The Philodendron Red Empress is a very rare aroid that features reddish leaves turn into very dark green later on.
The leaves also feature serrated edges making it look much like the Philodendron Choco Empress.
You also get lovely bright red petioles that give amazing color contrast.
Its parents are a Philodendron wendlandii x Philodendron bipinnatifidum that was crossed with a Philodendron wendlandii x Philodendron imbe.
How do you care for the Philodendron Red Empress? The Philodendron Red Empress will produce large, impressive leaves and develop thick stems. Thus, it needs space to expand.
Give it plenty of indirect or filtered light to support this development. Feed it with a balanced fertilizer during its growing season for optimal growth. But never overwater the plant as it is prone to root rot.
Philodendron Red Empress Plant Care
The Philodendron Red Empress enjoys medium to bright, indirect light when grown indoors. Outdoors, it will grow best in partial shade.
Note that light indoors is very different to light outside because of the ceilings and walls that our homes have.
As such, when you’re inside, natural light can only enter through windows and other openings. If you have a skylight, then that adds to the sunlight access as well.
Because of the limitations, indoor light is also less than outdoor lighting.
This is why you’ll see variations when people talk about the lighting requirements plants.
In essence, bright, indirect light indoors is equal to partial shade outdoors. Again, this is because of the presence of walls and ceilings.
So, it is important not to confuse one for the other.
Because the Philodendron Red Empress has large, dark colored foliage that have the potential to grow really big, it needs plenty of light to support this growth.
Additionally, good lighting allows the plant to stay compact.
On the other hand, low light not only slows growth but also can make the plant leggy. You’ll likely end up with smaller, fewer leaves as well.
That said whether you’re growing the Philodendron Red Empress indoors or outdoors, avoid direct sunlight.
The plant is not accustomed to the strong rays of the sun especially during mid-day. While it does well with early morning and late afternoon sun, avoid direct sun between 10:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.
It can tolerate up to 2 or 3 hours of direct sunlight a day. But avoid more exposure.
This can turn its leaves yellow or even scorch them leaving you with black or brown burn marks.
As with other philodendron varieties, the Red Empress is a tropical plant that prefers consistently moderate to warm conditions.
Note that the tropics are well known for the moderate to very hot weather.
However, keep in mind that in the tropical rainforest, the Philodendron Red Empress lives amongst the huge trees.
So, it is used to getting shade from the brunt of the sun’s rays and the heat.
This is why it prefers 65 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit. However, it has no problem living in 95 degrees Fahrenheit weather as well. But you do need to keep it hydrated to avoid underwatering.
The good news is that the plant’s temperature preference makes it easy to keep indoors. You don’t have to adjust anything in your home to make the plant happy in terms of temperature.
That said, be wary of some appliances and locations.
That’s because the plant does not like temperatures below 50 degrees Fahrenheit. It also dislikes fluctuations.
So, avoid leaving it near air conditioners, heaters, radiators, stoves, ovens and open windows or doors where cold drafts can enter.
Another sneaky thing to check for is sudden drops in nighttime temperatures.
Some spots in homes can experience this.
The plant is fine with a 10 degree Fahrenheit difference between day and nighttime temperatures. But avoid placing it where there’s a more significant decrease.
Outdoors, temperature is always more challenging.
The Philodendron Red Empress loves the outdoors in USDA Hardiness Zones 9 to 11 because the weather is sunny and warm all throughout the year.
But in colder areas, it is better off as a houseplant.
It will appreciate going outdoors during mid-spring after the weather has gotten warm. But always bring it back indoors around mid-fall when temperatures near 50 degrees Fahrenheit.
Never leave it outdoors in winter.
The Philodendron Red Empress loves humidity. Ideally, it prefers humidity of 60% to 75%.
But it won’t have any issues as long as you keep humidity at 40% and above.
It can also tolerate slightly below this level.
However, the lower you go, the more you’ll need to monitor the plant’s leaves, at least initially.
That’s because when the air gets too dry, the edges and tips of its leaves will become crispy and brown. This is your sign that the Philodendron Red Empress needs more humidity.
If this happens, move the plant to a more humid location.
The bathroom and kitchen tend to have the highest humidity when it comes to areas in the home. In large part because that’s where we use a lot of water.
You can likewise mist the plant regularly.
But be careful with misting as too much can cause fungal disease. So, never leave water spots on leaves when you mist.
If that happens, you know you’re doing it a little too much.
You can pat the leaves down with a towel or paper towels to help dry them.
My favorites are either to use a pebble tray or humidity tray. You can make them at home fairly quickly. They both work the same way.
Of course, you can just pick up a humidifier as well.
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How Often to Water Philodendron Red Empress
The Philodendron Red Empress likes evenly moist soil. But it does not like wet or soggy soil.
In fact, the plant can tolerate a few weeks of dryness.
This combination means that you’re better off letting the plant stay on the dry side.
The reason is that it is susceptible to overwatering and root rot.
Therefore, watering too often can lead to many different problems.
And a good way to avoid this is to check the soil regularly. Once every week or every 4 days or so works well.
Only water when the soil has dried on the surface. Never when soil is still wet or moist.
If the soil surface is dry, then stick your finger in about 2 inches deep (second knuckle). You want to wait until the soil at that depth feels completely dry before you add water.
Avoid adding water before the soil is dry 2 inches from the surface.
Another good way to tell if anything is happening to the plant is to look at its leaves.
Yellow leaves often mean overwatering. Brown leaves usually mean lack of water. Similarly, droopy or wilting leaves means it needs water as well.
Once you see changes in the leaves, check the soil to see if it is dry or wet.
Philodendron Red Empress Potting Soil
The Philodendron Red Empress needs loose, well-draining, rich organic soil.
This combination will allow the plant to stay healthy.
Good drainage is very important as it is susceptible to root rot. Root rot occurs due to overwatering.
This is why it is dangerous to water the plant too often. Instead, wait for the soil to dry before adding more moisture.
Otherwise, the more you add, the more water accumulates.
After a while, the roots end up drowning in too much water. When this happens, they will suffocate.
If the roots are deprived of oxygen for too long, they’ll die then rot.
Good drainage helps prevent this as it quickly gets rid of excess moisture. In doing so, keeps the roots dry and prevents them from sitting in lots of liquid for long periods of time.
Similarly, the loose and porous nature of the soil will let air easily circulate to reach the roots.
Since the Philodendron Red Empress can grow big, soil with nutrients helps as well.
The simplest way to get the perfect soil for the Philodendron Red Empress is to look for an Aroid mix. This is available in many online plant stores as well as nurseries.
You can likewise make your own at home. Here’s a combination that works well for me.
- 1 part potting mix
- 1 part perlite
- 1 part orchid bark
- ½ part horticultural charcoal
Avoid using very heavy soils or very sand soils.
The former holds too much moisture putting the Philodendron Red Empress at risk of root rot. The latter will drain too much liquid too fast such that the plant ends up underwatered.
The Philodendron Red Empress will grow into a good sized plant with large leaves.
And fertilizer plays a role in helping it stay healthy as well as achieve this potential.
The important thing about feeding the plant is to avoid overdoing it. Never add too much fertilizer as this can end up doing more harm than good.
Use a balanced fertilizer to help the plant produce its large green foliage.
Once a month feeding works well. You can go with a 15-15-15 or 20-20-20 blend. Dilute each application by half strength.
It only needs to be fed when it is actively growing. This is during spring and summer.
Stop fertilizing by early or mid fall. And don’t feed it in the winter.
Light and fertilizer are usually the main components for growth. So, during the warm months, make sure the Philodendron Red Empress gets both if you want to see it produce its large leaves.
If the plant produces pale new leaves, make sure that your fertilizer product has calcium and magnesium. Deficiencies in both will cause this.
Similarly, if you notice the plant becoming leggy or its stems spreading out instead of staying compact, it means the plant needs more light.
The Philodendron Red Empress has a compact growth habit. It large thick stems will grow out from near the center of the plant so the leaves will bend outward and up from there.
Since the plant produces large leaves but not a ton of them, pruning is not really needed unless the it becomes leggy.
Similarly, prune any old, discolored, damaged or dead foliage as well.
Outside of that, there’s very little pruning needed unless you want to limit its spread.
The plant tends to extend outwards to the sides quite a bit due to the size of its leaves.
How to Propagate Philodendron Red Empress
Philodendron Red Empress propagation is best done with rooted stem cuttings.
That is, take stems with their roots when you cut them off the mother plant. I’ve found that this is the best way to propagate this plant.
And it is also faster since the new plant can grow without waiting for the cutting to root.
Here’s how to do it.
- Start by looking for a healthy stem with at least one leaf. Trace it down to look for where the stem goes into the soil.
- Using a trowel, dig around the area so you can get to the roots of the stem you’re interested in propagating.
- You don’t need to get a big chunk of the mother plant’s root system. Instead, get the part that supports the stem. You’ll see there are quite a few roots there.
- Get a small or medium sized knife that’s sharp. And sterilize it with rubbing alcohol.
- Then cut that small section of the root system that attaches to the stem you wish to propagate. Take your time especially if the plant has gotten big. It will be a bit thick and takes time to cut through.
- Once you get the rooted stem cutting, you can plant it into a pot with well-draining soil.
How to Repot or Transplant Philodendron Red Empress
The Philodendron Red Empress will need repotting when it outgrows its current container.
But don’t move the plant for no reason at all.
It does not like moving. So, it is best to leave it be unless there is a need to repot it.
In most cases, it will need repotting every 2 or 3 years. However, it is best to see what the plant is telling you.
If you see roots coming out from the drainage holes at the bottom of the pot, it means it is time to repot.
Wait until spring to do so as this is the best time to repot the plant.
It is also a good idea to refresh the soil once a year. This way, you’re sure that it maintains the right texture and drainage to keep the roots happy.
In case you feel that the plant has gotten a bit big and you don’t want it to get any bigger, you have a couple of options.
One is to divide the plant. This lets you propagate it into 2 or more smaller plants.
Second is to prune the roots. This will reduce the size of the root ball and make it fit back into the pot. It also limits the size of the plant.
Is It Toxic/Poisonous to Humans, Cats & Dogs
Yes, every part of the Philodendron Red Empress is toxic. It contains calcium oxalate crystals which get activated when ingested.
As such, the plant is not poisonous to touch or hold. But once chewed and consumed it becomes toxic.
Philodendron Red Empress Problems & Troubleshooting
The Philodendron Red Empress is generally pest-free. But it can experience aphids, spider mites and mealybugs.
These are the most common pests that like to attack the plant.
So, it is important to keep an eye out for them.
Maintaining good plant healthy and cleaning its leaves regularly are good ways to avoid pests. You can also apply neem oil or insecticidal soap once a month to keep the pests away.
But if you notice any, don’t hesitate or wait. Immediately treat the bugs and get rid of them.
Like pests, diseases are uncommon for this plant.
However, in most cases, the diseases are man-made. That’s because of overwatering.
Too much watering onto the soil or wetting the leaves are what causes most of the problems here.
Root rot is one of the most common. And it results from overwatering the soil.
Similarly, leaf infections occur when the leaves are wet while watering and they don’t dry quickly enough.
So, being mindful of when you water and how you water the plant is very important in avoiding any disease.