The Philodendron Bloody Mary is a beautiful houseplant with long, thick dagger-shaped leaves. These leaves are eye catching not only because of their shape but also their bi-color.
Younger juveniles will feature burgundy foliage while mature plants will give you one side burgundy and another side of red. Later on, you’ll see these turn green.
Its stems feature a reddish color as well.
These hues make it stunning to look at as well as distinctively unique.
They are also where the plant gets its name.
Your Bloody Mary is native to the tropical rainforests of South America. Although, you’ll see them grow in many different regions as well including the West indies, Africa, Australia and Asia.
As you can guess, these are grown for their foliage which are pretty prolific as far as foliage growth is concerned as long as you take good care of it.
They do not produce flowers which helps it focus all its resources on leave production.
The Philodendron Bloody Mary grows best when placed somewhere with bright, indirect light. It is important to keep it away from direct sunlight as this can burn its leaves.
Too much exposure or very hot, intense sun will not only cause sunburn but also bleach its leaves.
As it is native to the tropical forests of South America, it has evolved to thrive in light that is dappled or filtered or medium light. That’s because in the forest, the sun is partially blocked by the leaves and branches of larger trees and plants.
As a result the Philodendron Bloody Mary does not get exposed by the full brunt of the sun’s rays.
That said, it is an ideal houseplant because of its durability and adaptability. That is, it can deal with lower light conditions as seen in many homes or offices.
But, avoid too little light or dark rooms. The best way you can tell when the plant has reached it low light limit is it becomes leggy.
This happens when the plant does not get enough light and starts reaching out to where the light is coming from. As a result, it looks stretched out and thinner than normal. Plus, it will bend towards one direction.
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When it comes the temperature, the Philodendron Bloody Mary is likewise easy to care for because it enjoys the same conditions as you and I do.
The best temperature for the plant runs between 65 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit. Although, you can extend that range a little bit to 60 to 80 degrees.
Of the two sides, you want to be more careful with the lower end as the plant is not frost hardy. It is used to tropical conditions where the weather is sunny all year long.
As such, once the temp goes to the lower 50s, it will being to struggle or show signs of stress. In the 40s, it will experience damage.
Thus, it is a good idea to keep it as a houseplant or bring in indoors once the weather gets colder in the fall if you don’t live in USDA zones 9 to 11.
Within zones 9 to 11, the plant will happily grow outside 365 days of the year.
Similarly, its tropical origins affects it humidity preferences. If you’ve ever lived or visited a tropical country, you know how humid it is.
As such, the Philodendron Bloody Mary enjoys high humidity, ideally between 60% and 80%.
The good news is, it will tolerate lower humidity making it adapt well to most home conditions.
However, there is a limit to this.
Beginning at the lower 40s and drier conditions, the plant becomes susceptible to yellowing because the humidity gets too low.
If you start noticing this, it is a good idea to deploy some humidity increasing strategy like grouping plants together, misting, setting it on a pebble tray or using a humidifier.
Do note that humidity does change throughout the year. The air can get very dry during hot summers as well as cold winters.
As such, you do need to get a feel of your home’s conditions.
if you want to make things easier, I highly suggest using a digital hygrometer. This is a similar to a thermometer but it measures humidity.
With it, you’ll be able to instantly tell when relative humidity drops and rises.
Water is one of the most important things to consider when growing houseplants like the Philodendron Bloody Mary.
That’s because this is where things can go really wrong.
Sunlight and temperature are often easier. But, watering can be problematic because most plant owners like to be too generous with it while others neglect their houseplants resulting in dehydration.
Your Philodendron Bloody Mary enjoys moist soil. But be careful not to overwater it or allow the soil to become soggy.
That said it will need more water in the spring and summer because the weather gets hotter during this time and the plant is also growing.
Growth requires food and hydration. Thus, this are the times when sun, water and fertilizer are very important.
In contrast, cut back on the water once the cold weather comes in. That’s because soil takes longer to dry when it is cold. Also, the plant will rest during winter to take a break from its growing period.
To help prevent overwatering, it is crucial to use the right soil for your Philodendron Bloody Mary.
Ideally, use a good quality potting mix that is well-draining. This allows excess moisture to drain quickly so the plant does not end up sitting in water.
The right soil will help you avoid overwatering even during the times you happen to give it too much.
The good news is, it is easy to improve drainage. All you need to do is add perlite to your regular potting mix. You can add around a quarter (25%) of perlite to start.
And, check to see how well it drains and adjust if needed. In most cases you’ll end up with about 20 to 30% or so perlite.
If you don’t have potting soil, you can also use other options. Here are some that work really well for the plant.
- 100% sphagnum peat moss
- Peat and perlite
- Peat and vermiculite
Your Philodendron Bloody Mary is a fast grower. As such, you’ll need to support it with the proper nutrients. This is done with monthly feeding during the spring and summer which is its growing period.
You can cut back feeding during winter to once every 2 months as the plant’s growth slows down considerably.
Any regular houseplant fertilizer will work. You can use liquid or slow release pellets.
The former is easier to evenly distribute because of its liquid form. But, slow release saves you time as you’ll only need to feed the plants about twice a year.
In addition to being fast growing houseplants, the Philodendron Bloody Mary also get big and tall.
They can grow as high as 10 to 12 feet.
But, how big they eventually get depends on the plant’s individual DNA, its living conditions and how you care for it.
In many cases, houseplant owners don’t want it to get to 10 feet or higher since their ceilings may be just that high or even lower.
The good news is, you can limit its size by pruning and using the right containers. Limiting the space it lives in also limits its growth.
When it comes to appearance, pruning your Philodendron Bloody Mary often depends on two things, limiting its size and maintaining the look you want.
Size limitation is useful if the plant gets too big. Meanwhile, its looks will depend on what you prefer. But, note that the plant can get messy and grow all over itself. Thus, it is a good idea to prune bit by bit to keep it neat and tidy.
Beyond that, pruning is all about keeping it healthy. That is removing any yellow or brown tips as well as dead or damaged leaves.
One of the best things about the Philodendron Bloody Mary is that it is easy to propagate at home. You can do so in water or in soil without any problems.
The best time to do so is during spring although you can likewise do it early in the summer.
Here’s how to propagate Philodendron Bloody Mary.
- Start by picking a healthy stem. You want to get something that is about 5 to 7 inches long with at least 2 to 3 leaves.
- Remove the lower leaves as these will get submerged into water. You don’t want that because keeping them in this state for 2 to 3 weeks will increase the risk of rotting. You also want to expose the leaf nodes which is where the roots will grow from.
- Place the cutting with the cut end side down into a glass or jar of water. Replace the water every so often to keep it clear.
- After about 14 to 21 or so days, you’ll see roots form from the leaf nodes in the water.
- Wait till the roots form quite a bit (about an inch or so).
- Then, move it into a pot with well-draining soil mix.
- From here, it will grow given bright, indirect light, warm conditions and moist soil.
- Repot as the plant outgrows its current container but only go up in pot size graudually.
How to Repot
Due to its fast growth, you’ll find yourself repotting your Philodendron Bloody Mary sooner than some of your other houseplants.
The best way to check is to monitor the root ball. Once its starts packing the edges of the container or begins to form a tight ball, it is a sign that it needs more space.
Ideally, move it to a pot that is 2 inches wider in diameter. While it may be tempting to go up 6 or 8 inches, don’t do it.
You want to increase the pot size gradually to keep your plant healthy.
The best time to do this is during the spring time before the plant starts to grow again for the season.
Since your Philodendron Bloody Mary will stay on the floor (because of its size), make sure that it is away from the reach of young kids and pets.
The plant is toxic as it contains insoluble calcium oxalates.
When ingested, these can disrupt your digestive tract and cause nausea, vomiting and irritation or pain in these areas.
Unfortunately, like most other houseplants, pests are likewise an issue.
Mealybugs and aphids are on top of the list. And, both are not only bothersome but also destructive to your plants as they will eventually suck its sap, which is how your plants transport nutrients across itself.
The best and most effective way of spotting these pests is via regular inspection. You can do this whenever you clean the plant’s leaves.
If you spot any, quickly quarantine the plant or plants affected and immediately start treatment.
Besides pets, diseases are likewise something to watch out for.
Leaf spot and root rot are the two more common problems the Bloody Mary experiences.
The former shows itself via problems with its foliage. These include yellowing leaves, holes, dark spots and slow or stunted growth.
Root rot is even more dangerous as it affects the roots and destroys them. Rotting or rotted roots will cease to function. As such, the plant won’t be able to absorb water or fertilizer from the soil no matter how much you give it.
Thus if too many of the roots are damaged, your plant will eventually die.
The best way to prevent root rot is to avoid overwatering. It happens when the plant sits in water too long or lives in soggy soil.