If you are looking for a statement houseplant that will add a dash of color to your living spaces, consider the Philodendron Pink Princess (scientific name: Philodendron Erubescens).
This plant is native to Colombia, and thrives in high humidity (>50%), bright filtered light, and temperatures between 55-95 degrees F (13 – 35 degrees C). Avoid overwatering, and look out for mealybugs and aphids.
While it is considered a generally easy-to-care for, its variegated nature means it’s a bit less forgiving than true beginner-level plants. Read on for full care details!
Where is the Philodendron Pink Princess from?
The Philodendron Pink Princess is a rare member of the Araceae family.
Interestingly, nature cannot take credit for the beauty of its leaves. The Pink Princess originated as a manufactured hybrid between two Philodendrons in the 1970s.
Why is the Philodendron Pink Princess so expensive?
If you’ve checked out the prices for a Pink Princess, you’ve probably noticed that they cost a bit more than your average potted plant! At the time of writing, you can buy a small Pink Princess in a 4-inch pot for about US$60-100. You can buy one here.
Part of the reason why this plant costs so much is that growers cannot easily and reliably mass-produce the coveted pink variegation in the leaves. This variegation is rare in nature. However, the rise of tissue culture has helped make production cheaper… resulting in more reasonable prices than before!
Philodendron Pink Princess’ Variegation
Arguably the biggest reason why the Pink Princess is so sought-after is pink variegation! However, the pink tinge signifies a lack of chlorophyll (which has a green pigment). Lower levels of chlorophyll present some care challenges, as your plant needs to produce enough food to support healthy growth.
But not to worry, they are still generally considered easy to take care of.
Caring for your Philodendron Pink Princess
In the wild, Pink Princesses typically live under a canopy of trees in rainforests in South America. So they prefer medium to bright, filtered light mimicking its natural environment.
If possible, opt for an east or west-facing window where your plant can receive about 8 hours of bright but filtered light.
Too little sunlight results in less pink variegation. On the other hand, brown sun-scorched spots on leaves is a sign of too much light.
There is a lot of misinformation on watering your Philodendron Pink Princess. Some people are so scared of overwatering the plant that they water shallowly, which can be detrimental!
A couple of crucial points to note:
- Use distilled water. Pink Princesses are sensitive to fluoride, chlorine, and mineral salt levels in hard tap water.
- Instead of watering on a set schedule, wait until the top 2 inches (5cm) of topsoil is dry before watering. Use your finger to check if the soil is dry. It is best to check this every few days to avoid the soil drying out through the rootball before re-watering.
- Then, water the plant until excess water flows out of the drainage hole.
Philodendron Pink Princess’ are generally tolerant of temperatures between 55-95 degrees F (13 – 35 degrees C). However, the optimal temperature for best growth is on the higher end of that range. This means keeping your plants indoors is preferable for many parts of the world.
Remember to keep your plant away from cold drafts, hot radiators, and air vents.
As with any tropical plant, high humidity is essential for the proper growth of your Pink Princess. Relative humidity levels should be kept above 50%, which is high for most of us!
Investing in a small humidifier is an easy option to dial in a suitable climate for your plant. If you are on a budget, use a pebble tray to increase humidity naturally. This guide explains how to use pebble trays and other options to increase humidity levels.
Soil or Growing Medium
An organic soil that drains well while being loose and airy is key to keeping your Pink Princess happy. We recommend a store-bought peat-based organic potting mix with added perlite in a ratio of 2:1.
If you’re feeling adventurous, you can make your own potting mix. In this case, mix 40% coco chips, 30% orchid bark, and 20% perlite with 10% worm casting for optimal growth.
To keep your Philodendron Pink Princess happy, feed it with a liquid houseplant fertilizer during its growing season (spring and summer). Opt for a balanced fertilizer with an N-P-K (nitrogen-phosphorous-potassium) ratio of 5-5-5, or 10-10-10. This balanced ratio supports variegation and growth.
When utilizing your liquid fertilizer, ensure you dilute the solution to half-strength. Fertilize once every 4-6 weeks during the growing season, and resist the urge to fertilize more often! Overfertilizing can result in mineral salt buildup.
Stop fertilizing entirely during fall and winter, when growth slows.
Your Philodendron Pink Princess should be repotted every 2-3 years, once it shows signs of being root-bound. Seeing little roots growing out of the drainage holes means its time to repot! Ideally, use a terracotta pot for breathability.
It is crucial to put the plant in a pot that is one size larger than its current pot (usually 2 inches bigger).
- Gently remove the plant from its current pot.
- Tease out the roots with your fingers before placing it in the new pot.
- Add fresh soil mix to the new pot and secure your plant in place by patting down gently.
Toxicity of your Philodendron Pink Princess
The Pink Princess, like many philodendrons, contains an insoluble calcium oxalate that is toxic if ingested by children or pets. According to the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, calcium oxalate crystals can cause pain, difficulty swallowing, swelling, and temporary hoarseness.
Propagating your Philodendron Pink Princess
You can propagate a Pink Princess through water or soil propagation. In either case, use gardening gloves and ensure you clean your shears thoroughly afterward as your Pink Princess has a toxic sap.
Water propagation is the quickest and easiest way to propagate a Pink Princess.
- Identify a healthy stem about 4-6 inches long with at least two leaves on the top half of the stem. Cut about 1/2 inch below the node.
- Place the stem cutting in a small jar of water. The lower nodes should be below the waterline.
- Trim away and leaves that are sitting below the waterline.
- Place the jar in a warm, brightly lit spot. Change the water every day.
- Within a week or so, you will see new roots form from the bottom of the stem cutting.
- Once the roots have grown 1 inch, transplant the cutting into the soil.
Alternatively, if you wish to try soil propagation:
- Repeat steps 1-2 above, but place the stem cutting in soil instead of water.
- Ensure that the node is buried under the soil but not the leaf.
- New branches will begin to sprout from the base of the cuttings within a week or two. You can confirm this by gently tugging on the cutting—it should resist the pull.
Base Stem propagation
There is a third type of propagation, base stem propagation. This method allows you to produce many new plants simultaneously but requires more time.
- Identify a node. Cut away either side of the stem, such that the cutting is about 2 inches long. Repeat this step for however many new plants you wish to have!
- Place all the cuttings in a container filled with a mixture of half potting soil and half perlite.
- Lay the cutting flat with its node facing up, such that the node is still exposed.
- Ensure that the soil is moist and the container is in a warm spot with lots of light. New growth will sprout from the node.
- In about six weeks, when new leaves from the node form, replant each cutting into its own pot.
Being a vining plant, your Princess uses aerial roots to climb. They will grow upright when supported by a trellis or a moss pole. (You can read more about how to use a moss pole here.)
Regular pruning supports your Pink Princess’s health and prevents it from leggy growth. Pruning is best done in spring or fall, before or after the growing season.
There are two types of leaves to prune:
- Yellow or wilted leaves
- Excess pink leaves also should be pruned.
As discussed previously, too many pink leaves (70% or more) are unhealthy for the plant as they do not have enough chlorophyll to support its growth.
Pruning is simple:
- Take a pair of clean shears and cut just above the node (1/4 inch). New growth will emerge from the cut node.
- Prune away yellow or wilted leaves.
- If your plant has excess pink leaves, prune these away such that there is roughly a 50/50% ratio of pink and green leaves remaining.
The Pink Princess is a less hardy variety philodendron and can be susceptible to mealybug or aphid infestations.
To check for mealybugs, look for tiny white insects about 1/4 inch long and congregate at the base of leaves and on the stems. To treat, use a cotton swab dipped in rubbing alcohol and dab at the insects.
For aphids, you will see tiny green or black insects on the undersides of leaves. To treat:
- Use a neem oil spray from your local nursery.
- Follow the directions on the bottle carefully.
- Always test spray on a small area before using it all over the plant to make sure it doesn’t cause any damage.
You can also create your own neem oil solution. Mix thoroughly and spray on affected areas of your plant. Neem oil will kill the pests by smothering their breathing holes and stopping larvae from maturing. Here’s our guide on how to use neem oil as an insecticide.
Why are the leaves turning brown?
Not getting enough humidity is the usual reason. Recall that your philodendron loves high-humidity climates. Purchase a humidifier or use a pebble-tray to support humidity levels.
Other reasons for brown leaves can be improper watering or too much direct sunlight.
Why are the leaves curling under?
The culprit is usually not watering your plant correctly. Ensure you are not watering shallowly and allow the topsoil to dry before watering.
Why are the leaves turning yellow?
There are a few reasons for yellowing leaves. It could result from over or under-watering or too much direct sunlight.
However, note that as the plant matures, old leaves naturally yellow and die away. So don’t be too concerned if only 1 or 2 leaves of the bunch are yellowing!
How do I encourage my Pink Princess to get pinker?
There are 2 main ways:
- Ensure that your Pink Princess receives ample bright but filtered light – at least 8 hours a day.
- Prune the leaves back to encourage growth.
Frequently asked questions
What is the Pink Congo Philodendron?
At first blush, the Pink Congo Philodendron is strikingly similar to the Philodendron Pink Princess. It’s no wonder that many have mistaken one for the other.
The difference is that the Pink Congo has purely pink leaves, while Pink Princesses retain some green coloring on even its variegation leaves.
It’s important to note that pink variegation on the Pink Congo is temporary and induced by a chemical process. After 6-12 months, the leaves will revert to all green. So don’t buy an overpriced Pink Congo thinking it’s a Pink Princess – you can read more about the Pink Congo scam here.
Can a Pink Princess revert to only green leaves?
Yes, this can happen. The main reason is that the Pink Princess was not receiving enough sunlight, so it produced more green leaves for photosynthesis.
Ensure your plant gets 8 hours of indirect light to support variegation.
How quickly do Pink Princesses grow?
Prink Princesses grow at a slower rate than other philodendrons. They can reach a maximum height of about 4 feet (1.2 meters). The leaves themselves can grow up to 9 inches (22 cm) long and 5 inches (12 cm) wide.
Similar Plants and Varieties
- Philodendron Brandtianum – an easygoing climbing plant with silvery variegation.
- Philodendron Melanochrysum – a less common aroid with impressive foliage that has a gold sheen in the light.
- Philodendron Mamei – this one is a beauty! large heart-shaped foliage with patches of silver on green leaves. Its leaves have a quilted look, thanks to its deep veins.
- Philodendron Gloriosum – if you like the Mamei, another heart-shaped beauty is the Gloriosum.
- Philodendron Goeldii – an interesting tropical plant with finger-like leaves that cluster together like a halo.
- Philodendron Gigas – a rare drop leaf plant with Gigas (GIANT) leaves.
Deborah is a plant enthusiast and founder of Gardening Collective.