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As its name suggests, the Philodendron Painted Lady is a proverbial celebration of colorful variegation, making it a must-have for philodendron collectors the world over. Native to Central and South America, this beauty can be identified by the speckles of cream, yellow, and reddish-pink that adorn its heart-shaped leaves. It also sports bold pink petioles.

Like most philodendrons, one reason for the Painted Lady’s increasing popularity is its ease of care and general hardiness. Though it looks very exotic, this plant won’t give you many problems, provided its basic needs are met. Furthermore, it also does well in a range of different indoor environments.

In this article, I’ll take you through what to expect when purchasing a Philodendron Painted Lady, from how large they get to how to maintain their variegation. Ready? Let’s jump right in.

someone holding a painted lady philodendron in a black pot
Source: kebun_cripzty

How to care for a Philodendron Painted Lady

The best way to care for a Philodendron Painted Lady is to try and emulate its natural, tropical environment. This involves providing it with bright, indirect light, plenty of warmth and humidity, well-draining soil, good hydration, and seasonal feeding. Occasional pruning and cleaning also help your Philodendron Painted Lady’ overall well-being.

Philodendron Painted Lady make great houseplants, and if you have any hesitation about their care, worry no further. These gracious green beauties are low-maintenance and straightforward in terms of their needs, making them perfect for even beginner plant parents.

Bearing in mind that Philodendron Painted Lady are tropical plants, the best environment you can offer them is one where they’ll have a sunny spot with lots of light, relative humidity, and plenty of moisture.

In good news, most homes are already set up for this with East and South-facing windows and a generalized humidity level of around 50%. To supplement the rest of their care needs, you just need to ensure your Philodendron Painted Lady stays hydrated, is fed with both good soil and that you occasionally fertilize your philodendron.

In the following sections, we’ll look at Philodendron Painted Lady care in greater detail to equip you with everything you need to help your houseplants thrive.

How much light does a Philodendron Painted Lady need?

Philodendron Painted Lady prefer at least six to eight hours of bright, indirect sunlight each day. As their leaves can be vulnerable if they receive too much light, keep an eye out for any signs of sunburn on your Philodendron Painted Lady’s leaves, such as yellowing leaves or brown spots appearing.

Most (if not all) plants depend on sunlight energy to grow, and Philodendron Painted Lady are no different. Native to tropical America, they’re accustomed to dappled light from the jungle canopies above them, which you can try to mimic in the home with clever positioning.

In the winter, when it starts to cool down, and there is less indoor sun available, a Philodendron Painted Lady’s light needs can be augmented with a bit of time spent outdoors on a sheltered patio or balcony. The fresh air will do them good, too.

Find out more: Philodendron Light Needs: The Ultimate Guide

What is the right temperature for Philodendron Painted Lady?

Your Philodendron Painted Lady will thrive in temperatures between 75°F and 85°F (23°C to 29°C). While they can survive at lower temperatures than this, don’t let them stay for too long anywhere less than 65°F (18°C) as your plant may not survive.

Clearly some plants, like Philodendron Painted Lady, like it hot. However, the real kicker is ensuring your Philodendron Painted Lady are placed in an area with mid-to-high humidity.

When should I fertilize my Philodendron Painted Lady?

Philodendron Painted Lady likes some fertilizer every now and again. In fact, they do their best when they are fed twice a month during their active growing season, which is the spring and summer. However, you shouldn’t fertilize your Philodendron Painted Lady during its dormant period in the cooler months.

This is because feeding the plant during this time can interfere with its natural growing cycle.

Overall, though, occasional feeding with a balanced fertilizer is greatly beneficial for Philodendron Painted Lady, especially at the start of their growing seasons in the spring and summer months.

If you think about it, these jungle-dwellers are used to all the rich, dense nutrients they have access to from the forest floor, which can’t be substituted by typical potting soil. An all-purpose liquid fertilizer at half strength is a good way to replace their natural feeding schedule, providing them with an extra dose of energy for new growth.

someone holding a leaf of painted lady philodendron
Source: mom_and_props

What are the best humidity levels for a Philodendron Painted Lady?

Philodendron Painted Lady prefer humidity levels of around 65% to 80%. Given that they are native to tropical Central and South America, they thrive in humidity conditions similar to their natural habitat. However, most homes won’t reach these levels, so you may need to boost this for your Philodendron Painted Lady to thrive.

Houseplants that receive adequate amounts of sunlight daily generally don’t require supplementary humidity, particularly if you consider most homes fall in the 40% to 50% range. However, with their tropical inclinations, Philodendron Painted Lady can benefit from a little extra care in this regard.

The easiest, in my opinion, is to invest in a small plug-in humidifier. Alternatively, you can rest your Philodendron Painted Lady on a damp pebble tray, making sure not to let their roots touch the water. 

Alternatively, if you have a whole collection of houseplants, cluster them together so they can benefit from each other’s transpiration processes. It has the added benefit of looking great too!

What soil is best for Philodendron Painted Lady?

A Philodendron Painted Lady’s soil mix should be loosely clustered, nutrient-rich, and well-draining. The high nutrient level emulates its natural habitat, where plant material in the rainforest falls onto Philodendron Painted Lady and nourishes them. Having light and airy potting mix helps to avoid the soil staying too soggy, which can lead to root rot.

While many Philodendron Painted Lady varieties have aerial roots as well as ground-dwelling (terrestrial) roots, they receive the bulk of their vitamins and minerals from their soil, making it an essential part of their fundamental care.

Top pick: My preferred soil for Philodendron Painted Lady is the Miracle-Gro Tropical Potting Mix (check the latest price here)

It’s very well draining and will feed nutrients to your Philodendron Painted Lady for up to six months. For a tropical plant like the Philodendron Painted Lady, it’s got everything you need.

Buying pre-blended Philodendron Painted Lady soil from most garden centers is a simple option. Alternatively, you can easily mix your own by combining potting soil with chunky bits of bark (grab some here) and moisture-retentive perlite (get it here). 

If you’re buying your Philodendron Painted Lady pre-potted, they’ll likely arrive in appropriate soil from the get-go. Even so, you’ll need to replace their soil every 18 to 24 months to prevent a build-up of salts or eliminate any beasties and creatures like pests, fungi, or bacteria, so make sure you’re replanting them in the best soil for philodendrons so they continue to thrive. 

Indeed, this is a good maintenance practice for all houseplants, not just Philodendron Painted Lady!

How often should you water Philodendron Painted Lady?

You should water your Philodendron Painted Lady when the top two inches of its soil has dried out, which you can test by sticking your finger into your plant’s potting mix. In summer, this will be around once per week, but may be less frequent in the cooler months.

It’s always good to have a watering schedule for your plants, but with so many factors (like season and sunlight) at play, I prefer to meet my Philodendron Painted Lady’s watering needs as required – by waiting for their top inch of soil to dry out before hydrating.

The reason for this is that the leading cause of fatality in Philodendron Painted Lady is root rot, which they tend to contract from overly soggy soil or from standing in pooled water. As they’re pretty drought-tolerant, it’s best to err on the side of caution and only water philodendrons as they need it rather than strictly once-per-week.

That said, when you do water them, a hearty dose of moisture is great, provided it doesn’t make their soil soggy and heavy, which weighs down on their root systems.

Should I prune my Philodendron Painted Lady?

You should prune your Philodendron Painted Lady from time to time as part of their regular maintenance, with spring being the best time of the year to do this. Removing dead foliage or browning stems will allow robust leaves and vines to draw in more sunlight and stop your plant from wasting energy. 

Just like humans shower, cut their hair, and clip their nails, Philodendron Painted Lady can do with occasional grooming, especially when it comes to eradicating old or dying growth. Fortunately, trimming your philodendron really isn’t hard to do.

When it comes to cleaning, remember that each large leaf of your Philodendron Painted Lady is full of sunlight receptors that are easily blocked by dust or grime. Wiping down your leaves with a damp cloth keeps them clean and free to function at their best.

When should I repot my Philodendron Painted Lady

The Philodendron Painted Lady is not a plant that needs to be repotted regularly, with it often only needing to be transplanted every two to three years. With that said, however, you should repot your Philodendron Painted Lady if you see roots growing out of the drainage holes.

In fact, this plant does well when it is rootbound. That said, when you do transplant a Philodendron Painted Lady, do so in spring before the plant starts to produce new growth, and select a pot that is about 3 sizes larger than the current pot. 

Alternatively, you can wait until fall to perform the transplant.

Find out more: 7 Simple Steps to Repot Philodendrons (+ When To Do It)

How to propagate a Philodendron Painted Lady

The easiest way to propagate your Philodendron Painted Lady is to root it in water. Simply place your cutting into a jar with water in it and place it in a warm sunny spot, and wait. Refresh the water once a week to keep it oxygenated and, in six to eight weeks, new roots will appear. 

At that point, your Philodendron Painted Lady cutting will be ready for transplantation!

Philodendron Painted Lady can be propagated from stem cuttings, provided they have a visible node and a leaf or two to draw in moisture from the air. You can either root your cuttings in water first or plant them directly into soil. 

Alternatively, if you only have a small piece of stem, you can try to root them in a nutrient-rich growing medium with concentrated humidity.

That is, a second option is to place your cutting directly into a planter with soil. This is slightly riskier as they require a lot of humidity to make up for the moisture they’d usually draw via roots, but it can be equally effective with proper care. 

If your cutting has no leaves, try laying it on a bed of peat moss and covering the tray or container with plastic to retain humidity. While this method isn’t always effective, it’s worth a try to avoid throwing away any pieces of your precious plants.

Find out more: 10 Easy Steps to Propagate Philodendron Cuttings

Is Philodendron Painted Lady rare?

The Philodendron Painted Lady is considered relatively rare and is unlikely to be found in your local nursery or garden center. That said, an increase in its popularity has seen it become more frequently available on the specialist plant market, particularly via online marketplaces like Etsy and eBay.

With its striking good looks, it’s no surprise that the Philodendron Painted Lady has taken the social media sphere by storm, often becoming the darling and centerpiece of plant enthusiasts’ collections. Indeed, this philodendron is so unusual in coloration that it tends to stand out from its peers.

For this reason, even though the Painted Lady cultivar has been around for quite a few decades, it is often snapped up quickly when it becomes available on the market. This increases demand, which, of course, cannot always be matched by production turnover.

Even so, global connectivity has made it easier than ever to get your hands on rarer plants, and the Painted Lady’s gratifying propagation rate has made it increasingly easy for small-scale producers to develop juvenile plants. In short, this means that while you won’t find a Painted Lady in your local nursery, you shouldn’t be too hard-pressed to find one for sale online.

While accessibility may vary depending on whereabouts you are, a quick internet or plant forum search should set you on your way to getting in touch with a local supplier.

What is the difference between Philodendron Calkins and Painted Lady?

The most noticeable difference between the Philodendron Calkins and the Philodendron Painted Lady is evident in their leaf variegation and sizing. Where the Calkins tends to have cream and yellow speckles, the Painted Lady shows additional pink coloring (especially on its stems). 

The Calkins also has longer, more lance-like leaves with an upright growth habit.

At first glance, and especially during their juvenile stages, it can be very easy to confuse the Philodendron Calkins and the Philodendron Painted Lady, thanks to their mottled variegation. However, the easiest way to tell them apart is to look out for any sign of pink or red on the latter’s leaves and stems.

Once mature, another dead giveaway is leaf size and growth habit. The Painted Lady has heart-shaped, somewhat compact leaves, whereas the Calkins has pendant-like foliage with sharp, lanceolate tips. The Calkins also likes to develop in a more upright fashion, with the Painted Lady preferring to sprawl.

How big does Philodendron Painted Lady get?

The Philodendron Painted Lady is a small to medium-sized plant reaching heights of around 5 feet (1.5 meters) with a spread of up to 2 feet (60 centimeters) indoors. It does best with a support, like a climbing pole or trellis, but will remain relatively narrow thanks to its compact growth habit.

As with all plants, the Painted Lady’s size depends largely on its environmental conditions and care. Though it can become much more prominent in a tropical outdoor environment, it is likely to stay relatively stout indoors (or to grow as far as its planter allows).

That said, part of this plant’s beauty is the size of its colorful leaves. At full maturity, they can grow up to 12 inches (30 centimeters) long, giving the impression that the Painted Lady is far more imposing than her stature belies.

a leaf of painted lady philodendron

Not one for trailing per se, the Painted Lady grows best with a stake or moss pole to which it can attach its strong aerial roots. This is because it likes to grow new leaves from its central stem outward and upward towards its source of light.

How fast does Philodendron Painted Lady grow?

The Painted Lady is a bit of a dawdling grower, taking roughly five years to reach full maturity. Research suggests that this is a consequence of its rampant variegation, meaning less active chlorophyll cells to convert sunlight energy into growth.

Even so, the Philodendron Painted Lady can develop new leaves every few weeks in its growing seasons, provided its needs are met. In this regard, you need to ensure regular hydration, top-quality soil, and plenty of light and humidity. A little slow-release fertilizer every now and then won’t hurt, either.

Is the Painted Lady Philodendron a climber?

The Philodendron Painted Lady loves to climb and prefers an environment with a stake or pole to keep it upright. Like most philodendrons, it has sturdy aerial roots that it won’t hesitate to attach to a nearby surface so it can feel its way toward the direction of the sun.

Half the reason we invest in houseplants is that we love the way they look. For this reason, it makes sense that you would want to show off your Painted Lady’s best angles from every direction. Ideally, you want to allow your plant to grow the way it would in the wild, which is by attaching itself to supports like bigger trees.

Biologically, the Painted Lady is a hemi-epiphyte, which means it has both ground-dwelling (terrestrial) roots and aerial roots. To teach your plant how to climb doesn’t require much other than giving it a surface to attach to and letting it do its thing. If it’s having trouble, simply tie its stems lightly with twine or florist’s tape until they’re settled.

Do Philodendron Painted Ladies revert?

Philodendron Painted Ladies are known to revert if they don’t receive enough light, losing part of their variegation and changing to a more solid green color. In good news, their reversion is seldom permanent and can be rectified by adapting their environments to suit their sunlight requirements better.

The last thing we want for our beautiful Painted Ladies is to see them revert, especially as their color is what makes them so popular. And while this is perfectly normal (especially in the cooler months of the year), it is almost always related to inadequate lighting.

The Painted Lady, though unfussy, does require a lot of sun to maintain its optimal health. Six to eight hours per day is ideal, but should this be impossible, it can be supplemented with grow lights.

painted lady philodendron in a transparent pot

How do you make a Philodendron Painted Lady bushy?

The best way to make a Philodendron Painted Lady bushy is to prune it in its growing season, which is spring and summer. Make sure you remove any dead or dying leaves, as this ensures your plant doesn’t spend energy on this foliage and will instead focus on new growth.

Funnily enough, regularly trimming your plant is actually key to maximizing your philodendron’s growth rate.

Regularly turning your plant so that all its angles receive sunlight is another good way to ensure consistent, rounded, and aesthetic growth with a clustered appearance to make your philodendron fuller

You can also use a moss pole so that your Philodendron Painted Lady has space to climb upwards, which is what it would do in its natural environment – aiming upwards towards a source of light.

Are Philodendron Painted Lady toxic?

Philodendron Painted Lady are toxic to humans and animals, as they contain sharp calcium oxalate crystals that cause skin irritation through direct contact, or gastrointestinal distress and other potentially dangerous symptoms when ingested. All parts of the plant contain these crystals, which are most prevalent in its sap.

While Philodendron Painted Lady are indisputably beautiful in the home, it is best to keep them away from curious kids and pets, as skin contact and ingestion can be highly irritating at best and have real health consequences at worst.

These plants’ sticky white sap is full of needle-like calcium crystals. When they make contact with bare skin, they can cause welts or irritating rashes, which, fortunately, can usually be treated with a topical skin ointment.

Be aware: Ingestion of any part of a Philodendron Painted Lady can cause swelling of the throat tissue, nausea, dizziness, diarrhea, and other symptoms of gastrointestinal distress. In a worst-case scenario, ingestion can cause difficulty breathing, in which case, medical treatment should be sought as a matter of urgency.

While this all sounds very daunting, the good news is that these plants don’t taste good, so there is no real reason (other than curiosity or carelessness) why rogue children or pets would eat them. Even so, prevention is better than cure, so place your plants out of reach if you’re concerned they may get chomped.

Why are my Philodendron Painted Lady’s leaves turning yellow?

There are a few reasons why Philodendron Painted Lady leaves turn yellow, but the primary cause is overwatering, with yellowing leaves being an early sign of root rot. Damaged roots cannot transport nutrients, oxygen, and water to a plant’s leaves, which causes cell death, and by default, turns them yellow.

I find watering my plants to be the most cathartic exercise on earth. However, with some trial and error, I’ve learned that my Philodendron Painted Lady, in particular, doesn’t do well with being over-loved. 

While they’re super hardy, too much hydration can quickly cause root rot in philodendrons – a fungal or bacterial infection that destroys your plant’s root system.

Therefore, if you notice yellowing leaves on your philodendron, run a diagnostic immediately. Is your soil damp or soggy? Allow it to dry out, which may reverse some of the damage. Lots of sun helps. Or if the damage is progressed, try repotting your Philodendron Painted Lady, removing damaging roots in the process.

A secondary cause of yellowing leaves is chemical burn, which your Philodendron Painted Lady may contract from over-fertilization. In this case, transplantation is also recommended, followed by a restriction of your feeding practices.

Why is my Philodendron Painted Lady drooping?

Drooping and wilting in Philodendron Painted Lady is more often than not related to watering practices. Too little water can cause fatigue which will make your plant look droopy, while too much water (or root rot) can also cause ill health. Generally, when a plant wilts, it is trying to communicate that it’s unwell.

While a drooping Philodendron Painted Lady is distressing, it’s not usually terribly serious and most likely due to dehydration. This can be solved with a dose of water and sunlight and, of course, more consistent care going forward. In no time, your plant should be back to its old self.

Conversely, if this doesn’t do the trick, your philodendron leaves curling may indicate an underlying issue like root rot, which, ironically, is caused by overwatering. If you suspect this is the case, you may be best off transplanting your Philodendron Painted Lady into fresh soil and readjusting your watering schedule.

A third cause of drooping is related to light. If a Philodendron Painted Lady isn’t receiving enough sun, it will tell you by dropping its leaves and wilting. Remember, six to eight hours a day is critical, and if you can’t provide this, mitigate potential drooping with supplementary grow lights.

Related: 10 Causes Of Your Philodendron Not Growing (+ How to Fix It)

Why are there brown spots on my Philodendron Painted Lady?

Like yellowing and drooping, brown spots on a Philodendron Painted Lady are a sign of a health ailment. Browning, in particular, is mainly caused by pest infestations or bacterial and fungal infections. The best way to get rid of brown spots is to identify the cause and then treat your plant accordingly.

None of us want to see our Philodendron Painted Lady suffer, and brown spots usually aren’t a very good sign. If you notice your philodendron leaves turning brown, the first thing you want to do is identify the cause, whether it be pests or soil-related.

In the case of creepy crawlies, you can treat your Philodendron Painted Lady by washing it down with a horticultural soap, followed by a wipe with neem oil. Remove damaged growth, and give your plant lots of love, water, and light.

On the other hand, bacterial and fungal infections are best treated by getting rid of old soil. I highly recommend transplanting your Philodendron Painted Lady (preferably in spring or summer), and cutting away any visible root and leaf damage, provided it’s not more than 30% of your plant’s total volume.

Brown spots on philodendrons can also be caused by sunburn, but in this case, they’ll look more like a sheen than a spot, per se. Sunburn can be prevented by keeping your Philodendron Painted Lady out of direct light.

a leaf of painted lady philodendron

Why are my Philodendron Painted Lady’s leaves falling off?

When a Philodendron Painted Lady’s leaves start to drop, it is more often than not a sign of either overwatering or underwatering. Root rot, a consequence of too much water, can cause leaves to wilt, curl, and fall. Underwatering, conversely, sees them dry and turn crisp before dropping.

Painted Ladys are great communicators and will tell you when there is something in their environment they don’t enjoy. As hardy plants, they don’t have many health issues, so any sudden onset of leaf drop is a cause for immediate concern.

As mentioned, this is usually related to watering practices, with the first sign of an issue being wilting, curling, or dried leaves. You should adapt your hydration timeframes accordingly.

If watering is not the problem, it may be that your Painted Lady is scorching (you’ll note its leaves start turning pink), in which case you should move it to a shadier spot as soon as possible.