Philodendron Black Cardinal Care Guide

If houseplants with contrasting or dark foliage are in your alley, the Philodendron Black Cardinal is perfect for you! The Black Cardinal Philo is very different from your common heartleaf Philo’s. It has deep burgundy, sizeable foliage that turns dark green to black as it matures. Nevertheless, the Black Cardinal is a sure statement piece regardless of where you place it in your home.

Philodendron Black Cardinal is easy to care for, with burgundy to black foliage. It thrives in medium, indirect light, or dappled sunlight and temperatures of 65 to 78°F. Be sure to water the Philo when the first two inches of soil dry out and fertilize the Philo monthly during the growing season.

Philo’s are generally vining or non-vining plants that develop thick trunk-like stems. However, the Black Cardinal Philo is neither; it is a self-heading, basal plant. If you’re interested in adding this exotic, dark-foliage plant to your home, continue reading for a descriptive overview, including all the characteristics and essential care tips.

Characteristics Of Philodendron Black Cardinal

Native to subtropical or tropical regions of the Caribbean or Central and South America, Philodendron Black Cardinal is an evergreen perennial from the Araceae family.

The dramatic dark foliage is the main attraction in growing Philodendron Black Cardinal. Its leaves are glossy, oval-shaped leaflets that first emerge in a fabulous shade of red. Then, later developing into a rich and deep burgundy to a greenish-black color.

Each plant surprises you with a different mix of burgundy and dark green leaves that appear black depending on the light exposure. The Black Cardinal’s leaves are borne atop thick black stems, and the Philo grows to around 3 feet in length with approximately half the spread.

The manageable size and low maintenance of the Black Cardinal Philo make it a perfect houseplant for shelves and floor corners.

Mature Black Cardinal plants can produce glorious dark pink flowering spathes – however, this rarely occurs. Although Black Cardinals rarely flower, the unique and striking colored leaves make it a showstopper in any plant collection.

Philodendron Black Cardinal

How To Care For Philodendron Black Cardinal

Philodendrons are all subtropical to tropical plants; therefore, similar to other Philo’s, the Black Cardinal prefers an environment like its native region.

Fortunately, the Black Cardinal is pretty easy to care for and quite forgiving if you cannot mimic its natural habitat.

Be that as it may, here’s exactly how to take care of Philodendron Black Cardinal.

Temperature Requirements For Philodendron Black Cardinal

Try to maintain a room temperature ranging between 65 to 78°F during the daytime and 60°F at night.

In addition, Philodendron Black Cardinal is hardy to USDA zones 10 to 12. So, the plant cannot tolerate frost or freezing temperatures; therefore, do not expose the plant to temperatures below 55°F as the plant is frost-sensitive.

Therefore, if your Black Cardinal stays on your outside porch, consider bringing the plant in before frost. In addition, make sure you protect your plant from cold drafts, radiators, and air conditioning units.

Lastly, beware of scorching summer heats that can damage Philo’s leaves.

Humidity Requirements For Philodendron Black Cardinal

Despite the Philodendron Black Cardinal’s native humid and tropical climates, it is pretty hardy and tolerant to average humidity.

Moderate humidity levels between 30 to 50% are generally acceptable for the Black Cardinal to thrive.

However, be sure to keep them far away from heating systems and aircon that cause arid settings.

In addition, consider placing the Philo in your kitchen or bathroom to slightly increase the humidity or boost the humidity through group-planting, misting the plant occasionally, or invest in a humidifier.

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Light Requirements For Philodendron Black Cardinal

The Philodendron Black Cardinal originally thrives under a canopy of lush tropical trees that provide dappled sunlight.

Therefore, place your Philodendron Black Cardinal in warm, medium, indirect light. Expose the Philo to moderate amounts of sunlight near windows providing early morning or late afternoon sun, and avoid placing it in spots with the intense midday sun.

Direct and bright sunlight scorches the Black Cardinal’s leaves and turns the leaves into a pale yellowish color; the damage can be irreversible. Note that the Black Cardinal is more tolerant to lower light than bright spots.

Whereas if you keep your Black Cardinal outside, you’ll want to ensure that you keep the Philo away from direct sunlight. So instead, provide a location with partial to dappled shade.

Partial shade will encourage vigorous growth and lush, dark foliage. However, full shade affects the growth and color of the leaves, and leggy stems indicate that the plant needs more light.

Philodendron Black Cardinal

Soil Requirements For Philodendron Black Cardinal

You may want to plant Philodendron Black Cardinal in an all-purpose potting mix; however, the soil tends to retain too much water, potentially causing fungal disease and root rot. In addition, all-purpose potting soil compacts over time, suffocating the Philo’s root systems.

Therefore, the ideal soil conditions for Philodendron Black Cardinal are a loose, well-draining potting mix rich in organic matter. Consider using African violet soil mix or create a blend including general potting soil, perlite, and sphagnum peat moss or vermiculture; this will allow the soil to drain faster and improve aeration.

Watering Guide For Philodendron Black Cardinal

Philodendron black cardinal appreciates slightly moist soil during its growing seasons. As such, consider watering the plant regularly during the spring and summer.

However, the Black Cardinal does not tolerate wet soil. The soggy condition increases its risk of fungal diseases and root rot. Therefore, ideally, wait for the top 1 to 2 inches of soil to dry out before watering the plant again.

To test if the Philo plant’s soil has dried out, use a moisture meter or stick your finger into the ground, and as soon as the first two inches have dried out, water your plant again.

Then, once the colder fall and winter months arrive, start scaling back on the watering frequency to prevent overwatering.

Lastly, if you notice the leaves starting to curl, it indicates that you are under or overwatering the Black Cardinal. So, if curling occurs, adjust the frequency of watering to have them bounce back quickly. 

Fertilizer Requirements For Philodendron Black Cardinal

Philodendron Black Cardinal is generally not a hungry feeder; however, fertilize your Philodendron Black Cardinal once per month during the spring and summer while it actively grows to encourage faster growth and larger foliage.

However, the Philodendron Black Cardinal is dormant during winter. So, reduce fertilizing to every second or third month during the fall and winter.

Your two options include liquid fertilizer or slow-releasing pellets. Apply a 50% diluted and balanced liquid fertilizer monthly, or use the slow-releasing pellets sparingly and in early spring.

Pruning Guide For Philodendron Black Cardinal

Philodendron Black Cardinal grows at a moderate rate and generally does not require a lot of pruning. In addition, Philodendron Black Cardinal does not respond well to aesthetic pruning,

Therefore, only remove yellow, damaged, or dead leaves to keep the Philo healthy.

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Potting And Repotting Philodendron Black Cardinal

At some point, your Philodendron Black Cardinal will outgrow its pot and become rootbound; this generally takes up to 3 years before your need to move it to a larger container.

Ensure that you never use a pot much bigger than the outgrown pot; only use a container 2 to 3 inches larger.

The best time to repot Philodendron Black Cardinal is during the spring, when it starts to grow. Repotting during early spring allows Philo to recover from the shock of repotting quickly.

The repotting instructions are as follow:

Water the Philo the day before repotting to reduce stress and ensure the soil is soft and easy to handle. Also, prepare a fresh pot with well-draining soil.

Then, gently slide the Philo plant out of the container, ensure that your trim off unhealthy and mushy roots, and lastly, insert the Philo into its new pot and fill the remaining space with additional soil.

Lastly, water the Philo and keep the soil consistently moist.

Philodendron Black Cardinal

How To Propagate Philodendron Black Cardinal?

First, the best time to propagate Philodendron Black Cardinal is from mid-spring to mid-summer. Then, there are a few ways to propagate Philodendron Black Cardinal, including stem-cuttings and root division.

Let’s briefly look into them.

Propagating Philodendron Black Cardinal from Stem-Cuttings

Start off choosing several healthy stems with a couple of leaves on them. Then, trim the stems to 4 to 6 inches long.

Your cuttings can do directly into water or soil or dip it into a rooting hormone to boost growth and success rates.

If you insert your cutting into water, ensure that you remove the lower leaves and change the water jug every few days to prevent rotting. You’ll notice new growth after three to four weeks.

First, allow the roots to develop approximately one inch before planting the cuttings into the potting mix.

If you place the cuttings directly into the soil, ensure to insert the stems about two inches deep into the ground. Water the soil regularly, and keep the pot in a warm, humid area. You’ll notice new growth after one month.

Propagating Philodendron Black Cardinal By Root Division

Root division requires more work than stem-cuttings, but you start with a semi-grown plant on the plus side.

Like stem-cutting propagation, water the Philodendron Black Cardinal the day before dividing it as division is petty stressful and traumatic.

Gently remove the Philodendron Black Cardinal from the pot and scan the plant for a healthy stem and root. Then, try to separate the section with a sterilized knife as gently as possible, without disturbing the rest of the root ball.

Plant the smaller plant into its own new home and ensure it has similar soil to the mother plant.

Lastly, water both the division and mother plant.

Pests And Diseases In Philodendron Black Cardinal

Fortunately, the Philodendron Black Cardinal mostly doesn’t have any severe health problems or pests. However, like all common house plants, they are susceptible to common problems and diseases, including root rot, aphids, mealybugs scale, thrips, and spider mites.

Treat and remove these pests using a natural insecticidal soap or neem oil.


Caring for the stunning Philodendron Black Cardinal takes minimum effort; and suits all levels of plant owners.

Always try to mimic an environment as close to their native regions as possible.

With the proper care, Philodendron Black Cardinal will add exciting color and flair to your plant collection.