This ain’t your grandma’s philodendron.
The Pink Princess Philodendron is a stunning cultivar of the time-honored house plant standby. Its shocking pink pops of color (variegation), almost black leaves, red stems, and vining habit have propelled it to recent stardom amongst house plant enthusiasts.
But just where does the Pink Princess come from? And how can you make sure it is happy, healthy, and pushing out those wonderful leaves?
Let’s find out more!
Pink Princess Philodendron Background
Philodendron ‘Pink Princess’ is a hybrid of heartleaf philodendron, or Philodendron hederaceum, a vining plant that is native to forested areas of Central America, South America, and the Caribbean.
The name “Philodendron” means “tree lover,” and in the wild philodendrons do indeed grow straight up the trunks of trees, attaching themselves with aerial roots.
Botanists call this type of growth pattern epiphytic–the seed sprouts in the crook of a branch, then sends its leaves up towards the sunlight and its roots down towards the ground.
(This might all sound familiar to you if you’ve already read our article on the Philodendron Splendid, another fabulous philo variety.)
As houseplants, philodendrons are well-known for their:
- Lush foliage
- Consistent growth
- Overall responsivenes
If you take care of this plant, it will reward you with beauty for many years to come.
The Pink Princess is a slower grower than other vining types of philo. It has a maximum length of four feet and a spread of two feet, with leaves that can reach up to eight inches long by two inches wide.
The Princess typically has her best coloration when trimmed back to a smaller size, such as 2 feet by 2 feet or smaller, like the photo shows:
The variegation of the leaves is actually a genetic mutation that results in swathes of leaf tissues that lack chlorophyll, the green-hued substance that allows plants to photosynthesize sunlight into sugars.
A plant needs to photosynthesize to live, so often Pink Princess Philodendron care is about striking the balance between:
- Encouraging variegation
- Preventing excess variegation
The unusual color of the leaves, stems, and bright variegation of this plant is the result of the hybridization of two philodendron species in the 1970s.
For many years, the pink philodendron was mildly popular and definitely unusual, but not especially trendy… until about 2019, when demand for them skyrocketed.
Simply put, the Pink Princess is highly photogenic. You can find it all across social media, from YouTube to Instagram to merchandise on Etsy.
It’s truly a houseplant for the digital age!
Where to Buy Pink Princess Philodendron
With the demand for a Pink Princess plant so high, be on the lookout for scams.
NPR has a whole article (well worth reading) about unscrupulous plant frauds and artificial methods of creating the pink congo philodendron.
With demand so high and supply somewhat limited (you can’t exactly 3D-print a whole new plant in five minutes!) expect to pay at least $100 for one of these beauties.
I highly recommend checking out Propagate ME on Etsy. Besides having beautiful Pink Princess plants, they’re super nice people to work with and they’re eager to help if you have any questions.
If Propagate ME happens to be sold out though, some other reputable sellers of the Pink Philodendron include:
What is a Reverted Pink Princess?
A reverted Pink Princess (Pink Pauper? Okay, maybe that’s too much!) is simply a Pink Princess whose leaves are more green than pink-streaked.
Much like this:
They’re less showy–at least to begin with–but they have some benefits, too.
Why might a reverted Pink Princess be worth your consideration? Well, remember what I said earlier that the pink leaf color is the result of a lack of chlorophyll.
A Pink Princess that is too pink is unable to convert sunlight into sugars, meaning that it essentially starves to death.
So a reverted Pink Princess, with its mostly green leaves, will likely be a very healthy plant, and you might even be able to find it at a far lower price point.
With some patience and special care, you can then coax it to produce new leaves of the more deeply variegated variety. We’ll talk about this in greater detail a little later on in the propagation section.
Encouraging variegation on a reverted Pink Princess creates a plant that has beautiful color along with photosynthesis-enabled leaves.
That’s the best of both worlds!
Pink Princess Philodendron Care
So how does one properly care for a plant as special as the Pink Princess?
The Pink Princess grows slowly, but it is a vining type of philodendron.
While you can prune it to maintain a bushy shape, you can also give it some support to climb up for a different look.
You’ve got a couple of options here:
- A bamboo trellis, like this U-shaped one, blends right in with your plant
- A moss-covered post, such as this one, mimics a philodendron’s natural habitat
Appropriate Pot Size and Type
Start by choosing the right home for your philo. Calculate the ideal pot size in one of two ways:
- Measure your plant from its tallest tip to the top of the soil line. Divide that number by three to find the diameter, in inches, of an ideal pot.
- You can also simply choose a pot that is slightly bigger than the root ball of your plant. A smaller pot will encourage the plant to remain small, and is also less likely to become waterlogged.
You can plant your philo Pink Princess using any good potting soil that drains well. This indoor blend from Miracle-Gro is a good option.
As epiphytes, philodendrons can live with their roots suspended in air, so it might be a good idea to mix some vermiculite into your potting soil to lighten it even further. This 8-quart bag from Fertilome should be more than enough.
Philodendrons like their light to be fairly bright, but indirect.
An east-facing window works very well, but you can also position your Pink Princess a few feet back from a south or west-facing window.
To find out how to use light to help boost the levels of variegation on your Pink Princess, see the section below for our tips on how to maintain vibrant color.
Let the first inch or so of soil dry out between waterings. Use your fingertip to push into the top of the soil and check for dampness or dryness.
In the hottest summer months, water when the first 1/2 inch of soil is dry.
It’s tempting to keep the soil moist, especially when it comes to a specialty plant like the Pink Princess philodendron.
But remember that overwatering is the main cause of death in houseplants!
The soil in a pot takes longer to dry out than you think it does, and the roots will suffocate if they are too wet to absorb oxygen.
Philodendrons are native to the equator, so they like it warm: 60-80 F (16-27 F) through the winter, and even warmer in the summertime.
Philodendrons are not heavy feeders, but they will benefit from a monthly application of balanced houseplant fertilizer. This organic formula on Amazon is a good choice.
If your plant seems sluggish to grow in the summer, give it fertilizer every two or three weeks until it starts to put out new growth.
Providing adequate humidity will help keep the leaves of your Pink Princess soft and supple; too little humidity might cause the leaves to develop crunchy brown edges.
Take care to position your Pink Princess away from any heating or A/C vents, as they pump out air that is very drying.
There are also several effective ways to increase humidity:
- Group your Pink Princess plant with other houseplants to create a tiny microclimate.
- Place the pot of your plant on a tray filled with damp pebbles.
- Place a bowl or jar of water next to your philodendron.
- Give your Pink Princess a home in your kitchen or bathroom. These places tend to be the most humid rooms in the house because they have a lot of running water.
- Use a plant humidifier to add moisture to the air in a room.
Re-Potting Your Pink Princess Philodendron
It’s a good idea to re-pot a philo Pink Princess each spring.
This process refreshes the soil and, if necessary, moves the plant to a bigger pot to accommodate root growth.
Other good times to re-pot your Pink Princess are:
- It has very little new growth
- Roots begin poking out of the drainage holes
- The plant is always thirsty for water despite regular waterings
- You can see white salt deposits forming on the surface of the soil
Here is a step-by-step breakdown of how to properly remove and re-pot your philo:
Step 1: Thoroughly water your plant a few days before you plan to transplant it, and then again right before you do so. This helps the plant to slide out of the pot more easily.
Step 2: Firmly tap the pot on all sides to loosen the soil ball.
Step 3: Lay the pot on its side, tilted down slightly, and gently wiggle the root ball free.
You can poke it upwards from the bottom through the drainage holes, too.
Do not pull on the stems of the plant to get it out of the pot–they may break off entirely!
Step 4: Examine the roots of your plant, identifying and using sanitized shears to cut out any discolored or extremely overgrown roots.
Step 5: Place an inch or two of damp potting soil at the bottom of your pot, enough that when you replace the root ball in it, the top of the soil is 1 inch to 1/2 inch below the lip of the pot.
Once you’ve completed that, add more soil around the sides of the root ball, lightly pressing it down and in with your fingers or the eraser end of a pencil.
Step 6: Tap it against a firm surface to make sure all the soil settles in.
Step 7: Wait two or three days before watering. This dry time gives the cut roots time to seal off any wounds while also prompting uninjured roots to spread out and start seeking water.
Step 8: Check on the soil in a few days, adding in more if needed.
Tips to Maintain Vibrant Pink Color
The key to great color on a Pink Princess is adequate light.
A Pink Princess that is not getting enough light will begin to produce more green leaves, which have more chlorophyll that converts sunlight into sugar. This is essentially a stress response.
If your leaves are mostly green, bring your plant closer to a window so that it can receive more light. This will lead to more balanced variegation on the leaves.
On the other hand, all or mostly-pink leaves are too much of a good thing!
If your Princess has leaves that are mostly or all variegated, it will soon start to suffer from starvation. This is because it lacks the chlorophyll it needs to sustain itself.
If your leaves are too pink, move your plant farther back from the window or bright light.
You may also need to selectively prune some of these leaves back to the stem to encourage the growth of green leaves.
How to Propagate Pink Princess Philodendron
Although philodendrons are relatively easy to propagate through a stem cutting in soil or even in water, preserving that pink color is more difficult.
Most Pink Princess philodendrons are produced in exacting greenhouse conditions, and sometimes they are even grown from tissue cultures.
So while taking a cutting from your Princess will still produce a lovely plant, we can’t quite guarantee that it will be pink!
But if you do want to give it a try, take a cutting from the most highly variegated portion of your plant. Make sure that it receives consistent, bright, indirect light throughout the propagation process.
This video from OnlyPlants takes you through the propagation process and how it may help your plant regain lost variegation:
Potential Problems to Look Out For
As long as they have the proper light exposure, humidity and water, philodendrons are pretty easy-going.
But there are a few issues to keep an eye out for:
Philodendrons do shed their oldest leaves after a while.
However, if several leaves suddenly turn yellow or blotchy and drop, it’s probably a sign that the plant feels too cold. Try moving it to a warmer room.
Healthy leaves will also sometimes turn yellow because they are receiving too much direct light.
Reposition your Pink Princess so that the light it receives is indirect or filtered.
If the tips of the leaves turn brown and begin to curl under, that is a sign of over-fertilization. Flush the pot with several rounds of clean water, and wait up to four weeks before fertilizing again.
Plant disease or insects are responsible for other types of leaf discoloration, which leads to the next point…
Philodendrons are not especially susceptible to most diseases, but leaf spot is an occasional problem.
Leaf spot is a fungal infection that causes dark spots within the tissue of the leaf.
If you see this on your Pink Princess plant, trim off any affected leaves and treat unaffected ones with neem oil to prevent it from spreading. This formula from Neem Bliss is organic and cold-pressed.
You should also avoid getting the leaves or stems of your Pink Princess wet when watering, as this increases the chances of leaf spot.
Specifically, try to direct your water towards the soil surface only.
Mealybugs and aphids are the eternal pests of houseplants, and the Pink Princess is no exception.
However, it is most likely to catch these pests from other house plants. So if you find these on your philo, make sure to give your other plant babies a once-over, too.
Aphids cause new growth to emerge with a rumpled appearance and yellow discoloration.
Use your fingers or a cotton ball to rub away aphids, or spray them off with water. Afterwards, treat the plant and soil surface with insecticidal soap, like this one from Safer Brand, which kills aphids on contact.
Similarly, when you spot the cottony white deposits of mealybugs, remove them with tweezers or an alcohol-soaked cotton ball, and follow up with insecticidal soap.
Frequently Asked Questions about Pink Princess Philodendron
The Pink Princess Philodendron is a show-stopper!
Despite its high-drama appearance, though, it’s actually a fairly low-maintenance addition to your houseplant collection.
So if you get the chance to get your hands on a lovely Pink Princess, act immediately. You’ll be glad you did!
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