Philodendron Painted Lady Care: How to Care For A Vibrant Painted Lady Plant

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! 

The chartreuse leaves, beautiful pink stems, and bright pink petioles all contribute to the distinctive pop of bright color for this striking aroid.

The Painted Lady Philodendron plant may be an uncommon cultivar, but it’s one of the easiest house plants to care for. If you’re just starting to collect rare variegated plants, the Painted Lady is a top 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 Painted Lady is perhaps one of the easiest and fastest-growing Philodendron species that 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 even through the winter months (though to be fair, California winters are rather mild and I have good growing conditions in my apartment).

I gave it a chop before taking a photo, making two cuts to propagate: one mid-cut with two young leaves, and one top-cut with a single leaf plus a new leaf about to unfurl. On an anecdotal note, my 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 before repotting from its plastic nursery pot, but oh well — here she is, tall and beautiful even after a pretty heavy chop!

Where Can I Find a Philodendron Painted Lady for Sale?

Top view of the leaves of a Philodendron Painted Lady climbing up a cocopole

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 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. 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

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.

The National Gardening Association records the Painted Lady as a hybrid of two-parent Philodendrons, namely the P. Erubescens Burgundy plant and the P. Erubescens Emerald Queen plant.

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 and spider mites, usually making their presence known through brown spots or wilting on the leaves.

You can deal with these common pests by spraying the leaves with a diluted neem oil solution. You can also sprinkle systemic Bonide granules on the soil to poison thrips in the long-term.

Philodendron Painted Lady Light Needs

The Philodendron Painted Lady requires plenty of bright indirect light to maintain its variegation, but its bright yellow-green leaves are also sensitive to too much light.

Exposing your plant to direct sunlight for too long can bleach the leaves white. This white color might look like the variegation of a Monstera Deliciosa Albo, but fully white surfaces are harmful for your plant. Leaves still need the green pigment to photosynthesize and grow.

The Philodendron Painted Lady will survive in low light conditions to medium indirect light, but you should supplement your plant with LED or fluorescent 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 from partial shade to a brighter location!

Philodendron Painted Lady Watering Needs

P. Painted Lady prefers a full drench when the top layer of soil feels dry to the touch. 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.

The Painted Lady requires consistent watering schedules. Too little water can cause yellowing leaves while too much water can cause root rot.

When the weather gets cold, the plant’s roots become less active so they are unable to take up excess water. Generally, it is best to reduce watering in the fall and winter seasons. 

Philodendron Painted Lady Soil Needs

A well-draining, lightweight soil type 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 potting 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

P. Painted Lady prefers the room temperature to be between 55-80°F (13-27°C) and the humidity level to be 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. Keeping your plants close together can also help maintain high humidity.

Like most tropical plants, 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 sensitive to extreme temperatures. Cold temperatures below 50°F can cause permanent damage to your Philodendron Painted Lady.

Close windows during the winter months, and keep your plant away from air conditioners. You can also place heat packs underneath the pot to warm up your plant.

Philodendron Painted Lady Fertilization Needs

During its growing season in the summer 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 cold weather because plants 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 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 moist but not soggy soil. It might be a good idea to add a layer of peat moss at the top inch to help your new plant grow roots.

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: 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:

  1. Loosen the soil. The best way to dig up your plant is to tilt its pot sideways, then firmly tap at the sides to loosen the soil. Pull out the plant, then slowly untangle the healthy roots without breaking them.
  2. Transplant. Move your Painted Lady into a bigger pot, preferably one that has a drainage hole. Fill up the pot with a fresh batch of moist soil. Extremely dry soil conditions can dehydrate the weakened roots. 
  3. Support. The stems of this plant will prefer to climb, so support it with a wooden plank, a trellis, a bamboo stick, or a totem to keep it upright.
  4. 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.

The best time to repot your Painted Lady is in early spring 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. 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 April 2021 according to Google trends, but it’s still not as widely talked about as other Philodendron cultivars (such as the Pink Princess for example).

How big can Philodendron Painted Lady grow?

The Philodendron Painted Lady has been described as a slow grower by many owners of this plant. As a houseplant, it will typically grow up to 4 feet tall and up to 2 feet wide.

Despite its slow growth rate, the good news is that 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 larger leaves with more prominent yellow variegation! Train your Painted Lady to vine up a moss pole if you want to be delighted with a display of beautiful foliage.

This 12-year old indoor specimen as shared on Reddit is a massive Philodendron Painted Lady with large bright yellow leaves. Large plants can have individual leaves measuring 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 deeper green over time.

Small plants will start off with juvenile green leaves. As Painted Lady plants 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, clinical indications of toxicity include: oral irritation, excessive drooling, vomiting, trouble with swallowing, and swelling of the mouth, tongue, and lips. The calcium oxalate crystals found in the sap can also cause skin irritation when touched.

If your pet develops any of these symptoms after direct contact with your Philodendron plants, call your local veterinarian for medical advice!

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