Your Complete Pink Princess Philodendron Care Guide
Despite having the word 'princess' in its name, the Pink Princess Philodendron is closer to being the queen of tropicals within the houseplant community, especially over the past couple of years. With large green leaves and eye-catching pink variegation, it really isn't surprising why they became so popular in such a short period of time. Known as one of the most internet-famous plants, their attractive foliage graces almost every plant-influencer's Instagram page.
△ 4" Philodendron Pink Princess
This care guide is going to be a little bit different than our typical care guides, going more in-depth into one specific plant's care rather than covering the care of a complete species. Doing it this way will allow us to outline every unique thing your Pink Princess needs to remain happy and produce plenty of healthy foliage, as well as the correct environment to keep your plant in that will encourage as much of that beautiful pink variegation as possible. Any additional tips and tricks for maintaining a lush, beautiful plant will be included along the way!
The Pink Princess is a hybrid of the Philodendron erubescens, or blushing Philodendron species, and belongs in the Araceae family, along with all other aroids. It is a climbing vine that produces large, waxy, green or burgundy-brown leaves (depending on how much light it is receiving) that can grow up to 9 inches long and 5 inches wide, the entire plant growing several feet tall as well! Now, this takes time, and more time than your average green plant because, despite being incredibly beautiful, the pink variegation on the leaves of this Philodendron are actually areas that lack chlorophyll. Without this additional chlorophyll that the plant's non-variegated counterparts contain, it will take more time to attain mature foliage.
Chlorophyll: The natural compound present in green plants that gives them their colour. It also helps plants absorb the energy from the sun as they undergo photosynthesis, the process by which the plant creates oxygen and energy.
Biologically speaking, the relatability of plants is generally determined by the similarity of their flowers. Although your Pink Princess will most likely never flower indoors, the foliage that they produce will make up for that greatly (their flowers aren't that interesting anyway). The pink and green variegation of their leaves is not something that is commonly seen in the houseplant world. However, there is a downside to this since variegation is never stable or reliable, which is why some leaves have more colouring than others and why one plant can produce no variegation for leaves at a time, and then all of a sudden produce a colourful leaf.
Araceae plants have a very distinct flower, or inflorescence, which consists of a fleshy, rod-like section, or spadix, that is surrounded by a coloured leaf, or bract, also known as a spathe. The actual, tiny flowers cover the spadix and are quite inconsequential, so the inflorescence is what helps to distinguish an aroid.
Pink leaves are beautiful, but in the long run, you don't actually want your plant to produce fully pink leaves or leaves that are mostly pink. A couple of leaves at a time is fine but once the plant has more pink than green, it will begin to deteriorate because there isn't enough chlorophyll to promote healthy new growth. Your plant wants, and needs, chlorophyll. A combination of green and pink leaves is necessary for your plant's long-term survival, and it adds to its beauty because no two leaves will produce the same intricate pattern of variegation.
Pink Princess Tip: Even if your plant has produced a couple of solid green leaves, it is still possible that there is variegation in the plant's future, just make sure it is getting the light it needs!
As your plant grows, it will begin to vine due to its epiphytic growth habit, which means it can either be left to trail or it can climb if given the support. If it is given a structure to grow up, the foliage will eventually become larger and more mature because its aerial roots will be given something to latch onto. These aerial roots are the brown lumps, or fully developed roots, forming off the main stem at nodes above the soil level, they will draw moisture and nutrients from the surrounding air. Even princesses need a little help every now and then, and investing in a moss pole would do just the trick.
As your Pink Princess Philodendron climbs upwards, gently secure the main vines to a moss pole in increments with twine or string, adding more as the plant grows.
If you don't want your plant to get too tall, or would rather it stay bushy and full, keep cutting its longer vines back to the length you wish it to remain at! The bonus with doing this is that you can propagate these cuttings, either placing them back into the mother plant or starting a brand new plant, for yourself or your friends. We provide a more quick guide to their propagation below, but our Propagation Series is much more extensive.
Just like most other plants, lighting is the most important part of Pink Princess care. This is especially important for them because we want the plant to be in the perfect location where it produces an optimal amount of variegation. Due to the lack of chlorophyll in the leaves in the sections that are only pink, your plant will need more light to support its colouring than the average green houseplant. Since we already know that variegation is not reliable or guaranteed, maximizing any variegation possible is always the goal when it comes to this finicky lady!
Your Pink Princess will be happy in medium light but it most likely won't produce very pink leaves. On the flip side, your plant will not tolerate prolonged, intense sun rays, this can scorch the leaves and wash the colour out. Some morning sun or late afternoon sun is fine but nothing excessive.
Variegated plants need more light than non-variegated plants, and we have a lot less light indoors than we think, therefore, in this guide, we will only be outlining the optimal spots for your plant, not a range. Everybody who purchases a Pink Princess Philodendron desires the pink foliage anyways, so here are the ideal locations in which you should place your new princess:
- Directly in front of an East-facing window is the number one location for this Philodendron. It will receive some morning sun and then bright, indirect light for the rest of the day, providing a nice, large view of the sky (as long as there are no obstructions)
- North and South-facing windows are also great, North-facing would require the plant to be directly next to the window (since that direction provides the least amount of natural light) and make sure the plant is not kept in the path of the afternoon sun if it is near a South-facing window
- A West-facing window would also be great, but install a sheer curtain over the window or keep the plant a meter or so back, especially during the hot, sunny, summer months
All-in-all, what we really want to do is to replicate any houseplant's natural habitat, which is under the rainforest canopy with dappled sunlight and shade in this case. Reduced light levels can result in less colour (i.e. less pink), if any, as well as smaller leaves, slower growth, and more. The farther your plant is kept from a window, the more disappointing its growth will probably be, as well as its colouring. However, with too much light, your Pink Princess may start to become washed out, where the burgundy/green colouring of the leaves turns to a faded green, and the pink turns almost white. Sunburn can also occur.
As long as your plant is in a bright and shaded spot, where there aren't many obstructions outside the window they receive light from and no excessive sunlight, then you should have a very happy plant on your hands. This bright, indirect light will provide the ideal conditions for healthy growth and balanced variegation. Since variegated plants have less chlorophyll than non-variegated plants, they need more light to sustain the plant, still needing to produce the same amount of energy. It can be a little tricky to understand light levels in the home, especially bright, indirect light, but our Indoor Lighting Guide will help answer any further questions you may have!
Although the correct watering measures may not encourage more variegation, they will certainly encourage a robust plant, which is what we are hoping for in the end. One of the great things about most Philodendrons is that they are not very thirsty plants! In fact, it would be more damaging to the plant if it was to receive too much water, rather than too little. In the Spring/Summer months, keep the soil about half dry, and in the Fall/Winter months, allow your plant's soil to mostly dry out before watering again, at least the top three-quarters of the plant can be dry before giving it another drink.
Watering Tip: When in doubt, hold off on watering! We want to avoid letting the soil go completely dry but also avoid having it sit in constantly wet soil, which can lead to root rot. Feel the soil with your fingers to estimate moisture levels.
The frequency of watering, or how often you water, will all depend on the light your plant is receiving, the warmth and humidity of your home, the size of the pot, as well as the pot that the plant is planted in. You should expect to water your plant more often in the spring/summer months, when the days are longer, warmer, and brighter, and less often in the winter months when the days are shorter, cooler, and darker. You should also expect to water a plant that is receiving brighter light more often than the plant that is receiving lower light.
Use rainwater or distilled water if your plant is a little picky with its watering. Tap water contains chemicals and salts that can build up in the soil, leading to burns on the edges of the foliage or curling leaves. Otherwise, let some tap water sit out over a few days to let these harmful chemicals evaporate!
When it comes time to water, water your plant fully until all of the soil is moist and there is water coming out of the drainage holes. If the soil is not absorbing the water, try bottom-watering your plant instead, where you let it sit in a bowl of 2-3 inches of water for roughly 30-45 minutes, until the soil has absorbed some water. Then, in either case, let any excess water drain out and dump this excess.
Watering Tip: Water your plant in the actual shower when it is time! This will wash off the leaves, including dust buildup or hidden pests, and water the soil.
The Pink Princess is generally quite resilient and can handle the soil going mostly dry in between waterings, but it is best not to go from extremely dry to extremely wet often - they certainly won't put up with improper watering practices in the long run. Mature specimens can be drought-tolerant once established but we never want to stress a plant out too much. The goal is to keep the soil adequately moist, based on the seasons, lighting, and growth, to keep the plant growing in a healthy manner. Always check the moisture levels by first sticking your fingers in the soil, if the top inch is completely dry, it is most likely time to water!
Philodendrons love a chunky, porous, well-draining soil mix, which will keep the soil from staying too dense and moist for too long, such as our Aroid Potting Mix. As long as there is some sort of aggregate in the soil, such as perlite, vermiculite, charcoal, lava rocks, orchid bark, or coconut coir, the soil will not become too compact and will allow for airflow. They prefer nutrient-rich soil that can hold moisture but not become soggy, which we know can lead to root rot if roots are exposed to moisture for long periods of time.
Did you know? Something fun about this Philodendron, and some other species, is that they can actually be grown in a completely soil-less (or peat-less) mixture, such as sphagnum moss or perlite!
When your Pink Princess is young, it will probably need to be repotted about once a year, this will refresh the soil and give your young plant more room to encourage new growth. A more established plant probably won't need to be repotted too often, just keep an eye on the roots to know when it is time in either case. When it does come time to repot, even though most plants are relatively hardy, we understand if you want to be gentle with your little princess because they are still a fairly expensive plant to get your hands on. Check out our Repotting Guide for exactly what to do to upsize your plants home.
Temperature & Humidity
Temperature and humidity are two more key elements to get right in your Pink Princess's environment. They prefer being in a room that is a warmer temperature (between 16 - 30 C) and with at least 50% humidity. Since they are native to tropical jungles, accurate temperature and humidity will directly affect their health and will encourage plenty of lush growth (as long as all the other environmental conditions are correct). Their growth rate is typically faster at the higher end of the temperature range anyways!
Why do accurate humidity levels lead to more robust growth? Well, while aroids do drink up moisture provided to them via their soil, that is simply not sufficient. Plant leaves lose moisture to the atmosphere in a process called transpiration, where water evaporates during photosynthesis. When humidity levels are too low, the transpiration rate increases, sometimes too much if the surrounding air is too hot, like when the heating is on. Not being able to make up for the lost water through soil moisture absorption and dry air results in the leaves turning brown along the edges
Have you ever noticed one of the developing leaves of your plant getting stuck and not unravelling on its own? This is most likely due to lower humidity levels, which are very common indoors. Mist the leaf once or twice to help lubricate it and do its thing - try not to unravel the leaf yourself as this could cause it to tear.
Central heating sucks ANY natural humidity out of our North American homes, which can be very frustrating, so this means it essential to make up for it in other ways with pickier houseplants. Some can be very easy going and don't require the moisture but your princess will definitely live a longer, healthier life if it is provided this. Protect your plant from direct heat and cold drafts, so keep it away from radiators, heating/air conditioning vents, freezing window panes, and open doors or windows in the winter. They won't tolerate cold, but they also won't tolerate extreme high heat, comfort is our goal. Generally, if you are warm and comfortable, so is your plant.
Humidity Tip: Don't forget that your Pink Princess will also require decent airflow because if there is a lot of humidity and no air movement, this can lead to bacterial spotting, which Philodendrons are prone to.
Average indoor humidity is usually too low for these beauties, especially if you have central heating or air conditioning, so it is important to supplement in the ways that we can, such as the following:
- Place the pot on top of a bed of pebbles that are just covered in water, increasing the ambient humidity
- Mist your plant daily to increase the ambient humidity (try not to let moisture sit on the leaves for long periods of time as this can encourage bacterial spotting)
- Keep a humidifier in the same area as your plants
- Group plants that prefer similar humidity levels together, this creates a natural humid atmosphere in the portion of the room that they are kept in
- Keeping your plant in a brightly lit bathroom (natural light of course) - there will be lots of natural humidity from the shower and sink, exactly what your plant is looking for
Where humidity levels are not as important when it comes to certain houseplants, such as Spider Plants, other Philodendrons, ZZ Plants, and Snake Plants, it can be quite critical to the overall health of other plants, such as the Pink Princess Philodendron. Do what you can to supplement the lower humidity levels indoors as much as possible, but your plant should still be generally happy in the long run if you can only manage average humidity. The goal of this guide is to give you all of the tools necessary to promote plenty of lush foliage!
We already know that, in general, Philodendrons are not too high maintenance when it comes to fertilizing (you can read more about that in our Philodendron Care Guide), and Pink Princesses keep the same energy going. It is still important to feed your plant though because if it lacks essential nutrients, the overall health will dwindle, growth will be slow, smaller leaves may occur, and the vibrancy of colouring could be lost. Fertilize your plant about once a month (every 4-6 weeks) during the growing season, or the Spring and Summer months, and then do not fertilize throughout the dormant season, or the Fall and Winter months. Before feeding your plant, make sure the soil is damp because fertilizing dry soil can potentially burn the roots.
Once or twice a year, flush the soil of your plant by running water slowly through the potting mix for about 1-2 minutes over the sink. This can help wash out any build up of fertilizer-salts, which can lead to root burn and therefore burned edges of leaves. Then water regularly after the soil dries out to the appropriate level.
Use a general-purpose, balanced, liquid fertilizer, such as one labeled with 5-5-5 or 10-10-10, that most garden centres or greenhouses offer to feed your plant! As we know from our Fertilizing Explained blog, Nitrogen stimulates chlorophyll production (i.e. more green), so avoid fertilizers with higher first numbers than the other two. These are highly nitrogenous fertilizers and will lead to faster growth but the new growth will probably lack variegation and primarily be green/burgundy. Conversely, fertilizers with equal Phosphorous and Potassium content, which represent the other two numbers, will ensure the pink parts of the plant dominate as much as the green ones.
Fertilizer is used to enhance a plant that is already growing in good conditions, not used to save a plant, providing further support and nutrients necessary for healthy growth and development!
If you wish to feed a little more often (no more than every couple of weeks), dilute the fertilizer to half the strength recommended on the label. It is very important to remember that more nutrients are't always better - fertilizing does not make up for problems that stem from improper watering, inappropriate light conditions, lower humidity levels, pests, etc. Unless you are certain that your plant needs more fertilizer, it is generally not the first solution to consider if your plant is experiencing some problems. Fertilizing a plant that is already stressed will only enhance the stress - check out the list of common Pink Princess issues below and their corresponding solutions first!
Since they are toxic to both humans and pets, due to the calcium oxalate crystals that all parts of the plant contain, Philodendrons are best kept away from children and animals. For humans, if ingested, and depending on how much, the reactions are milder but they can still cause dermatitis reactions or swelling of the mouth and digestive tract. The juices from the plant can also irritate the skin, leading to a rash if it is very sensitive, so make sure to use gloves when working with them or wash your hands after handling them. In animals, the reactions are usually more severe, with reports of spasms, drooling, foaming, seizures, pain, and swelling. Keep out of reach of your children and pets, especially if they are curious.
Pruning is all a part of owning houseplants, but it can be especially important, and necessary, when it comes to variegated plants. As we already know, we want a balance of variegation and green on the leaves of our Pink Princess Philodendron, if it is overrun with either one or the other, we could have a problem on our hands. On one hand, we don't want our plant to revert to an all-green plant, but on the other hand, we don't want more pink than green because the overall health of the plant will slowly decline and, due to the lack of chlorophyll, the plant won't be able to sustain itself. Pruning your plant is usually the solution, but how do we do this?
In either case, the steps are fairly easy, simply prune your plant back to the most recent leaf that has a balanced variegation (or at least some variegation). Trim the vine off just above where the leaf meets the stem (i.e. the node) with some clean clippers or trimmers, new growth will form from this node. The leaves that develop should be more balanced in variegation. Although you can technically do this at any point in the year, it would be best to trim your plant in the early spring or late fall, before or after the primary growing season. Also, the good news with pruning: you can propagate the cuttings! Keep reading the next section to find out exactly how to do so.
The sap that your Pink Princess secrets when you trim it is very pigmented, coming out a deep pink, and it can lightly stain walls or clothing if you aren't careful.
Pruning can also be done to encourage bushy growth (especially if you prefer bushy growth over taller vines), to get rid of old, yellowed foliage, to remove any leggy stems (when the plant maybe wasn't receiving the light it needed), to control height if you don't have the space, and to encourage more stems on one plant. As we noted above, remember that Pink Princess Philodendrons are quite slow growers, so developing a bushy, full plant will take some time.
Plant propagation is the process by which new plants grow from a variety of sources, such as cuttings in this case. With these cuttings, you can either grow a whole new plant, and spread the Pink Princess love, or plant it back into the mother plant to create a bushier plant! Doing so during the Spring and Summer months will set you up for the most success, when the days are longer and brighter. You can read a lot more about this in our Propagation 101 Series, the Propagation 102 Guide to be more exact, but here is a quick and short version of that:
- Clean or sterilize the clippers you will be using
- Look over your plant and decide which stem you wish to take cuttings from - you'll want to select one that is healthy and actively growing (choosing stems with some variegation will increase the potential of the colouring in the new plant)
- Make a cut that is about 6 inches from the end of the stem with about 3-4 leaves - this could turn into multiple cuttings, leaving some sections of stem on each cutting for roots to form (there should be aerial roots or exposed nodes for this to work). Remember that some cuttings may fail!
- Remove the lowest leaf to expose the node and put the cuttings into soil or water - the lower node/aerial root should be completely immersed (either under the soil or water) while the leaves will be suspended overtop
- Place the planted cuttings in a warm, brightly lit location - no direct sunlight as this could burn any delicate new roots
- If you put your cuttings in water, they should develop a root system within 4-5 weeks
- Pot these cuttings into soil and they should become established in 2-3 weeks
When you have a fully rooted plant, you can either place it back in with the mother plant or leave it as its own independent baby! Now you not only have your original plant but also a new little one to enjoy. You could also propagate by root division, where you remove a vine with its roots if you have multiples in one plant, but most people don't have such a developed specimen at this point.
Common Pests & Problems
All right, you've made it this far! We have covered practically everything your Pink Princess requires to live its best life, the only thing left to go over are the most common issues that you may experience, so let's get into them:
If you spy any webs, bumps or spots on your plant, it’s possible that it is putting up with some unwelcome visitors, such as spider mites, mealybugs, thrips or scale. This problem can quickly become apparent through yellowing leaves or unhealthy growth. Please see our Pest Tips & Tricks for further assistance on how to get rid of these pesky insects.
Fungal, or bacterial, spotting can be common on Philodendrons, and most often occurs when they have received a treatment they didn't enjoy or if too much moisture was present on their leaves. Although they like humidity, try not to mist the leaves too often, leaving water beads on them for extended periods of time, and make sure you are watering your plant appropriately!
Lack of variegation:
As we mentioned previously, this is a very common experience with lots of Pink Princess owners. Making sure your plant is in the optimal light should be your first change, since we know that light levels are important when it comes to encouraging colour. If this doesn't fix it, try pruning back to the most recent variegated leaf, just as we outline above.
Small, misshapen leaves:
If the new leaves are all of a sudden smaller than the previous leaves (this does not apply to a plant that was recently cut back), this probably means your plant is in less than ideal conditions. Make sure your plant is in bright, indirect light, proper watering measures are in place, humidity is optimal, and there is no evidence of pests!
Smaller leaves can be common after you bring a plant home from the greenhouse because they are built with plenty of bright, indirect light, unlike our homes. Just ensure this doesn't happen if the plant has been in your care for a long period.
Also known as leggy growth, this usually happens if a plant is not receiving the light it needs. It would be best to move the plant to brighter light and to prune back this growth if you don't enjoy the look of it. Check out our recommendations above for the best place to keep your plant.
Whenever you see a brown hue taking over the edges of a leaf, or an entire leaf, the plant may be facing a shortage of humidity, which is why it is key to increase the humidity levels if possible. Keep an eye on your watering tendencies as well, following along as we outlined above as to what Pink Princess Philodendrons prefer when it comes to moisture. Over time, the variegated portions of leaves, especially leaves with large sections of pink on them, will probably turn brown naturally because the plant cannot sustain them for too long. If your plant is kept in direct sunlight for long periods of the day, this can also scorch their leaves.
First of all, no leaf will last forever, so it the overall health of your plant is fine and it is pushing out new growth, try not to worry if an older leaf or two yellows and dies off. However, yellowing leaves can also be due to too much sun or watering issues, so keep an eye on how you are caring for your plant and follow our recommendations above.
Drooping or curling leaves:
Again, this can be due to improper watering measures, which is why it is essential to water your plant as it needs, not watering too often or letting the soil become extremely dry. This can also occur if your plant is not receiving enough light, if it is in too high of heat, or if it is in a pot that is too large and receiving too much water.
You did it! You made it to the end of this care guide. Although it is rather extensive, this care guide truly covers everything your Philodendron Pink Princess requires to live a long, healthy, happy life, so make sure to read it over if you are ever in need of assistance with your pink beauty. Otherwise, reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org for further plant support, we are always happy to help!