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Philodendron White Princess & Pink Princess Origins, Creation, and Supply

Posted on September 14 2021

Philodendron White Princess & Pink Princess Origins, Creation, and Supply

If you haven’t figured this out from the tabloids yet, everyone loves juicy stories about Royals. The history of the ever-popular Philodendron Pink Princess and White Princess is full of twisted truths and misleading tales, ready for headlining news! Where did these two fan favorites come from? Keep reading.

Origins of the Philodendron White Princess & Pink Princess

The Philodendron White Princess and Pink Princess both have uncertain origins. As far as basics go, both plants are hybrids of the Philodendron erubescens, which has its roots in tropical Columbia in Costa Rica. And how about their hybridization? That’s where things get a little fuzzier.

Even though they’re man-made, neither the Philodendron White Princess nor Pink Princess has patents or traceable lineage. Reliable sources in the plant community can only make educated guesses on where these plants came from. Interested in the hearsay?

Located in central Florida in the 1970s was a plant-creating fanatic, Robert McColley, who is responsible for creating several Philodendron mutations we’ve come to love (including the Philodendron ‘McColley’s Finale,’ his last patented work). In his enthusiasm, much of his work went unpatented and undocumented. Many in the plant community credit him with creating thousands (if not more) hybridized plants, several of which are unaccredited to him (or anybody). How did he do it?

McColley would crossbreed generations of plants in his greenhouses. When he found a specimen with a desirable mutation, he’d send that specific plant off to be cloned (via tissue culture). However, the story doesn’t have to end there… It gets more interesting: During tissue cultures, further mutations can take place if the growing environment isn’t kept sterile during the process. So, were the Philodendron White and Pink Princesses intentional mutations or freak accidents? Nobody knows.

Greenhouses Growing Philodendron Princesses Today

Philodendron Royalty comes with a royal price tag. Why, exactly, are they so expensive? Supply and demand. It all has to do with how they’re made and how many people are already standing in line.

The variegation of the Philodendron White Princess and Pink Princess is unstable, complicating the greenhouse’s job. Why? Its variegation isn’t contained in 100% of the plant’s genes. The mother plant, propagation, and even a tissue culture can revert to all-green.

Some greenhouses multiply their Philodendrons by stem cutting. As a plant parent, you’re likely familiar with this method and can appreciate the amount of TLC (and time) it takes to grow a mature plant someone would want to buy. No wonder there’s usually a waiting list!

Other greenhouses opt to reproduce their Philodendron White Princesses and Pink Princesses through tissue culture. Since the mutation isn’t contained in 100% of the plant’s genes, there’s no 100% guarantee that all of the produced specimens will be variegated. A fourth to a third of all these tissue cultures will wind up all-green and unsellable. These greenhouses will raise their Philodendron’s prices to cover the cost of their losses, in addition to the cost needed to cover the effort it takes to grow these tissue cultures to maturity.

Beware the Pink Congo

Everyone loves a Pink plant, but don’t fall for the Pink Congo. Why? These plants are chemically gassed in a greenhouse to produce a hormone that makes them turn bubblegum pink. What’s the biggest problem with that? The plant will return to ordinary green. And since the plant is not naturally variegated (like the Pink Princess), there’s no way to get it back.

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