Philodendron Imperial Red is a favorite of both new and experienced gardeners. It makes for a perfect houseplant because of its leathery, oval-shaped leaves.
Read our guide to know all about this gorgeous plant and its growth requirements.
What Is Philodendron Imperial Red?
Philodendron Imperial Red is a hybrid Philodendron plant belonging to the Araceae family of aroids. When small, the plant is a great choice for office tables and desks, as it grows upright and looks quite elegant.
Moreover, the plant from afar looks like it is a bouquet of red leaves.
It is because of the red-tinted foliage that the plant is also called by other common names such as the Blushing Philodendron, the Red-leaf Philodendron, the Imperial Red Philodendron, and the Red Philodendron.
– Size and Growth
Philodendron Imperial Red is a medium to large-sized plant and if grown indoors, it can reach a height of two to three feet. Unlike some other Philodendrons that need support to climb, this one is a self-header. The stiff stems make it easier for the plant to grow straight up as it matures.
When the plant is young, you can use it as a table plant, but as it grows, you will have to shift it on the floor as it can reach a height of two to three feet.
It grows laterally which makes it a suitable plant to grow indoors in home and office spaces. Since the plant spreads laterally, it makes for a great floor plant as well.
Furthermore, you should know that the petioles turn greenish-brown when they mature. As compared to the leaves, petioles are shorter and give the plant a compact and bushy look.
The plant is toxic and poisonous if ingested. Keep it away from the reach of children, cats, and dogs. It contains calcium oxalate that makes it toxic if consumed.
Philodendron Imperial Red has wide, glossy, and dark green leaves that are ovate to elliptical. When the leaves are young, they have a reddish tinge, and as they mature they turn into a dark green shade. The glossy leaves are spaced close to each other on one stem.
Furthermore, the stem of the plant is hardly visible because it is covered with many wide and glossy leaves. It is only visible when the older, bottom leaves mature and fall off naturally.
Philodendron Imperial Red Care
In order to keep your Philodendron Imperial Red happy, the first thing you need to do is recreate tropical-environment-like conditions around your plant and it will reward you with large, leathery leaves; but that’s not all. Keep reading to find out exactly what it needs to be healthy and thriving!
Philodendron Imperial Red needs bright, filtered light to grow fast. It can survive in low-light conditions but the growth slows down. Hence, the growth rate will be much faster when it is kept in bright light.
Too little light can cause problems such as stunted growth, pale and smaller leaves, and yellowing of the foliage. So, your best bet is to keep the plant in a north or east-facing window where it can receive bright light throughout the day.
Too much light can also cause problems to the growth of your plant. Direct sunlight, especially at noon, leads to leaf burns. If you notice the leaves getting brown patches, shift the plant to a spot with indirect light away from the sun. Winter sunlight is okay during the day but if your area receives harsh sunlight, especially during summers, keep your plant in partial shade.
Direct sunlight in the morning and evening works well for it. But keep it away from direct sunlight at noon. If you do not want to move the plant continuously, keep it in a shaded room that receives bright light during the day.
You can also use artificial grow lights if access to natural light is not possible. In essence, moderate to bright light works well for this plant.
– Water Requirements
Watering Philodendron Imperial Red should be regular during the active growing season from early spring to later summer. Allow half the soil to dry out in between waterings in the summer months. On the other hand, in the winter months, leave the soil to dry out a lot more than in summers.
Avoid overwatering the plant at all times as this plant is prone to root rot. To prevent overwatering, check the soil by using the finger-knuckle test. Insert one finger in the soil till the second knuckle. If the soil feels moist to touch, hold back on watering and check back again after a few days.
The exact watering schedule will depend on a bunch of factors such as the location of the plant, humidity, temperatures, and fertilization. The climate zone in which you live plays the most important role of all.
If it is a tropical zone, the watering frequency will more or less be the same throughout the year, but if it is a subtropical or temperate zone, it will vary according to the seasons.
– Soil Mix
Philodendron Imperial Red soil should be rich, porous, and airy. Since the plant does not like soggy soil conditions, you should use the regular potting soil mixed with some sand and perlite to make it porous and airy.
Adding sand to the soil mix makes it light and porous. What’s more, we do not recommend using clay soil as it is heavy and the roots might face a problem due to lack of sufficient air.
You can add anything from coarse and chunky bark chips, perlite, crushed bark, or river sand for drainage. Use organic matter such as compost and cow dung manure around the plant’s roots to provide nutrition.
Organic debris around the roots will help this epiphytic plant to be healthy. To add organic matter to the soil, use kitchen compost, leaf mulch, and cow dung manure.
Grow your Red-leaf Philodendron in a pot that matches the plant size, as these plants like to remain root-bound for some time. Only when the plant’s roots have completely taken over the pot and there is no more scope for the plant to grow should you shift the plant to a pot just one size larger than the previous one.
Philodendron Imperial Red grows well in temperatures lying between 60 and 85 degrees Fahrenheit. Keep the conditions on the warmer side for this easy-care plant to grow well. Also, keep in mind that it can tolerate drought conditions for short periods but extended drought-like conditions can be harmful to the growth of this tropical plant.
Moreover, don’t let the plant sit in temperatures below 50 degrees Fahrenheit, as very low temperatures with frost can affect the growth of your plant. If it’s exposed to a low temperature for a long time, it will become pale and show stunted growth.
The frost may even kill the plant as it has zero frost tolerance. So, when winter comes, bring your plant inside to a warm spot with bright light.
When the temperatures get too warm, just keep your plant in a shaded place with regular hydration. Then, mist the plant daily to keep the moisture level high, as it helps the plant beat the hot temperatures.
– Humidity Requirements
Like most other tropical plants, Philodendron Imperial Red prefers humid conditions. If kept indoors, it is likely to suffer due to the dry air from air conditioners and heaters. So, you should try to keep the humidity level above 50 percent for best growth results. High humidity leads to larger and brighter leaves.
To increase the humidity levels around the plant, you can use humidifiers, and humidity trays. A humidity tray is an easy and inexpensive way of increasing humidity levels.
To make a humidity tray yourself, you should fill a shallow tray with some pebbles and water and then put your plant above it. As the water evaporates, the plant will absorb the required moisture.
Also, make sure to mist the plant regularly if the air is too dry in your area. The average humidity inside homes is 30 to 40 percent so, it becomes essential to increase it by using other ways.
Do not go crazy after increasing the humidity levels as the plant is not too fussy. It can manage with slightly lower humidity levels if the soil moisture is high. Naturally, if you live in a tropical zone, you do not need humidifiers or trays to increase humidity.
The plant will be fine with the natural air. However, if the humidity level is too high, the plant may suffer from bacterial diseases such as Erwinia Blight.
Fertilize the Red-leaf Philodendron monthly in spring and summer with a well-balanced fertilizer. Use one-half of the recommended dose mentioned on the label. What’s more, following regular fertilization will give you a healthier plant with large, glossy leaves.
Do not fertilize the plant in the winter months as the plant hardly shows any new growth and does not produce any new leaves.
Over-fertilizing the plant can cause problems such as root burn and salt build-up. Root burn is hard to detect because checking roots is not possible each time you fertilize. To prevent the problem of root burn, use organic fertilizers such as mulch, kitchen compost, and cow dung manure. However, you should avoid using chemical ones.
If you are using chemical fertilizer, never apply it directly to dry soil. The soil must be moist at the time of fertilizing. Use slow-release fertilizers as they cause minimum root damage, as well as tap water to give your plant every two months to get rid of the salts from the soil.
Philodendron Imperial Red does not need frequent repotting as it prefers to be root-bound for quite a while. When you see that the roots are starting to come out of the bottom drainage holes and the plant cannot grow anymore, that’s when you can shift the plant to a bigger pot. To repot, choose a new pot that is only two to three inches larger than the last one.
Early spring is the ideal time to repot Philodendron Red-leaf before it starts to produce new leaves.
The plant does not need frequent pruning. Prune it only when you notice the plant spreading laterally and you are running out of place. To properly do it, you should prune the leaves at the base of the stem.
Professionals use tissue culture to propagate Philodendron Imperial Red, but you can propagate it easily at home using stem cuttings or air-layering. Plant division is another easy option by which you can get a new plant. When the plant matures and forms root clumps, divide the plant by separating the smaller sections. Plant these sections in separate pots.
Stem cutting propagation is the most common method of propagating the Red-leaf Philodendron. First, you should take a four to five inches long cutting with at least one node – a part of the plant from where roots develop. Then, remove the leaves from the bottom of the cutting and let only the top one to two leaves be attached.
After that, you can tip the cutting in a rooting hormone or a mix of honey and cinnamon powder. Finally, plant it in a rich and organic soil mix, and firmly tuck in the soil around the roots.
Water the cuttings thoroughly and wait for the roots to develop. Within one to two months, the roots will form, and you will also see new growth appear on the plant.
Philodendron Imperial Red is a low-maintenance plant but it has its own problems too. Sometimes, pests, insects, and diseases such as aphids, mealybugs, and Erwinia blight pose a difficulty in the plant’s growth. Let’s take a look at what might happen to it and how to prevent those issues:
Aphids or plant lice are pear-shaped insects that are almost invisible to the naked eye until they have formed large colonies. Aphid females can reproduce without mating and give birth directly to insects.
Moreover, aphids damage the plant by sucking the sap. They target stems, leaf undersides, and flower buds. If you notice the curling and cracking of the leaves, the plant is probably infected by aphids.
Treat aphids infestation by spraying neem oil regularly. Neem oil is a great organic option to prevent their growth and if spotted early can also treat it.
To create the spraying solution, mix one spoon of neem oil in half a liter of water and spray it regularly on the affected parts of the plant. It will only attract beneficial insects such as ladybugs and honeybees to your garden. These beneficial insects feed on aphids and will help you keep the harmful pests under control.
Mealybugs can be very destructive to your plant’s growth if not detected at an early stage. They look like small pieces of cotton balls and suck the sap out of the new plant growths.
Younger mealybugs have legs and crawl so, at this stage, it is the easiest to treat the infestation. In any case, they secrete a sticky substance called honeydew that interferes with the plant’s photosynthesis process.
Use yellow sticky cards to catch the young mealybugs. Also, spray them with a soap water solution or an insecticidal solution when they mature. Repeat the treatment fortnightly to control any further infestation.
– Erwinia Blight
Erwinia blight is a bacterial disease that is quite common in Philodendron Imperial Red. The initial symptom includes soft rot, which starts at or below the soil and targets the roots mainly. As a result, the new growth and leaves are pale and yellow. This bacterial disease thrives in warm and damp environments.
Bactericides containing copper can help to control this bacterial disease. It is impossible to cure the disease if it has spread to larger areas. Spot it as soon as possible and treat it with bactericides and disinfectants. Lower the humidity levels around the plant and decrease the watering frequency.
Whether you are a first-timer or a seasoned gardener, you can easily grow Philodendron Imperial Red in your home garden. All it needs is some basic care found in the points below, and you will have a lush green plant ready:
- Philodendron Imperial Red is a hybrid Philodendron variety
- It needs bright, indirect light to thrive. Keep it away from harsh, direct sunlight in a window where it can receive filtered light during the day
- Water the plant thoroughly and frequently in the summer months. Reduce it in the winter months. The soil should not be sticky and heavy while watering. If it is, it will eventually kill the plant
- Use a rich and well-draining soil mix to grow your plant as heavy soils cause root rot due to waterlogging
- Philodendron Imperial Red prefers a humidity level above 50 percent to grow healthy and glossy leaves
- Misting, using humidifiers, and humidity trays help in elevating the humidity levels around the plant
- Fertilize the plant every month during the active growing season of spring and summer and reduce in fall and winter
- The Red-leaf Philodendron likes to be root-bound. So avoid frequency repotting. Repot the plant when it has taken over the existing pot and there is no more space left for it to grow
- Propagation of Philodendron Imperial Red is easy. It can be propagated by taking stem cuttings and by plant division
- It is prone to problems such as root rot, fungal diseases, Erwinia blight, pest, and insect attacks. Treat these problems by using different methods such as applying Neem oil, insecticidal solutions, and pruning
You have many reasons to add this beautiful, tropical plant to your collection, as it is a great air purifier and does not demand too much care. We hope our tips have helped you know all the growth requirements of Philodendron Red-leaf and you get one for yourself soon.
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