Philodendron Black Cardinal Plant Care and Grow Guide

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The philodendron black cardinal is an easy-care, tropical houseplant, simple to grow and is one of the many different philodendron varieties.

They require a lot of light but not too much heat. They like to be kept at room temperature and should be watered regularly, similar to general philodendron plant care.

This care guide will discuss how to care for the philodendron black cardinal pant. 

Philodendron Black Cardinal Overview

The Philodendron Black Cardinal (Philodendron Erubescens) is a perennial plant that’s part of the Araceae family and native to South America.

They make excellent houseplants for displaying because they offer such unique color combinations. The black cardinal plant has dark, reddish-brown and black leaves that make them a beautiful plant to display in your home. 

As a young plant, the leaves start out green, but as it matures, the leaves will turn from a light red-brown to a dark brown-black color. 

When grown indoors, black cardinal philodendrons will typically grow up to 3 feet (1 meter) long and about 1.5 feet (50 cm) wide. 

The black cardinal leaves themselves will usually grow to about 1 foot (30 cm) long and 8 in. (20 cm) wide. 

Philodendron Black Cardinal Care Guide 

The philodendron black cardinal is a hardy and low-maintenance plant. It’s a great beginner plant as it’s easy to care for. Below is the bcare guide to follow and keep your plant healthy and happy. 

Soil for the Philodendron Black Cardinal

Philodendron black cardinal plants need well-draining soil to prevent them from getting root rot. A mix of compost and peat moss, or other similar material, will do the trick.

Ensure that any pots and containers you use have drainage holes that are not obstructed, so excess water will be able to easily drain out. A good potting mix is one that’s made for the African Violet plant: 

Light for the Philodendron Black Cardinal

Sunlight is important for the health of the philodendron black cardinal. They love to be near windows, but not in the sun’s rays. Be sure that they get plenty of bright indirect light. 

When the leaves start to turn yellow, it means they’re getting too much sun. If exposed to direct light for too long, the leaves will become burned.

When the stems get longer, it means they’re not getting enough sun, so they’re stretching to try and reach for light.

Temperature for the Philodendron Black Cardinal

The philodendron black cardinal needs warm temperatures to grow. They will do well in average room temperatures between 60-78° Fahrenheit. 

Cold weather kills them, so keep your black cardinals inside when it gets cold out. Make sure to bring them inside before the frost sets in.

Philodendron Black Cardinal Plant
Red and black leaves of Philodendron Black Cardinal, a popular indoor houseplant

Watering the Philodendron Black Cardinal

Black cardinals love to drink water and need regular watering. They don’t like their soil to be too wet or too dry. 

Watering plants is very important. You should always know how much water your plant needs. When the top couple of inches of the soil feels dry, you should water your plant. You can check this by sticking your finger in and see if it’s dry. 

The leaves could start to curl if you overwater or underwater. You’ll know it’s underwatering if you haven’t watered the plant in a while. Adjust how frequently you water to help revive it. 

Watering plants should be done in a circular motion. You should start by soaking the top layer of soil before you water the entire pot. After you’ve soaked the top layer, water the whole pot thoroughly until the water starts to come out of the bottom drainage holes. 

Also, adjust your watering schedule to suit the seasons. Watering should be done more frequently during the warmer months when plants need it most. During the winter months, you may want to cut back on watering.

Humidity for the Philodendron Black Cardinal

Philodendron black cardinals are native to tropical climates, so they prefer humid and warm weather, but they’re also very tolerant of cold weather.

They need higher humidity levels inside, but they’ll be fine if you keep them away from heating or air conditioning vents that dry the air. 

Getting a plant humidifier will help if you live in a dry climate area. They can increase the humidity in the air to support healthy plant growth.

Fertilizer for the Philodendron Black Cardinal

The black cardinal philodendron doesn’t need to be fed regularly, but it can help during the growing season.

If you want to feed it, liquid fertilizer can be applied once a month during the spring and summer months. During the fall and winter, you don’t need to feed them, but you can add fertilizer every 6-8 weeks if you want. 

Good fertilizers to use would be a balanced fertilizer, with a NPK ratio that’s 1:1:1. 

Pruning the Philodendron Black Cardinal

Philodendron black cardinals need very little pruning, but you can use the cuttings to grow more plants.

You should prune leaves when they get too large or if there are damaged leaves on the plant. 

Repotting the Philodendron Black Cardinal

Your black cardinal plant should be be repotted every few years. You should repot your plant when the roots fill up its pot, so it doesn’t become root bound. 

Here’s how to best repot your philodendron black cardinal: 

  1. The night before or a few hours before repotting, water the soil to make the roots easier to remove.
  2. Get a new pot that’s about 2 inches larger than the current pot.
  3. Carefeully pull the plant and roots out of the current pot.
  4. Roots should be checked for entanglements after being pulled out of the pot. Untangle any roots before putting them into the new pot.
  5. Fill the new pot with well-draining potting soil and the plant. 
  6. Water the pot and pot well to help the soil settle. 
  7. Add more soil if needed, as the soil will settle down after watering. 

Propagating the Philodendron Black Cardinal

There are two ways to propagate the philodendron black cardinal, through stem cuttings and root division. 

Propagate black cardinal plants by making cuttings from the stems. Root them in water, then transplant them into pots.

Watering daily helps the stem cutting roots grow to allow for repotting. 

Propagating by the roots will also work. Cut off sections of the main roots and stick them in its own container. 

Philodendron Black Cardinal Common Problems, Pests, and Diseases

Philodendrons are easy to grow as long as you follow the basic care guide above. But even then, you might occasionally run across issues.

Here are common problems you might run across.

Root Rot

Root rot is a big problem for black cardinals. Plants need water to survive, but too much water will cause roots to rot.

To prevent root rot, make sure your pot has drainage holes, and be careful about how often you water. A plant needs to be watered when you feel that the top couple of inches of soil is dry. 

You should try and catch the signs early. If you see yellowing and/or curling leaves, look for signs of potential overwatering and treat your plant as early as you can.


Mealy bugs are small, white, cotton-like insects that suck sap from plants. They’re most likely to show themselves in the spring and summer. 

They’ll usually appear on the underside of the leaf. To remove mealybugs, you can use rubbing alcohol or neem oils to kill them.


Aphids are tiny insects that suck juices from plants. They are completely harmless to humans, but if they get on your skin, they can still cause irritation.

You can remove them by spraying your plants with dish soap or neem oil. Spraying your plants with a hose is also possible if you’re outside.

Philodendron Black Cardinal Toxicity and Pets

Philodendrons are poisonous plants to cats and dogs. Their leaves contain small, calcium oxalate crystals that can cause swelling in the mouth and gastrointestinal tracts. 

They can also be toxic to small children, so be sure to keep the black cardinal plants out of reach to avoid accidental ingestion. 

If ingestion does occur, contact your local poison control center immediately.

Philodendron Black Cardinal Care Final Thoughts

All in all, the philodendron black cardinal is one of the easiest houseplants to grow. It’s also one of the easiest indoor plants to maintain. If you want to keep it healthy, just remember to give it regular doses of fertilizer, water, and bright indirect light.

For other great houseplants and how to care for them, check these articles out: 

Philodendron Black Cardinal FAQs

How big does a Philodendron Black Cardinal get?

Philodendron black cardinal plants usually reach lengths of 1.5–3 ft (50 – 100cm), but they may be larger if given enough space and light. They can get quite large when grown outdoors, reaching heights of 6–8 ft (2m). Black cardinal leaves typically grow to about 12 inches (30 cm) long by 8 inches (20 cm) wide.

Is the Philodendron Black Cardinal Rare?

No, the philodendron black cardinal is not a rare plant and is found across the United States, Europe and Australia. There are many places online that you can find plants for sale, including on  

Why is My Philodendron Black Cardinal Dying?

Your philodendron black cardinal could be dying due to two main reasons: it’s getting too little sunlight or too much water. You should place it where it gets at least six hours of bright indirect sunlight each day. Save water for when the top couple of inches of soil are dry.

How to Tell if Your Black Cardinal Plant is Getting Enough Bright Indirect Light?

You can tell your black cardinal place is getting enough bright indirect sunlight by looking at its leaves. If the leaves are turning yellow, then your plant could lack light. Young plants will have shiny and green leaves. As they mature, its leaves will start to turn darker and more red-brown or black.

Can I Grow a Philodendron Black Cardinal from Seed?

Yes, you can grow a philodendron black cardinal from seed, but you cannot reproduce them from seeds. These plants do not flower when grown indoors, so it’s best to propagate them by cuttings or root division. With its genetic makeup, the beautiful leaf variegation does not get passed on from the parent plants. 

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Written by:

Amy Walsh
Amy Walsh is a passionate indoor gardener, deeply engrossed in the world of houseplants and herbs. Her apartment is a lush sanctuary of foliage, reflecting her journey from hobbyist to devoted botanist. She's constantly exploring the latest in smart garden technology, eager to share her insights on nurturing green spaces indoors. Alongside her botanical pursuits, Amy enjoys connecting with nature and friends, continually enriching her lifestyle with greenery and growth.

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