Philodendron Black Cardinal Care Infographic

Philodendron Black Cardinal is popular for its dramatic foliage that varies from brown to black in color and gives the plant a stunning look.

It is a low-maintenance plant with minimal care requirements that makes it perfect for both beginner and expert gardeners.

Keep reading our care guide, as it will will help you know all about this gorgeous tropical plant and how you can care for it. 

What Is Philodendron Black Cardinal?

Philodendron Black Cardinal is a self-heading plant and is neither a trailing nor a stemming Philodendron. The plant is also known to remove common pollutants found in homes such as benzene, xylene, toluene and formaldehyde, giving another reason to add it to your houseplant collection. 

Philodendron Black Cardinal Care

– Water Requirements

You may keep the top few inches of the soil to dry out a bit in between watering. Follow the finger-knuckle test to check if the plant needs watering or not. Insert any one finger till the second knuckle and if it feels dry and non-sticky, water the plant.

Sometimes, the leaves droop and this could be a sign of either under-watering or over-watering. Follow a regular watering schedule to prevent such problems. Wet or water-logged soil makes the plant prone to overwatering-related risks.

Do not let the soil become completely dry in between watering. Moisture-less soil is as bad as soggy soil. Look at the foliage and roots and maintain consistency in your watering schedule according to the season.

Watering the plant from the bottom is an effective way to prevent overwatering. However, this method also leads to sodium build-up in the soil. Watering from the top makes sure that sodium drains out of the bottom drainage holes.

To prevent the problem, water the plant from the top every third or fourth time. Give the plant a deep soak regularly to flush out any excess sodium and salts from the soil. Watering from the top also prevents salt build-up due to over-fertilizing. 

– Light Requirements

Philodendron Black Cardinal Dramatic PlantThe Philodendron Black, needs bright, indirect light to grow well. Any window or balcony that receives indirect light during the day is the perfect spot to keep this plant.

You can also keep it in a bright bathroom or kitchen in high humidity. 

In insufficient light, the plant growth becomes stunted and it tends to become leggy and stretched out. The leaf color is generally darker when the plant is kept in low-light conditions. It is important to avoid keeping it in too much light as direct sunlight can burn the leaves.

Morning and midday sunlight work well to add color to the foliage but avoid the afternoon sun. To get that dark color on the leaves, expose your plant to early morning or evening sunlight.

– Soil Requirements

Philodendron Black Cardinal soil should be rich, loose and well-draining. Add lots of organic matter to your mix to make it rich and fertile. This plant also grows well in soil-less mixtures such as 100 percent sphagnum moss, peat-perlite or peat-vermiculite.

A perfect soil mix is moisture-retentive without causing root rot and fungal diseases. Make sure that your pot has drainage holes at the bottom so that there is no standing water around the plant’s roots.

If you are a beginner, choose a terracotta or clay pot to grow your Philodendron as it is better than plastic and ceramic pots in absorbing the excess moisture from the soil. It is a good way to prevent overwatering-related problems. 

– Temperature Requirements

The Black Philodendron needs moderately warm temperatures to grow well. Day-time temperatures between 65 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit and nighttime temperatures around 55 to 60 degrees Fahrenheit work well for this plant. 

In the winter months, especially in frost, bring the plant indoors to a bright, warm spot. It is not cold-hardy or frost-hardy. If you are growing your plant outdoors, remember to bring it indoors when the temperatures fall. 

Avoid exposing your plant to very hot temperatures too as hot, dry weather causes the leaf edges to turn brown and crisp up. In the summer months, make sure you group your plants and keep them away from direct sunlight. Mist them regularly to regulate the temperature. 

– Humidity Requirements

This Philodendron thrives in humidity levels above 40 percent. The average humidity in most homes between 40 and 50 percent works well for its growth but higher humidity levels will keep it happier.

The higher the humidity levels, the better your Philodendron will grow. Improve the humidity levels in your home by placing a humidifier or a humidity tray near the plant. Fill a shallow tray with some pebbles and water and keep your plant above it. As the water evaporates, the plant will absorb the moisture from the air. 

Make sure you keep your plant away from drafty windows, air conditioners and heaters as the dry air can be harmful for this tropical plant. At the same time, with high humidity, do not forget to keep the air moving around the plant. Lack of air movement causes rot and fungus growth.

– Fertilizer Requirements

This Philodendron is not a heavy feeder and does not have very high fertilizer needs. However, feed it once a month in spring and summer months with a well-balanced, liquid fertilizer. Reduce the frequency to six to eight weeks in fall and winters.

You can skip fertilizing the plant in winters as it hardly shows any new growth. So not overfertilize your plant as over-fertilization leads to salt build-up that causes root burn. Root burn can kill your plant if ignored. 

Give the plant a good drain with water if you suspect root burn due to over-fertilizing. Use any good-quality NPK with 1:1:1 or 10:10:10 to feed your plant. Using slow-release fertilizers also helps in dealing with over-fertilization. 

– Pruning Requirements

This Philodendron needs repotting every few years (two to three years) when its root system outgrows the existing pot. If you come across the roots growing out of the drainage holes, it is time to shift it to a bigger pot. 

Before removing the plant from the old soil mix, water the soil one day before so that it gets easier to pull out the roots. After removing the plant from the old potting mix, untangle the roots and prune any dead or decayed roots and leaves to keep the plant healthy. 

In a new pot that is about two inches bigger than the previous one, shift the plant for best growth results. In a peat-based soil mix, replant it and water thoroughly so that there are no air pockets around the roots. 

This plant does not need frequent pruning. Simply prune the dead and damaged leaves occasionally to maintain the plant’s compact size. The ideal time to prune and repot the plant is early spring when new growth begins. 


The Black Cardinal Philodendrons can be propagated easily by root division and stem cuttings. While repotting, you can propagate the plant using either of the two methods. Seed propagation is not effective as the plant rarely flowers.

– Stem Cutting Propagation

Take a healthy cutting with two to three nodes from the base of the plant and propagate it either in water or directly in soil. For the water propagation method, place the cutting in a jar of water such that the nodes are inside water.

Having water change water every two to three days is ideal to prevent the cutting from rot. Once the roots are about an inch long, you can plant the cuttings in the soil. Water the soil thoroughly and keep the plant in a shaded spot for a few days until it fully adjusts to the new environment.

– Root Division

Root division is a faster and effective method if you want a semi-grown plant. Roots are already developed that helps save the time spent in rooting and growing. Follow this method while repotting the plant. 

Choose a healthy stem and move down to its root ball. Look for the roots that are coming from the bottom. Separate the sections from the root ball gently and plant the divided sections in different pots. 

Repot the mother plant in fresh soil mix and water all the plants thoroughly. Keep the repotted plants in partial shade for a few days and allow them to acclimatize in the new soil environment. Once they are settled, shift them to a bright, warm spot with other plants. 

– Problems

The Black Cardinal Philodendron is quite resistant to pests and diseases. However, you can witness some pests such as aphids and mealybugs at times if the care needs are not met. Let us take a look at some of the most common problems faced by this plant. 

– Root Rot

Root rot is the most common problem faced by this Philodendron. It happens when either the soil mix used is not loose and airy or the pot does not have adequate drainage holes. 

If you notice the leaves of your plant turning yellow and mushy along with water-soaked lesions and stagnant growth, it might be because your plant is suffering from rot. Prevent the problem by keeping an eye on the watering schedule and technique. 

Make sure that the water drains out of the drainage holes each time you water it. If the root rot has spread, remove the plant from the soil and replant it in freshly prepared, airy soil mix. Prune the dead roots.

– Leaves Turning Yellow

Curling and yellowing of leaves could be due to irregular watering schedules, variations in  temperatures or pests. Look out for the symptoms and identify what might be causing yellowing in the foliage. 

Sometimes, pale leaves indicate that the plant is lacking in calcium or magnesium. Use a well-balanced fertilizer to solve the problem. If some of the mature and older leaves are yellowing and falling off, it could be natural. 

– Wilting Leaves

Wilted, droopy leaves indicate that either your plant is getting too much or too little water. Sometimes too much light can also cause wilting. Make sure you follow a proper watering schedule and keep your plant away from direct sunlight. 

If there seems to be a problem of rot, replace the soil mix and check the plant’s roots. Remove dead roots and water the plant only when required. Clean the roots properly and watch out for any pests or lesions on the leaves. 

– Smaller Leaf Size

If your plant is growing smaller foliage and showing slow growth, it means that it is not getting sufficient fertilizer. New leaves that grow pale indicate that the plant is lacking in calcium and magnesium.

Make sure that you are using a rich and well-draining soil mix with lots of organic matter to grow your plant. Fertilize it regularly in the active growing seasons of spring and summer. 

– Leaf Spot

Bacterial and fungal leaf spots cause the leaves to turn black. Watch your plant out for sunburn, improper watering, pests and soil quality. Maintaining proper light, watering and humidity is the key to prevent leaf spot. 

Prune the infected leaves and stems as soon as you spot Philodendron Black Cardinal spots. Treat the plant with organic neem oil solution and use fungicide spray regularly to prevent leaf spot. Separate the infected plant from other plants to control the infection spread. 

– Aphids

Aphids are tiny sap-sucking insects that target the plant’s leaves and stems. They are commonly found on leaf undersides and are hardly visible to naked eye. They distort plant growth and cause yellowing or dropping of leaves.

In case of a minor infestation, you can remove them by hand or by spraying the plant with water. If the infestation is severe, use dish soap solution or neem oil spray to treat the plant.

– Mealybugs 

Mealybugs are tiny cotton-like pests that target the plant’s stems and leaves. These sap-sucking insects thrive in warm and humid conditions. They also cause sooty mold which can be harmful to the plant’s long-term health.

Keep the air movement consistent around the plants to avoid the growth of these unwanted pests. Wipe the pests off using a wet towel dipped in dish soap solution or neem oil solution.

Frequently Asked Questions 

– Is Philodendron Black Cardinal Rare?

This Philodendron is not very rare and can be found in most nurseries and online stores. The Philodendron Black Cardinal price is not too high and you can find it easily in most garden centers. If you live in a tropical area, it will be comparatively easier to find it in stores. 

The next time you spot a Philodendron Black Cardinal for sale, do not hesitate before buying as it is not often that the plant is up for sale. 

– Is the Philodendron Cardinal Toxic?

The plant is toxic and should never be consumed. Make sure you keep it away from pets and kids. It is due to the insoluble calcium oxalate crystals on the leaves that can cause irritation and pain if ingested. 

– Can the Black Philodendron be Propagated From Seeds? 

No, the plant rarely produces flowers and hence it is not possible to propagate it from seeds. Propagation is only possible through cuttings, root division and tissue culture. 

– How Big Does the Size of Philodendron Black Cardinal Get?

Philodendron Cardinal is a hardy plant and grows well in almost all settings. It is a medium-sized plant that can reach a height of three feet and over one and a half feet wide. You can keep the plant compact by pruning it regularly. 

The plant does not produce flowers, it is the beautiful leaves that make it stand out among other plants. It is a self-heading shrub-like plant and does not grow like a vine. The Philodendron ‘Black Cardinal scientific name is the Philodendron Erubescens.

– How Do I Get Bigger Leaves On My Philodendron Cardinal?

Maintain high humidity levels with warm temperatures and a rich soil mix to have bigger leaves on your Philodendron. It is most often poor humidity conditions in dry areas that is causing smaller new leaves in the plant. 

– Why Are the Roots of the Philodendron Black Cardinal Imporant?

The Black Cardinal plant has an extensive root system, additionally, it also grows aerial roots that help the plant get nutrition from the air, which is why the roots play a crucial role in the life of the Philodendron Black Cardinal. The roots take over the pot in a few years and once they start coming out of the drainage holes, you can repot the plant in a bigger pot. 

For the aerial roots, you can use moss poles or some support with the help of which the roots can get the moisture. Misting the aerial roots in summers helps in keeping the plant healthy. 


Its care is quite similar to any other Philodendron plant care. Let us summarize important care guidelines you need to keep in mind before growing it.

  • Philodendron Black Cardinal is a tropical plant popular for its black-green foliage that makes the plant stand out. 
  • Keep your plant in a bright, warm spot potted in a well-draining soil mix with regular watering. Shift the plant indoors in extreme temperatures as it is not cold and frost-hardy. 
  • Maintain high humidity levels and regular feeding during the active growing seasons of spring and summer. Mist the plant to keep the humidity levels high. 
  • Repot your plant every two to three years and propagate it by stem cutting and root division.
  • Some problems faced by the plant include pests such as aphids and mealybugs and yellowing, browning and wilting of leaves. 

We hope our care guide has helped you know all about this gorgeous plant and now that you know all about this beautiful Philodendron, it is time you add one of these to your houseplant collection.

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