The Philodendron Painted Lady is known for its vibrant splotches of neon yellow – almost as if the leaves have been painted over, hence the name of this plant!
It also boasts beautiful stems and petioles in shades of burgundy and pink, which give the plant its distinctive colorful look.
It’s quite an uncommon and underappreciated cultivar, but it’s one of the easiest houseplants to care for. If you’re just starting to collect rare variegated plants, the Painted Lady is a fantastic choice for you!
In this article, we’re hashing out the growth behavior, origin and nature, and the experiences of other plant parents to help you best care for your Philodendron Painted Lady! Let’s get started!
My Experience With Philodendron Painted Lady
My Philodendron Painted Lady is perhaps one of the easiest and fastest-growing plants I [Allison, the editor] own!
Many people claim that it’s slow-growing, but in my personal experience, it’s been the opposite. So much so, in fact, that it started getting a little too tall for its own good.
I got it in November, and since then, it’s put out about 1-2 new leaves a month, even over the winter months (though to be fair, California winters are rather mild, and I have good growing conditions in my apartment).
I gave it quite the chop before taking a photo, making two cuts to propagate: one mid-cut with two leaves, and one top-cut with one leaf and a new leaf about to unfurl.
On an anecdotal note, I am finding the propagations are taking their sweet time to root in water, although others typically find their Painted Lady plants root rather quickly.
I forgot to get a good photo of it pre-chop and repot, but oh well — here she is, tall and beautiful even after a pretty heavy chop!
I have also experimented with putting the plant in LECA and am waiting to see how it adapts to that. So far, it’s been slow since its chop and repot, though a new growth point is just starting to form.
Where Can I Find a Philodendron Painted Lady for Sale?
Philodendron Painted Lady Cuttings
The Philodendron Painted Lady can be a little bit on the expensive side for a full-grown plant, so if you’re looking to save some money, purchasing it as a cutting can be a great idea.
This seller on Etsy has small, already-rooted plants for an affordable price.
Philodendron Painted Lady Plants
You may prefer to invest in a full-grown Painted Lady plant if you want to immediately have a beautiful, show-stopping plant that will grow quickly.
You can even recoup some of your money by selling cuttings to your local plant group, as it’s not a very commonly-found variety!
This seller on Etsy has some beautiful mature Painted Ladies for sale at a reasonable price.
Philodendron Painted Lady Origins & Overview
The Philodendron Painted Lady is a vining tropical houseplant that will reward you with vibrantly mottled leaves in shades of yellow and green if you give it the best possible care.
In true Philodendron fashion, the leaves of a Painted Lady are heart-shaped and elongated, with tips that taper to a point.
Although there are no accessible documents to verify the origin of this plant, the National Gardening Association records the Painted Lady as a cross between Philodendron erubescens ‘Burgundy’ and Philodendron erubescens ‘Emerald Queen’.
Philodendron erubescens is commonly called “Blushing Philodendron” because its petioles, stems, and roots appear as reddish pink! The same is true for its cultivar, the Painted Lady.
P. Painted Lady has been around for many years (at least as early as the 1970’s from what I’ve gathered in plant forums), but its popularity among plant collectors only recently peaked in 2021 according to Google Trends.
Even though it’s seldom talked about, the Painted Lady is still a beautiful Philodendron to have. When it comes to buying houseplants, don’t follow trends; follow your heart!
Philodendron Painted Lady Variegation Types
The variegation of a Philodendron Painted Lady usually appears as a uniform brushstroke pattern across the leaves. However, photos of this plant on Instagram are showing us otherwise!
Like most hybrid cultivars do, the Painted Lady can sometimes push out different patterns of variegation. It may not happen as frequently as in the case of a Philodendron Birkin, but the outcomes are still delightful!
Here are some unique variegation tendencies of this plant:
- Half-moon variegation: A half-moon leaf will have one side being fully green and the other side having yellow splotches. The green surfaces are healthy for the plant because they facilitate photosynthesis.
- Sectoral variegation: The Painted Lady can occasionally pop out patches or sections of solid color. The dark green pigment is an ode to its parent plant, the P. Erubescens.
- Speckled variegation: Some leaves can have splashes of variegation everywhere. The colors can appear in cream, white, brown, or pink.
On extremely rare occasions, it’s even possible for the yellow variegation of a Painted Lady to fully take over the leaves! Here’s one instance as posted on the International Aroid Society on Facebook.
Philodendron Painted Lady Care Guide
The Philodendron Painted Lady is an undemanding and a beginner-friendly houseplant. It thrives best in warm and humid areas of your home with access to dappled sunlight.
Philodendrons in general are very easy and extremely tolerant of neglect. Once established, these plants are hardy enough to survive on their own for the most part.
Although they’re generally disease-resistant, some Painted Lady plants might be susceptible to thrips, which are tiny, slender black bugs that damage the leaves by sucking on the sap.
You can deal with thrips by spraying the leaves with a diluted neem oil solution. You can also sprinkle systemic Bonide granules on the soil to poison them in the long-term.
Philodendron Painted Lady Light Needs
The Philodendron Painted Lady requires plenty of bright, filtered light to maintain its variegation, but its variegated leaves are also sensitive to too much UV heat.
Direct sunlight (or even excessive proximity to grow lights) can bleach the leaves of a Philodendron Painted Lady, turning the leaves stark white instead of the usual yellow.
This white color might look attractive like an Albo variegation, but fully white surfaces can be harmful for your plant. After all, leaves still need the green pigment to photosynthesize and grow.
The Philodendron Painted Lady will survive in medium light indoor conditions, but you should supplement it with grow lights if you want the vibrant yellow variegation to come out.
Don’t forget to slowly acclimatize your plant if you plan to move it to a brighter location!
Philodendron Painted Lady Watering Needs
P. Painted Lady prefers a full drench when about half of the pot is dry. Depending on the macro and microclimate of where you live, you may need to water your plant once a week on average.
Philodendron Painted Lady is quite vocal about its watering needs. When this plant is thirsty, the leaves will start to curl inward, droop downward, and have a thinner feel to them.
This plant requires consistent watering schedules. Underwatering can cause yellowing leaves while overwatering can cause root rot.
When the weather gets cold, the roots of the Painted lady become less active so they are unable to take up as much water. Generally, it is best to reduce watering in the fall and winter seasons.
Philodendron Painted Lady Soil Needs
A well-draining, lightweight growing medium is recommended to promote air circulation to the roots of your Philodendron Painted Lady. You can achieve this by mixing in chunky components to your soil mix.
Examples of materials that can improve aeration for your houseplants are: perlite, pumice, vermiculite, lava rocks, river sand, rice husks, coconut chips, orchid bark, and horticultural coal.
Of course, your soil will also need organic components that will retain water and provide nutrients for your Painted Lady. You can choose among sphagnum moss, cocopeat, vermicast, garden compost, and carbonized rice hull.
It can be complicated to figure out the ideal ratio of all these soil components. In our case, we find that this aroid soil mix recipe works well for most of our houseplants!
Another excellent option is LECA. Moving your Philodendron Painted Lady to LECA takes the guesswork out of watering because the roots are constantly suspended in a liquid nutrient solution. It helps a lot against root rot!
Philodendron Painted Lady Temperature & Humidity Needs
Like most tropical plants, P. Painted Lady prefers temperatures between 55-80°F (13-27°C) and a humidity level of 50% or higher.
If you live in a dry area, use a humidifier, keep a bowl of water nearby, or use a pebble tray to improve the health of your Painted Lady. Displaying plants close together also raises the room’s overall humidity.
As a moisture-loving plant, the Philodendron Painted Lady will do well in a terrarium, a glass cabinet, or a greenhouse. You will notice some aerial roots growing like crazy when your plant is happy with the humidity.
Another important thing to note is that this plant is extremely sensitive to the cold. Temperatures below 50°F can cause permanent damage to your Philodendron Painted Lady. Make sure it’s not exposed to cold spells during the winter.
Philodendron Painted Lady Fertilization Needs
In the warmer months, your Philodendron Painted Lady will benefit from a monthly application of balanced fertilizers.
Typical plant food products can be in the form of soluble powder, liquid foliar spray, or slow-release pellets. Any of these will work fine as long as you follow the application instructions on the product’s label.
In general, you won’t need to feed your houseplants in winter because daylight is shorter and they don’t use up as much energy to grow.
Pruning Philodendron Painted Lady
Pruning your Philodendron Painted Lady can 1) help you control your plant’s overall appearance, 2) encourage new growth points for a fuller look, and 3) help maintain the variegation.
Take your garden shears and carefully remove dead foliage, unruly aerial roots, and any unwanted growth that might be causing an imbalance to the plant’s silhouette.
Cutting your Painted Lady will encourage the stem to branch out into multiple growing points. You can also apply Keiki cloning paste on the wound to protect against infection and to induce growth.
Propagating Philodendron Painted Lady
The Painted Lady is one of the easiest plants to root and reproduce. Here are 3 propagation methods you can choose from:
1. Stem Cuttings: Take a cutting with a leaf and at least one node. Your cutting will never sprout new leaves without a node! Dip the wound in candle wax or beeswax to keep bugs, fungi, and bacteria out. Immediately plant the cutting into soil. Moisten the soil regularly and keep your new plant in a bright, shaded area.
2. Water propagation: You can root a cutting in any clear container filled with water, but remember to replace the water when it turns murky. The nodes should be submerged, but the leaves should remain above the surface. Roots will appear in as little as 1 week! When you’re happy with the length of the new roots, you may plant your cutting into soil.
3. Propagating in sphagnum moss: Sphagnum moss is an excellent medium to restart plants that have recently suffered from root rot. It can also be used to get cuttings to root before they are moved into soil. Simply wrap the nodes of the cutting with damp moss, then store it inside a lidded plastic box to trap moisture. Check for roots after 2-3 weeks.
Repotting Philodendron Painted Lady
Your Philodendron Painted Lady can take a while to become rootbound, and may require repotting every 1-2 years. You can repot your Painted Lady in 4 quick steps:
- Loosen the soil. Tilt your pot sideways then gently tap all around its sides with a heavy object to loosen the soil. Pull out the plant and untangle as much roots as you can without breaking them.
- Transplant. Move your Painted Lady into a bigger pot, preferably one that has drainage holes and is made of porous terracotta. Refresh the roots with a new batch of potting soil.
- Support. If your plant’s main stem is unable to stand on its own, support it with a wooden plank, a trellis, a bamboo stick, or a totem to keep it upright.
- Water. Moisten the soil so the roots can adjust faster, but be careful not to leave it soggy. While your plant is stabilizing, place it in a bright shaded area with good airflow.
It is best to repot your Painted Lady when the weather is warm and humid, so it can recover faster as a tropical plant. Avoid applying synthetic and organic treatments or fertilizers while your plant is still stabilizing.
Philodendron Painted Lady FAQ
Now that you know how to best care for your Philodendron Painted Lady, you can read some interesting FAQs about this plant below.
Is Philodendron Painted Lady rare?
Yes! The Philodendron Painted Lady is a rare variety that is difficult to find in regular gardening stores, and can mostly be ordered online from specialty plant shops.
Even though this plant has existed for several decades, there doesn’t seem to be a lot of hype and demand for the Painted Lady.
Consequently, I assume that growers must not have found it profitable to reproduce this plant in large quantities, thereby limiting stocks.
The popularity of this plant peaked in 2019 according to Google trends, but it’s still not as widely talked about as other Philodendron cultivars (such as the Pink Princess or the Birkin for example).
How big can Philodendron Painted Lady grow?
The Philodendron Painted Lady has been described as slow-growing by many owners of this plant. As a houseplant, it will typically grow up to 4 feet in height and up to 2 feet in spread.
Despite its slow growth, the Painted Lady is a rampant climber that produces long and thick aerial roots to anchor itself to walls, shelves, or any nearby structures for support.
Once it begins to climb, it will produce ever-larger leaves with more prominent yellow variegation. Train your Painted Lady to vine up a sphagnum moss pole or a coco coir pole if you want to be delighted with a beautiful foliage display.
This 12-year old specimen as shared on Reddit is a massive Philodendron Painted Lady grown indoors. Each mature leaf reaches up to 12 inches long!
Does Philodendron Painted Lady revert?
Yes! It appears that the Philodendron Painted Lady can occasionally push out leaves with partial or full reversion. Moreover, it’s natural for the speckled yellow leaves to fade to green over time.
Younger specimens or new cuttings of the Philodendron Painted Lady will start off with green juvenile leaves. As they grow, the leaves will develop yellow variegation, especially if they’re given ample lighting.
Slightly depriving your plant of its basic needs will keep the green pigment from taking over your variegated plant. Why so? Plants become greener the healthier they are.
For example, abundant watering can trigger an overproduction of chlorophyll which is what gives plants their green color. Delay watering schedules a little bit to bring out the vibrant stress colors of your Painted Lady.
Nitrogen also triggers an overproduction of Chlorophyll. Its main purpose in horticulture is to boost green, leafy growth. When choosing a fertilizer, go for products that are higher in Phosphorus and Potassium but lower in Nitrogen content.
Is Philodendron Painted Lady toxic to pets?
Yes. Plants of the Philodendron genus, which includes the Painted Lady, are slightly to moderately poisonous to cats and dogs.
According to the ASPCA, oral irritation swelling of the mouth, tongue, and lips, excessive drooling, vomiting, and trouble with swallowing are all clinical indications of toxicity.
If your pet develops any of these symptoms after direct contact with your Philodendron plants, call your local veterinarian for medical advice!
Eliza is a writer and a plant hobbyist from the tropical country of the Philippines. She views gardening as an art, but she has made it her mission to learn the scientific aspect of anything that grows on Earth.