How to Grow and Care For White Wizard Philodendron
Looking for a unique houseplant? The stunning White Wizard Philodendron might be exactly what you need! In this article, gardening expert Madison Mouldon looks at all aspects of growing these stunning houseplants, including their maintenance and care needs.
The bright and patterned leaves of variegated indoor plants have completely overtaken the houseplant community. When it comes to Philodendron cultivars, there are many interesting variegated types to choose from.
One of the more popular is ‘White Wizard,’ beloved for its large patches of stark white variegation.
Despite this complex look, White Wizards are easy plants to care for. Follow this essential guide for everything you need to know about keeping this plant happy, including tips on repotting and propagation.
White Wizard Philodendron Plant Overview
Plant Type Houseplant
Species Philodendron erubescens ‘White Wizard’
Native Area Tropical forests
Exposure Bright indirect light
Watering Requirements Low
Pests & Diseases Scale, spider mites, mealybug
Soil Type Airy and well-draining
Temperature Between 60F to 75F
What Is White Wizard Philodendron?
The Philodendron genus is packed with interesting plants in various shapes and colors. Several species have become popular as houseplants for their ease of care and ability to grow well indoors. With so many exciting types and new cultivars, you can easily fill your home with just Philodendrons without running out of unique styles.
‘White Wizard’ is one of the rarer Philodendron cultivars. It comes from the Philodendron erubescens species, which produced the internet-famous ‘Pink Princess’ Philodendron. They can be difficult to find due to their rarity and also come with a high price tag. But this makes them all the more collectible and sought-after.
Despite their rarity, ‘White Wizard’ Philodendrons are not difficult to care for. They are almost as low-maintenance as the common Philodendron species. They handle neglect and many different environmental conditions. There are some small quirks to consider due to their variegation, but nothing that a beginner to the houseplant community can’t handle.
Because they are so easy to grow, this variety is a great beginner-friendly rare plant for those looking for something different. They aren’t as fussy as other popular variegated plants like the variegated Monstera. The only challenge is finding one in the first place and fitting it into your budget.
‘White Wizard’ Philodendrons are hybrid cultivars. In other words, you won’t find them out in the wild (unless someone planted them there on purpose). But you will find the original species, Philodendron erubescens, in the tropical jungles of Colombia in South America.
This species is also known as the “blushing Philodendron” or “red-leaf Philodendron,” with the specific epithet erubescens meaning “blushing.” This plant is a strong climber in its native habitat, but many hybrids form clumps rather than climbing.
This cultivar’s native tropical habitat suggests what it prefers indoors – warm and humid environments. Their variegation pattern means the light requirements are slightly different, but replicating their native habitats as closely as possible will help your plant grow as healthy and happily as possible.
The stand-out characteristic of ‘White Wizard’ is the variegated foliage. Patches of stark white appear on the leaves, contrasted by deep green, making the variegation stand out even more. The variegation can appear in a spotted pattern or larger groupings (as much as half the entire leaf in some cases) if the lighting conditions are right.
This rare cultivar is often confused with other similar types. ‘White Princess’ is the most common comparison, with larger leaves and a slightly more mottled variegation pattern. The leaves may even develop pops of pink like the relative ‘Pink Princess.’ ‘White Knight’ is another similar cultivar. However, this one is much easier to identify due to the deep red-colored stems.
‘White Wizard’ is a climbing Philodendron that will grow best with some support. They grow relatively slowly and don’t get as large as some other Philodendron types, but they can easily fill an empty corner with enough time and the right care.
Where To Buy One
‘White Wizard’ Philodendrons are not as difficult to find as when they first entered the houseplant market. However, they aren’t so common that you’ll find one at your local nursery. Purchasing one will likely take some searching and detective work.
Start with specialized local growers that sell rare houseplants, or contact your local nursery for help. It’s best to purchase a plant from your local area – the less travel the plant needs to get to you, the less stress it will endure.
If you can’t find any near you, search online marketplaces like Facebook or Etsy. Etsy, in particular, has a few listings for these popular plants. Make sure you purchase from a verified seller, and check the reviews and images closely to ensure you are getting a true ‘White Wizard’ Philodendron.
How to Grow
These dazzling vines are surprisingly easy to care for. Their needs are similar to other tropical houseplants – an easy fit into your existing collection.
Sunlight is one of the most vital characteristics to manage if you want to keep your plant as variegated as possible.
Variegated sections of ‘White Wizard’ foliage lack chlorophyll in the leaves. This gives them their stark white color compared to the green patches. But that also means the leaves’ green parts do all the hard work in photosynthesis to produce what the plant needs to survive.
The plant will slowly lose variegation if they don’t get the right amount of sunlight. New leaves may even emerge solid green to improve overall growth and help the plant survive. On the other hand, variegated areas are also incredibly susceptible to sunlight damage and can’t be left in direct sun for long periods.
The best light is bright, indirect sun. The more indirect sun they receive throughout the day, the better. They can also handle moderate light further away from windows but won’t have much variegation in these areas.
Aim for an east-facing window for the best results. Alternatively, choose a south or west-facing window just out of the path of the direct sun. If they are left in intense direct sun during the hottest part of the day, the leaves will quickly develop brown patches – especially in variegated areas.
Low light is not suitable for variegated Philodendrons. These slow-growers will become stressed and lose their variegation in low light, reverting to their original green color.
‘White Wizard’ Philodendrons are not as fussy about watering as some other rare plants. They can still survive with the occasional missed watering. However, consistency is key if you want them to grow to their full potential.
It’s generally best to wait until the top third layer of the soil has completely dried out before watering again. This keeps the roots satisfied without risking overwatering. To determine the perfect time, test the soil with your finger every couple of days. Eventually, you will know how often you need to water, considering changes in environmental conditions.
Underwatering your plant will lead to stress and stunted growth. The leaves may also turn brown at the edges, and the soil will become compacted. They can handle some changes in the watering schedule, but it’s better not to let them dry out completely.
Overwatering is far more dangerous. When you’ve spent lots of money on these plants and invested time in finding and caring for them, the last thing you want to encounter is root rot that will quickly kill the plant.
Never water when the top layer of soil is still dry to avoid soggy soil and lack of aeration around the roots. Also, empty drip trays or pot covers soon after watering; always use a container with drainage holes.
Depending on where you purchase your ‘White Wizard,’ they will likely be happy in the soil they came in for a while. Consistency in conditions is important and frequent changes in the soil will only lead to stress.
But that doesn’t mean they can grow in the same soil forever. Whether the plant outgrows the pot, the soil degrades, or you find evidence of pests and diseases, you will need to get an ideal soil mix ready.
Most houseplant potting mixes will be suitable for these plants. These mixes contain the right ratios of materials to improve drainage and aeration for indoor growth. Regular potting mix or garden soil doesn’t have suitable characteristics and can quickly lead to root rot or other growth problems.
If you want to make your own houseplant potting mix, I typically use a ratio of two parts potting soil to one part perlite and one part coconut coir. This can be adjusted depending on the needs of the plant and the existing soil it is planted in. Try to replicate the same texture to limit the chances of shock.
Temperature and Humidity
Regarding temperature, Philodendrons are generally happy in the same conditions humans prefer.
Aim to keep temperatures above 60°F year-round and closer to 75°F for the strongest possible growth. Dips below 50°F can stunt growth and cause permanent tissue damage, so keep them away from cold windows and drafts over the cooler months.
Extreme heat can also slow growth as the plants prioritize survival, but ‘White Wizard’ plants are far better equipped to handle sudden increases in temperature than sudden drops.
Avoid any positions in your home where temperatures and other environmental conditions often change throughout the day, such as spots in front of open windows or doors or in front of air conditioners.
These rare tropical vines are also happy in moderate humidity levels. Anything above 40% is suitable for these plants. However, increases in humidity will be a closer match to their native habitats, helping them thrive. In dry climates, a humidifier can help.
Regular fertilizing is key if you want your ‘White Wizard’ to grow as quickly as possible. This will replace any nutrients in the soil that have been absorbed or washed away, ensuring your plant always has what it needs to thrive.
Fertilize with a balanced fertilizer every 4-6 weeks in spring and summer. I typically start with a half-strength dose to avoid overfertilizing, only increasing the concentration if the plant needs an extra boost.
Although it may seem like more fertilizer will help the plant grow bigger or faster, the opposite is usually true. Applying more fertilizer than your plant needs will lead to root damage that stunts growth rather than improving it. Never apply more than recommended on the packaging, and flush the soil if you notice signs of overfertilizing.
Along with these regular care tasks, there are a few other chores to tick off your list throughout the season.
The first is providing support. For the quickest possible growth and a large plant, give your ‘White Wizard’ something to climb. Moss poles are ideal as they also improve conditions around the vines and replicate how the original species grows naturally. These plants will climb slower than other Philodendrons due to the variegated leaves but will eventually fill out the space will the right supports.
The second task to consider is pruning. This Philodendron won’t need regular pruning – you probably want to keep as many leaves on the plant as possible. But trimming damaged or diseased leaves goes a long way to improving growth or preventing the spread of the problem. Use sharp shears and clean them before use to avoid transferring harmful bacteria to the plant.
Repotting is another requirement, with the right time depending on the size of your plant and the speed of growth. Full repotting steps are discussed below and can’t be avoided if you want to keep your plant healthy long-term.
Finally, consider adding cleaning the leaves to your regular list of houseplant chores. Not only does this improve growth, but it also makes the glossy, variegated leaves look their best year-round. Wipe them down with a damp cloth every few weeks to prevent dust from building on the leaves.
Because new ‘White Wizard’ plants are so pricey, propagation is the best way to increase your stock. These plants are surprisingly easy to propagate from stem cuttings, allowing you to slowly expand your collection over time without spending another cent.
- Start with a robust, healthy parent plant.
- Clean and sanitize a pair of sharp shears.
- Remove a healthy stem just below a node.
- You can take multiple cuttings at once, depending on the plant size.
- You can root in water or in a well-draining propagating mix for a stronger root system.
- Place the bottom two-thirds of the cutting stem in water or soil.
- Change the water every couple of days for a month or two.
- If rooting in the soil, maintain continuous moisture.
- Roots should appear within a month or two.
- When roots are a couple of inches long, transplant the cutting into a new container.
Never remove more than one-third of the plant at a time to avoid shock. Taking just one cutting and keeping the parent plant healthy is far better than risking damage. You can always propagate later from a healthy plant, but you won’t be able to propagate from a dead one.
Although ‘White Wizard’ Philodendrons are considered slower growers than other Philodendron varieties, they still grow relatively quickly compared to other houseplants. Young plants need repotting every 1-2 years, while mature large plants can wait 2-3 years before repotting.
As repotting is a stressful experience, wait until it’s clear your plant really needs it before starting. You may notice roots growing throughout the drainage holes, yellowing leaves, or stunted growth. After a while, the soil will also begin to break down, needing replacement to keep the roots healthy.
Follow these steps to repot:
- Remove the plant from the existing pot.
- If it gets stuck, squeeze the sides of the container or run a knife around the edges to loosen the roots.
- Turn the pot on its side and pull the plant out from the base.
- Tease the roots to loosen any roots that may have wrapped around each other.
- Remove as much of the old soil as possible if it has broken down.
- Prepare a new container one or two sizes up from the original.
- Fill the base with your houseplant potting mix.
- Lower the plant into the pot, spreading the roots out as much as possible.
- Fill in the gaps with more new soil mix until the pot is filled to just below the rim.
- Press around the base to anchor the plant.
- Water immediately to encourage new root growth.
- Move the plant back to its original spot and continue your regular care routine.
There may be an adjustment period after repotting where growth slows. However, after a few weeks, growth should return to normal.
These variegated beauties are easy to grow but can face several problems with incorrect care or conditions. Look out for these common problems to help your plant thrive:
- Lack of variegation: Caused by lack of light. Move the pot to a brighter area but still out of the path of direct sun to prevent burning.
- Brown patches: Exposure to direct sun. Keep the pot out of direct sun during the hottest parts of the day to protect the sensitive variegated leaves.
- Yellow leaves: Usually a moisture issue, most often root rot caused by overwatering or lack of drainage. Repot and improve drainage or watering schedule to prevent the issue from occurring again.
- Discolored spots: Pest problems. Look out for red spider mites, scale insects, and other common houseplant pests that feed on stems and leaves, leaving small spots of discoloration.
Why Do White Wizard Philodendrons Lose Their Variegation?
Variegated parts of the leaves lack chlorophyll. If your White Wizard is placed in a low-light area, the plant will produce more chlorophyll to improve growth in those conditions, causing the leaves to turn green again. Move your White Wizard to a brighter area but out of the path of direct sun for the strongest possible variegation.
What’s The Difference Between White Wizard And White Princess?
White Princess has a similar look but slightly larger leaves and a more mottled variegation pattern. The leaves of White Princess may even develop pops of pink like the relative Pink Princess.
Can You Propagate White Wizard Philodendron?
White Wizard Philodendrons are just as easy to propagate as other members of the genus. They can be propagated from stem cuttings, rooted in either water or soil. Roots should appear within one to two months. As White Wizards are quite expensive, propagation is the best way to expand your collection, as long as the parent plant is healthy.
If you love variegated plants and are looking for an easy cultivar to add to your collection, you can’t go wrong with this plant. Placed in the right conditions, they will be happy season after season.