Philodendron Pink Princess — sometimes affectionately shortened to “PPP,” is a tropical houseplant that’s achieved royalty status among collectors. Due to its intense, pink variegation.
However, it is an actual plant, and although it doesn’t grow in the wild, its unique coloring is 100% natural.
This guide will take a close look at the growing requirements for the Philodendron Pink Princess, try to untangle its history, troubleshoot common problems, and provide some valuable buying tips. And, most importantly, answer two very pressing questions: why is the Pink Princess so expensive, and how do you keep its leaves pink?
What Is the Origin of Philodendron Pink Princess?
Philodendron Pink Princess is a man-made hybrid, but its exact origin is a bit of a mystery. Some independent research attributes it to Robert McColley. He was a plant breeder passionate about hybridizing philodendrons and aglaonemas. And also responsible for many exciting cultivars.
Robert may have created the Pink Princess as a hybrid between Philodendron erubescens and other species such as P. tatei, P. wendlandii, and P. hastatum. However, there are no documents to support this claim, and although McColley patented many of his hybrids, he seems to have “forgotten” to patent this one.
One thing is sure, though: the Pink Princess has been on the market since the 1970s. But it’s only in recent years that it sparked a cult-like following among collectors and became a must-have houseplant that sold for hundreds of dollars.
Philodendron Pink Princess vs. Pink Congo
Philodendron Pink Princess and Pink Congo may look similar, but they are not the same plant. Pink Congo became a houseplant sensation several years ago due to its vibrant, entirely pink leaves.
However, it later turned out that the pink coloring was not natural. Instead, it was artificially induced with ethylene — the same hormone that helps fruit ripen faster.
The Pink Congo will produce green-only leaves as it grows, whereas Pink Princess will continue to grow pink variegated leaves.
Philodendron Pink Princess vs. Royal Queen / Burgundy Princess
Occasionally, Philodendron Pink Princess will lose its pink variegation, and its foliage will revert to a darker green, slightly maroon color. Sellers tend to list it as either Philodendron Royal Queen or Burgundy Princess when this happens.
Always buy Philodendron Pink Princess plants from a reputable, trustworthy seller. If possible, try to buy the plant in person or request photos of the plant.
The main thing you want to check is the stem. If the stem has pink variegation, the plant will continue to produce variegated leaves. However, if the stem is dark green, that could indicate that the plant has reverted to non-variegated foliage.
You can still buy a reverted Philodendron Pink Princess plant, of course. But you may have to trim it back to the stem sections with pink variegation to ensure that the new growth will produce those iconic pink patterns.
Philodendron Pink Princess Care Guide
A lush Philodendron Pink Princess can be the pride and joy of any avid houseplant collector. And the good news is that keeping this gorgeous plant alive is not as difficult as it seems. Here’s what you need to know about its growing requirements.
Philodendron Pink Princess needs bright indirect light to thrive. This will ensure that the plant produces lush, healthy leaves and, most importantly, preserve the pink color of the foliage. As a rule of thumb, all variegated plants need more light than non-variegated plants because their leaves have less chlorophyll. Therefore, if you keep your Pink Princess in the dark, it will revert to a dark green color, which helps the plant with photosynthesis in lower light conditions.
Avoid keeping your Philodendron Pink Princess in direct light, which will scorch the leaves. Ideally, you’ll want to keep it in an east or west-facing room, at least 2 feet away from the window. The plant can tolerate some direct sun in the early morning, but otherwise, it should be kept out of full sun exposure.
Keep the soil of your Philodendron Pink Princess moist but not soaked. This plant does not tolerate drought, but it can quickly develop root rot if the soil is waterlogged.
Rather than using a watering schedule, the best practice is to test the soil with your finger and water it when the top inch feels dry to the touch. Then, use the soak and drain method to water your Pink Princess to ensure that the soil is evenly moist and flush out any fertilizer salts.
Plant Philodendron Pink Princess in an aerated, well-draining, moisture-retentive soil mix. The ideal growing medium for this plant is a mix of 2 parts universal potting soil, 1 part perlite, and 1 part orchid bark.
You can use coconut coir instead of potting soil for a soilless mix and add some worm castings to give the plant a nutrient boost. Adding a handful of horticultural charcoal to your potting mix will also improve drainage and help keep the soil and roots healthy.
The ideal temperature range for growing Philodendron Pink Princess indoors is between 55°F and 80°F. Keep it in a room that’s safe from drafts and sudden temperature changes, and make sure that the thermometer never dips below 50°F.
All philodendron plants are not frost tolerant and can only be grown as outdoor perennials in USDA hardiness zones 10 to 12.
Philodendron Pink Princess enjoys a humidity level of around 60%. But, as with any tropical plant, it may find the average home humidity a bit too low.
There are several ways you can boost the air moisture levels for your Pink Princess:
- Use a humidifier. This is the easiest and most reliable method to increase humidity for your houseplants. A humidifier will be a real game-changer, especially in winter, when indoor heating makes the air significantly drier than in the warmer months.
- Keep your Philodendron Pink Princess in the bathroom. This room has the highest humidity level in your home, and it does an excellent job of mimicking the plant’s natural environment. Ensure that your bathroom has a window, or place your Pink Princess next to a grow light.
- Group plants together. You can keep your Philodendron Pink Princess next to other humidity-loving plants, especially ferns, Calathea, and other philodendron varieties. As the water evaporates from the soil and through leaf transpiration, it will create a humid microclimate that allows all plants to thrive.
A Note on Misting:
Misting is often recommended as a method to increase humidity for your houseplants. However, it also gets mixed reviews. If you want to mist your Philodendron Pink Princess, there are two things to keep in mind:
- Misting is not efficient in increasing the humidity unless you spray your plants several times a day.
- Air circulation is crucial if you’re misting your plants. Without it, they can become susceptible to fungal diseases.
Feed your Philodendron Pink Princess once a month throughout the growing season, from spring until early fall. Use a balanced, liquid fertilizer to encourage vigorous growth. An N-P-K nutrient ratio of 20-20-20 or 10-10-10 should do the trick.
The Pink Princess doesn’t need fertilizers during winter when the lower light causes it to go dormant for a brief period.
Always read the instructions on the label and dilute the fertilizer if needed. If you’re using synthetic fertilizer, remember to slowly run water through the soil for about 10 minutes once every three months.
This will help flush out fertilizer salts from the soil and prevent fertilizer burn.
Philodendron Pink Princess is a natural climber and will significantly benefit from being grown on a support. In the wild, philodendrons use their aerial roots to climb up tree trunks to reach the forest canopy, where they get access to more light.
By giving your Pink Princess something to climb on, you encourage it to produce larger leaves and grow faster. A coir or moss pole is ideal, but you can also use a bamboo cane or trellis as support.
You can prune your Philodendron Pink Princess if:
- The plant is getting too tall or leggy;
- You want to propagate it;
- It’s starting to lose variegation;
- It’s producing all pink leaves.
If you plan to prune Philodendron Pink Princess to restore variegation, start by checking the stem. Take a close look at where the pink coloring on the stem ends, then cut the stem below the last growth node that produces variegated leaves.
You can use the cuttings for propagation.
If your Philodendron Pink Princess is producing all pink leaves, keep in mind that they are not healthy for the plant, although they look pretty. Those leaves contain no chlorophyll, which means that your Pink Princess will struggle with photosynthesis.
Prune your plant back to the last leaf with a healthy mix of green and pink variegation.
On average, you will need to repot your Philodendron Pink Princess once every 2 to 3 years. This plant has a slow growth rate compared to other philodendrons but will benefit from a wider pot and access to fresh, nutrient-rich substrate.
The best time to repot Philodendron Pink Princess is in spring or summer when the plant is actively growing. Pick a pot that’s one size bigger or 2 inches wider, and check that it has drainage holes at the bottom.
If your plant is very rootbound, gently massage the roots with your hands to loosen them up before repotting. Water your plant well, and monitor it for the next month or so to make sure that it becomes established.
Philodendron Pink Princess Propagation Guide
Using stem cuttings is the easiest way to propagate Philodendron Pink Princess at home. In spring or summer, you can use this method when the plant is actively growing and when cuttings root faster.
Here is our step-by-step propagation guide:
- Take a sharp pair of gardening scissors and sterilize them with rubbing alcohol.
- Find a growth node, and cut the stem ¼ inch below it. If the stem of the cutting is too long, trim it back until you only have ¼ inch of stem above and below the growth node.
- For best results, root your cutting in water. Fill a glass with water, apply a rooting hormone to the cutting, and keep it in a bright room but away from direct sunlight. You can also cover the glass with a transparent plastic bag to help preserve humidity.
- Change the water in the glass once every 5 to 7 days to prevent algae and bacteria buildup.
- Philodendron Pink Princess cuttings can take between 2 and 4 weeks to start growing roots. Wait until the roots are at least 2 inches long before transplanting your new plant into a well-draining soil mix.
Can You Grow Pink Princess Philodendron From Seed?
No. The variegation in Philodendron Pink Princess is caused by chimeral mutation, which is not stable and cannot be genetically transmitted through seeds. This means the only way to propagate this plant in order to keep the variegation is through stem cuttings or tissue culture. If you come across Philodendron Pink Princess seeds online, please be aware that they are scams.
Common Pests and Problems
Philodendron Pink Princess is rarely troubled by pests but can suffer if it’s not growing in the right conditions. So here are a few problems to keep an eye out for.
The most common pests for Philodendron Pink Princess are spider mites, mealybugs, scale, and thrips, which can cause foliage discoloration and wilt. For spider mites, mealybugs, and scale, use a water and isopropyl alcohol solution to wipe the infested areas, then spray the plant with the solution once every 5 – 7 days for a month. Trim the infested leaves and spray the plant with an insecticidal soap solution for thrips.
Yellowing leaves on your Philodendron Pink Princess can have several causes, but overwatering is the most common. Allow the soil to dry to a depth of 1 inch between waterings, and make sure that your plant is potted in a well-draining soil mix.
If your Philodendron Pink Princess is overwatered and planted in a compacted, poorly draining soil, it can become susceptible to root rot.
The most common symptoms include brown leaves, predominantly brown spots surrounded by a yellow halo, stunted growth, and sudden wilting.
To save your Philodendron Pink Princess from root rot, start by taking the plant out of the pot and cleaning all the soil off the roots.
Use a pair of scissors disinfected with rubbing alcohol to trim off the black, mushy roots. Clean the healthy roots and the pot with a water and hydrogen peroxide solution.
Then repot your Pink Princess in a fresh, well-draining soil mix, and water it carefully for the next month or so.
Drooping leaves typically indicate that your Philodendron Pink Princess is either thirsty or has been overwatered.
Check the soil with your finger, and if the top inch feels dry to the touch, give the plant a good soak. If the soil is already wet, cut back on watering until it dries out a bit, and keep an eye out for other signs that your plant is distressed, such as yellowing or browning leaves.
Curling leaves are a symptom of several problems, ranging from pests to incorrect watering. Always check the underside of the leaves first, and if you don’t notice any signs of pests, check the soil.
If the soil is not soaking wet but not too dry either, it could mean that your Philodendron Pink Princess is too cold, sitting next to a hot or cold draft, or not receiving enough humidity.
Plant Is Slow Growing
Philodendron Pink Princess has a slow growth rate so that it won’t push out leaves as fast as other philodendron varieties.
However, if months go by and there’s no new growth, this could indicate that the plant is not getting enough light. So keep it in a room with bright indirect light, and give it a fertilizer boost during the growing season.
New Leaves Are Getting Smaller
If the leaves on your Philodendron Pink Princess are getting smaller, this can be a symptom of low humidity, insufficient light, or not enough nutrients.
Also, keep in mind that Pink Princess needs some form of support, and, like all climbing philodendrons, it will gradually start producing smaller leaves without one.
New Leaves Not Unfurling
This is a common symptom of low humidity. Your Philodendron Pink Princess needs a humidity level of 60% or higher to thrive, and the easiest way to ensure that is by using a humidifier. As tempting as it is, never unfurl the new leaves by hand to avoid tearing them.
Why Is the Pink Princess Philodendron So Expensive?
Philodendron Pink Princess is so expensive for the same reason it’s so popular: its pink variegation. Growers typically resort to tissue culture for propagation to maintain this foliage color.
The process is lengthy and costly, and there’s always the risk that the entire batch can be lost to contamination. Even if everything goes to plan, there’s no guarantee that the new plants will be pink enough to sell. And if you take into account the fact that demand often exceeds supply, there’s no surprise that Philodendron Pink Princess costs so much.
On the plus side, there’s a good chance that Philodendron Pink Princess will have the same fate as another famous houseplant: Philodendron Birkin. This plant was also sold at exorbitant prices at the height of the “Birkin craze”.
But today, as more tissue culture propagated plants enter the market, you can buy it for less than $10. Similarly, Philodendron Pink Princess is no longer a rare plant, and although cuttings used to cost over $100 just a couple of years ago, prices are already dropping. Today, you can easily find an established plant for less than $50.
How to Make Leaves More Pink?
The variegation in Philodendron Pink Princess is not stable, so it’s normal for the leaves will revert to all green. However, you can prevent that by pruning it back to the last section with variegation on the leaf and stem. Also, you can increase the pink coloring by keeping your plant in bright indirect light.
Is Philodendron Pink Princess Safe for Pets?
No. All philodendrons contain toxic calcium oxalate crystals, which can cause irritation and upset the gastrointestinal tract. Keep your Philodendron Pink Princess out of reach of cats, dogs, and small children.
Can You Use Philodendron Pink Princess in a Terrarium?
You can keep a small Philodendron Pink Princess plant or freshly rooted cuttings in a terrarium. The humidity will help the plant become established, and new leaves will unfurl better.
However, keep in mind that Philodendron Pink Princess can grow several feet tall and need some form of support, and a terrarium will not have enough space to accommodate its growth.
The above video is more of a general overview done by Nick. Below is how he propagated his Pink Princess into three smaller plants. Also, how he attached the moss pole, which helps it grow.