Philodendron Florida Ghost
While hotly debated as a naturally occurring genus or a hybrid, each new leaf of the Philodendron Pedatum emerges as a pale and translucent apparition and often remains so when grown in brighter light.
Rich, green leaves some of which are a solid color, while others offer a marbled pattern, grow side-by-side with these ghostly appendages earning this the appropriate moniker of the Philodendron Florida Ghost or simply, Florida Ghost.
The Philodendron Florida Ghost is considered rare among its aroid counterparts for a number of unique reasons. Of course, it’s most known for the unusual color and shape of its multi-lobed leaves. But, a second standout feature is that even with such large leaves, this glowing beauty is a climber,
Each lengthy vine carries several large leaves that continue to grow in size as the vine extends further. The base of each is firmly attached to the main rhizome (root system) beneath the substrate which in maturity can be divided for propagation purposes. Not only is this exceptional genus beautiful in form, but it also serves as a natural air purifier in your home.
Philodendron Florida Ghost Care
As first discovered and documented way back in 1644, this ethereal climber thrives in warm, humid climates (a fact which favors this species being natural and not a hybrid). If you already have other Philodendron, Monstera, or Alocasia in your houseplant collection, care for this rare find will sound familiar to you. If not, you’ll be more than ready by the end of our chat.
As with other tropicals, there are a number of requirements to be considered with your Philodendron Florida Ghost such as light, warmth, soil, moisture, etc. All of which we’ll go into more specific detail on, here.
Although unique in appearance, Philodendron Florida Ghost has similar needs to others in its class. As an equatorial dweller, the ghost plant has adapted to grow in bright, dappled sunlight under the jungle canopy. With Its winding vines motivated to grow toward it. Because most of us don’t have jungles growing in our living rooms, placing these lovely trailers near an east or north-facing window will provide it with all the light it needs to be healthy and maintain that ghostly leaf color. Inadequate lighting may cause stunted growth and too much may result in dehydration and leaf burn.
Humidity and temperature are often key factors in maintaining a healthy plant. Luckily, this one will do just fine with the humidity levels found in most homes. However, if the air gets too dry in winter when your heater is running a lot, misting may be needed to prevent browning leaves. These are fairly easy-going when it comes to temperature range, as well. Anywhere from 18°- 35°C (65°- 95°F) is tolerated.
Height & Spread
As mentioned, this grand climber has the potential to grow quite large but can be controlled by the size of its pot and pruning practices. In the wild, this genus can grow to a massive 8 feet in height and width but most houseplants stay within the 4-foot range with each leaf potentially growing to 12” in length. This is still considered pretty large but keep in mind that this Philodendron is a slow grower and can take up to 10 years to reach full maturity.
Being a climber, having stakes ready for support is important. I usually use tree branches from pruned trees to form trellises for this, in order to maintain a natural look. But, there are many other fine options on the market, as well from moss poles to trellis.
Like most Philodendrons, your Philodendron Florida Ghost will appreciate being watered based on moisture absorption and ambient temperature. They’re fairly easy-going but they don’t like their “feet” to stay wet.
To protect from over-watering and root rot, be sure that the top 1-2 inches of soil are dry before watering again. This will also ensure that the roots are ready to receive moisture. As a rule, I like to let my plants tell me when they need watering rather than watering on one particular day. This method works because light exposure and environmental temps naturally change with the seasons. Moisture absorption and evaporation will change too. A little extra effort, time-wise, but well worth it due to the damage over-watering can cause your rare plant. Such as:
- Root rot
- New leaves growing in brown and malformed
- Yellowing of mature leaves
- Stunted growth
Good ghost plant care will include the use of quality potting soil. One that allows for free drainage while holding onto water long enough for proper absorption. Soil rich in perlite or vermiculite can assist with the kind of drainage and healthy airflow that keeps that rhizome base happy and plant thriving. Gardening center mixes that contain bark or charcoal work well. But if you’re looking to make your own, just add bark, charcoal, and coco coir to a standard potting mix.
Another trick for supporting adequate drainage is to make sure the soil is not compacted around the plant’s roots. If it’s too tightly packed, it will inhibit proper drainage, block airflow and restrict roots that really prefer to stretch out. So, you’ll want to avoid including heavy elements like sand or clay.
If you are concerned about the amount of airflow in your soil, a good trick is to give it a prod and a poke from time to time. You can buy special tools for this job but quite honestly, it’s easy enough to use a knitting needle or the end of a wooden spoon. The most important part here is making sure that you don’t damage the roots or rhizome.
In the wild, a mature, blooming ghost plant will occasionally be seen. Exhibiting a long spadix covered in tiny, purple flowers that extend out to 12 inches in length, in order to attract pollinators. But when grown indoors, the chance of your Philodendron Florida Ghost blooming is unfortunately slim to none.
How to Fertilize Philodendron Florida Ghost
Fertilizing your Philodendron properly will result in healthy, large foliage, sturdy vines, and a strong rhizome base. Ghost plants don’t require feeding during their winter dormancy period. But, a nitrogen-rich fertilizer will support those desired results when applied monthly during warmer months. Even though fertilizing will not increase this plant’s growth rate, the increased nitrogen will allow this plant to generate perfectly formed leaves and stems.
Slow-release houseplant spikes can supply plants with beneficial nutrients over time without you having to remember to feed them and if I only had one choice then it would be Jobe’s Fertilizer Spikes for Houseplants.
They are by far the easiest way of maintaining beautiful healthy houseplants. You simply push the spikes into the soil and water as normal. They also last most of the growing season.
Producing such long and large features usually means slow growth habits. Such is the case with the Florida ghost resulting in it needing very little pruning. Which is one of the things that make it such an easy houseplant to grow. The only time it may need it is to remove yellowing leaves or if the plant has sustained substantial damage. Here are some helpful tips to accomplish this.
When removing yellowing leaves use a sharp, sterilized cutting tool and separate the yellowing leaf from the bottom of its stalk, where it meets the base of the plant. Just be careful to avoid snipping healthy leaves and foliage as you go.
When removing large, damaged parts of the plant, again, using a sharp, sterilized tool, separate damaged vines and leaves from the base As the plant recovers and begins to rejuvenate itself, new shoots should begin to appear.
Given the growth rate of these marbled ghosts, the need for repotting is rather infrequent. Perhaps, every 2-3 years. However, if you do see roots growing out the bottom of the pot, it’s a good time to find your plant a larger home.
Choose a new pot or container no bigger than 1-2 inches larger than the original. Otherwise, water will drain out through the excess soil without ever reaching the roots. If your plant has become root bound, simply make a few vertical cuts in the root ball before replanting. This will encourage new root formation that will spread into the new pot.
Remember to use soil rich in material that will promote ample drainage and that is loose enough for the roots to stretch out and fill that new pot. Most importantly, always wear gloves when transplanting a philodendron. Skin exposure to the plant’s sap can cause skin irritation and rashing.
How to Propagate Philodendron Florida Ghost
The most successful time to propagate your ghost plant is in March when beginning its active growing season. There are two different ways to increase your Florida ghost collection that are fairly straightforward. The first is a beginner method, the second is a little more advanced.
- Stem Cuttings – Start with a healthy stem that has several leaves and at least two nodes. Set the stem aside, for at least a week, to allow the cut end to cure or heal itself. Once cured, you can pot the stem in the same airy soil you use for the mother plant. In time, with proper care, new foliage will begin to grow.
- Air Layering – Make an incision half way through the width of a healthy stem. Maintaining moisture around this incision is vital. To accomplish this, you can soak some sphagnum moss or even a piece of a brand new, never-used sponge and secure it to the stem around the incision (using string or a pipe cleaner). Ensure that this always stays wet so that the incision doesn’t dry out. In time, new roots will form from the incision site at which time you can cut the stem below those new roots and immediately replant it.
Whichever way you choose, it is very important to always use a clean, sterile cutting tool when removing parts of your plant. This will ensure that no harmful bacteria gets transferred from your cutting tool to your plant, by accident.
Common problems with Philodendron Florida Ghost
Discolored Leaves – This is your plant’s way of telling you that some part of their care needs adjusting. Browning may indicate a fungal infection, over-exposure to light, underwatering, or over-fertilization. Yellowing may indicate over-watering or a lack of nutrients.
Fire Blight – Florida Ghosts are quite susceptible to this type of bacterial infection (Erwinia amylovora) which can quickly spread and kill the plant. It can be transferred to the plant when unsterilized tools are used to prune or propagate them. So, ALWAYS sterilize your tools before performing either of these tasks.
Mealy Bugs – tiny white insects that prefer wet and heavily fertilized soil. Because these pests can lay up to 600 eggs in one go, make sure your Philodendron Florida Ghost is consistently watered with enough time to dry out in between. As well as ensuring that it’s not being overfed.
Toxic to Pets – While philodendrons are highly prized, they are considered poisonous. If any of this plant is ingested, calcium oxalate crystals are released that can get lodged in the mouth and throat causing inflammation and an inability to breath or swallow. This reaction can be fatal if not treated right away, so it’s best to keep these plants out of your pet’s reach.
Toxic to Humans – The above warning is not limited to pets. The same reaction can occur if this plant is ingested by humans, as well. Caution is advised when growing any philodendron in a household with small children. If ingestion occurs, seek medical attention immediately.