If you’ve paid any attention to the houseplant world in the last couple of years, you’ve probably heard about the much-coveted Pink Princess Philodendron (Philodendron erubescens var. Pink Princess). It is all the rage among plant enthusiasts for its striking pink variegated foliage against dark green, almost black leaves.
The pink princess has become a status symbol in the plant world. Thankfully, even though it might be difficult and expensive to acquire, pink princess care is straightforward. After all, it is a philodendron, which is a very low-key plant when it comes to upkeep.
Pink Princess Origin & History
Pink princess philodendrons cannot grow by seed or propagation. They must be grown in a lab via tissue culture. This is the biggest reason they are so rare and coveted. And, even tissue culture doesn’t guarantee the desired pink variegation.
When a grower decides to culture pink princesses, usually, at least a quarter of the plants will not have any pink. And, they don’t know this until the plants are a few months old. The uncertainty of variegation combined with the more scientific method to growing them drives up the price ten-fold compared to other popular houseplants.
The original pink princess is thought to be a hybrid developed by a Florida grower in the 1970s, but this story is not confirmed.
Pink princess philodendrons are trailing plants with pink variegation on dark green glossy heart-shaped leaves. The leaves grow up to 9 inches long and 5 inches wide. Not all the leaves have a unique coloration; some will emerge all green while others will be pink and green. The amount of variegation is widely determined by how much light the plant receives.
Young pink princess leaves emerge with white variegation, which then matures to the desirable pink. As the foliage grows, the dark green turns almost black, accentuating the remarkable coloration. The pink appears variably as splotches, streaks, swathes, and speckles. No two plants are alike. This is part of the charm of the pink princess, watching to see how the leaves will unfold. It’s a unique experience every time.
The Pink Congo Pitfall
Pink Congo philodendrons hit the market after the craze with pink princesses started. Growers intended to capitalize on the hype and make a good profit. The pink Congo philodendron produces entirely pink leaves and quickly became a hot houseplant. However, the pink leaves are chemically treated to give them that color, and after 6-12 months, the entire plant reverts back to green.
If you see a plant with all pink leaves, it’s likely a Congo. You can still buy it and enjoy the color, but know it won’t last forever.
Pink Princess Philodendron Care Guide
In this section we’ll cover important Pink Princess Philodendron Care Guide topics such as lighting schedules, watering requirements, soil, fertilizing, and more.
Pink leaves don’t hold as much chlorophyll as green ones, which means the pink princess’s leaves are not as resilient as other philodendrons. They don’t last as long and are more likely to die and fall off – this is normal. If you’ve grown philodendrons before, you’ll notice this is a big difference.
The leaves must have some pink and green to maintain their vitality. Sometimes, you’ll get a primarily pink leaf, but it won’t last long. The green, the plant’s ability to absorb chlorophyll, is what makes the foliage last.
Vining philodendrons like the pink princess grow well in planters, hanging baskets, and are easily trellised. They grow 3-4 feet long and spread out 2 feet.
Pink princesses need lots of bright, indirect sunlight. While other philodendron species can survive in lower light conditions, it is not recommended for the pink princess. While the plant won’t die, it also won’t develop as much variegation.
The light should be indirect, never direct, as that will cause the leaves to turn yellow. An east or west-facing window is best. Use a sheer curtain or blinds to filter the light, if necessary.
Water the pink princess when the top two inches of soil are dry. This philodendron doesn’t like to dry out completely but doesn’t like being soggy either. Stick your fingers in the dirt every time before watering to ensure it needs more. Water slowly and thoroughly until water flows out the drainage holes.
If you have a saucer underneath the pot, be sure to empty any excess water out. Roots sitting in water and overwatering are problems that lead to root rot, so don’t overdo it.
Temperature & Humidity
Philodendrons like high humidity and temperatures. Average indoor humidity is generally okay, but your pink princess will like it better if the humidity is between 50-90%.
The ideal temperature is between 60-85F. Be sure to keep your pink princess away from drafty windows, heat registers, radiators, wood stoves, air conditioners, and other locations where it might suffer extreme temperature fluctuations.
If your home doesn’t have enough humidity for your pink princess, you can purchase a small humidifier to rectify that. Or, you can create a DIY pebble tray humidifier. It isn’t as effective as an actual humidifier, but it still works quite well.
Fill a tray with pebbles and place the houseplant on top. Pour water into the tray. As the water evaporates, moisture is added to the air. You’ll need to refill the water regularly.
Soil and Potting
A high-quality houseplant potting soil mix is good, with a few handfuls of perlite and coco coir mixed into it. The extra perlite and coco coir improve soil drainage while retaining the proper amounts of moisture.
Any pot you use must have drainage holes, so the philodendron’s roots don’t get waterlogged.
Add a diluted houseplant fertilizer once a month during the growing season, from spring through early fall. Hold off fertilizing in the winter when the plant is resting.
The pink princess benefits from being repotted every year when it’s young and every two years after that. If it’s rootbound (the roots are pressing through the drainage holes), it’s definitely time to repot. Only repot to a container one size bigger to prevent overwatering issues.
Prune as needed to remove dead, dying, or damaged leaves. Pruning is also helpful in controlling the size and shape of the growth. When you prune, it encourages the plant to push out new leaves.
All philodendrons, including the pink princess, are toxic to animals and people. Keep this one away from children and pets (plus, you don’t want anyone interfering with this expensive plant!).
Pink Princess Philodendron Propagation
As mentioned in the beginning, pink princesses are propagated through tissue culture. However, this doesn’t mean you can’t propagate your plant. The new plants probably will not have the pink variegation, but they will still be nice philodendrons. Also, it can’t hurt to try, and maybe you’ll get lucky with some cute little pink variegated babies.
Propagation by Stem Cuttings
- Locate a healthy, robust stem with a minimum of three or four nicely variegated leaves on it.
- Use a pair of sharp, sterilized pruners to cut the stem just below one of the nodes (where the leaf meets the stem).
- Place the stem cutting in a container of water.
- Put the container in a warm location with bright, indirect light.
- The roots will start growing in 2-3 weeks.
- Transplant the stem cutting to the soil when the roots are at least 2″.
Use this method when you are repotting to minimize handling and disturbance of the roots.
- Inspect the stems for solid and healthy specimens.
- Only divide the plant if you have at least four healthy stems.
- Carefully separate the roots – each new plant should have at least 2-3 stems each.
- Plant in a container with potting soil.
Pests and Diseases
Thankfully, the pink princess isn’t susceptible to many diseases. Common houseplant pests may bother it, so always check the foliage when you water to ensure your plant is healthy. It would be awful to spend a lot of money on this plant only to lose it to pesky insects.
Aphids, Mealybugs, Thrips, Whiteflies, and Spider Mites
These little bugs feed on leaves and stems, forming colonies and large infestations if left unchecked. Spray the leaves with a neem oil solution every 5-7 days until the bugs are gone. Use this recipe: 1 quart of water + 1 tsp of non-toxic liquid dish soap + 2 teaspoons need oil. This remedy kills the bugs on the foliage, but it won’t prevent others from showing up. Check plants regularly.
Root rot is a common issue with philodendrons. It is caused by overwatering and insufficient drainage. The plant’s roots get soggy and end up rotting. Pay attention to watering, making sure the top two inches of soil are dry beforehand. And only use containers with drainage holes.
Pink Princess Common Questions
Here are a few of the most common questions about keeping the Pink Princess Philodendron.
Why is my pink princess losing variegation, and what do I do about it?
If the leaves are getting too green or too pink, it means the pink princess is not getting the proper amount of light. Move the plant to a location with lots of bright, indirect light. If this isn’t the issue, it could just be the natural DNA of the plant causing this growth.
To encourage the pink princess to produce more variegated foliage, prune the plant to just above a nicely variegated leaf. Don’t cut the variegated leaf! This pruning triggers the plant to produce more varicolored leaves. It doesn’t always work, though, so be patient.
With this hybrid, it’s difficult to predict precisely how it will grow.
Can a pink princess revert back to all green foliage?
Yes. A pink princess can revert to all green foliage permanently. Use the pruning techniques outlined above to encourage more variegated growth.
What is causing the leaves of my pink princess to turn brown?
Brown leaf tips are usually the result of insufficient humidity. Brown (or black) splotches on the leaves are from too much direct light.
Why are the leaves of my pink princess philodendron yellow?
Yellowing is caused by overwatering or too much light. Move the plant to a location with less direct sunlight and make sure you’re only watering when the top two inches of soil are dry.
Leaves also naturally turn yellow as they age; this is normal. If most of the leaves are green and just a few yellow, it’s probably fine.
What are the weird roots growing out of my pink princess?
These are the aerial roots, and they are common with philodendrons. They allow the plant to gather nutrients and moisture from the air. You can cut them off if you don’t like how they look or wind them around the top of the pot.
What is causing the leaves of my pink princess to droop?
Drooping foliage is an indication of a stressed-out houseplant. Reevaluate the lighting, watering, and location, and make sure no drafts are getting to it.
Why is the pink princess so expensive?
Due to the specialty propagation method and difficulty in replicating the pink variegation, combined with the high demand, the pink princess is an expensive houseplant. Only buy a pink princess from a reputable seller as there are a lot of scams and people trying to make money off the popularity. And, don’t ever buy one until you it shows variegation because it could be one that won’t develop it, even if it came from tissue culture.
Pink princess philodendrons are on many wishlists for a good reason – they’re stunning. Watching each new leaf unfold is better than television. Pay special attention to watering and light to keep your plant healthy and thriving. While the pink princess is generally low-fuss, you don’t want to mess up anything, especially if you paid a lot for it.