The words “strawberry shake” tend to make the average person think dessert, but for plant-lovers, the term brings something completely different to mind.
The Philodendron Strawberry Shake Plant (or Philodendron Erubescens, Strawberry Shake) is an incredibly rare and highly sought-after variegated variety of the Philodendron Red Emerald.
The Strawberry Shake is a showstopper from the get-go. Their large spade-shaped leaves start off lighter in color, but as it matures, it settles into a darker green leaf face with variegated patches and streaks of blush, cream, yellow, orange, or red.
Although no known varieties exist of the Strawberry Shake, the sheer amount of colors naturally presented on the leaves should tide you over just fine.
So – it’s got an adorable name, stunning physical characteristics, it’s low maintenance – sounds like a winner!
Continue on for all the tips, tricks, FAQ’s and everything else you might wish to know about Philodendron Strawberry Shake care
Strawberry Shake Care Guidelines at a Glance
Philodendrons hail from humid, tropical forests, so typically speaking, members of this family prefer indoor conditions that closely mimic that natural habitat and Strawberry Shakes are no different.
- A temperature range between 55°-80°F (12°-27°C)
- Consistent humidity (60%+)
- Well-draining, nutrient rich soil
Strawberry Shake Care – In Depth Look:
Light: Medium, indirect light will suit your plant best. For those of you familiar, think a medium (250 – 1,000) on the foot-candles scale.
Direct light should be avoided as it can lead to leaf burn, which would be an extra shame with leaves this pretty!
Low-light conditions will not harm your plant on a functional level, but it will impact its appearance; making the plant produce smaller leaves with less coloration.
Since the non-green parts of the leaves have limited – no chlorophyll, when placed in too low of light, the plant has to work harder to photosynthesize – meaning the already green places on the leaves will grow darker, and the colored markings will begin to fade to green to aide in chlorophyll production.
Best Soil & Mixture Type: Philodendrons need well-draining soil rich in organic matter to look their best. How you’d like to achieve this is up to you:
- Use a regular house-plant potting soil, but add in additional nutrients yourself (bark, peat, perlite, activated charcoal)
- Use an Aroid-specific potting soil mixture
- Make your own Aroid-specific potting mix (30% potting soil, 40% bark, 20% peat, 10% perlite)
Watering Preferences: Strawberry Shake soil likes to be moist – but never saturated. Saturation can quickly lead to root rot, so exercise caution when watering and always ensure you have a well-draining soil mixture.
If starting with a 5” pot, provide approximately 1 cup of water every 10 days. As your plant grows, water anytime between when the top 2inches – half the pot’s soil has dried.
Quick ways to tell if your plant needs a drink include:
- Wilted leaves
- Brown leaf edges & tips
- Light weight when picking up the plant
- Poking your finger into the soil – if your finger comes out clean (not covered in wet soil) up to the first or second knuckle, water.
Temperature: Your Strawberry Shake will be happiest in a setting where temperatures range from 55 – 80° Fahrenheit (12-27°C).
Plants exposed to temperatures below 50 degrees (especially for prolonged periods of time) will suffer and can eventually die from the lack of proper warmth.
As with almost all plants, be sure to keep it away from any drafty areas of your home where it would consistently be exposed to dramatic temperature swings.
Humidity: These plants will do best between 60 – 70% humidity, but can manage just fine at slightly lower than 60% (sometimes even down to 40% without suffering) if the ideal range is not feasible within your home’s setting.
Brown, crispy leaf edges and tips are the biggest tell-tale sign that your plant needs a humidity boost.
If your Strawberry Shake is showing signs like that, consider moving it into the bathroom, misting its leaves on a consistent basis, setting up a pebble tray around your plant(s), or purchasing a humidifier for the space.
Fertilizer & Growth: In mimicking its natural habitat preferences, the Philodendron Strawberry Shake is a climber who will be happiest with a stability pole or some sort of vertical structure to meander upward.
Pro-tip: giving your plant a space to climb is one way to speed up this moderately-quick grower’s growing speed.
Vertical support also aids in overall growth. When grown indoors, Strawberry Shakes typically mature around 3 feet tall by 1 – 3 feet wide.
Pruning: When it comes to pruning, low-maintenance fans rejoice, as there are no set requirements in that area. Prune away any yellow/diseased leaves as necessary, and prune whenever you feel the leaves or plant is getting too large.
Fertilization: During the growing season (spring – fall), apply a balanced, liquid fertilizer – diluted to half-strength – once a month. There is no need to fertilize during late fall – winter as the plant’s growth naturally slows significantly.
When looking for a good fertilizer candidate, look for one containing Nitrogen, Phosphorus, Potassium, Calcium, Magnesium & Sulfur, or as many of those as you can find.
Some of the most highly recommended fertilizer brands for Philodendrons include Miracle-Grow Indoor Plant Food, EasyPeasy Liquid Indoor Plant Food, or Espoma Organic Indoor Plant Food.
- Select your stem cutting – it should have at least one node (where leaf meets stem), and 2 – 3 leaves
- In water: Using room temperature water, place the cutting in, making sure the node is submerged and leaves are out of the water. Water should be changed every 1 – 2 weeks during the process. Move to soil once the roots are at least 2 inches long.
- In soil: Place the cutting in a well-draining, nutrient rich mix, burying the node, and watering consistently. You can place a bag over the cutting to aide with humidity retention.
- Regardless of method, it will take 1 – 2 months to see new shoots.
Repotting: Unless you’re dealing with a young Strawberry Shake requiring repotting often as it matures, you should not need to (and simply should not) repot unless necessary as these guys aren’t fans of it.
Unless you’re experiencing an emergency issue, you can typically repot every 2 – 3 years.
You’ll have a good idea that it is time to repot when you notice stunted growth (and have ruled out pests/disease), or when your roots have begun growing around the edges of the soil or out of the drainage holes.
Repot by using the following process:
- Select a well-draining pot 1 – 2 inches bigger than your current container.
- Fill it half-way with your well-draining, nutrient rich soil.
- Remove plant from its current pot and gently shake away the old soil. You can also gently rinse away old soil in the tub.
- Place the plant in its new pot, and fill the remainder with your potting mix.
- Water thoroughly, cautiously and consistently.
Philodendron Strawberry Shake plants are toxic (only if ingested) to humans, cats, and dogs as they contain Calcium Oxalate crystals which cause severe irritation if ingested.
Common Pests, Diseases & Issues
As beautiful as they are, they still come with their fair share of issues, but have no fear, we’re here to walk you through the most common you may encounter, and quick fixes for each.
Pests – All the below pests respond well to neem oil or insecticide soap as treatments. If other solutions work, they are listed out:
- Scales – Recognized by hard brown spots on leaves or stems. Treat them by directly applying alcohol with a cotton swab, or by running them under a shower to force them to fall off.
- Spider Mites – Most often recognized by their trademark webbing.
- Aphids – Make their presence known by creating yellow or deformed leaves. Might also present as small white flakes on the leaf surface.
- Mealybugs – Recognized by a variety of signs like yellow / deformed leaves, leaf droop, or round white fluffy growths that resemble (tiny) cotton balls.
Diseases – Root Rot and yellowing leaves are far and away the most common diseases you may run into, but we’ve also highlighted two additional should you ever encounter them:
- Root Rot – Displays as yellow, droopy leaves, or brown, mushy stems. Treat by removing the plant & trimming away affected roots. Replace all soil, wash the pot and replant. Scale back your watering.
- Yellowing Leaves – A strong indicator of over-watering. Treat by appropriately scaling back your watering practices.
- Bacterial Blight – Recognized by irregular shaped brown spots with yellow halos on leaves. Treat by pruning any affected leaves and then misting the plant with 2 Tbsp of baking soda & 1 drop dish soap mixed into water. Avoid future issues by watering less.
- Mosaic Virus – This parasite makes its presence known by creating wrinkled / curled leaves, yellowed stems or discoloration on leaves in a (you guessed it) mosaic pattern. Unfortunately, it is untreatable, so once you’re sure that your plant is affected, you must discard it to avoid further spread to other plants.
FAQ – Caring For Your Strawberry Shake
Why is my Strawberry Shake Plant Reverting?
Reverting is unfortunately reported by some growers, and the most common cause is because the plant is placed in an area that is too low in light (see above “light” section for full details).
Keep your Strawberry Shake vibrant and multi-colored by keeping it placed in proper lighting conditions always.
What is the Difference Between the Philodendron Strawberry Shake & the Philodendron Pink Princess?
Philodendron Strawberry Shakes have bright red stems, while the stem of a Pink Princess is more of a red-brown.
In addition, the leaves of a Strawberry Shake present pink, yellow, orange, cream, red and green while the Pink Princess has only green and pink markings.
What is the Difference Between the Philodendron Strawberry Shake & the Philodendron Red Emerald?
Both plants are hybrid versions of Philodendron Erubescens, so they are closely related. At the scientific level, the only difference is that the Strawberry Shake is the variegated version of the Red Emerald, which means that the colors and patterns displayed on leaves are the only visible differentiators.
So, whether you’re simply gawking over these beauties online, or if you find yourself among the lucky few who does own one, we hope you now feel both informed and intrigued by all that is the Philodendron Strawberry Shake.