The Philodendron Florida Ghost (also known as White Ghost) is a rare plant with unusually-shaped foliage. Leaves are white when young, then develop into yellow-green before fully maturing into a deep green color.
Its name comes from multilobed leaves that are white when juvenile, and are – you guessed it – in the shape of a flying ghost!! One lobe resembles a head, and 2 pairs of lobes resemble hands and feet. 😛
Despite its appearance, caring for this plant is nothing to be scared about (ha!). It thrives in warm, humid environments (>60%) and lots of bright filtered light. Choose a sharply-draining soil with lots of chunky amendments. It doesn’t require much fertilizer.
Let’s dive into the details.
The origins of the Philodendron Florida Ghost are largely unknown, adding to the mystique of this rare and sought-after houseplant. It is thought to be a hybrid between parent plants Philodendron Pedatum and Philodendron Squamiferum, but its lineage is unconfirmed.
Caring for your plant
For your Philodendron Florida Ghost to remain white, you need to provide it with LOTS and LOTS of bright but filtered light. For your plant to remain white, it needs more sunlight than a similar green-leafed plant.
When kept indoors, the best place to put your Florida Ghost is a few feet away from a South-facing window. If this is not possible, we recommend purchasing a grow light and letting the plant receive 12 hours of bright but filtered light.
Watering is an important part of care for your Philodendron. Your Florida Ghost has moderate watering needs, but can be susceptible to overwatering. To ensure you water your plant properly, here’s what you need to be aware of:
- Always let the topsoil dry out before watering your plant. Check your soil’s moisture with your fingertips before watering.
- Using this method, watering frequency usually works out to be around once a week during the summer months but will roughly half in winter.
- Water deeply, until excess water escapes from the drainage holes. Avoid shallow-watering.
- Water close to the soil surface to avoid wetting the leaves. Leafy Philodendrons are susceptible to wet foliage, becoming a breeding ground for bacterial blight or pathogens.
- Water early in the day promotes rapid evaporation. Again this reduces the risk of bacteria using water to breed.
While your plant can tolerate humidity levels around 60% – 70%, ideally, aim for humidity levels of 70% and above. Being a tropical plant, your Philodendron Florida Ghost is accustomed to high humidity.
To give your plant a humidity boost, you can use a pebble tray or invest in a humidifier.
Also, some air circulation is beneficial as this reduces the risk of bacteria growth.
The temperature shouldn’t be an issue for your plant when kept indoors. Temperatures around 50-85 degrees F (10-25 degrees C) are perfect for growth. Like many tropical plants, the Philodendron Florida Ghost is not cold-hardy and doesn’t like fluctuations in temperature.
Avoid placing your plant in the way of air vents or cold drafts, and your plant will thank you for it. A warm, bright spot is what your plant needs.
Like many plants that are not uniformly green all their lives, the Philodendron Florida Ghost is a slow-grower. You can expect your houseplant to reach up to around 2 feet (60 cm) tall when kept indoors under optimal conditions. The leaves can grow up to 2-4 inches (5-10cm) in length.
It’s extremely rare for a Philodendron Florida Ghost plant to flower, especially when grown indoors away from its natural habitat. But if you are one of the lucky few, you’ll spot purple flowers growing. Like many in the Aroid family, the inflorescence is in the form of a spathe and spadix, but is considered insignificant compared with its sought-after foliage.
For best growth, do provide climbing support for your vining plant (like a moss pole or trellis). This helps them to grow tall and healthy, as well as promote lush leaves.
Soil or Growing Medium
Your Philodendron Florida Ghost loves a loose and airy potting mix, that has sharp drainage properties to prevent roots from suffocating. We have three main suggestions for the potting mix. First, you can choose to create your own potting mix combining the “ingredients” below:
- 3 parts indoor potting soil;
- 2 parts perlite;
- 1 part horticultural charcoal.
Another option is to use 100% sphagnum peat moss, which we have also found to work well. Lastly, you can grow your plant in LECA.
In terms of planters, go for a deep and sturdy pot, as the plant can be top-heavy. You don’t want it to topple over! At the same time, its roots grow deep rather than wide, so ensure that you have a deep pot.
Your plant is a relatively light feeder, so use a liquid fertilizer at half-strength every three weeks in the growing season, in the spring and summer months. Choose a fertilizer high in nitrogen, which supports healthy foliage. This fertilizer is a little nutritional boost to support your plant as it puts out new growth.
Hold off fertilizing in the autumn and winter months, as this is when your plant is not actively growing.
Because your plant is relatively slow-growing, repotting will not need to be an annual affair. Repotting should be done every 2-3 years as your plant takes time to establish and outgrow its pot.
When you see that your plant is root-bound, it’s time to repot your plant. Choose a pot with drainage holes and one that is 2 inches larger than the original. Repotting is best done in spring, at the start of its growing season, to give your plant time to establish in its new home.
Like many in the Araceae family (members of this family are known as Aroids), your Philodendron Florida Ghost is toxic when ingested by humans and animals. Toxicity is due to the presence of calcium oxalate crystals, which cause nausea, gastrointestinal pain and skin burns.
For this reason, it’s best to place your plant away from children and pets.
Being a slow-grower, pruning isn’t a significant care aspect for your Philodendron Florida Ghost. Nevertheless, trimming to keep your plant’s shape and size and remove any damaged leaves is a good idea. This helps your plant refocus its energy on putting out new growth.
To prune, cut above the node at a downwards angle to prevent infection of the wound.
Propagation by Stem Cuttings
Stem cuttings is an easy way to propagate your Philodendron Florida Ghost.
- Identify a healthy section of stem that is about 6 inches long that has at least two leaves.
- Using clean garden shears, cut below the node. (The node is where new growth will emerge.)
- Remove any leaves from the bottom half of the stem cutting.
- Place the cutting into a moistened potting mix (see Soil section for details) or moistened sphagnum moss. Ensure at least one node is buried beneath the surface, as this is where new roots will develop.
- Place the plant in a warm spot with plenty of bright but filtered light.
- Place a clear plastic bag around your plant to boost humidity levels, but be sure to remove the bag every day for an hour for fresh air.
- In about four weeks, the roots should have started to develop. Confirm this by giving your plant a very gentle tug. Some resistance means roots have formed.
- Treat as you would any other Philodendron Florida Ghost.
Common Pests and Diseases
Aphids, Mealybugs and Spider Mites
Like many houseplants, the usual pests that may occasionally attack your plant are aphids, mealybugs, and spider mites.
- Aphids are soft-bodied insects that suck on plant juices, depriving your Philodendron Florida Ghost of nutrition.
- Mealybugs cluster together to form cotton-like swaths but work in the same way. That is, by feeding on your plant’s sap. According to the University of Maryland, mealybugs also secrete honeydew while they feed, attracting sooty mold growth.
- Lastly, spider mites are attracted to overwatered and overfertilized plants. You may spot them by identifying webbing on the undersides of leaves and stems alongside tiny red or black dots.
Erwinia Leaf Spot, Blight, Stem and Soft Rot
According to the University of Illinois, the most common bacterial pathogens of Philodendrons, Anthuriums, Dieffenbachia and Syngoniums are is Erwinia carotovora subsp. carotovora and subspecies of E. chrysanthemi. The Erwinia bacteria causes soft rots or leaf spots and blight.
Early symptoms are soft, watersoaked areas at the base of the stem or beneath the soil’s surface. Leaf infections usually start as watersoaked spots that turn yellow or brown.
Here’s how to remedy an infected plant:
- Move your infected plant away from healthy plants to avoid cross-infection.
- Handle the infected plant with disposable plastic gloves, and carefully remove and destroy infected plant parts using garden shears that have been sterilized in 70% isopropyl. Sterilize gardening tools before and after use to prevent contamination.
- For bacterial leaf spots and blights, use broad-based fungicide. This cannot “heal” already-damaged plant parts, but it does prevent its spread.
- Wash your hands with soap and warm water.
Why are my Philodendron Florida Ghost’s leaves brown?
Browning leaves indicate too little humidity for your Philodendron Florida Ghost. You can use a pebble tray or humidifier to boost humidity levels.
Why are my plant’s leaves yellow?
The most common reason for yellow leaves in Philodendron Florida Ghosts is overwatering. Check that you are watering your plant correctly and allow the soil to dry out between waterings.
Also, ensure that overwatering is not due to using the wrong potting mix. Your Philodendron needs a well-draining mix, so using a too-dense or a mix that retains water too well causes roots to suffocate and die away. In extreme cases, your plant may suffer from root rot. Here’s how to rescue your overwatered plant.
Why are my plant’s leaves pale?
When your plant is mature, pale leaves are typically a sign of too little fertilizer. A little fertilizer goes a long way to support foliage growth for leafy plants. Use liquid fertilizer at half-strength every three weeks during the growing season.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can the Philodendron Florida Ghost revert to white?
To keep your plant looking ghostly-white, ensure it gets sufficient light. In most cases, using a grow light is a good idea to control and manage the amount of light your plant receives.
Before purchasing your plant, talk to the seller about the light conditions your plant is accustomed to.
Is the Philodendron Florida Ghost rare?
Yes. The Philodendron Florida Ghost is rare, thanks to its uniquely multilobed leaves and gradually changing leaf colors. Because of its unique characteristics, your plant is well-loved and sought-after!
Is the Philodendron Florida Ghost Variegated?
Technically no, the Florida Ghost is not variegated. Variegation is the lack of green pigmentation in parts of a plant’s leaves, usually caused by a genetic mutation.
The Florida Ghost’s changing colors is due to a different phenomenon.
Similar Plants and Varieties
What’s the difference between Philodendron Florida Ghost and Philodendron Florida Beauty?
The key difference between the Philodendron Florida Ghost and the Beauty is in the color of the leaves. The Beauty has yellow, marbled variegation on its leaves, while the Ghost has white striations when juvenile.
What’s the difference between Philodendron Florida Ghost and Philodendron Pedatum?
The Philodendron Pedatum (sometimes known as the Oak Leaf Philodendron) is thought to be one of the parent plants of the Philodendron Florida Ghost. A key difference between the two is that the Pedatum has uniformly dark green leaves, while the Florida Ghost has white leaves that change color over time.
Another difference is that the Philodendron Pedatum grows taller than the Florida Ghost, and the Florida Ghost has a more consistent shape than the Pedatum.
What’s the difference between Philodendron Florida Ghost and the Philodendron Florida Ghost ‘Mint’?
Well, nothing! They are the same species.
Sometimes growers add an extra ‘Mint’ to emphasize the white variegation… but they are the same species.
Other Philodendrons we love
- Philodendron El Choco Red – large, heart-shaped leaves with a surprising red underside.
- Philodendron Brasil – vining plant with heart-shaped leaves the colors of the Brazil flag!
- Philodendron Brandtianum – we love this climber’s silvery green leaves.
- Philodendron Goeldii – a fast-growing Philodendron with finger-lobed leaves.
If you love multi-lobed leaves, try the tri-lobed Philodendron Camposportoanum next!
Deborah is a plant enthusiast and founder of Gardening Collective.