cuttings take long to grow into plants large enough to sell, and tissue culture is a comparatively expensive process.
No matter which method is chosen, growers need resources and time to reproduce these plants. This leads to higher costs as growers attempt to recoup the money put into their investments. After all, they do need to make some profit at the end of the day, or they wouldn’t be in business.
Some of the money invested in propagation ultimately goes to waste too due to the plant’s variegation. When propagating variegated plants, there is no guarantee that the cutting will produce a plant with the same levels of variegation.
Color is what most people are after when purchasing these plants. This means growers can only sell Pink Princesses with high enough levels of variegation. Several plants in the propagating process, therefore, go to ‘waste’, in theory. Many of them cannot fetch the same price as a highly variegated plant.
The more losses there are in a batch, the higher the price will likely be. There are ways to limit variegation loss, such as starting with a highly variegated parent plant, but it is mostly left to chance and out of the propagator’s hands.
Difficulty To Care For
Variegation levels also impact care difficulty. While they are not difficult plants to care for in comparison with some fussier houseplants, certain conditions need to be met to maintain the variegation levels. This is important in order to keep the plant looking its best before the sale.
Maintaining this lush look also uses up plenty of resources that end up adding to the cost of reproducing the plant. Growers keep a close eye on light levels, humidity, and moisture. This helps to ensure no variegation is lost or no damage is done to the leaves.
Consider how much care you put into a single plant. Then, multiply that by thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, per year. As the Pink Princess remains in a grower’s care for a while before they look good enough to sell, it’s understandable that they charge more for this extra effort.
Caring For This Expensive Plant
These factors all contribute to the expense of a Pink Princess Philodendron. So, if you do manage to find one, it can be devastating to lose out on that money if your plant begins to struggle.
Correct care is vital to maintaining variegation and appearance. That’s why it’s vital to follow these steps to provide exactly what these plants need to thrive.
Bright Indirect Light
Light is one of the factors responsible for the levels of variegation in the leaves. Give your Pink Princess bright indirect light for at least 8 hours per day to keep them happy. Move them away from intense direct sun, which can burn the leaves, or low light, which can cause the color to revert.
Regular Watering Schedule
Your Pink Princess prefers soil that is moist but not waterlogged. Wait for the top few inches of soil to dry out before watering again.
Finding The Right Soil Mixture
Plant in a potting mix that is airy and well-draining to prevent root rot. It should also hold just enough moisture to keep the roots saturated without overdoing it.
Finding The Correct Container
Choose a pot that is large enough to accommodate the root system and allow for rapid growth – these plants can grow quite large under the right conditions. The pot should also have enough drainage holes to stop water from pooling at the bottom.
After looking at what goes into reproducing these plants and how sought-after they are, it’s easy to see why they are so expensive. But that doesn’t mean they aren’t worth the cost if you want to set your indoor gardening space apart from others. In fact, for many plant collectors and rare houseplant lovers, these beauties are well worth the expense.