Where Philodendron White Knight comes from is a bit of a mystery, but we do know what we love about this indoor plant: its bold red stems and striking white variegated leaves.
Easy on the eyes and easy to care for — what more could you ask for in a houseplant?
In this comprehensive Philodendron White Knight care guide, we’ll explore its mysterious origins and fascinating features, and share our expert tips on how to properly care for this tropical treasure.
From light and soil requirements to common diseases, and even how to propagate your very own leafy offspring, we’ll unravel the secrets behind nurturing your Philodendron White Knight to its most royal potential.
Philodendron White Knight Care
History, Habitat, and Characteristics
Hailing from the tropical forests of South America, Philodendron White Knight (Philodendron erubescens ‘White Knight’), has quickly become a popular addition to indoor plant collections.
Okay, Philodendron erubescens comes from there, but we don’t know exactly where White Knight originated from after that.
Its origins are a bit of a mystery. Some say the White Knight philodendron is a cultivar, hybrid, or mutation, while others think it could be the result of tissue culture.
Philodendron comes from the Greek words philo, meaning “love” and dendron, meaning “tree.” You could translate it as “lover of trees,” since philodendrons, including the White Knight, climb trees in their natural habitat.
As for the White Knight part of the name, like its origins, it’s anyone’s guess. Maybe a cultivator was particularly fond of chess.
You can’t help but notice the Philodendron White Knight’s fabulous red stem and petiole (don’t confuse it with a Pink Princess philodendron!), but the real star of the show is its white variegation. And the leaves? They come in shades of light green, dark green, and (if you’re lucky) a hint of burgundy. The white variegated foliage is simply stunning.
Philodendron White Knight loves bright indirect light or filtered sunlight; however, a little bit of morning direct sunlight can actually work wonders for their gorgeous variegated leaves.
The more variegated your Philodendron White Knight’s leaves are, the more sunlight it will need, since the white parts can’t photosynthesize. In fact, more light can increase variegation.
Of course, too much of a good thing can be a problem, so we need to find that sweet spot. An east-facing window is perfect for these plants, or even a west- or south-facing one with a sheer curtain to diffuse those direct rays.
If you have a north-facing window, which lets in the weakest light, you may find you need to invest in a full-spectrum LED grow light to supplement to keep that variegation strong.
- Not enough light, and you might notice slow growth and dull foliage with less white variegation. Move your plant to a brighter spot near a window with plenty of bright indirect light.
- Too much direct sunlight, and you may see leaves turning yellow or even sporting brown, sunburnt patches. Ouch! To fix this, find a spot with bright but indirect light, or use a sheer curtain to filter those harsh rays.
Compared to other philodendrons, White Knight isn’t a drama queen when it comes to dealing with either overwatering or underwatering, but it still appreciates a balanced approach.
Really allow the plant to dry out completely before watering again. Its tuberous stems can take it and even prefer it, we promise.
Now, how do you know when it’s time to water? Just stick your finger a couple of inches into the soil, and if it’s dry, you’re good to go.
When watering, take your time and make sure you wet the soil evenly until water drips out of your pot’s drainage holes. Think of it like a spa day for your plant.
Not enough water? Your Philodendron White Knight will let you know by curling or wilting its leaves, turning them a sad shade of yellow. Just give it a little more aqua love.
Too much water, on the other hand, can cause some drama like rotting roots or yellowing leaves (both old and new). If you spot black or brown blemishes on those pretty leaves, it’s time for some tough love — hold back on the water and let the soil thoroughly dry out before showering it with affection (and water) again.
Remember, during the winter months, your Philodendron White Knight might slow down a bit . . . like we all do, right? So, don’t forget to ease up on the watering during those chilly times.
Tap water should be fine for this plant, but if you notice brown leaf tips and can’t pinpoint another cause, you might want to switch to distilled, filtered, or rainwater to prevent chemical buildup in the soil.
Temperature and Humidity
The right temperature and humidity levels will help your Philodendron White Knight thrive.
Temperature: As a tropical plant, the Philodendron White Knight loves warmth and prefers temperatures between 65-80°F. Keep in mind that this plant is sensitive to extreme temperature changes, so it’s vital to keep it away from cold drafts, air conditioning vents, or hot radiators.
Exposure to temperatures below 60°F can cause the leaves to droop, while consistent temperatures above 85°F might result in yellowing leaves or stunted growth.
This plant flourishes in a humid environment, so aim for a humidity level between 50-70%. If you notice the leaves curling or developing brown edges, it might be a sign that the humidity level is too low. On the other hand, if the leaves are becoming yellow or showing signs of rot, there may be too much humidity.
Humidity levels on the lower end might make your plant’s aerial roots shorter, which is something to keep in mind if you intend to propagate (we cover that below).
- Pop your plant on a tray with pebbles and water so the water humidifies the surrounding area as it evaporates.
- Use a humidifier nearby (if you use a cool-mist humidifier, make sure to fill it with distilled water and clean the reservoir frequently).
- Group your plant together with other humidity-loving houseplants so they can form their own micro-climate and share humidity (this is called transpiration).
- Don’t mist your plant with water as a long-term way of raising the humidity. While this can provide a temporary boost, you’d have to stand there all day for it to really be effective. Wiping the leaves with a moist cloth, however, can help keep them clean and remove any dust or pests.
Soil and Planting
Like other philodendron varieties, the Philodendron White Knight prefers well-aerated and well-draining potting soil. An aroid potting mix is ideal, since it provides the perfect balance of aeration, water retention, and nutrients. You can pick one up at the store or make your own.
Our recommended Philodendron White Knight potting mix:
- 40% orchid bark
- 30% potting soil
- 20% coco coir (a more environmentally friendly alternative to sphagnum moss)
- 10% perlite
If the potting mix is too dense or retains too much water, you might see yellowing leaves, wilting, weak growth, and rotting roots. Soil that doesn’t drain well can suffocate the roots and promote the growth of mold and fungi.
On the other hand, if the soil drains too quickly or doesn’t hold enough moisture, your plant may become dehydrated and struggle with nutrient absorption.
While a slow-release fertilizer offers the benefit of sustained feeding over an extended period, it’s crucial not to overdo it for your plants, especially with Philodendron White Knights.
Over-fertilizing can lead to symptoms like leaf burn, browning tips, and even the death of your plant. To avoid these issues, follow the recommended dosage on your fertilizer’s packaging, and always err on the side of caution by using a more diluted solution, especially during spring and summer.
If you notice signs of over-fertilization, thoroughly watering the plant to leach excess fertilizer out of the soil, and allow the excess water to drain out. Repeat the process several times.
Over time, White Knight philodendron can become rootbound or outgrow its current pot, limiting its ability to absorb water and nutrients. If you see roots poking through the drainage holes, it’s time to repot.
When repotting, choose a container slightly larger than the current one, ensuring it has drainage holes to prevent waterlogging. We recommend terracotta pots for this plant because they’re porous and help water drain more quickly.
Carefully remove the plant from its old pot and gently loosen the root ball (you can wet it first to help with any tricky sections). Place the plant in its new pot and fill in the gaps with fresh aroid potting soil.
Water your Philodendron White Knight thoroughly to help the roots settle into their new home, and be sure to monitor its health in the coming weeks to ensure a smooth transition.
Ready to propagate your Philodendron White Knight and spread the plant love? A simple stem cutting method will have your plant babies thriving in no time.
Propagating Philodendron White Knight by stem cutting:
- Scope out a healthy stem on your Philodendron White Knight with some nice-looking aerial roots. Go for one that has a strong structure and vibrant variegation—it’ll give you the best shot at successful propagation. Note that stems with larger leaves and more variegation often grow faster.
- Give that stem a snip just below the node, ideally where variegation patterns meet the growing eye (a growth point where the leaf and stem join). Doing this will encourage healthy growth for your cutting and the mother plant. Be sure to use sterilized gardening shears or a sharp knife for a clean cut.
- Clean up the cut end with some activated charcoal. This nifty little trick prevents infections and decay, giving your cutting the best start in life.
- Pick a propagation method based on your cutting’s condition. You can use water (ideal for short aerial roots), sphagnum moss (recommended for medium-sized roots) or an aroid potting mix (best for longer roots) to coax those roots into growing. Remember, each method has its pros and cons, so choose wisely!
- For soil: Pop that cutting right in! You’re done here. If you opt to use moss for propagation, just use a small amount of sphagnum moss to create a cozy humidity blanket around the roots. This will keep the perfect balance of moisture without smothering your precious cutting.
- For water: Pick a jar and change the water every two or three days. Once roots several inches appear, it’s time to move your baby plant to its forever home — a pot with well-draining soil.
- For all prop methods, keep the cuttings consistently moist in bright, indirect sunlight.
- Always use a sterilized cutting tool to avoid any unwanted contamination or diseases.
- Select a stem with eye-catching variegation to increase your chances of successful propagation. Stems with bright white and green variegation will convert light more efficiently.
Yellow leaves on your Philodendron White Knight plant can be a sign of overwatering or even rotting roots. You’ll really want to make sure your favorite plant isn’t sitting in water for too long, so don’t be afraid to check that soil.
You’ll want to let the potting soil dry out completely between waterings and always use a pot with good drainage (quite important!). If it turns out to be root rot (you’ll notice a foul odor coming from the soil and black, mushy roots), then cut off the affected ones with sterilized shears and repot your plant in fresh, well-draining soil.
If your plant isn’t getting enough light, its green leaves may also start to turn yellow due to less chlorophyll production. A little adjustment to its location to one where it receives more indirect sunlight should do the trick!
Brown Leaf Tips
Brown leaf tips on your Philodendron White Knight plant? That’s no fun! It could be a sign of underwatering, low humidity, or even fertilizer burn.
When you see those pesky brown tips, check the soil moisture to make sure your Philodendron White Knight is getting enough water. If the soil is dry, give your plant a nice drink. In the future, water it when the top couple of inches of soil feel dry.
Low humidity levels can also be the culprit behind those brown leaf tips. See our humidity tips above in the “Temperature and Humidity” section to raise it.
Pests and Diseases
Philodendron White Knight plants are generally tough cookies when it comes to common houseplant pests and diseases, but that doesn’t mean you should let your guard down.
This is a nasty little problem that happens when the plant’s roots get too wet, leading to decay and one unhappy plant.
Signs: Look for signs like yellowing leaves, wilting, and a general decline in your plant’s health. When checking the roots, keep your eyes peeled for black, slimy, and mushy ones.
Solution: First things first, get your plant out of its pot and trim away the affected roots with some sterilized scissors. Then, give your plant a fresh start by repotting it in well-draining soil, making sure the pot has proper drainage holes.
Prevention: Avoid overwatering (wait till the top few inches of soil are dry) and make sure your White Knight is planted in good draining soil and a pot with drainage holes.
Aphids and Scale
While these pesky critters aren’t too common for the Philodendron White Knight, it’s still good to know what to look for and how to deal with them if they decide to crash your plant party.
Signs: Aphids are tiny, pear-shaped insects that love snacking on your plant’s sap. They cause twisted leaves, stunted growth, and a sticky substance called honeydew. Scale insects, on the other hand, are sneaky little brown bumps on stems and foliage that also feast on sap, causing similar problems.
Solution: Ready to play bug buster? Grab a damp cloth or a cotton swab dipped in soapy water (or rubbing alcohol) and gently wipe those invaders off your Philodendron White Knight. For really stubborn infestations, break out the insecticidal soap or neem oil, and follow the instructions on the bottle.
Prevention: Keep a watchful eye on your plants, and give their foliage a loving wipe-down with a damp cloth now and then. Isolate any plants that have pests, and remember, a healthy growing environment makes it less likely that bugs will find a new home on your White Knight.
That’s it for our Philodendron White Knight care guide!
You should know how to take care of your leafy knight in shining white armor now, come what may (and that includes yellow leaves or aphids).
If you have any questions or want to share your success stories (or photos!), please reach out to us. And if you found this guide helpful, share it with your plant-loving pals!
Take care and happy gardening!
What is the difference between Philodendron White Knight vs White Princess?
Spotting the difference between a Philodendron White Knight and Philodendron White Princess can be a bit tricky if you’re new to the world of variegated philodendron plants. Both are gorgeous and boast stunning white and green variegation on their leaves, but there are a few key differences you should keep an eye out for.
The Philodendron White Knight has a dark stem with a touch of red, while the Philodendron White Princess flaunts vibrant green stems with white and pink variegation. The White Princess has narrower, longer leaves and is self-heading, while the White Knight is a climber.
Is White Knight Philodendron a climber?
Yup! Philodendron White Knight is indeed a climber, always reaching for new heights. As a tropical plant, it has a natural tendency to climb trees or other support structures in its native habitat.
But you can still give your Philodendron White Knight the chance to explore its climbing potential even indoors! Just provide a suitable support, like a moss pole or a trellis.
Is White Knight Philodendron rare?
It used to be, but Costa Farms started mass producing it recently, so it’s already far more available and costs will undoubtedly come down.
While every store might not carry it, in general, it shouldn’t be too difficult to find your own Philodendron White Knight to add to your growing plant collection.
What is the difference between Philodendron White Knight vs White Wizard?
While both sport mesmerizing white and green variegated foliage, there are a few differences that set them apart. The White Knight exhibits a darker, reddish stem, while the Philodendron White Wizard shows off bright green stems.
A big differentiator: the White Wizard has bigger patches of white variegation and fewer leaf lobes. Last but not least, Philodendron White Knight leaves are more rounded and slightly smaller than White Wizard leaves.