The Philodendron Red Cardinal is a beautiful large-leafed plant that is best know for its red and maroon colored leaves.
Note that this is a different plant to the Philodendron Black Cardinal which also has large leaves. But that plant’s foliage is a darker purple color that looks black from afar.
Its leaves change colors as they age. They start out in bright red color and turn more maroon or burgundy. Then slowly into a red-purple-green color.
Once the leaves mature and get older, they become a glossy dark green color.
As such, you’ll see a combination of these colors at any given time on the time making it beautiful to look at.
The plant has a compact growth habit. And it become very bushy with proper care.
How do you care for the Philodendron Red Cardinal? The plant needs medium to bright, indirect light to maintain its beautiful leaf colors. Good lighting helps maintain its red colors.
But avoid strong, direct sunlight which can burn its leaves.
It is a tropical plant that enjoys warm, humid conditions. Don’t overwater the plant as it is prone to root rot. Use well-draining soil and feed regularly during its growing season.
Philodendron Red Cardinal Plant Care
The Philodendron Red Cardinal enjoys medium to bright indirect light. It thrives with plenty of light provided the that light is indirect, filtered or dappled.
Good lighting will allow it to maintain its red and red-maroon colored leaves.
However, too much or too little light are both no-no’s.
While the plant will survive them, you won’t like what happens to its leaves.
The plant cannot tolerate very strong or harsh direct sun. Therefore, keep it away from mid-day sun or the direct rays during summertime.
These are just too intense for the plant.
And they will turn its leaves yellow in color. In stronger or more intense exposure they can scorch the leaves as well.
When this happens, you’ll be left with black or brown burn marks of the leaves which are permanent. And your only option is to remove the damaged sections or the entire leaves.
That would be a waste!
Therefore, try to avoid mid-day sun or the direct rays of the sun from the south facing window.
On the other hand, low light can cause leggy stems and a slower growing plant. This the lack of light will also make the leaves more green instead of red.
And you’ll notice slower growth and smaller leaves as well.
Again, the plant will survive this environment. But you end up with a not so pleasing looking plant.
So, the best positions to keep the plant are where it gets early morning sun (east facing window) or late afternoon sun (west facing window).
The Philodendron Red Cardinal is a tropical plant. This is why it prefers moderate to warm conditions.
Its ideal temperature range is between 60 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit.
And while it can tolerate temperatures of 95 degrees Fahrenheit without a problem, it prefers more moderate climate because in its native habitat it lives under the shade of the larger trees.
Therefore, they forest canopy shades the plant from tropical heat allowing it to live in a more moderate to slightly warmer environment.
This makes it a perfect fit for homes and indoor gardens.
Most homes have temperatures between 65 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit. As such, the plant easily adapts to these conditions without you having to change anything.
However, the outdoors is different.
The Philodendron Red Cardinal loves the outdoors in USDA Hardiness Zones 9 to 11 because the weather stays fairly consistent in these parts.
There’s sunshine and warm weather throughout the year.
And although the temperature does go down a bit during the latter months of the year, there is no frost or freezing temperature.
Similarly, summers get hotter but the plant does not mind that either.
What it cannot take is the cold. It is not frost hardy. And it has problems with temperatures below 50 degrees Fahrenheit.
This is why in colder regions the Philodendron Red Cardinal is better off as a houseplant.
Make sure to bring it indoors by around mid-fall and keep it warm indoors through the winter.
The Philodendron Red Cardinal is used to the humidity of the tropics. Its ideal humidity is between 60% to 75%.
However, it has no problems with average room humidity.
This means it is able to tolerate humidity in the low 30s all the way to 50%. And as long as you have this kind of humidity in your home, it will do fine.
The only issue is with very dry air which can happen during the winter or if you live in desert areas.
Humidity that tends to stay in the 20s will likely give the plant problems.
Another thing to watch out for indoors are certain appliances.
Air conditioners, heaters, vents, radiator and other air modifying appliances will dry the air. So, keep the plant away from these locations.
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How Often to Water Philodendron Red Cardinal
The Philodendron Red Cardinal prefers moderate watering.
This means that it does not like wet environments. Nor does it like going very dry.
So, avoid watering the plant too often such that the soil ends up wet, soggy or mucky. Similarly, don’t le the entire root ball go bone dry.
Its dislikes both conditions.
However, of the two, excess moisture is much worse than lack of moisture.
So, if you were to err, err on the side of dryness instead of wet.
Overwatering can lead to root rot which can kill the plant. What makes it difficult is that root rot occurs under the soil. So, you won’t see the damage as it happens.
Instead, you’ll only notice when the symptoms start reaching the stems and leaves.
By then, the roots would have sustains at least some damage already.
Therefore, prevention is the best option here.
Always let part of the soil dry between waterings. Here, you have two options.
You can water the plant when the top 2 inches of soil has dried. Never water before then. It only increases the risk of overwatering.
Or a safer way would be to wait until the top half of the soil has dried before you add water.
Anything in between these two levels works as well.
The important thing is not to water too often. And at the same time not to allow the entire root ball to go completely dry either.
When watering the plant, soak the entire root ball by drenching it with water. Stop the water flow once the liquid starts trickling down from the holes under the pot.
Then allow the soil to completely drain.
Never skimp on the last part. Many gardeners do this because it can take 10 to 30 minutes for full drainage to complete.
Doing so ensures that the plant is not waterlogged or overwatered.
Philodendron Red Cardinal Potting Soil
The Philodendron Red Cardinal needs soil that stays moist, had good drainage and is high in organic matter content.
This combination allows the soil to hold some moisture so that the roots stay hydrated. At the same time it ensures that the excess water drains quickly.
The latter ensures that the soil does not hold too much moisture.
This way, the roots never end up sitting in lots of water for long periods of time.
It also bails you out on instances where you happen to add too much water or watered too frequently.
The good news is that there are many options you can go with here.
Some growers like using African Violet Mix. I prefer to use an Aroid mix.
Both work well. So, it is really up to you, your preference and which is more available to you. Some gardeners also choose based on price.
That said, if you want to save on money, it is always a better option to make your own potting mix.
This means getting the ingredients yourself and mixing them at home. In contrast, pre-packaged mixes are already bagged by the manufacturer. And they’ve already mixed them for you.
So, the latter is more convenient in that you can just buy the bag, open it and start using.
With your ow potting mix, you need to figure out the recipe, find each ingredient, following how much of each component to mix before you can use it.
But it comes out much cheaper in the long run.
And you get to modify it if needed.
Here’s a potting mix recipe that works really well for the Philodendron Red Cardinal.
- 1 part potting mix
- 1 part perlite
- 1 part orchid bark
- ½ part activated charcoal
The different components allow for the soil to hold some moisture but offer lots of drainage and aeriation. This keeps the roots dry and safe from excess liquid.
The Philodendron Red Cardinal needs fertilizer. But it is not a heavy feeder.
So, the most important thing is to feed the plant. Not so much to give it lots of fertilizer.
As long as it gets the nutrients it needs, it will keep growing.
You can use a balanced fertilizer like 10-10-10 during the spring and summer. Once a month feeding is all it needs during this time.
Stop feeding by around early or mid fall. And skip fertilizing during winter.
You can likewise go with a slow release fertilizer if you wish. These come in pellet form so you do need to distribute them yourself.
Traditional fertilizer comes in water soluble form which makes it easier to distribute evenly.
Another option is to use organic soil amendments in place of fertilizer for the nutrients. You can go with compost or worm castings instead.
The Philodendron Red Cardinal will grow to a good sized plant with large foliage. If you let it grow out, you’ll see it develop large thick stems that will support its big foliage.
What’s great is that it will produce a good number of leaves when properly cared for.
As such, you do need to give it space.
It also means that you don’t need to prune it since the large stems and leaves are what make up majority of the plant.
However, do remove or trim off any damaged, discolored or old leaves.
How to Propagate Philodendron Red Cardinal
Philodendron Red Cardinal propagation is usually done by stem cuttings or division.
I like to take rooted stem cuttings and grow them in pots because it is much easier to do so. Plus, you don’t need to wait for the cutting to root.
This does take a bit more work since you’ll need to cut part of the root along with the stem.
But whichever method you decide to do, the best time propagate is during early spring.
Here’s how to propagate the Philodendron Red Cardinal from stem cuttings.
Look for healthy stems. You want cuttings with at least 1-2 nodes and 2 or more leaves on it.
If you want to just take the stem cutting, you can snip the stem under one of the nodes.
I like to trace the stem down to the roots and dig up that particular stems roots as well. Then use a sterile knife and cut that root section along with the stem. Only get a small section of roots that’s enough to support the cutting.
If you took just the stem cuttings, you can plant the cuttings in a pot with soil and water it. This will take about 4-6 weeks for new roots to develop.
If you took the rooted stem cutting, you can plant that section into the soil. And from there, the stem will soon start producing new shoots and leaves. Since it already has roots, there’s no need to wait.
Either way, you’ll end up with a new plant.
The difference between the two methods is that the second is much faster but you work a little more and you take a small part of the root system.
How to Repot or Transplant Philodendron Red Cardinal
The Philodendron Red Cardinal is easy to repot. However, don’t repot it just for the sake of repotting it.
And never repot because someone tells you to repot the plant annually.
Instead, always learn your plant’s behavior as it will always tell you what it needs. The key is to understand the signs it is giving.
In the case of this plant, only repot when it has outgrown its pot.
This means it has filled the pot and there’s no more space left for its root system to grow.
When this happens, you’ll see roots coming out from the holes at the bottom of the pot’s drainage holes.
Another sign are the roots that start creeping out from the surface of the soil. Sometimes, they’ll try sneaking out from the crevices between the soil and pot on the edges.
The best time to repot is spring to early summer.
This is one resilient plant with very strong stems. And I’ve seen growers just tug the stems to unpot the plant.
I don’t like doing this because of the force you use. But the plant is one of those species that’s strong enough to take this kind of tugging and pulling.
Don’t try this with other plants as you’ll damage them.
Repot in well-draining soil and use a slightly larger container.
Is It Toxic/Poisonous to Humans, Cats & Dogs
The Philodendron Red Cardinal contains calcium oxalate crystals which make it toxic to people, cats and dogs. However, it only becomes toxic when you break the external layer.
This is why ingesting or eating the leaves or stems is when it turns poisonous.
Because of this, never keep the plant within children’s or your pet’s reach.
Philodendron Red Cardinal Problems & Troubleshooting
The Philodendron Red Cardinal can experience pests although it is not a pest magnet.
However, like all houseplants, always check the plant the day you buy it from the store before you bring it into your home.
Similarly, debug the plant when you bring it indoors from the yard or garden.
These are the two most common reasons why pests are able to get to houseplants.
And they spread quite easily amongst plants that are beside one another.
Aphids, mealybugs, mites and scale are common bugs that like the attack the plant. And they will grow quickly in number. So, make sure to treat them when there are just a few of them.
They are harder to eradicate once they turn into infestations.
Root rot due to overwatering is the biggest problem you need to watch out for this lant.
While it is not prone to diseases, giving it too much moisture on a regular basis will eventually cause problems with its root system.
That’s because they don’t like sitting in water for long periods of time.
As such, always make sure that you allow the soil to dry partially before you add water. Also, use well-draining soil.
And water has a way to get out of the pot.
Together, these 3 measures will help prevent overwatering.
Make sure to watch the leaves for yellowing or curling. These are usually signs that the Philodendron Red Cardinal is getting overwatered as well.
Whenever you’re not sure, don’t water. it does not mind a little bit of dryness.
And if in doubt, always pull out the plant and check the roots for any damage. This way, if there is, you’ll catch it early which gives you a chance to save the plant.