If you’re looking for a low-maintenance houseplant with a distinct appearance, consider the Florida Ghost Plant philodendron.
This plant has all of the wonderful philodendron qualities, as well as gorgeous leaves. When new leaves emerge, they are creamy-white in color and lobed rather than the conventional heart form.
The Florida ghost plant is not your typical plant!
Philodendrons as Houseplants
Anyone who grows houseplants most likely has at least one type of philodendron in their collection. They are popular houseplants and are known for being some of the easiest plants to nurture, making them popular among those who struggle to keep plants alive.
Philodendrons can also endure lower light levels, making them ideal for homes that do not receive a lot of direct sunlight.
This plant family is indigenous to tropical forests in the Southern Hemisphere. The plants normally develop in the understory of larger trees and climb up the trunks in search of sunlight. Because of this, they create lovely climbing houseplants that are easy to keep alive, even in low-light situations.
Why is the Florida Ghost Plant Unique?
Unlike the pink princess philodendron or the marble queen pothos, the philodendron Florida ghost plant’s color is not categorized as variegation.
This plant is a relatively new hybrid of Philodendron pedatum and Philodendron squamiferum. When its oak-shaped, five-lobed leaves mature, the entire leaf appears very pale or creamy white, not just zones or stripes.
Buying a Florida Ghost Plant
Because of the plant’s rarity, they are more expensive and difficult to find for sale. Plants may be available from a local nursery or speciality plant shops in some locations of southern North America.
Plants can be purchased online through stores such as Etsy, but it is critical to ensure that they are genuine cultivars.
When purchasing a plant, be sure it is a ‘Florida Ghost Plant’ or a “Florida Ghost Mint” and not a related cultivar known as a “Florida Beauty.” The leaves of the two plants are similar, but the Florida beauty displays true variegation.
Florida Ghost Plant Care Guide
Philodendrons are known as low-maintenance plants, even thriving with a little bit of neglect. Hence, they are suitable for beginners or people known for being unsuccessful at growing anything.
One of the critical aspects to keeping your Florida ghost plants gorgeous is making sure plants get enough sunlight, and that it’s the right intensity.
Philodendrons flourish with lots of bright, indirect light since it’s similar to growing in the understory of tropical forests. Your Florida ghost philodendron needs plenty of bright indirect sunlight to maintain its beautiful creamy-white color. Keep your plant somewhere it can receive at least six to eight hours of indirect light or supplement them with a grow light.
Not enough indirect light causes your plant to start looking leggy, and the beautiful leaves will begin turning green. These plants can tolerate some direct light but only a couple of hours daily. Too much direct sunlight scorches the leaves and can cause permanent damage.
The best way to water your plant is to let the top couple of inches of potting soil dry out and then water it until excess water runs out the drainage holes in the bottom of the container. Known as the “soak and dry” method, watering like this prevents overwatering your plant (and root rot) while encouraging robust root growth.
Since the Florida ghost is a hybrid, it is tolerant of a wider temperature range, preferring indoor temps between 65-95°F. They still don’t like the cold, so keep them away from drafty windows and exterior doors in the wintertime, plus air conditioning vents in the summer. Damage will occur on the cold-sensitive leaves when exposed to temperatures below 60°F.
Relative Humidity Level
The best humidity level for growing indoor philodendrons is between 65 and 80%, mimicking the high relative humidity in tropical forests. However, many homes have humidity levels below this, especially during the winter. You can create localized spots of high humidity by running a humidifier close to your plant or setting them in a pebble tray with standing water.
This philodendron is slow-growing, but it does love high-quality nitrogen fertilizer. At a bare minimum, you should fertilize your plant with a balanced liquid fertilizer in the spring as active growth picks up for the season. It is best to give your plant a half dose of fertilizer every month during the spring and summer. Never fertilize in fall or winter.
Fortunately, houseplants don’t fall prey to the wide range of insect pests that outdoor plants battle, but they often have problems with spider mites, aphids, fungus gnats, and mealybugs. Regularly check your plant(s) for these common insects and treat all of the foliage with insecticidal soap or neem oil if you spot an infestation.
Two major disease problems afflicting Florida ghost plants are root rot and fire blight. Root rot is caused by overwatering and presents with wilting, discolored leaves. Fire blight is a bacterial infection caused by Erwinia amylovora that turns branches brown or black. With both diseases, you can lose an entire plant very fast once symptoms become visible.
Root rot isn’t treatable with chemical fungicides. When caught early on, you may be able to save the plant by removing any diseased roots and repotting it in fresh potting soil. With fire blight, remove the infected branches immediately using sterilized shears.
Philodendron Florida Ghost Propagation
Philodendrons are known for propagating quickly. You can propagate new plantlets with these plants by taking stem cuttings or air layering. The most significant advantage of both methods is they cost very little. All it takes is more potting soil and a container for the new plant, so it’s an inexpensive way to expand your houseplant collection.
Propagation Via Stem Cuttings
The stem cuttings of Florida ghost plants—like all philodendrons and other plants like pothos—successfully root in containers of either water or potting soil. Use sharp, clean scissors to cut part of a stem off between two leaf nodes and remove all leaves but one or two at the end. It’s best to have at least two nodes on the cutting.
Rooting Cuttings in Water
Fill a clean jar or glass with water and place the stem cutting to submerge the nodes completely. Set the jar in a spot where it gets bright, indirect light for a few hours every day. Top off the water as needed to keep the nodes covered and change the water every few days to keep bacteria from growing.
After the roots are one or two inches long, plant the newly rooted cutting in a container with the growing media of your choice.
Rooting Cuttings in Growing Media
Fill a small pot with potting soil, perlite, or coconut coir and plant the stem cutting in the center, making sure to bury the leaf nodes. Set the container in a spot with bright indirect light and water as needed to keep the substrate damp but not soggy. Be careful not to overwater.
Propagation Via Air Layering
Air layering is similar to propagating via stem cuttings in that you are encouraging the stem to grow new roots. However, air layering keeps the stem attached to the plant, increasing the rooting success rate. After the roots form, the new plantlet is removed from the mother plant and potted in its own container.
- Using a sterilized, sharp knife, make an angled cut almost through a stem on the plant.
- Wrap the wound with a fist-sized clump of wet sphagnum peat moss.
- Cover the moss with plastic wrap, tying it closed above and below the clump.
- Check the sphagnum moss every few days and spray it with water to keep it damp.
- After the node develops roots, carefully cut the stem from the mother plant and transplant it into a container with potting soil.
Pruning a Florida Ghost Plant
Vining plants like philodendrons don’t require pruning for shaping, but it is always beneficial. You can pinch back the ends of the vines to encourage fuller, bushier growth. You can also prune the plant to control the overall size. Always prune off dead leaves as soon as you see them, especially if they could be diseased.
Tips for Growing Philodendrons
- If you see brown, dry edges on the leaves, increase the humidity around the plant. These dry edges are typical when the moisture in the air is too low.
- Repot your Florida ghost plant into a slightly larger container every two or three years to refresh the potting soil and prevent the roots from becoming rootbound. It’s best to do it in the spring, if possible.
- Provide a moss pole, trellis, or some other support for your vining plant to climb. It attaches its aerial roots to move upward.
- Keep your philodendron away from children and pets. The leaves contain calcium oxalate crystals and are classified as toxic.
- Trim the plant’s aerial roots if they grow too long and the plants aren’t actively climbing.
- Create beautiful wall art by setting your plant on a bookshelf or a floating shelf. Hang metal wall art—geometric designs especially—and train the vines to climb along the metal piece.
- Set your plant on top of a kitchen cabinet close to the sink, allowing the vines to trail down the side of the cabinet or across the window valence, creating a lush tropical space in your kitchen.
- Attach a decorative birdcage to the wall, or hang it from the ceiling, setting your plant inside. The vines can either drape down or climb up the top of the cage and bracket.