Philodendron Florida Ghost is a hybrid within the family Araceae and the genus Philodendron. The Philodendron genus has over 400 different species, and the exact parentage of the Florida Ghost is unclear. Still, like most Philodendrons, it makes a great house plant, which is attractive and easy to care for in most climates.
Philodendrons originate from warm, humid regions in the North, Central, and South Americas where they grow in rain forests and along river banks. Extensive breeding, and cross-breeding, have resulted in the plants becoming hardier to various conditions and needing less moisture and humidity than one would expect from a tropical rainforest plant.
Philodendrons come in various shapes and sizes, from large, lobe leafed, upright plants to small trailing varieties with heart-shaped leaves. Leaf size, shape, and color also vary widely. They are perennial, evergreen plants.
- 1 Philodendron Florida Ghost Description
- 2 Philodendron Florida Ghost vs Philodendron Florida Ghost Mint
- 3 Where to plant your Philodendron Florida Ghost
- 4 How to Care for Philodendron Florida Ghost
- 5 How to make the Philodendron Florida Ghost Whiter
- 6 Conclusion
Philodendron Florida Ghost Description
The Philodendron Florida Ghost variety is distinctive in leaf shape and color. The leaves emerge from red petioles as a single lobe, which is very pale, and then as they mature, they develop distinct lobes and turn from white to cream and then various shades of green until they settle as a solid, dark green when fully mature.
The largest lobe is usually oval-shaped and furthest from the stem, with smaller lobes nearer the stem, giving it the appearance of a ghost with a body, arms, and head. Combined with the pale color and the new leaves look like little, floating ghosts – hence the name!
Philodendron Florida Ghost vs Philodendron Florida Ghost Mint
Florida Ghost leaves may be any color from pure white to cream, bright or lime green to dark green. The name Florida Ghost Mint refers to plants with leaves that are a minty color, with less yellow than the pale lime leaves. The leaves’ color depends on several factors, chiefly light exposure, but Florida Ghost and Florida Ghost Mint are actually the same plant. Florida Ghost Mint is not recognized as a separate variety or cultivar to Florida Ghost.
However, many sites and nurseries sell Florida Ghost Mint as a specific plant, which has led to some confusion and some disappointment when a Florida Ghost Mint plant loses the minty color after changing growing conditions. That said, some Florida Ghost Mint plants retain the minty color even when they change conditions, and there is no exact science to keeping or losing the color. Mysterious little ghosts indeed!
Where to plant your Philodendron Florida Ghost
(Location, Space, Light, Container, and Potting Mix)
In the right conditions, a Philodendron Florida Ghost will grow happily with little maintenance. Please put some thought into the initial setup, and adjust as needed after a few weeks, and from there, the plant’s maintenance will be as simple as watering and occasionally feeding it.
Philodendron Florida Ghost plants are a climbing variety and need something to grow up if you want an upright plant. They can also trail from a hanging basket, but they are not a true trailing variety and tend to have fewer stems, with large leaves that grow further apart than a true trailing plant.
The following guidelines will ensure that your Philodendron Florida Ghost is happy, healthy, and able to grow and flourish:
Space and Location
As a loose growing plant, it needs elbow room to spread. On average, a mature Philodendron Florida Ghost will spread approximately 60 cm. Height varies depending on the height of the support it is given to grow up but it ranges from 60cm to 120cm or much taller.
They do not like to be crowded and need space around them for light and air circulation so they do best with smaller plants around them or alone in an open area.
Philodendrons, in general, tolerate a wide range of light conditions well, which is why they’re so popular as house plants. Philodendron Florida Ghost is no different and will do well in relatively low/medium light areas as well as brightly lit areas.
It will do best with plenty of indirect or filtered light. Placing it near a window will be best, as long as it does not get direct sunlight. Direct sunlight will scorch leaves and damage the plant. If you do not have a suitable location, you can use a netting curtain or shade cloth to filter the light.
In locations where natural light is not available, you can use a grow light, as long as it is not too close to the plant.
Temperature and Humidity
These plants like a warm and slightly humid environment. They do best in temperatures ranging between 10 and 35 Celsius (50 to 95 Fahrenheit). They do not tolerate very cold temperatures and will need to be moved away from windows, air conditioning units, and fans during the year’s colder months.
Philodendron Florida Ghost plants will do best in slightly higher humidity ranges (around 70 is perfect), but they will adapt to more or less humidity. If you are in a particularly dry climate, you can use a pebble tray to add some humidity around the plant. A pebble tray is a tray of pebbles with water at the bottom. Place your plant pot on top of the pebbles and the evaporation of the water from the tray will add a little humidity around the plant.
Choosing the right container
Choosing the right container makes a big difference in the health of a plant. Philodendron Florida Ghost plants are climbers, so their roots tend to grow downwards rather than spreading horizontally. As such, you need a container that is deeper than it is wide.
The container must drain well and be a suitable size and weight to support the plant and growing pole if you have one. As a top-heavy plant, it is important to make sure the container is heavy enough that the plant doesn’t tip over.
That said, choose a pot made from a heavier material (e.g., terracotta is heavier than plastic) rather than just going with a larger pot made from light materials. With more potting medium in relation to the root system, larger pots retain water and can become waterlogged, even in a well-draining container.
The right potting medium
The best potting medium for a Philodendron Florida Ghost is one that drains well and has a pH level of between 5 and 8. All-purpose potting mix amended with a little compost and some bark or peat moss will work well.
How to Care for Philodendron Florida Ghost
(Watering, Feeding, Pruning, and Pest Control)
Once you have found the best location for your Philodendron Florida Ghost and it is in an appropriate pot and potting medium, the rest is easy!
Philodendron Florida Ghost needs regular watering, as and when the soil in the pot dries out. Check the soil by sticking your finger into the soil up to the second knuckle (about 2.5cm deep) – if it is dry, you can water the plant. If it is wet or moist, let it dry out some more and check again in a day or two.
The plant itself will tell you if it needs more or less watering, droopy, or yellowed or brown leaves mean the water levels are not quite right. Experiment with watering less and see how it recovers or worsens and adjust accordingly.
Avoid overwatering. If the roots sit in wet conditions for too long, without drying out in between watering, they can rot and die. This is called root rot and can kill the plant. If you notice that the plant has become waterlogged, allow it to dry out completely or re-pot it and cut away any dead roots before replanting it into a soil that drains better.
As a perennial, evergreen plant, you do not need to prune Philodendron Florida Ghost. They do not completely die back in the winter and regenerate in the spring/summer but they do go dormant and stop producing new leaves in the winter.
At the beginning of the growing season, in the spring, you can clip away any weak or unhealthy leaves from the plant’s underside. This allows the plant to make the most of its resources, directing them to newer growth.
The fertilizer requirements for a Philodendron Florida Ghost are minimal. They need a balanced liquid fertilizer, which contains a more or less equal ratio of Nitrogen, Phosphorus, and Potassium (look for equal NPK numbers on the bottle).
Foliar feeding works best. Watering the plant with diluted liquid fertilizer about once a month in the growing season (spring and summer) and once every two months in the autumn and winter.
They are naturally slow-growing plants, but stunted growth and small leaves indicate that it needs more feeding.
It is important to note that leaf color will not be a good indication of feeding requirements, as they are naturally different colors ranging from white, cream, and pale green to lime and dark green, regardless of fertilizing.
Controlling Pests and Diseases
Philodendrons are prone to some pests and diseases. Keeping plants healthy, clean, and correctly watered will usually be enough to prevent most pests or diseases, but promptly identifying and treating any problems that do occur can save the plant.
Look out for the following:
- Erwinia blight (Fire Blight) is possibly the most common problem seen on Philodendron plants. It is a bacterial infection that manifests as wet lesions, which ooze and produce a terrible smell. The infection spreads quickly and can kill a plant in just a day or two. Controlling it is difficult, but you can prune off any affected parts and dispose of them away from other plants. It spreads very easily so make sure you sterilise your tools, and isolate the plant and water from the base.
- Xanthomonas Bacterial Leaf Spot is another common problem on Philodendrons (and all large leaf house plants). The spots appear on the leaves as dark lesions, which sometimes have a yellow halo around them. They can appear anywhere on the leaf. Treatment is tricky, but copper fungicides and bacterial sprays can work. The best method to use is to cut away affected leaves as soon as the lesions appear to prevent the spread of the bacteria. Dispose of the infected leaves away from other plants and sterilize your tools.
- Root Rot will occur in overly damp conditions. Make sure the plant dries out between watering and that the soil drains well. If the plant isn’t looking well and there are no obvious pests or infections, pull the root ball and soil away from the pot and check to see how wet the soil is at the bottom of the pot. If the soil is wet, check the roots to see if any have rotted and died. Cut these away and re-pot the plant. Water it once and allow it to dry out completely.
- Mealybugs are tiny, wax-covered insects that feed on plants by piercing and sucking out the sap. This drains the plant of its nutrients and moisture, reducing plant growth and strength. Natural remedies are best for houseplants and a safe and effective method is to spray the plant with Neem Oil and wipe down the stems and the underside of the leaves to remove them.
Prevention is always better than cure. The following practices will help prevent diseases from taking hold:
Water your Philodendron Florida Ghost from the bottom (unless you are doing a foliar feed) and allow it to dry out well before you water it again.
Keep the temperature and humidity as low as possible, without damaging the plant. Bacteria and fungi thrive in hot, wet conditions. Keep as much air circulation as possible to allow oxygen to the plant.
Repot into a sterilized potting medium when you repot and sterilize your tools regularly (1-part bleach in 9 parts water works well).
Do not overcrowd your plants. Infections can spread from plant to plant so keeping them further apart will prevent this.
How to make the Philodendron Florida Ghost Whiter
The leaves of the Philodendron Florida Ghost begin pale, white to cream in color and then change as the leaf matures to various shades of green. Some leaves may be a yellow-toned lime green, others a light minty green and eventually a deep green with either a warm golden hue or a deep, dark green. There is no exact science to predict or control what colors the plant will produce and different plants will have different tones, even in identical growing conditions. However, one factor that does appear to impact how light or dark the leaves become along their journey from pale new leaves to green mature leaves is how much light they have.
Kaylee Ellen, of The Rare Plant Shop in England, did a little informal experiment where she kept several Philodendron Florida Ghost plants in the same room, at the same temperature and humidity and fed them the same food at the same time. She found that the ones located closest to the grow light turned out significantly paler than the others. She even found that the taller plants, which reached higher and closer to the light, were paler than the shorter plants!
In conclusion, Philodendron Florida Ghost is an evergreen (and white) hybrid Philodendron that makes a striking and unusual houseplant. It is easy to care for and maintain. Once you have the basic conditions set up correctly, it will flourish with little effort and produce beautifully varied leaves, ranging from white to dark green.