Philodendron Florida Beauty Care: #1 Best Kept Secrets!

Based off name alone, it doesn’t take much imagination to assume that the Philodendron Florida Beauty is…well, beautiful.

As a variegated variety of Philodendron, the Florida Beauty commands attention with its deeply lobed leaves (envision a stretched oak leaf with rounded tips) that boast a beautiful dark green coloring with yellow or cream variegation patches.

Petioles (where the leaf & stem meet) are uniquely dark red & scaley. Pair all this with a striking thin, red stem, and you can see why this rare Philodendron is coveted, and named, quite appropriately.

Regarding other names, you may recognize the Florida Beauty by “Magic Mask” as it is often times referred to within the plant-loving community.

Today’s fact-filled guide will provide you with everything you need to know (and hopefully then some) about keeping your Philodendron Florida Beauty happy and thriving from the moment you bring it home.

Quick Philodendron Florida Beauty Care Breakdown

  • Light: Bright, indirect
  • Soil: Well-draining & nutrient rich
  • Watering: Enjoys being consistently moist
  • Temperature: 50 – 70 F
  • Humidity: 50 – 60%

Philodendron Origin & Backstory

Initially cultivated in a 1950’s breeding program in Florida by Robert McColley, the Philodendron Florida Beauty is a variegated variety of the Philodendron Florida, which itself is a hybrid of the Philodendron Pedatum & Philodendron Squamiferum.

From an appearance standpoint, you see the leaf shape and structure of the Pedatum shine through more in the Florida Beauty, while the signature red stem hails from the Squamiferum side.

Philodendron Florida Beauty Care

Soil

Like all Philodendrons, the Florida Beauty needs rich soil that is well-draining to reach its full potential.

Unlike a lot of plants that will tolerate traditional store-bought potting mixes just fine, we recommend avoiding these for your Florida Beauty as they are too dense and heavy, and do not allow for enough drainage or air circulation for the plant’s roots.

Instead consider a Philodendron-specific potting mixture, or make your own using a mixture of components like:

  • 40% Sphagnum moss
  • 20% each of Orchid bark, perlite & vermiculite

Why This Mix Works

Choosing to make the base of your mix a rich, water-retaining substance like sphagnum moss is a recommended practice across Philodendron-growers as a whole; as a matter of fact, some growers pot their plants in 100% sphagnum moss!

Adding in substances like orchid bark, perlite & vermiculite ensure that your Florida Beauty drains water and circulates air properly.

Light

Your plant will do best – as do most Philodendrons – in 6-8 hours of bright, indirect light.

If you have access to an East-facing window to place your plant near, that is ideal as the morning sun hits here, meaning the sunlight your plant does receive is not too prolonged or hot.

South or West windows will do as well, but we recommend that you use a sheer curtain to diffuse the sunlight as it is typically more intense from these directions.

Where This Plant Grows Naturally

The Philodendron Florida (of which the Florida Beauty is a variegated variety) calls tropical rainforests home, meaning that it is accustomed to receiving dappled sunlight, filtered through the leaves of the forest canopy.  

Recommended Light Intensity

You’ll find that your plant will do best with 2 – 3 hours of sunlight meeting the below FC requirements daily.

Especially while your plant is new, keep a close eye on it, and adjust placement as necessary.

Typically our warnings for excessive heat & light center around avoiding leaf burn, but it is especially critical to avoid too much light with your Florida Beauty as over-exposure will bleach your leaves, causing fading of the variegation that makes it so unique.

What is Bright, Indirect Light Exactly?

Bright, indirect light is brighter than you think!

Measuring light is tricky and something that’s entirely subjective. For this reason, I love and use my light meter when deciding where to keep a plant.

It measures overall light intensity in a room in footcandles (FC).

How Much Light Does This Plant Need in a Home?

The lowest light level this plant will tolerate is 200FC. This is not recommended, instead, it is the bare minimum for plant maintenance.

To watch your plant thrive, you’ll want to provide it with approximately 400FC.

Water

The key to a happy, healthy Florida Beauty is consistently moist, never soggy, soil.

This is exactly why we recommend the potting mixture (or similar) above, to help ensure that moisture is retained appropriately, while also allowing for ample air circulation throughout the root system.

How to Tell When Your Plant Needs Water

One of the most simple ways to tell if your plant needs water is to finger-test it.

Stick your finger into the soil (away from the main stem) up to the second knuckle. If your finger comes out clean, it’s a pretty solid indication that the plant is ready for watering.

Another strong indicator that your plant needs a drink is if the leaves are wilting. Note though, leaf wilt can also be a sign of over-watering, so observe cautiously and adjust your watering practices accordingly.

How to Water Your Philodendron Florida Beauty

Beginning on a weekly basis and adjusting as/if necessary, water your plant thoroughly till the water runs through the drainage holes at the bottom of the pot (this is the rule of thumb for all plants, not just this guy).

Be sure that you are watering all around the pot and not just in one place to ensure proper water distribution to the whole root system!

Temperature

With tropical roots, it should come as no surprise that Florida Beauties like it relatively warm, but nothing that cannot be easily achieved by almost all home-owners.    

Ideal Temperature Range:

Your plant will do best in a setting where temperatures sit between 60 – 70 F during the day, with room to dip down into the mid-high 50’s overnight.

Be cautious to not dip too low into the 50’s, and certainly never below 50 degrees as that is when you will start to see slowed growth or more severe issues if the low temperature exposure is prolonged.

Humidity

Just like with slightly warmer temperatures, it should be expected for the tropical-hailing Philodendrons to thrive in a more humid environment.

In the Florida Beauty’s case, a humidity range of 50 – 60% is best.

Increasing Humidity Levels

If this range is not something naturally attainable in the space where you keep your plant, consider implementing any of the following commonly-used practices:

  • Utilizing a humidifier
  • Misting
  • Utilizing a pebble tray
  • Grouping your plants

The Science Behind Grouping

Plants lose water from their leaves through a process called transpiration. This water vapor then immediately surrounds the plant, increasing local humidity.

By grouping your plants together, transpiration increases, and humidity levels will drastically improve.

Fertilizer

Once we remove a plant from its natural environment, it relies totally on us for all its nutrient-needs, which is why the right fertilizer is of such critical importance. No pressure though, we’re here to help.

Best Fertilizer for Philodendron Florida Beauty:

I use and recommend dyna go (7-9-5 NPK formula). It’s a complete liquid fertilizer that contains all 16 essential nutrients your plant needs to survive, including the 3 major ones; nitrogen, phosphorous, and potassium.

It’s also very low in heavy nitrogen salts and free of urea which can change the pH of the soil and lead to root burn when in excess.

How to Fertilize your Philodendron Florida Beauty

Dilute ¼ teaspoon of dyna gro with 1 gallon of water (4.5 litres) and use this solution every time you water during spring and summer.

Alternatively, you can use a high-quality all-purpose houseplant liquid fertilizer that’s high in nitrogen and use the same method of feeding.

When to Fertilize Your Philodendron Florida Beauty

Fertilize your plant using the above technique and schedule throughout the growing season (spring – summer) and pull back drastically, or stop entirely, during fall and winter when the plants go dormant and growth naturally slows.

Growth – What Can I Expect?

As a fast-growing, climbing Philodendron, the Florida Beauty is capable of stretching up to 90(!) feet – 30 meters – tall when grown outdoors. Indoors, the plant will top out around 8 – 10 feet.

Individual leaves range in size from 6 – 9 inches.

Whether you choose to place your plant indoors or outdoors, consider a support pole to really help it reach its full potential.

Growing your Plant Outdoors

Should you be in the position to grow your plant outdoors, keep the temperature range in mind that we mentioned above.

With damage possible below 50 F, be sure that you prep your plant or move it inside if your forecast looks remotely chilly. Typically speaking, this will manage well in U.S. hardiness zones 9 – 11.

Before planting, use a pH tester to test the soil in which you plan to plant your Florida Beauty. You are looking for a range of 6.1 – 7.3 or slightly acidic – neutral.

Pruning – Should I Prune This Plant?

There is no set pruning schedule that needs to be followed for the Florida Beauty, so simply trim away any dead/diseased leaves as necessary, or trim back your plant as desired to fit your specific space.

Potting

To keep your plant thriving, consider repotting every time it doubles in size.

Depending on your specific plant (and plant age) this could be every year or two – the size component is more important than a specific time frame.

A good indicator (besides the doubling-size check) is to see if the plant has become rootbound.

When it is time to repot, remember to use a larger pot – but only by a couple of inches, and to use fresh potting soil to give your plant a fresh start in its new home.

Always water your plant cautiously and consistently after repotting, and keep a close eye on it till its adjustment period has passed.

How to Propagate Your Philodendron Florida Beauty

As with many Philodendron varieties, stem-cutting & air-layering are the two most commonly-suggested methods, but as stem-cuttings tend to be a bit more trusted and straightforward, we’re going to lay that one out step-by-step for you today.

Before beginning, always remember to propagate during early spring when your plant’s growth cycle is at its beginning – giving the new cutting a stronger chance to thrive.

  1. Selecting a healthy section of your plant with at least 2 nodes and at least 3 – 4 leaves, cut a 3 – 6 inch long section, making your cut just below the node.
  2. If not already prepared, prepare your container of sphagnum moss and perlite (just a simplified version of the same mixture you’ll use for your full-grown plant), and give it a drink.
  3. Place the new cutting into the soil mixture, being careful to not cover any of the leaves with dirt.
  4. Gently pat the soil down around it to encourage the new plant to take hold, move it into bright, indirect light and water consistently.
  5. Your new plant should root within 2 – 3 weeks.
  6. Once roots are approximately 1 inch long, you can transplant your plant into a slightly larger pot filled with the full soil mixture we discussed at the beginning of our article.

Common Pests & Diseases to Watch Out For

In a perfect world, none of our plants would fall victim to any harm, but at least for the Florida Beauty, nothing too far out of the ordinary tend to (pun intended) bug them. The list of usual suspects include:

  • Yellowing leaves
  • Spider Mites – Tiny, yellow sap-sucking insects that produce cobwebbing
  • Mealybugs – White, soft-bodied round sap-sucking bugs
  • Scale – Tiny, oval-shaped flat bugs with a shell-like covering
  • Thirps – Tiny, dark sliver-shaped insects that (again) suck sap from plants
  • Erwinia Blight Disease – Wet, mushy lesions appearing on stems & leaves

How to Treat Bug Infestations & Diseases

Yellowing leaves is almost always a sign of a watering issue, be it too much or too little. Adjust your watering habits appropriately – and adjust again if you got it wrong the first time!

Spider mites should first be addressed by pruning away the infested area(s). Once pruned, spray down your leaves with diluted neem oil.

Mealybugs can also be treated by pruning away the affected areas, and then by spot-treating with an alcohol-soaked cotton swab.

On a small scale, scale responds well to pruning and rubbing alcohol like mealybugs do. If the infestation is too large, your plant will unfortunately need to be discarded.

Thrips, like spider mites should be addressed with pruning and neem oil

Erwinia Blight disease is a bacterial infection that thrives in moist conditions. Typically starting under the soil, this disease causes the darkening of your plant’s stems and branches. Eventually, stems turn mushy and oozing lesions appear (ick) that will kill your plant.

At the first signs of this, prune away the affected leaves, change your soil, minimize watering and pull the plant away from others. Typically speaking, if a good chunk of your plant has been infected, the plant should be thrown out.

Toxicity – Is This Plant Toxic?

Due to the calcium oxalate crystals they contain, all Philodendrons are toxic if consumed by humans or pets. 

Help! What’s Wrong With my Plant? Common Philodendron Florida Beauty Problems

My Philodendron Florida Beauty is Reverting – What Should I Do?

Variegated varieties of all plants can unfortunately revert, but luckily if you spot it happening on your Florida Beauty, you have a couple of options.

First, try adjusting your plant’s position in regard to its light source. Typically if this is happening, your plant needs more time in, or more intense (never direct) light; so play around there to start.

Loss of variegation can also be attributed to drastic swings in temperature, so if you adjust the plant’s light source without success, tune into the temps.

Is it in a drafty area you never noticed before? By a window you frequently open and close? Try a more stable location and see how your plant responds    .

Philodendron Florida Beauty vs. Philodendron Florida Ghost – What’s the difference?

Variegation!

Outside of that, we can’t fault anyone for having a tricky time telling the difference as one of the only physical differentiators between the two are the leaf colorings, with the Ghost appearing a solid pale, yellow to almost a beautiful dusty white while the Florida Beauty shows off with dark green & cream or white variegated spots.

In short, the Florida Beauty is variegated while the Ghost is not.

Is Philodendron Florida Beauty a Crawler or Climber?

Naturally, the Florida Beauty is a climber, but it can serve as beautiful ground cover should you be interested in, and able (see outdoor growing conditions above) to grow yours outside!

If you want it to really show off, consider giving it a climbing pole, or planting it in a hanging basket.

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