How to Plant, Grow, and Care For Pink Princess Philodendron
Thinking of adding some Pink Princess Philodendron to your indoor or outdoor gardening space? This unique plant is easily identifiable by it's extremely bright and colorful leaves. In this article, gardening expert Madison Moulton guides you through each step to successfully plant, grow, and care for this lovely plant.
Unless you’ve been living under a rock or far away from houseplant dedicated social media accounts, you have undoubtedly heard the name Pink Princess Philodendron in recent months. With stunning pink variegation in almost unbelievable patterns, this hybrid has become the new collector’s item among houseplant-obsessed gardeners.
Although they can be difficult to find, and often come with a hefty price tag, these plants are just as easy to care for as other popular Philodendrons. Their rarity and popularity can sometimes create a problem of finding a reputable nursery that can validate the authenticity of the plant.
With special attention paid to sunlight to ensure they retain their pink hue, you won’t have any trouble growing and caring for your Pink Princess Philodendron. Let’s take a deeper look at everything you need to know about growing and caring for this special plant!
Pink Princess Philodendron Overview
Bright Indirect Light
Pests and Diseases
Spider Mites, Mealybugs
Airy and Well-draining
What is a Pink Princess Philodendron?
Pink Princess is botanically known as Philodendron erubescens ‘Pink Princess’, likely a cross of a number of different Philodendron species including Philodendron tatei and Philodendron wendlandii.
As part of the Philodendron genus, Pink Princess is related to a number of popular houseplants, including the incredibly popular Heartleaf Philodendron (Philodendron hederaceum). These plants fall under the Araceae or arum family, related to other leafy plants like Peace Lilies and Anthuriums.
Pink Princess has exploded in popularity in recent years along with the rare houseplant craze sweeping social media. Houseplant parents have not only become urban jungle dwellers, but special houseplant collectors, making the rarer and more interesting plants incredibly sought-after.
Like the variegated Monstera obsession of previous years, Pink Princess Philodendrons are the new houseplant favorite. The plant is so popular that some imitations have appeared, attempting to fetch the same high price that Pink Princess does.
For example, the Pink Congo Philodendron, often sold under the name Pink Princess, is chemically altered to produce temporarily pink leaves. However, these leaves will eventually turn completely green, losing all the sought-after color.
If you’re looking for a Pink Princess, make sure you purchase from a reputable seller to ensure you’re getting the real thing. Worst case, you can always opt for a less pricy variety, like the Philodendron Birkin, which some people argue is just as beautiful.
The true origin of the Pink Princess is not 100% clear. Several theories have emerged to attempt to explain where it came from, but none is completely conclusive, making the history of this plant a bit of a mystery.
According to the most probable theory, Pink Princess likely came from a grower in Florida. By crossing various species with Philodendron erubescens, this grower selected the best performing plant and cloned it using tissue samples.
Out of hundreds and thousands of clones, it is believed that one of them turned out to be Pink Princess. Sold to retailers in Florida and propagated via cuttings, the Pink Princess spread across the internet and the world.
This history also explains the plant’s rarity. As there was only one sample to begin with, and propagation is the only way to reproduce true iterations of Pink Princess, there are a limited number of these plants around the world. The more rare and sought-after a plant is, the higher its price.
Since the Pink Princess cultivar was lab-grown and hybridized, you won’t find any of them out in the wild. However, the native origin of the original species does give an indication of what kind of conditions these plants prefer.
The species Philodendron erubescens is native to Colombia, also known as the blushing Philodendron thanks to its specific epithet name. Like other Philodendrons, these plants prefer tropical jungle-like conditions and need warmth and high humidity to thrive.
Pink Princess is a plant that’s hard to miss when you come across it. The long leaves are a deep green with spots of pink variegation in interesting patterns. Young stems start out a bright red, like other Philodendron erubescens types, and turn a deeper burgundy as the plant ages.
In their natural environments, Philodendron erubescens are climbers, reaching several feet tall when given some support. The leaves are also quite large in comparison to other foliage houseplants and increase in size with higher light and better care.
Pink Princess Philodendrons are toxic to pets and should be kept away from any nearby prying paws. These plants are unique enough that they aren’t often confused with pothos plants, like some other philodendron varieties.
Buying a Pink Princess Philodendron
You are unlikely to come across a Pink Princess in your local nursery. As mentioned, these plants are quite rare and typically very expensive.
The high price of this plant is thanks to its rarity and the need to maintain variegation. The best way to reproduce the variegation is through tissue culture – an expensive and time-consuming process, increasing the cost.
Some growers try reproducing through propagation, but this is not reliable. When propagating, growers cannot be certain that the resulting plant will have enough pink variegation to be sold as a Pink Princess. Only a few make the cut, so even fewer plants are available on the market.
They are also quickly snatched up by enthusiastic houseplant owners, making them difficult to find. Some cuttings can be found on online marketplaces such as Etsy or sold through plant collecting groups. You’ll need to do some detective work or find a specialized grower to find the real thing if there aren’t any cuttings available in your area.
Make sure you do your research before purchasing any cuttings online. Plants often don’t survive the shipping and transportation process and there is no way to guarantee the plant that arrives will turn out to be a Pink Princess and not one of the imitation plants. Rather than wasting your money (potentially more than $100), find an experienced seller or someone local you can fetch the cutting from in person.
Any Pink Princess you purchase will likely be a cutting from an existing plant. These are typically shipped bare roots without soil and will need to be planted when you receive them. It’s best to do this as soon as possible. Transportation is stressful for these plants and the sooner you get them into soil, the better their chances of survival.
Start by finding a large pot. If you’re reusing an old pot, make sure it is cleaned thoroughly before starting to avoid the spread of pests and diseases.
Fill the pot with a suitable houseplant soil mix or a homemade mixture of potting soil amended with coconut coir or peat moss and perlite or orchid bark. This will improve drainage and aeration while retaining enough moisture to keep the plant happy.
Make a small hole in the center of the pot and plant the cutting so the roots are buried and the leaves sit well above the soil line. Firm down the soil gently to anchor the cutting in place.
Water thoroughly immediately after planting to encourage root growth. The plant has likely been without water for a while and will be in desperate need of a drink. Place the plant in an ideal spot and keep it well-watered until you see new growth beginning to emerge.
How to Grow
Despite what their rarity may imply, Pink Princess Philodendrons are not difficult plants to care for. With some extra attention given to lighting requirements to retain their variegation, and some additional maintenance, they should give you little trouble.
Sunlight is the most important element to consider if you want your Pink Princess to remain pink. Without adequate sunlight, the leaves will slowly become greener and may lose their pink hue altogether.
This is due to the chlorophyll content in the leaves. Photosynthesis is made possible by chlorophyll, which allows the plant to produce its own food in the form of sugars from water and carbon dioxide. The more chlorophyll there is in the leaves, the higher the rate of photosynthesis, resulting in more energy and better growth.
The variegated parts of the plant don’t contain any chlorophyll. If the plant gets enough light to sustain itself, the variegation will remain the same or may even intensify as the plant needs less chlorophyll to keep itself alive. It’s important not to keep this plant in darker places without sufficient sunlight.
When the light levels are too low, the plant will produce more chlorophyll to make up for the lack of photosynthesis, reducing the areas are variegation. If left in low light for too long, the plant can lose all variegation and return to a basic green color.
As the pink variegation is the most beloved part of this plant, the right amount of sunlight is essential. These plants require bright indirect sunlight for most of the day to keep their color. They can even handle some gentle direct morning sun in front of an east-facing window but will struggle in harsh direct sunlight. Moderate to low light is not suitable for this rare beauty.
How to Test Light Levels in Your Home
Considering the very specific needs of these plants, knowing the intensity of the light in your home is key to providing the right conditions. Luckily, there are a few ways to test the light intensity in your home:
- Take a white piece of paper and hold it above the plant. Place your hand between the paper and the light source to cast a shadow. Harsh shadows indicate direct light, soft shadows indicate bright indirect light, and shadows that are difficult to make out (or no shadows at all) indicate low light.
- Download a light meter app on your smartphone. These apps use your phones built in hardware to measure the light levels in lux or footcandles. Aim for 10,000-20,000 lux (around 1,000-2,000 footcandles) for your Pink Princess.
- Phones may not provide a very accurate reading. For the most reliable results, invest in a light meter. These devices will indicate exactly how much light your plant receives, allowing you to provide the perfect indoor conditions for optimal growth.
Although they are found in moist environments, they do not like to sit in soggy soil and need well-draining soil to prevent overwatering. This plant prefers soil on the drier side as it is prone to root rot. It’s best to let the top 2-3 inches of soil dry out completely before watering again. While underwatering is a risk, overwatering is far more dangerous.
If you believe you have overwatered your plant due to signs of root rot such as mushy stems or wilting leaves, leave the soil to dry out completely. Remove the plant from the pot and inspect the roots. Trim off any mushy or rotting roots back to the healthy growth and repot into brand new soil to avoid spreading the problem.
Rather than watering on a schedule, it’s safest to test the soil moisture every few days with your finger. Due to changes in environmental conditions on a daily basis, watering on a schedule often leads to overwatering or underwatering, especially with changes in the seasons.
Alternatively, you can leave a soil moisture meter inside the pot, leaving the probe a few inches down. These meters describe the moisture levels in the soil, indicating the right time to water again without you having to test the soil frequently.
The right soil is essential to keeping your Pink Princess Philodendron alive long-term. Like most houseplants, they require a light and well-draining potting mix that holds onto enough moisture to keep the roots happy while draining well enough to prevent root rot. There should also be enough space between the soil particles to deliver oxygen to the roots.
Regular garden potting soil is typically designed for outdoor containers that dry out quickly. Most are not suitable on their own for indoor plants. However, they can be amended with different materials to improve drainage and aeration.
Coconut coir, a sustainable alternative to peat moss, is a great potting soil amendment. It is light and airy but holds on to ten times its own weight in water. That means it can hold enough moisture to keep the plant well-watered but does not become oversaturated.
Perlite is another great amendment. Made from expanded volcanic glass, these small white rocks increase the spaces between soil particles to lighten the mix and improve drainage. Orchid bark also performs a similar function and holds on to some moisture too.
To create the perfect potting soil for your Pink Princess, mix two parts potting soil with one part coir and one part perlite. A few handfuls of orchid bark can also improve the consistency of the mixture if your potting soil is too fine.
Houseplant potting soils are also available to purchase online or at your local nursery. These mixes contain the same elements above, simply premixed at the right ratios. They may be more costly than making your own mix, but they are a quick and easy option for impatient gardeners or those with little space.
Temperature and Humidity
Philodendrons are tropical plants that need warm temperatures and high humidity to thrive. However, they also adapt well and are typically happy in most indoor environments. They are comfortable in similar conditions to what we’re comfortable in indoors too.
In their tropical climates, Philodendron erubescens are accustomed to temperatures between 65F and 85F. They will grow best in this range. They can handle some variation on either side, between 60F and 90F, but stop growing completely out of this range due to temperature stress.
Never leave your Pink Princess in any rooms (or outdoors) below 50F. The cold weather damages the cells of the plant, causing parts of the leaves or the whole plant to turn brown or black and slowly die off. If you live in a very cold region, keep your plant in the warmest room in the house over winter to prevent irreparable damage.
When it comes to humidity, Philodendrons are generally not too fussy. Around 60% humidity is preferred, but they will be happy in anything above 40%.
If your humidity dips below 40% in a particularly dry season, you may notice the tips of the leaves start to brown and dry up. This is a result of the plant responding to the lack of moisture in the air by preventing evaporation. This increases the overall temperature of the plant and causes the edges of the leaves to dry out.
If your home has low humidity, there are a few ways to improve the conditions.
How to Increase Humidity Indoors
- Misting: This is the most commonly recommended method for improving humidity. It may have some benefits, but has little impact on overall humidity if you do not mist often. Misting often – 2-3 times per day – can help, but it also increases moisture on the leaves which can attract pests and diseases.
- Pebble tray: Many houseplant owners recommend placing your plant on a tray filled with pebbles and water. As the water evaporates, it is said to increase the humidity around the plant. This does slightly improve conditions, but if your levels are well below 40%, it won’t improve them enough to make a big impact.
- Grouping plants: Placing plants together improves the overall humidity slightly within that area. Place your houseplants together, but not so close that there is little airflow between them to prevent the cultivation and spread of disease.
- Humidifier: Investing in a humidifier is a sure-fire way to improve conditions for your Pink Princess. They may be costly, but they allow you to recreate the environment this plant loves in your home without worrying about fluctuations in humidity throughout the year.
Like most houseplants, Pink Princess grows best when fed regularly during the peak growing seasons. As these plants are grown in containers indoors, there is no way for them to access nutrients in the soil once they are completely depleted. If you don’t top up these nutrients at the right time, your Philodendron will stop growing altogether unless it is repotted.
Like other leafy houseplants, fertilize your Pink Princess once per month in spring and summer using a balanced liquid fertilizer. This provides the best ratio of nutrients to give the plant everything it needs at the right time.
Make sure you check the packaging and dilute the fertilizer according to the instructions. Fertilizers come in different concentrations and may need to be applied more or less often or diluted differently. Overfertilizing can burn the roots, so it’s always better to under-fertilize than overdo it.
Pink Princess Philodendrons are not high-maintenance plants. However, there are a few things you can do to improve overall growth and make your plants thrive.
As these plants are natural climbers, providing support to the growing stems will help them grow quicker. Moss poles are ideal as they also improve moisture availability and provide strong support to heavy foliage.
If your plant is beginning to stretch or look leggy, pruning lightly can improve growth and variegation. Snip off a few underperforming leaves or stems above a node (the point where the leaves emerge), leaving the node on the plant. These open wounds produce hormones that encourage the plant to produce new growth. Ensure you do not remove too much at one time as this can shock the plant and have a negative impact on growth.
As the leaves are so large, they tend to collect dust over time. This can hinder the process of transpiration and gas exchange, inhibiting photosynthesis and stunting growth. Every month or two, gently wipe down each of the leaves with a damp cloth. This will improve growth and help your Pink Princess look its best.
Whether you want to grow more plants for yourself or share them with friends, you will likely want to propagate your Pink Princess at some point. This is not a difficult process, but it is important to remember the resulting plant may not have the same variegation as the parent.
To propagate your Pink Princess Philodendron, follow these steps:
Clean Your Tools
Before you start cutting, it’s vital to ensure your tools are cleaned and disinfected. Used garden tools can harbor harmful bacteria and germs that get transferred to your plant. If you’ve recently pruned any diseased plants, it’s essential to disinfect your pruning shears before cutting to avoid spreading the problem to your Pink Princess.
Clean your shears or scissors with a 5% bleach solution or regular soap and water if your tools were previously disinfected. Clean any glasses or pots you plan on using too, especially if they previously housed other plants.
Find a Stem
Choose a healthy stem to propagate with at least one leaf, but preferably more. Cut off the stem just below a node (the bump in the stem where leaves and aerial roots emerge). Make sure you don’t damage the node in the process, as this is where new roots will grow from.
If your chosen cutting has any foliage on the lower half, remove those leaves before rooting. Any leaves left to sit in water or soil will rot and encourage disease. Trim them off with your shears or remove them by hand.
With your stem (or stems) ready, you can begin rooting. Rooting can either be done in water or in soil. Philodendrons in water will produce roots faster, but soil-grown roots will be stronger and better adapted to soil conditions. The choice is up to you.
To root in water, rest the stem in a glass filled with filtered or distilled water. Any glass that holds the stem is ideal, but there are also specialized propagation stations that turn your cutting into a design feature. The leaves should not touch the water at all and the soil line should completely cover the exposed node.
To root in soil, fill a pot with a light propagating mix. A combination of coconut coir, perlite, and vermiculite provides the perfect conditions for healthy root growth without the risk of root rot. Bury the cutting in the soil with the leaves above the soil line and water thoroughly.
For water-rooted cuttings, top up the water frequently and change it completely every week or two. The oxygen in the water will deplete over time, so the plants need fresh water often for healthy root growth. Dirty water also encourages disease which can be detrimental to young vulnerable cuttings.
Ensure cuttings rooted in soil remain moist while roots are developing. They should be kept in a warm spot away from direct sunlight for the fastest growth.
Once the roots are an inch or two long, typically within 3-6 weeks depending on the medium, you can transplant the cutting into a larger pot.
Many enthusiastic plant parents make the mistake of repotting too early which can result in shock or worst case, the death of the plant. It’s important to repot only when absolutely necessary, indicated by stunted growth or roots growing from the drainage holes.
To repot, follow the same instructions as for planting above, choosing a pot one or two sizes larger than the existing one. Add supports to the soil early on to avoid damaging the roots later. You may notice slight wilting or yellowing leaves after transplanting. These are common symptoms of shock and your plant should return to normal after a brief adjustment period.
To limit the chances of transplant shock, don’t leave the roots exposed to the air for too long and water immediately after repotting. Try to disturb the roots as little as possible and limit any changes in conditions (different soil or environmental conditions, for example).
As these plants are so rare and costly, it can be distressing when your Pink Princess shows signs of struggle. These plants face common issues like all your other houseplants, but luckily, these issues are typically just as easy to fix.
Yellow leaves are one of the most common houseplant problems. It is also one of the more difficult ones to resolve as there are so many potential causes. However, when it comes to the Pink Princess Philodendron, the most likely culprit is overwatering.
Problems with the roots below the soil will show signs through the leaves above the soil. If you notice wilting yellow leaves and soft stems, leave the soil to dry out thoroughly and check the roots for signs of root rot. Watch your watering for the next few weeks and make sure the container is draining well to prevent future issues.
Yellowing leaves could also indicate a nutrient issue. If the yellow is spotty or concentrated around the veins of the leaves, there is likely a nutrient imbalance in the soil. Repot your plant and watch your fertilizing habits to get your plant back to normal.
Like yellowing leaves, brown leaves also have a number of causes. The first, and no cause for concern, is age. Older leaves will slowly turn brown and fall off as part of the plant’s natural life cycle. These leaves are typically lower down and don’t indicate any health issues.
Brown spots in the middle of the leaves usually mean exposure to too much direct sun. As these plants are used to dappled sunlight, any intense direct sunlight can scorch the leaves and turn them brown. If the spots appear on the leaves closest to the light source, move your plant away from the light or place a sheer curtain in front of the window.
Brown leaf tips are often the result of a lack of humidity. If you notice uniform edges of brown around the leaves, increase the humidity around your plant until it is above at least 40%. This brown will not recede, but new leaves will not display the same problems.
Curling leaves are typically the result of either underwatering or overwatering. When the cells lack water due to underwatering, they are not full enough to keep the shape of the leaves, resulting in curling or wilting. Due to the inability of rotting roots to take up moisture, overwatering can have the same effect. Check the moisture levels in the soil to determine which problem is more likely and adjust accordingly.
Curling leaves can also be a response to exposure to direct sunlight. The edges of the leaves may roll inwards as a way to protect the foliage from burning and to conserve moisture. If the curling is accompanied by leaf discoloration, move your Philodendron to a spot away from direct sun.
Lack of Variegation
If your Pink Princess begins to lose its color, it needs more sunlight. These plants are not suitable for moderate to low light and need consistent bright indirect light to maintain their color. Place them in front of a sunny window shaded by a sheer curtain and the color should return to normal.
Lack of variegation in propagated plants is not always a sign of a problem that needs fixing. Even heavily variegated parent plants can result in little to no variegation in new plants. Unfortunately, more light won’t resolve the issue. Try propagating with another few cuttings to improve your chances of greater variegation.
Pink Princess Philodendrons are susceptible to common indoor pests and diseases like any other houseplant. Spider mites, mealybugs, whiteflies, and other common pests can all suck on the leaf and stem tissues, causing spotted discoloration and leaf distortion. If left untreated, they can stunt growth.
Remove any pesky pests with an application of a horticultural oil like neem oil. This will suffocate the pests and prevent any eggs from hatching. Make sure your check the undersides of the leaves as many pests like to hide out there.
Frequently Asked Questions
Why are Pink Princess Philodendrons so expensive?
Pink Princess Philodendrons are quite rare, with variegation that is difficult to replicate. Most commercial plants are grown from tissue cultures to get the most reliable results which is an expensive process.
Propagation from cuttings does not always produce the sought-after pink color, making that a time-consuming and difficult process too. All these factors, as well as their sought-after nature, combine to give this plant its high price tag.
Is Pink Princess Philodendron rare?
These plants are quite rare. Although they are becoming more common due to their increased popularity, you won’t find one at your local nursery.
Is Pink Princess Philodendron natural?
Pink Princess Philodendrons are naturally pink – in other words, they aren’t dyed or painted. They are the result of extensive hybridization with several Philodendron varieties. As they are ‘lab-grown’, you won’t find one in the wild, but they do naturally produce their pink color.
Where can I buy Pink Princess Philodendron?
Bare root cuttings can typically be found on online marketplaces like Etsy or Facebook Marketplace. However, it is difficult to verify the authenticity of the plant, so it’s best to contact specialized growers in your area to find out where you can purchase or source a true plant.
How can I get more pink in my Pink Princess Philodendron?
Sunlight is key to keeping the pink variegation of these plants. Keep them in bright indirect sunlight for most of the day and they will retain or expand their pink hue. Without proper sunlight, there is a possibility your plant will revert and lose their variegation.
Pink Princess Philodendrons are one of the most sought-after houseplants around. If you manage to get your hands on one, they are not difficult to care for or propagate, allowing you to make even more of these stunning pink plants.