The philodendron white knight is an exquisite plant, not to mention a truly rare and coveted find! Its stunning sectoral or speckled white leaf variegation combined with its unusual purple and brown stems make this philodendron a spectacular find.
If you happen to have this highly-sought after beauty in your houseplant collection, I’m here to help you keep those bright white leaves healthy and show you how to provide the best philodendron white knight care!
Quick Philodendron White Knight Care Breakdown
- Soil: Well-draining, loose, airy
- Light: Bright, indirect
- Watering: Soil kept lightly damp
- Temperature: 65-80° F (18-27°C)
- Humidity: 70%+
- Fertilizer: Nitrogen rich or balanced
Philodendron White Knight Origin
Originating from the humid and tropical canopies of South America, the gorgeous philodendron white knight has only recently started to be harvested for international export.
Because of its unique variegation, it’s considered rare, though it’s available in abundance where it grows!
The surge in demand worldwide thanks to magazine-worthy Instagram reels has played a huge role in this plant’s ever-increasing price; a white knight will likely cost anywhere between $150-$600, depending on size and maturity.
Philodendron White Knight Care
The key to keeping your white knight happy and healthy is to mimic its natural growing environment as much as possible.
In this case, we’re looking at a tropical canopy, and what do these plants love more than anything? Warmth, humidity, and lots of bright, indirect light.
The white portion of the philodendron white knight’s leaves are hypersensitive to direct sunlight and will burn very quickly if placed in direct light.
Recommended Light Intensity
6-8 hours of filtered, bright, but indirect sunlight is your best bet with this plant.
This naturally mimics the rays of sun peeking through the overhead canopy in the South American forests.
Despite what you might have read, this plant isn’t a shade lover! Be careful not to place it in a completely shady area – within 2-3 months of not receiving enough light, the philodendron white knight’s leaves will revert back to a plain green color.
It’s difficult to encourage this plant to regain its beautiful white variegation again if left in the dark for too long.
What is Bright, Indirect Light Exactly? How do I Measure It?
Light requirements can get really confusing, after all, what is bright, indirect light really? One way to solve this problem is to use a light meter.
Light meters are a great way to measure the overall light intensity in a room, and takes the guesswork out of ‘is this location really bright enough?!’
I honestly don’t know if my aroid collection would look as beautiful and vibrant as it does without one!
Recommended Light Meter: I love and use this one and was amazed at the readings – some places seem so bright but actually aren’t! It measures both Lux and FC and also measures the light from grow lights!
For optimal growth, keep this plant in 200-400FC (foot candles).
Anything less than 150FC is far too low for this plant and will result in stunted growth, not to mention a loss of that beautiful variegation.
The gorgeous philodendron white knight thrives in moist, but well-drained soil. You can either purchase a pre-made aroid potting mix or DIY your own!
Highly recommend these pre-made soil mixes:
A DIY soil mix usually consists of coco coir mixed with organic materials such as perlite, activated charcoal, worm castings, and orchid bark.
If you’re new to creating your own mixes, try this tried and tested formula:
- 40% coco coir
- 20% orchid bark
- 15% perlite
- 10% activated charcoal
- 10% worm castings
- 5% pumice (optional)
Well-drained potting soil simply means that excess water easily flows out of the soil – it doesn’t hang on to it, which can cause a whole host of problems such as root rot or erwinia blight disease. Both nasty bacterial infections.
The philodendron white knight LOVES its soil to be kept evenly moist. That’s not to say you can water it as much as you like though!
How much water your individual plant needs fully depends on the temperature, humidity, and light levels it receives - which is why many beginners find their plants die when sticking to a rigid once a week schedule!
Instead of sticking to a strict watering schedule like many blogs recommend, try looking for the telltale signs your plant actually needs watering.
How to Tell When your Plant Needs Water
The best and most accurate way to do this is to plunge a chopstick or wooden stick into the soil (away from the roots), leave it for 30-60 minutes, pull it out, and observe what you can see.
Different moisture levels in the soil create what’s known as water lines on the stick, making it super easy to tell just how wet or dry your plant’s soil is.
- Wet soil will turn the stick a very dark colour and soil particles will cling to the stick
- Moist or damp soil will turn the stick a darker colour, but it will be very subtle. Little to no soil will cling to the stick.
- Dry soil won’t change the stick colour, nor will soil cling to it.
Generally, you’ll only want to water your philodendron white knight when the top 1 inch (3cm) of potting soil is dry.
Other signs your plant needs watering:
- Leaves are wrinkling
- The plant is severely drooping
- The pot is physically light to lift (means soil is dry)
- Leaves are dropping and turning yellow/brown (though this can have other causes too – please see the FAQ for more info).
The philodendron white knight is a tropical, humidity, and warmth-loving plant.
Ideal Temperature Range
To keep it looking its best, try to keep your plant in an area that maintains 65°F-80°F during the day or 18°-26°C.
At night, this plant can tolerate a slightly cooler environment. Though, the temperature should never drop below 55° F (12°C) as this will cause stunted growth and overtime a loss of that stunning white variegation.
Knowing its origins, it should come as no surprise that the white knight likes its humidity levels high; think 70% or higher!
Lower than this, and you’ll likely see little to no growth as well as discoloring leaves and drooping stems. In short, it’ll look pretty lifeless.
You can use a digital hygrometer to check your home’s natural humidity level. The one I’ve linked is especially great for plants because it tracks the highs and lows of humidity in that particular room!
Here are some simple ways to increase humidity in your home:
- Keep the white knight in a naturally humid area e.g. the bathroom (as long as your bathroom gets enough sunlight)
- Use a small humidifier
- Group other tropical plants together – if you have a collection of tropical houseplants, grouping them together helps them share humidity via a process known as transpiration.
It’s incredibly important to fertilize houseplants. Unlike their outdoor counterparts, they have no natural supply of organic matter.
After some time, your white knight has likely absorbed all the nutrients in its potting soil. Fertilizer helps to enhance the soil’s fertility by adding much-needed nutrients such as potassium, calcium, and nitrogen.
Which Fertilizer Should I Use with My Philodendron White Knight?
I love and use dyna gro pro (7-9-5 NPK) for the majority of my houseplants. It’s a premium, complete formulation that contains all 16 essential macro and micronutrients your plant needs.
It’s a liquid fertilizer that’s low in residue salts such as urea, which can cause root burn in large amounts.
I’ve seen such a difference in foliage growth since switching brands. I’m not the only one who loves this formula either – check out all those 5 star reviews on Amazon!!
How to Fertilize Your Philodendron White Knight With a Liquid Fertilizer
Fertilizing your houseplants every time you water is a less common practice, but it makes ALL the difference.
In the wild, plants receive a steady stream of nutrients over time rather than in one big gulp. This method mimics its natural feeding pattern.
If your liquid fertilizer says to dilute 1 teaspoon to 1 gallon (4.5 litres) of water, use this ratio instead; dilute 1/4 teaspoon of liquid fertilizer to 1 gallon (4.5 litres) of water and water, as usual, using this solution.
You’re not likely to experience any root burn with this method.
What Nutrients Should I Look For in a Fertilizer?
The 3 key nutrients you’re looking for are nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium.
Nitrogen promotes beautiful foliage growth, potassium encourages a healthy root system and phosphorus helps the plant convert energy into new cells and tissue amongst other things.
You’ll also want some secondary nutrients such as calcium and magnesium and micronutrients such as iron and zinc to be included. You’ll see these listed on the back of the tub or bottle.
A high-quality fertilizer or complete formula such as dyna grow pro will contain most, if not all, of these.
Can I Choose an Organic Fertilizer Instead?
Absolutely! If you’re looking for more natural fertilizer, you can try adding some Alaska fish emulsion. This stuff works wonders for foliage and is packed with nitrogen and plant growth hormones. Just a little note: it’s pretty smelly, so best used outdoors!
Liquid kelp and seaweed extract is another environmentally friendly option and helps to improve soil structure too.
Can I Choose a Slow Release or Granular Fertilizers?
Technically, you can, but I wouldn’t recommend it. It’s extremely difficult to tell just how much ‘food’ your plant is getting and when.
Most slow release and granular fertilizers I’ve seen have caused some pretty nasty burns, not to mention, major leaf discoloration on variegated plants like this one!
If you really want to use them, make sure your slow release or granular fertilizer has a ‘no burn guarantee’. The brand will highlight this as a key product feature.
How to Propagate The Philodendron White Knight
Looking to add more white knights to your collection? The easiest way to propagate your philodendron white knight is via stem cuttings placed in either sphagnum moss or water.
Personally, I’ve found propagation in moss has a higher success rate than in water, but I’ve included both methods for you.
Method #1 – How to Propagate Stem Cuttings in Sphagnum Moss
- Prepare a small container of moist sphagnum moss – either brown or green moss is completely fine. The container should be big enough to cover the entire stem cutting and its leaves. Ideally, it’ll also have a seal or a lid for cover.
- Choose a healthy stem with at least 1 node and 2 leaves on it.
- With a clean pair of pruning scissors, cut the stem just below the node.
- Dip the end of the stem/node into some rooting hormone or powder.
- Wrap the cutting in sphagnum moss, making sure to cover the node.
- Plant the cutting with the moss into your sphagnum moss container.
- Seal the container so it stays nice and warm and humid and place it in a warm area with bright, indirect light.
- Spray the moss with water every week to make sure it stays damp.
In 2-3 weeks roots should develop. Once you’ve got roots, you can move your plant to a slightly bigger container with a richer potting mix.
The key to propagating with sphagnum moss is to make sure the moss never dries out. It should be moist at all times.
Method #2 – How to Propagate Stem Cuttings in Water
- Have a jar of fresh water ready (if tap water, allow it to sit for 48 hours for chlorine to evaporate), a small pot and fresh potting soil.
- Using a clean pair of pruning scissors or shears, cut a healthy stem with at least 2-3 leaves on it. Make the cut just below the leaf node. The roots grow from the leaf node!
- Remove any remaining leaves i.e. the ones that will be totally submerged underwater. Keep the 2-3 main ones.
- Place the stem cutting into the jar of water leaving the main leaves above water.
- After 3-5 weeks you should see some small roots to develop. Using this water propagation method, it’s easy to see when roots start to form.
- Once the roots are over an inch long, place the stem cutting in the potting soil.
- Water and care for as usual.
The philodendron white knight rarely, if ever, needs pruning. It’s a fairly robust and healthy variety.
To keep it looking its best you’ll only want to prune it when:
- It’s losing its white variegation (reverting)
- It’s showing signs of disease or mistreatment e.g. browning leaves
Pruning is super simple. You’ll want a pair of clean pruning scissors. Avoid cutting off large branches of the plant, and never prune more than 25% of the plant.
Each white knight will grow completely differently, depending on its soil, humidity, temperature, water, and light conditions.
The quickest way to tell if your white knight needs repotting is by looking at its root system and the base of the pot – are its roots ‘bound’ i.e. curling round each other? Are they shooting out from the bottom of the pot?
Sometimes the roots will also curve upwards and grow out of the top. Any of these signs means the plant is desperately searching for more soil, and more room to grow. This is a sure sign your plant needs repotting.
However, it’s always best to repot before the roots shoot upwards or curl outside the pot.
Take a look at the overall size of the plant and ask yourself, ‘does this plant look comfortable in this pot?’ If not, you should probably repot.
When repotting, choose:
- A pot that is maximum 1-2 inches wider in diameter than the last pot
- A pot that has good drainage holes
- Loose-well draining potting soil mixed with organic content such as perlite
Philodendron White Knight – Common Pests & Diseases
If there’s one benefit to having a philodendron white knight, it’s because of its resistance and durability. It’s a hardy plant that rarely experiences pest or disease issues.
However, if they do happen, you’re most likely looking at an aphid, ant, or mealybug infestation. All 3 will drastically affect your plant’s overall health if left untreated.
Aphids – Aphids are small sap sucking insects that are common on younger plants. They can look white, black, or yellow in appearance and are very small.
Mealybugs – Mealybugs are weird-looking creatures. They’re unarmored scale bugs that look round and white in nature. They feed on the sap and plant juice of houseplants, slowly killing them over time.
These critters can be very hard to kill, even with insectisidal soaps. It can take a bit of trial and error to discover what works. The most eco-friendly option is neem oil.
Neem oil is a vegetable oil originating from India that when pressed becomes a natural insecticide.
Help! What’s Wrong with My Plant? – Common Care Issues with the White Knight
This mini help section is designed to help you fix and remedy common issues with your houseplant.
Problem #1 – The Leaf Tips Are Turning Brown or Black
In my experience, leaf tips turning brown or black on a philodendron white knight is due to a lack of humidity. This is one philodendron that just doesn’t cope well with lower humidity levels.
To fix, try:
- Placing it in an area that naturally maintains higher moisture levels such as a bathroom
- Line a tray with pebbles, fill it halfway with water and place the pot on the pebbles. Overtime the water will evaporate leading to an increased humidity level.
Pro Tip: Misting doesn't actually do anything to increase humidity despite what many tell you. This University of Minnesota study also certifies this. In fact, it can cause leaf spot, fungal infections or wet, mushy lesions. Most homes don't have enough air circulation (like a rainforest) to warrant misting.
Problem #2 – Leaves are turning yellow
Yellowing leaves are usually a sign of either overwatering or too much bright, direct sunlight.
Excess water will oversaturate the soil and lead to a decreased supply of oxygen to the roots, whereas too much sunlight will scorch the leaves and strip its natural variegation.
How to fix?
- Move the plant to a place with filtered bright, indirect sunlight
- Prune damaged yellowing leaves with sterilized shears
- Change the potting soil and check for root rot (roots will look black and often will smell bad). Prune bad roots if there are only a few. Too many and you’ll have to chop away the entire root system which is a no-no.
Problem #3 – Leaves Have Wet Spots or Patches
Ah, the old erwinia blight disease. Erwinia blight is one of the most common diseases affecting philodendron varieties, and can be fatal if left untreated for just a few days.
Erwinia blight is a type of bacteria that thrives in wet, humid and hot environments (think all tropical philos), and causes wet lesions or spots to appear on leaves.
Leaves will often look mushy, wet, and sometimes see-through if affected.
How to fix?
- If it’s only affecting one or two leaves, quickly prune them. Using a fungicide or insecticide doesn’t have any effect on this disease.
- More than a few leaves, on all leaves or on the stem? If it’s spread that far it’s incredibly hard to treat as the disease works below the soil level. You might have to say bye-bye to your plant friend.
Problem #4 – My Philodendron White Knight is Reverting. What Do I Do?
Surprisingly, it’s pretty common for a white knight or white wizard philodendron to revert back to all green. This happens when the genetic mutation from the mother plant isn’t stable.
However, if you have some leaves with that stunning white variegation still on them, then there’s still hope!
With a clean pair of pruning scissors of shears, you’ll want to cut your plant back until your reach a trunk or stem has still has variegated leaves on it. You’ll want to keep the lush white variegated leaves though!
Cutting your plant back encourages the genetic mutation to reappear during its next growth cycle. It’s not 100% certain though.
There’s a possibility that your plant will revert back to its regular all green state. I’ve had plants do this. Not much else you can do other than appreciate the plant for what it is.
Problem #5 – My White Knight Leaves Are Very Small, But They Used to Be Big
Did you import your plant from a warm, hot country or buy it from a local nursery? Leaves will shrink overtime as they adjust to colder, less humid environments.
The other thing to remember is that in places like Sri Lanka and the Philippines, they can grow the philodendron white knight outdoors which leads to much wider leaves naturally.
This is extremely common as your plant adapts to its new surroundings.
Problem #6 – Leaves look damaged and brown
There’s lots of things this could be, but the main factor to watch out for is a fungal infection.
Fungal infections cause browning, shrivelled dried up leaves that almost go papery thin. Most fungal infections can be treated with a fungicide such as copper sulfate.
FAQ – Questions About the Philodendron White Knight
Is the Philodendron White Knight Rare?
Yes, the philodendron white knight is considered a very rare aroid! It’s a coveted find amongst plant collectors and enthusiasts in the US and Europe.
Is the Philodendron White Knight a Climber?
Yes, the philodendron white knight is an excellent climber. It grows extremely well when supported by a bamboo/moss covered pole or tree, if planted outdoors.
Plant Toxicity – Is the White Knight Philodendron Toxic to Cats?
Unfortunately, yes. The white knight philodendron and many other types of philodendron species are toxic to cats. Keep this plant away from cats in your home.
Is the White Knight Philodendron Toxic to Dogs?
Yes. The White Knight is toxic to dogs. Keep this houseplants away from dogs, especially if you have dogs that like to munch on leaves or stems.
Where is a Good Location to place my White Knight Philodendron?
Near an east or west facing window would be ideal. These positions typically allow for enough bright, but indirect sunlight without scorching the leaves.
Philodendron White Knight vs White Princess – What’s the Difference?
The philodendron white knight is the most striking out of the two plants with dark purple or reddish stems, whereas the white princess has much smaller narrower leaves with all green stems. The white knight is also a climber whereas the white princess is a self-heading plant.
Philodendron White Knight vs White Wizard – What’s the Difference?
The philodendron white knight is slightly different from the philodendron white wizard. Both are varieties of the white variegated philodendron, but the white knight has purple, brown or reddish stems, whilst the white wizard has pure green stems, grows faster and has much larger, glossier leaves.
Where Can I Buy a Philodendron White Knight?
These houseplants can be tricky to find, but sometimes a cutting or matured plant can be found on Etsy if you’re lucky.
Some specialized nurseries also stock them, but as they’re in high demand there can be a waitlist to join and an auction to attend before getting your hands on one.
More Philodendron Care Guides
Philodendron Mamei – Keeping its Silvery Markings Shining Bright
The Ultra Rare Philodendron Red Moon Care Guide
1 thought on “Philodendron White Knight Care (Best Kept Secrets!)”
Thank you for this well written read! This is the best I’ve come across covering all things White Knight Philodendron.