How to Grow & Care for Black Cardinal Philodendron

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Ever heard of the black cardinal philodendron?

Until recently I had not been aware of this unusual and striking houseplant. But ever since, it has become one of my favorite plants.

Also known by its botanical name as Philodendron erubescens ‘Black Cardinal’, the plant is delightfully chocolate brown to almost burgundy foliage held on orange-bronze stems. As it matures, the leaves turn blackish or sometimes dark green.

With these rare traits, I have no doubt that this plant will become a great addition to your plant collection. And in today’s post, I’ll share with you a few pointers on how to grow and care for black cardinal philodendron including easy propagation tips.

Without wasting more of your time, let’s get started:

How to Identify Black Cardinal Philodendron

Philodendron black cardinal is an interspecific hybrid developed from a series of crosses among P. wendlandii, hastatum, erubescens, imbe, and fragrantissimum. This means that it’s a very stable and rich cultivar of philodendrons.

The best way to identify this philodendron hybrid is to pay attention to the leaves. They start off a light bronze color and mature to a dark, chocolate-black color.

Like other self-heading philodendrons such as the Pink Princess, Prince of Orange, and White Princess, the Black Cardinal is a compact and fast-growing houseplant.

How to Propagate Black Cardinal Philodendron

Black cardinal philodendrons are quite rare and as such, they can be expensive. That is if you’ll be lucky to find the plants in your local nursery in the first place. Your best bet would be to ask around your plant-obsessed friends or shop for them online.

Next, you need to propagate your own plants just in case, your single plant dies off or you need more to gift around. Whichever way, here’s how to go about it:

  • Start with a healthy plant free from any visible deformities or pests and diseases.
  • Cut a stem with at least two leaves, making sure the cut is just below a leaf node.
  • Dip the cutting in the rooting hormone to facilitate fast and easy root development.
  • Fill a pot with a well-draining potting mix. Heavy potting soil will give suboptimal results.
  • Make a hole in the potting mix with your finger, a pencil, or a stick.
  • Insert the cutting into the hole and firm the potting mix around it.
  • Water the potting mix until it is moist but not soggy.
  • Place the pot in a bright, indirect light location.
  • Keep the potting mix moist but not soggy while rooting which could take several weeks.
  • Once the cutting has rooted, water it as you would a normal philodendron plant.

If you follow these simple steps, you’ll have plenty of gorgeous black cardinal plants in no time!

How to Grow Black Cardinal Philodendron

Planting black cardinal philodendrons in pots is quite straightforward. All you need are healthy baby plants – which you got from the propagation process.

Given the right conditions, your plants can reach over 30cm long and 15cm wide. So ensure that you have pot planters that can support that kind of growth. A 4-inch pot is a good place to start. You’ll also need the following requirements to successfully grow your plants indoors

Potting Mix

Black cardinal plants have sensitive and vulnerable roots which are prone to rots. Therefore, your choice of the potting mix is vital. They prefer a well-draining nutrient-dense potting mix that provides the necessary support while allowing excess water to pass through the drainage holes.

This aroid potting mix is the ideal soil that protects against under or overwatering.

Temperature and Humidity

Like most houseplants, the black cardinal philodendron prefers warm temperatures which is at par with that of most homes.

They also thrive under high humidity levels of about 60%. If your house is low on humidity, you can increase it by misting the leaves preferably during late mornings, grouping plants together, pouring water on pebbles around the plant, or using a plant humidifier.

Light exposure

The color of your philodendron will be determined by how much light reaches your plant. Besides, the plant will have dense and lush growth with adequate light exposure.

Therefore, you need to provide sufficient indirect sunlight by placing your plants near a bright window.

How to Take Care of Black Cardinal Philodendron


Cut off the old dried leaves periodically to make sure the plant is tidy and healthy. You can also prune off mature leaves which have reverted to green.

Just make sure to cut one leaf at a time while giving the plant enough time to recover and produce new foliage.


If there’s anything likely to kill your black cardinal plants, then it’s overwatering. These plants are extremely sensitive to waterlogging since they have delicate roots. Too much water will cause root rots, drooping of the leaves, and subsequent death.

To avoid this problem, only water them when an inch of the top potting mix feels dry. Check with a piece of pencil, stick, or your finger.

During the hot season, the plants will dry out faster and therefore you need to water more frequently. But the most important point is to check the soil moisture content before watering.

Fertilizer Application

Black cardinal philodendrons will benefit from periodical applications of a balanced fertilizer at half the strength of the recommended rate.

During the active growing season in spring and summer, you can apply a little bit more fertilizer or increase the frequency. On the other hand, avoid applying any fertilizer in winter – plants don’t need it anyway.

Pests and Diseases Management

These plants are generally problem- and pest-free. One issue is that the tips of their leaves may turn brown, which can be a sign of too much fertilizer or improper watering.

Common houseplant pests like aphids, mealybugs, scales, or spider mites may sometimes be problematic, but it’s easy to take the plant to the sink or shower and wash off the pests

Here’s more information on pests and diseases in self-heading philodendrons in general.

Common Problems

Leaf Spot - Too much fertilizer can cause the tips of leaves to curl and brown.

Yellow Leaves - The yellowing of lower leaves and the death of the growing tips can be caused by too little light or overwatering.


Black cardinal philodendrons are wonderful houseplants that can bring a tropical touch to your home, during the summer and year-round.

And with today’s post, you’ll find taking care of them not only fun but fulfilling as well.

Are there any other rare and exotic plants you’d like us to explore and write about them? Let’s know in the comments section.