Give the Gift of Green This Christmas - Top 5 Rare Philodendrons
Christmas at Floral Acres brings with it many unique gifts for everyone on your list. That list may include those special avid plant enthusiasts who can be particularly hard to buy for. We are all familiar with the traditional Christmas plants that are given as gifts. This holiday season, think outside the box and give a gift that will grow for years to come and is very special in its own right. That gift is a rare variety or two of Philodendron.
At any given time in our greenhouse we have 17 plus philodendron varieties for purchase. Not all are rare, but all are very beautiful. The rare varieties are rare because of various factors; scarcity, high demand and low supply, or variegation which is rare in nature. 1 out of every 100,000 plants have variegation through mutation.
Rare does not mean difficult to grow!
Philodendron means “tree lover”. An apt title because most species are epiphytic; vining and climbing plants. They were first found in the Brazilian rain forests during the 1600’s. They also grow in various tropical countries such as Columbia and French Polynesia.
Philodendrons are found growing in rainforest trees, clinging, and vining around the trunks and branches. In our homes, we should provide them with a strong trellis or moss pole. They like low light levels, humidity, and occasional deep watering. They are a diverse genus of 489 or more species, coming in various shapes and sizes.
Philodendrons do bloom but usually only after the plants are quite a few years old. Time of bloom varies with variety. Sarah Wilkinson of the Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden in Richmond, Virginia has written an awesome article called ‘Philodendrons In Bloom’ which explains the blooming and fertilization process. You can find it at www.lewisginter.org/philodendrons-bloom.
Propagation is usually done by stem cuttings rooted in water. Do not let the leaves of your cuttings touch or be submerged in the water. Place the cuttings in a bright light location but not direct sun. When the roots are an inch long plant the cuttings in a moist, well-drained potting mix and return them to a bright location in your home.
When watering your philodendron, use warm water and wait until the top one or two inches of soil is dry. Water the root-ball thoroughly until water runs out the drain holes at the bottom of the pot. This ensures the whole root-ball is saturated and you will only have to check the top two inches of soil in the days or weeks ahead. Throw out the excess tray water. I know it is tempting to water your plants on a weekly or bi-weekly basis, but this can lead to over-watering and root- rot; especially in winter.
An ideal soil for Philodendrons is a tropical soil mix with a couple of handfuls of perlite thrown in to increase soil porosity. I also use some cacti soil as an amendment which ensures a fast- draining mix.
As with most plants fertilize once a month in the spring and summer only with a balanced tropical plant fertilizer containing micro-nutrients.
All Philodendrons appreciate extra humidity. The easiest way to achieve this is to buy a humidifier for your home. You can also keep pebble trays under your pots and refill them with water as necessary. Never let the plant pot sit directly in the water for any period of time.
Philodendrons have few pests to worry about with mealy and aphids being the most important to watch for. Get into the habit of inspecting your plants once a week for any insect problems. Have a bottle of EndAll ready for the aphids and some isopropyl alcohol and cue tips on hand to kill the mealies. Every month, wash the leaves off, front and back, with warm water and a soft cloth to discourage spider mites. Carefully wipe down the leaf stems as well, along with the main stalk of the plant.
Cultural problems like leaf yellowing can be caused by too much light or overwatering. The odd yellow leaf is nothing to worry about – just remove the leaf. Dryness causes leaf drop and browning of the leaves can mean over or underwatering.
All philodendrons are toxic to humans and pets if ingested.
So, are you ready to take the plunge and invest in an expensive plant for yourself or as a gift? If the cost throws you, just remember that a dozen or two roses will set you back over a hundred dollars and they only last a week. With proper care, the following plants will grow in your home for many years to come!
The Top 5 Rare Philodendrons at Floral Acres Greenhouse
The Merlot philodendron is a rare and highly valued houseplant. It is an epiphytic plant and a hybrid of Pink Princess. It has a gorgeous merlot red leaf color with some spots of lighter variegation. The new stems and new leaf growth begin as a beautiful deep red color. More mature leaves will become a deep wine red, verging on black. Make sure you provide it with a moss pole for climbing and to give it support. Merlot prefers temperatures above 65 degrees F. Fortunately this plant is easy to grow! Keep a couple of varying height moss poles on hand as Merlot has been known to reach mature heights of 12 feet with a width of 15 feet!
Philodendron ‘Birkin’ (aka Philodendron ‘White Wave’.)
The Birkin Philodendron is one of my favorite plants. They have a thick stem with creamy white striped leaves and variegation. No two leaves are the same. The pinstripes appear as the leaves mature. The Birkin Philo is the result of a spontaneous chimeric mutation in the Philodendron Rojo Congo. Birkins do not exist in the wild. They are slow growing and will not reach their mature size of 1 meter tall for quite a few years. All Birkins are produced via tissue culture. There is always the possibility that they will mutate again or revert to Rojo Congo so be ready for anything as it grows new leaves. The variegation is unstable and one leaf may be almost completely white , one may have splashes of pink and the next leaf will be completely green. Birkins like indoor temperatures of between 18 to 25 degrees C. in a bright location, but no direct sun. It is the perfect plant for a small home or apartment.
Philodendron pedatum ‘Glad Hands’ (aka Quercifolium)
Glad Hands Philodendron is a low maintenance, fast growing philo with deeply lobed leaves with thin narrow leaflets. This climbing philodendron will reach a mature height of 4m with a 1 to 2 m.spread. Make sure you buy a moss pole or trellis for this unique plant – it loves to climb! In the rainforests of Brazil and Ecuador this plant will grow up high in the trees, dropping its aerial roots all the way to the ground. It has a lacy look and the leaves help purify the air.
Provide a fast-draining soil mix when repotting. Do let the soil dry out somewhat between watering. Water when the top 2-3 inches of soil is dry to the touch. Fertilize once a month in spring and summer with an all purpose balanced tropical plant fertilizer.
This is an ideal plant for the beginner as it is happy in an average house temperature of 16- 24 degrees C. and does well in low or high humidity. Put it in a bright room and it will be happy for years.
Philodendron ‘Painted Lady’
Let the soil dry out almost completely before soaking the rootball with warm water. Philodendron Painted Lady is a beautiful yellow green variegated climbing philodendron. The young leaves are neon yellow, and as the leaves mature they turn to a deeper green with blotches and spots of lime green. Painted Lady is a relatively slow grower. Repot this plant in spring or summer every two to three years. It likes a rich, moist soil that is lightweight and has excellent drainage. Mix tropical potting soil with perlite and cactus/ succulent soil. Painted Lady does not like to be rootbound. She loves warm conditions; anywhere from 12 to 26 degrees C. Provide her with extra humidity as well.
Painted Lady likes a location with bright, indirect light. No direct sun.
Propagate by stem cuttings in water.
Feed every two weeks in spring and summer with an all- purpose indoor tropical fertilizer. You can also use a tiny pinch of this fertilizer in the watering can once a month in winter.
This plant will rest in winter instead of growing. In spring it will begin to grow upright and spread outward. Painted Lady will reach a height of 5 feet with support and 12-16 inches in width. It takes about five years to reach maturity.
Our Pink Princess Babies
Philodendron ‘Pink Princess’ (Philodendron Erubescens)
Pink Princess is a rare collector’s plant. It is believed to be a hybrid that was developed by a Florida grower in the seventies.
Do not mix this plant up with the Pink Congo Philodendron whose leaves can be totally pink then will revert to solid green. Pink Princess has a good balance of pink and green variegation not solid pink leaves. The pink areas do not contain chlorophyll so it is important to have some green parts as well.
Like most philodendrons Pink Princess likes a bright, warm location but no direct sun. Water when the top inch of soil is dry. Provide this plant with medium to high humidity.
In spring use an all- purpose tropical plant fertilizer once a month through to the end of August.
As mentioned previously in this blog, provide your Pink Princess with fast-draining soil. Repot every year to two years in spring and summer only. Repot when roots show through the drainage holes at the bottom of the pot.
If your plant is losing variegation, prune it back to just above a well-variegated leaf. This is not 100% guaranteed, but the plant has a good chance of producing new variegated growth.
Provide Pink Princess with a moss pole or let it trail in a hanging basket.
When purchasing a tropical plant as a Christmas gift, complete the presentation with a gift basket of all the items the recipient will need to successfully grow this plant in the future. Gift basket items can include: Decorative pots, fertilizer, tropical soil, perlite, moss poles, rooting hormone, plant ties and a small trowel.
Please visit the Floral Acres website for Philodendron varieties that are in stock. While you are there, take a look at our fantastic Christmas seasonal decorations and gifts! Online shopping makes it an effortless process. You will be delighted, excited and amazed! Happy shopping!
The rarest and most expensive philodendron variety is called Philodendron Spiritus Sancti. There are only six plants left in the wild on a Brazilian farm that is closely guarded day and night. It is classified as an endangered species and is close to extinction.
All Philodendrons are toxic to humans and pets if ingested. Ingestion can harm the kidneys.
Pink Congo philodendrons do not have pink leaves by any natural means. Chemicals are injected into the plant to turn the leaves pink. In six to twelve months the pink leaves will revert to green.