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The Philodendron Florida Ghost gets its name from its unique creamy white leaves that darken into green as it ages.
This is an indoor climber plant that appears different from other plants in the same species, making for a unique and original plant for each household.
Owning a Philodendron Florida Ghost plant can be a rewarding experience – but only if you care for it properly. These plants have specific requirements and rules that must be followed to maintain the health and longevity of their lifespan.
Fortunately, they are very low-maintenance and can be a wonderful plant for beginners. So, here is our ultimate care guide!
History of the Genus
The Philodendron is a fairly unknown genus, with 400 species that fall into the genus category and some more unknown species.
The Philodendron was discovered in 1644 in humid climates including the Caribbean, Colombia, and in the West Indies.
Philodendron itself loosely translates to “tree hugger” or “love tree” in the Greek language. This is aptly named due to the plant’s tall heights that grow around trees and branches.
The Philodendron Florida Ghost plant is a newly discovered hybrid species from Philodendron Pedatum and Philodendron Squamiferum.
Philodendron Florida Ghost plants are indoor climbers that can grow up to several feet tall with sufficient support. The standout feature of these plants is the namesake white leaves that emerge as the plant sprouts new leaves.
This pale foliage remains for several weeks until they begin to turn pale green and yellow as they age. At full maturity, they turn a darker green.
These leaves are multi-lobed and can have variegations in them, which is what makes each Philodendron Florida Ghost unique to other plants of the same species. The leaves are thick and feel like faux leather.
They also look like elongated maple leaves – pretty unusual compared to other common houseplants!
One of the main features of these plants is that they have the ability to purify surrounding oxygen. All of the air surrounding the plant will be clean to breathe!
The best soil for Philodendron Florida Ghosts is something with good drainage, but won’t drain as the plant is being watered.
Some soils work like sieves when a plant receives water, as the water pools at the bottom of the pot immediately.
These plants, however, don’t need daily watering – but also don’t want to be drowned in wet soil.
The best soil option is to look for something with high organic matter. This should include charcoal, bark, peat – all of which are resistant to decomposition.
This organic matter offers nutrients, aggregation to improve the soil structure, and it can absorb water like a sponge. Mixed with a soil with good drainage, this allows the plant to slowly consume the water without drowning or drying out.
These plants also do well in soils that are slightly acidic. This can be measured with a pH scale – the general rule of thumb for slightly acidic soils is 6.5.
The key is to avoid sandy soils and heavy soils. Sandy soils let the water fall through so frequent watering occurs, and heavy soils are so dense that the plant could drown. Anything that retains too much moisture can lead to root rot.
Remember, these plants are native to rainforest environments, so the soil needs to mimic the floor of a rainforest!
Philodendron Florida Ghost plants need watering once a week. This makes them somewhat in the middle between plants that need regular watering and plants that need weeks between watering.
Very handy for beginners who are scared they might forget to water their plant.
The rule of thumb for testing when your plant needs watering is to stick your finger around 1-2 inches into the soil. If the soil is dry, it needs to be watered. If the soil is moist, it doesn’t need to be watered.
Beginner plant owners will all make the same mistake of watering whenever the top layer of soil looks dry, or when the leaves of the plant look different.
However, there are many factors that could contribute to why leaves look unusual, and it’s not usually to do with the water.
It is very important to not overwater a Philodendron Florida Ghost plant, as this can lead to root rot.
In the winter months, these plants require less watering than once a week as the cold temperature allows the water to remain in the soil – rather than humid temperatures that evaporate the water.
This means they only need watering around 3 times in the colder months.
These plants need to avoid direct sunlight. Exposure to direct sunlight can quickly burn out the leaves and can shrink the plant.
The best light setting is indirect natural sunlight. This can be by a window in the house that is predominantly in the shade throughout the day. Indirect sunlight will allow the plant to photosynthesize without burning the leaves.
If indirect sunlight is not possible, artificial growing lights can be used. As with natural sunlight, the plant should not be exposed directly to the bulb of the light. It should be placed several inches away.
If you want the plant to be near a window, you can always put a cloth or piece of sheer fabric over the window to protect it from the direct sunlight. This will still allow the plant to breathe and photosynthesize.
These plants work best in a balanced amount of light to darkness. If your plant has received indirect sunlight for 12 hours, it should then be in darkness for the next 12 hours. This is all due to the habitat they are native to.
It’s all about symmetry because they like to be turned around to get the same amount of sunlight and darkness on each leaf.
Philodendron Florida Ghost plants enjoy the warmth. The best temperature for these plants ranges from 65°F to 95°F, which means they can generally be kept at room temperatures.
If you live in a climate that has these temperatures year-round, that’s ideal for these plants!
However, they do not do well in cold temperatures. They should have access to a heat source should the temperature drop below the minimum requirement.
It would be best to keep them away from windows, air conditioners, and anything that could potentially freeze the plant.
As with heat, these plants love humid environments. An ideal habitat is one with moderate humidity, but high humidity environments will produce the best growers – which is what you would see in their natural habitats.
If you live in a dry climate, the best thing to do is to mist the plant regularly. This won’t provide more water that could moisten the soil, instead, it will provide more water particles in the air for the plant to thrive in.
We recommend placing plants that need frequent watering near the Philodendron Florida Ghost plant to moisten the air around it.
A useful trick that we love is the pebble tray method. Fill a tray with pebbles and pour in some water. Then, put the plant on top of the pebbles so that the water doesn’t come into contact with the plant pot.
The water will evaporate to the plant’s immediate surroundings, creating a moist habitat.
Make sure to keep an eye on the moistness of the soil when using the pebble tray method. As we have said, these plants can develop root rot if the soil hasn’t dried within 2 hours.
Philodendron Florida Ghost plants are native to rainforests and humid environments, such as the Caribbean, Columbia, the West Indies, and parts of America.
As this is a fairly specific habitat to mimic, it’s important to provide a replica of this in their home environment.
These plants are slow growers, so they need to be fed little and often. Due to the slow growth, they require fertilizer that is high in nutrition.
Anything that is rich in nitrogen is ideal as this will encourage leaf growth and healthy green coloring.
In the spring and summer months, a Philodendron Florida Ghost plan should be fed once a month. In the colder months, it should be every month and a half, give or take a week.
The most important thing to remember is to feed your plant when the soil is moist. Feeding this plant when the soil is dry will damage the roots.
At maturity, these plants can grow anywhere from 2 to 5 feet in height, and up to 2 feet in length. As they are climbers, they require a bamboo stick or similar vertical support to help them grow to their full height.
The leaves can indicate how tall the plant will be. They can grow between 2 to 4 inches in length, with the longer leaves indicating a taller plant.
These plants are slow growers and will take time to grow to maturity, so it’s important to stick to the requirements to encourage this growth.
Philodendron Florida Ghost plants don’t often flower, but if they do, the flowers are small and often mistaken for the leaf.
They flower in similar ways to other species in the Philodendron genus.
As these plants are such slow growers, you won’t need to repot a Philodendron Florida Ghost for around 2 or 3 years. This is usually determined by the state of the roots through the drainage holes.
If the roots begin to show through the holes, this is a sign that the plant needs a new, spacious home. Philodendron Florida Ghosts don’t like cramped environments.
As these plants love the warmth from the summer months, they go dormant in the winter months. Dormancy means the plant essentially pauses and goes into hibernation. As they don’t enjoy the cold, they stop growing.
This is why they only need watering around three times throughout the winter months. The water in summer keeps them growing, whilst the water in winter keeps them alive whilst they rest.
During the dormant months, it’s not recommended to groom or prune the plant as this could stunt their growth when they awake in spring.
Grooming and Pruning
Philodendron Florida Ghost plants are very low maintenance, but it is possible for them to grow slightly wild and out of shape. It is recommended and good to prune and groom your plant if it grows out too much.
Pruning can also be handy for propagation purposes!
You only need to prune your plant slightly. Too much cutting and removal can stunt the growth and might cause the plant to stop growing completely.
Make sure to only use clean and disinfected equipment to prevent the spread of germs and bacteria.
The cleaning of a plant is really important for encouraging growth and health. It’s worth dusting the leaves of the plant regularly to get rid of dust, debris, and any germs or bacteria that are sitting on the leaves.
As Philodendron Florida Ghost plants are such slow growers, they can have a lifespan of over several years. This all depends on good maintenance, however!
Fortunately, they are low-maintenance plants, so you’re not likely to kill it off immediately if you follow the care guide we have created.
The better the maintenance, the longer the lifespan!
The best time to propagate a Philodendron Florida Ghost plant is in spring – after its dormant months.
There are two popular propagation methods: stem cuttings and tip cuttings. Fortunately, both are straightforward for beginners.
Propagation by stem cuttings and tip cuttings
- First, make sure to properly sterilize your shears/scissors/knife. This is to stop the spread of bacteria and germs which could damage the growth of your plant and prevent successful propagation. Also, wash your hands and make sure to not cough on the cutting.
- With your propagation tool, carefully cut the stem at around 2-4 inches in length.
- Next, you need to cure your cutting. The stem cutting should be placed in a warm environment on a clean surface for the end to callous. This should take around a week.
- Whilst the curing process is occurring, you can prepare the plant pot. This should be similar to a Philodendron Florida Ghost’s proper home – make sure to find a pot with drainage holes and soil that can efficiently drain water. Soils that are high in organic matter or sphagnum peat moss are ideal for this.
- Plant the cured stem cutting into the soil. To do this, make a hole in the soil with your finger, place the stem cutting inside the hole, and then pack some soil around it.
- It’s common for growing stem cuttings to fall over, so you can tie them around a toothpick or straw to keep it upright. This will encourage the growth of the plant as these are climbers, and might even train them to grow upright in the future.
- In terms of maintenance, you should care for the cutting in the same way you would care for a regular Philodendron Florida Ghost plant. Make sure to water it once a week once the soil has dried, keep it in a humid area out of direct sunlight, and feed it with fertilizer appropriately.
If you wish to use a tip cutting, follow all of the directions but make sure to cut the stem with a leaf on it.
The best way to determine if your plant is growing properly and may need to be repotted is to gently pull the plant. If it feels like the roots are solidly resisting against the tug, this may be a sign that it needs a bigger home.
Remember, these plants don’t like to be cramped!
The general timeline of this propagation will take several months. The first week should involve making the cutting, allowing it to callous, and putting it in the plant pot. Roots should begin to grow after 2-3 weeks of potting.
It should take between 2 to 4 months for the plant to move into a bigger pot.
Where to Put Your Plant
It’s no secret that people buy and take care of plants to enhance their living space. We all secretly want to be the best plant mom.
Due to the Philodendron Florida Ghost plant’s requirements for sunlight, you can’t simply put the plant wherever you like. Of course, it would look lovely on a windowsill as the sunlight hits the colorful leaves, but this will be harmful to it.
Fortunately, the appearance of these plants means they can be placed anywhere indoors. This can be on the floor, on a table, or next to other house plants.
If you really want to make your interior stand out, placing this plant next to other house plants will create a unique and stark contrast with its white leaves. Just make sure it’s out of direct sunlight!
Also, if you have pets, make sure to keep this plant away from their reach. Philodendron Florida Ghost plants are toxic to animals and humans due to the plant’s excessive calcium oxalate crystals.
If a dog consumes the plant, their tongue will swell and they will have trouble breathing. You probably don’t want bite marks in the leaves, either.
Common Problems in Philodendron Florida Ghosts
Despite their low-maintenance, there are some common problems that need to be addressed and avoided in these plants.
Root rot is one of the most common problems that a variety of plants may face. Root rot occurs when the conditions a plant lives in are too damp and cramped.
Whilst Philodendron Florida Ghost plants love humid environments and require watering once a week, they can be prone to drowning and root rot if these environments aren’t tended to properly.
The main way to determine whether your plant has root rot is to notice the appearance of the plant. If the leaves look droopy and discolored, there’s a chance that root rot has happened.
This can be checked by pulling out the plant to inspect the root. If the soil is wet at the bottom and the roots look rotten and dead, cut these off and repot the plant in a different pot and soil.
Prevention is key with root rot. Make sure to only water your plant when the soil is dry by sticking your finger one to two inches into the soil. Also, make sure to provide soil that is drainable.
Fire Blight/Erwinia Blight
This is another common problem amongst the Philodendron species. Fire blight is a contagious bacterial infection that can kill a plant in less than two days. Signs of this infection include wet lesions that produce a liquid and make the plant smell bad.
The best way to handle fire blight is to cut off these lesions immediately with sterilized equipment. This is to prevent the spread of the infection. However, for some plants, it might be too late.
Mealybugs are a common insect that likes to inhabit a plant, along with spider mites and white flies. They like to feed off these plants but sucking out the juice from the leaves and stems.
Not only do they suck out the essential vitamins and nutrients that the plants require to survive, but they can also spread bacteria.
The best way to avoid mealybugs and other pests is to spray the plant with Neem oil and wipe down the leaves and stems. Neem oil is a natural remedy that is non-harmful to the plant.
Where/How to Buy a Philodendron Florida Ghost
These plants aren’t the most common plants to find in a store or online. Your best bet is to find one at a plant fair or from a specialist breeder.
It’s always best to inspect a plant in person prior to buying it so you can detect any abnormalities or potential problems.
Not only will an infected plant make your life as a plant mom/dad harder, but it is likely to spread the infections to other house plants.
Plants can’t talk (obviously), so it’s important to understand your individual plant’s needs to communicate with it. Signs that the plant is unhappy will include abnormal leaf coloring – yellow, pale, or brown leaves.
Yellow leaves will show that you may be over-watering your plant. Pale leaves indicate that the plant is lacking nutrients from fertilizer. Brown leaves are a sign of a dry environment that needs to be more humid.
However, remember that these plants are prone to variegation and will look completely different from other plants of the same species. As long as the leaves are either white or green, the plant is fine!
There you have it! The ultimate care guide for the wonderful Philodendron Florida Ghost plants. These are a unique species that are ideal for beginners and experts alike as they are so straightforward to maintain.
A happy plant will present you with its full potential, and it can live for several years if it has been cared for properly.
They are wonderful climbers that can make any indoor environment look instantly more interesting. Striking in appearance, they are sure to spark a conversation with anybody.